Through my parents self-sacrificing attendance of time share meetings we could afford to take a Catamaran tour around Kauai. This was a rather large boat, could hold 30 easily, it had a large sail but that went under used because of a rudder problem.
The first part was a fun ride from the west of the island to the north Nepali cliffs. Many lovely sites including no small number of movie locations were pointed out. Beaches, green mountains, and waterfalls galore. A few of the movies were Jurassic park, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Six Days Seven Nights.
The cool part of that section wasn't even the interesting tours and great views. It was the dolphin schools which came up to the boats. I'm not sure if we saw the same group repeatedly or encountered a second but i saw at least 20 unique spinner dolphins.
They're called spinner dolphins for logical reasons, they like to jump up in the are while twisting around. I doubt it serves much useful purpose, i think they just like to play, and why have the ability without using it. Even saw a young dolphin or two with what I'm guessing was a parental unit, quite cute. I think I've seen bottle-nosed dolphins before in the wild, which I believe are bigger, but never in these numbers.
Further when the boat picked up speed the dolphins would race up front. Typically 2 or 3 to a hull. They often seem to swim in pairs or greater groups, though when racing they didn't keep a synced as when swimming together. One of the crew said that they top off at 40 km/hour compared to the boat's max of 27, so they were more jogging along than running, even though they stayed just above the bow.
All things considered I'm rather glad I have a policy against eating dolphins, not that its legal or anything, but I'd strong avoid it giving the opportunity.
I also saw a few sea turtles, they're fairly big but still quite cute. This really shines through when they pop they're heads above water and look around. Mom was taking the pictures while we had critters around so I'll see what I can show.
After scooting along the Nepali cliffs for a while we stopped and went snorkeling. It was my first time but I quite definitively decided against mini life jackets they were offering newbies. I do half my swimming underwater, I don't see a snorkel causing me problems.
We were anchored by a not so colorful, coral reef, but it was still pretty and had a few species of fish which I swam with. Often these fish would be in large numbers, encouraged by those who had bough fish food, which brought them like the old people Shimin describes at lobster buffets.
I was able to hold the visor seal better than I'd ever been able to do with goggles, and got to sea quite well. Apparently my vision effectively cancels out the magnifying properties of water, so under the sea looks quite normal to me. I dove down some, but even at what I think was 15-20 ft down i was starting to feel a good amount of pressure. Further, I never quite mastered the mouth piece once i dived beneath the surface. Nonetheless I had a lovely time and would happily do it again, and want my own pair of flippers considering how fast they let me move.
My good time contrasted with one poor husband who quickly after entering the pool lost his wedding ring. I never figured out which guy it was, but despite a fair amount of diving in the area it didn't turn up to my knowledge.
We had a good lunch on the way back and I eventually decided to ride in front again. I had gotten a bit wet from the first time, as there is a tarp/trampoline between the each hull and the center section. At regular intervals water will come up through it, as well as occasional splashes from the bow. It wasn't so much on the way there, the ocean was fairly calm and I had done my first ocean swim early in the trip, and after jumping in from 6 feet up and swimming in clear water without seeing the bottom being splashed didn't get to me.
The first time i went up i just took a free position on the trampoline, which was free because of regular gusts of water beneath the boat. I tired of that but later returned to ride again in front. The pacific was rougher, hardly storm-like but the waves were still real. It was like a fast random roller coaster, rising on one wave and crashing down into the next. Occasionally the distances we fell were larger when we rose on a wave but jumped into a trough.
After some great wet wave riding we went through one. We had taken off a good size wave and landed as another one started. (This is a good length boat, taking off mainly refers to the bow). At this point the ride got a bit more exciting and it dropped down to just 2 of us in the very front but with other excitable people on more solid positions behind us. For some reason the snuggling couple just didn't feel like getting soaked :).
After a more crests and another wave splashing over the bow I reverted to a lying down position though continuing to keep both hands on the front rail. It was almost like flying low over the water from that position. The ride continued to near the end of the trip when the waters were calmer. I had actually learned to start to read the waves and so braced myself before the big drops and the several later waves that washed over us. At one point we got two in a row, at another i managed to lose one of my hand-holds but the other was still fairly secure. I later found out that my mother at thought I'd been washed overboard or moved to a more sensible position when I was lying down, she was sort of amused to find out that instead i was lying on the trampoline with only the arm-holds and a surface beneath me that sometime crested with the waves. :)
That was a fun time.
As compared to being bored, which I am at the moment, hence the story. Still to come pictures, and maybe visit with Caleb.