How's the Diving on the Big Island of Hawaii?
An ongoing series of freediving journals
by Rob White
Saturday, December 12, 2004
Ok, so it’s been a while. What can I say, it’s fishing
and it’s been painfully slow. I don’t think I’m
going to make good on my goal(s) for 2004, which were 1. to spear “several” hundred
pound (or better) Ahi and 2. to finally land a hundred pound Ulua
of which I have seen and speared a ton of them but they tend to disintegrate
my gear due to poorly placed shots… I can stone the small ones;
what the hell???
Not to sound too earthy but my “energy” has been a bit
unfocused, firing like an erupting volcano, all over the place. You
know when things in life just seem to trip you out? Well, maybe you
don’t have things that make you trip but I know I do. I recently
read an article about a “big wave” surfer which helped
me realize there are many of us out there that feel like we are way
out there. Who would have guessed that some of the most profound
ideas and personal beliefs would come from a surfer??? …Move
over Gandhi (politely joking)…
So, my little saying about myself isn’t so far off, “I’m
not strange, everyone else is.” For clarification, so nobody
accuses me of possessing an inflated ego, well… The personal
definition of my little saying is, I am me, therefore I feel “normal.” However,
compared to the average person I am quite different wherein sometimes
I feel “strange.” Or is it myself who is normal and everyone
else who is strange? Regardless, if the majority or masses are strange
whereas they would be considered “normal” and I would,
therefore, once again, be considered strange wherein I’m normal
and whereas everyone else is strange, but not… You see, point
being, you, the reader, must be as lost as Martha Stuart in prison
because whatever I just said makes perfect sense to me. Maybe I should
cut off my ear and change my name to Van Gogh because you’re
probably thinking I’ve lost my mind. Well, rest assured, I
didn’t loose my mind, I just forgot where I put it…
It is this kind of “misfiring” energy that I attribute
to my inability to be one with Mother Ocean lately. As bizarre as
all this rubbish sounds to some of you there is a lot of truth to
it, and many of you know this. You will note that many professional
players, whatever the sport, speak of understanding their own energy
input and output and how their game is greatly affected by misguided
energy. Certain sports that tend to be more involved with the outdoor,
natural environment and less to do with brute force and strength
or machinery, tend to be more in touch and with the greater understanding
of their personal and surrounding energy(ies) i.e. car racing and
football as opposed to, well, spearfishing and surfing.
To simplify a complex and greatly misunderstood yet internationally
recognized personal energy interaction with nature, in one word,
FOCUS. And without it we are stuck in a minute-to-minute parallel
without personal understanding of ones reason of being, even if
only for a brief moment. Therefore, to answer my own quest for
the “why” to my inability to encounter successful interludes
with marine animals, in particular, large game fish, the answer is
within… lack, thereof, FOCUS. The next adventure is to figure
out and understand not the “why,” but the “what.” What
is causing my inability to FOCUS?
Just in writing this journal entry has allowed me the time to focus
and just now (believe it or not) I have figured out the “what” to
my lack of focus. Now, it’s time to focus on the ultimate solution
of “how” to fix the problem. I guess I have to save that
for my next journal entry.
When you are finished reading this and are asking yourself why
I spent the time and energy to write this journal, which is supposed
to relate to a diving adventure of the weekend, because there is
hardly a mention of diving or spearfishing? Remember this, it’s
not always the great things happens during a dive adventure, sometimes
it’s what doesn’t happen is what needs to be focused
on. A little saying we use to remind ourselves while snowboarding, “If
you never eat-it on the way down the slopes, it doesn’t mean
you’re really good, it just means you’re not trying hard
Why” am I sharing all this seemingly pointless and somewhat
personal insight into my mind? Because we all do “it.” At
some time or another, whatever the scenario or entities involved,
we all loose FOCUS at times and to recognize the symptoms will help
self-cure the “ailment.” Rather than blame someone else
or something else I try to understand my surroundings and most importantly,
myself. No I’m not a doctor of any kind nor do I want to be.
I am simply a life-long self-practicing student of life and a student
of Mother Ocean who is willing to selflessly share anything with
the hopes of helping anyone willing to listen and/or in need, even
at the risk of ridicule. How about you?
Sunday, November 14, 2004
Did you know that one of the first rules to success in inventing
something new is to answer the question, “Would I (the inventor)
use it?” Years ago I saw a TV commercial that was advertising
some toll-free number to find out how to apply for “US patents” to
people with good ideas. You may have seen it yourself because it
About ten years ago I called this US patent phone number because
I happened to have something in mind to hold my Mini DV video camera
on my shoulder simulating a “full-sized” camera like
the pro’s use. They made it sound so easy on the phone and
walked me through the entire process from concept to specs. I sent
them schematics, measurements, materials I thought necessary to make
the item, desires I had for ergonomic electronically controlled handgrips… etc.
I was soooo excited to have my own patent, let alone the item I’ve
always wanted. When everything was said and done, the last process
was to pay them $10,000 dollars. SAY WHAT!!!
Needless to say I didn’t get the patent. Interestingly shortly
thereafter, all kinds of these “shoulder mounting brackets
for Mini DV cameras” started to come out. Some looked identical
to what I had designed. Was it ironic or did some ass-wipe at whatever
toll-free number I called, steal my idea?
This weekend we started shooting the first bits of The Blue Water
Hunter show. Mostly practice for this FNG (me) to be in front of
the camera, instead of behind it, as what is normal. Boy is it
a steep learning curve. I wasn’t built to be in front of the
camera but I’m willing to do it. So why do I want to do it?
Because I would watch it no matter who was in the show, just like
the inventor would use his product he wanted to invent.
