Archive for June, 2012

Surge-y but Sunny

June 30, 2012

We had the remnants of Tropical Storm Debbie visit our south-facing shore today.  That was paired with a brisk west wind.

After driving around, we settled for a trip south and around the breakwater for the Back Shore.

I picked the Flag Pole of the Atlantis Motor Inn as the first site.

We had LD with Pete and Pat as crew.  The Captain made plans.  I drove the boat.

Per instructions, Pete and I tried to get some footage of his passing directly over my head without any of my bubbles in the frame.  There was considerable surge on the bottom at 20 feet, so I had trouble getting rock steady.  His scooter was running out of juice, so it was going slower and slower.  Here’s a frame grab of the footage I got:

Pete on His Scooter

Pete on His Scooter

The visibility was better over at over 20 feet when I descended to a deeper, sandy part of the bottom, but it was 54 degrees there.  It was 57 under the boat.

LD had hunting success, despite the conditions.

For the second dive, we entered Brace Cove.  If we had hoped to escape the surge, we were disappointed.  It was a little better on the surface, but the bottom still had issues.

I docked the boat in a reverse wind.  WooHoo!

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Adventure-ville

June 24, 2012

Our trip today had more twists and turns than usual.

We had Patrick Monaghan (the newest Dive Patrol instructor in the world), Amy M. and Roslyn (sp?) from the Northshore Frogmen and Bill Low on board, with Pete as crew.  The Captain marshalled his paperwork and I drove the boat.

First dive was at the sunny, east face of Egg Rock.  As we were anchoring, we saw Cape Ann Divers‘ big boat loading their divers back in.  I took care to move to the far end of the island.  Our anchor was in 35 feet of 59 degree water.  Visibility was super dooper up against the rock wall – 20-25 feet or more.  The tide was coming in and I felt its coldness was a wake-up call to watch the current’s direction.  It was easy to navigate because I had entered the deep, wide crevasse next to the wall.

I saw a group of pollack in mid-water about 1/2 way through the trench’s length.  Patrick reported seeing a very big flounder down a crack and an aggressive fish with large teeth as well.  We guessed it was a blue fish from his description.

As we loaded everyone on board, they agreed the site was an amazing one.

For seconds, I moved us to the back side of Kettle Island, just a little way away.  Here I got a second dive in from my first tank and videoed some decorator crab action on an abandoned lobster trap.

Good visibility, but there was a lost camera involved.  Not mine, but one belonging to a customer.

Then we got boarded by the Environmental Police.  Everything checked out OK and they left to check on a small lobster boat with a very nice older gentleman at the helm.

Then we pulled anchor to return to the marina and I felt the boat’s speed drop quickly without my having touched the throttle. Rut row.  The Captain had me go into reverse and we heard, “thump, thump” against the bottom of the hull.  Double rut row.

Patrick volunteered to dive under and see what was up.  In only his bathing suit.

He confirmed that we’d picked up a lot of line.

Amy volunteered her still set up tank and he held it under his arm, wearing flippers I grabbed from the rack that didn’t fit over his heels, to dive with a knife and attack the snarl.  Good on ya, mate.

Several minutes later he surfaced with a wad of blue and white polypropylene line and the remains of a float (the source of the thumps).

Then we started again for home.

Customer were hustled off as quickly as possible, because we were going to an aerial shoot of the boat at the Dry Salvages.  I believe Amy M. left her camera case on board.

Thanks to Charlotte Richardson and Devon Wiebe, I was treated to an airplane ride to the site while Pete and The Captain motored there via the traffic jam that was the Annisquam River.

Here are some shots that Charlotte took:

Busy Sunday on the Annisquam River by Charlotte Richardson

Busy Sunday on the Annisquam River by Charlotte Richardson

Pete Driving Easy Diver

Pete Driving Easy Diver

We tumbled into bed early from all the fun we’d had today.  That’s why I’m writing this post on Monday morning.

