Snorkeling blues

I’ve always been a miserable snorkeler. I don’t like the mouthpiece on a standard mask/snorkel combo, it gags me. And I can’t seem to keep water out of my mask and nose. That’s very common for someone with a mustache, and I’ve had one…pretty much forever. So every snorkeling trip, I’ve fought those problems.

Before our trip to the Cook Islands I bought a full-face snorkel mask, and loved it. I was able to wear it for many minutes at a time – it solved both my problems. So I was looking forward to some good snorkeling today.

We thought we’d try to snorkel at Magic’s Beach, not far from our place. It was full of mostly swimmers, but a few snorkelers further out in the surf.

I was in chest deep water, putting on my fins with my mask perched up on my head. I wasn’t facing the surf (rookie mistake), and a much larger than expected wave rolled me up and stripped me of fins, mask, shirt and almost my trunks. After surfacing and cursing, I found my fins and got my shirt/trunks rearranged, but my mask was nowhere to be found. Turns out that first wave was one of a set of waves much, much larger than we had seen before entering the water. Bad timing, and…rookie. So we hung around a while but no mask ever surfaced.

Kathryn had suffered almost the same fate a few yards from me, but her mask washed in and was recovered by a nice young surfer. We left defeated, but decided to move on to a legendary snorkeling spot, Two Steps.

Two Steps was only about 20 minutes away, and much, much better. No big shore breaks. And lots of fish. But all I had for a mask was the typical eye/nose mask combined with a snorkel.

I gave it my best effort, but after only a minute or so each time my mask would fill with water, the water would enter my nose and ultimately my throat. So, see some fish, then surface, shed gear and cough/choke. Repeat. Not the ideal experience. We stayed in the water a while, me mostly just surface paddling, and left after an hour or so. Not defeated, but humbled again.

So my choices for the rest of the trip are…shave or go buy another full face mask. Haven’t decided which to do yet.

Note: The featured picture above the headline is NOT Two Steps – I didn’t take a camera to the water. But it gives one an idea of the blue water and the Mauna Loa topography where lava meets ocean.

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