As for the toll-free, US Patent phone number, don’t get burned.
Sunday, November 7, 2004
Journal entry, what for? Did I dive this weekend???
Who cares? When you see the word “Announcement,” it might
matter to you and it might not because it depends on what’s
being “Announced!” Example… if
I told you that the inventor of Electric Nose Hair Clippers is doing
a “Clipper” signing tomorrow, you might not have the
desire to stand in line over night so you don’t miss the opportunity.
On the other hand, if I told you the Victoria Secret models were
going to be here, in the store, offering advice on what shaft they
like to use and the best rubbers for the most strength, so your shaft
won’t bend… I’d bet I’d see you around here
tomorrow even if you live in Kamartha Butswana in the country of
Harthbeta Luga. That’s somewhere in Europe… Uhhh, I think?
Well, this doesn’t qualify as an “Official” announcement,
but nonetheless, I can’t hold it in any more… For all
you faithful Journal readers, you may know already that I can be
a little whacked in my writing, my psycho-iatrist likes to say “special.” I
like to call it, THE WAY I AM. Well, you are going to see my ugly
mug, and THE WAY I AM, hosting a NEW SPEARFISHING SHOW on The Outdoor
Channel (not the Outdoor Life Channel), which is a NATIONALLY TELEVISED
station!!! We start shooting the weekend of November 13 – 14
in a format called High Definition. If you don’t know what
High Definition is… you will soon!
The show will be called The Blue Water Hunter. Sound familiar?
The exact airdates are TBA (To Be Announced). Of course you, my
journal readers, will be the first to know but expect the airdates
to be around May – July 2005. This is a weekly special and
our “first season” consists of Thirteen (13) shows. We
HOPE it will be an ongoing thing so I BEG all-yall to support the
show and tell everyone you know and even people you don’t.
The “Official Announcement” is coming soon, so stay tuned!!!
AHHHHHHHH!!!!!!! That’s this coming weekend!!! I’m ok,
I’m ok, I’m ok…
Saturday, November 1, 2004 Supplement
I just received a story from a customer who recently visited Hawaii.
He also sent some pictures to verify his amazing experience. So
for any of you that think I’m full of doodoo, here’s another
person who has experienced similar splendor of The Blue and whose
story rivals any of my own. The following story and pictures are
from Ted Roe.
“I came to Kona on Oct 16 to attend a four day free diving
seminar by Kirk Krack and Martin Stepanek of Performance Freediving.
completing the course I went to Kealakakua Bay on Oct. 21 to
swim out to the Captain Cook monument and back to practice my newly
learned skills. It was a sunny afternoon and the water was fairly
I was on the return to the dock, about halfway back, near the
and about 100yds offshore in about 60ft of water. I breathed
up and dove to my neutral point about 30ft or so and just drifted
As I looked ahead I saw a blue and silver flash of a large fish
coming towards me. It wasn't profiled so it wasn't immediately
kind of fish it was. To my amazement, out of the blue came
a marlin about nine feet long. It saw me and cocked one eye at
me to look
me over. I didn't stare back and tried not to let my surprise
show in my body language. It continued on a course that would cause
it to pass about ten feet below me and about 15ft to my right.
dove into a head down position and squeezed off the first broadside
pic when it passed by me. Then I returned to a head up position
and took the second pic as it continued passed. In both shots
that the fish is watching me.”
A Striped Marlin in about 50 feet of water!?! Wow! Just another
day in Hawaii.
Saturday, October 16, 2004
Oh my God!!! Is all I can say about this weekends diving adventure.
It’s just my kind of luck that the one day I choose to “go
back to reef diving” Mother Nature reminded me to beware. How
can someone have a perfect day and the worst day all in the same
day? Read on…
Iron Man was taking place in Kona this weekend so many of the locals
duck for cover. I opted to close the shop and go dive because all
the roads are closed off for Iron Man, which makes it a little
challenging to do business, to say the least. It’s also another great excuse
to go dive, what can I say???
A friend told me the winds would be almost nil so I opted to go
north to the point of the island. They should rename it the “North
Point of no Return!” I jumped in at first light when the sea
was calm and placid knowing full well that the conditions could change
in a moments notice and without warning, but honestly, I thought
I’d seen it all…
The swim out was INCREDIBLE with perfect visibility, light current
and tons of fish. My plan was to hold off for the big boy(s) so
I was ready and “rigged big.” Of course all the fish I
would have normally speared knew that I was holding off for the big
boys so they taunted me with their displays of swimming ability right
in front of my face… Oh you little #@%$*(^%
The first hole I dove had a nice 40-ish pounder Ulua swimming circles
inside as I crept in the front door and silently watched his activities.
After I finished reading a novel while lying on the bottom and
watching Mr. Ulua, who didn’t seem to care one bit that I was there,
I surfaced and headed out further to check a couple more spots. Constantly
taking mental notes of ocean conditions, I noticed the winds had
definitely picked up over the last half hour but the current was
still quite mild. Riding the gentle Pacific River I glided with ease
over the next several spots without any luck of spotting anything
enormous to spear. I decided to change to my modified “reef” shaft
and start looking for those very fish that were taunting me earlier.
It wasn’t long before I spotted a beautiful Moana Kali, which
started off the days adventure. Shortly after, I spotted another
nice Kali and place him near his buddy on the Kui (fish stringer).
Again, shortly after, a small but still decent Uku became curious
enough to go for a ride next to the two Kali’s. There were
enough Uhu’s cruzing around to fill a truck bed so I spent
my time looking for an exceptionally LARGE one. I saw one of my favorite
species and patiently stalked the wary fish. Because of his size
and cautiousness I was very satisfied to add this one to the Kui.