Rain, Rain Went Away

June 23, 2012

We were suffering last week with high 90s and last night the cold front came through and broke the heat with rain.  This morning, our drive around was peppered with raindrops, but the water looked smooth everywhere.  We could have made the dive anywhere.  The forecast was for the rain to pass on by with sun to folllow. I chose to go to The Silo, just beside Bemo Ledge on the Back Shore.

We had Patrick M., Trevor O., LD and JK on board, with Veronica Atlantis and Pete as Crew.  The Captain was in full-on teaching mode with the Dive Patrol instructor candidate, Patrick.  Pete dived with Trevor who was getting his Scuba Diver Certification today.  I drove the boat and got to pick the sites.

The first dive was in 25 feet of very clear, warm-ish water.  Pete recorded 66 degrees on the surface as he swam back to the boat, with 59 degrees on the bottom.  Visibility was between 15 and 20 feet, depending on whether you were behind the lobster hunters or not.

I moved the boat, but not very far, for the second dive.  Again the visibility was great, and the water warm, except on the very bottom where the incoming tide created a thermocline of super clear coldness.

There were successful hunters.  There was interesting video shot.  The explorers were happy to have such great conditions when the morning outlook had been so grim.

It even ended with an almost flat ramp for schlepping the gear to our cars.  Hooray!

Reprieve

June 17, 2012

It was supposed to be a repeat of yesterday’s weather along the coast, but it wasn’t.  The day broke with full sun and it stayed that way.

We had Alex F. with his buddy, Bob, and Bill Low today.  Pete was crew.  I drove and docked today with Pete’s assistance on the latter.  The Captain was videoing.

We found relatively flat and almost clear water at the Lobster Pool restaurant’s front yard at the mouth of Folly Cove.  I anchored in 40 feet of 54 degree water.  Visibility varied all over the place.  If you went in towards shore, it got clearer and warmer – 57 degrees.

Here’s a photo of Alex and Bob at about 30 feet near the wall:

Alex and Bob at the Wall

Alex and Bob at the Wall

Pete reported seeing one pollack, three cunner and a flounder that he put his hand on by mistake.  It shot away, unharmed.

I saw fish swimming near the wall but darting back into its greenery when divers went by.  I watched them reappear when the bubbles cleared.

We made both dives at this site because the weather conditions had messed up everything else.

It was a good day with warmth and a cool breeze to boot.

 

Hey. Wait. What Did You Do With the Sun?

June 16, 2012

It was supposed to be sunny.  Not necessarily warm, but the sun was supposed to be shining.

At 8 AM it was.  I slathered on the sun screen as I looked out the window into a clear, cool, bright morning.

By 10 AM the east wind had blown clouds all over the place.

We were hard-pressed to find somewhere diveable.  I took a chance on Graves Island:

Graves Island from the Air

Graves Island from the Air

We had Linsley and Kevin Mordasky, Linda and Kerry Hurd, Alan Hicks and Pat M., an instructor candidate.  With Pat and Pete as crew, The Captain and I were in good hands.

Everyone was so capable, we had no trouble at all once Pat dropped the anchor in 26 feet behind Graves in Manchester-by-the-Sea.  I had pulled far into the shelter of the island, away from the surge over the wreck of the USF NH,  to maximize the potential for good visibility.  Another dive boat – Last Reel out of Danvers – soon followed and anchored just a little way away.

The visibility was MUCH better than last week.  The water temperature was 52 degrees.  The air temp was in the upper 50s.  The winds were less that 15 knots because I didn’t see any whitecaps on the trip down the coast.

Everyone lined up to get wet and I donned Pete’s extra DUI dry suit while my Atlan’s zipper is being replaced by Margaret at United Divers in Somerville.

I videoed a crab inside the empty carapace of a much bigger crab.  Maybe he was just cleaning up the leavings.

