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January 2022    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 37, No. 1   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Maui Dreams, Dive Maui, Dive Kauai

a smorgasbord of Hawaiian diving

from the January, 2022 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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Dear Fellow Diver,

"What time is it?"

"4 a.m."

The Maui DiamondWhat was I thinking when I booked this 14-day trip? Ahead lay an hour's rental car drive to Maalaea marina for my 6:15 check-in for my two-tank trip aboard Maui Dreams' 45-foot Newton.

With four days on Kauai at the end of the trip and four south of Lahaina, Maui in Waialea, we were beginning on the north shore, nestled high in the green Haiku foothills, away from the tourists. We were at the Maui Tradewinds, an Airbnb with king-sized bed, full kitchen, Wi-Fi, and an outdoor hot tub where at sunset, we watched cattle egrets fly through the valley to their nightly roosts.

We were ready to dive. Yesterday, online, we filled out the Maui Dreams documents and watched the orientation video depicting how they made the boat and the experience COVID-safe. Before 5 a.m., our gracious host, Beverly Livingston, provided snacks, Hawaiian juice drinks, cereals, muffins, and (gack) almond milk. And cold cappuccinos, a necessity.

Arriving promptly at 6:00 a.m., we showed our C-cards, then we waited on the dock in the early morning sun until the crew finished their duties. I requested my partner's gear be stowed by the dive platform so she wouldn't need to walk far in her gear. We both have had back surgeries. Mine worked. Hers didn't. (Sometimes minimally invasive means minimally successful.)

Most divers were return customers, and I could see why. The Maui Diamond has twin diesels, a roomy head, hot water, oxygen, and a defibrillator. With crew and 18 divers (they divided us into three groups, each with a dive guide), the Newton was cramped, but we were experienced divers, and everyone helped each other out. After the crew set up our gear -- we use backplate and wing setups - our guide Maddy asked if I liked how she had arranged the five-foot primary hose and safe second. I did. She provided a nitrox analyzer; my tank was 29 percent, and my partner's, 31 percent.

Although the video had requested everyone to wear masks on board, the masks came off once we left the dock, and no one complained. In October, the virus seemed to be waning. The crew wiped down the railings every hour and cleaned the head several times.

After the 30 minute trip to a site known as 85, the crew sprayed de-fog into our masks and rinsed them with hot water. A quick giant stride off the stern, and I descended in clear water to the bottom at 88 feet. A few small heads of cauliflower coral (Pocillopora meandrina) were scattered over a sandy bottom, and we headed to a large rocky reef populated with Hawaiian favorites: Moorish idols, orange spine unicornfish, yellow tangs, black bar soldiers, long-nose butterflies, a long-nosed hawkfish, and blue stripe snappers brightened the dun-colored rocks. My partner spotted a whitetip reef shark relaxing in a cavern. A large yellow margin eel peered from a crack while a second whitetip circumnavigated the reef, staying near us the entire dive....


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