Monday, June 30, 2008

New Feature For My Blog

While others may have different uses and motives behind their blogs, mine is strictly for entertainment and enjoyment purposes. It's something that I can do to share my love of diving with others, to share my photography and now to share some music as well. I've added a Youtube box right under my links, right now I'm featuring Basia with her song, Drunk On Love. I put it there so you can listen to the music while reading my blog if you like it, all you have to do is click on the arrow icon in the box. If you don't want to listen to the music, no biggie, just don't click and you are welcome to read in silence. But since you can't really see the full screen on the side, I decided to share it full size in this post so you can see the whole thing anytime you like. And I'll probably also switch the song from time to time, but right now I'm in a Basia mood. I hope you enjoy it!

You may want to start it and then pause it right away until it fully downloads, then play it, that way you can listen to it uninterrupted.

North Dakota Does Exist and Other Interesting Facts

A while back I did a blog talking about all the various places in the world that I have had readers to my blog from. I found it interesting that I had readers from every single state except for North Dakota. I concluded that everyone must have left the state and nobody bothered turning out the lights when they left, what else could account for the fact that I had readers from almost everywhere else? Well today I finally had a hit from Minot, North Dakota, so it's official I have had readers from all 50 states.


I also had my highest readership 2 days in a row a couple weeks ago. No it wasn't a post on monkey sex, or nudibranchs as surprising as that may be to some people. It was from a post I did about Kelli wearing a half cast splint on her leg after fracturing her knee cap while slipping walking across to the rock in the Grotto. There is this thing called the Brace & Cast Forum online that evidently deals with braces, splints, casts and the injuries they are used to treat. Someone had found my blog and written something about it in German, and the next thing I knew I was getting hits from all over the world of people either reading about Kelli's experience or looking at this picture of her wearing her splint.
I guess it just goes to show you never know what will grab people's attention, but since my blog is not really about winning any contests or having the most number of readers, I don't really care that much about those results. My blog will continue to be about diving and pictures of critters under the sea, no I won't be seduced by the numbers offered by the brace & cast enthusiasts. But the important thing is that we have determined once and for all that North Dakota does indeed exist.

Logging Dives & Dive Computers

I managed to get in 6 dives over the weekend that almost got me to my goal of 30 dives for the month of June, I wound up with 29 dives in June, which puts me at 119 for the year so far. So barring any unforseen complications I should be able to easily hit 200 dives for the year. To non-divers, they are probably saying "so what?". But most avid divers realize that for anyone who doesn't dive for a living, 200 dives in a year is a pretty remarkable achievement, and this will be my 3rd time to get over 200 dives in a year.

I wish now that I had always kept better records of all my dives, but sadly I didn't log any of them when I first started diving. I didn't start logging any of them at all until about 10 years ago, so I had missed recording the first several hundred dives that I had done. Now I have a dive computer that downloads all the information from my dives to my laptop computer, so all I have to add is the location, people who dove with me and my comments. It's a great way to make sure that you stay on top of your dive log. When you just have a book you write everything in, you tend to get busy, and forget to update it. Then by the time you finally get around to it, you've forgotten most of the pertinent information. With my dive computer, which also doubles as my regular watch, I always download all the dives on Monday morning after my weekend of diving, then I add all the other information. It's great to be able to look back and remember dives and people who have gone with me in years past. There are many awesome dive computers out there to choose from these days, but if I were giving advice on which one to get, I'd highly recommend the Scubapro Xtender. You can buy the computer and the download kit to let you download all the information onto your laptop or home computer for about $500. I have never had any problems with the computer and got over 250 dives on the computer before I had to replace the battery. Using a dive computer is essential for the type of diving I do these days, but it's also essential for recording valuable dive information and making sure I keep a detailed log of all my dives. If keeping records of your dives is something you've gotten out of the habit of doing, I'd highly recommend you start it up again. One of these days you'll want to look back and remember, and your dive logs will serve you much better than your memory, I can guarantee it!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Mammothlist.net