Zigzagging from the shallows to the depths, to cover the most ground,
also benefited me by showing me the current was mild inside and
out. Therefore my anticipation and anxiety for the swim up current
go home was kept to a minimum, so I kept diving without a care
in the world. I located two more incredible Kalis and added them
my Kui before I decided to call it a day and bring home the plethora
of quality fish for a feast with my friends and neighbors.
Ya right, I thought the day would end all nicely like that… This
is where Mother Nature kicked in. On the outside, the current was
wafting gently in the direction of South and out, on the inside it
was heading north and in. What a perfect situation I thought… I
can ride the current out to find all the fish on the outside and
then swim inside to ride the current home… How much more perfect
does it get than that?
Let’s see if I can paint a clear picture for you where my thinking
was lacking… Imagine a “V” on its side (i.e. >).
Now, the top side of the > is the current heading south and out;
the bottom side of the > is the current heading north and in;
and the intersection of the > is the point where I want to get
out of the water, right…wrong! The intersection of the > turned
out to be the intersection of the two merging currents about four
hundred (400) yards from home base… Imagine an intersection
in rush-hour traffic in NYC and you are a Rabbit trying to cross
the street and you’re stuck on the inside of the “V”… and
you’re a swimming Rabbit, not standing on land. So every time
I rushed into the merging current I was swept backwards at a rate
far greater than I could swim, kicking as hard as Rabbitly possible.
Ok, now what? First, stay calm and think of alternatives. Keep
in mind, while I am pondering my alternatives, I am drifting with
northern heading current which brings me back into the southern
heading river/current which I have to kick very hard to get out of
into the northern heading current which bring me back into the
southern heading river/current……. Yes, I am doing a circle in
the elbow of the V struggling to stay in the same spot and wasting
a lot of precious time/energy.
Alternative #1, head straight in and get pounded on sharp, jagged
lava rock with 6 – 8 foot waves. No thanks.
Alternative #2, keep doing what I’m doing and HOPE eventually
I’ll make it home.
Alternative #3, swim approximately 5 miles against the more mild
northern heading current to a suitable exit point. Uhhhh… I
don’t think so, but I’ll keep that in mind…
Alternative #4, keep doing what I’m doing and HOPE eventually
I’ll make it home.
Alternative #5, start “lightening the load” and ditch
items creating extra drag and slowing me down… Say what!!!
What am I willing to let go?!? Nothing! Wait a minute… You
either start lightening the load or you aint maken it back hommie!
Well, what am I supposed to let go? I sure aint gonna let my gun
go and I’m not going to let this mouth watering, barbequed
or baked Kali with melted butter and black bean sauce poured over
it and a steaming bed of rice… ahhhhh or, or, or the Uku baked
at 400 degrees for 45 minutes and smothered with mayo, fresh ground
ginger until golden brown than sprinkled with cinnamon or brown sugar… oh,
damn, I just make myself hungry! So I quickly changed to alternative
Alternative #6, keep doing what I’m doing and HOPE eventually
I’ll make it home. Nooooo! I already know that one and it AINT
WORK’N! Well than… Well than what? You know what you
need to do… But, but, but… No, JUST DO IT… you
have no choice! AAAAAAAAAAAAAA - Slice… I cut the load of fish
free - my heart sank with them.
I watched as my day’s hard work, my morals, my training and my teaching
and my evenings feast roll along the bottom gently brushing against the rock
I have been staring at for about an hour and a half now while I kick with all
my effort. My catch rests in the eddy created behind the large rock that seems
to anchoring me to the bottom for I cannot move. They seem to stare back at me
I can’t handle it and, although I am still fighting the current and going
nowhere, I drop down to retrieve my days catch. My guilt has overridden my rationale
as I once again begin to lose ground against the Pacific River. I fight within
once again as I must let go of this highly regarded personal prize if only to
gain a few precious feet toward home. My energy is being swallowed by my pride
and my pride is fighting all rationale. Without anyone to console, no one to
blame or someone to talk to, I must wage this battle alone.
To make things a little worse, I can see a small gathering of fisherman
and tourists scattered about the shoreline watching me from a short
distance, but I cannot
yell for help for it is not just a hand I need. I look down to remind myself
what got me here in the first place and I see my catch wafting gently along
the bottom heading slowly down current like tumbleweed in a western
my head out of the water I yearn to yell something so I can at least pull my
pride of fish to the safety of the shore. I begin to notice my thoughts changing
to rescuing my fish over my own personal safety, which flags me to the fact
that I am starting to lose perspective due to exhaustion and dehydration.
I dive to retrieve my catch before it tumbles too far.
Almost two hours have passed. I have tried every possible cure
for my ailment and not one inch gained toward a solution. I’m still staring at the same
rock. I yell at the top of my lungs through my snorkel as frustration and anxiety
are released into the air, but it doesn’t help one bit. Fish inhand, I
try swimming freestyle with my one available hand and kicking as hard as I possibly
can. I gain about ten feet over the next five to ten minutes until I am too exhausted
and drift back to the my rock. I “rest,” only kicking 80% instead
of 100%. I dive to my rock and pull myself along the bottom and gain a considerable
distance in no time but at a much higher cost, my legs are on fire from working
too hard while holding my breath.
Even at this very moment, writing this sentence…I hesitate to admit… I
let my pride fall to the bottom for the last time, never to see it again.
