Saturday, April 25, 2015

Nepal Earthquake

As I ready the ship and expedition crew for a summer in Alaska I can't help but think of all those effected by the Nepal earthquake, some being adventurers at their peaks in life tackling the tallest peak in the world on Mt. Everest. Appreciating it all a little more tonight.

-Dai Mar

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Wilderness Explorer: My new home

 So I have officially become mobile now as I enter back into the boating world. I accepted a job as an expedition leader with Un-Cruise Adventures onboard their vessel the Wilderness Explorer. It is a small, high-end cruise ship that spends the summer months plying the inside passage of Southeast Alaska. I walked around the ship and took a few pictures to give people a better understanding of what downsizing one must do to come work on board, and in what extreme close quarters you live.
My top bunk with no head room
the "Shoilet"
 Being one of the managers on board means I have a bigger cabin and more space but it might not be what you would expect. A shoilet accompanies the room which is just big enough to sit on the toilet while taking a shower. I guess I do like to multitask. The hotel manager is my roommate so I imagine we will be on similar sleeping schedules.
 The ship takes 74 passengers with around 25 crew. It is 186ft long and four stories tall. There will be alot more pictures to come once we get going and into Alaska but here is a preview of the enclosed spaces.
I've got a few from my bed!
Close quarters=the boat life

Maxed out with kayaks
Spacious Lounge (still in drydock form)
View from the 300 level
A far off view of the Wilderness Explorer and sister ship docked here in Seattle

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Looking Back at Oahu

Manoa Falls with Mom
Honolulu Polo Club
After almost two years in Oahu I am moving to new adventures in Southeast Alaska on board the small adventure cruise ship Wilderness Explorer with Un-Cruise. My last day of work running tours here wrapped up with a wonderful Waimea waterfall hike yesterday and today has been spent running around tieing up loose ends before I fly out to meet the ship in Seattle.

Descending to the YO shipwreck
  With a little down time in between errands I wanted to look back at some of the pics and posts from Oahu. I thought I would post some pics in a little Oahu retrospect.
Ben contemplating a Pipe surf sesh

Lea fighting the wind
Soon to be Jurassic World

Dolphins on the west side

Sailing the tall ship Makani Olu
Getting Shacked

Taking Ed diving on the North Shore
Helicopter ride with the relatives

Ed and Jamie visiting
Lantern Floating Festival

My favorite south shore spot
Finding secret hikes

Byodo-In Temple
baby Nola the chameleon

Phoebe on the summit of Koko Crater
Playful monk seals AT Kaena Pt
Hunter exploring the Sea Tiger wreck

Heidi high atop the pillbox hike in Lanikai

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Training for Alaska on Haleakala Volcano, Hawaii


  As spring brings warm temperatures across the mainland the wonderful climate of Hawaii maintains a steady 65-85 degrees every day. Visiting beach goers try to tan before heading back to their 9-5's and surfers load up on sunscreen because no wetsuit is needed. However, for the intrepid adventurer a very different climate is just a short hour and a half drive up a volcano. Looking for a different Hawaii adventure we decided that hiking through the volcano crater was the goal for today.
     Ben, Magen, Kelly and I gathered some cold weather clothes and all piled into a cheap rental car. I was pretty confident in my new wool socks and a loaned Patagonia fleece but would soon find out I was vastly under-clothed. About 5000ft up the side of the 10,000ft volcano we entered a rainy, dark, cloud. However hopes were still high that we would emerge above the cloud before reaching the summit. 8000ft....9000ft....still in the cloud I began thinking this adventure might be a bust. After parking at the visitor center on top of the crater I fully expected to turn around. The cloud was moving horizontal here up and out of the crater, whipping ice cold rain seemingly right through me. That is when I noticed everyone else putting on their rain coats. Hmmm. After a quick conference Kelly was able to talk everyone into going for it. In my mind I figured it would be good training for Alaska this summer and possibly Kilimanjaro this fall.

   The misty cold rain would batter one side of you until the trail switch-backed thus turning your other cheek to the elements. The rain would cycle through letting up and picking back up until we were near the bottom of sliding sands trail at the floor of the massive Haleakala crater. At this point the rain stopped, the clouds cleared, and an incredible view opened up before us. The otherwordly scene inside the crater was enhanced by white clouds rising seemingly up out of the ground making it look like we were inside an active volcano with steam vents all around.  Spirits were high as we quickly started to dry out and joked about needing sunscreen. Then as if the eye of the storm had passed the clouds and rain returned with a vengeance. The tides had turned. We took off on the trail heading up, back towards the crater rim.

    Freezing cold and soaked thru we blasted the heat as we drove back down the volcano. Despite not having a rain jacket I was in high spirits that we tackled the trail and the elements. It was a great adventure and it turned out that the scariest part was yet to come. To help us thaw out we stopped for hot chocolate and lattes at the beautiful Kula Inn which we sipped in front of the raging fireplace. With a little warmth back in our bodies we jumped back in the rental car. About a mile down the ever-descending road I pushed the brake pedal all the way down to the floor with no resistance. Uh oh. Two more times I pressed down with no response at all from the brakes, just a slight hissing sound. By this time we had picked up more speed with the knowledge that hairpin turns and steep cliffs were all around us. I grabbed the e-brake and with a tremendous amount of hope pulled up. I felt the car slowing. Keeping the release pushed in I worked the e-brake just as I would a normal brake, gradually pulling the car off the road. Luckily no one else had to go through the range of emotions that pour into me in this kind of situation, since they didn't know the brakes had gone out until we were already slowing down.
  After a quick call to the rental agency we had a convertible rushed up to us which we took on a wild joy ride the rest of the way down the hill....strait to the hot doughnut sign at the only Krispy Kreme in the islands.


Sunday, April 5, 2015

Tail End of Whale Season on Maui

  My good friend Ben took me out on one of his mid afternoon whale watches late in March out of Lahaina, Maui. Even though we were on the tail end of humpback whale season we had some incredible action. It seemed that this season's calves were healthy and active putting on an amazing aerial performance for us. We saw full breaches from one two different calves, launching themselves completely clear of the water. I was able to zoom in on the action with my long lens.

 We also had a quick swim by from a very fast moving competition pod. The female was most likely out front while the males jockeyed for position behind her. It was a beautiful day out on the water and so reviving for me to see all this humpback whale action that I had been missing over in Oahu.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Diving the Helldiver Plane Wreck in Maui

Wreck of the Helldiver: Maui
    The wreck of a WWII plane sits on the sandy ocean bottom about 50ft below the surface. This wreck was only discovered a few years ago by scuba divers, although fishermen had known the location for decades as a popular fish hideout. The plane is a Curtis Helldiver SB2C-1C model, with three props and a canon in each wing.

  The history of this particular plane took some searching for the original divers who took the first photos of the wreck. They were able to track it down to a prolific pilot named Lieut. William E. Dill who was part of the US Navy Reserve. He later crashed or was shot down during the battle of Leyte Gulf in the Philippines but survived. Records no longer show what eventually happened to him. There is a great backstory of this plane researched here by the first diver to find it.
  The wreck is located just offshore in windy Ma'alaea Bay on Maui's south shore. It is surrounded by sand so acts as a magnet for sea life. We found nudibranchs, big schools of blue striped snapper, a large yellow margin moray eel, and a huge octopus all calling the wreck home.

   It is always surreal to find these big wrecks laying at the bottom of the ocean. I love diving wrecks since they are such a different site and they also provide a rare photographic opportunity. There is another plane wreck on Oahu that is also worth checking out called the Corsair. You can take a look at my dive on that plane wreck here: Diving the Corsair.