Kicking it off with a swell - and some mantas

Chef Matthew has instituted a small change with menu presentation, he now has a saying of the day.  Today’s was “Be a pretty cupcake in a world full of muffins - Author Unknown.”  I think it is going to be a fun week.

Breakfast started us out in wonderful form - blueberry pancakes, Portugese sausage, and eggs to order.  Nom nom time.  We were well set for the morning’s dive.

Our checkout dive was at Aquarium.  Check out dive with Mindy, Wayne was having some difficulty with the $99 replacement housing for the Canon G12, and he didn’t seem thrilled.  I reminded him that it took me several dives, and then working with the housing top side for me to be comfortable with it. It probably got worked up when he put the camera in the housing, it did that to me as well. The dive was nice, we were set free even before we headed down.  Saw two octopus, a pair of devil scorpionfish sititing side by side.

Dive two was also at Aquarium.  Saw a fairly large porcupine puffer, a large undulated moray, and a huge school of pennant butterflyfish. Chilly on deck between dives! Definitely overweighted for the 7 mil.  Alas and alack, no harlequin shrimp like last year, the pair seem to have gone away.  It would have been good to see them.

Lunch was warm and very welcome!  Matthew prepared an Asian fusion salad, miso soup with chicken won tons, tofu with orange sauce, fried lumpier, Fijian curry with shrimp, and blended grilled cheese sandwiches on sour dough bread.  We have a good number of vegetarians on this trip (read as more than one), as well as a gluten free passenger, so Matthew has his work cut out for him trying to be innovative for all kinds of eaters.

The rest of the dives today were at Garden Eel Cove.  Much like last year, a manta showed up at the tail end of the first dive.  It was very surgey on the surface this afternoon, made reentry onto the boat very difficult. Nothing like being battered about. Karl saw a manta ray below the ship on this dive, we were sorry to have missed it. Will look for it at 4 pm. No garden eels, but we did see Heller’s barracuda, and several long nose butterflyfish in the dark form. As I mentioned, very bumpy exit.

Second dive was as difficult as the first.  In a word, ouch. We dropped down, and took off. Several people skipped this dive. Whale song throughout the dive, just kept looking into the blue to see if a whale was evident. Alas, no luck, but we did see a stumpy tailed manta flew by us, spectacular. Also saw a reticulated butterflyfish, and a fairly large white mouth moray.

We were very, very cold at the end of the second Garden Eel cove dive.  I even changed bathing suits, which I try not to do too frequently.  I huddled up trying to suck the warmth out of my spouse while wearing my warm Aggressor pullover.  I love that fuzzy thing.  Wayne tried it on himself, and we let Captain Karl know we were going to buy another one on this trip.  A warm dinner was more than welcome.  Tonight was a hydroponic greens salad, sliced red potatoes with French onion and asiago cheese, sauteed garlic green beans, roasted chicken thigh and a peach and raspberry crisp.  One thing I am noticing with Matthew is that he prepares more food than his predecessor, who I feel prepared exquisite food, but only enough to keep me from starving to death.  I had better be on all the dives in order to make sure that I don’t gain weight this vacation!

The third dive at the Cove had to be the worst manta ray night dive I have ever been on.  I loaded up with three extra pounds to help with the surge.. No such luck. Bounced around like a basketball for the entire time of the dive. We did see two manta rays, one was HUGE, the other smaller. 5 blue trevally were with us along the way, probably looking to feed on the krill as well. Also saw a really large moray - yellow margin maybe? - swimming along the floor on the way back. We wound up heading back in after 25 minutes. 

I am sooo sticking to the if it’s no fun, get out of the water after you can legally call it a dive.  I think this was probably the most uncomfortable dive I have ever had at night for mantas.  I stopped taking pictures after the first few, bungeed my camera to my BCD, and held on to a large boulder for dear life.  Really truly for dear life.  This boulder and I were picked up and relocated several times during the course of the manta show, so I’m certain I missed quite a lot.

On board the ship, warm water shower, and bed.  I’ll admit it, I’m a tired puppy.  I could barely log my minimalist dives before wanting to crash into neverland.  It’s been a while since we did five a day, I guess I should be tired.