Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Kerama Deer

The Kerama deer live on Aka and Geruma, but not Zamami.  They usually make their public appearances early in the morning or just before dark - times when I am never on those islands.  Occasionally, though, I will run across them during the day. 

So it was a couple days ago when I was doing some research for a secret project when I ran into these deer.  They weren't too worried about my presence, which was awesome for photography:

[this is the biggest buck I've seen in real life or pictures]

[two bucks, still in velvet]

[nice composition, Dave!]

Sunday, July 25, 2010


I've sorta been in the market for a new kayak for a year now.  My current kayak is a sit-on-top with cracks in the bottom that leak (which I could fix pretty easily with some silicone if I was so inclined).  It weighs a lot and doesn't do so well in wind, but it's perfect for beachcombing (dragging up over the rocks to get ashore), catching fish (it's really hard to tip), and swimming from.

The kayak shop just got some new sit-on and sit-in kayaks and tempted me to try one.  Intrigued by their speed, I opted for the sit-in.

I wasn't let down.  I was flying (relatively) through the wind yesterday, so I woke up earlier and took it back out today for a longer test to a faraway island.  I reached the island in record time and just as I was passing some anchored fishing boats and thinking how good this kayak might be for trolling, the drag on my reel started clicking off.

Handling a sit-in kayak in waves is tenuous, but then add to that something below pulling hard at your kayak and it becomes positively nerve-wracking (especially when you haven't yet learned how to get back in a sit-in kayak after flipping it).

The fight lasted about five minutes and there were some scary moments, but eventually I coaxed him up next to the kayak and got his head out of the water.  The return trip - straight into a strong headwind - took half the time it takes me on my sit-on.  So I'm thinking seriously about purchasing the sit-in kayak.  But this might mean the end of my Giant Trevally fishing from kayak, unless we can figure out an outrigger system to give more support to the 'yak.  Otherwise it'll just be too dangerous.

[I'm continually surprised by how small my kayak fish look in their ensuing pictures.  He was probably 6-7 pounds]

[I finally got to break in the sashimi plate I bought in Naha's pottery district a few months back]

It has been a dream of mine to catch a wahoo on my own (not while marlin fishing) since my early days in Palau eight years ago.  Today was the first one, so I fulfilled my dream pun by shouting "Wahooooooooo!"

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Catching A Hermit Crab

I woke up at 5am and went to the beach a couple days ago to photograph hermit crabs at dawn.  Check out the following series to see the awesome encounter I witnessed:

[watch that white object in the upper right]

[the crab picking up the hermit crab.  he carried him off so fast that I didn't really get any pictures, except when he dropped him halfway (see next)]

[into the crab's hole he went, where I guess the crab waits for the hermit crab to get impatient and exit his shell?]

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Turtle at 8"

I realized I had an extra night to spare so I took off for an uninhabited island camping trip last night.

At my favorite beach, where I combined the trip with some fishing and wood-gathering (for a balcony project).

I woke up at 12:30am to a sound outside my tent. I looked forward and was initially unable to comprehend what was staring me back in my face, just 8" away: a turtle.  She promptly turned around and went back the way she came.

[decent-sized at a little over three feet long]


Friday, July 16, 2010

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Contest Entry #4

It's sorta fun to look at these a week later.  The first one seems to dark to me now.  The second is too late in the day.  The third I should have cropped closer.  This one I hated when I submitted it, but I like it more now.  Those shadows at the bottom are pretty unforgiving, though.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A Super Yacht

I was instructed to head over to the super yacht upon its arrival last night since there was rumored to be a foreigner on board. I did so and met the English captain (not to be mistaken for the owner).  We agreed to meet up later, after my eisa practice.

