A tale of a fateful trip, that started from this tropic port aboard this tiny ship.

13 Jan

Traveling with six people has it’s own challenges.  Ray has a propensity for sea sickness and is NOT enthusiastic about going out on the boat.  But he’s a good sport and agrees to try the morning session.  I figure he’ll pass on the night session.  We pump him full of Dramamine.  As “M” would say:  “He’ll be fine! ”

Our first mission is to swim with dolphins.  We leave the tropic port aboard the tiny ship and travel about 20 minutes north.  Ray seems to be hanging in there, I completely expected him to start vomiting over the side at any second.

For what would be NOT the first time that day we find our goal right on the bow of the boat,  A pod of Dolphin.  Captain Roy is excited – he estimates the Pod at about 300.  We jump in and swim with the wild Spinner Dolphins.  The are called spinners because when the jump out of the water they spin doing barrel rolls.  There is one baby dolphin who coudln’t be more than 15 pounds.  He just keeps jumping out of the water and spinning, doing it over and over again.  His energy is limitless, he’s a joy to watch and he’s adorable.


A pod is like a iceberg. Many times more under than on the surface

This is why they are call ‘spinner’ dolphins

The baby is adorable, and his energy is inexhaustable


While it appears there are a lot of dolphins on the surface, when you get in the water and look beneath with a snorkel mask, you see there are many times the number submerged than on the surface.  We are seriously outnumbered, We are in their home, We are on their turf, and they completely ignore us.  I was most taken by the mothers and calves.  As their mothers swim in no gravity oriented manners the babies swim, synchronized, belly to belly with their moms as they do large lazy circles beneath the surface.



Snorkleing with spinner dolphins

When I finally climb back onto the boat, in a reflexive move, I reach into my pocket and pull out my cell phone – dripping wet.  I was so excited I jumped in the water without realizing I’d forgotten to put my phone somewhere dry.  wow!  Replacing a smart phone in Hawaii is problematic.  There was a Verizon store nearby, but they were getting a shipment in tomorrow…. or maybe the next day.  And they didn’t know what was going to be in the shipment but I could call, sometime, and find out, maybe.  Aloha!  Well, who needs a smartphone on Hawaii?  I’ll consider it a tithe to Neptune – along with the hundreds of hats lost in great south bay off my catamaran, ‘Hazardous (when wet)’.

I wonder how they compensate the dolphins.

Once back onboard Captain Roy reminds us that it’s “our” boat, so I say, “we’d like to see some whales”.  What I like about Captain Roy is no matter what he is looking for, it seems to appear directly in front of the boat within minutes.  Funny how that works.

He finds whale signs then puts his hydrophone in the water.  Immediately the boat is filled with the song of a lone male.  He tells us the song goes on for about 45 minutes, then starts back at the beginning.  Female whales hearing the song are either attracted, or decide he needs more work on it and continue to more interesting rendevous.


whale on the bow

Summoning a Whale

whale tail 1



whale tail 2

If you look at the water surface in the above picture you’ll see two smooth “puddles”, these are whale signs.  When a whale sounds (goes down) these circles remain for some minutes afterwards. That’s how Captain Ron knew where to put his hydrophone.

I wonder how they compensate the whales.
The whales finally sound and leave us alone on an unusually calm pacific.  Oh what to do next.  Captain Ron planes off the boat and a surprise visitor makes an appearance.  A lone bottle nose dolphin decides he wants to play with us.  He comes rocketing in from the left and gets right under the bow of the boat (as we’re planed off) and rides our bow wave for quite some time.  I’m actually worried we’re going to run him over, but he makes it clear he wants Captain Ron to open the throttle. Captain Ron obliges.  I think these two mammals have played together before.  When the dolphin needs a breath of air, he breaks off to the right.  Captain ron stops the boat.  The dolphin makes a big circle in front of us, comes to the bow of the boat and makes it abundantly clear he’s not done playing.  Captain Ron Obliges and we play this game for four more rounds.

bottlenose - zoom in from the port side

Interception on port side!



bottle nose rides the bow wave

Riding the bow wave



bottlenose rides the bowwave

I can ride the wave for a long long time!


bottlenose - come on ron open the throttle

Come on Captain Ron, OPEN THE THROTTLE, AGAIN!

The dolphin is done playing with us and it’s time to head back to the marina.

On the way back we see large structures that I have not seen before.  The previous night at Roys, they offered dishes made from locally ‘Farmed’ fish (of some type).  It turns out these structures are the local farms.  When they harvest the fish the net moves up the pole pulling the net out of the water.


Wild Fish Farm

Notice the totally lava black shoreline in the background.  That’s the Air Traffic Control Tower overlooking the sole runway at Kona Airport.  you can also see the massive black lava flows in the haze.  That haze is called Vog – volcanic fog.  It’s emitted by the Kilauea volcano.
Finally our morning is over and we head back to the marina.  Ray thoroughly enjoyed the morning.  As my gynecologist would say: “he was fine.”



From left to right,

Captain Ron, Dan, Laura, Izzy, Ray, Amity and Paul, Shannon on the boat.  This is an odd photo, taken by a professional videographer, because it’s on a steeply slanted boat ramp.  The photographer made the camera level with the ramp, instead of level.  We all look leaned over!


We go into Kona to have some lunch.  The place recommended was not open for lunch and the town is a bit of a tourist trap.  Plus the Norweigan Cruise line ship is in, making the whole town overrun with cruise ship creatures.


We in the OF (old fart) car decide to go back to the hotel and rest up before the Nighttime excursion to swim with manta rays.  The KC decides to find something to eat in town.

We all meet back at the marina at 5pm to go on the night time manta ray snorkel.  this time Justin and Sampson are our hosts.  Ray, much to my glee, is with us!  as we leave the harbor, Justin slams the boat into reverse and comes to an abrupt stop… Have we hit something?  hats wrong?  He yells “MONK SEAL” and points to the jetty.  There are 6 Monk seals around the big island, and we’re looking at one of them from about 30 feet away.

Along the way we see what I will swear is two rays near the surface.  Justin and Sampson get all excited.  This is a Pelagic ray.  The rays we are going to swim with are coastal rays, and never leave their little area.  Pelagic rays start at 18′ wingspan, which is what they estimate this ray is, and get larger.  Sampson grabs fins, mask, snorkel and camera and is ready to jump in..  The first person who documents a particular ray gets to name it.  But they are too slow and the ray, after 3 or 4 sightings gets away.  I’m thinking to myself “what wimps, Diane would have been in the water without hesitation  and gotten that picture”.



In the dark we slip into the warm pacific, hold onto a board full of lights and snorkel with 2 rays, a couple of persistent needle nose plier fish, and millions of plankton, which the rays are there to eat.

Another full day done, we go back to the hotel.

The ‘kids’ go swimming in the massive pool complex at the Marriot.  The OF’s go to bed.

Swim with dolphins – Check!

Hang with Whales – Check!

Play with Bottlenose – Check!

Monk Seal – Check!

Pelagic Ray – Check!

Sunset on the water – Check!

Night time snorkel in the Pacific with Rays, Fish and plankton – Check!
Enjoy the pools in the fancy resort – Check!

We still have 4 days left.

Tomorrow we have a major decision to make.

How can things get better than this?


Title Picture: SS minnow from the opening scene of “Gilligans Island”

Title Quote: from the Theme song to “Gilligans Island”

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