Archive for June, 2008

Steadily Improving

June 29, 2008

Not again – another foggy morning. At least this day had the promise of better conditions as the day wore on, according to the Channel 5 weatherman. But, as we left the marina going south, it seemed the fog was even thicker than it had been yesterday.

We couldn’t see anything in the harbor, but slowly motored towards the Stage Fort Park area. As the first rocky outcrop appeared, I could see three mooring balls off Half Moon Beach and they were all empty. I picked the red, reserved for transient tourist one and we tied up. It was completely calm. No wind, not even a cat’s paw. No rocky wakes from passing boats rushing to make the bridge opening. There were a few waders at the water’s edge on the beach, but no swimmers, and no one in the life guard’s chair.

Jeff C., Laurent, Pete, Veronica, The Captain and I all suited up quickly. Veronica and I swam to the nearest rocks and saw more tunicates, an invasive species, and a large bouquet of squid eggs. The bottom was silty and sandy with some mostly submerged tires that were serving as lobster houses. We found a trapped skate which Veronica liberated without breaking her forward momentum. You could tell she wasn’t even going to think about whether she could, or should, help it. She just did it. Good for her because I helped. The water was 59 degrees at 20 feet with about 5-8 feet of visibility. My hands were actually hot inside my wet gloves.

When we surfaced, we were amazed to see that the fog had lifted almost completely. We could clearly see the big warship – Whidbey Island – moored near the Dog Bar Breakwater. That meant we could have a real second dive somewhere else. I picked Kettle Island for its diverse bottom conditions and potential for lobsters for Pete’s cookout next Sunday.

It turned out to be a good choice. There were plenty of lobsters and the visibility was much improved. In the shallows at 25 feet, it was about 15 feet. Laurent and Pete went deeper to see 54 degrees at 45 feet with 20 feet of visibility or more under the thermocline. We were the only boat for as far as we could see. Just the way I like it. Pete said he saw antennae, then put his gloved hand into the hole and felt the claw of what would certainly be a too-big lobster. I guess he’s able judge them now without even being able to see them.

I finished off the tank I had started in the harbor right under the boat. The little rock gunnel I tried to video vanished just as I managed to set up the camera and arrange the scenery.

There was soup on the way home along with Veronica’s snacks.

The day turned out much better than we had expected.

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Drizzley Fog

June 28, 2008

or was it foggy drizzle? Plus a north wind. Yuk.

We had a full boat and knew we wouldn’t be able to get out of the harbor because, in our drive to look for good water, we hadn’t even been able to see 10 Pound Island from Stacey Boulevard. That’s thick fog. No one wants to dive where they can’t be seen by passing boaters or by the charter boat itself if they drift away from the dive site. That’s just dangerous.

The north side of the island was similarly socked in. Plus it had an onshore wind from the north that had rollers churning into Folly Cove. That was definitely not the way to go.

So, we gave the customers the option of:

  1. staying dry and coming another day,
  2. coming out for a boat ride into the harbor as far as we could get, or
  3. diving one tank in the harbor in the shallows for free.

Catie and Tom Childress had come all the way from Amherst, MA and wanted to at least get wet. Larry and Al were fine with just the boat ride. Paul and Laurent wanted to see what there was down there, no matter where we went.

So, we put-putted our way down the river and under the Blynman Bridge with inches to spare (thanks to Peter). I think the bridge tender said there was 10 feet of clearance in the middle. The white measuring placard on the right as we went under said 8 feet.

Then we ghosted slowly towards the first can in the harbor after the red and white “AR” can at the mouth of the cut. Couldn’t see anything. Peter and I picked out the point of Stage Fort Park on our right.

Then we saw the dim outlines and heard grunting shouts from two seine boats that were racing parallel to us. They were being escorted by inflatables with blue flashing lights to keep onlookers far enough away. No problem with that because we were the only onlookers, due to the fog. We didn’t know which boat was which, but could tell that the one nearest to us was winning. Its rowers were working in unison while those in the other boat were not coordinated and there was even an oar out of the water at its bow. This was part of the St. Peter’s Festival that was happening this weekend.

We continued around the point and anchored in about 20 feet of water near three large boulders off Cressy’s Beach. The anchorage felt safe because we could see land through the fog on three sides, with the boulders becoming more and more exposed as the tide receded.

Pete, Catie and I went exploring. There was lots of dusty kelp around the boulders, but I saw sea vases and a large black sea bass. Kathy Cardinale said she was watching our bubbles and saw two harlequin ducks on top of the biggest rock wobble out of our line of sight as we rounded it. They kept trying to get to the opposite side of the rock and away from our bubbles.

I found a hermit crab whose shell was coated with fuzzy, pink growth. It reminded me of an angora sweater or a pink marabou negligee. Catie took its picture in a mask full of water to keep the fuzzy stuff puffed up. As soon as the shell was out of the water, the pink coating collapsed into merely slime.

The day wasn’t a complete loss, but it was pretty close. It was only due to the great people we had with us that there was lots of laughter, teasing, joking, and general mayhem among everyone. And Catie got some more experience in the water in less than great conditions: 61 degrees on top, 59 degrees on the bottom in 20 feet, 5 feet of visibility.

Docking was easy as Pete backed into our new slip with new white bumpers on the corners.

Richard Brandolini’s Photos of Bill Myers on Easy Diver

June 24, 2008

“Hi Fred and Chris,

I found these pictures of Bill while diving on easy diver 7/9/2006. Hope they came out ok, Richard”

Chris says:

Thanks for these, Richard. It’s good to remember Bill in diving mode.

