Archive for September, 2012

Newbie at Niles

September 22, 2012

We  had Alan and Andrew H. for Andy’s first dive lesson today.  The Captain and I had driven around Cape Ann earlier, looking for a good place to take a student after the week’s storms.

It seemed every dive instructor on the Cape was at Niles Beach because every other place was blown or surged out.  There must have been thirty divers on the beach, waiting their turn in the water.  It was warm water, though.  I didn’t have to wear  my gloves.  It was probably in the low 60s.  Visibility was decent at about 10-15 feet before it got kicked up by our maneuvers.

Niles Beach

Niles Beach

Pete and Alan and I took the inflatable and Andy into stand up water so he could get used to the gear in a comfortable setting.  The first thing that happened was I lost one of my golden see-through Force Fins.  Luckily, I felt it drop and was barely able to retrieve it as it blended into the bottom coloring so well.

The Captain maintained a lookout from Easy Diver.

We went through the basics and didn’t get cold at all even though the sun was hiding behind fog and clouds.

As we left, the crowd of other divers was just entering the water.

Boat diving makes all the difference.

Veronica’s Version of Sunday’s Adventure

September 17, 2012

Veronica posted another description of Sunday on her blog, here.

Oreos Overboard

September 16, 2012

The ocean was riled up on the south side of the cape by passing Hurricane Nadine.  They were surfing at Good Harbor Beach.

It was blowing from the NW again.

So we decided to try for Lob Lolly Cove which faces east.  It was a good thing we did because we came across a mola mola:

Fin in the Distance

Fin in the Distance

You can see why people sometimes mistake them for a shark.  The fin looks menacing.

Then we got closer:

Mola Mola

Mola Mola

It was moving along briskly at the surface just off the Back Shore, so we didn’t stop to snorkel with it.  We haven’t seen one in two years.  A rare treat.

We continued on to Rockport’s Lob Lolly Cove for the first dive.  It was surgey and the visibility was not that great, but the water was 59 degrees.  The wind continued to be brisk from the NW, so we decided to move back down the coast for the second dive at Brace Cove.

Here the waves were crashing into the rocks with huge plumes of spray.  The surface was calm enough inside the cove, so I dropped anchor in about 20 feet of water.

The divers were back in quickly, but I wanted to keep track of IT and Stu because they weren’t familiar with the cove’s layout.  I got into the inflatable and here’s me with their bubbles to my right:

Brace Cove

Brace Cove

LD got some great shots of the crew too:

Pete in the Inflatable

Pete in the Inflatable

Veronica's Smile

Veronica’s Smile

Captain Fred

As we were pulling ourselves together to leave the cove, Linda slipped with the oreos in her hand and landed in the drink.  Fred said he immediately thought he was going to jail.  Pete wanted to rename the place Brace Yourself Cove.  She was hauled aboard unceremoniously and suffered no injury except for the wet clothes – and the soggy oreos.  Both she and Myanna were good sports about it and decided it was a memorable way to end the season with us.

With the help of all hands, I was able to power back into the river at max rpms.  Then, again with lots of assistance, I backed down the marina’s narrow access to our slip that had the tour boat, Annie, at its north side.  LD and Pete were super at making my docking look good.

Another exciting day on the ocean with good friends.

Shimmering Ocean by LD

September 16, 2012

Here’s evidence of the beautiful clearing skies we experienced yesterday, Saturday, September 15th.

LD took the picture.

Shimmering Ocean

Shimmering Ocean


Town Head Rocks and Graves Island

September 15, 2012

We had a strange morning with dark clouds and spitting rain.  But the forecasters promised a better day after that front went through.  We watched the wind shift from south west to north west as we ate our muffins and drank Dunkin’ Donuts coffee at Magnolia Beach.  Sure enough, as we were motoring southward, down the coast, the clouds started to break up and the sun shone down in shafts of light onto the shimmering ocean.  Bee-yoo-tee-full.

Because the waves were coming in from the south east, we were limited to sheltered areas that protected us from the northwest breeze.  I picked Town Head Rocks for the first site:

Town  Head Rocks

Town Head Rocks

They are just around the corner from White Beach in Manchester-by-the-Sea, MA.

We had Dave and Dean as well as LD with Pat and Pete as crew.  The Captain decided where we’d anchor.

I was happy to be in my Atlan drysuit because the water was 54 degrees.  It was clear on the bottom (between 15 and 20 feet) at almost high tide.  There were lots of comb jellies in the water between the 10 foot and 20 foot mark.

