Not the Best Day

October 12, 2013

But fun anyway.  We had Linsley and Kevin Mordasky, Jacki K. (on crutches), Jim Castelli, Andy J. and Alan Hicks on board for whatever might come.

We had rollers from the south east and a brisk breeze from the east northeast.  Hum.

During our ride around, we found calm water at Coolidge Point in Manchester.

As we left the harbor, going southwest, the only thought was how in the world we were ever going to get to the calm site.  The rollers were the worst because we were taking them broadside.

Oh, well.  Discretion is the better part of valor, someone said.  I turned us around and headed into the wind back into Gloucester Harbor.

We anchored in about 20 feet off NIles Beach.  At least it was calm.

There were classes of divers on the beach who had also made the decision to look for visibility in the calmest place on the cape.

We suited  up with no expectations and they were realized in the first few moments of descent down the anchor line.  Murk murkier murkiest.  And muddy to boot.

I swam around looking for anything interesting to video.  Here’s a frame grab from a shot of a fuzzy hermit crab who had climbed up a steel post on a mooring:

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It was quite a feat of mountain climbing on its part.

The rest of the gang was on board when I returned and the sky had darkened.

We all agreed that one was enough and retired to a laugh-filled lunch at Mile Marker 1 in the marina.

Flat Like Pancake

October 5, 2013

That’s the way the ocean looked as we drove around this morning.  Some predicted a freshening breeze from the north and east, but with two new (to us) divers on board today, I wanted somewhere contained.  John S. and David S. were eager to get wet and so were Jim C. and I.  Andy had an ear problem, but drove all the way from Worcester to help with the boat even though he couldn’t dive.  What a friend!

The Folly Cove Pier looked good and I anchored south of the Lobster Pool Restaurant amidst huge boulders.  The water was somewhere between 52 and 59 degrees, depending on how deep you ventured.  It was almost high tide, but the visibility was about 10 feet.  I scoured the bottom for video-worthy subject matter and ended up with a sequence that had this image of me:

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The second dive was at Lanesville Shores.  The wind had picked up some and passing boat traffic had bouncy results for anyone staying on the boat.  Nevertheless, we all explored huge boulders and crevasses in water that was clearer, but colder.

The sun tried peeking through buckling clouds on the way home.  Andy and I saw shafts of silver light hit the ocean’s surface with dark clouds all around.  The water’s surface sparkled.

Not too shabby for early October.

Shall We Dance?

September 28, 2013

This was the kind of September day that we especially appreciate – clear skies, bright sun, little wind and water of 57 degrees.  It almost doesn’t get any better than that in the fall.  We had Andy and Jim aboard for a short run to Diver’s Leap in Manchester-by-the-Sea.  

I had on my new hooded chicken vest from Bob Boyle’s Undersea Divers in Beverly. Combined with neoprene socks under my wetsuit boots, and very tight three-fingered mitts, my wetsuit was very comfortable.  I wore my little bomb of a tank and my tropical weightbelt.  I was a little floaty on the surface, but pulled myself down the downline and was fine at 30 feet.

Jim was testing the 3mm suit he had bought to take on vacation at the end of next month.  He pronounced it good to go because he had a thick hood and gloves.  The water in the Azores will be warmer than it is here.  

Fred and I videoed lobsters who were holed up in the sand.  This fellow was very friendly and asked if he could have this dance…or else he was seeing if he could eat my camera:

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Andy found yet another crab scratching its back, this time on the too-big shell of a hermit crab.  He also found a school of striped bass up against the bouldery cliff.

We had fun on a tremendously comfortable fall day.

Too bad it has to end so soon.

Ripsnortin’

September 8, 2013

It started with a breath of cool air from the northwest.  It ended in a “reverse wind” docking with gusts to 26 mph.  Such a strange variety of wind conditions.  We had John Maren and Christopher from Detroit for a trip to the USF New Hampshire. 

