Archive for October, 2011

Done for the Season

October 29, 2011

Today was a cold, raw, cloudy day.

We winterized Easy Diver and removed all our diving gear for storage over the winter.

Sad.

Can’t wait for Spring.

The Rapture?

October 23, 2011

Today we were diving on the south side of Graves Island, near the current dig site for spikes from the wreck of the USF New Hampshire.

I dropped into the water with my video camera, hoping to see something interesting.  After cruising around big boulders and down ravines, I headed shallower.

It looked like a scene from the aftermath of that religious group’s belief that the end of the world was nigh.

The Remnants of The Rapture?

The Remnants of The Rapture?

The first thing I saw was a ratty old DUI drysuit boot, smooth sole up, wedged in a crevasse.  Coming over the crest of the rock, I saw a gleaming yellow force fin with the strap slipped down below the heel.  Right next to it was a weight belt with blue webbing and a wire buckle.  Along side was a blue catch bag with critters in it.  This was downright spooky.  Did The Rapture happen today?  Was Pete elevated to heaven so quickly that this gear of his was left behind?  Nah.

Maybe he had some equipment problem and ditched everything to make it to the surface.  But why only one fin?  And why the DUI boot?

I picked up the shoe and the fin and aimed for the surface to check.

There they all were, on the stern of Easy Diver, yelling at me to stay right where I was and not to move.  Huh?

Turns out Pete had been digging out a spike when he saw a lobster that needed to be coaxed out of its hole.  During the coaxing, he unknowingly undid his weight belt buckle. As he turned to pick up the gauge on the catch bag he’d laid aside, the belt slipped off completely.  He tried to swim down to get it, but the struggle caused one of his fins to come loose.  He continued to try to swim down, but with only one fin and no belt, he didn’t make any headway.  In the process, his boot came off and drifted to the bottom just out of his reach.  I think there was an f-bomb or two as he scootered back to the boat to get another belt and fin for the recovery dive.

I came across the remnants of this episode and, as I surfaced, he realized that his take on the bearings of the stuff was off.  He needed me to stay on top of them and he’d follow my bubbles down.  OK.  Got it.

He quickly arrived on his scooter and proceeded to don the first weight belt over the second one he’d gotten from the boat.  Then he tried to put on the DUI boot, but soon gave up and shoved it into the catch bag.  As he pulled on the Force Fin, he pushed the button on his DUI suit that admits air into it.  He rose out of sight with the scooter and the catch bag.  No lobster.  No spike.

It sure had us laughing all the way back to the marina.

And later, over a Dagwood at Halibut Point restaurant, we had another good laugh as we recounted the details.

Great fun.

Super pals.

Doing a Magellan

October 22, 2011

We traveled far and wide to find a good dive site today.  In fact, we drove all around Cape Ann in the course of our search.  Hence the title of this post.

We had Bob B. and Bill Low aboard with Pete and Pat as crew.  The Captain established the direction and I drove the boat – and picked the site.  I call it Lands End, just outside Loblolly Cove in Rockport, MA.  We’d driven around earlier in the morning to see if the predicted NW wind would leave us anywhere that was relatively calm, tolerably clear, and not too deep.

When we exited the Annisquam River into Essex Bay, I noticed that the wind had picked up from the NW.  It was an outgoing tide with low at about 1:30PM.  The top side of the island didn’t look that good anymore even though it had been fine at 8AM.  So I kept going.  Past Lanesville Shores and the tip of Folly Point and on to Halibut Shores and into Rockport’s Sandy Bay.

There was breaking surf on Cathedral Rocks and down towards Granite Pier.  It didn’t look good at Gully Cove because the wind was from the NW.  So I kept going.  Through the cut at Straitsmouth Island and out towards Thacher Island.  Now there were rollers and breaking surf on the rocks at Whale Cove and the north side of Loblolly Cove too.   But it looked good on Loblolly’s other side.

So, we dropped the anchor in about 20 feet of very clear water, it turned out.  The bottom was sandy with rocky outcroppings.  I followed the remnants of several electrical cables that must have failed over the years and just been replaced with another one instead of fixing the broken one.  There was one very big lobster in a perfectly sized cave/hole.

I also saw a bevy  small silversides or sand eels being chased by a group of pollack.

The water was either 53 or 55 degrees depending on whose thermometer you believed.  All agreed that the visibility was great at 20-25 feet.  I could see the boat from the bottom at 25 feet.

The videoing wasn’t too successful because there wasn’t much moving except for the pollack which were very skittish.  I did try to get their images as they flew past, but the camera doesn’t appreciate having nothing to focus on and they weren’t movie material as a result.

