Posts Tagged "underwater"

Kosrae Village Ecolodge & Dive Resort

Posted by on Sep 10, 2014

For years I have heard from Katrina and Bruce about Kosrae; how great the diving is, how beautiful the island is and how peaceful life is at their resort, Kosrae Village Ecolodge. Finally after booking a trip on the Palau Siren I decided since I was going to be in the area I was going to visit Kosrae.

“I’m going to Kosrae” I would tell people. Where is Kosrae? How do you get there?

I'm Here! Kosrae Village Ecolodge.

Kosrae is an island in Micronesia. To get there I flew from San Francisco to Honolulu where I spent the night at the Airport Pacific Marina Inn which was comfortable and convenient although a bit expensive for what you get. The next morning I flew to Kosrae stopping at two of the Marshall Islands (Majoro and Kwajalein) on the way. The Marshall Islands are atolls, barely above water and one of them was just wide enough for the width of the runway and a narrow road going parallel to the runway. So I was very surprised when we descended to Kosrae to find that it was mountainous and covered with trees. The runway is on a man-made peninsula inside a protective coral reef. After a 30-40 minute drive along the coast I arrived at Kosrae Village Ecolodge.

The cottages at Kosrae Village Ecolodge are called “lohms” and are built in traditional Kosraean style with a thatched roof and walls of woven reeds. The peaked roof is open to the ocean breeze at the top front and the plank floor is made of hardwood sanded smooth. On three sides the walls consisted of windows.  The windows are covered by screen (no glass) and are open to the ocean breezes. This allows the cooling ocean breezes to come through the room and keep it reasonably cool without air-conditioning. The windows had roll-down blinds for privacy and/or to keep the rain out. Did I mention that it rained? It rained a lot! Everyone told me it was out of the ordinary to have this much rain at this time of the year. The wind would start to blow and then I knew that I had moments to get to cover. The sky would open up and downpour and then it would be over…until the next time.

Inside my lohm at Kosrae Village Ecolodge.

In my “lohm” there was a large table (that I used as a camera table), a smaller table (with coffee pot and required accessories), a refrigerator and the bed. The bed was draped in mosquito net which I found kind of fun and exotic and the bed was soft and comfortable and had plenty of pillows. The room was quite large and had plenty of electrical outlets although I hesitated to use some because they were wet and/or rusted. Because of the rain the walls were damp, the ocean facing wall so wet that it dripped onto the floor and the front floor was soaked for about a foot from the wall.

Bathroom and shower in my traditional Kosraen lohm.

The bathroom was large and in similar style with wood floor, woven reed walls and thatched roof. The shower was separated from the rest of the bathroom by a wall. The floor of the shower was wood slats with gaps between them so the water could run out. There was a bamboo fence around the shower with a gap between the shower floor and the fence so that if you wanted to you could climb down there and check out where the water goes and what is going on under the room. I considered doing that and then decided I really didn’t want to know what was going on down there and opted not to. And an important shower detail; there was plenty of hot water for after dive showers. There were some shelves in the bathroom and an area for hanging clothes in the bathroom. I used two of the hard plastic chairs as a stand to hold my suitcase and lived out my suitcase instead of unpacking everything since I was only there for a few nights.

My lohm looked through the palm and mangrove trees to the ocean where in the morning I walked out and photographed the sunrise. As I mentioned earlier, it rained a lot while I was there occasionally causing me to run back to the shelter of my porch to protect my camera. But it rained only 5-10 minutes and off I would go again. At high tide the waves pounded at the debris and sand berm protecting the shoreline and at low tide the exposed reef stretched way out and I would see locals fishing on the very edge of the infringing reef. One time I walked way down the beach and when it started raining I had to shelter at the very end lohm, which luckily was not occupied.Sunrise from my lohm balcony.

The open-air restaurant was built in a similar fashion to the lohms and had a large open dining area with a bar in the back. There were plenty of tables nicely covered with cloth and vases of flowers. I felt that an improvement would be a sitting area with soft chairs and a couch, maybe near the bar area where one could hang out in the afternoon socializing, reading or just having a cold drink. The only chairs at the resort were hard plastic and not overly comfortable. The local ladies who worked in the restaurant often had their small children with them who were shy at first but became very friendly and were fun to talk to.  The waitresses were very attentive and the food at the restaurant was delicious! The only place that wireless internet worked was in the restaurant and it was slow. Evidently in Micronesia they get their internet (and phone I think) from a satellite.