Disgusted with myself I was willing to risk whatever it took to
end this dilemma. I balanced a very fine line between getting POUNDED
by the surf onto razor sharp
coral and A’a Lava and swam an anaerobic mixture of freestyle and breaststroke
along with as strong of a kick as my now long cramped thighs could muster. Steady,
I thought to myself, just keep a steady pace and hope. Literally riding a fine
line between waves I finally made it back to my entrance point over four and
a half hours after I had started. The pain created by removing my fins was far
greater than the pain created by wearing them. I sat at the waters edge slumped
over thinking about “my rock” that I had stared at for more than
It took me over four hours to make the drive home which should
normally have taken two. I pulled over on the side of the road several
times so I wouldn’t
fall asleep while driving and rested. I drove most of the winding and straight
road home using the “cruse control” buttons on the steering wheel
of my truck because if I kept my feet, ankles, calves, thighs or any other part
of my body on the same position for more than a few minutes it would cause a
debilitating cramp. Today marks exactly one week since this “special” experience
and I still feel residual tiredness and stiffness in my legs. But I haven’t
lost the desire… I’m just going to take the boat out this weekend.
August 15, 2004
Back to school… “What did
you do this summer little Robbie?” Well Mrs. Winkelheimer,
I hung out with my friends at the beach, I played in the sand,
I lifted up Sally’s
skirt and I killed lots of INCREDIBLE fish…You should
have seen it, tons of teeth everywhere, sharks and jelly fish trying
eat me, microscopic organisms burrowed into my brain and told me
to do naughty things… “Enough, little Robbie, Enough!!!…” Mrs.
Winkelheimer screamed! I woke up in a cold sweat wondering where
I was. Then I realized I was running late, it’s Sunday morning
and people are waiting for me to show up with the boat. All the
while getting ready I kept thinking how happy I feel being finished
school now that the year-rounders are starting up again.
I turn my cell phone on to see if any of the people going on the
boat today had left messages when the tone registered to let me
know someone had. ALL the divers, for various reasons, had called
Slightly dumbfounded, I ponder the dream from which I had awoke
and wished I could lie down to continue where it had left off.
the hundred pounds of ice and fifty pounds of palu (chum) sitting
in the boat wouldn’t keep for more than the day, so off I went.
To make a short story long, I had a nice boat ride north until
I hit the wind line. From there I endured the usual back pounding,
jaw slamming, neck jarring, toe jamming, white-caped, victory at
see, angry ocean conditions just for the sake a catching a glimpse
of an Ahi or Marlin… Finally, after about two hours and the
boat being completely air-born several billion times, I arrived at
OTEC Buoy. NOTHING! ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! But the water was clear…
I had to stop myself mid-thought, why the F%&* did I come all
the way up here… STOP! Think about Garrett and Tobin and so
many other brudda’s and sista’s fighting in Iraq while
my lazy ass is complaining about the weather… Positive thinking
and a change in direction made all the difference in the world. Jumping
on the throttle, I aimed the bow toward F Buoy and surfed the wind
and swells all the way to flat water back down south a bit. After
checking F buoy and swimming with a billion baby Mahi Mahi, no current
but flat water, I decided to call it a day.
I like to look back at the end of the day to think about anything
I may have learned, or at least was reminded of. Of course, the
reminder to appreciate what I have rather than complain about what
is always a good one. But I did learn that the wind changed direction
FOUR times over the course of about three hours and a few geographical
modifications. I’ll just add this to the decaying memory banks… I’m
still trying to learn and understand, Mrs. Winkelheimer… maybe
you can teach the kids something they can use, like the world they
live in, rather than how the Romans use to gorge themselves before
massacring innocent people in 900 B.C.
August 8, 2004
…Amazing what a difference one weekend makes.
Last weekend, when Rob Torelli was visiting here, the fish were plentiful,
mammals were everywhere and the weather was beautiful. Well, as I
like to say, there’s never a bad day in Hawaii, some days are
just better than others.
Last Sunday I was fortunate enough to come across a beautiful Ahi
and, as stated earlier, I had a pretty damn good day overall. On
Tuesday, I can’t believe I’m going to tell you this but
I ate shit on a stairway slipping at the top of a wet stair case
and went flying, perfectly horizontal like a cartoon character -
feet level with my head - and landed on my ribs… on the last
step. Not recommended! I distinctly remember thinking while I was
in the air, “I had such a good weekend too,” than BAM!!!
There goes my coffee all over me…
The reason I admitted my lack of dexterity (so much for cat-like
reflexes) is to put into perspective my condition as I went diving
this Sunday. Five days is not a long time relative to your spine
being readjusted by a freight train. I was in a lot of pain but again
I recall my Master saying, “Pain is only in the mind,” besides,
the Ahi are not going to be in town forever so ya-got-ta-go-when-ya-got-to-go…
Since finding the Ahi was my number one priority I decided to risk
it all. The early morning on-shore winds means the swells and chop
will be in my face all of the ten or so miles to F buoy and I felt
every bump as the boat pounded it’s way to where I hoped the
Ahi were chill’n. When I finally got there, there were no boats,
which as I have said before can be a good thing, but usually not.
The wind was medium and the current was SMOKE’N. I knew I would
be working hard on this day.
On my first pass in the “River Pacific,” I swept by
F Buoy close enough to spear a lone 15 lb. Mahi Mahi that was resting
in the eddy behind the Buoy. I made one more pass but without anything
coming to eat the chum I packed it in and prepared myself for the
longest single run of the day… from F Buoy to TT Buoy. The
trek turned out to be one of the most brutal trips to date.
