Archive for June, 2009


June 28, 2009

That’s More Of The Same, i.e., fog/drizzle/showers/rain/overcast/cloudy/dreary.  Plus windy from the northeast.  What’s not to like?

We tried to talk everyone out of it – to convince them to take a free trip another day.  No takers.  It was Linda and Myanna,  Jim C., plus Chris finishing his open water work with Peter.  They were  here and they wanted to go.  Pat and Peter were up for it and The Captain didn’t want to be left behind.

So, we went back to Kettle Island and it was not bad at all.  Underwater.  It was 60 degrees there.  It was probably 55 above water in the stiff northeast breeze.  I had on full foul weather gear and a wool hat over my baseball cap to boot.

The hunters weren’t disappointed and Chris finished his course in fine style.

The hot chicken noodle soup disappeared quickly and I can’t actually confirm that no one poured it into their boots.

Then everyone went in for a second dive.  We never moved at all.  They reported visibility at 15 feet and saw lots of flounder and skates along with decent pickin’s for the lobster lovers.

What dedication!

What nuts!

Dodging Fog Banks

June 27, 2009

More of the same.  Drizzly week with showers and now fog on ALL coasts.  Going around Cape Ann early, we were able to watch the fog drift in from Essex Bay and obscure the opening of the Annisquam River onto the north side of the cape.  Not good.

A little breeze started as we were loading up and it was from the north.  It pushed fog ahead of it and we decided to scoot under the Blynman cut bridge and go south.  Fog was drifting off the land, but it was lightening up.  By the time we reached Kettle Island off Magnolia Harbor, it was almost sunny.  There were, however, long low rollers coming in from the east.  Nowhere looked surge-free.

We had Peter’s student, Chris, David Murphy, Steve Gates, and Doug A. with us, along with Kathy and Pat as crew.  The Captain was seated astern.  All were happy to be anchored in a calm spot behind the island in about 25 feet of water.  The visibility was about 10-15 feet and the temperature was 58 on the surface as the tide had started to come in.

Pete and Chris saw at least one decorator crab plus flounders and a skate.  Chris did great with his scuba skills too.  Doug was trying out his new drysuit with buddy Pat while David and Steve were exploring.

And then the sun broke through.  For a little bit.  Just to remind us what it looked like.

We moved to the protection of the bluffs across from the island for the second dive.  It was only 15 feet deep, but it was out of the line of the surge.  We were going to be fine unless the wind changed.

And then the breeze freshened from the east to about 15 knots.

The sun stayed out and Kathy commented that this was just the perfect temperature as far as she was concerned – low 70s with bright sun and cool breeze.

The divers found tons of moon snails doing their thing on the sandy bottom.  I was going to name it The Compound for the complex of mansions on the bluff, but Moon Snail City seems more apt.

Coming home, we saw lots of boats anchored near the greasy pole for the St. Peter’s festival’s pole walking competition.

The fog was encroaching from the east as Pete backed us into our slip.  We unloaded via a flat ramp and dropping temperatures as the sun got fogged over.

Sounds like early June conditions on the south-facing coast, doesn’t it?

Well it was really the last weekend in June, darn it!

Where’s summer?

Father’s Day – June 21, 2009

June 21, 2009

No diving due to icky (that’s a technical term) weather.

On a Scale of 1 to 10

June 20, 2009

It was an 11.

It all started in Folly Cove.   Water temperature was 58 on the bottom – sometimes.  Visibility was 25 feet most everywhere, which was good because there were video assignments from The Captain.  He wanted an extreme closeup video of a moon snail on the move and a long, rock-steady shot of a person next to a wall which is vertical with the person not necessarily in focus, but off to the left.  The rock wall should take up 2/3rds of the frame.  Sheesh.

Thanks to help from Linsley and Kevin Mordasky on snail patrol plus Peter and Catie Childress at the rock wall, we got some footage.  As it turns out, not the exact footage wanted by Cecil B. DeCalhoun.  Oh, well, there’ll be other days.

Strangle-hold or Deft Skull Balancing: You Choose!

Strangle-hold or Deft Skull Balancing: You Choose!

But they probably won’t be as welcome as this one was after a week of cloudy skies and drizzle/rain/dribbles/showers/mist.  Imagine a whole page of  rain on for Gloucester, MA.

The sun broke through the clouds and it was HOT (at times).  I saw crew member Kathy with sleeves rolled up and knew we weren’t in spring-purgatory anymore, Toto.

