Archive for August, 2010

Tropicals are Here

August 31, 2010

I forgot to tell you that Veronica saw a juvenile banded butterfly fish on Sunday’s dive in Manchester.

Seems a local fisherman caught a trigger fish recently.

Maybe the weekend’s storms will bring more.

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Photographic Proof

August 29, 2010

LD was right all along:

Videoing a Humpback Whale off Folly Point

Frame grab from Pete’s video session.

Bouncy

August 29, 2010

Nowhere looked great on our ride around the cape this morning.  Surge was the order of the day.  Some places had more and some less, but all were sloshing mightily.

As the breeze picked up around 9:30, we decided to go south, back to Kettle Island, at least for the first dive.  We had Meg T., Bill Low, Linda and Myanna, and DK.  Veronica and Pete were crew.

The day was going to get hot, they said, and it surely did.

Visibility at Kettle was down from yesterday.  Bill reported it to be between 5 and 10 feet.  It was still warm, however.  Folks saw stripers in the shallows and a sea raven deeper.  Linda and Myanna found a bag with two short lobsters in it as well as a weight pouch a ways away.  We let the lobsters go and kept the weight.

MT lost one of her weight pouches as she handed it up to Pete.  We tagged Veronica for the Search and Recovery dive.  She found it and received cheers from all aboard.  The breeze had just about died by the end of the dive.

For the second site, we motored around Egg Rock, into the shelter of Graves Island, and then settled on Divers’ Leap, off Coolidge Point for the dive.  No where else seemed good enough.  The tide was coming in, but the water was still very warm.  Silty and cloudy visibility kept it from being super conditions.  Veronica said this site was better than Kettle, though.

I had stripped down to my bathing suit and was standing under the Sun Shower by the end of the dive.  Passing power boats on their way to lunch in Kettle Cove (a.k.a. Black Beach) were the source of lots of wake.  Everyone wanted to take advantage of one of the last weekends of summer.  Our boat swung on the anchor 180 degrees in the lee of the bluff.

It felt good to get underway for home.  It felt even better to learn that the Blynman bridge, which had been out of commission for 3.5 hours while we were out, was back in full working order as high tide clocked in.  Thank goodness!  I know we’d have been off on a circumnavigation of the island if it hadn’t been working.

Hot day.

Nice people.

63 Degrees

August 28, 2010

All the way to the bottom at 30 feet.  That’s what Pete’s gauge said.  I had guessed 57 degrees.

What a great day!

We had JM, a student in basic scuba, for his second trip.  Pat and Peter were crew.  The Captain maintained high standards and I drove the boat.

After four days of a nor’easter riled the ocean up pretty good, we were thrilled to see that the south shore was calm-ish.  That meant that the visibility might be OK-ish.  No promises.  No guarantees.  Four days of heavy runoff and 12 foot seas had been no fun at all.

As we powered under the Blynman Bridge, we could see calm harbor water.  It was an easy ride down to the back side of Kettle Island.  I anchored behind “Bug” Catcher out of Pittsfield, MA, in about 30 feet of water.

Pete and JM got their dive plans organized and I suited up for some video.  My dry suit was completely dried out for a change, although the water-tight zipper has tendrils of thread that need to be singed off.

The drop to the sand was a surprise because the water seemed warmer than I had remembered.  I was wearing XL gloves because that’s what was in my gear bag instead of my own size smalls.  (I wonder where they went)

The fuzzy visibility stabilized at about 10-15 feet on the shell littered bottom.

I found the left-handed lobzilla that Pat had videoed last weekend.  It had a nice veranda of white shells pushed into place outside its hole.  It served as a beacon for me to find it again after wandering around to see what else was out and about.

Pete and JM finished skills practice and we all decided to just stay here for the second dive too.  Nowhere else was likely to have better conditions.

We dived again and I found LHL again and was able to video it from the side against the rocky face of its high-rise.  Its ripper claw was nearest to me and it was neat to see it shoveling the sand, excavating as it moved closer.  It actually came out to see what I was doing, advanced on the camera, and then retreated.

Our trip ended with a high tide return to the marina with no problems docking in the southwesterly breeze.

Super day.

Great friends.

We wish Pat great tidings of joy on Martha’s Vineyard for her week of vacation.  We miss her already.

A Whale of a Day

August 22, 2010

Yup.

We saw a whale today.

