Archive for October, 2007

None and Done

October 28, 2007

We drove around the cape on this, the morning of our last charter of the season.  It looked spectacular at Back Beach in Rockport, so we planned to go somewhere in Sandy Bay depending on what it looked like when we got there.

Well, we never got there.  It had been a fairly uneventful passage up from the mouth of Gloucester Harbor.  I just hugged the coast and let the northwest wind blow over the top of us.  I didn’t even need foul weather gear to be driving from the flying bridge.

What started off as a breeze at 8 AM was a roaring 25-30 by the time we rounded Lands End and were headed for the break between Straitsmouth Island and Gap Head in Rockport.  The wind had piled the water up at Gap Head so that it was 3-4 foot breakers at the Sandy Bay side of the shallows between the two masses of land.  The wind was driving the breakers’ spray up and over the flying bridge where Laurent was sitting in his full wetsuit.  He later said he had been having fun up there in the elements.  I called on Peter to drive it through from the lower station because I knew I’d be soaked by the time I did it from up top.

The Captain called it quits and had Peter make a careful U-turn so that we didn’t broach.  Then I climbed up and high-tailed it back the way we’d come.  No other dive site along the back shore looked worth the effort what with the surge from the southwest.  We were sorry the season had to end like this, but we had fun with Janet M., Paul Savageau, Bill Low, and Laurent.  Plus, we got Pete’s Chicken Noodle Surprise soup in the bargain.  The Captain was heard to exclaim, “Hey, there’s a big potato in my cup!”  Heh, heh.

There was a fishing boat with a stay sail making for home along the same path we were taking and it was being chased by hundreds of gulls.  I think he was cleaning his catch and they were savy to the fact that lunch might come whipping over the rail at any moment.  Janet M. took some amazing shots and we might get to post them if she emails them to me.

Pete took over again for the delicate manoever of docking in a heavy reverse wind.  All hands helped fend off and tie up.  Whew!

We had lots of help unloading Easy Diver and putting the winter-ready touches in place.  Now it’s just waiting for the hauling and shrink-wrapping.

It was a wonderful season, but now we’re off to DEMA and then Small Hope Bay Lodge in Andros, Bahamas, for some warm weather diving.

See you in the spring.

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Flukey Fog

October 27, 2007

It rained hard last night, but there was very little wind.  The morning brought thick fog on the south side of the cape.  We decided to go north with some new folk who were renting everything from Freedom Diving on Rogers Street in Gloucester in order to go out with us.  It looked like it would be good at Folly Cove.

Laurent joined new-comers Kent and Steve as customers.  Kathy Cardinale, Peter Donahue, The Captain and I were crew.   We put-putted north with fog tendrils all around.  No one was out.  It was raining steadily.  We saw a large gaggle of cormorants on the river near the rocks painted as frogs.  They took flight as we neared and flew faster than we were traveling up the river to the beach at Wingaersheek.

We picked our way by the buoys up to the mouth of the river where the fog cleared somewhat because the breeze had picked up from the southeast.  It was drizzling.  Folly Cove looked like it would be a good choice since it would be Steve’s first boat dive and Kent’s first scuba dive since December.  

I anchored far into the cove at the graffiti on the western rock wall that we call A.R.E.R.  It was just outside Calf Cove and 25 feet deep.  The tide was coming in, so we hoped for reasonably clear water.  After his dive, Laurent reported it was about 15 feet of visibility with 48 degrees at 60 feet.

Pete and The Captain went in for a quick tour, while Kathy and I drank Pete’s chicken noodle soup to get warm.  The rain let up a little, but I had wet feet and my nose was dripping.  It’s hard to wipe that stuff on a foul weather slicker, so I kept tearing off sheets of paper towel to stem the flow.

As we hauled anchor to head back down the coast for the second dive, we noticed that the fog was thickening around Folly Point.  Sure enough, as we motored towards the mouth of the Annisquam, the fog became worse.  We didn’t think there would be any good site for the second dive where everyone would be safe, so we called it and gave everyone 1/2 of the fee back.  That way, we could be sure that there would be no fog bank losses at all.

