On the tarmac and below the surface, with a few pictures along the way.

Friday, December 11, 2009


Its been nearly two years since I have had seafood. For the last 5 or 6 years I have been cutting back but one day I decided not eat any seafood at all, ever again. The initial reason was all fish stock across the world are declining faster and faster and there is less than 10% of large predatory fish left since they estimated in 1960. But now we are finally learning that the fish that are left now have extremely high levels of mecrury.

There are lots of pocketsized seafood guides that tell you which fish are less harmful to the enviroment to eat. But what they dont tell you is how toxic those fish actually are to you. If you eat seafood fill out this calculator and see how much mercury poisoning you have. And thats just the mercury levels you are injesting. Other fish like farm raised salmon have high levels of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCBs). PCBs are used in coolants, lubricants and other great products for your body.

Just something to think about the next time you go to the Sushi restuarant

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The MV Spree

This is looooong overdue

There are certain moments when I am reminded of how lucky I am to be diving. One of those moments is when I step foot on the MV Spree. It is easily my favorite live aboard I have ever been on. And I am lucky enough to be able to work on it. This year I worked on it as a Dive Master. I didn't get to dive as much as I did when I worked on it last year filling tanks and working in the galley. But it is by far my favorite job on the Spree. That is of course unless CP is busy one trip and I get the chance to be the photo pro. Not that I could possibly ever fill his shoes, but it would be fun.

This year I got to stay on the Spree for 2 weeks straight. The first trip we did was an exploratory trip that was chartered by a dive club and it was somewhat of a new experience for us. Originally the charter was scheduled to go back out to the Dry Tortugas, but was changed with mixed emotions and reactions to a Keys Krawl. Meaning instead of heading west to the Tortugas, we would head north and hit wrecks and new reefs (new to us).

My excitement of diving wrecks has certainly changed over the years. I used to really look forward to diving wrecks and would go whenever I could. But over the years I began to see them for what they are. Purposely sunk hunks of metal on the bottom of the ocean floor. I realized the draw to these wrecks is the life on the wrecks. Which is why they are sunk in the 1st place. To create artificial reefs. There it is, the word that sums it up and I cant get past. Artificial. Give me a natural reef over a sunken junkyard any day. But I digress…

After hitting several wrecks and a few reefs with less than stellar conditions and situations. We took a vote and decided to head back to the Tortugas in hopes to catch what was left of the coral spawn.

The morning we were at the 1st dive site in the Tortugas I couldn’t wait to get in the water. All the passengers were out of the water and I was gearing up ready to get in when a pod of dolphins came across our stern on the surface. Which was a nice welcome back sight. I was going to wait for CP, but he decided he needed to feed again. So I told him I would meet him down on the reef. Got down to the reef and started making my way up current along the sand next to the reef. When I noticed a dark shape over my left shoulder. I turned and the pod of dolphins were swimming by me, checking me out.

I almost forgot to breathe. It was the first time I have ever seen dolphins while underwater in the 9 years of diving. And with no one else around, it was just me and the dolphins in the open ocean. Several of them turned and looked directly at me, while I was trying to swim up current to keep up with them and still take pictures. It was truly a dream come true. Something that I will never forget.

We spent the rest of the remaining 2 days diving the Tortugas. Which in my opinion is some of the best diving you can do without leaving the country.

For a more accurate and better written dive report. Check out the MV Spree’s dive trip report.
The next few days we spent at dock in Robbies Marina waiting for the next charter.

It was some good down time and gave me a chance to go diving on CP's boat with CP and Chris "The Chef Extrodiare on the Spree" (Dont let his age or goofy looks fool you, hes a great cook).

Also to take some black and white shots of the boat yard.

You can see the rest of the boatyard gallery here

And the rest of the Tortugas gallery here.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Must See Movies

I am never one to stand on a soap box and say you should or should not do something. But here are two movies that everyone should see. Not only are they eye opening, sad and distrubing but powerful and educational. If you have the chance, please see them and tell your friends about them.

