Kona, February 2009: Part One

Filed under: — Anastasia @ 10:17 pm

This was my eighth visit to Hawaii, and Jeff’s fifth.

On our long weekend there last year, I wasn’t able to dive – so it had been two years since I’d dived around Kona, which is two years too long.  I was SO READY for this visit.  And Jeff was equally excited to dive someplace with clear, warm(ish) water; a nice change from our California diving.

I landed a few days before Jeff (work meeting).  The work part was productive, and the staying-in-Hawaii part was nice as always, but I was counting down the hours until the vacation part began!

Before I picked Jeff up from the airport, I went to settle into our house.  By “our house,” I mean a house belonging to some friends of ours who are getting ready to retire to Hawaii.  I’d hoped we’d be in Kona at the same time as them so we could dive together, but being allowed to stay in their wonderful home while they were back in the mainland was pretty nice too!  It’s just up the hill from the airport, a convenient distance from Kona and Honokohau Harbor, and it’s absolutely gorgeous. Our friends have done a fantastic job with the place – every part of the house is lovely, but homey at the same time.    It helps that they’re divers, so the decorations are sort of “diver chic” – lots of underwater photography on the walls and ocean-related accents, and places to rinse and hang gear after a day of diving.

Best of all, it has a lanai (balcony). This is the view:


We were also excited to discover gekkoes clambering about on the lanai, as well as one in the bathroom.  I was a little less excited to discover the tar-like substance that is gekko poo on the floor the next day, though!  At least they eat bugs (not that we saw any in the house).

I picked Jeff up Hawaii-style, meeting him at the gate with a tacky lei which I neglected to photograph.

That was Tuesday night, and our first dive wasn’t until Wednesday evening – which meant we had a morning to sleep in (unusual on dive trips).  We woke up to the distinctive sounds of morning in Hawaii: wind in the palm trees and the chatter of local birds. And fresh Kona coffee just down the street.  Life was good.

Jack’s Diving Locker has been our dive shop on every other trip to Kona, and we stuck with them this time.  After checking in at the shop, we met the evening boat leaving out of the harbor to go on the manta ray night dive.

Which is where Jeff noticed he was missing his BC.

I found this funny for two reasons.  First, he’d been gloating about how light his dive bag was compared to mine at the airport counters (42 pounds versus my 47).  Second, he’d JUST UNPACKED all his dive gear that afternoon at the house to swap it into the Jack’s mesh bags, and hadn’t noticed then either.

After a few jokes about his brain being left in California, we got him set up with a rental BC; no big deal.  And we were off!

Right outside the harbor we were swarmed by spinner dolphins leaping and twirling around the boat.  I have learned over the years that there’s no point in whipping out the camera – that’s a sure way to get them to stop.  So now I just enjoy the show!

The manta dive this year was a little different from before: we headed down south near Keahou, instead of the usual spot north of the harbor.    Our twilight dive was at a spot called Casa Caves, which does have a nice cave to swim through.  That was pretty much the highlight of the dive, though – if you can call getting wedged in a lava tube on your way out a ‘highlight’.

Luckily, the manta dive totally delivered.

Mantas feed on krill, which is attracted to lights; so a bunch of divers with bright lights make for an excellent manta party.  This was our 5th manta dive, and we only had zero mantas once.  That was last year, so the memory was fresh; I was a little apprehensive as we entered the water.  Would we be skunked again?

But as soon as Jeff and I dropped down, we saw manta rays swooping over the divers already on the bottom.  We took our stations and spent the next 50 minutes watching the rays cruise over and around all the divers.


It’s completely surreal: the lights from divers and cameramen light up the water with yellow and blue spotlights, and through it all are these enormous creatures slowly circling, twirling, and coming really, really close to your head as they scoop up their krill snacks.

Words really can’t do it justice – so how about a quick video clip?

Clip from Manta Ray Dive (0:36; 3.3 MB)

The manta rays seemed especially friendly tonight; I’ve never had to duck so often!  The manta show was going on quite close to our boat, which made for an interesting safety stop on our way back.  Divers are supposed to stay on the bottom when mantas are nearby, so that we don’t bump into them.  But as we hovered at fifteen feet under the boat, a couple of rays came over to check us out, leaving the main circle of light where the other divers were. It’s actually a bit unnerving to have a 500 pound critter playing chicken with your dive lights!

