Friday, June 22, 2007

Cultural Dance

I think we should film a cultural dance group on the white sandy carpet of Obyan!

These guys did there's in Thailand - pretty good job but we have better visibility all year round here on Saipan!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Around the Island Part Two - Naftan to Bird Island

As I said sea condition wise the similarities to last years trip ended as the paddlers rounded Naftan point. The photo above is from last year, when not only could the team hug the coastline but they also set up for a change out - only no one told the folks in the canoe.
This year hugging the coast was not an option and the spray on our photo boat didn't let me get a shot until the canoe was well past the point headed for Forbidden. Time 7:38

Passing Forbidden and moving North the paddlers encounter some pretty choppy water. At times the canoe would completely disappear from our view.
Forbidden 8:47 AM
Just after Forbidden the team makes a change out. This is no easy feat even in calm water. First the fresh paddlers leave the safety boat and tread water awaiting the approaching canoe. Then the Steersman must guide the arms of the outrigger (kapua'i) directly over the heads of these bobbing apples, kind of like threading a needle - no easy task as their heads disappear in the waves. As the canoe approaches the two exhausted paddlers bail out while the fresh paddlers grab hold and pull themselves up and into the canoe! Just like that - did I mention the canoe does not stop!
The bail out above, the climb in below.
Time 9:24 AM
As I said at times the entire canoe would disappear from our view and this was a light swell! These next two pics were taken 2 seconds apart!

Below, a refreshing splash no doubt! This shot illustrates why the team set out on a counter clockwise route. With the out rigger set up on the port side the prevailing wind and waves hit the the hull of the canoe. If they were to go the other way the waves and swell would first hit the outrigger potentially pushing it skyward high enough to tip the entire boat!
Bird Island Last year - notice how close they could get and how calm the water was!
Passing Bird Island this year. Time 10:28
Headed to the Grotto and Banzai Cliff, the worst is almost over! Stay tuned.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Turtle Hatching

Today's Plan:
Get you know what out of bed at 4:30 AM to be at the Grotto by 5AM. Dive for an hour plus and then head out for an early morning photo shoot wherever the light looks good. Then post photos on blog.

After a very uneventful dive - no turtles or anything else of note, I was off to find a location to shoot landscapes. I was prepared to come home and post some of those photos when this little guy showed up!

He (or she) and about a hundred of his friends. So now I can't post those location pictures but I can say I have witnessed my first live turtle hatching! Nothing else matters today, tomorrow or for at least the rest of the week for that matter! - you get what I mean. What an amazing thing to see. When we realized what was happening I set out with the camera trying franticly to get close up shots of these little guys. When it was all over I couldn't believe how fast it all happened and in the end how few quality shots I got. If they don't get hung up on anything these guys can really move, not much time to set up a shot that's for sure. Even when they hit the water all you see for a few moments is tiny heads randomly popping to the surface for a quick breath and then just like that it's over! I was not prepared for the speed of the event!

Here's a video Angelo did of the hatching he witnessed!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Around Saipan - Killi Beach to Naftan Point

It was an early start on Saturday when SOCC team members Eric O'Malley, Sonny Downer, Gayle Martin, Darlene Barrett, Brian Ecker, Rita Bonici, Gil Brinbrich,
Wayne Bramlett, Ann Jordan, Joe Przyuski, and Richard Sikkel all gathered at Killi beach with one thing in mind. Circumnavigate the island of Saipan non stop in a small 6 person outrigger canoe! No small feat since that entails traveling 38 plus miles in sea conditions that might make experienced fisherman in motorized boats think twice about venturing on the same course.

Things are pretty calm at Killi Beach 5:54 AM

Pre departure team photo 6:05 AM

...and they're off! 6:08 AM

After a short delay our paparazzi boat caught up to the crew near Ladder beach just as they were dealing with mother natures initial greeting. 7:13 AM

Pelting rain! 7:19 AM

See reason number one as to why someone might want to do this below.

Not one .....

but two - it's all good!

Aproaching Naftan point where any similarities to last years conditions were left behind!
Stay tunned!

Saturday, June 9, 2007

How many paddlers in the canoe!

Where's the canoe!
The Saipan Outrigger Canoe Club was at it again! Another circumnavigation of Saipan. Not quite the same weather as last year (photo taken near Bird Island). It was actually a pretty calm day for the East side but it certainly wasn't the glass like conditions we had last year. Even with the tougher conditions the journey took these guys less than 7 & 1/2 hours, only 50 minutes off last years pace! Well done! More photos to come after I sort through the 200+ I took!

Monday, June 4, 2007

Dive Site Poll

I've just started a poll! Vote for your favorite Saipan dive site! If your number one is not on the list leave me a comment and I'll put it on a future poll! Obyan, Naftan, The Grotto, Lau Lau Bay, Ice Cream, and Banzai Cliff are all featured on The Underwater World of Saipan DVD while Dimple, Shipwreck and Wing Beach are also deserving of consideration. Vote Now!

Russian Underwater Wedding at the Grotto

A number of people have asked I post the full underwater wedding of a Russian couple at the Grotto. A portion of the video plays on Flame Tree TV but this is the whole version with no narration. It's been over six months since they were married, hope they're still together b/c over 2500 people have watched them tie the knot on Youtube! Enjoy.