By the time I was in the vicinity of TT Buoy I was so disinterested
in diving I almost called it a day and went home. My spine had been
launched out of my neck several WHA-BAMS ago and my broken ribs sounded
like glass pieces being shaken in a metal garbage can. But the thought
of a monster Ahi down below kept me swallowing my teeth as they would
chip or break with each concussion of relentless 40 mile/hour wind
Two full boxes of palu were delivered to the ocean gods but only
the Stino Dolphin partook in the feast, scaring anything else away
and deep. A friend yelled to me in the water from a passing boat, “I
can see the Ahi on my fish-finder but they are about 300 feet deep!” Well,
I haven’t been doing any Freedive training this week so I guess
they’re a little out of reach, I thought to myself… Hehehe…
Realizing I wasn’t going to accomplish anything at TT Buoy,
I waved my goodbyes and started my third leg of the trip and headed
inward toward B Buoy. Landing at B than moving onto UU I was beginning
to loose hope for anything big to impale. The last stop was C buoy
which hasn’t had much of anything this year. I pulled my bands
and loaded my Comp. 4X, threw some palu while I was sitting on the
edge of the boat and arranged my mask. One quick glance toward the
palu as I was lowering myself into the water, I could swear I saw
the color of a Mahi Mahi, but in the few moments it took to swim
to where the drifting palu was I could see nothing. I guessed my
desire to see something and anything my mind was playing tricks on
me. A full drift went by and still nothing. Reluctantly, I motored
back up current and followed the same pattern as before. This time
I was not fooled.
I noticed a lone Female Mahi sitting just below the surface over
to my right side about fifty feet away. I was a bit surprised that
the Mahi wasn’t attracted to the abundance of slowly falling
palu well in front of me but I could tell she was just being very
cautious. I dipped below the surface to about ten feet when I leveled
off and looked in her direction, she was gone. I immediately looked
at the palu, which she had darted in and was now devouring with incredible
aggression. It was a bit difficult to line up on this 19 pound female
due to her speed of aggressive feeding but I just took my time knowing
sooner or later she would present me with an opportunity, and I didn’t
have to wait long.
As soon as I pulled the trigger I looked around to see if anything
was watching which would help me determine how to fight the speared
Mahi. As always, I hoped the commotion would attract other Mahi that
may have been outside visual range. Looking to my left, I immediately
caught sight of three Mahi’s inbound toward the action. I moved
slowly away from the scene and tried to look as disinterested as
I could so the visiting Mahi would hang around. My excitement, as
I was hoisting the speared Mahi onto the boat and into the cooler,
caused me to laugh at myself. I stumbled around tangling lines and
tripped over my own feet trying to hurry and get into position back
up current to try and get the larger Bull Mahi I noticed in the visiting
Finally, with my gun reloaded, shooting line and tag line where
they should be I flew back up to the same location and threw wishes
over my shoulder into the blue like a coin into a wishing well. I
waited patiently as I watched the palu shimmer upon its spiral downward.
Like the first lone Mahi, all three Mahi rushed in and started aggressively
feeding on the hapless palu. I dropped slowly realizing a cannon
could sound and these Mahi would stay put to their feeding frenzy.
I positioned myself inches off the twenty-seven pound Bull Mahi and
unloaded. The other two Mahi continued to feed as the Bulls stillness
Satisfied with the days catch I, carelessly followed suit and boated
the Bull, organized my equipment and made one last attempt to see
if the other two Mahi would linger. Without success I donated the
remaining palu to the Hogi on the surface and the Opaka far down
below. The winds had changed direction so I was once again heading
into a Gail, but I didn’t care anymore.
I was tired yet satisfied and I turned the physically degrading,
pounding wind chop into a positive, health gaining exercise. I wrapped
my twisted towel around the backrest of the chair and tied a knot
so it wouldn’t fall off; I leaned back, carefully positioning
the bulk of the soft towel onto my spine and waited for the next
wave. The bow of the boat sounded with a sonic BOOM as the abrupt
upward movement snapped and cracked every vertebrae and joint in
my entire body… Ahhhhhhhhh That’s better… I think.
August 1, 2004
I’m not even sure where to start… There were sooooooooooo
many things that stood out this weekend of diving that I’m
having difficulty focusing on which one to talk about first. I can
hear my Master say, “concentrate Grasshopper! Become One with
First and foremost, I dedicate this special day and special fish
to Gene Higa who had succumb to mother oceans calling and gave his
life to the sea and the sport of freediving and spearfishing during
Nationals in Oahu last weekend. Please read journal titled “Nationals
July 24” for more information. I was not able to dive
the weekend I came back from Nationals for several reasons. The reason
that sticks in my head the most is that of Gene’s passing,
as I know MANY other divers had experienced the same lack of desire
to enter the water. As I think of Gene and many other divers that
have given their lives to the sport, I often ponder my own destiny
and when or where I’ll be when my “number” is called?
I never would wish to leave this beautiful planet but when I do,
I can only hope it’ll be while I’m doing what I love.
I have known many people/divers closest to a fallen diver, will
opt to never dive again. Naturally, diving would bring up many very
difficult feelings and memories for those individuals to which already
on a daily basis may be excruciating. Personally, I would like to
think that a fallen diver is still a diver and the last thing a fellow
diver would want is to stop diving. If it was I who passed on I would
like to imagine my partner continuing to dive and continue to experience
the most beautiful reason to live. I would rest in the peace of mind
that I would not be forgotten and I could continue to see the bounty
of Mother Ocean through my partner’s eyes, dreams and wishes.
As I had mentioned in the journal titled “Nationals
July 24” I had met many people and contacts at
Nationals. One of which was Rob Torelli, an award winning filmmaker
and spearfisherman who has dedicated his life to documenting
the marine environment worldwide. Rob has also accumulated numerous
freediving and spearfishing videos as one aspect of his marine
The plan was to help Rob (Torelli) accumulate spearfishing footage
as well as Shark, Whale, Dolphin and any other marine footage available… Ya
right, wouldn’t we all like to see that… in one day… good
luck! What, do you want to find a net also? Sure!!! Since your asking
for the Moon you might as well ask for the stars as well right???