The day’s adventures started with us sneaking under the Blynman bridge with about 1 foot to spare.  Pete heard from the bridge tender that there was 10 1/2 feet from the middle of the span to the water surface.  We only need 9 1/2 feet to clear it without having to have it opened for us.  Here’s a shot of how it looks as it opens:

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We arrived at the wreck site to find the wind blowing briskly from the northwest.  We slipped our bow line through the loop at the marker buoy’s top and had an easy peasey mooring.  The visibility was about 10 feet on the wreck in high 50s water.   John and I toured the wreckage and jiggled all the copper drift pins that were exposed.  We found two wigglers that teased you into thinking that they might come loose if you tried hard enough.  All looked golden underwater.  Copper can trick you like that.

I saw several juvenile black sea bass.  I’ve seen more of them this year than I ever have before.

I also saw lots of salps.  They look like jelly fish, but are actually an animal all unto themselves.  They typically herald colder water in the fall.

We were looking for a second dive site as the wind started picking up even more.  Nothing looked good enough.

We called it “one and done” and made our way back to Cape Ann Marina.

By this time, the wind had freshened so much that I couldn’t even back down the slip to the finger dock without it taking hold of the Easy Diver and pushing me sideways.  Lots of jockeying and backing and forthing landed us safely at the J dock address.  Whew!

Fall is definitely on the way.

 

Fabuloso

September 7, 2013

Another perfect late summer day found us at Folly Point for both dives.  The water was warm-ish on the surface, but the golden fuzz factor was still in charge.  Visibility was 5 feet or so in the shallows with lots of floating debris.

We had Charley and Brendan Gaylord, JK and Sandy Miller, Jim Castelli and LD on board and all were ready to try to find LD’s Mountain or cunner converging on a rock-tapping scuba.

Here’s a frame grab of Sandy collecting fishy visitors due to her stellar stone-tapping technique:

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Deeper was certainly colder, but visibility didn’t improve with depth.  It was still 10 -15 feet at the best.

I made the second dive with the second 1/2 of my “little bomb” tank.  1200 psi of air was enough to try another direction in search of interesting sea life.  

Sandy reported finding a cluster of several hundred cunner and “the biggest flounder I’ve ever seen” along the rocky shoreline towards the cove.

The easy trip home had the sea in front of the boat sparkling from the low sun.  LD reminded me we’d seen a mola mola in the area right off Lane’s Cove last weekend and I’d forgotten to mention it in my trip report.

Fun day with nice people.

One of the very last crumbs in the summer’s chocolate chip cookie bag.  

Open-faced Sunshine Sandwich

September 2, 2013

Just like yesterday, but with fog to start.  JK and Jim Castelli were with us for a trip that might not even happen.  The rain had pretty much stopped by the time we were ready to leave the marina.  South-facing coast had a thick soup of fog and we passed a long line of boats heading into it from up the Annisquam.  I think the leader had Radar and was leading them back to Salem, MA.

Our trip up towards Essex Bay was easy because it just kept clearing.  We watched rain clouds mass off the cape towards the northeast, but as we anchored near the Lobster Pool Restaurant the sun broke through.  And it got HOT!

I saw a red sculpin and lots of huge boulders.  JK got to 50 feet and saw a fish that might have been a cod.

The second dive was over at the west wall and we planned to shoot video.  Here’s a frame grab from my camera as The Captain hands me his to check:

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The water was cold at 30 feet, but clear.

We didn’t find any fish at all, but JK saw a crab scratching its back on a rock.  Seems like we see them doing that a lot now that we’ve seen it happen once.

The trip back was through sprinkles and showers, but nobody was out except SUPers and kayakers and a very few fishermen.

It was a great weekend, even with the patchwork quilt of weather conditions.

Sunshine Sandwich

September 1, 2013

That’s rain on both sides of a hot, sweaty, windless late summer day.  We had Alex Shure on board with us to try for some photography.  Here’s a picture of The Captain picking up his camera from the swim platform:

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We planned to capture the curious cunners with both close up and mid-range shots.  The water was warm with a surface layer of golden fuzz.  I’d say maybe 65 degrees, but Alex could say for sure because he jumped in with only a bathing suit.