I also found tiny silver bubbles of O2 in the fronds of sea weed on an abandoned lobster float line.  Click on the picture to embiggen, then click the little + icon to make it even bigger:

Silver Bubbles

Silver Bubbles

On our second dive, I shot a crab scratching its back on a rock.  It was completely oblivious as I inched closer and closer.  Moving around, it managed to retract its eye stalks to scratch the shell around them.  I hope the sequence is something The Captain thinks is worthy of this years movie.

The trip back was slow to keep from pounding into the waves and getting everyone wet.

The sun never came out again until we returned to the condo.

Great.  Thanks for getting back to us, you slacker, you.

Current-ed

June 10, 2012

We had a surprise current at today’s dive site – the wreck of the USF New Hampshire.

How many times have we been there? Many, many.

How often has there been a rippin’ current?  NEVER.

I think the problem was that I tied up to the new buoy that I thought was marking the site and it was outside the protection of Graves Island.  I usually moor just west of the island and have people swim over to the wreck.  Today was so still and calm that I thought anchoring via the buoy would give people a shorter and safer swim because it would be straight down into wreckage.  That didn’t happen.

As we watched Bill Low jump in, he quickly was pulled behind the boat, even before he had a chance to grab the downline.  Vinny and Veronica were able to jump closer to it, but we soon saw their bubbles and then their heads several boat lengths behind us.  Not a good sign.

With considerable effort they powered back to the boat and we collected Bill when he surfaced to check his location.  We weren’t going to stay in that location if everyone would drift away from the wreck so quickly.

I just motored about a football field’s length over to the rocky island and Dianne dropped the anchor for me right next to it.  Everyone was still suited up from the first dunking, so they were quick to jump in.

Pete reported the visibility was marginal – 5 to 10 feet.  The water temp was in the low 50s.  Dianne Kelleher, Vinny E. from the Northshore Frogmen, Bill Low, LD, and Veronica Atlantis circled wreckage below the boat.  Vinny returned with a great folded piece of copper with a nail still in it.  LD found an unusual fish bone that was long and pointed with bumpy little protrusions on one end.  Pete scootered around the site.  The Captain worked with his camera on the sandy bottom.

Although the anchor became hooked when we tried to retrieve it, LD saved the day by getting suited up again and diving for it.

Thanks, LD!

At Last – SUN!!

June 9, 2012

It had been a long, rainy week.  The forecast was for sun and light winds.  Halla-frickin’-aluyah!

We had Dianne Kelleher, Bill Low, Alan Hicks and LD along with Pete as crew.  Pat is under the weather and we all wish she gets well soon.

We drove around the cape early to test conditions and decided going south would be best.  It would be low tide as we left so we wouldn’t even have to wait for the Blynman Bridge to open for us.

I chose the first site – Bemo Ledge, a.k.a. The Silo.  We named it because Bemo Ledge is nearby and the home on the the nearest point of land has a large three story structure on their property that reminds this Midwestern girl of a grain silo.  Hence, The Silo.

The Silo

Here is a Google Earth image of The Silo from above.

The visibility was 30 feet and the water was 52 degrees.  There was a strong current from the incoming tide.  That’s unusual for this place.  Everyone managed to dive successfully and we motored up the coast just a little for the second dive.

I chose the Stone Garage as the site because it was still in the vicinity of the first site and probably had similar conditions.  I was wrong.  Here the visibility was only about 10 feet over the kelp.  However, if you got over a sandy patch it cleared up considerably to over 15 feet.

LD took his camera in and captured these two fellows/gals eyeballing each other:

Two Hermit Crabs

Two Hermit Crabs

I didn’t mind the lower visibility and had fun swimming up and down the rock channels that run parallel to shore.  I also marveled at the smooth, flowing edges of some of the pink coraline algae-covered ones.

The trip home was at high tide so we had to wait for the Blynman this time.

 

…and Yet Again

June 3, 2012

No diving due to weather.

Bummer.

No Diving Due to Rotten Weather

June 2, 2012

Winds from the SE at 15-20 knots.

Pouring rain – not “drizzle” as predicted for this AM.

58 degrees.

Stayed in port today.

 

Maybe tomorrow too…