Well about ten minutes out of Keahou Harbor we noticed a Spotted
Dolphin pod so we went to investigate. Ya see, the Spotted Dolphins
often hang out with Ahi so there was a good chance we could “kill
two birds with one stone” and get Ahi footage and Dolphin footage
at one time. Rob T. jumped in solo with his camera and got a little
footage of the friendly Spotted Dolphins but without any Ahi around
we decided to pack it up and keep going. Well, I guess we got one
Not more than a minute went by and we noticed something skimming
across the water… It was a Marlin jumping because another boat
trolling in the Dolphin school had hooked it! The Rob’s friend
and fellow cameraman, Pete Constable, started rolling video as the
Marlin approached and continued to jump within a stones throw away
from our boat! Great footage! …An unexpected plus!
Within a few more minutes we came across a net, just as Rob T.
had requested. It was a great find but surprisingly the net didn’t
yield much. A few small Ono cruzing around so I ended up catching
one for dinner, but its size was nothing to brag about. Rob T’s
son, Jake Morris – Torelli, jumped in at the net and ended
up stoning his first Ono shooting from way downtown. Due to the long
shot, the barb was unable to open and the fish managed to hobble
off and sink to the depths. Within the first hour since we left the
dock we had accomplished many of Rob T’s goals and we really
hadn’t even started. With calm water and a long distance to
my objective of TT Buoy, I recommended we high tail it to the Buoy
before the trade winds pick up.
The ride was unusually calm and beautiful toward TT Buoy. There
is a point of land that juts out just south of TT Buoy that protects
the northern part of the coast from the strong trades; but once you
pass the point all hell brakes loose. The swells become towers of
angry white water, the wind becomes sheets of spray topping each
cresting wave, the boat becomes a circus ride of lethality as a river
rushes over the bow clearing the deck of everything not tied down,
your feet slip out from under your body as if suddenly you only weigh
a few ounces compared to the rushing water, however you feel your
full weight as your ribs contact the slick metal side railings just
before you bounce off the deck and are flung into the fishing rod
holders on the back of the boat gnarled from years of fighting enormous
predators, the gnarled and splintered edges catch and tear your clothing
and pierce your skin but it’s a small price to pay as it keeps
you from being thrown overboard into the engines cavitating props
and ground into small bits of fish fodder… Ok, I’m back
Before long we could see numerous boats up ahead which undoubtedly
meant we were close to TT Buoy. Cautiously we enter the parade of
aggressive fishing boats, each one jockeying for a position they
consider their little piece of the ocean. Finding an opening in the
collage of small and large boats of all colors, shapes and sizes
speckled across the blue ocean, we could see objects breaking the
surface as they dodged predators or joined in the predation. Dorsal
fins rose from the commotion as Tooted (Stino) Dolphins played, chased
and harassed fisherman and their catches, snatching their hooked
fish and tearing them in half. The fishermen left with only the head
of their catch.
I entered the water slowly, cautiously, not wanting to add to an
already nervous chatter of the surface water. Rob T. and his son
Jake enter the water as well to partake in this bounty of energy
in the liquid blue. The sunlight danced off the palu drifting downward
awaiting their final destiny as surrounding beams of heaven pierce
the darkness and cast images of eerie delight. A human, a diver,
a land mammal willingly entering a realm he may have crawled from
a billion years before but is far from a graceful, natural predator.
He makes up for his deficiencies with his creativeness, willingness,
eagerness to learn how to communicate with marine animals incomprehensible
to other animals, or even his fellow man.
We are greeted by the curious Aku and Shibi that dance before us
dodging eachother as they take turns whacking the palu with a release
of hibernating vitality. Several passes, drifting in the wind of
the water, a raging current slams up against the anchored TT Buoy
and struggles to get around it as we cautiously pass the connected
chain. This chain, it descends into the depths of our dreams and
desires of breathing water as if it was air and swimming among these
creatures we can only visit for a blip on the clock of eternity.
Once again we climb into our floating piece of motorized land that
separates us and reminds us we are merely visitors here. Steaming
full ahead, we relocate a sliver of ocean we can once again call
ours, even if for a few moments. I spy a fisherman, not fishing but
catching. His ladened left arm, straightened by the struggle of his
finned foe. He struggles unknowing what his mighty fishing rod has
caught but he fights as if it is his life against his foes. My thoughts
ponder his catch and can only guess, as can the fisherman.
I decide THIS is it. This is the chance I have been looking for
on this day, because whatever this fisherman is attached to, it may
be accompanied by something as fierce as it might be. What odds are
stacked against me that the challenger is of greater strength? My
family of Blue Water spearfishermen considers this a challenge and
I rest the boat and kill the grown of the four-stroke motors. We
sit still in the water but are moving as one body toward a floating
synthetic piece of yellow painted metal and a barley legible sign
reading “TT” gripping middle earth. The struggle continues
with the fisherman, the extension of his skill and purchased mechanics
tethered to his monolith below. We yield a plethora of delight and
best wishes to the sea gods below as a cloud of slightly thawed palu
extends from the back of our boat like a giant necklace of shimmering
candy. The starter pistol is imagined as a race begins for the speedy
swimming footballs eager to reach the Finnish line. My senses are
spiking as I notice a slight change in the feeding pattern of the
erratic baitfish. They are moving in unison toward than away from
the palu as if teasing themselves with the bounty before them.