The visibility was marginal at about 10-15 feet depending on whether you were below the fuzz or still in it.  

We had cunner action and then none at all.  The folks of the boat said there had been diving cormorants above us all the while.  Sure enough, I found about three frames where Cal caught the bird flying by underwater.  Co-o-o-o-l.

I’m going to need technical assistance to capture the shots for future use in the movie, but it sure was interesting to see them as I down-loaded the footage into our computer.

…and tomorrow we get to do it all over again.  WooHoo!!!

Curious Cunners

September 1, 2013

As I described in the previous post, cunners were attracted to commotion on yesterday’s dive.  Here’s a frame grab from the video of them lined up to investigate my tapping:

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The biggest ones were as long as my hand.

Good fun.

Folly Point and LD’s Mountain

August 31, 2013

It was only supposed to be a 30% chance of rain today.  Yeah.  Right.  About 30% of me didn’t get rained on is more accurate.  But it was a warm summer shower and not a downpour (after 7 AM, that is).  Charley Gaylord and his son Brendan were coming down from Newburyport and were up for anything as was LD.

We avoided the schooner fest area in Gloucester Harbor by going up the Annisquam to Essex Bay.  It was almost deserted.  The Captain decided we wouldn’t bounce around at Folly Point, so we dropped anchor in about 20 feet near the last exposed pieces of rock on the west wall.

My first dive was mostly exploration because I hadn’t been here in several years.  The big jumble of rocks wasn’t as steep as farther into the cove.  The fish were very curious and I was able to attract several by just fussing with the downline in a rocky hole that had trapped it.  In the course of freeing it, I whacked it against rocks and raised a cloud of dust that had fish around me in a cloud.

Maybe the noise attracts them, so I set the camera down in a steady position and proceeded to tap the rock with a stone.  Sure enough, they arrived for dinner like puppies.  Some lined up and others shot in for a quick peek.  All were cunners or perch.

The water was in the mid 60′s and I wasn’t getting cold at all.

For the second dive, LD recommended a large rock he’d discovered just a little ways further out to sea.  Typical LD exploring just a little deeper/further/longer away from everyone else.

We all stayed together as he unerringly led us to a huge glacial erratic? in 60 feet or so.  It had a sheer wall and here’s Charley swimming along a notch in it:

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The hunters were successful and so was the videographer, so I can confidently say that a good time was had by all.

I can’t wait to do it again tomorrow.

 

Folly Cove East and West

August 25, 2013

The weather was going to be perfect.  We could probably have gone anywhere, but the consensus was to the “front yard” of the Lobster Pool Restaurant on the east side of Folly Cove for the first dive.  The divers were Tom and Catie Childress, Jim Castelli, JK and Sandy Miller.

We were joined by Pat and Patti Scalli on their boat, Mary Anna.  Rafting up was a learning experience because of the passing boat traffic.  Nevertheless, it was fun to have another Sisu to examine.

The divers reported so-so visibility and not as cold as yesterday water.  I’d place that at 10 feet and low 60s.

For the second site, we decided to use the deep water at Folly Cove’s point.  It’s on the west wall, towards the open ocean.  It gets to 70 feet it you head east from here, but the boulders and notches are beautiful if you go west, with the sun on your left shoulder.

Here’s a picture of Sandy following that track:

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I found some cunner gathering in groups and it was fun to have them keep returning to examine my camera’s lens after they’d scattered when I exhaled.

I put air into my drysuit as I followed some trenches and marveled at the sheer wall soaring above me some 30 feet.  Because of the gloom and cold, I didn’t stay long down there.

Our ride home was into the warm sun and I kept thinking, “How long will this weather hold?”  Let’s hope until after next weekend’s three-day Labor Day holiday.


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