Thursday, May 21, 2009

Oahu Scuba: Sea Cave, Wall Drift, and Corsair Dive

A couple days ago I went on three dives which began in two locations.

The Corsair Dive took me to a WWII relic which, from what I've read on the web, wound up on the bottom because of the number one cause for engine failure in airplanes to this very day: Fuel starvation. Or, in layperson's terms, "Ran out of gas."

After converting air into lenticular cloud-shaped bubbles, we ascended properly and safely and were dropped off at Oahu's Sea Cave. Jumping off for the ten minutes or so into the cave, we then began our third and final portion of the dive: The wall drift; the current took us along the sheer lava face until we surfaced and were picked up by our magnificent boat owner and captain, Joey Zbin.

When we were over the airplane, Joey pointed out that the clarity was so good that we could actually see from the surface the Corsair sitting on the bottom in over a hundred feet of water. Yikes!

The Corsair dive is (depending on the tide) 115 feet deep, and is considered an advanced dive. But it is also as simple as following the anchored line down to the object which, at least on this day, you could see from the moment you giant-step jumped into the water.

The ascent from the airplane to the surface is a very slow, hand-over-hand stroll along the rope until you reach a depth of 15 feet. The three minute safety stop is a perfect pause in the parvis prior to parting from the pocket of sand holding the shadow you can still see beneath you (Man, can I alliterate? Or, can I alliterate? w00t!).

The Sea Cave dive is surreal. There's your diving and seeing fish and structure (like the Corsair), and then there's your Oahu's Sea Cave dive which places you in a dive situation you cannot prepare for unless you've done it before. It's Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean when you were nine years old; it's the dream-come-true for which you prepared every time you stared off into the corner of the next cubicle at work, unable to recall drinking that last cup of Kona.

Located just "this side" of Hanauma Bay referencing from Hawaii Kai, the Sea Cave (click on the link for a second video) is a boat-entry event that places you right at the entrance of this capacious aperture in the otherwise solid wall of cooled lava. A lucky bubble? A subsequent crack coaxed along by some good erosion? Dunno, don't care. It's a mind-blower, though. It's a Carlos Castaneda exercise in swimming into the wall where the wall isn't.

As you are dumping the air from your BCD and beginning the descent to something like 40 feet, you can peer into the cave through the unparalleled visibility of a calm Hawaiian ocean day. There are huge boulders which are walls unto themselves, life-encrusted megaliths you can easily scale like Spider Man, thanks to your body being weightless (neutrally buoyant) and whose facets of frozen bubbles and cracks teem with drive-by colors accented with their edges of fins and gills. A giant green sea turtle slolomed our party of seven as we entered. There was so much sea life, I didn't even try to count species of fish and urchins.

Remember that dog that held the keys outside the jail cell in the Disneyland Pirates of the Caribbean ride when you were nine? Yeah well, this cave dive grabbed as much joyful amusement as that dog's mouth grabbed attention. Freedom is sweet.

As you enter the cave, there is no need for any autonomic claustrophobia to kick in because you truly begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel: Instead of a dark terminus, there are diffuse photo announcements that all shall be well should you decide to continue to enter. And you do. And it is.

Click on the picture and you can see the the top hemisphere of the cave's opening.

This is Joey. I can't say enough about his friendly and courteous professionalism. We met at the boat at 9:00 a.m. and he explained through casual chat while we were underway what the dives would be like when we got there.

If you dive, or if you know anyone who does and you hear they are coming to Oahu, have them give Joey a call. The number on the back of Joey's shirt is no longer current. He can be reached at: 808-330-0083.
I lugged my regulator, fins, mask, snorkel, full-body lycra suit and boots in a carry-on for the 5 1/2 hour hop from Portland to Oahu. All I needed from Joey were my tanks and BCD (for those in need of some explanation, please check out these two BCD links for your deepened---sorry---knowledge base). That second BCD link takes you to the one I just bought, but I got a screamin' deal on Craigslist for $275. Yeah. Ain't no way I was gonna lug it on the plane, though. Rental is cheap when all you need is a BCD. Wet suit? We don't need no stinkin' WET SUITS. Not here, you don't. The lycra saved me from the sun and jellyfish exposure, but the water was so warm that I wasn't anywhere near cold.
This is a closer shot of the opening of the Sea Cave after a very short boat ride from the Corsair. The wavy marbling of the lava makes it all appear much as it did when it was a cooling fluid. Uh-May-Freekin'-ZING.

Diamond Head from the Sea Cave
Koko Head from just outside the Hawaii Kai marina
The three on the right are Japanese divers. After all four non-Japanese divers had surfaced, I turned to Joey and said, "We're missing some people, Joey. Where are the Japanese divers?" He just looked at me with 10% chagrin on his face and said, "Japanese don't breath, man. They probably have all their air left and they'll just come up when they're bored." Oh, to have such lungs.

Joey pointed out that it is unusual to be able to see Maui (the highest point is Haleakala), Molokai and Lanai from Oahu. But there they are...

Monday, May 18, 2009

Sandy Beach

I am currently in a house where there is good internet. In my own house, not so much. Coming to visit Nelson and Marti means it just so happens I also go to Hawaii; they live in Honolulu, a bit south of town, and only 6 minutes away from Sandy Beach.

After I started getting some interesting captures of boards and bellies in the surf, one of the guys who'd just surfed up to where I was standing pointed out to the closest surf break and said, "Did you see the turtles?" After that, I did...

We saw this guy arrive at about the time a white limo drove into the parking lot. We just figured there'd be a wedding party. Or not. Everybody wants to get into the act...

They say that if you are a photographer and you take a picture of a photographer taking pictures of something else, then you win.

I win.

Here they are. Marti and Nelson. Marti is my friend, Jeremy's sister. Jeremy checked in via Skype this morning from his room at Sant'Anselmo in Rome. Nelson is wearing one of Cindra's husband's creations, a "Critter Tee."

Happy Anniversary of Mount Saint Helens eruption day.