I'm not usually the type to try these sort of things, but I read several good reports of people using this particular service on Link Referral. And the thing that I really liked is that it only involves a one time charge of $10, plus a $2 administrative fee for mammothlist and then you have to pay a $2 fee to whichever pay service you wind up signing up with. So for a total investment of $14, you buy into this list building service. You use $10 of it to pay out to 5 different people on the list, paying each of them $2. And then for every person that signs up under you, they wind up paying you $2 of their sign up, with the rest going to other members. As each of the maximum 20 people you sign up, sign up others, you are included on their lists as well down to the 5th place. I know this sounds kind of like a pyramid scheme, but what the heck, for $14 I'm willing to risk it and see if anything comes of it. Look at it this way, if you were going to a casino, chances are you'd be spending much more than $14 and your chances of recoving your initial investment wouldn't be nearly as good. So come on, let's get some of you involved in this thing and see if it works. Simply click on this banner and you'll be signed up under my list. Sign up is quick and painless.

Here are the people I'm encouaging to give this a shot: Angelo Villagomez, John Dax Moreno, Beverly Cabanatan, Brad Derksen, Brad Ruszala, Bruce Bateman, Jeff Turbitt, EJ Lee, Hozumi Redd, Josh Blalock, Lewie Tenorio, Mike Tripp, Greg Moretti, Tami Hunter, Deece & Missy. If there are others who want to give this a shot that I haven't mentioned, you're more than welcome to click on the banner and sign up as well. These are all just people I figured could spare the $14 and might want to give it a shot. Let's see what happens!

Pictures From Recent Dives

Being Wing Beach season right now means I've been spending an awful lot of time with an assortment of lionfish, firefish, scorpionfish, turkeyfish and stonefish. I realize that they hang out at other spots around the island as well, but none in the concentrations that you will find them at Wing Beach. It is not at all unusual lately to have up to 10 of them all out in the open swimming in the cut, that's a bunch of lionfish to keep an eye on at one time.At the end of the crevasse at Wing Beach is a rock outcropping that juts out into the water. The top of it is covered with various colors of crinoids, and the bottom of it is covered with this tiny, intricate purple lace coral. It makes for quite a picture when you get a crinoid perched in the middle of the purple lace coral. I can just totally lose track of time out there some days just studying all the beauty in one tiny area.Taking pictures of the Plerogyra sinuosa colonies, or bubble coral is another of my favorite subjects. These colonies are just so unique, beautiful, detailed and uncommon that it makes them very appealing. As with most things out here, you need to be very careful when taking pictures of it, because it can sting you, and the sting packs quite a punch. Don't ask me how I know that, just take my word for it.And one of my favorite things about Wing Beach has always been the octopus that hang out there. You have to look very carefully because they are well hidden. Octopus can change the color of their skin and can even change the texture of it to blend in with their surroundings. They are usually very shy and very curious, which makes for an interesting combination. When you find one hiding in a hole, you can put your hand in front of the hole with your fingers extended and after a couple minutes it will usually send out a tentacle or two to check you out. You will feel them grab onto your fingers and try to pull you into the hole with them. This can be a rather freaky sensation to those that may not be used to the feeling, but it's harmless. They are actually tasting you with their suction cups, trying to decide whether you'd make a good meal or not.This tiny little radial firefish was hiding in a hole next to a trochus shell. It's almost always worth taking the time to look in all the little tiny holes and cavities in the rocks, you'll be amazed at the diversity of life you'll find in them. You might see candy cane shrimp, baby eels, or little firefish like this guy. I've been so busy taking other people out diving lately that I really haven't had time for a dive to just concentrate on my underwater photography. I'm thinking this weekend I'm going to have to get in a couple 2-3 hour dives where I'm not responsible for anyone or anything other than my camera. Those are the dives when I really come up with some interesting things and pictures. I hope you enjoyed this collection of assorted shots from my Wing Beach dives last weekend.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Wing Beach's Resident Green Sea Turtle