I videoed a crevasse in the jumble of huge rocks with the camera wedged and shooting towards the flickering opening in the notch between two of the biggest.  The sea weed was fuzzy beige and bright red and iridescent yellow and maroon.  The fish were tiny newborns.

For the second dive, Pat drove us over to the east side of Graves Island.  I had her pull way into a calm place that had us nestled close to the island in about 30 feet of water.  I found a massive beam from the USF New Hampshire off our starboard bow.  It had drift pins and copper plates on it.  No one would ever expect to find one of these so far from the shipwreck’s remains on the other side of the island.

By the time we surfaced, the sun was out in full force.  So was the wind from the northwest.

With LD’s, Pat’s, Pete’s, and The Captain’s help, I was able to dock the boat without crashing into any of our neighbors.


Torpedo Ray Day

September 8, 2012

Oh, yes.  We had quite an adventure today.

Surfers were having a field day at Good Harbor beach as we drove around the cape this AM.  With Linsley and Kevin Mordasky and Linda and Kerry Hurd, we were headed north to avoid the surge and waves of Hurricane Leslie who was passing by over 600 miles out to sea.  The wind was picking up from the south as we rounded the top of the cape.  Two other dive boats were already anchored at Lanesville and The Restaurant, so I chose the deep part of the outer wall at Folly Cove.

As Linsley and Kevin got suited in their wetsuits, I decided to transition to my newly replaced zippered Atlan drysuit.  I’m very glad I did because the anchor was in 42 feet of water and it was 50 degrees on the bottom.

It wasn’t very good visibility at about 10-15 feet and dead low tide, but I could see the shape of Kerry’s camera on the sand in front of me.  I’d followed the trench the anchor had dug as it dragged in the stiff south breeze and was exploring the huge boulders in front of me.  What was Kerry’s camera doing on the sand all by its lonesome?  A-h-h-h.  He was doing a set-up shot with something.  Something big.  It was a torpedo ray and he was getting in the shot to give some perspective to how big it was.  Pete later said it was the biggest one he’d ever seen.  I stole a frame from the video I was shooting to show you:

Kerry and Ray

Kerry and Ray

We decided to make both dives here because Kerry had been longing to see and video another torpedo ray and some dogfish.  He got 1/2 his wish anyway.

I switched tanks and went back in with a steel 72 for more footage.  We circled it and got up close and personal with it, but it never moved and we didn’t touch it.

I got cold and decided I’d gotten all I could as the cold incoming tide cleared up the visibility a little bit.

Back on board, we all agreed that the excitement never ends.  Kerry had seen only three torpedo rays in his life and two were this year.

The wind was much stronger as we rounded Folly Point for home.  Daybreaker and the big Cape Ann Divers boat were going by in the other direction with their afternoon charters.  I was especially glad that we only go out once a day.  My heart couldn’t stand much more excitement than it did today.

Great day with fine folk.

Treasure Hunt and Rescue Mission

September 3, 2012

We had lots of excitement for a Labor Day.  With only Richard Brandolini and Peter Donahue aboard, we could venture on a treasure hunt. A neighbor had noticed The Captain’s truck at Dunkin’ Donuts and asked whether he’d consider looking for a missing wedding ring.  He’d lost it at his mooring in Magnolia Cove, right at the ball.  We’d never had a small enough group to make that kind of a recovery mission feasible, until today.  Richard is a great diver and Pete is Pete.  How could we miss?

As I motored us into the mooring field, another boat was just leaving and let us use their mooring to tie up because it was right next to the one we were told held the treasure.  Pete, Richard, and I dropped carefully over the side so as not to disturb the sand.  It was about 15-20 feet deep and very bright and clear.  No garbage or litter on the bottom.  In fact, the chain on the mooring looked brand new.  I circled wide because Richard and Pete were close.  After about twenty minutes, they’d left and I decided to give it a try.  I swept aside the short sea weed on top of the concrete block very carefully.  After the third sweep, I moved ahead a little and there was the ring:

Wedding Ring

Wedding Ring

We were happy to have found it and await a call back from the owner.

With that success, we went to find a real dive.  Several fishermen were in our first choice behind Kettle Island.  Swells were rolling in from the southeast and curling around behind Egg Rock, which was our second choice.  Then I motored over to Coolidge Point and Saddle Rock.  It looked great and the south wind would position us parallel to the rocks.

We all went in – The Captain and I to video, Pete to hunt, and Richard to sight see.  Here’s a picture of me that The Captain took:

Chris with Video Camera

Chris with Video Camera

When we got back on board, Richard reported helping a too big lobster that had been totally wrapped in monofiliment line.  It couldn’t even move its tail.  He was running low on air, but managed to free it enough so that its fighting instincts kicked in.  He let it go to shed the remaining pieces of line on its own.  What a great way to end a dive!

