Archive for September, 2011

Another Perspective

September 26, 2011

LD sent me some pictures he’d taken on dive trips this weekend:

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Another Take on the Day by Saint Atlantis

September 26, 2011

Read what Veronica had to say about the day here.

A “10”

September 26, 2011

Again, it was supposed to be completely cloudy with a chance of rain.  Or not.  Depended on the weather forecaster.

We left the house with the plan to go to Kettle Island with Linda Giles, Myanna, Alex Shure, and LD with Pete, Pat, and Veronica as crew.

By the time we got to Gloucester Harbor, I could hear the fog horn and couldn’t see very far across the water.  Rut-row, as Linsley Mordasky would say.  Time to dig out the GPS and see it if had any battery life left.  We knew we would be fine as soon as we rounded Magnolia Point because we’d already checked that out.

As we loaded the folk and their gear, the sky started to brighten.  No blue patches (see yesterday), but definitely lighter.

By the time we cleared the Blynman Bridge into the harbor, the fog had retreated all the way across to Eastern Point and our way was clear.  Very few other boats were out.  Perhaps the fog put them off.

We anchored in about 30 feet of water off the SW corner of Kettle Island for the first dive.  There were hunters and there were videographers.  I used 1500 lbs and didn’t see anything unusual.  There were a pair of big claws sticking out of a hole very near the anchor, so I hoped it had already been checked and found to be too big, too pregnant, V-Notched, etc.

I chose Egg Rock for the second dive because the conditions seemed perfect.  Everyone on board was self-sufficient and experienced.  No passing boat traffic would make the surface wait uncomfortable.  No raging current would make the exploring arduous.  No surge would make the rocks dangerous.

I suited up with my Atlan, my light weight belt and took my camera to see if I could shoot the cave from inside, facing out.  You see there’s an iconic feature of Egg Rock.  It’s a cave that is high and dry at low tide.  Unfortunately, today was high tide that had just turned an hour ago.  My trip over was uneventful, even if I did  have to go around the point that we warned everyone to stay inside.  Funny though, I spotted Linda and Myana hunting below the cave’s entrance.  I shot some footage of their efforts as I moved above them to the cave’s entrance.  Ah, yes-s-s.  High-ish tide.  There was an entrance, but it was severely under water.  I braced myself against the surge and turned to align the cave’s edge so the autofocus wouldn’t lose itself in the gloom straight out into the ocean.  Who knows, it might work.

The trip back to the boat was against the outgoing tide and it was quite a chug.  I was overheating in the dry suit.  As I slipped off my mitts, I could feel my hands were hot too.  What a surprise.  As yesterday, the water was 61 degrees – even down to 45 feet, according to Peter.

Everyone raved about their dive as they got back on board.  Linda declared it a “10.”  I certainly agree.

The day as well as the dive and the people on board.

All “10s.”

Enough Blue to Make a Pair of Dutchman’s Britches

September 24, 2011

A sailor would know the weather was clearing if there was enough blue in the sky to make a pair of Dutchman’s britches.  How much blue is that, you would ask?  Ah, well.  That’s where experience counts.

We had a day of predicted rain and cloud cover.  The rain held off and the cloud cover couldn’t get its act together.  There were high, white cirrus clouds:

Cirrus clouds

Then, under them, were roiling gray waves of moisture – nimbostratus:

Nimbostratus clouds

Nimbostratus clouds

It was surprising to see small patches of blue peeking between the big billows of dark.

So we went to Folly Cove with LD, Pete, The Captain and me.

We dived to find more friendly flounders for the video and to take any additional footage that happened along.  Pete was scootering and returned to report he’d spent almost 1/2 hour underwater and used only 800 lbs of air.  LD shot cunners going crazy over a former sea urchin.  I waited for the second dive to get into my newly dry Atlan (thanks to Margaret of United Divers who repaired the neck seal).

Pete and I picked the second site just outside the point at Folly, but before N*ked Man Beach.  The water was about 25 feet deep over boulders and crevasses with lots of hiding places for critters.  The water was 61 degrees and cloudy above the thermocline and very clear below it.  But you had to pay the price of temperature in the low 50s to experience it.  I decided to stay warm.

I found an abandoned lobster trap and teased out a big decorator crab who posed quietly for the video camera.  What fun.

We returned to the marina without any rain having happened.

Good day.

Wreck of the USF NH and Coolidge Point

September 18, 2011

We offered a trip on Easy Diver to the Northshore Frogmen for a raffle prize and the winner, John M. , and his sister, Andrea, were with us today.  We also had Joe Stark and Bill Low onboard.  The crew was Pat Walsh, Pete Donahue, and Veronica Atlantis.  Fred and I were happy to be along for the ride.

Since he’d never been there, we decided to take John to the wreck of the US Frigate New Hampshire.

The wind was from the east again and the rollers had made the trip down from Gloucester Harbor interesting because of the following sea.  We fish-tailed some a lot.

Pete led the group of Joe, John and Andrea over to the wreck site from our anchorage on the calm side of Graves Island.  The wind, waves and incoming tide were combined at the point of the island to make it a surgy, swirling ocean’s edge.  He navigated far enough away from that mess to have visibility in 10 foot range with water temp in the upper 50s.  Some people got treasure, some encountered raw nature,  and others collected shells.  I heard there was a super, too-big lobster involved, but don’t know much more than that.