The Cove

The Cove begins in Taiji, Japan, where former dolphin trainer Ric O’Barry has come to set things right after a long search for redemption. In the 1960s, it was O’Barry who captured and trained the 5 dolphins who played the title character in the international television sensation “Flipper.”
But his close relationship with those dolphins – the very dolphins who sparked a global fascination with trained sea mammals that continues to this day -- led O’Barry to a radical change of heart. One fateful day, a heartbroken Barry came to realize that these deeply sensitive, highly intelligent and self-aware creatures so beautifully adapted to life in the open ocean must never be subjected to human captivity again. This mission has brought him to Taiji, a town that appears to be devoted to the wonders and mysteries of the sleek, playful dolphins and whales that swim off their coast.

But in a remote, glistening cove, surrounded by barbed wire and “Keep Out” signs, lies a dark reality. It is here, under cover of night, that the fishermen of Taiji, driven by a multi-billion dollar dolphin entertainment industry and an underhanded market for mercury-tainted dolphin meat, engage in an unseen hunt. The nature of what they do is so chilling -- and the consequences are so dangerous to human health -- they will go to great lengths to halt anyone from seeing it.

Undeterred, O’Barry joins forces with filmmaker Louis Psihoyos and the Oceanic Preservation Society to get to the truth of what’s really going on in the cove and why it matters to everyone in the world. With the local Chief of Police hot on their trail and strong-arm fishermen keeping tabs on them, they will recruit an “Ocean's Eleven”-style team of underwater sound and camera experts, special effects artists, marine explorers, adrenaline junkies and world-class free divers who will carry out an undercover operation to photograph the off-limits cove, while playing a cloak-and-dagger game with those who would have them jailed. The result is a provocative mix of investigative journalism, eco-adventure and arresting imagery that adds up to an urgent plea for hope.

The End of the Line

The End of the Line, the first major feature documentary film revealing the impact of overfishing on our oceans, had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in the World Cinema Documentary Competition. Sundance took place in Park City, Utah, January 15-25, 2009.

In the film we see firsthand the effects of our global love affair with fish as food.

It examines the imminent extinction of bluefin tuna, brought on by increasing western demand for sushi; the impact on marine life resulting in huge overpopulation of jellyfish; and the profound implications of a future world with no fish that would bring certain mass starvation.
Filmed over two years, The End of the Line follows the investigative reporter Charles Clover as he confronts politicians and celebrity restaurateurs, who exhibit little regard for the damage they are doing to the oceans.

One of his allies is the former tuna farmer turned whistleblower Roberto Mielgo – on the trail of those destroying the world's magnificent bluefin tuna population.

Filmed across the world – from the Straits of Gibraltar to the coasts of Senegal and Alaska to the Tokyo fish market – featuring top scientists, indigenous fishermen and fisheries enforcement officials, The End of the Line is a wake-up call to the world.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Laguna Seca MotoGP 2009

This years MotoGP at Laguna Seca could not have come at a better time. Besides it being on 4th of July weekend, I just really really needed to get away and take a mini vacation.

There is a saying that goes "Sometimes it takes a full tank of gas before you have a clear head". This could not be more true. It wasn't until I stopped in Ventura for coffee and gas did I finally start to shrug off all the stress and hoopla I was trying to leave behind.

This year Mega couldn't make it, so I was riding north by myself to meet up with Denny and Mike who were riding down from Corvallis Oregon. It wasn't until I hopped on the 33 and headed north did I finally have a clear head and really started enjoying the perfect weather and awesome ride.

Along the 33 I stopped at Pine Mountain Inn, and actually got to meet the owner and he Assured me they will be opening soon. The place has been closed since I first saw it over 3 years ago, with a sign that said "Opening Soon".

I took the 33 north to the 58. Which along the way you go thru the town of Taft, Ca. The sign at the city limits says "Taft, the best of places!". I thought to myself if Taft is the best place you have been, you really have been in some really crappy places in your life. It also reminded me of the movie "Best of Times" with Robin Williams and Kurt Russel. Funny movie if you ha vent seen it.

