Dive Bum Okinawa

 Dive Log 2006

10 November 06              Junk Yard

It's the 10th of November and the weather is awesome so what are a bunch of Marines going to do?  Celebrate the Marine Corps Birthday under water.  Happy 231st Marines!!!

30 Sept 06              Maeda Point

What a great day for a dive, yet only one hard core dive bum managed to get up and meet me at 0630.  I wanted to test my new housing before I put me new camera in it, so I stuffed it with paper towels to test out its integrity.  It seemed a shame to dive without a camera so I let John use my other camera.  Everything worked out perfectly, we went down to 107 fsw I had no leaks and John got some great photos.

Rachel, Nobuko and her sister joined us on our second dive.  We went out to the right this time just to keep it shallow.  We found a very curious young adult batfish and then a very nervous moray eel.  John learned a good lesson; don’t touch a nervous eel’s tail.  It shot out of its hiding place and zoomed right past his head!

Later this weekend was the 2006 Shisa Dance Festival at the Agena Bullring.  This is where I got the inspiration for the Dive Bum Okinawa’s trademark dive flag a few years ago.

05 Aug 06              Devils Cove

What an awesome turnout this morning, 12 Dive Bums showed up!!!  Once we wrangled everyone up we caravanned to Devils Cove.  Although the winds were coming out of the East at 10 kts there was a Westerly swell at 2-3 feet.  After suiting up we trekked across the reef and plunged into 85f water.  The Vis wasn’t as good as we hoped for, it was around 15-20 and opened up to 30+ in some spots.  Even with the poor visibility we managed to find the sunken boat on our first dive. 

For our second dive we tried a different entry, instead of hiking over the reef (low tide) we entered by the Grotto.  It was a bit longer on the swim but we avoided climbing over the reef and surf.  We did not manage to make it to the sunken boat on this dive but we did get some very good macro photos. 

4th of July 96 weekend

The dive God’s were smiling down on us this 96 weekend!!  The weather has not been this nice for months.  The Dive Bums managed a total of 7 dives over the 96, four dives at Bolo (two from a boat) and three at Maeda Pt.  During the course of the weekend I got some outstanding photos and we discovered a WWII LVT (landing vehicle tracked).  The Bolo Pt. beach dives…Here we found a very cool eel, actually there were two different species of eels just two inches apart!  Then as we were on our safety stop a very friendly Lionfish stuck around for a quick photo shoot.  Bolo Pt. boat dives…For the past few years, I’ve heard rumors about a sunken AAV off Bolo Pt.  No one seemed to have any concrete information on its location and after talking to several people in the dive industry on Okinawa it seemed that this was going to be a mystery that needed to be solved.  We headed out early on the 4th of July on a small inflatable just north of Bolo.  Once we reached an area that fit the descriptions of the site, we donned our snorkeling gear and started our search.  After only 10 minutes of searching John yelled out, “Is this thing in pieces?”  We found the mystery sunken WWII LVT-2!   Although it had been pummeled by typhoons and salt water for the last 60 years, you could still recognize some of the parts.  The turret shield and some of the track was still intact.  Click here to see additional photo’s.

Maeda Point was crowded as usual but for good reason, the water was warm and the vis was good.  Our night dive started out as an average dive.  But towards the end of the dive right by the chain, I saw a huge Textile Cone that was crawling up the reef.  As I took its picture my strobes must have startled something.  This tiny little octopus jumped out of a small crack in the reef next to the cone shell.  As I swung my spotting light around to get a better look at it, there were these small little blue rings all over it…..WOWA Blue Ringed Octopus!!!  On one dive I got a photo of two of the most dangerous animals you can find in the water.

This weekend of diving is going to be hard to beat….But we’ll try, even if it means we have to dive more!!

July 01, 2006 Bolo Point

 What an AWESOME dive!!!  You know it’s a great day to dive Bolo when the parking lot looks like Maeda Pt at Golden Week!

