We all have a scary Halloween story to tell. It’s that one night of the year when it’s ok to be a slightly off, maybe just a little spooky. The most frightening are the tales that are true.
Five years ago, a couple of friends, Jeff and I decided to do a night dive on Halloween. Spooky and death defying idea right? Hindsight 20/20, it actually could have been…
At an Undisclosed Hawaiian Harbor
Several of us were sitting around trying to decide what to do after taking the kids trick or treating and settling them in for a Halloween flick. The thought of dark water/night scuba dive entered the conversation. A Halloween night dive?…What a great idea!!
We brainstormed about a potential location to hit the water. It needed to be a place that would be a little scary and risky . Most of all, a site that we had wanted to dive before. The local boat harbor kept popping up. There is a section where the dive boats leave that during the day is crystal clear and maybe about 25 feet deep. Perfect!
One small problem, not only did the dive boats leave from there, but sport fishing boats as well. They’d haul their catch back and clean the fish in the harbor. This notoriously attracted sharks; most notably Tiger Sharks.
Well, never let a shark get in the way of a good dive, right? In fact I’ve been on many dives that seek them out so no worries there. The other issue? You aren’t suppose to dive there.
Scary Halloween Story: Spookiest Dive Ever
On Halloween after the candy-fest we headed down to the harbor. At the location we thought we would dive, there was one small problem: no good entrance or exit. Sure we could giant stride off the dock but getting out would have been a major problem. We would have to change the plan.
(Of note, and I thought it strange at the time, bait fish were jumping in schools. Predators usually elicit that behavior in schools of fish. In retrospect, I’m pretty sure I know what was lurking beneath the surface.)
We walked over to the boat ramp at the other end of the harbor to enter in down the ramp. After gearing up, we slid down the moss covered concrete into the water. What looked like clear water in sunlight turned out to be murky and dark, with limited visibility at night. We could see maybe 10 feet with a dive light.
Muck Diving in a Lost Treasure Cemetery!
Muck is the only word that described the bottom of the marina about 10 fee below the surface. We headed out not knowing at all where we were going. There was some sea life and out of the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of a porcupine puffer. It seemed to be swimming in place. I swam closer and found that it was caught by it’s tail on a fish hook. I gently removed it and thought he had scooted on his way.
We continued under the boat hulls that created eerie shadows where the moonlight didn’t penetrate. Many were crusted with barnacles and other remnants of the ocean. My skin was crawling a bit, like the uneasy feeling you get when someone is watching you. These were Tiger waters so I checked behind me.
I was being followed. About 5 feet back was the little puffer. He was watching me intently. But, I know that in salt water fish tanks, they are known to be personally interactive so I thought it was cute. He stayed behind me the entire hour long dive of poking around in the mud.
It was getting cold and very late, I just had the uneasy feeling I needed to end that dive. Usually I have to be dragged out of the water but I was anxious for it to be over.
What was really in the water with us…
By some miracle, we ended up where we started, muck booty in tow. We found sunglasses, fishing gear, a waterproof watch that apparently wasn’t, someones keys (bummer there for sure), and a dive mask. Treasure! I turned to bid my puffer shadow good night, but he was nowhere to be found. Odd I thought, because he had been there the whole time. So, I thankfully headed out of the water.
We hauled ourselves out on the slippery slope, took off gear, and the drivers sneaked to grab the cars. I was sitting with the gear waiting for the truck, when I saw the tell tale sign of bait fish breaching in schools, working their way down the channel where we had just been 5 minutes earlier.
The movement stalled around the ramp for a moment, as if something was circling the spot just off the end. Then the fish jumped as whatever was pursuing them moved on, continuing to patrol the harbor. A scary Halloween story indeed.
The nervous find night dives unpleasant for one simple reason: you never know what is swimming just beyond the light’s edge….Maybe it’s best that you keep it that way.