A Lot of Laughs

July 20, 2014

It’s never dull when we have Linda Giles and Myanna on board.  Andy and his wife, Ann, got to meet them as well as Liz (The Captain’s oldest daughter) and her husband, Mike.  Veronica was crewing as well as feeding everyone.  Pete was regaling us with tales of Linda’s Easy Diver trips of the past 32 years.  Fred brought her gift of the framed first trip’s log page to prove it.

We had a little breeze from the northeast, so decided to head south.  There’s a big fish weir on the corner of Kettle Island where we normally anchor, so we started at Diver’s Leap in Manchester-by-the-Sea.  It’s a big bluff of granite holding a funky, many glass windowed mansion overlooking the gap between Kettle Island and Magnolia Harbor.  The water was cold, but not as freezing as yesterday.  The weather was cloudy, but more humid and there were tiny glimpses of sun.  There were almost no other boats out.

I videoed a crab munching on a slab of something who didn’t mind the attention at all.  There was also a small moon jelly that was tumbling along on the bottom’s surge.

White moon jellyfish

White moon jellyfish

For the second dive, I moved us to Saddle Rock at the corner of the Coolidge Reservation.  It turned out to be deeper and darker as a result.  Veronica was game to try another series of passes by my video camera, wearing the double-hose regulator, a backpack, Cressi full foot fins, and her little bomb of a tank.  I think we got at least one good sequence from our dive.

She said she wasn’t cold, but I think it was because of all the swimming she had to do to accommodate the director, Cecil B. DeCalhoun’s, directions to me, the videographer.  “Have her make two passes over your right shoulder – don’t move the camera to follow her.  Then have her return and swim towards you and go over your right shoulder – don’t move the camera to follow her.  And don’t forget not to move the camera.”  Got it, sir.  Got it.

We sailed through a low tide Blynman Cut bridge on our way home and had to struggle up a steep ramp to the parking lot.  But, thanks to Andy’s Polish donuts, Veronica’s spinach sandwiches, Myanna’s Oreo’s, and Liz’ grapes, I was up for it.

Good fun with great people.


All Around the Cape

July 19, 2014

Today was coolish, cloudy-ish, and calm-ish.  We decided to go to Thacher Island for the first dive with Linsley and Kevin Mordasky, Linda and Kerry Hurd, and Pete.  On the way, we saw lots of folks in every kind of human-powered watercraft participating in the around Cape Ann race called the Blackburn Challenge.  It’s featured on the GoodMorningGloucester blog.

Here’s a picture of the island by another contributor to GMG, Manny Simoes:

Grey day at the Dead Light at Thacher Island.

Grey day at the Dead Light at Thacher Island.

We anchored in front of the lighthouse on the left – the dead light.  The water was murky and cold with lots of particulate matter in the way of my video camera.  Kevin had 57 on the surface 54 on the bottom and 45 on the sand at the bottom’s bottom.  Diving wet wasn’t the best way to go today.

For the second site, we moved north to the shadow of protection afforded by Gap Cove in Rockport.  Kevin was smart and changed into his drysuit for this session.  Again it was dark on the bottom because the sun wasn’t out.  Maybe it was a little warmer because I didn’t go as deep, but no country for videographers.

We still had fun circumnavigating the island with good people.

Adventures in Vintage Scuba Land Plus a Sha-a-ahk!

July 14, 2014

Where should I start? How about with the wind? It was whipping out of the southwest at 16-20 knots. We and about 10 other boats headed for shelter in Folly Cove on the north side of the island. I anchored near the east side in a bouldery field to be sure the plow anchor didn’t drag. Andy did a great job of setting it underwater to be double-sure we could go diving and expect to see the boat upon surfacing.

Ilya was taking his first dives with a new DiveRite dry suit, Alan Hicks was diving wet, John M. was snorkeling, Veronica and I were working on a project of The Captain’s (more on that later), Andy was crew along with Pete, and Bob B. was visiting on Dive Patrol stuff.  There was no rush to get dressed because we were going to do both dives in this place, due to the conditions.

We had received a vintage double-hosed regulator as a gift and Alan brought a pair of full foot Cressi fins for the project to video Veronica wearing as much of it as we could manage.  She had on only her wetsuit, a backpack holding her “little bomb” of a tank, the new (old) regulator and the Cressi fins plus her weightbelt and mask.  She certainly looked the part.  I recorded her tentatively descending the down line while inhaling from a constantly flowing mouthpiece.  Her only instructions?  Just don’t take it out of your mouth.

Here’s her take on the day:


We surfaced and excitedly exchanged perceptions about the experience.  Later, after viewing the video, The Captain gave me instructions about how to improve the images I captured next time.  Wha-a-a?  Look like this is going to be an ongoing endeavor.

Then Andy surfaced with news that he had seen a shark in the little cove, in about 15 feet of water.  He noticed that the fish suddenly scooted and then a shark appeared.  It wasn’t a dogfish, he was sure.  Cooooool!

