Cheers to the world’s most awesome crew!
I admit to being a novice at diving on liveaboards. I have been on the Odyssey (THE boat on which to dive Chuuk) and the Oleanda (whose fate remains unclear to me) previously. The Odyssey was pristine, with large rooms (small showers, though), a nice salon, large dining room, and a decent sun deck. The diving space was also large and comfortable. And there was a cat on board! The Oleanda, her sister ship, was not quite as pristine, the rooms were smaller, no real salon, but a really good crew. The dive sites were virtually untouched, and the sealife as wild as could be. Both were great experiences, ones that I am thrilled to have been part of, and I would never trade them for anything.
But this crew beat them all. As did the Kona Aggressor II. The ship is much smaller, as are the cabins. There is only one crew, not several, to take care of everything on board. There is one salon and dining area. But it doesn’t matter.
From left to right, let me introduce our crew:
David: Dive guide, instructor, flatterer, and hater of fins. He saw me charging down in the water towards him as he made a manta sign (everyone else had left the water), and we swam together following the two beautiful mantas. I will not forget him walking barefoot across the sand at Garden Eel Cove, or his habit of hanging upside down, barefoot, from the hang bar. His sense of humor, dive briefings, and general overall personality were a great part of the trip.
James: Chief Captain and dive guide. He has a good solid knowledge of and passion for the ocean. Quiet, respectful, and good at pointing out critters. He was extremely kind in directing the boat southward for our checkout dives rather than to the usual Turtle Pinnacle site outside the harbor because I asked if we could go south. He, along with the other dive guides, gave Wayne and me a lot of space to dive our dives. And he let us drop in the water to snorkel with pilot whales and dolphins. I hope that I helped keep a good dive log of sightings for the week for you to write your Captain’s log. Thank you for a great week!
Mindy: The Skinny Girl - do not take away her chocolate cake! Dive guide with an awesome camera who did the success dance with me during our Garden Eel Cove afternoon dive. Mindy is a former teacher of young children. “Now divers, we can go the same way you went this morning, where all the other divers are, or we can go the other way and see the beautiful reef with no one else there...” Thank you for humoring me when I asked for my camera after Will mentioned there were mantas off the port bow, as well as bringing me my fins. It would have been hard to get down to David without them. You helped make it so much fun.
Karl: Co-Captain, instructor and dive guide. He showed extreme patience with all of us (including new divers), and was a great person for pointing out some small stuff. The devil wrasse, the harlequin shrimp pair, the fire dart fish, and the undulated moray eating the squirrel fish. He even gave us good directions on our dawn dive on how to find the dragon moray. And I did find it! We did at least provide him with two surprises, finding a teeny, tiny, Thanks, Karl.
Matthew: Lover of all things small! Also our sous-chef, serves as the lead chef when Chef Chris is gone. He was usually a little withdrawn in the early morning (remember, we are happy early risers), but by the time the first dive bell was rung, he was in full swing, and super interactive. His plan is to eventually go to a one year program, full immersion, in culinary arts, and then come back as the chef on a super yacht (he has done the personal dive guide/deck cleaner route before, like our friend Kevin Davidson). I really enjoyed talking and diving with him.
Chris: Chef Chris was absolutely fabulous this week. He themed each night and based it on organic foods he found locally in Kona, particularly at Costco. His trade recipes and signature dishes are incredibly good, and I wish he were producing a cook book. I would buy it immediately, even if it only came in hardcover. It was really that good. The Kona coffee cheesecake was so good that Wayne (Mr. No Dessert Ever Man) ate 3 pieces on the first night it was served, and another for breakfast the next morning. And when he made his Fijian curry lamb chops, both of us sucked the marrow from the bones. Thank you for deliciously narrowing the calorie deficit this week.
And there you have it. Originally, this was going to be a short posting, but I just had to sing the praises of the crew of the KA II. We will be back next spring break for sure. And hopefully bring a few others with. Maybe by then, the crew will have a dive cat!