The Haleiwa Trench on the north-shore of Oahu was murky. The 100+ feet trench is the entrance to a boat harbor and is filled with unseen monsters of the deep. We were breathing compressed air and guided by our will to survive. At one atmosphere down, the murkiness only allowed us to see our instruments. Crude sign language was our sole means of communicating as our senses were reduced only to hearing our air exchange from our regulators. Images of “Jaw’s” played on my face mask as we swam deeper into the black Trench.
“Mom’s Story Hour” was to begin before we took our nap. I needed my brothers to get away from the feed bowl and to learn something about the outside world.
As they came running I jumped on Ms. Mar’s lap and ordered the boys to pay attention.
Ms. Mar sat back and I knew another adventure was about to begin. I’m not quite sure if I would’ve participated, but it was an adventure tale I would not have missed.
After graduating with their NAUI diving certificate, Ms. Mar and Mr. C decided to take it one step further and get their sport diving certificate. After several weekend classes they were ready to take their “final” exam.
This final exam took place in the darkest recesses of Haleiwa, Hawaii at “The Trench.”
The Haleiwa Trench is a fissure, about 100 yards wide and 100 feet deep in the reef formation about a quarter-mile off the west end of Kaiaka Bay. The wall is a vertical drop. The top has plenty of reef fish, coral, arches and ledges and holes which may hide lobster or eels. Off the wall a coral pinnacle, home to several turtles, rises to within 35 feet of the surface. Haleiwa Trench is a deep dive that can easily be reached from shore using the beach next to the Haleiwa Boat Harbor. As with all North Shore sites, heavy surf from October through April can make diving impossible.
The test was straightforward. Swim to the edge of the trench, descend 30 feet, cross the trench and when you reach the other side, ascend to the top of the trench and from there swim 1 minute, make a 90 degree turn and do that 3 more times until you have supposedly made a square and ended up at the same spot at the edge of the trench. Again, you descend 30 feet, cross the trench, ascend 30 feet when you reach the other side, and swim straight to the shore. You should end up fairly close to where you entered the water. The grade was based on how far you were from the point of entry.
Ms. Mar thought it best taking the compass duties, while Mr. C took care of the time. Her instincts were keen on Mr. C’s ability to tell time, but not confident in reading a compass. Ms. Mar continues.
Once we traversed the Trench, we felt safe among the “Avitar-like” coral garden. The colors were brilliantly accented with tons of “Nimo” type fish. I licked my lips and pressed by tummy to stop it from growling as she describe a world we have never seen.
We all took a cleaning breath and smiled with an “Ahhh.”
Ms. Mar’s voice and facial expressions changed. Now we stood at a critical juncture. We needed to directions to return to our entry point. We stood for a moment to gain our bearings. Ms. Mar looked at her compass and pointed in the direction from where we arrived, while Mr. C pointed in the opposite direction. “We were having an argument underwater!”
I laughed as I realized that was impossible! But each was determined to win their point regardless of spending their precious air. My money was on Mr. C, but I was wrong. Ms. Mar digressed.
“I was frustrated and then took control of the situation. I pulled on Mr. C’s hand and dragged him into the direction my compass dutifully confirmed. I could feel Mr. C’s waiting thoughts of another opportunity for him to say, “I told you so…” I was confident with my decision as we returned into the abyss.
The saga continues on my next posting…