This cute green sea turtle has taken up residence in the crevasse at Wing Beach. If there aren't a bunch of divers already out there when you go out, you've got a pretty good chance of spotting him catching a nap in a couple of the holes on the north side of the crevasse wall. He is very good about getting his picture taken and will sit still for quite a few pictures before heading off for a swim. If you give him his space he will probably just sit right there though and let you get a good look at him or as many pictures as you want.There is something just so calming and amazing about spending some time with a turtle. I don't think everyone gets it though. I've seen some divers see a turtle, give it a quick glance and then just swim off in search of something else, those divers don't get it. There is something magical and soothing about being in the presence of a turtle, something that if you haven't experienced it I probably can't even begin to explain. When I look into those gentle eyes it's like I'm transported away to another place where time stands still and nothing else matters. And as cool as these pictures may look, they don't even come close to capturing just how amazing these gentle giants look underwater.And then the feeling you get when you effortlessly glide through the water swimming alongside one of these graceful creatures is something you will never forget. It's like you have become one with the ocean and all of its life, you have traded your land legs in and have become a streamlined aquatic explorer. Turtles are amazing in the way they control their buoyancy and swim so effortlessly through the water. I've said it a thousand times before, but I still feel just as passionately about it, if you live in the islands, and you've never taken the time to go on a dive, you've got to do it before you leave. It's an experience that will definitely change the way you look at the oceans and its inhabitants.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Goodbye Dives for Zandra

The ham you see in the picture above is Zandra, yup the same one who has only managed to get in 15 dives in the last year and a half of diving with me and the same one who very rarely ever updates her blog. Zandra has been on Saipan for 5 years now, but like many others has decided it's finally time to leave and move back to the states. I don't blame any of my friends for calling it quits out here and saying enough is enough, but it doesn't mean that it doesn't suck to watch all of your friends move away. Zandra wanted to do a couple dives on her final weekend, so we hit Wing Beach Saturday morning and Sunday afternoon.We got lucky on Zandra's dive Saturday and caught this green sea turtle just sleeping in a little hole on the side of the wall in the crevasse. He didn't seem to mind at all that I wanted to take his picture or that Zandra posed with him. He just stayed there occasionally opening his eyes to see what was going on, but didn't swim away. I'll post more of those pictures of him tomorrow, I got some great ones thanks to the new strobe.I think Zandra was doing her best lionfish imitation here since she was watching a big red lionfish at the time with its feathers are displayed proudly. I'm not sure she got the animal she was trying for though, I think she may have been closer to the cuckoo bird.Zandra was always fairly photogenic underwater and never seemed to mind me snapping away working on my photography skills using her as the guinnea pig. I'm glad she managed to get in 2 Wing Beach dives on her final weekend on Saipan since that was her favorite dive, and the critters were all out saying goodbye to her as well.Here she is waving at me as she hovers above me at Wing Beach. Goodbye Zandra, you'll be missed.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Lionfish at Wing Beach

Wing Beach has been nothing short of spectacular lately. It has been flat, calm, no current, great visibility and had lots of lionfish out playing. This big red lionfish was playing on the side of the wall in the cut going out. The only thing you have to watch out for is there are so many of them lately that while you're photographing one, there could be 3 or 4 more swimming down toward you, and they don't really seem to care how close they get to you.Barry found these two and pointed out how they are flaring their gills at one another. We didn't know if this was some sort of a mating ritual, or if it was two males fighting for territory. They won no matter what, we just wanted to snap a few pictures.Then I spotted this little scorpionfish sitting on a ledge. We nudged him a couple times to get him in better light to shoot him in. You can see how people just step on them. First of all, you can barely see them, they blend in with their surroundings so well, and then you literally have to push them to get them to move, they won't move otherwise. This guy was a bit more colorful than most.It seemed that everytime I turned around, there were a couple more lionfish coming in for a closer look. I've actually had them brush against my arm while I'm taking pictures as they float in the current. The key is to always be very slow and calm around them. If they feel at all threatened, their sting can be excruciatingly painful. If you're a diver and you haven't dove Wing Beach this year, now is the time. The water is dead flat, there isn't much current and conditions are perfect. If you don't know you're way around out there and need someone to show you around, let me know, you're welcome to come along on one of my dives!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Another Logo Version

Barry Wonenberg has jumped in and offered another version of the Axe Murderer Tours logo. Kelli is already casting her vote this direction because she says the skull doesn't look as scarey and it's got a friendlier look. If this guy had a moustache and goatee, he would almost be a dead ringer for me, no pun intended. I'm hoping we can get something finalized pretty soon though, as the list of people wanting to buy their Axe Murderer Tours merchandise is growing by the day. What are your thoughts about the logo? Kelli was trying to sell me on a mermaid logo last week, and as much as I personally happen to like mermaids, I just don't think a sexy looking mermaid says, Axe Murderer Tours. Leave a comment if you have an opinion, we need to get this all sorted out fairly soon.