The office and dive locker were on the other side of the restaurant, with an area to store gear that was kept locked except when needed with a rinse area and hangers. The first day they set up my gear to my liking and after that took care of it until I left when they rinsed it and hung it to dry. There is a 20 minute +/- drive to get to the marina where the boat is docked. I understand that they can take the boat from the resort if the weather and tides allow. But the marina was fine and gave me the chance to see some of the local’s homes, and some nice views of the ocean and the mountains.

On my last day in Kosrae I took a guided rainforest walk to the Menka jungle ruins. The walk is a four hour sometimes strenuous but mostly easy hike along the river to the center of the island to the mysterious ruins where local lore says the goddess Sinlaku lived. Devotees of the goddess would spend up to a year in residence in two room stone structures;

Me visiting the Menke ruins.

worshiping the goddess and making and partaking of suka (also known as kava), a mildly narcotic drink made by pounding the suka root on flat stones. Salik, my guide, showed me some of the edible and inedible plants on the walk and even climbed a couple of trees to get some of the wild green tangerines common to the area and to get a breadfruit for me to take back to the resort and have made into breadfruit chips (delicious BTW). It was a great last day in Kosrae!

This post is kind of an overview of my visit to Kosrae, including some information on the resort and how I got there. I need to say that everyone there was very nice and took great care of me!

More information on Kosrae Village Ecolodge & Dive Resort is available on their website.

More images from Kosrae.

Gallery of underwater images.

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Monterey Dive – Jellyfish and Anemones

Posted by on Jan 23, 2013

On Saturday I dove with NCUPS at Wharf II. We were a bit concerned because it was the same weekend that the big surfing competition, Mavericks, was scheduled to take place just a little farther north on the coast. But off we went into the water and it was beautiful! The vis was great for under Wharf II and there were jellyfish everywhere!

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NCUPS September Minicomp Entry

Posted by on Sep 18, 2012

Underwater 3D with Mark Blum

Friday night was the NCUPS (Northern California Underwater Photographic Society) meeting. The featured presenter was Mark Blum showing his underwater 3D images. That’s right underwater 3D! The images were great and I learned all about how he creates his images using a rig with two DSLR bodies attached to one lens (which can be changed out depending on what he wants to shoot) then put into a large housing the whole thing weighing around 50 lbs! We all got to wear the funny glasses which are polarized and each side blocks out the polarized light from the other side allowing the image to display in 3D. If you look at it without the glasses it just looks blurry, like motion blur. The images were taken in the Lembeh Strait, North Sulawesi, Indonesia. The strange underwater creatures there looked really amazing in 3D! I wish I could show you one on this blog but if you want to see them you will have to go to one of Mark’s presentations or buy one of his specially outfitted 3D books. Visit Mark’s website for more information.

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Monterey Underwater Wave Rave

Posted by on Sep 15, 2012

 

Metridium Anemones

Metridium Anemones

On August 25 I got a group of divers together to participate in a Wave Rave, an event held to show support for our oceans, help stop shark finning and stop poaching. Organized by Sea Save Foundation, Wave Rave is a global event to unite for a common purpose – celebrate the ocean!

We had fun diving out to the Metridium Fields, seeing lots of jelly fish while we were out there and enjoying the marine life in the kelp forest and sand on our way. On the shore we enjoyed meeting some new friends and hanging out with some old friends and spreading the word about the issues our oceans face.

Here is a video with highlights of my dive that day!

Visit the Sea Save Foundation website to find out how you can help your ocean.

 

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Diving with Video Lights – Sony NEX5 and Luna 4 Video Lights

Posted by on Aug 18, 2012

Last weekend was the Monterey Shootout, a three day event where underwater photographers meet in Monterey, California to shoot (still photography and video), process and submit their work to be judged. On the last day, at the awards ceremony, the winners are announced and incredible prizes are given out to the winners. I’ve participated in this event since the late 1990’s.

This year was special for me because I was going to shoot with the system I put together using the Aquatica NEX5 housing that I won at the competition last year!

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