Jeff and I were the last ones on the boat, cursing the fifty-minute time limit; I would have quite happily stayed down there until my tank was dry!


A Day at the Office

Filed under: — Anastasia @ 1:00 pm

2009 has gotten off to a rocky start.

I’ve been sick for the last two weeks. A2 left (both the office and the country). And there are some major upheavals happening at work – not the “my job is in peril” kind of upheavals, but definitely the “my job will be stressful for a while” kind.

So it was a welcome bit of good news when I was invited to work on my favorite dive boat again.

I crewed for the first time last December, and I guess I didn’t embarrass myself too badly, because the captain made it sound like he’d ask me back.

And he did! I got to go out last Saturday – ironically, the charter was for Hollywood Divers, the shop I got my DM with and will hopefully get to work for once classes pick up again. We spent a gorgeous day out on the oil rigs. The nice thing about the rigs is that it’s almost as fun to stay topside as to dive, especially when it’s sunny and flat out like it was on Saturday, and the sea lions are all going crazy playing around the rigs.

Keeping an eye on the air fills:


For those of you who ask: “what do you do if you’re not diving?”, I give you a list of boat crew duties:

  • Prepare paperwork for the divers, check certification cards and nag them to fill out forms
  • Untie the boat (and tie back up at the end of the day). I’m having to learn a few knots, and the particular ways that the existing crew like things to be tied/stowed.
  • Keep the snack bowls filled
  • Be prepared to unplug the marine head. I haven’t had to do this yet, but I plan on thinking of it as another good learning opportunity when it inevitably happens.
  • Fill tanks. This is actually kind of fun. The basic concepts are simple, but the exact details of which knobs to turn in what order and which gauges to watch requires more attention than you’d think.
  • Help tech divers gear up – attach stage bottles under their arms if they can’t reach the clips, help them stand up from the bench, etc.
  • Deal with anchoring the boat (and sometimes tying off the other end to a rock). This can actually be a workout. When diving at Catalina in Dec, the main crew guy (the poor man who’s stuck teaching me everything) would swim a line out to a rock and tie it off. At the end of the dive, he’d go out and untie it – and then I have to haul him in on that line as quickly as possible, before the boat drifts into anything. Hauling a fully-grown man through the water at high speed really puts your shoulder muscles to the test.
  • If diving the oil rigs, throw a line to the divers to haul them away from the rigs for pickup. I sucked at this. So I practiced a bunch. Now I suck slightly less.
  • Usher divers off the boat and hand down cameras or scooters as necessary.
  • Help divers back ON to the boat (hand up cameras, stage bottles, scooters; pull off fins).
  • While divers are under, stare at the surface of the water for a solid hour in case someone surfaces in a panic. I need to remember sunglasses next time.
  • At the end of the day, wash the boat. So far I’ve only worked on “rinse days”, when we hose everything down with fresh water and also scrub the deck with dish soap (actually kind of fun in bare feet). Once or twice a month they do a full-scale cleaning, which I imagine is a little less fun.
  • Keep an eye on divers in between dives in case anyone starts acting weird. By weird, I mean “having symptoms of decompression sickness.”

If everything goes well (ie, no rescues), it’s actually not that physically demanding a job – I’m getting  to spend a day out on the water, hanging out with a bunch of divers. It can be a little hard to watch them all jump in while I have to stay dry, but it helps to remind myself that what I earn can go towards my next dive!

Hopefully I’m learning fast enough to be useful; I would love to keep working with these guys.  It’s a wonderful boat with a terrific crew, and I’m extremely proud to have the opportunity to be part of it.


Still Here

Filed under: — Anastasia @ 2:25 pm

Hi!  How are you?

I’m still around.  Not much has changed in my life.  I’m still fat – but for the first time, I’m actually okay with being fat. (Well, maybe about 90% okay, but I’ll get there).

It’s interesting – once I really gave myself permission to be the size that I am, I started to realize just how much of my brainpower I’ve wasted over the years berating myself for being heavy, for not doing enough to be thin, or dreaming of all the ways life would be better once I got thin.  Finally giving myself a break has been a relief in a lot of ways.  (And, I admit, NOT a relief in other ways that aren’t really blog material.)

