Archive for June, 2010

Folly Cove vs. Fiesta

June 27, 2010

I decided that we didn’t want to go south today because it’s Fiesta weekend and Gloucester Harbor traffic is insane for the greasy pole and the seine boat races.  Plus, it was a rising tide and we’d have to wait for the Blynman bridge both going out and coming back.  We had Pat and Pete as crew.   The Captain was in rare form.  I drove the boat.

Since we had Al Hicks, a divemaster candidate, and J.S, a First-Dive-of-the-Season, Certified but beginner, we agreed that Folly Cove and its easy to navigate wall was the best location.  The breeze was freshening from the south east as predicted, so the anchorage was cool and refreshing.

Al was working up to a bailout with multiple plunges from the swim platform with more and more gear in his arms.

Although there was great visibility from the surface, underwater was a different story.  Al and I made a dive along the wall and had about 10-15 feet of visibility.  We saw lots of hermit crabs, flounder and zillions of sand dollars.  There was also a large striped bass heading into the cove along the same wall we were using.

I videoed a little flounder and watched for more bass, but none arrived.

Pete reported the water was 48 on the bottom and 52 on the surface.  I didn’t wear my ice mask and felt fine in my dry suit.

We stopped after one dive and came back to the condo for more book work.

It was a good day and a super weekend.

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Scha-a-ahks!

June 26, 2010

That’s “sharks!” with a Boston accent.

Dogfish are in and it’s only late June.  Usually we don’t see them until late August.

The first dive had been at Cathedral Rocks with J.K. and the crew.  We had murky, cold, dark water and that was going to be the headline for this post.  I think I heard Pete say it was 48 on the bottom at 40 feet and 52 on the surface.

I swam with my new, birthday present of a ScubaPro regulator, videoed and found a maroon burrowing anemone as well as some kind of worm that had a puffy extension which vanished as you swam up to it.  It reminded me of the Christmas Tree Worms in the Caribbean.  Its disappearance was that fast.

So, we decided to move back over the top of Cape Ann for the second dive.  I picked Lanesville Shores and anchored in about 30 feet of water.  Pete and J.K. got in first and I decided to use the rest of the tank from my first dive.

As I settled on the sandy bottom, I noticed shapes in the distance.  They came closer as I slowed my exhales.  They were dogfish.  Woohoo!  Beautiful, sleek, and supple, they seemed able to turn on a dime.

I surfaced to tell Veronica that there were sharks here.  I knew she wouldn’t miss the chance to be in the water with them.   I wasn’t wrong.  From what I heard later, Pat and The Captain stuffed her into Pat’s Mares semi-dry suit because she was too sticky from a quick swim to get back into her dry suit.  She wore The Captain’s size 12 boots too.  If you’ve ever seen Veronica, you know that they were w-a-a-y too big.  No matter, she made it down and we re-engaged with the circling fish.

I had trouble videoing them because they keep moving.  If I hold the camera steady and wait for them to swim into sight, they don’t.  I just wanted to get V’s face through the mask on tape because she was transfixed.  It would have been a super shot to have included a shark in the frame.

The ride back down the river was uneventful and it was an easy docking with a south westerly breeze.

Memorable day.

For another take on the day, read Veronica’s blog.

Hot and Muggy

June 20, 2010

Deb Greenhalgh joined the crew for some fun at Cathedral Rocks, the subject of this year’s video project, according to The Captain.  We arrived at the dive site off the sofa at Cathedral in just under 45 minutes.  We’re timing the trip from both directions to settle it once and for all.  Which direction is quicker when you’re leaving the Cape Ann Marina – up the river to the north or through the bridge and around the Gloucester breakwater and up along the back shore? Today we clocked the time for one of the directions – up the river to the north.

The water was kind of murky at 35 feet and c-o-l-d.  Pat was in her semi-dry Mares and felt the chill deeply.  We were trying to perform for Peter’s video according to the directions that we had received from Cecil B. DeCalhoun on deck.  He wanted us to fin over Peter’s and the camera’s head as we “sailed down the slope” at Cathedral.  I don’t know how much “sailing” we did because I was huffing and puffing after the third take.

The breeze was refreshing and from the south west, so the site was protected and flat calm, just the way I like it.  Pete saw and shot two Northern Red Anemones.  I saw a wayward pollack, but no other fish.  We hauled anchor after about 45 minutes.

The second dive was going to be on the sheltered northern side of the cape and Lanesville Shores looked good as I pulled around Folly Point.  It was dead low tide and the shallows were pleasantly warm-ish.  The thermocline at about 25 feet marked the depth at which it got much clearer but also much colder.  There was that 48 degrees again.

We saw big and too-big lobsters and the hunters were happy.  I saw starfish, or sea stars for the politically correct name, scattered about on rocks and noted that they were equidistant from each other.  Maybe they were staking out their territory.  Maybe they were warring factions.

The ride back down the river was interesting because the depth sounder kept registering “- -” in feet over the sand bars.  That means it’s too shallow to record.  Not good.  I drove the boat and gave a huge pleasure craft lots of room at Mary Scalli’s turn because he was going to need it to keep from going aground on her sand bar.

Not too many boats were out, but we were and it was grand.