Reed Family's Final Tour

Here is a picture of Kelli & Erin after their Grotto dive. It was quite an accomplishment for both of them as Erin didn't think she wanted to do anymore diving, and I think the thought of the Grotto might have been messing with her mind, but she overcame those thoughts and did it anyway. And Kelli actually did the dive and climbed back out with her tank after fracturing her knee cap, no small feat. After the dive we took Erin to Bird Island lookout, Suicide Cliff and Bonzai Cliff, and she decided she wanted the rest of the family to see those spots the next day. So we offered to come back and pick them up and give the family the north island tour Monday afternoon.

Sometimes when I'm diving I get some salt water in my mask, which then gets under my contact lenses. I'm thinking that causes irritations which sometimes lead to corneal ulcers. I've had them several times now, so I'm well acquainted with what they feel like. It's excruciating and feels like someone is stabbing your eyeball with hot needles. Monday morning I could feel it coming on, and knew that I was going to be in a lot of pain very shortly. So I took my contact out and bought an eye patch for my eye, since it also gets very light sensitive. During lunch Kelli had me look at her knee, since she still had not gotten it looked at. It was all swollen and not looking good at all, so I told her we were going to the doctors office right after lunch. She was using a pair of crutches that someone had given to us when they left island. Why someone would think I would ever have a need of crutches I'll never know. So we went hobbling into the doctors office, her on her crutches and me with my eye patch. I think the doctor thought we should be checked into a convalescent home somewhere. 3 x-rays later he told Kelli that she had a small fracture on her knee cap, and that she had dislocated it and most likely had torn ligaments and cartiledge. He put a plaster cast on the back side of her leg, making a splint and then wrapped it all up in an ace bandage. He also gave her a couple pain prescriptions which we would both wind up needing for our various aches and pains from the weekends diving.

Then we headed over to PIC to pick up the Reed family for their tour, me in my eye patch and Kelli on crutches and with a splint on her leg, we were quite the sight. They asked if we were sure we were up to this. We said we just had to stop by the hospital and get the prescriptions filled and then we were good to go. This is the kind of service you would only get from an outfit like Axe Murderer Tours. So with pills in hand, splint on leg, and patch on eye, we headed to the north end of the island.Many times when you are standing at the Bird Island lookout or the Bonzai Cliff lookout, you can look down and see turtles on the surface of the water. We actually saw this guy the day before at Bonzai Cliff after our Grotto dive. He was in fairly close and just stayed on the top for a while, letting me get some good shots of him. Unfortunately when we went back to those spots with the whole family, there were no turtles cooperating.Here you see Grace, Dan & Simon all sitting at the top of the memorial at Bonzai Cliff. I think they were all impressed with the north end sights, Dan especially seemed to like checking out Bird Island. And I know that Erin had a great time showing her family the Grotto, which she had just conquered the day before, and she had plenty of stories to tell about it.