Maybe it was a juvenile sand tiger like the one that was caught in Gloucester Harbor earlier in the week.  See the GoodMorningGloucester blog entry here:


Maybe we’ll see this next week




Yellow, Fuzzy Warmth or Clear But Freezin’

July 12, 2014

We had three guys for their first dive of the season – Bob, Al and Will. We went north to the restaurant at Folly Cove. I anchored facing the Lobster Pool’s yard and picnic benches with a little breeze keeping us steady. Today, we were helped by John M. and Pete.

As I gathered myself for a descent, I noticed how golden the first few feet were. Maybe pollen or some sea weedy stuff had been blown to this part of the cove. The deeper I went, the clearer and colder it got. By the time I hit the bottom at about 40 feet, it was seeping icily into my boots, mitts, and hood. I later learned it was 45 degrees down here. The tide was full and I saw many places with a thermocline’s wivery, oily traces.

My 2500 pounds was used up quickly, it seemed. The little bomb of a tank is perfect for shallower places, but goes fast on deeper dives.

We moved over to the other side of the cove for the second dive and, thanks to Bob and John, there were refreshing snacks.

Watermelon from Bob

Watermelon from Bob

This dive was over rocks with lots of Irish Moss covering them.  I had a hard time getting the camera to stay put for any swim by shots.  I checked the anchor and found it dragging on the sand, so I reset it by burying it up to its shoulders and straightening its chain.  This made it easier for Will to pull when we were done.

As we waited for Al and Will to finish their tour, I noticed more than 20 boats had chosen this cove for their Saturday afternoon picnic.  The wind was cool and refreshing.  The water was still cold, but not as as clear  here.

Oh, well.   We got wet.   We had fun.  We snarfed down pieces of Al’s “In-Vince-able” sandwich from Big Y and John’s orange slices.

Good times with great people.

Ponczki Paradise

June 29, 2014

What a bee-yoo-tee-full day! 75 degrees and almost no wind with bright sunshine and calm water.

It was made even better by the generous Pole, Andy J., from Worcester.  He arrived with bags of Polish donuts, called ponczki:



These proved an excellent source of merriment when Jacki K. sucked out the filling of hers and tossed the empty donut overboard, very surreptitiously, to avoid insulting Andy’s gift, expecting it to sink quickly.  Instead, it floated off the stern as a seagull magnet.  Of course, that got everyone’s attention and her antics had us all laughing as we heard about her devious plan.

We were anchored in the middle of Folly Cove, having moved away from the western wall when our anchor started dragging.  Veronica Atlantis had leaped into the fray to pull it while I powered up to move away from the granite danger.  She had just finished her first dive and was stripping off her gear on  her way to jump into action on the bow.  What a trooper!

We re-set the anchor in the middle of the cove and I made a dive on the rocky outcropping that’s out there in about 30 feet.  The water was cold – in the low 50′s on the bottom with an incoming tide.  It was swimmable on the surface as the nearby boatfull of teenagers was demonstrating.

The group was joined today by Sandy Miller who found a huge jellyfish at the end of her second dive.  Of course, Peter said it was really a ponczki that had filled with water and expanded.  Then there were many more ponczki puns and ponczki parables and ponczki pronouncements.  Hilarity ensued.

Andy reported he’d seen a horseshoe crab. Veronica and Sandy saw large flounders.  Veronica also saw striped bass, and Jacki and Sandy found a 30 pound weight belt, but couldn’t lift it.  So they left it for another day.

We had fun, laughed a lot, and congratulated ourselves and each other for having chosen to dive on such a beautiful day – today.


Treasure!!! Kevin and Linsley Found Treasure!!!

June 22, 2014

They called it Sea Hag cream. I call it a fisherman’s companion that slipped overboard:

Sea Hag Cream

Sea Hag Cream

It was great fun listening to Linsley, the nurse and farm-raised girl, explain what it is ordinarily used for to The Captain.  Her  husband, Kevin, retrieved a burlap bag stamped as having come from Brazil.  He then found a four-holed white button carved out of “ivory,” according to Kevin.  They are very good at finding stuff.

All this happened at Stone Garage off the southern side of Cape Ann or at the Flagpole around the corner on the Back Shore.  It was 58 degrees in the water and in the upper 60s in the air.  Full sun and very light wind with almost no chop made for  super sites for today’s dives.

I got some video footage in the notches and crevasses of the first place and then of some critters at the second place.  My wetsuit was perfectly comfortable, but I could certainly feel the difference in the cold water as I went deeper.  The visibility was in the 15 foot range – decent, but not outstanding.

We had Veronica on board for her first dive of the season as well as for the FOOD she brings us all :^)  Andy J. and Alex Shure were the heavy lifters of anchors and gear.  John Maren was King of the Downline.

All together it was as good as you could ask for – fun people and warm, sunny ocean conditions.

Summer is here.



Too Good

June 21, 2014

Sunny, almost windless, and clearing warming ocean water. It doesn’t get much better. We had Andy J., Alan Hicks, Dianne Kelleher, Peter and The Captain on board for a smooth ride to Folly Cove. It was Dianne’s first dive in over two years. She helped Alan and I wrangle some critters for photos and video. The water was cloudy and 57 degrees.