 When I pulled into the parking lot of Kadena Marina at 0600 this morning, there were only four Hard Core Dive Bums ready to hit the water.  With the winds out of the southeast at only 5kts; the five of us decided to head to Cape Zanpa.  The parking lot was empty when we first arrived, but after our second dive the parking lot was looking like Maeda Point and for good reason.  The water was flat and there was only a slight surface current heading north.  We decided to head south for our first dive but as we descended the current picked up and reversed, it was now heading south so after an about face we started our dive.  The water was warm and clear (81f/50+).  On the first dive we went deep!  We were looking for the White Tips that hang out under the overhang and swimthroughs…they weren’t there but we did get some great photos of the sea fans.  After a long…surface interval we stayed a bit shallower.  Here we found a very cool eel, actually there were two different species of eels just two inches apart!  Then as we were on our safety stop a very friendly Lionfish stuck around for a quick photo shoot.

June 17-18, 2006           

Maeda Pt. Dive and Fathers Day Snorkel

What a great weekend, I think we can officially say that the rainy season is OVER!!!

Only a few Hard Core Dive Bums managed to show up at 0600 this morning.  To everyone who did not dive on Saturday…YOU MISSED OUT!  We had a great dive, the vis was at least 40+feet and there was absolutely no surge.   We saw tons of cool stuff.   There must have been a Lionfish convention going on because every time we crossed a finger we found at least one Lionfish cruz’n around.  On our second dive we began by taking some photos of Darlene’s O/W class and then decided to take off on our own.  On our way in we spotted this tiny gray eel trying to look vicious in all of his massive 6 inches.    On Sunday my girls gave me one of the best Fathers day presents I could imagine, they took me snorkeling at Maeda Point.  When we arrived the water was smooth as glass and the sun was shining.  We started off by feeding the fish just past the drop off.  After saying our hello’s to Nemo and his friends we snorkeled to the cave.  On our way to the cave one of my daughters spotted something that she could not identify.  This is how it went, she asked “Daddy what’s that?”  and my response was “That’s a piece of seaweed”…”No Daddy, it’s moving, it’s not seaweed!!!”  On closer inspection, it was a baby cuttlefish!  I guess my little marine biologist knows better than me!!! 

June 10-11, 2006           

Malibu-Maeda Pt. boat dive and Maeda Pt. Deep Dive

For a gloomy non-diving weekend I managed four awesome dives!!  On Saturday I was invited on a boat dive out to the resort buoys between Maeda Point and Malibu beach.   Even with the torrential down pour we managed to launch the inflatable out of Malibu beach and head out to the buoys.  On our first dive we had the whole reef to ourselves.  We saw tons of Anemones with every type of clownfish in the book!  We even saw a lone Sting Ray gliding around the reef.   However after returning to the buoys after our surface interval and swapping out tanks there were five Japanese resort boats tied up to all of the buoys.  Although we couldn’t get to the exact spot we wanted, we still managed a great dive were we saw a mating pair of Ardeadoris egretta (the white and orange Nudibranchs) and a very grumpy looking Scorpion fish.   On Sunday I was invited to dive and ended up signing up for a Deep Dive Certification Class.  On the first dive we dove down to 100 fsw and did a short navigation course.  On the second dive I was able to bring my camera and boy was I glad I did!!  We found two very large Octopi about a foot from each other.  I think love was in the water but unfortunately I think we ruined the moment.    Even with a terrible weather forecast, you cannot beat the diving in Okinawa!!!

May 25-29, 2006               Dive Bums Gone Wild-Memorial Day Oura Wan!

We’ve been planning this weekend for the last three months, lots of sun, B-B-Q’s on the beach, clear water, and lots of diving!!  Unfortunately the weather Gods did not follow our plan.  What we got was lots of rain… and more rain.  So much for planning a fun weekend during the rainy season.  We did manage a few B-B-Q’s at the cabins and a few (very few) Hard Core Dive Bum’s managed to get in three dives (two muck and one boat dive).

Despite the rain the vis in the bay was relatively good, 20+ feet.  The two shore dives turned out to be two very good muck dives.   With lots of sand, eel grass and occasional balmies to explore we found several cool critters including several nudibranchs (two that I have never seen before that were right next to each other), lionfish, and some huge sea stars.