One thing I forgot to tell you about Kelli's trip to the doctor was that she had pants on when she went in. But the doctor would have had to cut the leg of her pants in order to put the splint on, so rather than have her favorite pair of pants ruined, she opted to take her pants off and just wear a towel that we had in the car. So Kelli was fashionably attired in a towel for our north end of the island tour. It's an island, we're all pretty laid back around here!When you're getting a tour from Axe Murderer Tours, you can almost bank on the fact that something about it will be unique or different. Like earlier in the week when I took them to Mt. Tapochou when I had to turn on our generator for the radio station. I accomplished something I had to get done for work on the weekend, and they got to see the view from Mt. Tapochou, a win-win situation.Simon's favorite part of the tour was undoubtedly the stop at the Last Command Post in Marpi. Here you see him in front of one of the big anti-aircraft guns that still sits there as a reminder of what took place here over 60 years ago.Here is Simon in front of one of the old Japanese tanks. This place is like a sort of Disneyland to a 6 year old, with all these old tanks, canons and guns still sitting there. But Simon's favorite part of the Last Command Post had to be the Last Command Post itself.He thought it was totally awesome to go in that hollowed out rock and see where the holes were blown through the walls. He seemed to enjoy exploring it with me too, as he kept telling me to come on as he went to the next spot to explore. I think he was just thinking it was cool to hang with someone wearing an eye patch. Erin did tell me that I looked like I should be my own logo for Axe Murderer Tours with that eye patch. I suppose there is a slight possibility that I may look a little like a pirate with my shaved head, goatee and eye patch. But it's only a slight possibility.Here you see Simon, Grace & Erin on the walkway outside of the Last Command Post. We were there just before sunset, and you could see the moon over toward the Grotto already rising. I was keeping an eye on the sun and where it was though so we could catch a sunset at Wing Beach to close out the tour. I was cutting it close, but we did manage to catch it.Here you see Grace & Simon running down the beach for the last few seconds before the sun dips into the ocean. We were hoping it would be a green flash since the conditions looked perfect for it, but no such luck. Oh well, it was still a pretty spectacular ending to what had been a full week for the Reed family. Hopefully they left here with some awesome memories of their time on Saipan, and are already thinking about their next trip back. Thanks for coming Reed family, and you're always welcome to become repeat victims of Axe Murderer Tours!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Sunday's Grotto Dive

This picture was taken right after Erin's last dive on Saipan. She was kind of tired after diving Lau Lau Sunday morning and thought she wanted to call that one her last dive. But I knew that she hadn't dove the Grotto yet, and it would be a crime to come here to dive and not dive the Grotto! So I told her to just go to lunch, relax, have some iced tea and see how she felt afterwards. When I asked her if she wanted to dive the Grotto after lunch, she said she was good with being done diving, and didn't need to do it. But then she asked if I was going to dive the Grotto anyway without her, I told her of course I was. It was Sunday, and it was dive time. I think the thought of knowing that I was off diving the Grotto while she wasn't was more than she could handle, so she told me she wanted to go to the Grotto with Kelli and I. This was going to be Kelli's second Grotto dive. As Erin was working her way down the 115 steps that descend into the Grotto, I think she was wondering if it could possibly be worth it or not, she wasn't liking the stairs at all. We hit it just perfect though, when we pulled in to the parking lot, we were the only ones there, other than the security guard. So we didn't have to dodge people on the stairs or contend with them on the rock.

When we got to the bottom, I went over to the other side and set my fins and camera down so I could help the ladies cross over onto the rock. I was standing on the other side of the rock, waiting to take their hands and steady them as they walked across. I warned them both to stay on the higher part of the rock coming across, because it was really slippery on the side. I fell there the day before and went down smashing my elbow and knee pretty hard, I still didn't have the use of my left arm or any strength in it whatsoever as a result of my fall. I got Erin across just fine, but when it was Kelli's turn to cross, she went on the part I warned her against, and slipped, falling right down into the crack between the rocks. She wrenched and smashed her knee pretty good in the fall, and couldn't really stand up on it very well. I helped her up onto the rock with my good arm and asked if she thought she could dive like that. She thought she would be ok, so we got our gear ready and jumped in the water. They both wanted to just float there in the water for a couple minutes before going down so they could rest, which was fine with me.

As we went down and started heading toward hole #1, I noticed a turtle silhouetted in the opening, and watched as he swam down to the bottom of the rocks in the #1 opening. I was excited, that was an awesome start for this dive, and Erin's last dive on Saipan. When I got to the opening and looked down, I saw this guy.It was only the 2nd time I'd ever seen a Hawksbill turtle at the Grotto. I'm used to seeing lots of green sea turtles there, but it's pretty rare to see a Hawksbill turtle there. Definitely a great sign though. I took a bunch of pictures of him and swam with him for a little while. But then I noticed that Kelli & Erin weren't following me, but were hanging back by the Grotto. I went back to see what they were up to, and then I saw this guy.This big green sea turtle was just hanging out by the girls munching on some algae. He let us all take quite a few pictures of him, he circled me several times and then just kind of leisurely swam down the cliff line. Here we were less than 5 minutes into our dive and we'd already seen 2 turtles! This was certainly making for an awesome last dive for Erin before she returned to Japan on Tuesday. Here is a picture of Erin as she is back in the Grotto in front of hole #3. She had managed to do Wing Beach, Obiyan, Lau Lau and now the Grotto during her week on Saipan. Something tells me we'll be seeing her here again, I think she's hooked on our diving. Whether she will take her chances with Axe Murderer Tours again is open to speculation. I think I pretty much convinced her I'm a bit of a psycho, but I think she still had a good time anyway.

