Archive for July, 2012

Five Guys from CT

July 13, 2012

By special request, we made a trip today, Friday.  The divers were all from Connecticut and just wanted to see the sights and take pictures.  No lobsters were going to be taken by them.  That made it easier.

After our drive around, we decided that going north made sense.  The predications were that we’d eventually have 12 knots of breeze from the south and west.  No rain in sight.

Turns out they had requested Cathedral Rocks with The Captain, so that’s were we anchored for the first dive.  We had Pete and LD on board as well.  I put the anchor right off the “sofa” rock that we used to dive from years ago.  There were no other divers in the water from land.  Hardly any other boaters were out either.  The breeze was cooling as it blew across Sandy Bay.

LD and one of the customers both reported a crazy kind of cross current on the bottom.  LD went to the mud looking for clear water and felt the current on his return to the boat.  The other fellow felt a current moving parallel to shore from the south.  Visibility was OK.  Water temp was 52 on the very bottom and 66 on the surface.

For the second dive, we went to Lanesville.  I wanted to see if I could get some video footage in clear, warm water.  The water was 66 degrees to the bottom in the shallows and 52 on the bottom in the incoming tide.  Folks reported swimming in the cold water until it was uncomfortable and then drifting up into the warmth where there was less visibility.

I saw cunners under rocks and a field of sea stars, just like last week.

LD reported skates and a big, red sea raven.  Pete scootered all over the place.  Rumboogie made a close, but slow pass on their way back to port.

Nice time with good people.

Thacher Island and Loblolly Point

July 8, 2012

We had a crowd on board today who were glad to see the sun and clear skies:  Linda Giles and Myanna, Dianne Kelleher, Jacki K., and LD with Pete and Veronica as crew.  We got a neat picture of Linda Giles’ first dive with us 30 years ago.  She had a page from her log book of that dive copied and framed and then autographed it for us.  What a thoughtful memento!

We started at Thacher Island in the hopes of finding the torpedo ray again.  No such luck, of course.  The visibility varied all over the place from 10 feet near the warm surface to 20 feet at the 52 degree 45 feet mark, according to Pete.  I saw a little rock gunnel and several lost, cruising pollack.  The sun was warm but us wetsuit divers got cold.

For the second dive, I picked the point near Loblolly Cove and Lands End in Rockport.  Here’s Jacki K. in about 25 feet of very clear water – 30 feet, I’d say.

Jacki K at Loblolly Point

Jacki K at Loblolly Point

The shallows were covered with Irish Moss and looked like molten gold in the sunlight.  As I went deeper, I found we were anchored over the remnants of the electric cable that used to serve Thacher Island’s lighthouses.  Over the years, it’s been abandoned in place and not repaired if it failed.  New cable is laid and that fixes the problem quicker.

We were glad to munch on Veronica’s sandwiches which included a John Wayne turkey one for The Captain – just turkey and bread, no vegetables.  There were spinach ones for the rest of us mortals.

It was a hot ride back with the high tide and flat ramp for easy loading back into our cars.

Good fun.

Hoo-RAY

July 7, 2012

Today we went to Thacher Island with Pete and Pat and LD.  It was cloudy and little drips of rain were splatting on the windshield as we powered up the Back Shore.  It was also muggy and sticky ashore, but on the water, it was cooler and crisper.

I dropped the hook in about 25 feet of water just beside the “dead” light on the north end of the island.  Pete reported it was 50 degrees on the bottom, but I had my wetsuit today and didn’t want to hear that.  Both The Captain and I had brand new wetsuit boots from Bobby Boyle’s Undersea Divers and  we were in full on Summer mode.

Fred and I shot together under the boat for the first dive.  Pat had deck duty.  Pete tried to center himself on the scooter over my camera’s lens, but we still didn’t get it dead center.  Fred’s camera recorded my attempts at directing and my fall overs as I exhaled and Pete exited stage left.

I’d say the visibility varied from 15-25 feet, depending on how deep you were.  The tide was coming in and it was frickin’ freezin on the bottom.  That’s were the 50 degrees makes sense.