On our last day we decided to try our luck on a boat dive.  Keith rented a John Boat and three of us headed out to the reef in front of the marker buoys.  The tide was going out so there was a slight current.  By the time we all got in the water we drifted just past the buoys…into 200 feet of water!  We decided to drop down to 80 feet and swim towards the reef.  One of the divers was playing with a new toy (MP3 Player) and decided to go to 100+ feet before joined us at 80 feet.  After a short 5 minute swim we ran right into the wall which went down into the abyss.  The vis was a great 40+ and was teaming with fish and invertebrates.

13 May                       Pinnacles

What an awesome day for an awesome dive.  Saturday twelve Okinawa Dive Bums met at the marina for a local boat dive to the Pinnacles.  After a short 15 minute ride we were anchored over a pristine reef just 1000 meters off shore.  The top of the reef was only about 25 feet down and clearly visible.  When we dropped in the water it was a warm 79f, and a bit cloudy.  There was a definite thermocline at about 30 feet.  Below the thermocline the temp dropped to 75f and the vis cleared up.   The reef ran for a few hundred meters and curved to the west.  It was virtually untouched by divers and teaming with tons of fish.  I don't think I have ever seen so much live soft and hard corals on Okinawa before.  This site was better than most of the spots I've seen at the Keramas.

On the second dive we moved about 200 meters to the west to another pristine reef.  There was a slight southern current so the majority of us started off on a northerly direction.   About half way through the dive I spotted a large Octopus perched on the top of the reef hunting.  I was able to get several good photos of him before he decided that he wanted a bit more privacy.

When we got on the boat we all noticed a safety sausage about 200 meters to the south of the boat.   We got the boat turned around and brought the last two divers aboard we got the quote of the day from one of the divers, "why did you move the boat?" 

There were lots of cameras on this dive, check out the photos on the "Guest Photo" page.

07 May                       Maeda Point

What an awesome turnout this morning.  Even though we met at 0600 we had 6 Hard Core Dive Bums show up for our dive.  The weather guesser finally got it right, the winds were out of the SW but only 5 kts.  It was near perfect conditions, Maeda Point was flat as glass, the Japanese vacationers were still sleeping and the steps were still open for Golden Week.  

On our first dive we decided to head to the south and do a bit of a wall dive.  As soon as we turned left at the steps the resident Batfish looking for a hand out swarmed us.   They continued to follow us throughout the dive along the wall.  On our second dive we went north and stayed a bit shallower.  It was starting to get very crowded; I guess all of the Golden Week vacationers finally got up.  There were even several boats in the area (snorkeling distance from the steps).   Even with the added crowd of vacationers we all still managed several great photos.  But I did learn a big lesson about my camera.  Don’t dive with used batteries, I was unable to get several pictures of Nudibranchs and fish because my camera would not turn on!

April 30                      Maeda Point

The weather guessers got it wrong this weekend.  Although there was a slight drizzle Saturday, the water on the west side of the Island was relatively flat.  Sunday turned out to be a great day, lots of sun and NO wind!!!  The few HARDCORE Dive Bum’s that did meet me at Kadena Marina early Sunday morning got in two awesome dives at Maeda Point.  The city government of Onna has opened up the steps at Maeda Point for Golden Week, and we took advantage of trying out the new steps.  It was nice not having to balance all of your dive gear and a camera down a small cliff.

On our first dive we decided to try and find the fish sculpture on the second reef.  At the base of the steps we shot our azimuth and started the long snorkel out.  Once we got about 500m out we dropped onto a reef at 80+ feet that maxed out at 90+.  We never found the fish sculpture but we did find a lot of very cool Nudibranchs that we have never photographed before. On our second dive we choose to stay a bit shallower.  We headed to the right side of Maeda towards the cave.  Although it was crowed with lots of divers celebrating Golden Week we found lots of great stuff.  Right at the beginning of the dive we found a small octopus then we found two eels, lots of clown fish, Nudi’s, Lionfish and two very camouflaged scorpion fish.  One of the scorpion fish was being so still and not wanting to move from its hiding place that it was letting a sea star crawl allover it. 