We had fun.

Good time with wonderful friends.

Too Windy

October 16, 2011

No diving today due to high winds.

An Adventure

October 15, 2011

The wind was clocked at 23.4mph from the SW as we left the condo this AM.  Hum.

We stopped for breakfast at the little beach nearby and watched the whitecaps cresting on the beach.  Wind was thrumming the shrouds of the sailboats on their moorings.  No one was walking along the shoreline.  Well, we certainly weren’t going south today.

As we drove around the island, we saw the north side looked just fine.  Everything from Hodgkin’s Cove to Rockport’s Back Beach was flat and welcoming.  OK, we’re going north.

It was a breezy, choppy ride by the time we’d loaded everyone and their gear.  We had Linsley and Kevin Mordasky, Linda and Kerry Hurd and Bill Low with Pete and Pat as crew.  The Captain held onto his hat.  I drove the boat.

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The waves were getting steeper as we got near Folly Point because the tide was coming in 180 degrees from the wind’s direction.  That meant standing waves were building right at the point.  The pounding of the following sea and the whipping wind sounded like a freight train was bearing down on the boat from behind.  I didn’t turn to look because I didn’t want to see the ocean’s condition when it sounded like that.

But –

As we rounded the point and headed into Folly, the wind dropped and the sun’s warmth flooded every inch of exposed skin.  Whew.  I anchored in about 20 feet of water far into the cove at the base of the cliff with the gazebo on it.

Everyone was quick to get into the water which was still 59 degrees, according to Pete.  I descended the downline with the video camera and found a big decorator crab right away.  He/she had no growth on its shell.  Maybe it had just molted.  There were a few pollack that were inquisitive but shy at the same time.  Kerry and I filmed a very well camouflaged sea raven that was perched on a wall.

The water was super clear.  Visibility was about 15-20 feet along the wall on the west side of the cove and even better in shallower.

I emptied my tank and surfaced with everyone all at once.  We decided (with The Captain’s help) to call it after one dive because the ride home was going to be a humdinger.

I left my drysuit and hood on, wore my fleece gloves and drove into the wind and waves with the best protection I could have had.  Several waves broke over the bow, splashed me in the face and then rained down on the unsuspecting folk hanging on below.  Finding marks was a little difficult because the waves would hide them in troughs.  I also had to be alert to avoid lobster floats because we certainly didn’t want to get hung up on one today.  As we passed Plum Cove, the conditions started to improve because the wind had less fetch across Essex Bay.

We saw no other boats out in these conditions except two little skiffs in the marshes.  I think they were duck hunting.

We did see lots of birds gathering in groups.  Veronica would have known what they were, I’m sure.

After pushing off docked boats as we rounded into J-Dock, we were able to get back into the slip with a minimum of stress.  And it was high tide to help in the off-loading schlepping.

Hamburgers at 5 Guys at Gloucester Crossing topped of a great day with super people.

Photos of Sunday’s Dive by Alex Shure

October 11, 2011

Thanks to Alex Shure, we have documentation of the conditions from last Sunday’s trip:

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Columbus Day – Who’d ‘a Thunk It?

October 10, 2011

It was hot again today, but I’m not complaining.  Harvey Leonard, the weatherman on Channel 5, said we’d probably never see the likes of this Columbus Day Weekend again in our lifetimes.  I’ll take it.  I could get used to it.

The breeze was coming from the WNW and we were choosey about where we’d dive because it was just me, The Captain, Pete and Jacki K.   After motoring around a bit, we decided on the world headquarters of the Red Roof Inn – or not.  That’s just what Pete calls it.  It’s really a huge mansion called Rockledge on the edge of Magnolia Point that was built for Hiram Walker of distillery fame.  It has a distinctive red tile roof.  We anchored in about 25 feet of water just below its eastern rampart.  You may recognize it from this picture I found on the internet:

Rockledge

Rockledge

We were all alone at this anchorage except for a flotilla of trolling fishermen that arrived after we’d set the hook.  They proceeded very slowly around the cove like Indians around a circle of wagons.  I swam over to Jacki’s bubbles when they passed between us and the rocky shore and were turning around to do it again.  At least I’d be a beacon to them to stay clear of someone who didn’t know they were there.

The water was exceptionally clear on the sandy patches scattered around the bottom – 30 feet.  It was still 59 degrees.

I worked my way up to the tidal swimming pool on the property of the neighbors to the north of the mansion.  The pale blue painted  excavation in the rocks was accessible but in ruins with rusted re-bar extending over the edge.  Peter had clambered in long ago for a Kodak moment, but I wasn’t going to risk ripping my Atlan dry suit on those projections.