Surprise visit from daughter Liz and Mike Ahern for Father’s Day put the icing on The Captain’s weekend.  They’re good kids.

A Hot and Sunny Double-Header

June 19, 2010

The crew was one short today because I was walking to help raise money for a cure for ALS with other members of my lab from UMass Medical School.  It was the annual Timlin event at Hopkinton High School.  The Day Lab receives lots of support and funding from the Angel Fund which was running the event, so many of us went to help.  I foolishly decided to join the walkers at the last minute, wearing my flipflop sandals.  Two monumental blisters later, I’ve decided to bring sneakers and socks to next year’s event – or not be so impulsive about joining in.

However, from what I heard from The Captain, Pat and Peter, there was enough fun to go around in my absence.  They anchored for the first dive at Stone Garage with Steve Gates, his friend, Ray, Al and Candace F. and Al Hicks aboard.  The visibility was 20 feet in 25 feet, but the water was c-o-l-d.  Peter said 48, I think.  There were lobsters caught.  There was video shot.  There was divemaster instruction given and taken.  Bubbles were watched, and divers dived.

The second dive was just down the way to the house with the silo out front.  Pat anchored over a 12 foot high boulder and it housed enough prey to satisfy the hunters.  Sandy patches and other small boulders dotted the 25 foot deep landscape.

Pat drove the boat through the Blynman bridge both directions without needing an opening.  And she docked the boat as well.  True talent.

Al, Pete and The Captain went out again right away with Kat Apse along.  She was going to be Al’s victim for some diver rescue exercises.  They anchored at Old House Cove for the first dive and then moved to Niles Beach for the skill session.

Everyone was pretty wiped by the time the day ended.

Including me.

More fun tomorrow.

More of the Same

June 13, 2010

No diving due to weather.

A Cup of Mist with a Side of Drizzle

June 12, 2010

Didn’t order that, but got it anyway.

We drove around and found it looked OK at Cathedral Rocks.  That’s the site of this year’s video, so we’re going there often.  We had the good eggs from Connecticut today:  Kevin and Linsley Mordasky plus Pat and Karen Hatcher.  They’re up for anywhere.  Plus we had Pete, Pat and Veronica for crew.  The Captain almost brought his gear and I drove the boat.

It started to drip from the cloudy skies as we passed Mary Scalli’s house on the Annisquam river.  The Captain loves to hail her on the PA and we all wave madly when she comes to the window.  Today it was mixed with scrambling for our foul weather gear.

When we pulled around Point de Chene, we saw that there were long, low rollers coming in from the south east on a rising tide.  They weren’t so bad that we turned around, but there was hardly any wind to keep us pointed into them after we anchored either.

Everyone was into their gear expeditiously and descended into the dark water.  Turns out it was both dark and cold.  Oh, joy.  Veronica and the Mordaskys encountered a current as well.  That’s unusual at Cathedral Rocks, but it was almost high tide.  Pete said it was 52 degrees at 33 feet.  Visibility was rotten but he saw a school of pollack and a northern red anemone.

We moved back to the north side of the cape for the second dive.  On our way, we were boarded by the Environmental Police who had been waiting for us to get underway from Pigeon Cove.  I’d noticed them idling as they circled a boat near its entry.  They didn’t leave when they finished its examination.  Hum.  Maybe they’re waiting for us to pull anchor.  Sure enough, they stopped us just off Halibut Point in rolling sea.  We suggested a move to Folly Cove for the procedure, but they weren’t having any of that.  When everything proved to be in order, they were off in that direction at full speed anyway.  No surprises.

The second dive was at N*ked Man Beach near the cemetery on Lanesville Shores.  I anchored in 25 feet and those so inclined got into the water quickly.  I understand it was 48 degrees on the bottom, but the visibility was considerably better.   The sun almost peeked through the cloud layer a couple of times, but then it started sprinkling again.  There was no wind.  The ocean was flat.

Conditions weren’t great, but we had good fun with nice people.

The Storms Win

June 6, 2010

No diving today, due to predicted heavy thunderstorms.

Storm Dodgers

June 5, 2010

Pete and LD took the boat out even though there were predictions of torrential rain and thunder storms.  As they pulled out of the marina, the sun broke through the clouds and fog.

They anchored at Kettle Rock in about 60 feet of water to avoid the fish weir that is still draped over its northwest corner (the best anchorage).  Pete reported that it was “frickin’ freezin'” on the bottom, but crystal clear.

There was hunting and there was gathering and there was success and there was one that was “going to be too big tomorrow.”

As he ascended, Pete noticed that the visibility was deteriorating.  Near the surface it became fuzzy and cloudy.   Maybe that’s because the surface is warming, or because it’s getting rained on.  The NOAA water temperature buoy says it’s 57.9 degrees F.

We used the time to video Cathedral Rocks for the land shot of this year’s movie.  It was 80 degrees and muggy/sunny over there.  Feels like summer’s here already.

Our Un-scientific Version of Climate Change

June 1, 2010

Temps on the bottom at about 25 feet during the last dive of May over the last few years:

  • 2010 – 57 degrees
  • 2009 – 50 degrees
  • 2008 – 43 degrees
  • 2007 – 45 degrees
  • 2006 – 42 degrees

Pretty dramatic, huh?