It was a first for us.  We’ve never seen one around Cape Ann in 35 years of chartering for scubas here.

Lucky for us, we had Hawkeye LD aboard, along with Joe Stark and Bill Low.  Pete and Pat were crew with The Captain at attention.  I drove.

We were a little put off by the weather – cloudy, dreary, overcast, gloomy, with periods of wetness.  No wind to speak of, but we went north because the predictions were that it would come up by the afternoon from the south and then the east.  There was also the Run Gloucester road race and Nelson’s Ride along the harbor today.  We figured the Blynman Bridge would be busy with land traffic.  We’ll just miss all that by going up the river.

As we slowed on approach to Lanesville Shores, Hawkeye saw a spout and rounded black back of a whale just off Folly Point.  He took a lot of guff from those of us who said it was probably a seal, whales wouldn’t come so close to shore.  Then I saw another blow and a black back further along towards Folly Cove’s mouth.  Yup.  It was a whale.  A humpback.

We followed it slowly as it surfaced several more times on its way northeast.  As it cleared Halibut Point, my anorak was flapping in the breeze and it was getting mistier.  Everyone had cameras and were on the bow to catch one last glimpse of the wonderful thing as it left the area.  What a treat!

The diving commenced after we powered back to our original first site pick.  Pete reported it was 59 degrees on the surface and near that on the bottom.  Visibility wasn’t great on the surface, but the bottom clarity was fine.  Pete and Joe found flounders that wouldn’t flinch at a touch from a lobster poker, but jumped from the gentle pressure of a gloved finger.  Wonder why.

Our second site was S&M outside Plum Cove.  It was about 25 feet to the bottom and a bit murky compared to other places we’ve been.

We watched a large boat come close from the open ocean, deposit passengers in a small outboard it had been towing, and head out to sea again.  The outboard proceeded into the mouth of the Annisquam.  We guessed they were guests being returned to land.

The rain became steadier as we pulled anchor for  home.  I drove from the flying bridge and got soaked.

Today wasn’t in the least measured by the weather.

Rather by the length (Peter said it was 40 feet long) of our whale visitor.

We’ll all have quite a story to tell at work tomorrow.

Boys and Their Toys

August 21, 2010

We had a great group today who were up for anywhere at all.  Linsley and Kevin Mordasky, Linda M., Linda and Kerry Hurd, and LD didn’t much care where we went.  They were just glad to get wet.  Peter and Pat were crew with The Captain giving us directions and dimensions.  I drove the boat.

We’d driven around Cape Ann earlier and felt that going south would give us the clearest and calmest conditions.  There was hardly any wind at all.  Pete recommended the northeast corner of Egg Rock for the first dive.  It turned out to be a super site with lots of wreckage and remnants of a shipwreck right under the boat in about 30 feet of water.  No one found the heavy duty chain links that we knew were here too.  We watched Pete power around on his new scooter.  He was gracious enough to let anyone try it who wanted to.  Of course, everyone did.

It was 57 on the surface and 55 on the bottom at 30 feet, according to Pete.  Linsley said they saw lots of stripers up against the wall.  Kerry and LD were videoing anything that moved.

The second site was Kettle Island’s west side.  I could tell it was calm and hoped it would have clear water too.  Everyone was quick to get in for the second dive and to look for Lobzilla who we had filmed last time we were here.

I don’t know if Pat Walsh found the real guy, but she shot another really big one using The Captain’s camera.  If its right claw is a crusher, then it might pass muster as the stunt double.  Haven’t compared videos yet.

This site was without any decorator crabs today, but was still scenic and placid.  Just the way I like ’em.

The trip up the river was against an outgoing tide, but it wasn’t too tough to navigate.  The little sailboat ahead of us had its work cut out for it, though.  And the big whale watching boat from the Cape Ann Marina waited patiently for lots of little boats to fight their way into the river before he powered out for a trip.

Easy docking in a southeast wind.

Good day.

Nice people.

Lanesville Shores and S&M

August 15, 2010

We had the weatherman’s promise that today would be just like yesterday, only warmer and more humid.  I think he only got part of it right.  There was less sun, and more clouds, but only a smidge more humidity.

We had SM again, Bill Low, LD, Diane K., and Richard Brandolini on board with Veronica Atlantis, Peter Donahue and Pat Walsh as crew.  Pete was diving with Diane and chose Lanesville Shores for the first dive site.  It was about 20 feet deep as we set the anchor between Tide Rock and the place we call N*ked Man Beach.