I found some pollack that were lazing around the biggest rocks and some little cunner that were just getting up enough nerve to check me out when I started running low on air.

For the second site, The Captain and Pete picked Norman’s Woe.  We didn’t actually anchor there but at a place 1/2 way between Rafe’s Chasm and the rock that is called Norman’s Woe.  Maybe I should label it Norman’s Chasm or Rafe’s Rock.  Here’s an internet-based picture that shows the dive site, right at the bottom of the shoreline rocks in the center:

Norman's Woe Rock

Norman's Woe Rock

It was a gravely bottom with much worse visibility compared to the first place.  Again, we were sheltered below a huge bluff with only the passing boat’s waves to rock us at anchor.  Not many boats were out and we had a leisurely dive with lots of sun for company.

The way home was a short  hop.

We were thrilled to have had such a memorable long weekend with such good people.

Hot and Breezy

October 9, 2011

It certainly didn’t feel like October 9th.  More like July 9th.

The air was in the lower 80s and the water was 59 degrees.  How wonderful for fall diving.

We had Tim Maxwell and his scuba student, Mark, along with Bill Low, Alex Shure, and raffle winner, Adam, from the Northshore Frogmen.  Crew was Peter, Pat and Veronica.  The Captain was planning to video with Alex and I drove the boat.

Alex, Adam, and Mark had never been to the wreck of the USF New Hampshire, so we set off for that site for the first dive.

As we pulled up to Graves Island, we spotted Fran Linnehan on Down Under with a group of divers just leaving.  Another boat with Arnie P. and Jack Munro was still anchored on what looked like an active dig.  There were lots of bubbles rising from one place near their boat.

We anchored right over the wreck so Mark would be sure to be able to see the “gold” spike.  It’s not gold of course, but we tell beginners there’s only one on the whole wreck and as they descend onto the ribs in the sandy bottom, their eyes get very big as they see the glimmer of one of the sawed off copper pins.  They really do shine just like gold.

We motored up the coast a bit for the second dive at Diver’s Leap.  It’s below a bluff in Manchester-by-the-Sea and the giant stride you’d need to use to do a shore dive here is why it got that name.  The water was lots clearer here since no one was digging for treasure.  It was still warm at 59 degrees at 20 feet.  The sun heated us up in the shelter of the cliff and I was sorry not to have loaded up with SPF 50.

We enjoyed Veronica’s treats and Alex’s apples for snacking.

The trip home included a bow wave breaking over the anchor chain as we plowed up the Annisquam River on a fast outgoing tide.

Good time.

Nice crowd.

Two Eggs Over Easy

October 8, 2011

Well.  We finally made it to Egg Rock for some concentrated videoing.

The weather couldn’t have been more accommodating.  No wind.  Hardly a breeze from the west.  Upper 70s above water and 59 under it at the first site on the northeast corner of  the rock.  I put the anchor in the midst of a debris field from some wreck without a name.  Peter saw it.  I didn’t.

We had Bill Low and Alan Hicks aboard with Pat Walsh and Peter Donahue as crew.

The water was relatively clear at times.  We had 20 feet of visibility interspersed with 5 feet.  There had been storms last week from the southeast and the water was clearing slowly.  But it was warm.  What a concept.

I filmed a school of mackerel right under the boat.  I had seen the water churning as we dropped anchor.  There were some diving birds that took flight as we cut the engine.  I think they had been fishing for these fellows.  The fish were long and sleek with vertical stripes and seemed to be circling under the boat’s shadow with their mouths open.  The first ten feet of ocean was the furriest, so maybe they were taking advantage of the buffet.  They looked like this picture I found on the interwebs:

Mackerel

Mackerel

Bill and Alan circled the area looking for adventure.  Pete was hunting too.

We moved to the other side of the rock for the second dive.  The anchor was in about 40 feet on the northwest side of the island.  Here the low sun was illuminating the rocky bottom brightly.  I found some big cunner and a black fish or two.  The bottom at 55 feet was 56 degrees.  I’ve hosed in my Atlan dry suit and was able to stay really warm and toasty the whole time.

We got some great footage of crevasses and canyon walls with lots of fish both big and little, but all inquisitive.

There was a fishing boat anchored in front of the cave at the southwest corner of the rock, so we couldn’t do the fly by sequence The Captain wanted.  Maybe tomorrow.

Everyone agreed that it was great conditions and super diving.

Pat drove home and even docked the boat.

Super day with good people.

Nada x 2

October 2, 2011

Yet again, we are plagued by wind and waves.  Oh yeah, and rain too.

No diving due to weather conditions.