After Kelli's spill on the rock leading to the Grotto, not only did she do the whole dive, but she then hiked back up all the stairs carrying her own tank and gear. I offered to carry her tank up at about the halfway point, but she insisted on carrying it herself. When she finally got in the truck, her knee started really hurting and she realized she probably did some damage to it. But being the stubborn person she is, she wouldn't go to the hospital for it that afternoon, and she went to work the next morning. But when I saw how swelled up her knee had become at lunch, I told her we were going to the doctor after lunch. After 3 x-rays the doctor told her she had a small fracture of the knee cap, and that she had dislocated it, and most likely torn some tendons and ligaments as a result. He wound up putting a splint on her leg, which is a half plaster cast on the backside of the leg, and then wrapping it with gauze and an ace bandage around the cast. So that's going to be the end of Kelli's diving for a few weeks, which she isn't happy about at all! But she definitely proved that she can hang with the old Axe Murderer on any dive! So now some of the outrageous dive stories will be told about the crazy wife of the Axe Murderer who does the dive anyway, and then hikes up the Grotto stairs with her tank even after fracturing & dislocating her knee cap.Let it not be said that a little thing like a fractured elbow or knee cap will stop Axe Murderer Tours from delivering some amazing dives!

Outnumbered Underwater

Erin had commented to me that most of the time in Japan she would be the only female on most of the dives, so it would be nice to come here and have another female to dive with since Kelli went with me a lot. They were actually able to totally turn the tables on me a couple times this past weekend, and have me be the only guy on their "girl's dive". Pictured above you see Erin, Ray, Kelli and Maricar at Obiyan. Instead of "Charlie's Angels", these were Harry's Angels. I think they all really enjoyed themselves and had a great dive. And no offense to my fellow guy divers, but if I'm going to be taking pictures of people underwater, I'd rather focus on the ladies, they just seem to be much more photogenic.

Here you see Erin on the inside of a little cave toward the end of the Obiyan dive. Most of the cave is fairly spacious, but there is one little bend at the end where you have to twist and turn to get your tank through the hole. Now of course I've been through all these holes hundreds of times, so I know just how to get through them with a minimal amount of effort so I make it look fairly easy. And of course I'm much bigger than all the ladies, so they figured if I could make it through a hole they should easily be able to fit. I then waited on the other side of the hole to make sure they all made it through alright. Each of them came through and then swam out of the cave, but when Erin came through, she had this smirk on her face and was shaking her head at me. I could just imagine the thoughts going through her head right about then. And she was probably wondering what she was doing diving with a psycho like me. Just look at all the stories you'll have to tell though Erin.Here is Erin on one of the sand patches at Obiyan. It was a perfect day for a dive there, there were no waves, no current, the visibility was pretty good and there weren't too many divers. I had a couple more all ladies dives last weekend as well, I guess I'll have to post some of those pictures tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Reed Family

