Sunday, January 31, 2010

Polar Bear on Maui

Who won? How did I place? Who did I beat?

When did I lose the competitive spirit? I don't know, I don't care, and I'm glad I've become so laid-back (most of the time). This morning I served as a kayak escort for the Maui Polar Bear Fin Swim, billed as the world's only sane polar bear swim.

Yes, the water was cold - well, colder than in August - at a chilly 74 degrees. Fortunately, no cases of frostbite were reported, and everyone who braved the water was a winner.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Magic Hour

What is so magical about the one-hour mark on my deep water ocean swims?

Again this morning, I saw nothing for the first hour of my swim, then this mom, baby and escort swam by to check me out. Perhaps it is building curiosity. They notice some strange splashing sounds unlike anything they have ever heard before. The unusual noises continue, and continue, and continue and finally they can't take the suspense any more. They have to know what the heck is going on over there. And then it turns out to just be me. Yawn. So they swim away.

On the paddle back home a mom and baby whale cut me off in front of my house. Where did they come from? Had they been following me? I immediately stopped paddling and waited for them to swim away before heading in to shore. I held the camera over the side of the kayak and randomly snapped away underwater. I got lucky and they actually showed up in a couple of shots. The top two photos in today's post are the whales that visited during my swim, the lower two photos were from the kayak.

Friday, January 29, 2010

What to Do?

Sheer terror is what I'm feeling.

A new client flaked on me and I am otherwise caught up on work. I have NO work obligations and a few free hours Saturday (tomorrow) afternoon. What am I supposed to do with myself?

Fortunately, I was just given a book about Spinner Dolphins, so I think I'll sit under a palm tree by the beach and read. Glorious, luxurious Time Off! Boy, Oh Boy!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Dissed No More

It can't be my breath! I brush and floss daily. So what is it?

A group of Spinner Dolphins swam within twenty yards of me both the last time I swam, and this morning too; but they didn't approach me. Maybe they were preoccupied by the upcoming Superbowl - nah, can't be - the Dolphins aren't playing this year. So what was their problem?

I gave up waiting for them and took off and did a nice one-hour swim. When I got back almost to shore, there they were. Waiting for me.

Right then my entire right leg froze up in a serious muscle cramp and I couldn't move. I definitely couldn't keep up with the dolphins. So, they hung around with me until I could get my leg working again. How sweet.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

We Win

While stand-up paddleboarding is HUGE on Maui, I was surprised to find absolutely no one doing it at the Mediterranean resorts last summer. Usually Europe is ahead of us when it comes to new and trendy, but not this time. We win!

Yoga on the beach had another big turnout this morning. I'm in pain just looking at the photo. I am the opposite of flexible. Thank goodness for slip-on shoes. I can't even imagine getting down low enough to tie shoelaces. I don't know how other people do it.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Odd Couple

This isn't the first time I've seen these two together. This Cornetfish (related to the Trumpetfish and Seahorse) followed the turtle closely. It moved away when I dove down for a closer photo, then returned to the turtle's side when I surfaced. I wonder if they were out on a date?

Sunday, January 24, 2010


The Maui Pink Cap Swimmers swam through unusually clear, clear, clear water this morning. Wow! It is not often this perfect.

We were checked out by several Sea Turtles, two Wahoo and two different Manta Rays. We even got to do a little "Sky Diving" (see photo below), and a Leap for Joy from the surface (see photo above).

Click HERE for more photos from this morning's ocean swim.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Easy Smiles

I'm impressed. Even though my new friends, Scott and Cara visiting from Washington, had never swum with Spinner Dolphins before this morning, they knew a lot about them. Such as the fact that dolphins never sleep, instead they enter a trance state in order to get rest.

Even though they were clearly resting, the 36 dolphins were fairly interactive and were also playing the Leaf Game. One even dropped a leaf in front of me, which I carried on my hand briefly before returning it to the dolphin. I am easily entertained.

Click HERE for lots more photos from this morning.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Water Wings

With no warning, the escort whale (right photo) appeared below me and swam right on by. I looked to my right and saw (barely) a mom and baby whale, and they also swam past and kept on going. Usually, I hear loud singing, or the explosive whoosh of their breathing before seeing them; but not today.

They were barely moving their fins but zoomed by me like I was standing still - well, treading water. It is hard to believe that they could be faster than me! Especially since my GPS said I swam 2.4 miles this morning. Either I've gotten much faster or there must have been one wicked current.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Another Maui Morning

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Mystery Solved

Thanks to one of my readers, Jim, I now know that the jellyfish I most often see is the Comb Jellyfish. It is so clear that it is nearly invisible, but if you find one and watch it carefully, you will see colored lights blinking up and down its body. Way cool!

Even cooler is what I found out about them (now that I know what they are). According to the April 10, 2008 issue of Nature, Comb Jellyfish were the first animals to exist on Earth. Click HERE to read the story.

Also, the flashing lights are caused by light reflecting off of rows of Cilia (hair-like conveyor belts used for propulsion and feeding). Oh, and they are not really Jellyfish because they cannot sting (whew! that's a relief).

OK, on to the next mystery. I assume that these strings of red beads I saw today are either eggs or larvae - but of what??

Monday, January 18, 2010

Check the Calendar

Holiday? Today was a holiday? Why doesn't anyone tell me these things? Oh . . . maybe that's why the caretaker didn't show up to open this house for my photo shoot today. At least I got a lot of work done. Maybe I'll remember for next year...

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Clowns in a Car

The Maui Pink Cap Swimmers were in a frenzy this morning, hoping to replicate last week's whale encounter. We swam out, out, out to their turf (water?) but saw nothing until the return trip. Two groups of whales crossed paths directly before us, surfacing and spouting all together, but just far enough away to be invisible underwater.

