Archive for July, 2010

An Emmy Award-winning Day

July 31, 2010

How perfect.  Light northerly breezes with bright sun and clear skies.  We couldn’t have asked for better weather.  Along with customer LD, we had Pete and Pat as crew.  The Captain was diving wet in his Mares Semi-Dry and I was in my Atlan semi-wet dry suit.  I’ve poked holes in the neck seal neoprene and the Aquaseal is peeling away from the rubber.  There is a gush of water as I descend, but then I forget about it as I get involved in what I’m doing.

We also had these stalwart characters aboard:

Linda and Kerry Hurd and Their Emmy Awards

Linda and Kerry Hurd and Their Emmy Awards

They won for their work with Jonathan Bird’s Blue World.   The plan was to find somewhere with clear enough conditions so that Kerry, LD, The Captain and I could all shoot some video.

We picked the east side of Kettle Rock for the first dive.  It was 55 degrees at 25 feet with about 25 feet of visibility.  There were flounder and skates and decorator crabs and lobsters – all ready for their close-up, Mr. DeHurd.

As a southeasterly sea breeze freshened, we decided to move to a more protected side of the island – the southwest.  Here the visibility was 50 feet at 50 feet, according to Pete.  He said he could see his breath, however.  It was 45 degrees.  More decorator crabs posed for Kerry, but I didn’t see any at all.

Up in the shallows we saw schools for mid-sized cunner.  The water up here was 57 degrees and the visibility was fuzzier.  The fish were very curious about my camera lens probably because they could see themselves in it.  I got some set-up shots of swimming towards the camera, but didn’t see any big fish.

Nevermind.

It was a glorious day of fun diving with good people.

A Confused Sea

July 25, 2010

The tide was going to be high at about 11:15 AM.  The breeze was 10-15 knots from the northwest, but there were long rollers from the south east.  We knew we were going south, but where?  The customers included a divemaster candidate – Alan – plus a nervous person who wanted more experience in northern waters.  Others included long-time friends of Easy Diver, Linda and Myanna, an instructor – Cat – and LD.  Pat, Pete and Veronica were crew.  I needed relatively calm, sheltered water where we could see the bottom and where there were lobsters to be caught.

We chose the southwest corner of Salt Island.  The flat sandy bottom abuts the rocky edge of the island for easy navigation and we’d seen a skin diver pull a too-big lobster out of the rocks there last summer.  Maybe his friends were in town today.

Although the plan was a good one, the rollers were in opposition to the breeze and we took the seas OK until passing boat wakes jumbled everything up.  A fast Grady-White towing a large, yellow innertube buzzed the area in an ever widening circle.  We were sloshing, pitching, rolling, and generally uncomfortable on the surface.

On the bottom, Pete and his buddy saw moon snails, a skate, hermit crabs and moon snail collars.  Others brought up huge lobsters that were still legal today, but would be over the limit tomorrow according to Pete.  Happy faces all around.  It was clear and 52 on the bottom.

The second dive was in Brace Cove, with one green-faced diver flat on her back on the bow.  Our crew member, Veronica, began suffering from a migraine and we hauled her aboard quickly.  LD’s dry suit filled with water, so he ended his dive prematurely.  Someone (who shall go nameless)  jumped in without any fins and we brought that person back aboard for a refit, but then that person decided to end it early too.  Pete’s buddy’s hands were too cold to spend much time in the water, so they returned to bask in the sun.  That left Linda and Myanna hunting for dinner.  They returned with reports of cold, clear water of about 22 feet that chilled them to the bone.  Pete said, considering the casualties on board, we should just head directly for Addison Gilbert Hospital.  Joke.

We powered through the Blynman Cut with lots less drama than yesterday’s hair-raising transit.  The tide had turned but wasn’t yet at full bore like it was on Saturday.

It was a high enough tide for an easy trudge up the ramp to unload.  We packed V’s canvas hat with a hunk of ice for her drive home.  She said it had helped on the ride in, so it would be a good thing to have for the return trip to Salisbury.

No matter what, we all had fun.

And we get to do it all over again next weekend.

Foggy Bottom

July 24, 2010

It was so foggy today that we couldn’t leave the harbor.  We made two dives at or near Old House Cove, plus one beach – teach at Niles for a grandson who’s just starting.

We had a very mellow group on board: Laurie and Erik Sernavsky (daughter and grandson), Bethany and Harry from Rhode Island and LD.  Pete and Pat were crewing.  I was teaching Erik while The Captain was schmoozing in waist deep water with his daughter in the inflatable.

