Archive for August, 2006

Loblolly Cove and Straitsmouth Island

August 27, 2006

It was calm.  Going south to go up the back shore and over the top of Cape Ann before the predicted southeast wind picked up was a smart move.  The anchoring looked good to me just at the mouth of Loblolly Cove.  Pete and Jacquie took off quickly to try out her new wetsuit and look for lobsters.  Paul B. and Richard B. were also hunting.  Jim C. and Laurent D. were exploring and hunting, respectively.  Bill L. was planning for an hour’s bottom time with his digital camera. 

The Captain said he could see the length of Easy Diver’s water line on the surface – that’s 30 feet, plus.  On the bottom, Pete said they could see about 16 feet.  The water was 58 degrees.  Several of the divers said they saw the cables that formerly powered the twin lights of Thacher’s Island to the east.  Over the years, when a cable has failed, it’s just been abandoned in place and a new one layed down.  The island is now solar-powered.

As the dive wore on, the wind freshened and waves built as they came around Lands End point.   The sky started to cloud over more thickly.  We were glad to move to more shelter for the second dive.  I picked Straitsmouth Island’s north side.

As we rode through the cut and turned right, I saw only one fisherman near our projected dive site.  The calm water in the lee of the island looked very inviting.  We set anchor to the left of the big rock in the middle of the cove.  Pete said he and Jacquie saw a flounder.  They’ve been missing during the last few dives.  Visibility was about 8 feet.  Laurent said the thermocline at 23 feet was where the visibility got really bad. 

Hunting was good however.  In addition, Pete said there were oversized, egg-bearing females everywhere.  Bill saw a little lobster eating the legs off a sea star.  As the dive progressed, four new fishing boats came up to anchor on either side of us.  I was glad to leave and make the smoothest return home possible down the western shore of Cape Ann to the Annisquam River and home just as the rain started.

A cheeseburger at The Gull made the rain less chilling.

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Egg Rock and Crow Island

August 26, 2006

It was easy to choose to go south.  The breeze was from the northeast and the tide was low enough to get through the Blynman Bridge without an opening.  We stopped at Brown’s for diesel and then made our way down to Manchester.

I wanted to find somewhere new and picked the lee side of Egg Rock.  Swells from the southeast made many places bumpy for anyone who stayed on board while others dived.  Today that would be Pat Walsh and Kathy Cardinale. 

The island provided good cover and Laurent found it was still 51 degrees at 48 feet.  I hovered around huge boulders and found orange sheath tunicate patches that were tearing off the rocks.  They had folded back on themselves and the organism was still growing.  I saw lots of green fleece alga, orange sheath tunicate and compound sea squirt.  There were also:

  • striped bass schoolies
  • black sea bass
  • big cunner
  • and a new kind of pink sponge I’d never seen before 

Pete and Laurent got lobster, but not lots of them.  Vibility in 25 feet had been about 15 feet.

We motored over to an island containing a single house that Kathy, Pat, and I wanted to get a closer look at.  Called Crow Island, it has a black wrought iron fence all the way around the compound.  It is between Black and White Beaches.  We anchored just off its coast in 25 feet of water.   The swells were manageable here and the water was still very warm.

I jumped back in with the remainder of my tank from the first dive.  I swam slowly into the shelter of the White Beach cove and the visibility improved to about 20 feet.  Back outside the island, I saw periwinkles covered in pink coraline algae.  They were lined up along a piece of kelp and were dining as though they were at a breakfast bar.  Pete saw lots of little fish fry on every rock.  He even saw them try to stay aligned with a piece of kelp when he moved it.  They moved too.  There were just a few legal lobsters here.

We pulled anchor and motored back to Gloucester Harbor and a HUGE strawberry shortcake at The Gull. 

It was a much better day than had been predicted.

Outside Rowe’s Cove and Billy’s Belt – Saturday, August 19th

August 20, 2006

We traveled north this time.  The best site seemed to be beside Smiling Fish Cove, a.k.a. Rowe’s Cove in Rockport, in about 25 feet.  Bill Low was in first because he wanted to made a 90 minute dive.  Then Larry, Bill and Cathy Myers, and Steve Gates suited up.  Steve brought his video camera and Cathy carried her digital one.  The Captain and Steve worked through some close ups.  The water was 52 degrees at 35 feet, according to Larry, although the visibility was only about 10 feet.  Legal lobsters were absent.   Pat and Pete were crew.

As the breeze freshened, we decided to seek a more sheltered position for the second dive.  I could see across Sandy Bay that the far shore seemed calm.  We aimed for somewhere between Old Garden Beach and Gully Point.  Wouldn’t you know it?  We found that Billy’s Belt was the best place.  It was about 35 feet deep there and the boat didn’t rock very much at all.