To my left about fifty feet below the surface, a lone Ahi of gifted
size rushes in and takes over the necklace of offerings. Floating
on the surface next to me sits a fourteen year old whose experiences
diving throughout the world rival that of my own. His father, floating
between us, grips his video camera unaware of the inbound creature
as he is ladened with the task of watching me awaiting some action
and keeping tabs on his son who is venturing into a realm where anything
can and will happen. My heart races as I anxiously dive but it instantly
slows to a few powerful pounding beats per minute. I approach the
Ahi with the strange desire to befriend him, to invite him to my
home so he can understand how I live and my desires to visit his
home. I watch the Ahi watching me as it feeds on the casted chum.
The Ahi’s pattern changes as I approach within range. I descend
calmly calculating the ever-changing mathematical equation of distance
to mass ratio, power to distance ratio, power to mass ratio, depth
to noise ratio, noise to distance ratio, species specific to power,
range, mass, distance ratios, personal O2 levels and possible scenarios,
movements or lack of movement and noise or silence which attract
or detract species specific, which limits the possibility of nonsuccess.
The Ahi makes a precalculated and desirable course toward me perfectly
horizontal and on level. The shaft travels through the Ahi as the
Ahi traveled through the palu than immediately descended toward the
I look up than behind and to my delight Rob T. had captured the
entire event in real-time on video. The Ahi dipped my Riffe Torpedo
Float on end but surprisingly didn’t take it under. Knowing
I wanted nothing to do with a lively Ahi, I left it alone for a little
while hoping it would wear itself out a bit and calm down. I placed
the Torpedo float under my arms and slowly began the arduous task
of pulling the Ahi toward the surface being careful and aware not
to become entangled in the floating line incase the Ahi decided to
make a surprise run. As the leader-line was within reach I rolled
off of the Torpedo float, cleared any line from my entanglement and
prepared my knife for the kill. This is where it became a little
It is considered normal when a speared fish approaches the surface
that it becomes aware of its destiny and begins to fight more vigorously,
and this Ahi was no exception. About a half hour had gone by with
numerous attempts to pull the relentless creature to the surface
when I finally asked for a back-up gun. Placing a less than desirable
back-up shot I was once again faced with the dilemma of how to get
this beautiful Ahi onto the boat. The only other means of dispatching
it was my knife, which would require me to swim down to the Ahi rather
than bringing the Ahi to me on the surface.
Normally the task of diving twenty feet would be simple, however,
after almost forty-five minutes into a fierce battle, I was spent.
I separated myself from the situation and spent a few moments catching
my breath. Pulling myself down the leader-line, knife drawn, I positioned
myself to wage a hand-to-fin battle. The Ahi noticed my approach
and began to buck like an angry Bull. After numerous stabs missing
the mark I was able to see stillness settle over the situation as
the Ahi had finally succumb to its mortal wounds.
This was a battle like no other and required every bit of strength
and experience acquired over many years. My level of admiration for
this species has risen to new heights, raising the bar exponentially.
I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the future!!!
All this combined with Pilot Whales on the way home made for ANOTHER
one of those days were we say, “Lucky we live Hawaii!” Rob
Torelli…who knows… I think he was so blown away by his
entire stay here in Kona, we may be considering him Kamaina sooner
or latter. And Gene (Higa), you’re welcome to join me diving
anytime… Aloha my Brudda.
U.S. Nationals, Saturday July 24, 2004
Bipolar - Pronunciation: (")bI-'pO-lar
- having or marked by two mutually repellent forces or diametrically
opposed natures or views
- a : having or involving the use of two poles or polarities
b : relating to, being, or using a transistor in which both
electrons and holes are utilized as charge carriers
- relating to, associated with, or occurring in both polar
species of birds>
- characterized by the alternation of manic and depressive
bipolar affective disorder>
I took the weekend off of diving and creating my own adventure
so I could embark on a trek to the neighbor island of Oahu where
years U.S. Nationals were held. Flying over Friday night I spent
the evening with my good friend Jeff Kinimaka (who has been in
MANY previous journal entries) and his family. The next morning (Saturday)
kicked off the big event and a whole day of chill’n with the
Riffe girls (Julie and Jill).
I guess I’m getting jaded with the pace of the Big Island because
I felt an incredible force when I disembarked at Honolulu Airport.
Boy did I feel like a grain of sand on a long stretch of beach. Luckily,
Jeff met me at the Airport and escorted me to his house that I never
would have found on my own. You know the feeling when you’ve
heard a lot about someone and than you finally meet him or her? Well,
Jeff’s family fits into that category and was very nice to
finally meet them. They were all incredibly sweet and treated me
like part of the Ohana. This part of my trip was on the polar upside.
I look forward to seeing you guys again!!!
The next morning I drove up to the North Shore, where the tournament
was being held, and met up with Jill and Julie Riffe and friends.
After saying the “What’sups” we took off to check
out the tournament than do some sight seeing. The day seemed to slip
by as the weigh-in time of 4:00pm was fast approaching. Jill and
I slipped away as the others were coming in from Spearfishing so
we were able to catch all the competitors coming in from their dives.
Everybody did great and I gained a lot of respect for everyone that
participated as well as all the hands that organized and helped out
the day of the event. The energy in the air was that of congratulation,
excitement and eagerness to find out who did the best. This was no
small task for all mentioned. This again, was a polar upside.
As the competitors pile in on a small sandy beach, organizers are
on hand to help pull the kayaks onto shore as well as check the
divers in by calling out their respective numbers. Even as the horn
one could look out over the ocean and see several kayaks inbound
containing competitors that would be disqualified due to time constraints
of the competition. Approximately 4:15 pm. the officials realize
one person was not accounted for. This was the first sign something
was very wrong. The diver's name was Gene Higa.