A few weeks ago I got an e-mail from Erin Reed, saying we had never met, but she had found my blog online and their family was planning a Saipan vacation, and that she was a diver. That was pretty much all I had to hear, I could already tell she was a perfect candidate to be the next victim of Axe Murderer Tours. Erin had fallen in love with diving and wanted to introduce her husband - Dan, and daughter - Grace to it as well. So I took Erin out by herself last Wednesday to make sure she knew what she was doing down there, we went to Lau Lau for her first dive. Then last Friday we took Dan and Grace at Wing Beach. The weather was cooperating perfectly, there was no current at all, visibility was awesome, the lionfish were all out strutting their stuff, and they even got to see a big green sea turtle in the crevasse. As far as first dives go, that one would be hard to beat. Well there might have been one tiny little glitch, but that would be Erin's story to tell, not mine, so you'll have to ask her if you want to hear it. I think Grace thought I was trying to kill her with the hike down Wing Beach to get to the cut though.This is Grace, she was my dive buddy. I held her hand and pulled her alongside of me the whole dive, except for those few occasions when I needed both hands free to take a picture. I think she really enjoyed it, it's kind of hard to tell with Grace sometimes though. I think she might have wondered if she drew the short straw a couple times and why she got stuck with me. But she really couldn't complain too much, I didn't let any giant green moray eels bite her, I kept all the sharks away, I let her get a pretty close look at the green sea turtle, and I made sure she had plenty of air to get her back to the starting point. I think she thought I would have been a better buddy if I'd have offered to carry her tank for her, but I have to draw the line somewhere.Here you see Erin & Dan following along behind us at Wing Beach. They always seemed to be way back there. The only thing I can figure is that Grace must have been swimming really fast pulling me along with her. Now Wing Beach is pretty spectacular anytime you get the privilege of diving it, but this day seemed to be extra special. The sun was shining brightly lighting up all the shallow coral, turning it into a kaleidoscope of amazing colors and patterns.But what made the dive so great was this big green sea turtle who was hanging out in the crevasse. When I first came up to the crevasse and looked down over the edge, I thought Grace was going to squeeze my hand right off, she didn't want to drop down into it. That is she didn't want to go down until she saw the turtle, and then she didn't seem to mind at all. I'll have quite a few more pictures of my adventures with the Reed family in the coming days, but for now I'll put these up so Erin's mom can see them!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Updated Axe Murderer Tours Logo & More Victims

My always faithful dive buddy and co-axe murderer Doug has updated the logo once again for Axe Murderer Tours. He's given the skull an eye patch (appropriate since I wind up wearing one quite often when I have eye problems), a bandana (I now have a black Scap that I wear when diving), and a turtle earring with a scuba flag for its shell (no, I don't have an earring, and I wouldn't hold my breath on me getting one anytime in the near future). I can't wait to get some hats, shirts, bandanas and bikinis done up with the logo on them. All in good time though.

I was going through my dive logs from the past 2 years a couple days ago, these are the logs that my dive computer downloads to my laptop computer and then I just fill in location, dive buddy, and comments. I found a couple little facts interesting. During that time I have logged in 351 dives, 352 after today. The only reason it isn't 400 is because I was sidelined with the little heart issue and the trip to Hong Kong to get it taken care of about a year and a half ago, so that cut into my dive time substantially. But during that time, I have taken out 126 different people diving, all victims of Axe Murderer Tours. Some of them have gone on multiple dives with me. But 126 different people in just 2 years, that's an awful lot of victims, especially considering I've only been doing this for fun up to now. So how many have I taken out in the past 12 years? I think we can safely assume the number is well over 300. I have logged in over 500 hours of time underwater on those 352 dives. Yes, my average dive is usually well over an hour. My only dives that are less than an hour are those that I have somebody with me and I'm polite enough to actually get out of the water with them. I usually get them out and tell them to sit on the shore and wait until I use up the rest of my air. That is like the equivalent of spending 22 days underwater, 24 hours a day. Not bad for a 2 year stretch huh?

I also counted the total number of dives that Zandra has gone on with me in the last 2 years. Now Zandra lives here, so you would think that the number would be huge, especially since I'm the only one she goes diving with. But no, she has only managed to get in 13 dives in the last 2 years. Something tells me that after she leaves here for good next month, she will have wished she took more time to dive.

And then I counted up Kelli's dives. She has really gotten back into diving this year and has already gone on 25 dives with me this year alone. That is completely outstanding for her! She will easily log in 50 dives this year, quite a feat for someone who thought diving was more trouble than it was worth last year.