After we decided to find another place for the second dive, we motored over the top of Cape Ann to the Rockport Breakwater.   There was no one else near by and the visibility had cleared from the morning’s pot checking and resetting by lobstermen:

Rockport Breakwater

Still Anchorage on the West Side of the Rockport Breakwater

Tom and Catie joined me for a saunter along the rocks at about 20 feet.  When we’d determined that the visibility would be great, we drifted down to 40 feet and the silty bottom.  There were anemones open in rocky crevasses and too many abandoned, crushed lobster traps to count.  I found decorator crabs on one and Tom helped me gently herd them towards the video camera.  Here’s a picture of a cool crab cowboy:

The Crab Wrangler at Rest - Tom Childress

The Crab Wrangler at Rest - Tom Childress

The water was a little colder here, but the visibility was 30 feet or more, depending on whether anyone was looking for lobsters ahead of you.  And there was that sun factor.

We had a great day.  The gourmet lunch from Kathy was icing on the scuba tank.

The Captain even agreed.

Flat, Calm Sea with Captain Fred on Duty

Flat, Calm Sea with Captain Fred on Duty

All the above photos are by the beautiful and talented Jacki K.

Technical Issues Resolved

June 15, 2009

Please scroll down through the posts to see new entries for old dates.

I had technical issues that have now been resolved.

Thanks for coming back to check.



A Hot Soup Kinda Day

June 14, 2009

There was rain – and drizzle – and sprinkles – and showers.  I had full foul weather gear on.  But it wasn’t cold, and there was no wind.  We were going.

Janet M. and Bill Low were with us, as were crew Peter and Patricia.  The Captain’s dry suit had a leak in it but that didn’t stop him from issuing orders.  He’s The Captain.

We anchored behind Kettle Island and I worked on some video footage of Janet with her gorgeous new digital photo rig.  Bill was hunting as were Pete and Pat.

The water under the keel was 35 feet deep and the visibility was between 20 and 5 feet, depending upon who had been by, looking for lobsters.  We kicked it up ourselves some too.  Pat said it had been 50 degrees at 50 feet.  She and Pete had found a huge lobster down there that they estimated had a 7 inch carapace and was over 15 pounds.  Too large to take, obviously, but fun to see on the hoof.  I understand there was squealing involved that could be heard right through the regulator.  The lumpfish was still there too.

I got out after about 1/2 hour and made soup.  I was cold.  Janet stayed in for more tinkering.  Bill missed his desired one hour mark by only 8 minutes.  My chicken noodle soup was eventually devoured by all.

We tried for Saddle Rock for the second dive, but the wind had come up from the ocean and it seemed too bumpy and choppy there.  Clouds scudded back and forth between showers.  We drove back behind the island and I moved a little east to even more protection.  Now it was only 20 feet deep on a sandy bottom.  Janet liked this spot better for photography.

We ended the day under a cloudy sky, but with a rising tide so that the schlep of gear up the ramp was easier than when we loaded earlier.

I’m glad we went out.

The people were nice and we had fun.

Thank goodness for hot soup.


June 13, 2009

It dawned sunny and cloudless.  The breeze was from the northeast, but there was just a little of it.  We had Jacki K., Richard Brandolini, Susan and Ben from Belchertown, and Steve Gates from Chicopee.  The Captain wanted more video footage of Richard against the backdrop of the wall at Folly Cove.  Everyone was OK with that so we motored north on the Annisquam River at dead low tide.

I anchored right beside the steepest part of the west wall at Folly in about 25 feet of water.  Richard and I agreed to work together to get the desired shot.  He was great at hovering and not looking at the camera.  We saw an eel pout and it only wanted to get away, not have its picture taken.

The water was 52 degrees with a visible thermocline at about 10 feet.  The visibility was about 20 feet with clearer water at the bottom where the incoming tide was beginning to flow.  The sun was almost hot.

Jacki went exploring and found a mooring stone (?) in the middle of the cove just past the rock pile.  Pat was relaxing by floating in her dry suit and straw hat with her boots tucked under the swim platform.  Pete went hunting.  Steve was happy with the neck seal on his new DUI drysuit.  Susan was bubble-watching from the flying bridge while Ken explored nearby.

The second dive was deeper at the rocky edge of the wall across the cove.  I anchored in about 45 feet of water and the boat swung slowly towards and away from the rocks.  I found a large decorator crab that was as big as my hand.  It was marginally cooperative in my video efforts.  I also found a northern red anemone at the base of the rock pile.

It was colder here because it was deeper.  The visibility was a little better at 25 feet or so on the bottom.  This dive was shorter because I ran out of video tape.  Too bad because there was a lobster pot with a big cod in it along with two lobsters.  That might have been an interesting shot.  Oh, well.  Next time.