Cathy and Bill found a big lobster that was too big.  Note that the gauge is hooked at the end of her carapace, but doesn’t reach her eye socket by quite a bit:

Too Big Lobster Being Gauged by Bill Myers

Photo by Cathy Myers

They also found a sea raven that was willing to be photographed:

Bill Myers and Sea Raven

Bill Myers and Sea Raven 2

Bill Myers and Sea Raven 3

Sea Raven Free at Last Photos by Cathy Myers

She also got a great shot of a skate who thought she couldn’t see him:Skate

The day ended with a leisurely drive back over the top of Cape Ann where we saw a party boat from Hampton, NH, called White Star anchored and day-fishing off Emerson Point.  We all recognized the boat’s name as the same as the company that owned the Titanic.  Not an especially auspicious name for a boat.

Fun was had by all.

Orange Sheath Tunicate in Trouble

August 17, 2006

Here is a short video clip of a sick or eaten orange sheath tunicate.

Maren’s Second Scuba Dive

August 16, 2006

Here’s a little snippet of unedited video that I took while holding my breath.

Video by Bill Low of August 13th Trip

August 14, 2006

Bill took good likenesses of the following:

  1. An ambling lobster
  2. A fleeing flounder
  3. Veronica Atlantis

His digital camera is very versatile.

Rafe’s Chasm and Near Norman’s Woe

August 13, 2006

Another bee-yoo-tee-full day in Glawsta – high 70s, lots of sun, and a breeze from the northwest.  We decide to go south and glide under the Blynman Bridge with a super low tide.  The trip includes two non-divers: Trisha and Cat.  They are with Jim Castelli and Laurent Dubois, respectively.  Also with us are Bill Low and Joe Finkhouse.  Crew is Veronica Atlantis, Pat and Pete.

The first site is about 25 feet deep, right off the mouth of Rafe’s Chasm.  The water is 68 degrees on the surface and 62 degrees at the bottom.  Visibility is about 10 feet.  There were lots of lobsters to be caught for a family gathering at Cat’s parents’ house in New Hampshire.  The hunters did well.  We saw a few pollack, skates, and some little lobsters, as well as some big females with eggs.  Big boulders covered with weedy growth were everywhere.  Many housed members of the Salem Sound Coastwatch’s Top Ten Most Wanted, including:

  • Orange sheath tunicate
  • Green fleece alga
  • Star tunicate
  • Compound sea squirt

The second site was just around the corner on the way back towards Norman’s Woe rock.  We moved because the wind had shifted more westerly and we were being bounced.  The two non-divers didn’t need to suffer that and we wanted to see somewhere different anyway.  I don’t remember ever having anchored here before.  We were right below a mansion’s pool that had a stone wall surrounding it with a stone pool house and a statue of a woman with her hands up behind her head.

The water was still in the upper sixties on the surface, with the bottom about 60 degrees.  It was a tad bit shallower here, but still 10 feet of visibility.  The air warmed some and the clouds multiplied, but the day was still wonderful…for September. 

Summer can’t be ending already.

The Eastern Side of Two Islands

August 12, 2006

It’s breezy from the northwest, with a super low tide as we load up.  Kevin and Linsley Mordasky, Pat and Karen Hatcher with Bethany and Bob Brousseau are the customers.  Pat and Pete are crew.  The Captain and I had breakfast overlooking Gray Beach in Magnolia where we decided to go south because it looked so good.

The first anchorage was in the lee of the wind.  It was on the southeast corner of Graves Island, in about 30 feet of water.  Linsley and Kevin said the surface water was 68 degrees.  Peter said it was 58 on the bottom with the tide rushing in.  There was a school of pollack and lots of little lobsters.  The visibility was about 10 feet.

We met Arnie and Glen who were anchored closer to the Wreck of the New Hampshire on Arnie’s boat, Rapture of the Deep.

The second spot was on the eastern edge of Kettle Island, in about 25 feet.  It was warm and had lots of boulders and crevasses, but much kelp too.  Visibility was again about 10 feet.  We saw a school of feeding fish from the surface as we anchored.  Underwater, we identified them as pollack.

Both places had members of the Salem Sound Coastwatch’s Top 10 Most Wanted:

  • Orange sheath tunicate
  • Compound sea squirt
  • Star tunicate
  • Green fleece alga

The lobstering was good here. 

We had lots of laughs and a hamburger at The Gull to top it off.

 A fine day.

Neat, New Way to Tell You Where We’ve Been

August 10, 2006

The new mapping software that is available for free is awesome.  Here’s the Deep Wall at Kettle Island, Manchester, MA.

More Videos from Bill Low

August 10, 2006

Bill was with us last weekend.  His digital camera takes short sequences of video.  One of his videos is already linked to that trip report below.

Here are two more:

  • a lobster roaming about on the bottom at Graves Island
  • stripers looking for a meal.  Watch one examine an empty shell to see if there’s anything to eat in it.

Thanks Bill.