So here are my new year’s non-resolutions:

  • Not step on the scale.  It’s just a number, and I don’t need to know it.  I know what size clothes I wear, and I know how I feel, and those are what matter.
  • Not diet.  I will not count calories or attempt to restrict my food intake in any way.  I will try to incorporate more healthy foods into my diet and eat in more often, but with the goal of exactly that: eating healthier, not getting thinner.

Although I am nearly-ok with the fat thing, I’m less okay with having let myself get rather out of shape.  For a variety of stupid reasons I stopped my gym routine back in September.  But I eased back into it over the holidays, and was on the track at 6am this morning, and it felt great.

Once I get over the hump of adjusting my schedule to accommodate the workouts, I really do enjoy the excercise.  Plus it more than pays off in the diving department.  But again: if this does not make me thinner, so what?  It’ll make me healthier.  At this point in my life, I am ready to accept “fat but fit” instead of “a thin person who just needs a little help to come out.”

I will buy clothes that look good on me, not just clothes that make me look thinner.  I will not begrudge myself dessert when I feel like it (or vegetables when I feel like it).  I will be grateful for the body I have and the things I can do, instead of hating myself for not having the “willpower” to change it.

Those of you who are thinking “what the hell – she clearly needs to try harder to lose weight!”… see here, here, here.

And that’s pretty much all I have to say on the subject.  I promise future posts will be more about fun things like diving.

2009 will be good.


Pumpkin Carving

Filed under: — Anastasia @ 4:55 pm

Last night, Jeff and I attended a pumpking carving party hosted by my officemate.  In the 8 years we’ve been together, I don’t believe Jeff and I have ever carved pumpkins.  The last time I tried was in college.  Neither of us has even tried to get much fancier than your typical eyes/nose/toothy-mouth pumpkin.  But this year we decided to have a crack at doing the more three-dimensional kind of pumpkin, where you carve into the flesh but not all the way through (at least, not everywhere) for a textured, “fancy” look.

Except mine ended up looking kind of like, oh, NOTHING, and so I hacked out most of the pieces in the end after all.

Here is my pumpkin:


Is it:

a) A tiki mask?
b) A skeleton with acne?
c) a screaming SCUBA diver?

Jeff brought a printout of the shark “Bruce” from Finding Nemo, and declared he was going to sculpt a Bruce pumpkin.  I fully expected his pumpkin to just be a hacked-up blob.

Turns out I’m married to the Pumpkin Whisperer:


Luckily, mine looks somewhat better when placed next to Jeff’s for context:


In case you don’t believe that’s actually a pumpkin, here’s how it looks in normal lighting:


One of our friends brought her 4-year old son.  He instantly recognized “Bruce,” and then completely cracked me up by saying – in a tone of genuine wonder – “I’ve never seen an actual shark before!”   You still haven’t, kid.  But I can’t blame you for being fooled.


Just a note

Filed under: — Anastasia @ 11:00 am

My blog has moved to anastasialaity.com.  If you browse to the old address, it should forward you over here.

If you use RSS to read my blog, I’m pretty sure you’ll have to edit your feed to get it to work.  To sign up for the new feed, go here:

RSS Feed


Has my life gotten that dull?

Filed under: — Anastasia @ 3:23 pm

Wow, two months without a blog entry.

I have nothing to add at the moment, but if you want to look at pretty photos and video clips, check out:

New photo alums: Catalina in July, Farnsworth in August

Video clips: Baitball at Catalina, Torpedo Ray at Farnsworth Bank

I’ll try to get my brain back into blogging mode.  I don’t know if anyone misses reading it, but I do miss writing it.


Bonaire: Last Day

Filed under: — Anastasia @ 4:20 pm

Saturday was our last day in Bonaire. Scuba divers call this the “surface interval day,” as you need to allow at least 24 hours between your last dive and flying – so, you have to come up with something other to do than dive!

We piled into one of the trucks and began a day-long loop around the island to see some of the topside sights. It was sunny and gorgeous as usual, with just enough wind to keep it comfortable.

