Our visibility is almost 15 miles, but hazy. We can’t yet see Ni’ihau. I would have to rely on my compass, steering 270 degrees, to cross just north of the island, lining up with nearby Lehua Rock. Looking back at Kauai through the hazy air, we see an ominous and surreal sunrise—our solar star almost blood red. The haze is volcanic fog (VOG), carried by light southeast winds all the way from the Big Island 500 miles away. Global warming? Just open up one of Pele’s vents!The water clarity is the opposite— visibility a hundred feet plus, clear and perfect for underwater shooting. The superb, stained- glass ocean hypnotized me as we crossed, with colors changing from deep purple to cobalt blue. As we near the island, we see a glowing ring of electric windex-blue surrounding the shallows.
Now it’s 7:45am. We had just caught a small kawakawa tuna. Funny, it happened while I was reeling in the line so I could start filming. Then Wham! Fish on the hook! First time in my life that happened. On every trip to Ni’ihau we pay homage by our awe of the Keyhole rock formation on the westside of Lehua Rock Wayne had already started to focus on filming the Keyhole by 8 am, when, on summer mornings, a beam of sunlight will pour through this rock crack to illuminate the water below with a glow that reflects off the bottom 50 feet below. Multi- colored fish can be seen dancing through the beam as they feed. I squeak the boat through the Keyhole crack several times with only inches to spare. I was pressing my luck hoping to get that perfect shot.
9:00 am. A pod of spinner dolphins has come over, sixteen or so. We hurry to get our GO PRO camera equipment into the water, gently. I fear I will “butter finger” in my excitement and drop the multi-camera into Davey Jones’ locker. I tell myself to breathe slowly, to relax.