April 8-14, 2006              

Dive Bums Gone Wild-Spring Break Okuma!

 With the prospect of a full week of diving I set our sights high for week at Okuma.  However we did not get a break from the weather.  We only managed one dive Saturday night and a very quick snorkel on Sunday morning before we got rained out for the rest of the week.  It wouldn’t have been too bad except for the strong winds and lightning!   After our night dive we were treated to a fresh fish dinner courtesy of the owner of the boat who is also a chef at a local Izakaya.

Once back at home we managed one more dive trip to try and salvage our spring break diving.  We were able to get on a local dive charter Friday night and dove the Pinnacles and Runway Lights.   The conditions weren’t perfect… actually they were far from perfect.  With all of the strong winds we’ve had this week the seas were about 4-5 feet.  We were hoping things would improve once we got under water…Nope, there was a very strong surge and the vis was real cloudy.  The surge was so strong even the fish were hunkered down in the coral.  We did manage to get a few good photos and we found a very friendly cuttlefish that stuck around for a bit.  

April 1, 2006              Junk Yard

Only a few hard core Dive Bums made it out this morning.  Too bad, because the conditions were near perfect.   With the pressure of a Soccer game at 1000, we all waited until 0615 before we headed off to the Junk Yard.  Once there we quickly suited up and hit the water.  Within 5 minutes Rob spotted a humongous Octopus that we were able to coax out of his den.  The Nudibranchs were out in force again, and love must have been in the water... we caught two small Pyllidia Varicosa in the act.  We also found:  Polyclad flatworm – orange, ivory and black but no exposed gills; Chromodoris tinctoria – Rose Colored with white spots; Chromodoris colemani - orange and blue with a solid black stripe along his back; Jack found a mutant Pyllidia Varicosa and I found a Juvenile Pinnate batfish hiding under some soft coral.  We managed over an hour of bottom time and I still made it to the Soccer game.  The Courtney Sharks crushed the Tigers 5 – 2!!!

Kadena Steps                  26 March 06

The rain could not stop the Hard Core Dive Bums from diving this Morning.   Despite the foul weather, the winds were favorable for a dive on the west side of the island.   We departed Kadena Marina around 0630 and headed to Kadena Steps.  There was only a slight surface chop so we decided to suit up and get in the water.  This was another great dive for Nudibranchs.  We saw several Notodoris citrines (the bright yellow ones) and several other cool Nudi’s and a bright colored flatworm.  This is just a small list of the marine worms we found:

Polyclad flatworm – orange, blue and black but no exposed gills;  Chromodoris annae – orange and blue with dashed black strip along his back;  Chromodoris colemani - orange and blue with a solid black stripe along his back

Right at the beginning of the dive we found two large anemones’ with two different species of anemone fish.  On our return leg of the dive, Kate found a very large and shy Octopus and I found a fairly friendly Cuttlefish.  

The humpback whales were serenading us during the entire dive, to listen in on the whale song just click on the whale!

Junk Yard               18 March 06

When we met at Kadena Marina it had to be one of the most gloomy, gray rainy mornings I’ve seen in a while.  But what a great dive it turned out to be.  Only three dedicated Dive Bums braved the gloomy weather to dive this morning.  The dive conditions were awesome, it was high tide and there was barely a ripple on the water.  The rain caused a bit of a halocline but once we dropped down the vis opened up to 20-30 feet, a little cloudy but still good!!  On this dive we were joined by one of our newest Dive Bum’s, Rob who we would like to congratulate on the birth of his daughter last week.  When asked how mommy and daughter were doing (while U/W) he gave us a big smile and OK sign.  I don’t remember seeing so many nudibranchs and flat worms on a single dive before, I lost count!  Below is just a small list of cool Nudis and worms we found:

Notodoris citrine – yellow guy, Nemrotha milleri - Green with blue guy (Not sure, it drew in its gills),  Polyclad flatworm – The black, green and orange guy,  Phyllidia ocellata – Orange guy,  Phyllidia varicose – the blue one with yellow bumps,  Berthella martensi - white guy with black spots (about the size of a sweet pea). 