Our first stops were at some dive sites along the coast north of town, just to get some photos of the sites with our cameras outside of their clunky underwater housings. We checked out 1000 Steps (there aren’t actually a thousand, but I’m sure it feels like it when you’re in full gear), and then went back to Karpata. Karpata has a nifty little snack shack right at the top of the stairs now, though it was never open while we were there.

Next we headed east along the southern edge of Washington Slagbaii Park. You drive past a lake which is home to most of the island’s resident flamingos, but there were only a few in evidence today. The big excitement came just past the park, where a few little farms were set up. A sow and her furry little piglets went dashing by the truck, and then we spotted a donkey in the road just up ahead. Naturally, we insisted that Jeff stop the car and roll down the window so we could photograph it.

He came a little closer than we expected!


We followed the road back through Rincon to Kralendijk, and then headed east to Lac Bay, a big windsurfing spot. It’s a huge shallow area, only a few feet deep, protected by a large sandbar. We could see enormous waves crashing at the edge of the bay, but inside the water was flat and calm – except, of course, for all the windsurfers swirling around on it.

There’s a terrific little beachside bar there, so we grabbed lunch and enjoyed the view. And by “the view,” I don’t just mean the gorgeous beach and the windsurfers – I’m also referring to all the European guests in various states of undress. There’s a popular nudist resort at Lac Bay, and although it’s shut off from public view, the laid-back attitude towards clothing doesn’t stop at the borders of the resort! (No pictures of naked, sunburned people – sorry.)

As we drove south along the eastern coastline, we were absolutely amazed at the size of the surf pounding on the shore. On the west (diveable) side, you might occasionally see a wave up to your knees. Over here, with the full brunt of winds slamming into the island, the waves were constant and powerful, sending enormous sprays thirty feet hight.

There were also lots of these driftwood piles – I guess you could call them art. People had stacked up wood in different formations, with various bits of trash attached as decorations.


At the southern tip of Bonaire, we stopped to look at the lighthouse. Sadly, you’re no longer allowed to climb up inside.


There was a neat little crumbling building there which we were able to clamber around in, though. I think my favorite part was this “shoe room”:


On the southwest part of the island are several clusters of old slave huts. They’re exactly what they sound like: huts that were used to house slaves brought here for the salt trade. Even I had to crouch down to get inside these tiny concrete structures, and I couldn’t stand upright once I was in. I’d like to say we pondered the bleak history of these places and took a moment to reflect on all the suffering that people had experienced there… but frankly, they’re gorgeous photo opportunities, so we were mostly thinking about that!



Up next was one of our favorite Bonaire sights: enormous piles of salt! We’d gotten a pretty good glimpse already on our southern dives, but now we were here to photograph. There are some really amazing color contrasts by the salt piles: brilliant white salt, crystal blue water, and bright pink salt pans in between.


Sadly, there are big signs warning you that it’s a crime to crawl up the salt piles, or we’d have even cooler photos.

By this time we were all pretty tired and sweaty, so we decided to stop in town for some ice cream and shopping. The ice cream was better than the shopping. But, we all found the various knick-knacks we needed for ourselves and friends back home, so we were happy enough.

More topside photos from Jeff here.

Back at the condo, we all retreated into our rooms to get started packing. No small chore when everyone has camera gear and all the associated trinkets to keep track of! Carol officially wins the prize for slowest packer, though; the rest of us were all packed up and lazing around (or napping) while she was still laying things out into neat piles. And I thought I went crazy organizing while on travel!

We polished off our day with dinner at La Guernica, a tapas restaurant, where we consumed a frightening amount of food and booze. Then it was time for bed… in preparation for a painfully early rising the next day: 3am in order to get to our 6am flight.

I get up pretty early for diving sometimes – 5am is not uncommon, and 4:30 has been known to happen. But anything before 4am just feels like the middle of the night to me. 3am? That was just ridiculous. We all trudged down to the trucks with our bags, and managed not to drive off the road on the way to the airport.

Carol and I were dropped off with our bags while the menfolk went to return the cars to the rental agency – which had mysteriously moved from its on-airport location in the previous week, and was now across the street.

When Jeff finally showed up, he was in a foul mood – apparently, the rental folks wouldn’t check in his car until 4am. They were checking in cars for another, earlier flight, but not our flight. Jeff grumpily left the keys on the counter, said maybe he’d come back later, and joined me for the airline check-in.

