Saturday, January 31, 2009

Security Blanket

Ah, young love. I wouldn't go back even if I could. No way! Yes, it was thrilling, but also, ever so painful.

Today was the first time I've seen people snorkeling with colorful small inner tubes around their waists. I guess it provides the illusion of security for those not comfortable in the water, kind of like me and my teeny tiny little kayak.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Boxes and Breaches

The water was gloriously clear again this morning. My swimming speed seems to have decreased of late with an hour only getting me a little over a mile. Today I swam South instead of my usual Northward swim, and covered two miles in the same amount of time. I guess it isn't me after all and the current really does matter!

Still lots and lots of box jellyfish around today. Someone asked me what they look like, so I took this photo of one. I also took video so that you could see the really cool flashing lights which run up and down in multiple colors, but I got dizzy watching it, so I decided not to post it.

In case you were wondering about the other photo, yes, I was that close. I was paddling my kayak back from my swim when I encountered a group of four kayaks paddling slowly along. A baby whale breached clear of the water so I dropped my paddle and picked up my camera. I aimed in that general direction hoping the baby would make another breach. Instead, less than ten yards away, mommy whale breached! The other kayakers were on the other side of the breach and were sure I had been killed, they all started screaming. But, somehow or other, I got the photo. It was too close and too unexpected for me to get the entire whale in the frame, but I got it!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Spinners and Boxes

I got an email recently saying, "What gives?" Where are the dolphins?

They must have heard you, Glenn, because a group of twenty spinner dolphins swam with me for over an hour this morning. The water was crystal clear except for lots and lots of box jellyfish (dangerous critters) and other jelly-like organisms scattered about. The good news is the stinging went away after an hour. The bad news is that my camera focused on the little blobs instead of the dolphins in many shots. Still, I got lots of fun photos and video (click HERE or Below for today's Video).

To the three other people who were out there with me: Click HERE for the rest of the photos which include you!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Drama at Kukui

I love action movies, but I also love a good sappy romantic comedy. So when I saw that Anne Hathaway was nominated for an Oscar in something called "Rachel Getting Married" how could I resist? I should have been tipped off by the Oscar nomination. It wasn't a bad movie, but a romantic comedy it definitely was not. In fact it almost fit into the action genre (fist fight, car crash), except there weren't any nice firey explosions. What's my bottom line on it? Since it is Altmanesque, and I HATE Altman movies, I give it two stars out of five.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Exclusive Ride

Oh, it felt so good to get out on the water this evening. Some people go for a run or take an aerobics class, I get on the kayak and paddle into the wind for an hour. All the tension of my day melts away as waves crash over the bow and I ride the big ocean swells. And today I had the ocean all to myself, no boats anywhere to be seen. Just me and the whales (click HERE or Below for the Video).

Monday, January 26, 2009

Youthful Energy

I headed out for a paddle after work this evening and this young whale was doing head-stands right in front of my house only a couple hundred yards from shore. It was getting all kinds of exercise but I wasn't, so I headed out to deeper water.

Out there I found another youngster doing repeated tail slaps and half-breaches. It was getting dark but I still managed an underwater snapshot from the kayak of the calf, mother and escort.

On my return the first calf was floating on the surface with its mother even closer to shore than before. I wonder if they will be there when I go for my swim tomorrow morning?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Too, Too Much

What a day! I'm exhausted!

I helped out as a kayak escort for the Maui Polar Bear Swim race. I chose to accompany the last place person and really enjoyed myself. I met her only a couple of hundred yards out as she was panicking. She had never swum in the ocean before and was struggling to breathe. I got her to calm down by telling her I would stick by her side and that she could climb into my kayak at any time. It was probably fear of sitting close to me in my kayak that kept her swimming. And she finished, she swam the entire 1.2 mile race!

As soon as she finished I lit out for deeper water where I met a calf, mother and escort. They swam under me with the baby tucked under mom's fin. Then they turned around and came back with a now much bolder young one. I was thrilled by the encounter and, not wanting to risk upsetting the whales, I immediately began paddling for home. They, of course, followed me back almost all the way to shore. The top seven photos on my whale page were all from today's encounter.

Next, we went to see "Slumdog Millionaire" which was as wonderful as everyone is saying. Go see it!

Wow! What a day! I wonder what tomorrow will be like?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Whales Galore

Lots of adventure this morning.

I got some great exercise on my swim, but saw nothing but a whale tail above water and a few jellyfish below. After climbing into the kayak for the trip home I was passed by a competition pod of Humpback Whales. The group of five whales appeared to be running into each other like the two in the top photo.

Later, a group of three whales headed toward me. A baby, a mom and an escort. The whale calf kept zigzagging back and forth near the surface while the adults sedately swam ahead. At one point the two adults swam below my kayak. See what I mean about how well they blend in and disappear? It was difficult to see anything more than the white of their pectoral fins.

Finally, as I was heading in I encountered another calf, mother and escort. This time the calf was playing with a group of about eight dolphins. At least I assume they were dolphins. I do not recognize the dorsal fins as belonging to spinner dolphins.

