Written by Carlos
by Jim Watt
September 19, 2002
afternoon we steamed out of Laysan under sunny skies and
seas so calm you could have shot a game of eight ball, lots
of games well into evening, but of course you would have
to have a pool table. Instead we caught some rays on the
upper deck to the strains of cool guitar music and the sort
of songs one sings at the relief of a short work day. There
was even talk of staying on another month if the weather
was this benevolent.
It all turned around at one o'clock this morning. I was
fairly tossed from my bunk; it was as if we had run into
a large building, several large buildings. The rest of the
night was like trying to sleep in an industrial sized washing
machine. For the first time on this trip I am writing my
morning journal not from the bow where I can read the weather,
and what is to come, but rather in the salon. The seas are
huge, and regularly slam into the starboard beam sometimes
so high the white water completely obscures all else. What
it does obscure is first the water and then the sky; those
are our two views as the ship rolls with the sea's eight
to ten foot punches. A tropical low is spinning out of control
somewhere to the east, actually there are two of them, all
prognostications have it moving north of us and these are
just residual swells and wind which is blowing twenty-five
knots. There are only half a dozen souls eating breakfast
this morning. The others most likely had little sleep and
have little taste for the likes of ham and eggs, if you
get my drift. The fruit tray spilled over within the first
minute it was laid down, further diminishing any incentive
to get out of bed and make the perilous journey down to
We are due to arrive at Pearl
and Hermes Atoll, named after two ships that sunk at
the same time on this low profile atoll. Fortunately there
is a lagoon and long lee shore so we should be protected
from these seas. If not we wont be able to safely load the
zodes, or for that matter, dive in these horrific seas.
and just about every one are still hunkered down in their
bunks. We are regularly hit by big waves that strike the
Rapture broadside setting off a shudder that rumbles
through the boat. We are now due to arrive at P&H by
eleven o'clock. Jim Watt and I are scheduled to go out with
the REA A team headed by Alan Friedlander. We anchor up
close to eleven have lunch and in the lee of the atoll the
swells diminish and we are able to launch.
Those REA guys work hard, long hours and I never hear a
complaint. They recognize the value of their work and are
happy in their unending endeavors. We are in the zode for
over ten miles before we jump into blue water. The REA teams
set up the transect lines and are working two tanks, two
dives, no nonsense. On the first dive a school of twenty-five
ulua comes screaming up to me. One long trail of them, that,
in the one hundred foot visibility, is like watching a freight
train bearing down. Their insatiable curiosity has them
circle me and, apparently they are rather possessive about
their territory, for the largest one bumps me
in the back, lets me know who's the boss of the reef. Jim
is photographing fish, and later shoots two very rare tropical
fish that are only seen in deep water and are never seen
in the Main Hawaiian Islands, one is a Masked Angel, and
the other is a Japanese Angel. We come up cold and the wind
is blowing I sit next to a young Hawaiian man, who I spoke
with in casual conversation on the Rapture. We get
to talking on the zode waiting to gas out for the next tank.
His name is Kanekoa Kukea-Shultz and is a 24 year old grad
student working on his masters in botany specifically limu-
(seaweed). He is honored to be here on the Rapture
and feels privileged to be a part of this expedition. His
heart is in Hawaii and he feels a responsibility to the
Main Hawaiian Islands by examining the reef systems up here.
Seeing exactly what we have lost on the main islands. "Now
that we see it, it is up to us to spread the word. We need
to create MPA (marine protected area) again to bring back
a healthy eco system."
Kanekoa's passion comes through as he speaks in heartfelt,
thoughtful phrases, "This is a functional family we
have here on the boat, we have to make our dysfunctional
family at home healthy again, it is a family of hard heads
and they have to start to think of the future of Hawaii
instead of themselves. We need to go back to the communities
that are willing to make these changes and insure the survival
of our land and way of life. Until we are willing to recognize
our failings of the past we will be unable to heal the environment
for future generations."
this vessel we have a brain trust of marine and terrestrial
biologists and the education peoples, however we are missing
two major components - the politicians and the fishermen.
When we can bring everyone together then the true healing
and restoration of our ecosystem can begin to take place."
Talk About It!
Fish I.D. and a Big Mahalo!
Asked by Jim from Wyoming on Sep 21, 2002.
If I'm not mistaken, you have a picture of another rare fish in today's journal (above): the Crosshatch Triggerfish.
I wish to express my gratitude to the folks on this expedition. I am especially grateful that you are sharing the magic and beauty of this wilderness with us via your website. The photos and journals are the next best thing to being there!
Kanekoa's comments and thoughts are shared by a world of people who want to help, and I believe your work and this website go a long way to explaining why this is a must.
Answered by the NOW-RAMP Crew on Sep 22, 2002.
Mahalo for your comment! It is good to hear that our efforts are paying off! Aloha!