Archive for September, 2010

Snotty

September 26, 2010

What a contrast with yesterday!

The morning started partly cloudy and, as the day progressed, the sun left the building, kinda like Elvis.  And the breeze became more than that.

Peter and Pat took Bill Low to the outside of Kettle Island.  Pete reported seeing his first school of pollack of the season.  The site had huge cracks and one housed a sea robin.

What started as a pleasant morning, turned bumpy and uncomfortable by the time they’d finished their dive.

We heard from the folk that were at the Bay State Council’s Treasure Hunt dive in Half Moon Beach that the water was 60 degrees there.  Visibility was murky.  Here’s what the little beach looks like earlier in the year:

Half Boom Beach, photo by Jay Albert

Half Moon Beach in Early Spring, photo by Jay Albert

We had fun with the combined dive clubs’ picnic at Stage Fort Park.

But the day continued to worsen.

A little exploratory walk with Kerry Hurd up the stone steps from the beach exposed us to the unabated northeast wind.  It was downright COLD.  I have my windbreaker zipped up all the way and was wearing the hood too by the time we returned to the sheltered area with the other picnickers.

Can this really be the end of summer as we know it?

Say it ain’t so, Joe.

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Pointed

September 25, 2010

September 25th and it was 85 degrees.  Not on our morning drive around the cape, of course, but later in the day.  It’s hard not to think about the cold weather to come.  This was a gift.

We had Steve Gates, JM, and Nicole K. (a friend from the commuter rail that The Captain rides back and forth to Worcester).  We also had Pete and Pat as crew.

The wind was predicted to be coming from the WSW and we decided to go north to have the calmest conditions.  I’m still shooting video for this year’s movie and we need more footage.

As we rounded the tippy tip of Folly Cove, sharp-new-contacts-eyed Pat Walsh spotted a seal watching our progress.  It stayed on the surface long enough for the whole boat to marvel at it.

We settled in just around the point of Folly Cove in the shelter of the rocks there.  The water was 28 feet deep under the boat.  I knew there were steep drop offs nearby, so we didn’t know exactly what the depth would be if they went down the downline, but it should be pretty and clear because the surface was flat.

Pete and JM went exploring.  Steve Gates and I were diving alone, but within sight of the boat.  I hit 55 feet.  Later, Pete said it was 59 degrees on the surface and 55 on the bottom.  The tide was coming in, so the bottom had the clearest water too.

I saw schools of cunner up in the shallows.  They have a reddish hue and look like this picture of some that I got off the internet:

Photo from the Internet by Stephen T.

School of Cunner

They are kind of inquisitive and travel in groups this time of year.  Folly Point had lots today.

JM and Peter held a sea robin.  We also saw crabs and starfish as well as a northern red anemone.

We made both dives at this same site because it was easier than moving to somewhere else that might not be as good.

By the time we hauled anchor (actually Nicole did that heavy lifting), the wind had shifted to more SW and we had an easy return to the marina.  Nicole docked the boat with Pete’s help.

Thanks to her for the Dunkin Donuts goodies.  We all had to have some munchkins to keep them from falling into the wrong hands.

Super day.

Fun, nice people.

Is It Eye-Gore or EEE-Gore?

September 19, 2010

Either way, Hurricane Igor whipped up the seas today.  It was even bouncier on the south and east side of the cape.

So we went north again.

This time we had Bill Low, Pete, me and The Captain.

We started deep into Folly Cove to get the best visibility possible for the set up shot The Captain was planning.  The tide had just turned and the water was 59 on the surface and 55 on the bottom.  It was murky however.

Peter took off on his scooter and made it across the cove and back again on only 500 psi of air.  There was lots of terrain to cover.  Bill made an hour’s dive and wasn’t even cold at the end.

We heard Jacki K. call out to us from the stony beach where lots of divers had gathered.  At one point, we counted eight dive flags that all had a yellow buoy and wondered if they had all been bought from the same source.  The cove was echoing with voices of divers as they talked on the surface or called to each other.  Neat.

We went around the corner for the second dive, but Lanesville Shores had surges and waves breaking all along it.

I headed even further into the corner and settled on Davis Neck because it had good lobstering and looked calm enough for good visibility.  Well, I was 1/2 right.  Pete scootered around the site and saw lots of too big and mother lobsters.  It’s hard to understand how he could do that when I had 5 foot visibility right under the boat.

