Aloha, my friends,
It is August 3, 2012, and I began my day at 6:30 am after spending the night tossing and turning. The reason for this sleepless night is excitement for the planned scuba dive.
Unsure of how the traffic would be in Waikiki, I left early and arrived well ahead of time. The shop is small, where I met friendly people who were comical, as well as, knowledgeable. When I arrived at the marina, many other boats were in various states of preparation to take people diving.
Our first destination was the Sea Tiger. The Sea Tiger is a former Chinese trading vessel confiscated for carrying illegal immigrants into the state of Hawaii. It was cleaned up and sank in 1999 as part of a dive enrichment effort.
It did not take long to reach the wreckage. After gearing up for the dive, I stepped off the boat and entered the salty ocean. The fear of going down one hundred feet underwater with only a mouthpiece connected to one cylinder of air brought a level of anxiety that I didn’t know I had. I moved to the front of the boat and descended using the guide rope.
I watched air bubbles escape and float to where the sun shone through the water. As I approached the deck of the Sea Ray, lying on it was a dozing sea turtle, oblivious to the invasion of the two-legged creatures.
In the gorgeous water, swimming with the fish, I felt all alone, and yet I knew other divers and the divemasters were close. I swam around the boat, seeing different sea creatures, including a seashell, almost the size of a football. I noticed a school of butterflyfish and then laughed at the skeleton prop chained on the lower deck.
Something spooked a school of fish (approximately one hundred of them), and I hovered in the water as the fish came right up to my mask and then veered right or left. A great feeling of awe and wonderment overcame me, leaving me in a state of amazement.
Being the slowest in a group isn’t always a bad thing. As I turned the corner of the ship after being swarmed by the beautiful fish, there, in its beauty, is a spotted eagle ray. Its fins were flapping as it swam six feet in front of me; the tail extended a good two to three feet behind it. The sunlight reached into the depths, and the eagle ray shimmered as it passed me.
Before long, it was time to ascend, and while rising, I watched as the sea turtle awakened and floated upward with me. I felt as if I made a friend.
At the three-minute safety stop, I watched as the turtle continued upward, as he needed no stop and reached the surface. The waves were rough, and the turtle bounced around only about a minute before deciding to descend once more into the blue depths of the salty water.
Once in the boat, all the members were accounted for, and we started to our next location. It was only a short distance; however, we had an interval of time that we had to wait before continuing with our next dive.
Tortilla chips and water was provided; however, I declined both. Vic, one of the divemasters on board, took the tortilla chips and started feeding the fish. It was amazing to see all the fish swarm around the boat for a few crumbs of something uniquely different to them.
In the distance, I could still see the Waikiki shoreline and realized that when I went paddle boarding in that area, I wasn’t far from the wreckage.
Although I enjoyed being above water, I was excited to start the next dive. The group descended approximately sixty feet into the water, and after we were all assembled as a group, Vic prodded a hole, and out came a baby octopus.
He caught it, it sprayed his ink, and then he brought it over to me and latched it onto my arm. I stared eye-to-eye with it, trying to think of a name for him. I thought about my younger son because he would have asked if we could keep it as a pet. I would have considered it.
The others grew bored with the octopus still suctioned to my arm, but I didn’t. Again I felt as if I made another underwater friend and was pleased to see he kept me company for another ten minutes before unlatching himself and sped away to find him a new home. Salutations to you, my new found underwater friend.
The corals were beautiful with a mixture of brown, pink, orange, green, and blue – pastels and bright colors mixed. The underwater current was strong, so it was comical to see the bodies of the fish and the other scuba divers sway back and forth.
We came to a wall where Vic pointed out a spongy purple thing that he had me touch. I have no idea what it was, but it felt like the suction cups of the octopus I befriended earlier.
Moving on, he found another hole and allowed one of the other divers to fish out the octopus – when he had no luck, Vic went in and fished it out.
At this point, Alexa, another divemaster, joined our group.
Vic still had the octopus in his hand and threw it at Alexa. The octopus suctioned it to her mask and head. We were all laughing at the spectacle.
(Later onboard the boat, she remarked that she laughed so hard that her mask had filled with water).
Being caught up in the moment, I was not paying attention to where my legs were, and I got a Hawaiian tattoo. In other words, I got the needles of a sea urchin embedded in the lower part of my leg. The needles are so fragile that they break off instead of pulling out.
(Over the next few days where they needles poked my leg, it became filled with puss, and when popped, the needle came out).
Although it throbbed, I continued the dive, which was only another fifteen minutes.
After resurfacing and boarding the boat, I carefully peeled off my wetsuit and got many eyes on my injured leg and quite a few jokes about related experiences.
The dive was an experience I’m glad I had, and the only regret I had was the camera I brought broke, and I didn’t get pictures. Maybe soon, I will get to do it again with a working camera.
Mahalo, my friends!