Then the wind and waves picked up and one of our best swimmers had a panic attack. She doesn't get out into the ocean much and swore that we were all being swept away by a rogue current. We did our best to reassure her that we were indeed making progress, and placated her by swimming directly to the nearest beach.

The first group to shore managed to catch a ride back, with eight of us crammed in the car and one in the trunk with the lid closed and his arm hanging out. Too bad that we had the road to ourselves and nobody got to see this strange sight.

Saturday, January 16, 2010


OK. It is not the most beautiful beach in the world. The sand is dark and sometimes there are pebbles mixed in with the sand; but this is my beach and I love it. This is where I begin my long ocean swims and where I watch whales and sunsets. This is where the waves break to lull me to sleep every night. This is where I connect with mother earth by taking a dip in the salty waters every day - no matter what. This is home.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Motivation to Exercise

Those pesky whales were teasing me again today. They kept pace with me on my swim this morning, swimming alongside just far enough away that I couldn't see them underwater. Every ten minutes or so I could see them breathing just a few yards away.

Or maybe they were looking for some exercise and knew that I would challenge them to push a little harder (yeah, right!!!).

By the way, I saw a lot of these jellyfish this morning. Can anybody identify them for me?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Who's There?

I am always surprised when, suddenly, out in the middle of the ocean, someone calls my name. Today it was Molly and Scott, two visiting swimmers who swam with the Maui Pink Cap Swimmers the past couple of Sundays.

And lucky them, they got to swim with Spinner Dolphins for the first time ever! Oh, and I got to swim with dolphins too.

Click HERE for more photos from this morning.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

And the Winner Is . . .

These ladies definitely win this morning's "Best Hat on the Beach" award.

Surf is still up on South Maui beaches and these are a couple of snapshots from the shore this morning. What I want to know is, where are the surfing wahines?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Going Down

I don't know what's changed, but I'm suddenly finding myself able to dive deeper than ever before. Of course, I still can't hold my breath longer than fifteen seconds, which puts a serious limit on how far down I can go. Still, it was great being able to visit this Manta Ray and these SCUBA divers this morning. Next stop, the Mariana Trench...

Monday, January 11, 2010


Celebrity "gotcha" photos pay very well.

Friends send me ads they find which solicit photographs of famous people, but I cannot bring myself to do it. They even tell you who to find at which hotels, but it just seems wrong to me. I have been noticing more and more people stalking the Wailea hotels with cameras. This guy this morning had his video camera running to capture people passing on the ocean walkway, waiting for his next high-profile victim to pass by.

Unfortunately for him, he got me too.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Loud and Clear

We were reluctant to swim this morning because the water has been murky due to recent high surf. But we saw whales spouting not too horribly far out, so we just had to get in. The ocean was far from crystal clear, but I could see the bottom at all times which counts as "clear enough."

We were still seeing puffs of steam from whales breathing, but way too far out for us. Nonetheless, we decided to swim out towards the island of Molokini and then we were going to swim parallel to the shore.

The water became clear, Clear, CLEAR and the whale songs became loud, Louder, TOO LOUD! Ouch!

And there they were! Beneath us! All I saw was the white outline of a pectoral fin passing below, but a couple of the swimmers saw an entire whale. Wow.

We know better than to chase whales, so we turned and swam south. And, of course, they followed along side us. We could see them blowing only a short distance away but never got close enough to see them underwater again. And the singing! Still very, very loud and I heard some new sounds which I have never heard in previous years. What a great morning!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Tap Tap Tap

I came out of a movie this afternoon to the sound of tap dancing keiki.

One of the reasons I love Maui is the constant element of surprise - I never know what i am going to find around the next corner.

Another surprise. I enjoyed seeing Avatar 3D as much the second time as I did the first.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

All Turned Around

Yes, about some things I am a total moron!

I do, however, love the thermal rash guard (warm swimming shirt) which I got for Christmas. It makes a huge difference when swimming in cooler water and really keeps me warm. It has a weird fit, though, being baggy in strange places.

Now, I am one of those majority of men who has difficulty dressing myself. I have discovered the real reason that mens pants have zippers is so we know which side faces front. Even so, there have been mornings when I've said to myself, "I didn't know I had any pants without zippers. Well, I guess that I do." Only to discover later that I was wearing my pants backwards.

Which leads me back to my new rash guard which fit perfectly this morning. You guessed it. I've been wearing it backwards all this time.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Surf's Up

Many Maui residents live here for one reason - to surf.

Employers know that when the surf is up, like today, they will be understaffed. That is a Fact Of Life on this small island. Surfing comes first.

Not a problem for me, though. I've tried surfing and it was fun, but that's all - just fun. I would much rather be in the water than on the water.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


Have I ever mentioned how invisible whales are? Below water they blend in amazingly well. No, they don't just blend in, they actually disappear.

On my swim this morning, this whale suddenly materialized directly below me resting on the bottom. Even though it was only thirty feet down, I could barely see it. I was really worried that it might hit me if it were to surface - it was that close.

I carefully moved away from it and it vanished from sight. So I waited with my head above water, and a baby and mom surfaced less than thirty feet away. They felt almost close enough to touch (I guess because they are so big) but I absolutely could not see them when I stuck my head below water. As you can see from the photo they are nothing more than ghosts.

Oh, and for you Pink Cap swimmers, they were on the inside of our usual Sunday swim course. Bring your ouija boards this weekend and maybe we'll be able to raise some of these spirits from the depths.