I’d grabbed what I thought was my warm water suit, but it turned out to be 2XL – guess who it really belonged to.  Making do, I rolled up the cuffs and pulled on my warm water boots.  No mitts, no hood.  It was shockingly chilly at full, high tide at Niles, but soon I grew accustomed to it.  Erik’s rental suit from Cape Ann Divers fit to a T and he was plenty warm – and floaty.  We stopped at 24 pounds on his belt.  He was in stand-up water and learned mask clearing, as well as regulator clearing and retrieval.  No problem-o.  I think I can remember what it felt like to be 13 and open to anything.  He exemplified it.

When the whole group reassembled for the second dive, we watched the fog roll over the beach where we had been standing and advance across the harbor towards Stage Fort Park.  As noon approached, the fog was getting worse, not burning off as it usually does.  I was glad we’d turned around after attempting to get to Brace Cove.

The second dive outside Old House Cove was to about 25 feet and Pete said it was in the fifties on the bottom with good visibility.  The hunters were happy.  The sight-seeing folk asserted that the visibility was better than they usually see on the south coast, so they were happy too.

Returning to the marina was very exciting because the tide was running out and we were roaring into it.  A large boat ahead of us set up standing waves and I came as close to hitting first one side and then the other of the cut’s walls as I ever have.  It was nerve-wracking and scary and tense and ultimately successful as we slowed down in the river.  Everyone ( well, at least, me) breathed a sigh of relief as we putt-putted into the slip.

Nice day.

Good people.

Another Perspective of Kettle Island’s Critters

July 20, 2010

LD took some interesting footage of the hitchhiking hermit crab:

http://vimeo.com/13466175

It contains a shot of a crab rubbing its back against a rock.  I think it’s getting ready to molt, but it could just have had an itch.

Good job, L.

Thanks.

Northern Red Anemone Licking Its Fingers

July 18, 2010

LD shot this short movie:

http://www.vimeo.com/13401289

The movie ends with a scarlet psolus feeding the same way – one arm at a time.

Good job, L.

An Even Better Day

July 18, 2010

We’ve been getting wonderful weekend weather for diving and today was one of the best so far.  It was 90 degrees in the air and the breeze was 10-15 from the south west.

We had DK, JK, LD with Pete, Pat, and Veronica as crew.  DK wanted some refresher diving in New England water, so The Captain and I went to the little beach on Kettle Island with her.  She did great even though she didn’t get into cold water at all last year.  She only went to Bonaire (poor kid!)  The rest of the boat took off for the point – about 1/2 mile away.  We could see them and Pat could see us.  It helps to have that reassurance just in case something happens.

The water was so warm that I didn’t use my mitts when D and I went for our little jaunt.  I didn’t need them.  Peter reported that the water was 63 degrees at 25 feet and 69 degrees on the surface.  People were swimming into the beach from their moored power boats in just bathing suits.  Hardy New Englanders.  The visibility was about 15 feet in the shallows at around 20 feet.

We anchored for the second time just across the channel at Divers’ Leap.  It was a little colder on the bottom because the tide was coming in – 59 degrees.  The visibility was a little worse here.

There were skates and hermit crabs galore.  LD videoed one catching a ride on a moon snail’s back.

JK and Veronica saw a striped bass up in the shallows at the point.

We had good fun.

P. S. Check out Veronica’s version of the tale at her blog, Saint Atlantis.

High and Dry

July 17, 2010

As we motored up the Annisquam, we saw three sailboats lodged securely on three different sand bars.  It was dead low tide and there had been a swiftly moving thunderstorm during the night.  It seemed all of these voyagers had been at anchor versus on a mooring and had dragged aground.  Here is a brown sailboat perched askew on a bar near the A. Piatt Andrew bridge:

Aground Sailboat

The photo is by Paul F. Frontiero Jr

The rowers are part of the Blackburn Challenge – an around the island race in human-powered craft that is documented in this entry in GoodMorningGloucester.com

We continued up and over to Folly Cove with JK, LD and Joe Stark on board.  Joe was making his first dive of the season after having been certified last fall.  We wanted somewhere safe, calm, and shallow for this session.

The water was a little cloudy but warm enough to be pleasant – 57 on the bottom and 59 on the surface.  There were swimmers in bathing suits in the cove.  We saw a pair of Great Blue Herons flying south over the cliff.  Pete and Pat were crew, The Captain was too heavy in his weight harness and I drove the boat.

Our second dive was just inside the little cove at the top of Folly Point.  The tide had started back in and the water was a little colder as a result.  Up in the shallows, however, it was very comfortable and sunlit.

The brownish gold seaweed floated softly in the shifting ripples.  Little cunner were curious about my camera lens until I exhaled.  Then they all scattered.

Good day.