So, after the painfully slow crawl through the line to get our boarding passes and pay our departure tax, Michael and I went back to the car place to check in. We got there around 3:55, and our counter wasn’t open. But there was a crowd of employees who’d just gotten off a shift, sitting around drinking beer and smoking. They waved us over and offered us drinks from the (closed) bar, on the house. We thought this was a fine way to start the morning: free beer at 4am on a Caribbean island.

Pleasantly buzzed, we finished off the check-in process that Jeff had aborted with no further problems. (In fact, they waived a fee for our returning a truck with a half-empty gas tank, because of the issues we’d had with the battery.) We rejoined Carol and Jeff at the airport, who seemed pretty bemused at our tipsiness.

So that was how we finished off our trip – sleepy and slightly drunk. The ride home was long but uneventful; I’m officially a fan of Continental’s new Bonaire schedule. Hopefully I’ll have the chance to take advantage of it again soon!


Bonaire Day 7

Filed under: — Anastasia @ 3:32 pm

Naturally, 8am the next day rolled around and there was no sign of anyone by the truck. I started calling the rental place around 8:30, and was told someone was on the way. By 8:45, I tracked down a cell phone for that person and called them directly – turns out they were looking for the car over by the Sand Dollar office, even though I’d clearly stated several times the night before that it was parked by the dive shop. He came and gave the battery a jump; I left it running for a while and then parked it back by our condo while we went off to do a dive.

Just to be on the safe side, we piled into the other truck to get to the dive site. Our destination was the wreck of a sailboat named Our Confidence, located somewhere south of Eden Beach and possibly near Harbor Beach Resort. (We found conflicting information in the books on the best entry site, and none of the Sand Dollar DMs could give us any useful tips on finding the wreck).

At Eden Beach we got decent directions from their dive shop: enter off the dock and head south past a couple of buoys, and we should be right on top of it. We discovered a pretty strong current pushing us back the way we came. Luckily, that’s the way you want the current to be running, so we forged ahead.

Eden Beach is on a very rubbly area of reef, so there wasn’t much to see on the way besides sand and occasional piles of rock. As we were cruising along, I noticed a funny-looking object sticking out of the sand; I thought it was an old styrofoam cup or something. Jeff was on the other side of it, and started taking pictures so I went in for a closer look. Turns out it was a big snake eel sticking his head out of the sand!

Snake eel in the sand:

We pushed on over several ridges, every time thinking the wreck must be just out of sight. After about 15 minutes of swimming, we finally saw the hazy outline of a sailboat.

Wreck of the Our Confidence (photo by Carol Yin):

I have to say, I’m astounded that this wreck isn’t more popular and that more divemasters didn’t know how to get there. The current was a bit annoying, but not frightneningly so, and it was definitely worth the effort. The wreck sits in about 50 feet of water, which gives you plenty of time to hang out, and also means decent lighting for photography. It’s a wooden boat, so it’s rotting away in interesting ways. There were a lot of old ropes and cables strung around, so perhaps it isn’t very publicized because it would be an entanglement hazard for new divers. But we all loved it!

It was especially good for video because of the current. While the photographerss struggled constantly to maintain their positions, I would just swim against the current to the bow of the boat, hit “record,” and let the current take me from bow to stern in a long, smooth pan.

On the way back to shore, we stopped under the Eden Beach pier to wave hello to the ReefCam:

Being upstaged by a fish at the ReefCam:

Then it was back to the condo… where of course, we discovered that the battery in our other truck was dead again. Argh.

Carol and Michael opted to have a relaxing lunchtime before our afternoon dive, so we left them to deal with pestering the rental agency again. Jeff and I hopped back in the water for one last dive at Bari Reef. I was tired of dealing with my camera, so I went video-free on this dive – and thoroughly enjoyed it!

We puttered around mostly in the shallows, heading north in search of the “Reef Balls,” big cement spheres used as artificial reefs. On the way we passed several moored boats, which provided shade for huge schools of jacks swirling around in tornado-like formations.