The trip home was at dead slow, with all eyes peeled.  Red nun on the right when returning to port.  Green can on the left.  Watch for the day mark at the rock pile as we enter the river.  Watch for the white mooring balls on either side of the channel as we slowly move down the channel towards the marina.  It was a Hunter’s Moon high tide – 12 feet.  The whole marsh was awash.  Cormorants were huddled on the highest part of rocks across from Mary Scalli’s house as though they didn’t want to get their feet wet.

We had to lower our antennas to get under the railroad bridge.  Everyone seemed to OK with the shortened trip.   We certainly were.

Later there was kale soup + egg salad sandwich or a cheeseburger at Morning Glory restaurant.  It sure hit the empty spot in my stomach.

Tomorrow should be sunny for the last charter of the season.

A Beautiful Summer Day

October 21, 2007

and it’s October 21st.

The sun was turned on brightly, but there was a still westerly breeze as we toured the Cape looking for calm water.  The temperature was predicted to top 70 degrees.  We decided to go north and see what we could find around Cathedral Rocks.

Jacki K. and her buddy, Andy, joined Laurent, Pete, Veronica, The Captain and me for one of our last charter days.  It really couldn’t have been much better.

Our first site was The Mole Hole – our name for the Sandy Bay side of Point de Chene in Rockport.  It is named for a feature on the rocky shore where a home-owner on Phillips Avenue has covered a pipe draining from his property in concrete.  The result is something that looks like a rock-eating mole has passed by.  The bottom was 28 feet, but I heard something about some people barreling out to 80 feet and the muddy bottom.  They said there was a Northern Red Anemone at 78 feet and a large sea raven on a rock, checking out the tourists that passed him by.  There were also lobsters to be had.  It was 52 degrees in the water with about 15 feet of visibility.

We moved over to the base of rocks near Pigeon Cove for the second site.  The Captain calls it Mitchell/Dodge Rocks, but I don’t think those features are really near where we typically anchor when he calls for that place.   I saw a school of pollack and some tiny sea ravens hiding in the weeds.  I also saw a lobster trap sail up as a lobsterman pulled his pots right between me and the boat with our dive flag.  I didn’t even hear him come in.  He didn’t hang around and I returned to the boat and stayed close by it videoing tiny critters when I could stabilize myself in the surge.  Again, it was about 15-20 feet of visibility and 52 degrees over the sandy patches on the bottom with visibility dropping over the rocks where there was more churned up stuff due to wave action.

On our trip back to the marina, we snacked on Veronica’s contribution to our healthy lifestyle.  Then we each ate one of Andy’s Polish donuts to balance out all that sensible stuff.

Great day with super people.

Too bad we’re almost done for the season.

Bah.

Graduation Day

October 14, 2007

The stars converged and we had three people who were finishing their programs with us today.  Tim Maxwell is the newest NAUI Instructor on the planet while  Charlotte and Paul Kelsey are the newest NAUI Scuba Divers.  We did this with Peter Donahue, Pat Walsh, The Captain and me at the wreck of the USF New Hampshire

Also along for the fun were Richard Brandolini and Laurent Dubois.  The latter two guys spent both dives groveling for goodies – and succeeded.  Both of them were wearing horse collar vests with large front pockets which were clinking as they climbed back aboard.

The water was not too cold and neither was the weather.  There was still a breeze from the northwest at about 10-15 knots.  It was 55 above the surface and 52 on the bottom at 30 feet.  There was between 5 and 15 feet of visibility with the incoming tide providing the best clarity on the bottom and close to the wreckage of the ship.  Once someone with treasure-hunting on their mind passed through, however, everything went down hill in a handbasket.  Dusty and sandy took over.

We saw tiny flounders and all kinds of crabs.  Charlotte held a lobster and her dad held two crabs.  Tim noticed three nudibranchs in the wreckage (probably because he knows what to look for, being, as he is, a participant in www.seaslugforum.net).

