Hawaii Fieldwork Photo Update – Oahu & Kauai

We’ve been so busy between Sabrina’s arrival, finishing up data collection on Oahu, and moving to Kauai!  We spent the last week wrapping up data collection in Oahu and packing.  On Saturday we moved to Kauai.  We are now settling in to our rental condo in Princeville and gearing up for our first dive day today.  Here’s a photo gallery update of our most recent activities

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The Perks of Shore Diving

Two hydrophones recording away at Electric Beach, Oahu

Initially we thought we would be spoiled rotten during our time on the cruise.  The idea of working from a small boat with a tender seemed so much easier than lugging all of our heavy equipment between car and beach, and beach and dive site.  Such luxury would be hard to come down from, and we weren’t sure how we would handle it.

Turns out that some of those original assumptions were wrong.  Fortunately, it wasn’t too big of a shock- since our original assumptions often turn out to be wrong!

These urchins were so animated. I am feeling increasingly fond of them, despite their intimidating form.

Working from the Hi’ialakai was awesome, and we got to visit some of the most amazing underwater places on earth.  However, it was also extremely difficult.  We had to move heavy equipment between decks, and on and off our small boat every day.  The small boat was often out in rough seas, which made dealing with our gear challenging. We were both looking forward to begin shore diving operations this past week to see how it compares.

The Perks of Shore Diving:

1- All gear (diving, photographic, and acoustic) can be assembled on land.  It may be sandy, but it will definitely not be rocking, and no one will be seasick over the side while putting hydrophones together.

Look at all of the space to spread stuff out around the car!

2- No one uses our car except for us!  Unlike the small boat, which had to be emptied every day, our car can be the semi-permanent home for clean gear, removing one of the lugging stuff around steps.

OK, I admit that this is not a perk. Our hot water ‘showers’ from the car are difficult to keep at a comfortable temperature and often reach scalding levels. The trick is to keep the bottles out of direct sunlight…

3- Towing a raft full of stuff isn’t much harder than towing an empty raft.  We had to tow a surface float at all times on the cruise, so our trusty SeaHawk raft doesn’t seem very different in terms of effort.  It does serve a much more functional role as the main gear transportation device, however.

Simon towing SeaHawk out for a dive

4- Surface swimming is great exercise, and you get all the pros without much risk of serious injury. At least, not much risk compared to lifting 50-100lb piece of equipment or bracing oneself against 2-3 meter seas in a small boat.

Screwing in sand anchors is also great exercise! The underwater part of our routine hasn’t changed

5- I get to pack our cooler!  With whatever I want!  Instead of sifting through the same array of potato chips and crackers that weren’t particularly appetizing on the first day (much less the 21st), we fill our cooler each morning with foods we like for lunch and snacks.  What a great idea.

The camera ‘windmill’ was more challenging than expected to get to the surface while snorkeling, but Lauren eventually pulled it off. Our time lapse cameras captured quite a few of those damselfish!

6- If someone becomes sick and can’t dive, the other one can just pick the gear up snorkeling- no lost equipment!  This happened today when Simon’s cold was still too persistent for diving, and I recovered the two small hydrophones and camera tree from a dive site.  He helped from the SeaHawk, which incidentally also works well as a small rowboat.

Lauren snorkeling to recover hydrophones and cameras. It’s called Electric Beach because of the proximity to the power station.  The water is significantly warmer by the outfall.

7- Shave ice. Instead of celebrating another successful deployment with increasingly stale cookies, we can each select our own preferred flavors of Hawaii’s best frozen treat.

Since arriving in Hawaii, this is our new favorite dessert

All of our experiences in Hawaii have been incredible, and our time on the Hi’ialakai was nothing less.  We both learned so much and got to see the most amazing things.  But the challenges of really working at sea were real.  We learned how to take it all in stride and had an awesome time, but being relieved of those challenges makes us appreciate what we doing now that much more!

After a month at sea, we feel even more appreciation for Hawaii’s beautiful coastlines and geography. This is the view from our dive site at Electric Beach, looking towards the west end.

Back on Land, Working Hard

On the Pineapple Express train at Dole Plantation

Monday August 27:

Making port- the crew work to anchor the Hi’ialakai to the docks at Pearl Harbor

We’re back!  Hi’ialakai docked on Friday morning, depositing us on the surprisingly not rocking island of Oahu.

The thing we were most excited to go out and consume after a month at sea- frappucino

Last weekend was a mandatory ‘vacation’ for both of us, to recover from the cruise and get our land bearings again.  We spent most of Friday dealing with base passes and unloading, so the fun didn’t start until Saturday.  At first we made a bit of a hash of things, driving around aimlessly and wandering through the aisles of grocery and big-box stores for hours, contemplating different things we could buy for dinner. Freedom to choose at last!

The pineapple farm had gardens with many species of the foreign fruit

We slowly improved our game, and had some very fun adventures including a visit to America’s pineapple experience, the Dole Pineapple Plantation on the North Shore.  We also enjoyed a myriad of icy treats and nice coffee, including frappucino and shave ice.

We went to the pineapple farm as a joke- it is a very popular tourist destination, and typically something we would pass.  However, we couldn’t help having a good time riding the Pineapple Express train through the fields, exploring the giant pineapple-shaped hedge maze, and enjoying a mostly pineapple-based lunch in the cafeteria.  The grounds are free, and have a nice fish pond and well done gardens with all different kinds of the spiky fruit.  We each paid a nominal $5 fee for the activities, and Simon easily ate $20 worth of pineapple in free samples distributed around the Plantation.  It was really a wonderful day!

The amazing view from our new digs

We have also been enjoying the view from our new digs, which is high enough up that we can see IN to Diamond Head crater.

Simon whipping up something tasty in the fancy kitchen. We love the Schneider’s home!

Now that the fun vacation is over, we are back to the daily grind.  Lauren’s priority is getting meeting abstracts and a paper submitted, and Simon’s is downloading data, dealing with a mysterious Unix compiler, and fixing the flooded hydrophone.  In a week or two, we will begin staging our shore-based experiments for Oahu, soon to be followed by Kauai, Maui, and Hawaii.

Updates from Monday September 3:

Happy Labor Day!  In the midst of unloading, getting back into work, and settling in to our new room, we rather forgot about this blog post 🙂  As summer draws to a close in Honolulu, the weather isn’t changing but the tourist load is lessening and throngs of University of Hawaii undergrads are back.

View from the top- hiking behind the Schneider’s house to Lanipo peak
Sunday afternoon polo. A last minute decision resulted in a fun-filled afternoon and a truly Hawaiian take on the traditional sport
Sunday afternoon polo, played on a field between the mountains and a beautiful beach

Although our biggest concern is the flooded hydrophone computer, we are currently waiting (sort of patiently) to hear from the data recovery people before deciding if the hydrophone array can be fixed or not.  In the meantime, we have plenty of other work to keep us busy. All of last week was spent typing and coding furiously, and this week promises to be more of the same.  We are both itching to get back into the water soon!

The Honolulu skyline appeared over the ridge as we hiked back down late in the day.