Last week we began to tell our readers about Puako, Hawaii -- the place we consider to be our home base, as divers. Puako has a magnificently rugged shoreline formed by an old lava flow. There are a few small sandy beaches there, but most of the shoreline is rocky and very irregular.
It makes a pretty picture, of course, but it is what's offshore under the water that draws us back there again and again. The photo at right shows our favorite entry point for shore diving at Puako.
We have waded into the ocean hundreds of times at this very spot to begin a dive. In fact, we have dived along this section of Puako's coast so frequently that we have come to know the terrain there as well as we know our own back yard on land.
We know where all of the resident critters live along that stretch of the coast, and we gave names to many of the 'regulars.' We've drawn maps of the reef there. We know every landmark and topographical feature, and we named those, too. In fact, we know the area so intimately that we like to say that if someone so much as turned over a rock, we'd notice!
If that sounds like an exaggeration, think of it this way: If you lived near a park or a wood and you walked through there several days a week for years, wouldn't you know it as your own? You would know where the terrain was flat and where it was hilly. You'd come to know which kinds of trees were there and where they were located. You'd learn what kinds of birds and animals lived there, and you might notice where they nested. Well, it's just like that on the reef, except that there is coral instead of trees, and there are fish and crabs and octopus instead of birds and squirrels and deer.
There's probably only one other diver who knows the Puako reefs as well as we do, and that would be our old friend Dan, a.k.a. 'Puako Diver Dan.' That's him in the photo at left. (Everyone say hi to Diver Dan!)
Dan lived in Puako for many, many years and was our most frequent dive companion during that period. He was with us on most of the hundreds of dives we made at Puako, and he did a lot of critter naming and landmark mapping there, too!
We know that he's been reading The Right Blue since it was launched, and since so many of our stories about diving at Puako are Dan's stories, too, we hope he'll soon stop lurking and help us to tell the tales!