Jun. 7, 2007 by Michael Elam
Kayak Dive – Tanks and Landing Craft from Makena Landing on Wednesday, May 9, 2007
I did a kayak dive this morning. Jim and I loaded up the Ocean Kayaks and we took off from Makena Landing with flat calm seas and little breeze. We headed out to the Tank and Landing Craft located approximately 1/4 mile offshore from the Maui Prince Resort in Makena. It’s always great to dive with Jim who has lived and dived on Maui for 13 years and who does more diving from kayaks than anyone I know. He has his own web site at www.kayakdiver.com which has everything you ever wanted to know about kayak diving.
Kayak diving on Maui is best done early in the morning as the Trade Winds often kick up around noon, sometimes earlier. The weather patterns and ocean conditions can vary around the island as well as by season. But kayak diving is a great way to get out to those dive sites that require lengthy surface swims. Another option to reach this spot is using scooters (DPVs) to motor out there and back underwater. Best place to launch scooters to reach the Tank and Landing craft is from the beach directly in front of the Maui Prince Resort. The dive boat operators often use this site as a second dive after Molokini Crater. Using his GPS unit Jim placed us at the surface within 50 feet of the wreck. We dropped anchor, raised the dive flag, geared up and dropped down to our first target, the Tank in about 60 feet of water. For years it was thought that this vehicle was a Sherman tank. It is actually an amtrac (amphibious tractor) mounted with a mortar turret which gives it the appearance of a tank. For military buffs, Navy records indicate this is a LVT-4 or 5. The other vehicle is an amtrac fitted as an armored personnel carrier.
Still recognizable after 50 years underwater, a strange mix of weaponry and old ammunition are interspersed with sea life.
Schools of goat fish and blue-stripe snapper swim around the wreck in synchronistic harmony.
Schools of Hawaiian Damselfish are also very common here. I was nipped a few times on the hand by these fearless fish protecting their territory.
The earthquake near the Big Island last October caused very little damage on Maui above water but underwater it was a different story. A sizable section of the front of the Landing Craft had broken in two and now lies on the bottom. I had also heard from a local dive boat operator that several coral heads had collapsed after the quake. Today we were visited by a pair of Greater Amberjacks (Silver Ulua), each about 40 pounds. Several small satellite reefs are located a few dozen yards from the wrecks and these bits of coral are usually worth visiting. Today it was making home to a juvenile Hawaiian Lionfish (1 inch or so), several Galactic Scorpionfish, a Yellowmargin Moray eel and several banded coral shrimp. This dive is done as a "square profile" at about 60 feet so our bottom time was constrained by nitrogen loading vs. by air supply. Our final profile was 64 feet for 56 minutes. Visibility was 80-100 feet.
At the end of the dive as we began to surface we spotted an Undulated Moray Eel out swimming along the grassy bottom. These eels are the most aggressive of our eel species. The very few times I have heard of eels attacking divers it is usually an Undulated. Jim told me a story of a buddy of his who had to continually bump an Undulated Moray with his camera to keep it from attacking. They are beautiful to look at but beware!