We were anchored right next to the wall on the west side of the cove and were visited by a local man and his son on their first paddle board trip. They were very friendly and inquisitive about what we saw “down there.”   We named horseshoe crabs (three of them), moon snails, hermit crabs circling an empty shell to fight over who would be its next occupant, and some vacated lobster shells from several that had already molted.

Pete made a dive and buzzed around on his scooter.  The new ladder got him aboard easily.  Dianne used it too.

We moved further out towards deep water for the second dive.  This time, we anchored in over 50 feet and the clarity was back over 20 feet on the bottom.  But it was 47 degrees down there as well.  I saw a beautiful lion’s mane jelly fish right next to the boat.  It looked like this image I found on the internet:

Lions Mane Jellyfish

Lions Mane Jellyfish

The one I saw was oriented towards the sun.  It pulsed and changed shape many times.  What a beautiful animal!

We had a shorter dive because it was colder here.  The ocean was totally flat, however, so we had no trouble locating people’s bubbles as they swam along the rocky ledges.  There was hardly any breeze, and the sun was warm, not hot at all.

Total bliss on a super day with wonderful friends.

That’s just too good.


Poly-PROP-ylene Problems

June 15, 2014

Remember that sudden speed decrease that we encountered last Sunday when we were entering the Annisquam River from Essex Bay?  Here’s what I found wound around the drive shaft as I began my descent today:

Yellow Polypropylene Line

This yellow polypropylene line was wrapped around our running gear from last week.

We’d made it all the way to Coolidge Point off Manchester with Ilya T., John Maren, Pete and The Captain.  John took a quick swim in a skin only to find the water unbelievably cold.  Later, Ilya told us his computer registered 47 degrees.  It had to have been in the high 50′s last weekend at Folly Cove.  I think the two days of rain and an off shore wind had churned up enough bottom for an upwelling of the real cold stuff.

I wore my wetsuit and my drysuit’s weight belt because I was using a steel 70 instead of my little bomb.  It worked just fine.  Except I got cold quickly even though we were only in 30 feet of water.  Ilya was my subject matter for part of the dive until he waved at the camera.   I’d forgotten to alert him to the need to refrain from making eye contact with me or the camera – let alone wave at it.  Oh, well.  There’s always next time.

The wind freshened instead of dying for the ride back to the dock.  It was a northwesterly one and I had to back down the slip to our dock.  There were a few close calls that got the neighbors’ attention as the breeze caught us and swung us, but I gunned it when we got close to our spot.  It slipped into place and made me look good.  Whew!

A Banner Day

June 9, 2014

After nine months, Peter was able to dive today. His drysuit fit loosely and his weight belt slipped down over his hips, but the Folly Point conditions couldn’t have been more appealing.  It was glass-smooth, with an out-going tide.  Visibility at 30′ was 20′ or more.  Pete made it to 70′ just because he could.

We anchored just inside the point for both dives.  With only Jacki K. and John M. on board, there was plenty of room to maneuver the new ladder and Pete’s scooter.  The passing boat traffic, however, made the surface conditions uncomfortable at some times for those who weren’t in the water.

Again, as yesterday, there were schools of fish – pollack and cunner – gathering in groups to spawn.  Some would pose, head down, and others would briefly turn their side to the sun and flash a quick shot of a silver line along their flank.  I am drawn to their antics and try to video it, but they scatter when I exhale.  This makes my breathing be very slow with long pauses between exhales.  After a while, they seem to get used to me.


Cunner image from the internet

After the breezy ride home, we had a celebratory hamburger at The Clamshack near Cressi Beach at Stage Fort Park.  Pete’s recovery is remarkable and hard-earned.

Here We Go Again…

June 7, 2014

The day couldn’t have been prettier.  Warm breeze, clear skies and flat seas.  How fun is that?

We had John S. with Alan Hicks, Ilya T. , Andy J., Pete and me with The Captain for a “let’s test the equipment and get this summer dive season started” dive.

It was low tide at Folly Cove, so there were only a few hardy souls entering from the beach.  I anchored near Calf Cove and helped Pete into his dry suit, only to see a huge hole in the neck seal.  Oh, well.  He’ll make his first dive since getting sick tomorrow instead.

Andy saw spawning behavior in a school of pollack – head down, tail up, and belly rubbing against the bottom.  They are a handsome fish with a striking lateral white stripe.  Here’s a picture I found on the interwebs:

Pollack with white horizontal stripe

Pollack with white horizontal stripe


Plus there were horseshoe crabs about.

I moved out deeper for the second dive.  It was near another dive boat and between Folly Point and the bump where most shore divers turn around.  It was deeper here – about 40 feet under the down line.

John practiced breath-hold diving and made it to 50 feet behind the boat.

I suited up for a second time and marveled at how warm I felt in my wetsuit.  Granted, I have to wear a water polo beanie under my hood to keep from getting chilled, but that is easy to do.

The bottom here was boulder-strewn and the visibility was considerably better – 15-20 feet on the bottom.

Ilya caught a perfect lobster that would have been too big tomorrow :^)

The ride home was a practice session for Andy J.  He’ll be a great addition to the team.

We all felt the day couldn’t have turned out better and praised the diving gods for their indulgence.



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