The last time I took a personal vacation to a dive area, I lugged my full set of gear, and yet never got in the water for diving. So with a karate-focused trip planned to Okinawa, I decided to go to the other extreme, and carry only my C-Card, the bare minimum to dive.
After a couple of days in Naha, our group went up to Chatan to be near our training locations. A typical morning and evening had me walking along the Sunabe Sea Wall, and I saw that, all times of day, there were tens of divers out in the water. The inspiration these groups gave me to look around for a dive operator was strong. I spent an hour or two, visiting several of the many local dive shops, till I found what I thought would be the one. However, between the time I was visiting the shops and deciding to book, one of the shops I couldn’t find returned my call via text, and I arranged a dive with Okinawa 39ers.
The Dive Logistics
Typically, dealing with a dive operator and a boat excursion, you arrive at their shop, they take you to their boat, and you make your way out to the dive spots. However, in Okinawa, it seems the MO is for the dive operators to go to a dock and share a boat amongst themselves that they hire from a fisherman. Dai picked me up at my hotel at about 7am and we drove a half hour or so north to Manza.
One major advantage to this kind of setup… between each dive we docked back up, and our lunches, snacks, gear, personal effects, were all left in the van while we went out diving. No scarfing down food and killing time on the boat while at a distant location, or traveling to the next dive spot. Instead, we got to stand on firm land, wash down with fresh water, and enjoy our hour between dives in a much more comfortable spot.
Another interesting finding on this style of dive; the original group I was going to book with was on the same boat. I got essentially the same dive, for about $50 less cost! And I have absolutely no complains about Dai as a divemaster, he was fantastic to work with and dive with.
Our first of the three dives was out to Nakayukui. Unfortunately, while I began this blog in earnest after the dive, it was four years later till I hit submit. My recollections of the dive are slim, but my notes say I saw two lionfish at the start of the dive, an interesting disintegrated net, snd some big boy fish.
It had been a while since I dove, and the difference in protocol between some of my previous dives and this were apparent. When we hit the 3 minute safety stop, I planned to swim around a bit at 13-17 feet, as we were in a shallow spot, but Dai wanted me to stay put on the anchor line, so I got a wee bit reprimanded.
The second dive out, I encountered some problems with the BCD. It wouldn’t release air unless I was 100% vertical. I know air travels up, but my personal gear is much more forgiving.
This vest was definitely giving me a bit more problems. We went down a hole starting at 7m depth and down to 27, with a sand floor and a wall. We exited out a hole shaped like Pikachu, and swam the rest of the 41 minute dive.
Our final stop was a wall dive, from about 7 to 40m. There was some beautiful purple and yellow nudibranch, a school of around 20 box fish, and about 10 lion fish on this dive. We swam out about 80m from the boat to hit the wall, and meandered our way back on a 47 minute dive trip.