By Founder and President Kurt Lieber
Our year-end dive off Oahu turned out to be a real eye-opener…
We had a boat full of volunteer divers for our final dive of the year. Pretty darn cool that the boat fills up almost every time we take the Island Divers Hawai’i (IDH) boat out for our monthly underwater cleanups. Pictured below with me is Master Instructor Mary Christensen and Owner Matt Zimmerman.
2019 was a stellar year for our partnership with them, and with the continued enthusiasm of IDH and ODA divers, we will do this again in 2020. Thanks to Mary and Matt and all of you who crewed with us this year (and in the past)! We hope you’ll continue to work with us for a debris-free sea. :-)
Now, on to the dive…
Dedicated and Experienced ODA Volunteers
The day started out overcast and the waves were pretty big, but because of the excellent skill level of the dive and boat crew, it was decided to give it a whirl. So, on Saturday, December 14th, the boat headed to the location that we’ve been working on for the better part of four years now: China Walls. Following is a photo of that area taken a few years ago; you can see the fishermen on the cliffs. You can imagine how all the fishing gear ends up in the water...
The dive team this day consisted of: Henry Bennett, Mary Christensen, Ryan Gabel, Karen Holder, Terry Holder, Pam Holder, Tim Hollandsworth, AJ Jaeger, Christina Klemma, Chris Meyers, Joel Moribe, Dan Okamura, Christine Pang, Diane Pang, Glenn Roberts, Shawn Rolfe, Chris Slaughter, Kourtney Slaughter, Ken Staples, Jamie, Urbina, Kathryn Werback, and Matt Zimmerman. Wow, now that is what I call a BOAT LOAD of great ocean defenders!
As the boat made its way out of the harbor, the waves were steadily increasing in size. The distance between them seemed to be decreasing, making for a very rocky ride.
Under Surface Surprise
When the boat reached the dive site, everyone got in their dive gear and grabbed the cutting tools they’d need. One by one the volunteers jumped in and went to the bottom immediately, which was about 50 feet down.
By the time all the divers were in the water, the captain noticed that the boat had drifted quite a long way from where they had started…
By the time the last few divers descended they could see the other divers, but the current was so strong that they couldn’t make their way towards them. They even tried using their hands in the sand and on the rocks to kind of walk their way towards them. No luck.
So, the second group kept close together and went about removing some fishing weights and lines. But when they ascended, they had drifted so far that they could barely see the boat…
While that was going on, the first group of divers had ascended and climbed back aboard the boat. But they had no idea where the second group had gone. After a few moments of doing a grid search with the boat, they saw a fishing boat coming towards them. The boat had the second group aboard and dropped them close enough to the dive boat that the divers were able to jump in the water and swim the few feet to our boat. Phew!
While no one was ever in danger, it did cause everyone to think about what could have been done better to avoid that kind of scenario again. The verdict is: strong currents demand special attention. The odd thing with this particular situation was that the currents weren’t that strong at the surface but were a completely different story at depth. No one could have predicted this, and in the end everyone did what they were supposed to do: Stay calm and stick together.
Despite Challenges Abandoned Fishing Gear Removed
The boat crew continued to look for "float bags" popping to the surface. These brightly colored balloon-like bags indicate that the divers have filled their buckets and have sent it to the surface for retrieval. The diver carries the deflated bags with them; when they fill their bucket they attached the float bag, inflate it, and the now-filled "balloon" pulls the bucket to the surface.
When they got back to the dock, after hauling all their dive gear to their cars, they posed for the requisite documentary pictures and then undertook the tedious task of separating the weights from the lines, so they can be disposed of properly.
The haul wasn’t as large as is usual, but we still got about 70 pounds of lead weights and 1,000 feet of fishing lines. All things considered, not a bad haul.
ODA is looking forward to cleaning the shores of Oahu with our dedicated volunteers and IDH every month in 2020!
If you live on Oahu or plan to be there visiting on February 8th, please register via Island Divers Hawai'i! It would be great to have you join the crew.
If you read this article after February 8th, 2020, please visit their events page and scroll down to find the next ODA outing.