Tom Childress Reports on Bill Myers’ Life Celebration

June 23, 2008

I went to the celebration of Bill’s life today.   There was quite a crowd and several motorcycles.  I spoke with Brian who is very broke up and emotional about losing his friend.  I said prayers at Bill’s casket and passed everyone’s condolences to Cathy and family.   Bill looked good and at peace.  There was a bottle of tequila, his bike helmet, and two trophies for his bike and some photos.   A large board was set up with lots of pictures and a slide show going on.  Several photos showed Bill diving.    Lots of leather, wallet chains and  ponytails present to send off their friend.   I truly believe it was the way Bill would have wanted.  

Some Pictures of Billy Myers by Kathy Cardinale

June 23, 2008

Kathy says:

I found this picture of Billy and Cathy that I took on the first day I had
my camera.

This was Billy’s catch that day….not legal by any means…

Chris says:

I know Bill let the big creature go that day. It was certainly a monster.

J & J

June 22, 2008

We had two folks with us today who were referred by Bob Evans, the designer and maker of Force Fins. John wanted to try them out and Bob replied to his online post recommending us. He knew we had a bouquet of Force Fins lining the cabin and that everyone who comes on board is encouraged by Fred to try them out. Did you know he’s a spokes-captain for them?

Julia wanted to gain more experience after having been certified last summer. She’d never been on a boat dive either. I decided we’d go back to Folly Cove because she would need calm water and clear conditions to get started right.

I set the anchor in 20 feet and we descended the downline easily. Then we turned towards the wall and swam along the place where it meets the sand. We saw flounder, hermit crabs, anemones, lobsters, and a moon snail. I had to return to the boat before Julia and John did because I’d only gone in with 1/2 a tank. They were fine going together for another little swim along the rocks, so Peter set them off again.

The water was 61 degrees on the surface and 59 degrees on the bottom. The tide hadn’t turned and started in yet. The Captain could get no flounder interested in having their pictures taken.

Our second dive was across the cove at the Lobster Pool restaurant.  This time I anchored in about 25 feet over boulders and jumbled, broken, granite blocks that hadn’t made it onto the barge from the quarry on Halibut Point.  The water was a little clearer with about 15 feet of visibility, but the tide had started in and it was easily 20 feet in the cold, 52 degree water at 50 feet, according to Laurent and Peter.  They were looking for lobsters.  We aimed John and Julia over to the beautiful wall that had lots of green sea lettuce and little fish, according to Julia.

We had a great day and missed the thunderstorms as they massed north of us.

Nice people.

Stupendous Saturday at Folly Cove

June 21, 2008

What a brilliant, sunny day we had today.  The breeze was from the southeast, so we headed north to be in the lee of the island that is Cape Ann.  Essex Bay was as flat as I’ve ever seen it with just a few cat’s paws of breeze skittering across it. 

We had a good group including Bethany B., Richard Brandolini, Michael Baker (a basic student), and Laurent Dubois with Kathy Cardinale, Peter Donahue, and me as crew.  The Captain helped too.

I anchored in about 20 feet across from Calf Cove so Michael could have somewhere safe to do his exercises and skill-building stuff.  Bethany and Richard took off to look for dead sand dollars (as if there might be any in Folly Cove) and lobsters, and Laurent was multitasking – videoing and lobstering.  Peter and The Captain tag-teamed Michael to be sure he met everyone’s standards for a competent beginner.  He performed very well.  I was even able to shoot some video of his successful scuba donning on the bottom.

The water was 61 degrees on the surface, 54 degrees at 20 feet and 50 degrees at 50 feet (according to Laurent).  The tide was coming in so the bottom was much colder and clearer than the surface.  The sun was hot and it was probably 75 degrees above the water.

We saw lots of friendly and curious flounder or all sizes.  The Captain took in a tin of cat food to see if they would eat it for a scene in our video.  They seemed to like it and during their chewing you could see puffs of white crumbs stream out their upper gill.  Very unusual footage.

Laurent got footage of flounder eating the remains of a discarded lobster claw, small cunner in a cleft, and of an urchin turning itself right side up.  Cal’s and my footage was of circling flounder around the anchor.   I shot some extra time on the surface with Chris Fisher, the wearer of a double-hose regulator.  He swam out from shore and stopped by to say “Hi!” as he passed.  Everyone wanted to see what he was breathing from and we were able to show Michael the kind of regulator that everyone used to use.  Chris was very patient with our inquiries and said he just likes to dive with the double hose regulator, so he uses it.

We didn’t need any hot soup today.

In Our Memory and Our Hearts

June 19, 2008

Bill Myers was a constant friend, an excellent instructor, and a frequent customer on Easy Diver with his wife Cathy.

He died Tuesday night, June 17th, in a motorcycle/automobile accident in Chicopee. Here is a link to the newspaper article with more details.

Here is a picture of Billy at his best – taken by Cathy:

Bill Myers with a Huge Lobster

He was a great, good guy.

We miss him already.

Did I Forget to Mention Drift Pins?

June 15, 2008

There was copper.  Oh, yes, there was.  Catie managed to find and wiggle free some of the large drift pins that held the ship together.  That would be the USF New Hampshire that we dove together on Saturday, June 14th.  These are some fine pins. 

 

Video of Molting Lobster

June 15, 2008

Laurent Dubois’ video of a molting lobster as mentioned in an earlier post is available for your viewing pleasure on YouTube.  The telling moment is at 4:48 into it.  That’s when the lobster finally sheds all of the old shell in a single flip of its tail.