And then there are my latest bunch of victims. They have definitely kept me wet this past week or so. The first one is Brian, he is a friend of Cherylynn Cabrera's. He is going to be an instructor at West Point Military Academy for the next two years. He was out here for vacation and managed to get in 4 dives with me while he was here. I took him to Wing Beach, Obiyan, Grotto and Lau Lau, so he made the rounds. Here you see him in one of the little caves at Obiyan.The next victim of Axe Murderer Tours this past week has been Maricar. Ron Biggers, who works with my wife occasionally asked her if I'd be willing to take a friend of his from Manila out diving with me while she was here on vacation. Well of course the answer is always yes. I took Maricar to Wing Beach for her first Saipan dive last Friday afternoon. Then she did 2 dives with me Saturday, Obiyan and Grotto. On Sunday she did 2 more dives with me, Lau Lau and back to the Grotto. Then yesterday she went back with Barry and I to Wing Beach. She's only been on island a week, and she has already logged in 6 dives, pretty impressive.And then there was Erin Reed and her family. Erin's husband Dan is in the Marines and is stationed in Japan. The family had decided to come to Saipan for a vacation as they were looking for something close and fairly affordable, and Erin is a diver, so she wanted something with great diving. She managed to come across my blog online and sent me an e-mail asking me about diving here and if I could recommend anyone she could go diving with. As if I would recommend anyone else, of course I offered to let her come along with me on my dives. I took her and Brian out to Lau Lau for her first dive on Saipan, that way her husband, son and daughter could all snorkel and enjoy the beach while we were underwater. Erin impressed me as being a very confident and comfortable diver right away. And she even spotted a green sea turtle that I had overlooked, and she got me attention and pointed him out to me. Now that's the kind of dive partner I like to have!Erin wanted her daughter and husband to have the opportunity to try out scuba while they were here as well, and asked if we could take them somewhere very calm and safe. When Wing Beach is calm, that is always my choice for an experiencing scuba introductory dive. It tapers off very gradually, you can get used to the equipment in about 10' of water very near the rope and there is a ton of things to see all within a very short swim, like lionfish, eels, sharks and the occasional turtle. She wanted to take them out Friday afternoon, so I decided that I should check it out Thursday afternoon to see what conditions were like since it was going to be high tide, (I'll do almost anything to make sure that my victims are happy!). I dragged Barry and Maricar along on this exploratory dive to check conditions, and they were perfect. So we'll all be hitting Wing Beach later Friday afternoon and then I'll be diving all weekend long. They are welcome to come along on any or all of my dives, but yes, I will be diving!The most amazing part of all of this is that these people are willing to put their trust in this old dive bum who shoots a shot of his own face trying to see if his external flash is firing or not. Just another week, albeit a somewhat busier one than normal, in the life of Axe Murderer Tours.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

28 Years And Counting

Saturday was Kelli's & my 28th wedding anniversary. I realize that probably seems pretty hard to believe since we both look like we're only about 30 years old. Ok, my gray goatee might make me look just a tad older. But since Kelli has been enjoying her diving so much lately and wanting to spend so much time underwater with me, I decided I wanted to get her brand new dive gear that would not only be super comfortable, but also very reliable for her. I ordered a new Dacor Talon BC and a Tusa regulator from http://www.scubatoys.com/. I figured it would be the perfect anniversary present, since it would be something that she would be enjoying using every weekend with me. A friend of mine who is certainly not an authority on romance or anything even closely related told me that was like buying her a new vacuum cleaner. I disagree, I think it's something that not only was she really excited about, but something she will enjoy for a long time to come on a regular basis. And you have to admit, she really looks good in that new black & blue gear, even all color coordinated!Yup, 28 years later and we're still having a blast together, only now we're enjoying the underwater world together as well, something that's always been a dream for me. Kelli got certified almost 8 years ago for her 40th birthday, but didn't dive at all until late last year. Now she's really gotten into it and is actually sad when she has to miss a dive. What a change from the days when she thought it was just way too much hassle and work. I love having her down there with me though, showing her the cool things I find, and teaching her to take underwater pictures with her camera. And of couse it does my heart good seeing her looking all cool and color coordinated in her new dive gear down there!Yes, we had other people diving with us Saturday morning, but you're going to have to wait to see their pics, because this post is dedicated to my bride of 28 years, my best friend, and my dive buddy with the cool new gear, my wife Kelli!