We had a super time and saluted the gorgeous weather that made it all that much more fun.

Sunny Sunday

September 2, 2012

We inched our way out of the slip, past Ocean Rose from Hingham who had spent the night on the adjacent finger dock, and into the open water.  The steering wasn’t responding very quickly and The Captain wanted to get fuel.  The quarters were as tight as I’d ever seen them with boats rafted three abreast into the open area where I usually maneuver to get situated for fueling.  I handed the helm over to Peter for the duration.  Of course, he managed just fine and we were all fending off boats to help.

“We” means Veronica and Richard Brandolini with George K. and his son, Christopher K.  Jacki K., Dianne Kelleher, and Sandy M. wisely stayed seated and out of the hubbub.

In due course, we were out of the crush and on our way up the river to the north.

Our first site was in about 25 feet of water, at Lanesville Shores.  There were lots of passing fishing boats, so the wash was considerable.  I rowed out to keep the dive flag over the bubbles of the farthest away diver, just in case.

Peter later reported that the water was between 59 and 61 degrees, depending on how deep you went.  George and Christopher saw a large ray with a mottled, spotted top.

The visibility was OK.

For the second dive, we wanted a little more stability, so I opted for the rocks across from the wall at Folly Cove.  As the tide turned, it was going to be emptying and that might make the visibility get a little better.

Jacki and Sandy went on a trip towards the deeper water in the middle of the cove.  At 45 feet, they couldn’t hear Desperado motoring over their heads.  I was rowing again to keep bigger boats from their area.

Chris shared his ‘Nilla wafers and Veronica gave me one of her yummy basil, cheese and tomato pits sandwiches.  I also downed water, Sprite Zero and V-8 (just in case you wanted to know what I had for lunch).

All this was seasoned with mopping up a spilled can of transmission fluid which we use to fill the hydraulic steering system on the flying bridge.  It dripped pink oil down the starboard side of the boat and we used every paper towel in the place to sop it up.  When they were gone, I used my tee shirt and sweatshirt too.  Yuck.  Definitely gotta get that hydraulic steering repaired.

The trip home down the river was leisurely and the ramp was almost flat.  How good it that?

Great day with great folk.

And we get to do it again tomorrow!

Photos from Alex Shure

September 2, 2012

Alex Shure sent us some pictures he took yesterday with these descriptions:

Attached are some photos for your trip report:

Some comb jellies: in one photo you can see the copepods in the jelly’s guts. They look like little galaxies.

Windowpane flounder: The picture of the pattern is a close-up of its skin.

And finally a lobster mad at its reflection, but hey, can you blame him?

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North Wind Dictates

September 1, 2012

Since it was going to be blowing from the north and east today, we went south.  We had Richard Brandolini, Alan Hicks, Alex Shure, and the three musketeers – Dean, Dave and Ken.  They all were up for anything, so we started at the wreck of the New Hampshire.

I anchored behind Graves Island, just in front of the opening in the rocky wall that establishes a profile like that of Snuffleuffagus from Sesame Street:


Snuffleuffagus in Profile

Peter said the water was 59 degrees, but it felt really cold in my leaky Mares wetsuit.  It was almost high tide and the water was about 30 feet deep.  The visibility was so-so at about 10 – 15 feet.  I tried to video under ledges but the surge was too strong to wedge the camera successfully.  There were many logs and abandoned lobster traps near us so I spent my dive looking for decorator crabs on them.  Didn’t find even one.  So I took a picture of the guys who were back on the boat:

Pete and Alex on Easy Diver

Pete and Alex on Easy Diver

We moved behind Kettle Island for the second dive.  Everyone went back in even though it felt a little cold to be getting wet again.  I saw a cloud of pollack under the boat and enticed them to come close to the camera by breathing very gently and not creating too may loud bubbles that scare them.  They got close enough to see the lateral dark line on their sides.

There were several big lobsters that were probably too big to keep.

The fishermen were respectful and kept their distance while we had people in the water.  As soon as we pulled anchor, they were quick to begin trolling right up next to the rocks.

The fight into the outgoing 10 foot tide under the Blynman Bridge was invigorating and I was happy not to have any contact with the abutments as we gunned our way into the Annisquam River.  Everyone helped me dock even though we were hemmed in by a huge sailboat on the finger dock that is perpendicular to ours.  It turned out fine.

The flat ramp made gear loading almost easy.  Maybe I’m finally getting into shape now that the season’s almost done.

Nice day with good folks.