At one point, Jeff suddenly started pointing his camera at me and taking pictures, which seemed odd since he had the macro lens on. It finally occurred to me to glance behind me – where a big snaggletoothed barracuda was hovering just outside of my peripheral vision!

After the dive, Jeff dunked all his gear in the Sand Dollar rinse tank. Almost instantly, his hands began to itch and burn. We think someone rubbed up against fire coral on their dive and then rinsed their gear in the dunk tank, leaving little fire coral bits behind for the next innocent bystander. Ouch! I made an emergency stop for some vinegar so Jeff could finish out his diving day.

Our afternoon dive was next door with Buddy Dive, on a boat trip arranged by Bruce (who just bought a house in Bonaire with his wife) for all the digitaldiver.net folks. We liked the boat operation there much better. No doubt we were influenced by the fact that the Buddy Dive divemaster was an ace at finding little things, including multiple frogfish:


We briefly considered squeezing in one last night dive, but decided to quit while we were ahead and call it a day. There was a digitaldiver.net evening get-together at Bruce’s – they have the most gorgeous house, with the perfect patio for hosting parties. Funny how everyone we know with vacation homes seems to not have kids!

Afterwards, Jeff and I sneaked off for a ‘date night’ dinner at an Italian restaurant, then joined Carol and Michael back at the condo to make plans for our topside adventures the following day…


Bonaire Day 6

Filed under: — Anastasia @ 5:06 pm

Jeff and I got an early start Thursday morning and drove south past Salt Pier. I’d seen the dive site ‘Tori’s Reef’ named on many people’s “must dive” lists, so we decided to check it out. The entry was similar to all the southern dive sites, a rocky ledge, but at this site you actually enter down the sides of a channel cut through to the salt pools. When the gates are closed and water isn’t being sucked in, it’s a little easier to climb down the edge there and walk out through the sandy channel, rather than having to deal with the slippery rocks and urchins along the usual beach.

The dive here started in about 8 feet of water. As soon as we dropped down, we found clumps of coral that were home to all kinds of interesting little fish. They swarmed with juvenile damselfish and bright orange and blue cherubfish, and occasionally with jacks cruising overhead in search of a snack.

We finally tore ourselves away from the super-shallows and headed across the sand towards the real reef, but again I found myself constantly distracted! I spotted half a dozen yellowhead jawfish in their burrows, and even saw my first sailfin blenny giving his signature display off in the distance! (Of course, he hid back in his little hole as soon as I went close.)

Yellowhead Jawfish sneaks out of his burrow:

By the time we reached the slope, we’d already been down 40 minutes just tooling around in the shallows. Here we saw more nesting butterflyfish, a barred hamlet, and of course I found lots of slender filefish.

Slender filefish hides in a gorgonian:

Our next dive of the day was also our first boat dive on this trip; we’d signed up for a boat and picked Klein Bonaire as the dive spot (the only area you can’t get to from shore). I think we were all a little underwhelmed by Sand Dollar’s boat operation. The boat itself was extremely cramped. I don’t expect luxury, but a little room to move is nice – and we didn’t even have a full load of divers, so I can’t even imagine how awkward that would have been.

But more importantly, we didn’t feel like the divemaster was particularly useful. He only “led” the dive insofar as he cruised a little ahead of the divers. We signed up for a boat dive mainly so a local guide could point out cool stuff, but we did a better job of that on our own.  In fact, the divemaster was the first person out of the water – something I’ve never seen before!

We finished off the day with a dusk dive back at the house reef. Carol and Jeff had done a night dive several days before, and followed a DM’s instructions to find a little frogfish. Jeff was able to retrace their steps and find froggie again, though he wasn’t in a very photogenic spot.

We also saw the usual suspects: peacock flounder, filefish. But as evening dives go, this was one of the least impressive I’ve had for some reason.

There was a little bit of adventure at the end of the dive. We bumped back into Carol and Michael as we did our safety stop under the pier. Jeff signed to me that he wanted to go look for the frogfish again, but I was feeling pretty much done (it had already been over an hour, and I was getting chilly), so I waved goodbye to him and surfaced. I put away all my gear and waited. And waited.

