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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!