There were neat chasms in rows towards the rocky shore, but the water was full of straw shards.  The bottom  had lots of trash strewn in the silt.  It wasn’t scenic at all.  But it was different.  We haven’t dived this site in many years.

I saw a sea robin vertical in a crack and tried to take his/her picture.  You could almost see its eye register DANGER!  It did a double-take and swam off up the rock face.

Here’s what it looked like:

We had no trouble getting back into the slip even though the southeasterly wind had picked up considerably.

Good day with good friends.

Ray, The Torpedo

September 18, 2010

No, I don’t mean the mafia hitman.

Two of today’s customers, Linda C. and Patty D., saw a torpedo ray during the first dive off Lanesville Shores.  Linda said she was trying to think of a signal for the thing and mimicked being shocked with electricity: ZZZ-zzz-ZZZ.   This sound, combined with clenched fists jerking in front of her body, was the image she came up with.  Works for me.

Here’s a picture of one that I found on the internet to give you an idea of what they saw:

Torpdeo Ray (image found on the internet)

Bill Low and JM were the others on board, along with Pete, The Captain, and me.  We were just cruising around, looking for stuff, and never noticed the exotic intruder.  The visibility was between 10 and 15 feet, depending on how far southwest you ventured on your dive.  The further you went, the worse it got.

The water was warmish at 63 on the surface and 59 on the bottom.  Thanks to Hurricane Igor, there was surge and murky water.  It wasn’t too bad on this side of the cape, but the south and east sides had crashing waves.  We felt lucky to get in at all.

We chose the second dive site after driving all the way down to S&M and finding the north wind’s fetch made it bouncy and uncomfortable.  So, we motored back up to the lee of Halibut Point for more protected surroundings.  Here JM and Pete and I went lobstering.  It was JM’s final dive for his scuba certification and he caught lobsters under Peter’s guidance.  He’s a natural.

The tide was out on our trip back to the marina and we saw a large blue-hulled sailboat get hung up on the sandbar that has been trapping boats all summer.  It’s right near the big bridge that brings Route 128 onto the cape.  He was savvy enough to turn quickly and got back into the channel without our help.

Good day.

Nice people.

Cathy Myers

September 17, 2010

As many of you already know, one of our dear friends, Cathy Myers, died last Friday night.

Veronica wrote about Cathy and her husband, Billy,  on her blog.

I found this picture of them from a dive off Easy Diver in 2005:

Billy and Cathy Myers

Can you tell they’re both smiling broadly?  Click on the picture to em-biggen it.

That’s the way they always were.  Happy to be together – happy to be underwater.

That’s the way I’ll remember them.

The Slippery Slope

September 12, 2010

It was positively dreary this morning – and cold.  Driving around the cape, I wore my windbreaker in the truck.  Not a good sign.  It was cloudy too.  With wind blowing from the east 10-15 with promises to gust to 20 knots in the afternoon.  Sheesh.  East is a bad direction for us.  We don’t have many sites that are protected from it.

So we decided to try the north side of the island, which has more possibilities than going south.

It was low tide, but not dead low.  There was water flowing past the channel buoys as we rounded them.  Not many people were out, but we saw a small power boat aground on the picnicing side of Wingaersheek Beach.  Maybe it slipped its mooring or lost its anchorage during the night.  No one was around it.

We entered Essex Bay and headed for Lanesville Shores.   Passing Lanes Cove, I noticed the swells building.   The cemetery sites would be too bumpy with this sea.  We kept going and landed at the little cove next to the Folly Cove Restaurant.

The boat was full with Linda and Kerry Hurd, Bill Low, Ben Perkins and two of his friends.  Pete and Veronica were crew.  The Captain was himself.  I tried to stay dry and out of the wind.

The anchor was right next to the wall and the boat was taking the sea broadside.  It wasn’t comfortable for those of us who would be topside.  The divers were quickly ready and stepped off the platform smartly.

Bill Low made an hour’s dive.  So did most of the others.  Pete and Kerry tried The Captain’s passing shot again with Pete on the scooter.  Veronica and I were too smart to get wet.

Pete reported that it was 63 on the surface and 58 on the bottom, but the visibility was murky and 15 feet.  Bill reported that it was surgy on the bottom, too.  Kerry was happy with the wall for videography, though.  He had a rock gunnel that was willing to pose, as well as critters in the nooks and crannies of the granite.  He even saw a butterfly fish in the extreme shallows.  The poor tropical thing was probably trying to get warm.