Gene is one of the state of Hawaii’s and the worlds best
divers, so for Gene not to be present at check in was a very strange
immediately horrifying realization. Simultaneously, all organizers
coordinated efforts with the Coast Guard, fire crews and safety
boats to find Gene. Friends and family organizers and volunteers
around helpless while the radio remained quiet, hoping for the
best and fearing the worst. I too was in disbelief that this could
happening. Not to Gene… no way… not to Gene…
The radio sounded as word came back that Gene’s kayak was found
half submerged from the windy sea conditions and heavy current. This
was the second bad sign.
The time, approximately 4:30 pm. Using GPS, the Coast Guard was
able to digitally track and back-path Gene routs and dive pattern.
minutes after finding the kayak, the words nobody wanted to hear
and everybody feared the most became a reality. Gene’s body
was discovered in a cave approximately eighty (80) feet underwater.
The scene thereafter at the U.S. National was indescribable… The
chance of reviving Gene had passed by several hours as medical
personnel assessed Gene’s time of death to be around 12:00
noon to 2:00 pm. The human brain is considered irreparable after
seven (7) minutes.
This was the polar downside.
The following day Hawaii Skin Diver Magazine offered an exhibition
where several manufacturers, distributors and retailers offered
their advice, information and even sales of equipment. This was
up side and a polar down side all in one. A dark cloud remained
thick and heavy in the room. By this time many more people knew
death and all were unsure how to carry on because the pace doesn’t
stop or even slow down in this “rat race.” However, the
exhibition also gave everyone a chance to meat and talk with some
very famous people in the industry, divers and manufacturers alike.
I was fortunate enough to make some good friends and future contacts
as well as checkout some “different” equipment, which
I will be incorporating into The Blue Water Hunter sometime very
What else can I say but overall the event was a “good” experience
taking into HUGE consideration Brudda Gene Higa’s death. He
will be missed. He will not be forgotten.
July 18, 2004
I actually wasn’t planning on going diving today (Sunday) but
the ocean wasn’t only calling to me… it was screaming!!!
I woke up and instantly looked out at the trees to see if they were
moving. Only bright early morning sunlight and the songs of awakening
birds broke the freeze-frame of life. Like trying to keep my hands
out of the cookie jar when I know there are Oreo’s in there,
I tried not to think about the screams in my head yelling “perfect
dive conditions!” I stayed true and firm… for about five
With a fueled boat, but only one putrid, frothy, gurgling, stale,
broken and leaking box of chum, we headed out. The plan was to
hit a reef spot and practice shooting some fish. Due to all the Blue
Water hunting I have been doing I wasn’t quite sure how my
lack of bottom-time was going to affect my reef spearing ability,
but how bad could it really be, I thought to myself?
A few seconds after throwing anchor I noticed a pool of “moving” water
just behind the back of the boat. The kind of water one might observe
when Salmon fishing in Alaska’s great rivers where the Salmon
launch themselves through the rapids to make it upstream to the spawning
grounds. Needless to say, I jumped into the water and held onto the
prop as the rest of my body flailed in the current like a flag in
heavy winds. Upon letting go it took about ten to fifteen seconds
to be 100 yards from the boat! And this is on the reef!
Due to the heavy currents, the visibility was pristine and I knew
where there would be fish. In current like this the Ulua house
was sure to be holding, I just had to keep myself in position and
my dive perfectly or I would overshoot the hole and no second chance.
In certain places the current seemed to pick up than slowdown and
at the worst possible time it picked up. I noticed the hole fast
approaching and tried desperately to position myself. Holding my
hands above my head like Supper Man, I sprinted with all I had.
I took a fast breath to dive this 85-foot cave and kicked as fast
I could to make it into position.
Overshooting the cave, I landed slightly down current of my ideal
position but was close enough to crawl along the bottom. Grabbing
only the most secure pieces of reef I pulled and pulled only gaining
a foot or two. I could see ten (10) Ulua 40 to 70 pounds and a
small White Tip shark huddling underneath the ledge out of the hustling
current. My tag line and float were being pulled so hard by the
I actually stopped and looked up to see WHO was pulling on my line.
Without anyone to blame, I looked back at the Ulua and friend as
they calmly nestled into their little hiding place. Their expressions
seem to say, as they stared at me, “hay man, what are you doing
out there in the current? Do ya want’a come in?”
I had drifted and struggled to keep position on the ledge for about
an hour, swam for about two hours all the way back to shore, got
out, and walked about two to three miles all the way back to the
boat… all of that knowing that I was going to have ONE chance,
and a slim chance at that, to even get the opportunity (because nothings
guaranteed) to shoot an Ulua. ALL THAT FOR ONE FISH?!?! And I’d
do it again in a heartbeat.
But it wasn’t over yet. I still had the one putrid, frothy,
gurgling, stale, broken and leaking box of chum to get rid of. Luckily
the wind was down and we were about five miles inside OTEC buoy.
Picking up anchor, we zipped out and found the buoy in no time. On
our way out I explained there was a strong likelihood this buoy would
have some Mahi Mahi. Just a feeling I guess.
Right on cue, one (1) Mahi showed up to feast on the gourmet fish
sludge. I dropped to intervene. My shaft found an easy mark as
I held on for the ride. Four (4) other Mahi decided to join the action
but only hung out for a little while. Content with the catch, my
sights were set on “F” buoy due to the word on the fish
hook Ahi were to be found at F-buoy and I wanted my share of the
bounty. That was until I saw all the boats from two different fishing
tournaments AND the weekend warriors. But I tried anyway.
Several drifts, and I mean d-rift, dives and all the stank palu
was used and abused. I had succeeded in adding to the already bountiful
buffet being served up by the rest of the fisherman but the ocean
didn’t reciprocate this time. But that’s ok because it’s
just the price of doing business and I had already caught more than
enough for myself.