Archive for September, 2008

Lost Weekend

September 28, 2008

We canceled both days of diving this weekend, due to terrible conditions.  Fog, pouring rain, drizzle, or Hurricane Kyle. 

Take your pick.

Lots of Logistics

September 21, 2008

We had folks from RI and CT as well as Sandwich, MA with us today.  Some were demonstrating their last water skills before being graduated as NAUI Instructors.  Others were just beginning the NAUI Instructor training process.  There was a refresher process going on too.  We were helped by Pete, Pat, and Veronica as crew.

Because the Blynman Bridge is locked in the down position, we were only using the boat as a staging area for the water work while the tide was low.  We were working on the beach at Niles and just off shore.

The air was warm at 72 degrees.  The water was OK at about 58.  Visibility (before it was stirred up by skills demos) was 10-15 feet.

I saw a quohog clam that was as big as my hand, standing on its hinge above the sand, with limpets growing on it.

Everyone helped us get the gear back onto the boat once it had returned to the marina.

Then it was off to the cookout/potluck at Stage Fort Park with local dive clubs.

Beautiful day with nice people.

Last Few Crumbs in the Cookie Jar

September 20, 2008

It was sunny today.  And not too cold.  There were even periods where I was hot enough to take off my sweatshirt.  The breeze was mild and variable.  The air was in the high 50s.

We had to go north because the Blynman Bridge is out of commission in the closed position for two weeks while they repair it.  The air was clear as we exited the Annisquam River into Essex Bay.  We could see the black and white mounds of the nuclear power plant in Seabrook, NH, on the northern horizon. 

I tried to go around Halibut Point, but the seas were breaking all along the eastern edge of Cape Ann, so I turned around and headed to the rocky point north of the restaurant at Folly Cove.  I anchored in about 50 feet of water and we let out absolutely all of the anchor line.  The tide had just turned and eddies of it were pushing us against the rocky wall.  Crew member Kathy Cardinale was in charge of keeping us off that wall while we suited up.  When she got to the large ball at the end of the line, we deployed the inflatable against the sea wall as a bumper.  Then the wind changed direction a bit and we moved away from the wall just enough.

The Captain, Peter, and LD were working with Seth Rosen, while Jacki K. and Andy were sight-seeing.  The visibility was pretty bad at about 5-10 feet.  Even far into shore behind the wharf’s protection, it only improved to about 10 feet.  The waves had been pounding this side of the  island earlier in the week and this foggy water was their legacy.  Luckily, the water wasn’t too cold at about 58 degrees, even at 40 feet.

For the second dive, I moved us to Lanesville Shores where we had seen lots of dogfish last weekend.  With Peter’s assistance, we anchored in exactly the same place according to the lavender and grey lobster float that was near by.  The visibility was still about 10 feet, but got a little better in among the rocks close to shore.  There were no sharks to be seen.  Not even one.

Kathy drove us back into the marina and even docked the boat.  Yeah!

It was one of those days that makes you think there aren’t going to many more diving episodes in the season.  Crew member, Veronica, calls it licking your finger and picking up the crumbs in the chocolate chip cookie bag. 

You just want it to last forever.

A Short Video of the Sharks

September 16, 2008

One of our regular customers, LD, made this video for Veronica because she is a shark hugger:

Not So Much

September 14, 2008

It was drizzling when we awoke.  The wind was calm, though, so we were going to go back to try to find the sharks again.  Our only customer was LD and he was happy to try to video more of them. The crew was Peter and me with The Captain riding herd on all of us.

Today, the tide was still coming in.  As I dropped to the bottom at about 35 feet, right under the boat, I saw three or four dogfish circling.  They came close to take a look at me as I fiddled with the video camera.  I think they knew that I hadn’t gotten my act together yet.  Then, as I brought the camera to my eye to look through the view finder, they made a final pass and left.  Just like that.  Maybe someone had rung the sharky dinner bell further out to sea.

Peter came by with a bright yellow sea raven for me to shoot.  Its eyes had iridescent greenish sparkles that reflected what little light there was down there.  Its back spines were dark black and upraised in indignation.  It sat still for one nanosecond when Peter placed it on the bottom and then scooted off stage.  Maybe I can resurrect a still shot out of the sequence, but I don’t think I got enough footage of it for the movie.

The water was 56 degrees on the bottom with the air in the middle 60s.  It was overcast and spitting rain intermittently.  We decided to call it after one dive and head for home.

I drove the boat back to the marina in my wetsuit because I was loathe to take it off in the chill.  I think that’s my last time diving wet for the season.

It was still fun, just not as much fun as yesterday.

