Viewing the Kilauea Eruption from the Ocean

Jun 26, 2018

Two boat companies offer lava viewing tours to Kapoho
Credit Wayne Yoshioka

There are no signs of the Kilauea Eruption slowing down.  HPR’s Wayne Yoshioka went to the Big Island for an up-close look at the lava flow.   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Captain Shane Turpin, left, briefs passengers before the 3-hour ocean lava tour
Credit Wayne Yoshioka
The Hot Spot catamaran

Thirty passengers board the catamaran, Hot Spot, at the Suisan dock near the mouth of the Wailoa River.  Captain Shane Turpin will pilot the boat for the sunset lava tour.

“All right.  Good evening.  Welcome aboard the Hot Spot.  Are you guys ready to have some fun, tonight?  Woooo!  That’s good enough for me.”

 

The Hot Spot has 4 outboard motors for a total of 12-hundred horsepower.   It can cruise at 25 knots or about 30 miles an hour.  Lizbeth Henvrikx and her wife, Mickeye, are from the Netherlands.  The Big Island is on their bucket list.

 

 

 

 

Lizbeth Henvrikx (right) and wife, Mickeye, said Big Island lava viewing was on their bucket list.
Credit Wayne Yoshioka

  

“I always have a fascination with the lava.  How it turns to rock when it hits the water.”

 

An hour later, the boat slows down to where Kapoho Bay once was.  A white plume of steam is blown inland and a 20-yard wide river of Pahoehoe or smooth lava is barely visible as it enters the ocean.   First Mate, Jacob Kerby, compares the flow’s volume with that of a swimming pool.

 

First Mate, Jacob Kerby.
Credit Wayne Yoshioka

“We have 26-thousand gallons a second with this volcano.  The average size pool is about 30-thousand gallons and it takes about 5 days to fill up.  This lava is filling it up in one second.”

 

As night falls, there are sightings of floating lava rocks or lava bergs the size of cars and the occasional explosion at the ocean entry.

 

“Wooohooo!  That is awesome.”

 

A'a clumping into the ocean
Credit Wayne Yoshioka

In the dark, a slow-moving wall of a’a or chunky, jagged edged lava, glows red-orange.  The calm seas and winds blowing inland, unveil the A’a, which resemble giant charcoal briquettes clumping into the ocean.

 

“It’s about a mile-wide flow.  Pretty incredible to think that all this that we’re looking at right now was ocean.  And now it’s about a 20 foot cliff.”

 

Viewing lava up close

The boat stays out for another half-hour so passengers can take photographs.  Then, it revs up for the hour-long wave-less and dry journey back to Hilo.

 

“Welcome home everybody.  Hope you guys had a great time tonight.”

 

First Mate Kerby says the calm ocean and winds blowing to the West made for great lava viewing.

 

The glow at night

“Definitely one of the largest ocean entries that I’ve seen in the 10 to 12 years that I’ve worked here.  I mean, you can’t really beat a 20-yard river of lava flowing into the ocean.  The explosions were probably well over a hundred feet, some of the larger ones that we did see, which is just another thing that makes this tour extra special.”

 

There are 2 tour boat companies operating out of Hilo with fares starting at $240 dollars per person and up.   Wayne Yoshioka,

HPR News.