On our way to the surface we found this curious snake, it looked like his head was caught in a hole and he couldn’t get it out.  I hope he had a hold of something and not the other way around!

This had to be the best weekend for diving this year!!! 

The winds were blowing lightly from the North East on Saturday and from the East on Sunday. 

    Kouri Island  04 March 06 Thank you Nobuko for setting up the dive trip to Kouri Island.   We all had a great time.  This was a very special dive for my wife (and life long dive partner) and I because we were celebrating our 13th wedding anniversary and 14th year diving together.  On our first dive we found a gigantic anemone with a pair of true clownfish.  On our second dive we found a pair of very curious cuttlefish that decided to hang around for a great photo shoot.  

    Toilet Bowl and Horseshoe  05 March 06A whopping eight Okinawa Dive Bum’s make it out this morning to enjoy a perfect dive at the Toilet Bowl.  The water was lapping at our feet as we walked to the edge of the bowl.  One quick giant stride and we were in 15 feet of gin clear water, a little Red Firefish greeted us as we were setting up for our group photo.  After a quick group photo we made right face and headed north.  We found several anemones with tons of anemone fish, a huge triton trumpet and a spotted eel.  Mike got a great shot of a very curious and friendly sea snake.

    To the Dive Bum’s that had to leave after one dive…YOU MISSED OUT!!  The vis and sea life was even better than the Toilet Bowl (if you could believe that!)  Almost immediately as we swam over the edge of the reef we ran into the largest school of Moorish Idols I have ever seen.  There must have been over 500 Moorish Idols cruz’n the reef.  The Moorish Idols must have called all of the Lionfish and Firefish over for a party because we must have seen at least a dozen on the wall.  We were even lucky enough to be serenaded by some humpback whales.  I got a great 30 second sound clip, once I learn how to shorten it I will post it. 

Kadena Steps 25 Feb 06  

Only one diver braved the wind and rain and met me at Maeda Point this morning.  At 0700 this morning it was dark, cold and raining, the wind never shifted. (It was still blowing from the North East blowing out Maeda Point)  So we decided to head to Kadena Steps.   When we got out of our cars we were shocked to see the difference in conditions, the ocean was flat as a lake.  The water was awesome, the vis was a clear 50+ feet and the temp was 71f.

We got a great surprise on this dive, when we were at the edge of the reef we could hear the Humpback whales singing in the distance.  This had to be one of the most relaxing dives I’ve had in a long time.  We got over an hour of bottom time but it was not enough.   I was lost in time, just enjoying the sites and the sounds of whale songs in the distance.  During the whole dive I only took 20 photos.   Although there were plenty of subjects to photograph, I was caught up in the moment.   

Junk Yard 15 Feb 06

It’s a slow day, there’s no sea condition and you don’t want the same ol’ thing for lunch, what do you do…You go diving!  We hit the Junk yard right before low tide so we had to walk across the reef.  Once we hit the water it was Gin clear, when the sun broke through the clouds there was at least 70+ feet of visibility.  Even the fish must have known it was a good day to be in the water because we must have seen every fish in my Indo-Pacific Coral Reef Field Guide!  Towards the end of the dive we found a huge Triton Trumpet, I took a few photos and then, YES we left it on the reef to gobble up all the Crown of Thorns.

Water Plant              06 Feb 06

It was Super Bowl Monday (for those who live in Okinawa) and the Cowboys were not playing, so what do you do?  You watch the taped game and take your wife diving!  The weather was fair (East Warning) and the winds out of the South East at 15 kts we decided to hit the Sea Wall.  When we got out of the van at the Water Plant the wind was blowing but when we checked out the site there was only a slight chop and no waves.  As we were getting into the water several other divers were arriving, they must have decided to skip the game too.  The water vis was pretty good, 30+ and there wasn’t even a hint of a surge or current.  As soon as we dropped down we ran into a huge school of ‘Cuda.  Then we found a bike at 40 feet and Felicia decided to try her hand at photography. Good Photo!!