Eventually they all surfaced; apparently Jeff had convinced Carol and Michael to go after the frogfish. Except, Carol had thought from all his signing (“frogfish? 40 feet?”) that he meant he needed her to show him where it was, when in fact he was asking if she wanted him to show her. So she reluctantly trudged back to the frogfish, which she actually wasn’t interested in pursuing (end of dive, and she’d already seen it).

Once they were all back on the surface, I went to move the truck closer so we could back in our gear – and it wouldn’t start. Completely dead battery. In the meantime, apparently I missed a rather spectacular fall when Jeff slipped on the dock and landed smack on his back. So we were all in an excellent mood by the time everyone had their gear piled up in our other truck (thank goodness we had two), and I put in a call to the rental agency.

Which went something like this:

Me: “Hi, we’re renting a truck from you guys, and the battery seems to be dead. What should we do?”

Her: “You need to bring the truck in.”

Me: “I can’t bring it in – the battery is dead, we can’t even start it.”

Her: “I’m sorry; what’s wrong with the car?”

… ad infinitum. I finally got the cell number of a manager, who said he’d come first thing in the morning (8am) to replace the battery…


Bonaire Day 5

Filed under: — Anastasia @ 9:20 pm

Tuesday morning we headed north to Karpata. We’d been warned that the wind kicked up and made it harder to dive after 10am, so we wanted to get started early.

At the top of the stairs to Karpata:

Things didn’t get off to a very good start. As soon as we descended I turned my video camera on – and the external monitor stayed blank. Then I realized it wasn’t exactly blank. It had water in it.


Luckily, the external monitor is the one part of my rig with some redundancy; I can use the tiny viewfinder on the back of the housing instead. Not optimal, but usable. And the flooded monitor provided its own entertainment, filling up with funny little crystals of god-knows-what, and spitting bubbles out the back as the electricity/saltwater combo oxidized.

And aside from my flood, it was a gorgeous dive. We swam south from the entry, which we’d never done on our last trip. The visibility was wonderful, and the dive site was more pristine than some of the busier dives down south.

We all decided to skip a stop at the condo, and head straight down to Invisibles, a little south of the Hilma Hooker. I’d read in the guidebook that garden eels could be found here on the swim out to the dropoff, which I assumed must be some sort of typo as we’ve never seen garden eels in shallow water. So I was thrilled to discover that there really were patches of garden eels in 15 feet of water!

Me shooting some garden eels:

Carol was the only one shooting macro on this dive, so of course I spotted more juvenile filefish than on any other dive. We also found lots of nesting banded butterflyfish hanging out in sponges, and had a spotted eagle ray fly-by.

Nesting butterflyfish:

Jeff and I squeezed in a quick dive back at Bari, where we saw lots of little filefish and yellowhead jawfish. At about 50 feet, we noticed a huge cloud of something around a pile of sponges. I didn’t see any divers or large fish in the area that could have kicked up sand, and it didn’t dissipate, so I suspected some sort of sponge spawning. I’ll never know for sure!

In the evening, we had our next guided dive: a night tour of Kralendijk’s Town Pier. The pier pilings are absolutely covered with an amazing variety of colored sponges, making this a world-famous dive. Only four groups of four divers each are allowed at any given time to keep damage to a minimum. Michael decided to sit this one out, so it was just three of us and our guide.

I wasn’t too impressed by our first visit here. The pilings were beautiful, but got old fast – and even with only sixteen divers in the water, it felt insanely crowded when most of those were inexperienced divers bumping into each other and confusing who’s with who. It also didn’t do wonders for the visibility.

So I was thrilled to discover clear water as soon as we descended, and not another diver anywhere in sight! In fact, on the whole dive we only encountered one other group, even though we overstayed our one-hour slot and were under for nearly 90 minutes.

Colorful pier piling (photo by Carol Yin):

Besides the beauty of the pilings themselves, we were treated to constant visits by the resident tarpons, lots of juvenile drums hiding near bits of trash, two frogfish doing their best to blend into the sponges, and a chain moray out on the prowl. It was my longest dive to date, and I could have done with another 30 minutes to explore!

A tiny yellow frogfish hiding on a pier piling:

You can see the rest of Jeff’s Town Pier photos here.

After dumping all our camera gear back at the condo, we treated ourselves to Pasa Bon Pizza (even more delicious than I remembered), and crashed into sleepy piles back at the condo.

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