Flounder Catching with No Holes in The Fish

July 11, 2010

We had lots of luck today:

Pete Catches Flounder Without Any Holes

The ocean was empty of boat traffic this morning – possibly because the weather forcasters said there would be rain and thundershowers popping up.  After the downpours of yesterday afternoon, people were probably leary of venturing out on the ocean.

The south coast had been getting rollers from the storms so we decided to go north.  We were lucky to get super weather.  The fog and haze burned off by about 10 AM and the trip up the river was refreshingly cooled by a northerly breeze.

Linda G. and Myanna were with us along with LD.  Pete and Veronica were crew.  The Captain rested his new knee and I drove the boat.

We settled into Lanesville Shores’  Tide Rock for the first dive.  The stormy weather had stirred up the bottom, so the visibility was marginal on the surface.  At 30 feet, however, it was chilly and clear – about 15-20 feet of visibility.  The specifics were between 48 and 52 on the bottom, depending on how deep you went.  Up in the shallows, the temps were much milder – 57 degrees, but visibility of only about 10 feet.

The hunters were  happy with the site, but I wanted to try somewhere else for the second dive.

We ended by moving up the coast to Folly Point’s little inlet.

Peter was willing to try to catch some flounder by hand while I videoed it.  He was extraordinarily successful!  It worked great during the first three times he tried it.  Little did I know that he’d had results in only about 1 in 10 attempts in the past.  Maybe these flounder wanted to be in movies.

The hunters liked this place too, so everyone was pleased with the day.

Ominous Clouds Overspreading

July 10, 2010

The weather people got it wrong.  The morning wasn’t overcast and foggy.  It was crystal blue and clear.  And it was getting hotter, if that was possible.

They were also predicting thunderstorms in the afternoon.  There they didn’t miss.

With a light breeze coming in from the south, we decided to go north and up the river.  We had Jacki K., LD, Steve Gates, and Kevin and Linsley Mordasky on board today, with Pete as crew.  The Captain reveled in being able to get back in the water.  I drove the boat.  Although I had hoped to get to Thacher Island, the breeze was freshening and there were low rollers coming in from the southeast as we turned the corner at Halibut Point.  We decided to settle for Gully Point instead.

It was comfortable on the boat and the breeze had picked up a little with lots of cooling effects in the bargain.  We saw many kayakers coming out of Rockport Harbor and passing by on their way out to the end of Straitsmouth Island.  We saw a little, gray inflatable with three divers behind us in about 50 feet of water.

We were anchored in about 30 feet and the divers reported visibility of about 15 feet and temps that ranged from 48 in 60 feet (behind the boat) to about 52 in 25 feet (in front of the boat).  Everyone noticed the cold.  The Mordasky’s saw several flounder up in the shallows.  They also saw filmy, soft-looking sea weed covering the many rocks.  The hunters got some prey.

The second dive was back around the point to Lanesville Shores.  I dropped anchor in about 15 feet because we were over a boulder.  The drop off was pretty dramatic but cold again.  There were no dogfish around today.

As we were ending the second dive, a line of clouds darkened and deepened until a brisk breeze started from the north.  It made us swing on the anchor 180 degrees.  We hustled the remaining divers aboard and hot-footed it back to the marina where we practiced using long lines to get us back into the slip.  They worked fine.

Tomorrow should be fun too.

Kettle and Egg

July 5, 2010

The fun just never stops around here.  More heat.  More humidity.  More sweaty undergarments for dry suits.

The Captain has moved to a Mares semi-dry as his exposure suit du jour.  The other one with the attached hood was made for a diver who was 6’1″ or less.  6’3″ feels squoshed into it, he says.  He was an especially happy diver today after the first site – Kettle Island’s west side.  It was warm  – in the high 50s – up in the shallows.  It was very clear – ~ 20 feet.  Jacki K. and Sandy saw stripers up there.  Andy and John Bulman buddied for hunting purposes.  Pete and LD were also hunting for Pete’s upcoming cookout – “anytime after 4 o’clock.”  Pat had ear issues after two days of diving, so she was the lookout.

After an idyllic session at Kettle, we headed to Egg Rock’s east side for the second dive.

How could it get so much colder just 1/2 mile away?  Pete said it was 52 on the bottom, but I think I also heard him say that the lobsters were wearing mittens.  The tide was coming in and I saw a thermocline at about 30 feet.  Seaweed drifted through the many fissures and crevasses around the dive site.   I used up the rest of my tank from yesterday and was noting a fogging in the view finder of my video camera.  It sure reflected the difference between the air and the sea water.

We were happy with the little sea breeze that came up after noon.  It made the trip back into the marina bearable.  The car registered 82 degrees as we headed out for ‘dogs and ‘burgers at Chez Pete.

The rest of the poor people were suffering 100 degree temperatures inland.