All in all, it was a perfect morning.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Virtual Beach

Can't get enough protection! Hats, shirts, shoes and tent to avoid those damaging rays and who knows what else. Why don't they just keep the kids inside and show them movies of the beach? It would certainly be much safer.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Disappearing Act

This morning's ocean swim was extremely uninteresting - until the end. These two Humpback Whales did a quick swim-by to check me out, then kept on going.

I continue to be amazed at how well these huge creatures disappear by blending in with the water. They generally hang out in water which is NOT crystal clear and will be completely invisible twenty yards away. I had to process the heck out of these two photos so you could see them at all.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Serenity Now!

This is the new Serenity Pool at the Wailea Marriott. I couldn't help but notice the lawn mowers and weed whackers continuously roaring nearby. The pool has a well designed infinity edge, so that people in the pool look out and see only ocean.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Happiness Is . . .

I began the day shivering under leaden skies, then sliding through satiny smooth water; and ended my swim with wind, waves and rain. It was a magnificent swim. Now, of course, there isn't a cloud in the sky and the air conditioning is battling the heat.

There wasn't much to see out in the blue blue deep water. Whale fish came swimming by a few times accompanied by air bubbles rising from the depths, but I didn't see a single whale this morning. And I don't care! I really don't. Put me in the ocean and I am happy.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Two Whales Circling

The humpback whales are rather shy so far this season. I watched two of them quietly surface about fifty yards from my kayak this morning. They dove heading away from me, so I felt I wouldn't disturb them by sliding into the water to listen to their singing. I was taking a video of light rays dancing, hoping to capture some of their musical talents, when a school of whale fish swam by. Then, behind the fish, two whales (probably a mom and a yearling). Wow! They circled me twice before swimming away (click HERE or Below for the Video). I wondered if I should stick around in hopes of an additional encounter, or if that was being too greedy. I decided I was extremely grateful for having had this wonderful experience and got back in the kayak and headed home.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Close, But Not Too Close

The Maui Pink Cap Swimmers moved down to Big Beach this morning and got crystal clear water. This is how every swim should be!! From shore we saw whales out toward Kahoolawe island, and not tooooooo far away. Should we, shouldn't we? I opted for the deep water swim and almost everyone else followed along.

After we got in the ocean we didn't see any signs of whales. But the clear blue water was well worth it. Kevin kept going and going, and we kept following him. Then the water began to cloud up, no longer could we see the sea floor. From my past experience, this was a clear sign that we were in whale territory.

Sure enough the whale singing got loud, very loud. Then a school of whale fish swam by. Then from down below came a couple of bursts of air bubbles.

And that's it. That was our whale experience. A whale swam by to check us out but we never got to see it. Were we disappointed? Not a chance! The loud loud whale songs enchanted everyone and even when we got cold, we did not want to leave. "Thrilled" aptly describes how we all felt.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Surf's Down, But Still Up

Wind and waves dropped (somewhat) today and the surfers were out in droves. Even a few dive boats ventured out, after all the scuba divers would be below the waves most of the time. I was content to keep my feet firmly on land today.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Abandon Ship

I was exhilarated, thrilled and, at times, terrified!

Maui county closed all schools and most public facilities today due to high winds. High surf warnings were up and no boats were on the water. So, of course, I had to take the kayak out. Yippee!

I am not a surfer (or downhill skier) so each time my teeny tiny little kayak teetered on the crest of a wave, and I looked down fifteen steep feet into a valley of water, panic rose up and had to be quelled. My little kayak will roll over in the smallest of shore breaks, so I fought over and over again to keep it upright. Wow! What a rush!

I knew the waves were biggest and most dangerous near shore, so I delayed returning home because I was afraid I would be killed as my kayak crashed onto the rocks. Even out deep the waves rose high above my head. What would they be like near shore?

Being the wimp that I am, I abandoned ship near the beach and swam in. Fortunately the kayak wasn't damaged as it flipped over and over on it's way in. Me? I'm looking forward to going out again tomorrow.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

A Great Weight

It was as if a great weight had been lifted from my shoulders. Oh wait, it has! No, not the brain transplant that so many people have been hoping for... Click HERE or below for the Video.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Finally, I got some exercise after too much work the past few days. I love swimming in deep water, especially now that I am fearless. Even hauling the kayak behind me into a stiff breeze, I managed to cover 1.7 miles this morning. I saw several kinds of jellyfish, but the Venus' Girdle has always been one of my favorites. I know, it's technically not a jellyfish, but it is closely related. And the best part is: it doesn't have stingers. Beautiful and benign, kind of like me...

Twice during the swim I passed large schools of Whale Fish. We call them whale fish because they are usually clustered around Humpback Whales. I am assuming some whales came by to check me out but didn't want to get too close because they didn't want to startle me. How thoughtful.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Can't Be Too Careful

My forays out into deep water on my teeny tiny little kayak are certainly well equipped. I carry a marine radio in case I need to call the Coast Guard to come rescue me, a GPS unit to let the Coast Guard know where to find me so they can rescue me, a waterproof camera and a cell phone to call 911 in case the Coast Guard is busy. Of course, I also carry rope so the Coast Guard can tow me back in, and a water bottle as a message carrier of last resort. Maybe I should buy some emergency flares as well...

