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Lana’i: Barge Harbor & Second Cathedral

Yesterday was originally going to be our last day diving on this trip, but after getting skunked at Molokini Crater earlier in the week, Charmaine scheduled us to hit the crater this morning. We were pretty excited for that after seeing how amazing the visibility was out there yesterday. We checked in at the shop and walked our stuff down to the dock where Captain Levi was directing traffic. The boat going to Molokini was packed full and the boat going to Lanai for a drift dive was half empty. Levi suggested we would have a better time doing the Lana’i drift than going to Molokini again. The crater is very popular and crowded for a reason. But he said the Lana’i drift dive is special. We looked around and saw the old dude that puked all over the place was on the boat to Molokini and saw how much room there was on the Lanai boat and saw that the dive crew going to Lanai were all people we already liked (and Captain Dave was going to be diving with one of the groups today), so we had Captain Levi call the shop and switch us over. We’ll always be glad we made that switch. At the time there was a bit of joking about us being the good luck charm that got the manta, the dolphins, and the whale the day before. We even suggested Mitch switch boats as a joke… he had to work the Molokini charter because they needed as many crew as they could get with a boat that full.

So we headed out to Lana’i again. The weather was perfect. The crossing was smooth. We talked about possibly hitting second cathedral after the first drift dive. That sounded great. Being a drift dive, they prepared us for the worst, but the current was once again mild.

Just after we made our initial descent, Charmaine spotted an Eagle Ray coming right for us. Maybe she is the good luck charm? It wouldn’t surprise me. I was having trouble with the camera, as I usually do when I first drop in. Sometimes it gets switched from Manual to some other setting. Sometimes I have one flash on, but the other off. Sometimes the flash fiber optic sync cable is connected, etc. Bottom line: I didn’t get any shots of the Eagle Ray, but it was pretty cool to see.

We saw a big lobster out walking around and I took the opportunity to get my camera issues solved while I took a few shots of him. I also saw a few cool spiky sea stars that I hadn’t seen anywhere else in Hawaii yet. There were a ton of butterflyfish, of course. They seem to be everywhere in Hawaii and they also happen to be one of my favorite fish. Someone spotted some nudibranch eggs, which was pretty interesting. I saw my first banded angelfish, some more whitemouth moray eels, and a shrimp that you can actually recognize in my photo. It was a great dive.

We cruised around the back side of Lanai a bit while we had lunch and did our surface interval, but we eventually parked the boat at Second Cathedral. I have to admit I was pretty happy we were going to be able to do that one despite being skunked on our first attempt… and it was every bit as cool as we had been told.

We took our time working our way to the entrance to give the first group plenty of time to see what they wanted to see, clear out, and time for the dust to settle… literally. It’s gotta be one of the best swim-thrus there is. The rock formations are just perfect for scuba divers to cruise through and enjoy. We also saw a ton of fish and other interesting things inside. I enjoyed the “chandelier” in the center of the cathedral. We spotted an interesting nudibranch on one of the upper ledges inside. There were a ton of fish, squirrelfish (they love dark spaces), butterflyfish (of course), triggerfish, etc. But the real story was the cathedral itself. That was really cool.

After we swam out of the cathedral we crossed some sand and explored a bit more of the wall along the back of Lanai. It wasn’t anything special, but it didn’t need to be. The cathedral itself had been awesome.

On our way back around Lanai, Captain Levi spotted a hammerhead shark swimming near the surface so he stopped the boat for a minute and let us all take a look. That was pretty cool. It was obviously still quite young and small, but it was beautiful. Sometimes it would even swim with its dorsal fin above the surface, which is something you rarely see sharks do, despite what movies may have you believe. My camera was in the camera bin and I made no attempt to get it to take any pictures.

We got underway again, laughing and joking about whatever magical combination of good luck charms was bringing all the luck. The weather continued to be amazing and we were cruising again when suddenly Captain Levi stopped the boat as fast as he could and started screaming for everyone to get their masks on. He spotted something they almost never see in Hawaii… a whale shark. Many of the dive masters on the boat had done thousands of dives in Maui without ever seeing one. Whatever the good luck charm was, its power was immense.

Captain Levin swung the boat around to get us close to the whale shark before letting anyone jump in and possibly scare it. We jumped in and spent about 20 minutes playing with it and watching it. Charmaine and I have seen whale sharks in La Paz, but it’s always murky and hazy there. This guy was in clear blue water and we were doing our best to take pictures. Some people couldn’t help themselves and had to gently touch him. The whale shark seemed curious and approached our boat a few times. It gave everyone a chance to get in the water and see it. Captain Dave and Captain Levi switched places after a bit so they each had a chance to be in the water with it.

I’m so glad we didn’t go to Molokini today. No matter how good it was there, it couldn’t touch the day we just had. It was truly magical.

Dive 1:
Surface Interval: 21:38
Weight: 10 pounds
Starting Pressure: 3000 psi
Time In: 9:08 am
Surface Temperature: 81 degrees
Bottom Temperature: 77 degrees
Visibility: 80-100 feet
Dive Time: 48 minutes
Average Depth: 48 feet
Maximum Depth: 78 feet
Ending Pressure: 800 psi
Time Out: 9:56 am
Computer: Suunto D6i

Dive 2:
Surface Interval: 0:57
Weight: 10 pounds
Starting Pressure: 3000 psi
Time In: 10:54 am
Surface Temperature: 79 degrees
Bottom Temperature: 77 degrees
Visibility: 60-80 feet
Dive Time: 46 minutes
Average Depth: 45 feet
Maximum Depth: 87 feet
Ending Pressure: 500 psi
Time Out: 11:40 am
Computer: Suunto D6i

Dive Master: Dave
Boat Captain: Levi
We tipped $40

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