I had 1200 pounds in my steel 70 after the first dive, so I decided to try for more footage.  Here’s what I saw right under the boat:

Torpedo Ray - Head On

Torpedo Ray – Head On

I followed it for several hundred pounds and had to surface to find the boat.  Dang.  It was several hundred yards up current.  I’d inadvertently made “a long swim from the boat.”  Just what we always warned passengers NOT to do.  It was a slog back to the swim platform, but I made it without actually running out of air, just out of breath.

The ray was smoothly docile and let me get close without spooking and leaving.  It had tendrils of skin on its back like a sunburn that was sloughing off.

The video footage could be improved if I managed to keep the subject in the center of the frame.  I’m going to have to try harder to swim ahead of the subject, keep the subject centered, and remove bubbles on the lens – all at the same time.

We closed by having lunch in the new Mile Marker 1 restaurant at the Cape Ann Marina in honor of Pat Walsh’s birthday this month.

Good day with good friends.

A Field of Stars

July 4, 2012

Sea stars that is.

We were anchored just off Tide Rock in Lanesville with LD, Pete and Pat.

There was videoing and hunting going on.

As I dropped into the 35 feet of c-o-l-d water, I came upon an unbroken field of slanting, flat rock that was carpeted with little mussels.  Therefore, it also had a host of sea stars feasting on them.  The sea stars were of mostly the same size, and evenly distributed across my horizon.  The Captain also noticed several teeny urchins in the same area.

Although it had rained heavily as we awoke, Channel 5’s meteorologists were right in saying that it would brighten by 10 AM and the sun would come out by noonish.

We were just about the only boat on the north shore of Cape Ann today.

Pete registered 57 degrees on the bottom, but it felt lots colder than that to me.  The Captain complained of “not an ice cream headache, but a cold temple” where his hood gapped away from his head.

I watched a sea vase open its ports very slowly after I had disturbed it.

There were a few lonely pollack and a black ray that all of us saw.

I watched another crab scratch its back against a rock, but he didn’t want to do it for my camera and just ran away as I started to shoot.  Who knew crabs were camera shy?

A cookout at Pete’s with hoards of family members as well as LD and Dianne Kelleher and Bill Low was the culmination of a great mid-week holiday.

Two Hours to the Dive Site?

July 1, 2012

Yup.

To avoid the surge on the south side of the cape, we traveled up the Annisquam River to Essex Bay.  I  had hoped to go over the top to Cathedral Rocks.  I should have realized that was doomed when I got caught in a cross wind exiting the finger dock.

Thanks to LD, Veronica, Pete, and The Captain, I was able to back down the dock area to calmer water and get the nose into the wind.  But it was a close call.  All the owners of the boats across from us were on their bows to fend us off.  Sheesh!  What a way to start the trip!

As we puttered up the river, I could feel the breeze freshening from the northwest.  Wouldn’t ya know?  That’s a rotten direction for a passage over the exposed northern face of Cape Ann.  There were standing waves just past the Annisquam Yacht Club docks from the outgoing tide and the on shore wind.

As I passed the last mark in the river and turned to the northeast, I could feel the waves starting to hit our stern quarter.  The further I got away from the shelter of Coffin and Crane’s beaches, the worse the wind felt.  It was only going to get worse as I got closer to Halibut Point.  So I turned us around to go back down the river and take our changes with the protected options on the south side.

Two hours after we left the dock, we anchored in 25 feet of 57 degree water at the western edge of Magnolia Harbor.  Visibility was not that great at about 10 feet.  I just about landed on these squid eggs:

Squid Eggs at Magnolia Harbor

Squid Eggs at Magnolia Harbor

Veronica pointed out another bunch closer to the boat.  I saw a third group just a little way away.  They were about the size of a lobster pot’s buoy.

Pete and I tried the overhead shot of the passing scooter again.  Hard to keep him in sight in limited visibility.

At the end of the dive, he and I found a big, fat flounder in a clump of weeds and I motioned to him that I wanted him to try to catch it in his lobster bag without any holes.  He got the message and managed to make the catch.  The video will attest to his success.

We decided to be one-and-done because the wind wasn’t slacking even though there was supposed to be an afternoon sea breeze from the south.  (WeatherSpark.com later confirmed that there were gusts to 23 knots from the NW around noon.)

With the help of everyone, I made it back into the slip with ropes and shouted instructions from everyone in pants.

At least we got wet.

Wednesday is July 4th.  We’re going out again then with high hopes.