Junk Yard             03 Feb 06

It was one of those weeks that never seemed to end and the weather just seemed to get worse as the week progressed.  But that wasn’t going to deter us from making a lunchtime dive!  When we reached the Junk Yard the surfers were out in force trying to catch one of the huge12 inch waves!!  The tide was going out as we made our way across the reef.  The vis was only 20 feet but any dive is better than the best day at work!  When we surfaced and ended our dive we noticed that all of the surfers were gone, when we had to walk 50 meters back across the reef we knew why…LOW TIDE! 

The Air Force was out patrolling the skies, we must have been right in their landing pattern.  The F-15’s kept buzzing us as we were putting our gear away.  

Horseshoe                 28 January 06 

It was still dark when the four of us met in the parking lot by Malibu Resort.  We waited until first light for other to show but at 0715 the four of us caravanned out for the Toilet Bowl.

As we hiked down the path to the Toilet Bowel we could hear the crashing of the waves.  It only took about 3 seconds to decide we would try another site.   We all decided not to make the trek to Motobu so we drove down the way to check out Horseshoe.  The waves were still coming in but they were angling in, giving us a protected entry.  On our first dive we decided to walk around to the beach entry site.  The cove was perfectly calm as we waded into the water and put on our fins.  As we snorkeled across the reef and left the protection of the cove we ran into 1-2 foot breakers.  They did not pose a problem as we just swam under them to the edge of the reef.  Horseshoe is one of the most dramatic wall dives on Okinawa.  As we went over the edge we dropped into crystal clear water that drifted off into a deep blue.  The wall was teaming with life, we saw several species of Nudibranchs, over half a dozen anemones with clownfish, eels, octopus, several lionfish, and the list goes on and on.   On our second dive we decided to climb down to the edge of the reef and giant stride in.  This put us down about a hundred meters north from our first entry.  Same great variety of sea life and JT found a cool swim through.   We will definitely be making more dives here in the future!

Kadena North-Night Dive             25 January 06

What a cool dive!!  We actually had a very good turn out for one of our night dives.  We had four divers enter the water and five come up.  One of the divers was a bit late and saw our lights and joined us about 10 minutes into our dive.   Kadena North is usually one of the easier entries, but this dive started off a little challenging.  With only a quarter moon and a very low tide the entry was anything but easy.  John lead us through the maze of coral and after low crawling about 10 meters we made our way to the edge of the reef and dropped to about 20 ft of calm, cool (69f) black ink.  The water clarity was outstanding you could see to the limits of your light which was probably 20+ feet.  

It was a target rich environment for us UW shutterbugs; we were able to get some great shots of nocturnal critters and all sorts of sleeping fish.  I learned a very valuable lesson last night, do not wake up a sleeping Scrawled Filefish (especially when he is about two feet long).  The fish on the second photo did not like waking up to my strobes.  After about the 5th photo he charged my light three times (and he hit it hard) then he went for my crotch.  He hit me on my inner thigh and I had to knock him away to get him to take off.  Next time I see one I am going to give him a wide berth.

Sunabe Seawall –Water Plant         21 January 06 

With strong winds coming out of the North West and the water temp at a brisk 70f only a few brave divers made it today.  It was still dark when we met on the sea wall by Café Blue.  As we looked out at the dive site there was an extreme low tide and 1-2 foot seas, so we decided to head down the sea wall to the Water Plant.  Luckily we arrived when we did because right after we got there several classes arrived and it got crowded real fast. 

We beat all of the other divers into the water and headed out for a great dive, there was no surge and the water was fairly clear (20+ ft).  This is an under looked dive site most of the time; it has a very easy entry and a lush soft coral garden that is teaming with fish.  We saw lots of anemones with clown fish, several species of nudibranchs and on our way back John found a pod of four Cuttlefish swimming together.  Two of them had to have escaped from some evil science experiment they were humongous!!  They were at least 2-3 feet in length.  These had to be the largest cuttlefish I have ever seen.  For those of you who couldn’t make it this morning you missed a great dive.  Hopefully you will be able to join us on our next one.