If you read that with a French accent then you heard it the same way I meant it.
I had a very Zissou-esque day in the water yesterday after being tipped off to a supposed hammerhead hotspot 50 yards off the south point of Honaunau, a dive spot we frequent on the Big Island.
Honaunau is one of our best dive spots simply because it almost always has perfectly calm conditions and drops from about two-feet deep at our entry point to 45m/150ft and 80m/262ft respectively at our installed diving lines. What’s funny is that during the eight or so visits I’ve made to the Big Island for classes and training I’ve never really toured Honaunau beyond the area we dive.
So after Eric Pinon, my favorite Frenchman and Dessault rep, and I hit a few decent training dives, we headed off for a long swim from our rig to the opposite point of Honaunau bay to look for the hammerheads. As we swam towards the point and headed towards deeper water I took a moment to marvel at the beauty of this famous dive spot. I heard Jacques Coustea’s voice in my head, “The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.”
Then that voice was drowned out by Bill Murray’s voice shouting, “Esteban was eaten!” and I laughed to myself as we continued our search. After that I couldn’t get the Life Aquatic theme sound out of my head for the rest of the day.
As we approached the point I saw that the south side of the bay has structure very unlike what I’d seen before at Honaunau. The south side is shallower and has much more structure, including some large pinnacle-like structures that rise 70 feet off the bottom to a few feet below the surface.
We reached our destination, which unfortunately yielded no hammerheads, but we did happen upon some Mu, a skittish, but good-eating fish that made Eric wish he had his speargun! We also heard whale songs for a good half hour that must have been relatively close to the bay and generally just spent our time sight-seeing and enjoying the reef in a way I rarely do these days.
Days like this could be disappointing since we didn’t spot our sharks, but they also remind me to take the time and look around once in a while. I often get so wrapped up in training, competition or teaching that i forget why I started all of this in the first place.
When I was 7 or 8 years old my parents took me on a trip to Bermuda, where we snorkeled off the beach and I watched my brother and my dad freedive to about 10 feet (or “The Bottom of the Ocean” as I thought of it at the time) to get closer to the marine life. I couldn’t coordinate enough at the time to get underwater, but I felt as though I was swimming in a huge aquarium and I knew that I wanted to immerse myself in this environment. I felt what Cousteau was talking about. The ocean grabbed me and I knew it wouldn’t ever let me go.
I’ve since reached deeper depths than my father and brother (by a few feet… ) but whether I’m diving to 10 feet or 260 feet the allure of the ocean is the reason I’m there. I can forget that sometimes when I’m focusing on depth training, technique, etc. but in reality, it’s all to reach deeper and further into this environment that first pulled so many of us divers to the water.
So sharks or no, Eric and I had an amazing day in the water. It wasn’t my deepest day or my best training day, but it brought me back to a simpler, more natural connection to the water.