Nice day with mellow people and marvelous, cool, sunny conditions.

Sunny Sunday

June 7, 2009

Now today was what I call a perfect diving day:

  • bright sun
  • no wind to speak of
  • no surge
  • no waves
  • no rollers
  • incoming tide
  • water temperature >50 degrees
  • visibility >20 feet
  • “legal” snacks
  • nice people

We had a full boat with Bethany and Harry from RI, Bill Low, Joe Finkhouse, Richard Brandolini, and Paul S. on board.  Since the weatherman said it would be nice, we chose to go north.  The breeze was just cool enough to make it pleasant, but no so cold that I needed two layers to stay warm.

Videographers and explorers were happy with Folly Cove.  Paul was on the trail of the scarlet psolus he’d spyed on an earlier trip.  The Captain and I were looking for more shots for this season’s movie.  Bethany and Harry were looking for dead sand dollars, while everyone else was just relaxin’ and pokin’ around.

I anchored just off Calf Cove and the boat was aiming into the incoming tide and a little westerly breeze coming around the point.  That petered out early and we swung through all the points of the compass.  I changed into my shorts.

We saw skates and tiny sculpins.  There were some anemones out in the overhangs.  Calf Cove was full by noon and its water was warmer than the rest of the cove’s.  It also had some distinct thermoclines.  Several folk mentioned that they’d felt a real difference between the 50 degree places and the 42 degree places during their swim.

I got a great shot of me tickling the tail of a skate.  The one of Richard in Calf Cove sparked The Captain’s imagination for more like that one.

Pete and Veronica Atlantis were crew.  Their help made it possible for us to get wet when there were six customers onboard.

Thanks to everyone who was with us today.  It was great to see you and to dive on such a beautiful day.

Newbie and Retread

June 6, 2009

We had an interesting combination of old-timers, returning dinosaurs, and new divers on the boat today.  Alexine, Alex, and Al plus Jim, Richard and Candi made it a full charter.  Alexine has over 1300 dives and Candi just made it down to 20 feet for the first time.  Al is returning to New England diving after having been certified by Jerry Comeau when he (Al) was 17 in 1969.   Both Richard and Candi are nurses at Mass General Hospital.  Alex and Jim were great helpers with the logistics of getting everybody ready and into the water, as were crew members Pat and Peter.

The weather had been pretty grim all week and today’s forecast was not good or just fine depending upon whom you listened to.  I dressed for the worst case and wasn’t over-heated.  The eary morning trip around The Cape was accompanied by drizzle and a freshening breeze from the north.  We decided to go south and meet the high tide somewhere sheltered from the rollers coming in from the southeast.  Brace Cove didn’t look sheltered enough, so it was Niles Beach.

The water was just 20 feet deep, but it was warmer than it’s been and clearer than it was last weekend.  Alex, Candi and I swam the inflatable and flag over to stand-up water by the beach, while The Captain and Al worked to review his scuba skills.    Alexine and Richard went their separate ways towards Eastern Point.  We were entertained by the international elimination trials for Gloucester’s dory racers who were launching from the beach also.

The dive was fun as Candi got better and better with the equipment.  Her dad, Alex, was super helpful in switching out tanks and backpacks to make her comfortable.  She’s a tiny sprite and the tank/backpack kept clunking her in the back of the head.  We switched backpacks to one without a handle and slid the tank down in the harness to as low as it would go before lashing it to her shoulders as tightly as was comfortable.  Then we encouraged her to look down for hermit crabs and other critters.

The crowd reassembled on the boat to compare notes about what they had seen.  Alexine was especially descriptive about flounders and skates and crabs and lobsters.  Al had passed all the hurdles to renew his certification to The Captain’s satisfaction.  We were ready to try somewhere else for the second dive.

I decided Candi needed to be able to see the bottom even though we were going to use the down line.  I picked the little cove near the bridged swim-around rock, west of Niles Beach, overlooked by million dollar condos.  Although I anchored in 15 feet of water, it became 20 feet when we swung.  She and I and Alex made it to the eel grass and celebratory quohog clam at the bottom, even though her ears didn’t clear quickly.  She kept at it with several stops and ascents until they stopped hurting and then resumed the descent.

Alexine had 1/2 a tank, but made a great dive of it all along the rocky edge of the cove.  Al also went back in to explore.  We saw more of everything and the water seemed to be warm enough that I didn’t miss my ice mask.  My hands were fine too.  Then the sun came out.

Nice people.  Fun time.