The sun just wouldn’t stay out, so it got cold between dives.

I decided the best site for the second dive was behind the shelter of Coolidge Point, near Saddle Rock.  As we were getting set up for the second dive, a fisherman came over to request help retrieving his anchor which was stuck in 14 feet of water behind Kettle.  Pete was on it in a flash.  He suited up and then left with the fishermen as we continued to help the rest of the divers get into the water.

I remembered helping this same fellow because of his southern accent and yellow hull.  He agreed that it had been two years ago.

The Captain got wet this time too in order to get some footage for next year’s movie and to check the new zinc on the tip of the shaft.

Veronica went in for a second dive in order to reorient folk who had gotten turned around from our suggested dive plan.  Then Pete joined them after his triumphant return and led the way over to the Saddle Rock environs.

All was right with the world when Veronica’s snacks surfaced.  A turkey sandwich for The Captain and legal spinach sandwiches for the rest of us.  What a treat!

The ride back was better than the trip down because Easy Diver is designed to take a heavy sea over the bow.  I kept the RPMs low so it wouldn’t be too uncomfortable for the passengers and the cameras.

High tide = easy gear schleppage back to our cars.  WooHoo!

Nice people.

Fun day.

Bemo Ledge and Salt Island

September 17, 2011

Hurricane Maria was passing Cape Ann this weekend, although far out to sea.  Nevertheless, she left large, low rollers for us that were advancing from the southeast.

As a plus, there was a stiff northwest breeze in the 15 knot range.

We only had stalwart, hardy folk on board today so we decided south was the lesser of two evils.  The Captain wanted to video at Bemo Ledge, so we headed out in that direction – through Gloucester Harbor and take a hard left at the Dog Bar breakwater.  As we neared Brace Cove, I could see combers cresting over the actual ledge.  I knew Fred meant he wanted to anchor near the silo on land and not at the actual rocky outcropping, so we dropped anchor in about 25 feet of water within spitting distance of that observatory/landmark.

Pete and Bill Low were hunting and exploring, respectively.  Pat and I were hanging out. The Captain was back into his Atlan dry suit, which, it turns out, wasn’t.  I didn’t mind the rocking and rolling too much because the wind was shifting to the east and that meant we were taking it almost bow on.

The water reports were that it was surgey and had lots of suspended debris from the wave action.  Not so good for filming.  As they surfaced, the hunting report was that “they all had eggs.”  The water was either 59, 57 or 54, depending on whose gauge you believed.  It also had lots to do with the incoming tide and how deep they got, of course.  Visibility was about 10 feet.

I wanted to try out my new neck seal from United Divers‘ Margaret.  I wanted clearer and still water for my shot at some usable footage.  I lobbied hard for the back side of Salt Island.  I won because no one had anywhere that they thought would be any better.

Salt Island from Shore

When we anchored behind the rock, I could see the outline of rocks against the white sand.  Bingo!  Plus, there was absolutely no white, frothy water breaking against the rock itself.  Bingo x2!  Although it was shallow against the rocks if you went to the left, it was 20 feet and dropping as you went right.  Of course, that meant you were going into the surge, waves and cold water as well.

As Veronica says, it was one of those last good diving days of summer – the next to the last cookie in the bag.  You have to lick your finger and gather up the crumbs because you don’t want it to end.  I spent almost an hour in the bright, clear water in my absolutely dry Atlan.  Toasty and dry.  What a concept.

The water was warmer and clearer at this site and there was no surge.  I’ll leave it at that.  Ahem.

Good day with great folk.

Evidence, We Got Evidence

September 12, 2011

Linda and Kerry Hurd sent along some frame grabs from the video Kerry shot on Saturday, September 10th.

The critter is a torpedo ray.

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I Couldn’t Have Said It Any Better

September 11, 2011

Thanks, Veronica.


Two Pictures from Linda and Kerry Hurd of Today’s Trip

September 10, 2011

Hot off the interpresses:

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Who’d a’ Thunk It?

September 10, 2011

We had lots of factors working against us today:

  1. The remnants of Hurricane Katia off shore producing 2-4 foot seas on the south shore of the island
  2. A 10-15 knot wind from the north east
  3. The after effects of three days of rain from Tropical Storm Lee
We needed somewhere that had the best visibility possible.

Luckily our passengers were all easy-going types and were happy just to be getting wet.  Kevin and Linsley Mordasky (who had gone four days without electricity in their Connecticut home), Linda and Kerry Hurd (who had only had sporadic power outage last week in their New Hampshire and Vermont homes), Alex Shure and Alan Hicks.   We found the best site to be behind Kettle Island in about 30 feet of water.

Peter reported it was 59 degrees at 30 feet with about 15 feet of visibility.  Kerry, Alex and I were shooting video.  Alan had his still camera.  Kevin and Linsley were exploring.  We decided to make both dives in the same spot because there wasn’t going to be anywhere any better.

Thanks to Alex, we have some topside shots of the intrepid group:

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The day was warm and sunny and there was lots of laughing.

Oh, yeah.  And Kerry found a torpdeo ray that stayed around for over 20 minutes.   Can’t wait to see that footage.

Better day than I expected it to be with very nice people.