The boat is 100 feet long and only three days old.  Everything still has plastic on it.  I got an awesome tour that started with an introduction to the computer system that is used to operate everything.  Then we got to see the head state room, then the lower state rooms. I was just continually blown away throughout the tour by the things that I had never imagined being on a boat.  Take the combined washer/dryer, BBQ, outdoor stove, or full-sized refrigerators, for instance. Oh yeah, a huge outdoor bar and the jacuzzi.  The engine room was probably my favorite.  Two 12-cylinder Caterpillar engines for two props.  Port and starboard stabilizers for when the boat is traveling parallel to big waves.  Three air-conditioning units.  On-board desalination plant, which produces 57 gallons of freshwater an hour, and the captain told me it can barely catch up overnight from what the ladies use during the day. There were two jetskiis, lowered from the bridge with a crane.  I forget the capacity of the fuel tanks, but I remember that it costs about $100,000 to fill them.  The captain is just a regular dude, so it was fun to make "I can't even imagine.." comments with him.

[if you look below "PANAMA" you'll see a tank to keep your fresh-caught fish alive]

No information on the owner, but he was on the boat with his friends and harem (imagine the kind of girls who get invited to ride a boat like this) and I unknowningly talked to him.  The boat came from Taiwan, where I assume it was built, and it's heading to Nagoya in the next couple days.  Price?  $7.2 million.

They say money doesn't buy happiness, but after touring this boat I beg to differ.

Contest Entry #2

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Calendar Contest Entry #1

I'll post some of the shots I entered into the JET calendar photo contest this year.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Sabani: The Start


[we were fourth coming out of this turn, but then made some poor route choices (tacking instead of just putting the sails down and paddling into the wind), so when we got to the strong sailing portion we'd dropped to 14th]

[we're alone out here while the rest of the teams paddle to the next turn way out to the right]

[that single guy behind our boat in this photo is ahead of us at this point, a good indicator that tacking was not a good idea]

[one of at least three broken masts I saw at the end]

I asked to be in the support boat at the start hoping I'd get some good pictures.  But the weather didn't comply so I wasn't too psyched about any of my shots.  Unfortunately we never traded out the members in the boat, so I never got to paddle.  The end was supposed to be in Naha, where the party would be held.  They still had the party in Naha, but all had to take a ferry to get there.  I did some math on this and it would have cost me another $80-100 in hotel/boat/food costs to attend the party (in addition to the $30 I'd already paid for the party itself).  I sadly decided to eat that party fee and stay on Zamami (sad, but I don't regret it).  Overall, Sabani was sort of a letdown this year.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Sabani Before the Start

The original race course - Zamami to Naha - was nixed because of high winds and the residual fear from the Rough Water Swim death two weeks ago.  The new course wrapped around some of the small islands nearby and ended in the Zamami harbor.  Here's some pictures leading up the start.  Pictures from the actual race coming soon.

[my team: Shimawarabi (I don't know what that means)]

[with the course change, the top teams switched their outriggers and re-rigged their sails for a port wind]

[The smartest teams (see the two far right boats) didn't raise their sails until a couple minutes before the horn.  The center boat in this picture had their mast snap just ten minutes before the race start.  They had to paddle the whole race with no sail.]

[support boats awaiting the start]

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Sabani, 2010

There are more big, expensive camera lenses on Zamami this weekend than any other throughout the year.  Sabani is a huge photo opportunity.  Here's a few of mine from today's preparation day for tomorrow's race:

[the winds are relatively huge right now (25mph+), so we tied and retied these ropes which keep our outrigger in place]

[this team prepares to eliminate one section of the sail in an effort to prevent catching 'too much' wind]

As I mentioned, the winds are big.  Big enough that the race develops from "yay, we won't have to paddle so much because we can sail a lot" to "we are going to have to be really careful not to flip".  Today everybody had to move their boats from the harbor around the corner to the starting line at Furuzamami Beach.  In the 200m exposed section of that distance, we saw one mast snap in half and two (of six) boats flip.  That was 200m.  Tomorrow is 45 kilometers. 

Our captain is a very experienced sailor, so I'm fairly confident, but I'm worried about the lesser teams. Also, I am insistent on not being in the boat for the start because I want to photograph the first 2km of the race (the boats are all together, the background is nice), but I might be risking not being able to be in the race boat at all if the conditions are too dangerous to make a support-boat-to-Sabani-boat transfer.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


Barely spotted this guy as I wandered past the brown sheet laying on my floor.  Unfortunately he changed  his color a little by the time I got the camera out:

[p.s. I have a colony of geckos forming in my apartment right now.  The many offspring currently running around are what have upped them from mere family to colony.]