Just as the last person descended, we noticed divers on the surface quite a ways out to sea.  Their float seemed to be racing away with the wind and one took off to catch it.  The other started swimming into shore on the surface.  I got into the inflatable and rowed out to the furthest diver who was also swimming on the surface, but without using his scuba regulator.  He was able to catch the float before I got to him, but he did agree to hang onto my boat and relax for a few minutes.

It turns out his name was Max and the other diver was his 14 year old son, Ivan.  They were from Westfield.  After a little while, we started back towards the shore and the boat.  I rowed; Max swam on his back, towing the float.  He really was doing fine by this time, so we parted company and I started rowing – against the wind – back towards the boat.

About 1/2 there, I was met by Pat and Veronica who were there to help me get headway against the tide and breeze.  Lifesavers.  They towed, I rested.

At the boat, I saw that Ivan had been convinced to come aboard for a rest too.  He saw his dad approaching, so Pat and he swam to shore on the surface, on their backs.  We realized he’d left his weight belt on board, so we hailed Max to come over to pick it up in his float.  He then followed Ivan and Pat in towards the rocks.

By this time, every one was back on board, so we took off for the second site.

Pete picked S&M, a little west of Lanes Cove.  You know you’re there if you’re just seaward of a large brown house with an “S” on its shingled second story.  The “M” on the neighboring house has weathered so it’s only an “N” now.  Everyone went in for a second dive.  It was quick for some and more lengthy for the hardy ones.

The sky was off and on cloud-covered.  The breeze felt downright chilly at times.  I had tomato, spinach and “legal” cheese in pita pouches from V’s generosity and garden.  Ambrosia.

Peter and Diane reported another huge lobster that was too big to take.  They’re everywhere, it seems.

Breezy ride down the river.

Easy docking, though, because the of the southeasterly breeze.

We had fun today.

Oh, darn.  We have to go to work tomorrow.

Lobzilla

August 15, 2010

Here’s a picture of Pat Walsh, one of our crew, that was taken by LD, one of our regular customers:

Pat Walsh wrestling lobzilla

Its crusher claw was two times the size of her gloved right hand.

Sheesh.

Folly Cove’s Beach, Wall and The Restaurant

August 14, 2010

All in one day.

We had a beginner, JM, and a visiting patron from Dallas Edmiston’s shop in Buffalo, SM, as well as regulars Jacki K., LD, and Divemaster in training, Alan Hicks, with a stiff southeasterly breeze predicted.

I needed somewhere that would suit everyone, and Folly Cove was it.  JM and I swam the inflatable filled with gear into stand-up water at the rocky beach and started on the basics.  He’d rented a great one-piece suit from Paul Adler’s East Coast Divers and it fit him really well.  He got the concepts quickly and we proceeded to snorkel diving, snorkel clearing, (oops, fin retrieval), and surface dives.

Everyone else made their first dive along the wall at Calf Cove and beyond.  The visibility was OK, water temperature was 57.  Air temp was in the 70s.

We got into tanks and weight belts for regulator and mask clearing.  No problem-o.   OK.  Onward and upward – or downward in our case.  We towed the inflatable back to the boat on scuba from underwater.  Again, no issues.

The second dive was across the cove in front of the Lobster Pool restaurant.  It was about 25 feet here and Pete took JM for his second scuba dive of the day.  They stayed under the boat and worked on getting control of JM’s buoyancy.

LD took still pictures and video of the beautiful anemones that hang out near this spot:

Anemone at Folly Cove by LD

We had success with Alan getting to ride herd on a real, live visiting diver.  JM got to experience the best of New England scuba diving right at the start of his training.  LD had fun videoing wonderful images.  Jacki got to this side of the cove for the first time this season, and Pat Walsh made quite a splash at the restaurant after she swam the inflatable into their shore, walked up the slope to their ordering desk and got The Captain and me our lunch.  Oh, yeah.  She was wearing a straw hat and her dry suit.  Kinda stopped traffic, she did.

The day was fun and full of surprises as you can tell.  By the time we were back at the marina, the breeze was kickin’ and docking was a snap because it was from the south east.  And because we’re super fantastic dockers these days.

Can’t wait to do it again tomorrow.

Photos from Last Sunday’s Dive

August 10, 2010

LD took some photos as well as video on Sunday.  They are beautiful as always.

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