What Great Fun!

September 13, 2008

We had a super, fun-filled day today, despite what the weatherpersons predicted. 

It dribbled a little bit as we got up, but cleared by the time we’d circled the cape looking for the best site.  It was going to be north – somewhere.  With Bryan Harper, Seth Rosen, Tim Maxwell, and LD on board and Pete and me as crew, we were going to have a relaxing and enjoyable day.  As we pulled into Essex Bay, I could see not a ripple.  There were several large boats off in the distance towards the Isles of Shoals, but no one moving nearer shore.  I guess everyone listened to JC Monahan.  We powered along towards Lanesville and couldn’t see the green can outside Plum Cove.  It was gone.  Hum.  Of course, the tide was rising and would be high by the time we were in the water, but still.  Where was this important aid to navigation?  It was the second time this summer it had gone missing.

I pulled into the little cove next to the Lobster Pool restaurant in Rockport and set anchor in about 20 feet of water.  Then a little breeze started in from the north east and we swung 180 degrees.  Now, when Tim jumped in, he was able to stand on a rock and adjust his mask right off the swim platform.  It’s neat how the rocks in this place come close to the surface, but we don’t care.  The divers went off the explore and hunt while The Captain and I kept watch.  

After they returned, we heard that Pete and Bryan had excellent visibility at the deepest point of the rock wall.  They reported they could see the rocks above the surface from the bottom at about 40 feet.  Tim found a brittle star out and about.  The water was 52 degrees, but very clear.

For our second dive, I chose Lanesville Shores, just off the cemetery.  This proved to be a wonderful site because there were lots of dogfish milling about.  They are called dogfish because they hunt in packs.  LD took video from which I grabbed frames:

Small dogfish off Lanesville

Small dogfish off Lanesville

There were lots of them right under the boat – maybe twenty or thirty.  Pete and Bryan swam further away and were in the midst of a school.  Pete, the mathemetician, counted them in tens and later told us there were about a thousand of them, passing on both sides of the two divers.  I think that the tide had just started to go out and they were gathering to fish for their dinners in the ebb.  Here’s another great shot:

More of the dogfish gathering in groups

More of the dogfish gathering in groups

We all scrambled to see as many of them as we could.  They looked marvelous and swam effortlessly around us.  Here’s another angle:

Even more dogfish gathering

Even more dogfish gathering

Tim Maxwell saw a yellow sea raven and a torpedo ray that followed him as he swam along.

On the way back to the marina, we saw the green can in its regular position.  It was half-way submerged.  I think it has a chain that is too short and when the tide is high enough, it is dragged beneath the surface.  I’m just glad I didn’t run over it on the way out.

In summary, this certainly qualifies as a banner day for the variety of critters we saw, the lack of other boats on the water, and the fine weather.

Canceled Due to Hurricane Hanna

September 7, 2008

The weather man told us things were going to be hairy out there yesterday and today.

We believed him.

We went in from shore at Back Beach both days because we had a beginner. 

Saturday’s visibility was 15 feet.

Today’s was 4 inches to 5 feet.

Goodbye Hanna – good riddance.


September 1, 2008

They were a treasure-seeking bunch. Deb Greenhalgh and her friends Fred Ward, Pat, and Loretta wanted to see the site and look for spikes, nails, keys, bullet casings, and all the other stuff that still waits on the wreck of the USF New Hampshire. Joe Finkhouse and LD were game for going anywhere. Pete and I were crew. The Captain looked aloft.

As it turned out, there was pretty decent visibility of about 10-15 feet until the excavation started. Small lobsters were out and about everywhere. Joe found two over-sized eggers in holes alongside Graves Island’s west shore. The wind was only a stiff breeze from the northwest and there were few other boaters out on Labor Day. The water was warm enough for me to go swimming after I stripped off my wetsuit. That would be about 62 on the surface. It was colder on the bottom at high tide, though. Probably about 55.

After two dives on the site, everyone was comparing their swag. LD had a spike, a key with a patent date on it of 1898, and some spike pieces that happened to have the “US” stamp from Paul Revere’s foundry on them. Pete found a Marksman’s medal plate. The customers found crumpled pieces of copper sheathing that still had sheathing nails in them.

We made the return trip in fine shape and used spring lines to get into the slip with no fuss in a steady 20 knot reverse wind. We looked sharp doing it too.

Then there was Pete’s annual Labor Day cookout in Waltham.

I was almost looking forward to going back to work after three days of playing on the boat and two dives a day. There might be a thing known as too much fun.

I’d know it if I saw it.

Hey, what was that?