Wednesday, 30 March 2011


This used to be a beach. Behind it was a large Hawaiian fish pond - basically it was a beach and behind it a large lagoon. I walked along the beach a few days before the Japan earthquake and tsunami to take a couple of the pictures here and here.

I took Pam to the Waikoloa Beach Marriott for a few days because she couldn't come along for a conference I attended there at the beginning of the month although that was the original plan. When we arrived I asked one of the hotel staff members if they had any damage from the tsunami and they said the beach had gone but other than that there was no damage. Other places on the Kona coast were less lucky: one very popular hotel has had to shut down due to damage and it's not clear if it will open again. Many houses were severely damaged or destroyed and one was see floating in the ocean in Captain Cook. Damage here is estimated at several tens of millions of dollars but it is hard to write this given the catastrophe in Japan. Due to the advance warning the Hawaiian Islands received, no one was killed here and as far as I know there was only one injury.

Hawaii will likely see a significant financial hit over the next few months as tourism from Japan plays a large part in our economy. Jobs have already been lost due to the immediate effects of the tsunami and I suspect more will be lost as the effects propagate over time. As I've already mentioned though, there is no comparison between what has happened here and the disaster in Japan. My heart still sinks whenever I see pictures and video from there. It's simply beyond belief what that country experienced and continues to do so.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Makena, Maui

We spent our last afternoon on Maui on a whale watching cruise run by the Pacific Whale Foundation. More on that in another post (it was a wonderful cruise) but the trip had left me a little sunburned, wet and tired and had planned an early evening for a couple of mai tais at the bar. In the end, however, we drove down to Makena on the south west side of Maui to watch the sunset. It was glorious!

The island of Lanai in the distance with the gentle surf rolling over the rocky shoreline.

The sun setting behind the clouds with Molokini on the horizon. I went snorkeling there many years ago and it was an unforgettable experience.

The last picture before heading to the bar!

Pam's flying back over the Pacific ocean as I write this. As always it'll take a few days days getting used to being single again and getting back into the swing of things at work. No matter what, our Maui trip will stay in our memories for many years to come.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Sometimes you just need a break

My apologies for going off air but I've been on vacation - Waikoloa and Maui. It's certainly been an interesting two weeks which started off with the tsunami from the Japan earthquake, watching an idiot flip his expensive car over several times and being the first one there to try and rescue him from an upside down car and then a lot of time in the sun in Waikoloa (Big Island) and Kihei (Maui) with wonderful company.

I've seen some of the damage the tsunami has done to the Kona side of this island, the damage in some places is severe but given the catastrophe in Japan it's simply not worth writing about, we were so lucky.

For those of you waiting for email from me, sorry again, but Pam and I needed the time off and I'll get back to you as soon as I can. All I'll tell you right now is that we had a wonderful vacation!

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Tsunami evacuation

Just to let any friends and colleagues of mine that might happen to read this blog know that Pam and I are aware of the tsunami that is on its way to Hawaii after the massive and tragic earthquake in Japan. We will be evacuating shortly and moving inland. Fingers crossed this won't be too bad.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Waikoloa Beach

Actually, beaches, but despite living on Hawaii Island for nearly 15 years now I'd never visited this place before. The picture above shows one of the beaches shortly before sunset. It was empty apart from a few surfers off in the distance. The vog that seemed to be hanging a mile or so off the coast made for quite a strange looking scene but the beach was pretty enough. Just beware that there's little sand, just lots of white coral that'll rip your knees to shreds if you lose your footing, as I nearly did a couple of times. The coral is razor sharp and on the steep parts of the beach will give way without warning. It's a beautiful place nevertheless and wonderfully devoid of tourists!

Same place an hour later. The sunset was not spectacular so was packing up when suddenly the high cirrus clouds lit up, so out came the camera again and just got this shot in time. I tried to take a panorama but by the time I'd taken the first picture the clouds were dark again. It was literally a two minute window when the clouds looked like this.

This is from the beach near the Waikoloa hotel I was staying at. No razor sharp coral to worry about but the sunset was crap. There were a bunch of us there to watch as the previous night's sunset had been so spectacular but this time a mixture of vog and an approaching front meant the sun disappeared behind the clouds well before sunset. Oh well, I did the best I could do in the circumstances. I'm hoping to revisit the place next week.

New Kilauea fissure eruption

Kilauea volcano showed some dramatic changes in behaviour yesterday when the crater floor of Pu'u O'o collapsed followed by a dramatic drop in the level of the lava lake at Kilauea's summit. This meant the lava had to be draining off somewhere and sure enough, shortly afterwards a fissure eruption began between the summit and Pu'u O'o. Some of the action was captured by the scientists at the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory:

USGS video of the fissure eruption, March 5th.

Not sure I would have been standing where that video was taken! There are plenty more pictures and videos of the current activity at the USGS HVO site and an update is posted each day on the activity. Also worth a look are the webcams the scientists have set up in the Volcano National Park.

PS. The BBC have also picked up on the story with a nice video.

PPS. Another amazing video from the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientists. I've had to watch it over and over again just to pick up on all the stuff that's going on. There's another helicopter in the scene which helps to provide a scale.

PPPS. New picture courtesy of the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory:

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Roller coaster week

Things are looking up. The last week has been difficult to say the least but thanks to the wonderful staff at the JAC I'm feeling good this weekend! I also did try to take a couple of sunset shots the other day but couldn't come up with anything better than this taken over in Waikoloa.

Anyway, thanks for your kind comments and especially to those that helped both Pam and myself through a very tough few days. If you had seen me on Monday and Tuesday earlier this week you would have known what a complete wreck I was. Yet by the end of the week I'm just about back to normal thanks to all of you! Our chief engineer, Simon, has special thanks for giving my talk at a conference this week. I've paid him back with a few beers but I really am still in his debt.