We saw other divers entering the water from the rocky beach, but no other dive boats were around.

We took a vote and agreed that it would be better to have the rest of the afternoon free than to make a second dive in the same spot.  We gave everyone 1/2 off the dive price, as a result.

The trip home was uneventful, except that we waved to Mary Scalli from the river and noticed that she’s getting a new roof – on a Sunday, yet.  She must know someone.

The ramp was flat as we lumbered up it.  That’s OK with me.

Nice people on a not so nice slippery slope to that four-letter word – Fall.

Fall is Coming

September 11, 2010

You could feel it as we drove around this morning.  It was actually chilly.

The weatherman said there would be a sea breeze developing with its east wind building to 15-20 knots.  That wouldn’t be much fun.  So we went south to hide behind Graves Island for the first dive.

When we got there, Fran Linnehan and his scuba charter boat, Down Under, was already moored near the wreck, as was another dive boat further off shore.  That was OK with us because we wanted clearer, calmer water.  We motored far into the cove and anchored in about 15 feet of water, near the rocks.  This would give our divers the best possible clarity.

Today we had a full boat with Kevin and Linsley Mordasky, Pat and Karen Hatcher, Alan Hicks, and Joe Stark.  Crew were Pete and Pat.  Cecil B. DeCalhoun directed the action and I drove the boat.

The water was warm enough at 63 degrees, but the clarity was not that great at 15 feet.  The tide was coming in, so the bottom was colder that the surface.

As we pulled anchor for the second dive, the sea breeze kicked in.

We settled on Saddle Rock, just off Coolidge Point for the second site.  This jumble of boulders is very scenic and just a little deeper at 30 feet.  Pete and Kevin worked on getting the scooter passing shot that The Captain is lusting after.  Karen went exploring on her own as did Linsley.  Alan and Joe were a buddy team.  It seemed everyone was enjoying the sun and sea.

The divers reported lots of baby lobsters and moon snails.

The tide was so high when we got back to the slip that we almost had to step down onto the concrete jetty at the top of the ramp.  I like it like this at the end of the day.  Makes schlepping the gear a piece of cake.

Speaking of cake, the customers were all sweeties.

I don’t want the summer to end.

Warm Water

September 6, 2010

Would you believe it was 68 degrees on the surface and 66 degrees on the bottom for our second dive today?

Let me start at the beginning.

We finally got a break in the wave/wind/surge action.  Hurricane Earl had churned stuff up, but today looked like it would be doable if we went north.  We’d driven around the cape, looking for good conditions, and settled on the Folly Cove area as being best.

We had Bill Low, Pat and Peter as crew with The Captain on guard and me driving the boat.  There was lots of company as the day wore on.  People were grabbing the last cookie in the cookie jar of summer, to paraphrase Veronica Atlantis, another of our crew.

I anchored at Folly Point in about 60 feet of water, but with the anchor resting against the rocky wall in about 30 feet.  Bill Low and I were charged by Capt. Cecil B. DeCalhoun to get some video shots of him on the electric scooter.  We were hard-pressed to stay within sight of each other, due to the cloudy conditions.  But the water was warm and calm.  Two outa three ain’t bad.  Bill scootered over and beneath me several times and had to execute tight turns.  The water got more silty as he did.

After about 1500 lbs of that, we called it quits and I surfaced to mid-summer.  Hot, but not humid.  Cloudless skies.  Whew.  Pete said it had been 50 degrees at 60 feet.

The second dive was near Tide Rock in the Lanesville Shores section of Gloucester.  This time, I just took the camera and let everyone else do their own thing.  The neck seal on my dry suit has two punctures where my nails have torn the neoprene.  It leaks like a sieve through those holes.  I hardly noticed it until I got undressed and had to wring out my underwear.

The water was clearer on this dive – 10-15 feet in the shallows.  Bill Low saw a northern pipefish, with Pete described as a straightened-out sea horse:"A pipefish is a straightened-out sea horse"

The web obviously agrees with him.  I saw a black sea bass, I think.   It was bigger than the biggest cunner and black all over.  The cunners were curious about the wide angle lens on my camera and came very close to check it out.

I drained my second tank and surfaced reluctantly.

What a super time.

Great folk too.

Still Earl-ish

September 5, 2010

Too bumpy to go out.

Darn.

Earl Was Here

September 4, 2010

No diving today because the seas are too riled up.

Plus there’s a stiff breeze from the SW.

No where to go and no easy way to get back into the slip.

Darn.