The soup and Cheez-Its were ambrosia when you’re cold and hungry between dives.    Thanks, Pete.

Wonderful students and fun diving.

Congratulations everyone!

Copper Fever

October 13, 2007

We had had clouds/rain/drizzle/mist/fog all week and the weekend was forecasted to have brightening conditions.  Luckily, what wind there had been was only present for about 12 hours and it had been from a good direction: northwest.

Sure enough, the morning was bright but decidedly nippy.  Laurent declared he had had the season’s first frost on his windshield in Belmont.  Well, we were certainly going to be going south.  The only question was which site?  We put it to a vote among Linsley and Kevin Mordasky, their friend Juli, and Laurent.  They decided they wanted to go wreckin’ on the USF New Hampshire.

Since the breeze was from the west northwest, I was able to anchor right over the glory hole that Pete and Laurent had been mining all summer.  It was an interesting anchoring because the incoming tide was at odds with the prevailing wind, so we split the difference as to which way we swung.  Everyone was quick to get into the water.  Later, Pete told me it had been 52 degrees at 25 feet with about 15-20 feet of visibility.  There was only a little current sweeping west around the point of Graves Island. 

Pat, The Captain and I stayed dry and ate Pete’s chili to keep warm.  If you were in the shelter of the boat’s superstructure, the sun was quite pleasant.  But, if you ventured around the side of the cabin to the bow to check on divers and their bubbles, the wind cut right to the bone, sun or no sun.

Pete was the first to surface and negotiated on behalf of everyone for a second dive in the same place.  Then he grabbed his second tank and descended.  Then it was Laurent’s turn.  He gasped to the swim platform with his tank’s last breath and declared he NEEDED his second tank.  There was this spike that was only partially exposed and there really wouldn’t be any point in moving somewhere else for the second dive, would there?

When Linsley and Kevin surfaced, birthday boy Kevin’s sinuses and ears were complaining that he had a cold and really shouldn’t be diving at all, thank you very much.  Linsley was happy to have some chili to warm up and then dive again in the same spot.  When Juli surfaced, he was OK with that too.  What a great crowd!

Linsley said she’d seen lots of crabs and little lobsters watching the digging.  She even got into the act and then noticed a crab had come over to see what she was doing and looked like it was shielding its eyes with its crusher claw from the rain of debris she was causing.

Everyone came back with something – lobsters, curly square-headed nails, a Marksman medal, brass rings, brass clips, and truncated copper spikes stamped with a “U S” from Paul Revere’s foundry. 

Good copper country and great customers.

Nada

October 7, 2007

It rained. 

It poured. 

It blew from the northeast.

We canceled the charter today.

Bummer.

Consensus

October 6, 2007

Everyone agreed.  It was lobster-hunting day.

Laurent, Larry, and Peter were intent.  Laurent requested the protected west side of Kettle Island, because he’d had such good luck finding big lobsters on the past few anchorings there.  O.K.  That was easy.

When we rounded the corner of the island, I could see we were not the only ones with that notion.  There were four other dive boats already anchored a respectful distance from each other around the point.  Our favorite spot was still vacant, however.

I anchored in 28 feet of water and watched the friendly banter as the hunters got ready to splash in.  I say it was friendly especially because Laurent volunteered to show Larry where he got the big ones.  They dove as a team for the whole first dive.  They returned with a bag full, so it was another successful day.

We decided to stay in place for the second dive.  Peter had said it was 52 degrees at 48 feet.  There was wonderful visibility there – about 30 feet, he thought.

The sun came out and we basked in the warmth of a late summer day in October.

When the divers returned, we learned that there were lots of teeny, shrimp-like creatures (krill?) in mid water and many sand shrimp on the bottom, along with lots of skates and small lobsters wandering around.

We had sandwiches and chips to share with anyone who was hungry.  The Captain wolfed down olive loaf and Cheez-Its with glee. 

It was a great boating/diving day.