From the 58, I took the 101 north till I hit our base camp of Soledad. Another beauty! Its town sign says "Its happening in Soledad!" I'm not sure what it is, but its a lot of nothing if you ask me. This is the best shot I could get of the town. Notice, how the Ducati just makes everything better?

The reason we decided to get a hotel in Soledad is 1st because everything close to Monterey was book or real expensive, and 2nd because of Carmel Valley Road. We took this road everyday last time we were here for the MotoGP. Its a 56 mile ride, one way to Laguna Seca from Soledad taking this route. And it is a great road. In decent shape for being in the middle of nowhere and hardly any cars on it at all.

Saturday morning we got to Laguna Seca right as Free Practice 2 was starting for the MotoGP. As we were walking close to the track, you could hear the bikes warming up. You could actually hear the bikes from beyond the parking lot, because they are so freaking loud. But its a beautiful sound and gave me goose bumps!


Nicky Hayden

The Little Pecker that ended up winning.

Chris Vermulan

In the infield of the track, there are so many booths of everything motorcycles you can think of. California Superbike School was there and I got to meet Keith Code. An awesome guy and I really want to take his school...soon.

Of course the CHP had a booth too. Here's a cop in full leathers on a R1. Pretty cool bike and would hate to see this guy coming up behind me on Angels Crest.

Of course no MotoGP is complete without Ducati Island. This is truly and prime example how Ducatisis are different from other motorcyclists. The passion in Ducati riders is something unmatched by any other rider. And it shows how this little Italian company repays its owners and sets up a hospitality tent for them that gives out free water, coffee, snacks and sunscreen. You would never see anything like that from the big 4 Japanese manufactures.

On Ducati Island they also have a mini Ducati Museum with some pretty cool antique bikes.

After checking out the Island and all the other booths we headed to the World Famous Corkscrew to watch the MotoGP Qualifying Practice. The corkscrew is one of the most famous corners in all of racing. It is a tight S turn that drops over 5 stories. To watch these guys take the corkscrew and full speed, is an amazing breath taking sight.

A couple of times a day, they allow everyone to cross the track. Now at first it doesn't really seem like a big deal. But once you step onto the tarmac and feel how smooth and perfect it is under your feet and look down to the corner and imagine coming around it at over 100 mphs, its an overwhelming feeling. And to think of the legends that have raced on the very spot under you feet, its truly a simple and exciting privilege.

After the day at the track, we headed down to Cannery Row in Monterey. They close down the whole street to cars and only allow motorcycles and people in. There are bikes line bar to bar all the way down both sides of the street. And the street is filled with people as if its Mardi Gras in New Orleans. We hung out there for awhile then headed back to lovely Soledad, cause according to the signage, it was Happening there!

The next morning before the races, Ducati made a couple of announcements. 1st was that the new Ducati Streetfighter was voted as one of the best bikes of the year. And 2nd they brought and Nicky Hayden to unveil a limited edition 848 with a custom paint scheme and each hand signed by Nicky himself. They are only releasing 150 of them in the US. Call now while supplies last!!!

And finally it was Race Time! For the race we like to hang up on the hill that over looks the whole track. If you want to watch the entire race, its truly the best spot in Laguna, in my humble opinion.

Pedrosa got the whole shot and led the pack into turn 2

Rossi was 2nd going into turn 3

A couple of laps later, Stoner moved into 2nd and here heading into turn 4

Rossi did sit in 3rd for long, before moving back into 2nd and almost passing Pedorsa on the last corner of the last race. It was one of the best races I have seen in person.

Pedorsa ended up winning and Stoner came in 4th, with Nicky getting his best finish of the season at 5th place.

After the GP, we stuck around and watched the Daytona and the Superbikes races. But we moved around a lot since most of the place had cleared out. But we were able to get close to the track and get some better pictures.

As I was trying different angles on the Corkscrew, I just set up in this spot when there was a crash during the Daytona race and I was lucky enough to catch it at the right time. Or actually wrong time if you ask Yamahas Josh Hayes.

It was a great weekend, one that I really needed. I have been friends with Mike and Denny since high school and it was awesome to hang out with them again and to ride everyday. Till next time guys.....

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