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Crazy Swimmers

In a flurry of back-and-forth emails and phone calls, we all assured each other that we were NOT going to be swimming on this cold and rainy morning. After all, lightening was flashing, thunder was booming, and winds were howling.

I went down to the beach just in case...

Insanely enough, Jonathan, Cheryl and Josh had shown up with intentions of braving the elements. I had no choice, I had to go along. The water was murky, very murky, and visibility was almost nil. I could barely see Cheryl who was swimming next to me. "Let's keep going, I think it will clear up soon" were the crazy words heard coming from . . . me. Then the water became gloriously clear and we had a nice little swim; although I can't remember ever swallowing so much salt water from waves constantly breaking over my head. Our greatest find was a total of eighteen spotted eagle rays.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Humpback Whale Encounter

It was a shock when this humpback whale surfaced next to my kayak this evening. I had seen two whales off in the distance then nothing. Twenty minutes later they emerged way too close. My heart was racing, but I kept quiet. One whale swam around me then both swam off.

I held my little Olympus camera over the side of the kayak and was extremely disappointed by the quality of the underwater photos. I guess I'll be packing one of my bigger cameras for all future kayak outings.

Click HERE or below for the short video (again, I do not like the new Olympus camera).

Friday, January 9, 2009

Burial at Sea

Once upon a time I participated in a scattering of ashes at sea for one of our swimmers. It wasn't fancy like the one I saw this morning (I asked on the beach, but no one knew who it was for). Instead, Brian's involved a flotilla of kayaks and lots of people swimming. When my turn comes, I say flush me down the toilet.

Freaky Hawaii Weather

For those of you living in colder climates who don't understand the horrible Hawaiian weather conditions, check out this recent local weather broadcast... (Click HERE or Below for the Video)

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Flashing Lights

Finally! My new kayak was put to the use for which I bought it, I took it swimming. I can't tell you how many lessons I had to give it before it learned how to swim - OK just kidding.

I dragged it behind me with a rope tied around my waist, and it was as if it weren't even there. It took more work to drag my old camera along. Now that I know how very easy it is to take it on my swims, I will do it more often.

It was GREAT swimming in the deep water with only a fraction of the anxieties. I no longer have to worry about boats not seeing me, and I can get out of the water if something frightens me. Plus, I no longer have to swim all the way home if I get carried away and go out too far.

I heard lots of whale singing during the swim but saw no large creatures. I did see quite a few of these jellyfish. They're really cool. They have little lights which run up and down and up and down. And yes, they sting (which is why I didn't get a better close-up photo).

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


In spite of the rainbow and clouds in the distance, it has been a glorious sunny day. Which means I'm spending most of it running errands and sitting in front of a computer working. Don't tell my boss but I may try to sneak a little kayaking in this afternoon, we'll see...

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Pleasurable Exercise

I managed a pleasant little 7 mile paddle this morning before beginning work. I was stroking easily on my way out to sea, and hadn't seen sign of any whales yet, when one quietly surfaced fifteen yards from me. It swam alongside me taking a few breaths before diving out of sight.

At my turnaround point I took a dip in the clear blue deep water. The singing of multiple whales was magnificent; I saw nothing but dancing shafts of sunlight converging far below me. After climbing back into the kayak seven whales surfaced together about one hundred yards away. Nice.

Have I mentioned how much I'm enjoying this kayak?

Monday, January 5, 2009

Bountiful Harvest

My first reaction to this guy's catch was: what a waste keeping fish that small. I always see much, much larger fish on my ocean swims and these small silver fish are ridiculously manini in comparison. Then I thought back to my childhood summers on a small lake, and we used to fry up pan fish (sunfish, bluegills, etc.) smaller than these for dinner. This guy will get a really filling meal from the five fish he brought in on this one throw.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

First (Real) Swim of 2009

Lots of people turned out for the first Sunday ocean swim of the year. We had a much smaller group on New Year's Day - good thing too - the water was too murky for safety so we only swam to the arch and back. It hardly qualified as getting wet.

We stayed in for the full distance this morning. It was another fast and serious swim, but we still managed to see a group of five eagle rays. I also saw a sting ray, which was only the second time I've ever seen one. Manta rays and spotted eagle rays seem to be much more common on Maui, or at least easier to find.

Friday, January 2, 2009

New Growth

It continues gloomy and wet here in the desert of Makena - and the wild mushrooms couldn't be happier. They're popping up all over the place. The snails and flowers are pretty satisfied with the status quo as well. Now if we could only get our mainland visitors to smile a bit...

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Hau'oli Makahiki Hou

May 2009 be filled with unlimited supplies of spiny lobster tails for you and yours (they're always washing up on my beach, empty, of course).