Archive for June, 2013

The Place to Be

June 30, 2013

Another hot, humid, breezy day for the north side of Cape Ann.  Today we saw several other dive boats scattered across Folly Cove.  I guess we all agreed that the south side was messy. We had JK and LD today with Pete, The Captain and me.  The best anchorage looked to be in the wind shade of the point on the west wall of Folly.  JK said she’d never been here and I was happy it was so spectacular underwater.

The temperature was in 57 degrees on the surface and, according to Pete, 55 at 50 feet.

I saw scads (that’s a technical term) of fish of all sizes.  Many were curious about my camera and came up to its lens to investigate as I set up a shot under a ledge.  I totally zoned out watching them buzz in and zoom out again.  So much so, that I forgot to turn on the camera.  Dang!

Luckily, I noticed that the red rec indicator wasn’t on when I picked up the thing and was able to redo the episode.  Of course, the main actors weren’t as cooperative this time and not as many trooped up the to lens to see themselves.

For our second dive, we moved west along Lanesville shores to a site where Johnny Mack finally got it all together.  He was a student of Pete’s who just couldn’t combine all the tasks of mask clearing, ear clearing, with just having fun until he made a dive at this site.  It was a memorable place as a result.  We hadn’t been there in many years.

Here’s a frame grab of JK from the dive:

JK at Lanesville

JK at Lanesville

The hunters got lucky at both places.   Good thing, because we need food for Pete’s July 4th celebration.

Oh, well.  Back to work to tomorrow.

Florida without the Plane Ticket

June 29, 2013

That’s how a local weatherman described what was in store for us this weekend.  There was considerable fog this morning, and the wind was going to be from the south.  Jim Castelli joined us for lively conversation.  We decided to go north and get more video footage.

The conditions looked perfect on the west wall of Folly Cove.  All the rain from last week had made the visibility poor and it was dead low tide as well.  I wasn’t expecting much and was pleasantly surprised when the water seemed warm.

The Captain directed Pete, LD and me to set up a shot with LD hunting and Pete advancing on the scooter and passing me.  Here’s a frame grab from part of what I shot:

LD at Folly Cove Wall

LD at Folly Cove Wall

Pete reported the water was 57 degrees.  LD hit 55 feet after he left us and said the visibility wasn’t much better there, but the temperature was the same.

For our second site, we went around the corner to Lanesville Shores, near Tide Rock.  We let a local lobsterman on a white boat called Pisces haul his line of pots before we suited up.  He seemed nice and reset the line very quickly.  Underwater, I could see he’d baited his traps with fish carcasses instead of bait bags.  Maybe that’s why it was so quick.

LD saw a torpedo ray swimming, but let it go without following.  He thought it might have been the same one we saw last Saturday inside Folly Cove.  It wasn’t a huge one, but it wasn’t small either.  What luck!

Here’s a frame grab of Alan Hicks from Lanesville Shores:

Alan Hicks at Lanesville Shores

Alan Hicks at Lanesville Shores

The water seemed colder here and the visibility varied from 10 to 15 feet.  I saw rays, flounder, and herds of small fish today at both sites.  Maybe they find the runoff tasty.

The ocean was empty today with most people opting for land-based activities when the rain and fog appeared.  The ramp was almost flat for the gear’s return to the parking lot.

Good times with good people.

Anemone Images from Andrea Dec

June 26, 2013

Andrea Dec sent these shots she took last Sunday:


The visibility wasn’t this good to the naked eye, that’s for sure.

Hot But Breezy

June 23, 2013

We had more of the same today – hazy, hot, and humid.  I’m not complaining.

The crew was joined by LD and Andrea Dec for diving on the north side of Cape Ann.  We started at the restaurant (The Lobster Pool) at Folly Cove.  The breeze shifted our anchoring orientation from northwest to southeast as the tide turned.  Reports were the water was anywhere from upper 40s at 45 feet to 57 degrees on the surface.  But the visibility was “the pits.”  Andrea was playing with a big sea raven and didn’t see the same visibility issues down there at 45 feet.

After we’d consumed all the lunch that Veronica brought, we felt revived and ready to go again.

We moved to Lanesville Shores for the second dive.  Here visibility was improved to about 10-15 feet at 20 feet, to places where it was over 20 feet on the bottom.  I dived with Andrea and took some video of her on the hunt.  Here’s a frame grab:

Andrea Dec

Andrea Dec

Divers reported skates, pollack, rays and, of course, “those things with too many legs” (according to The Captain).

We were happy to have the breeze but there was some current from the outgoing tide.  That meant Veronica had to jump into the ocean and really book it to retrieve an errant Sun Shower that fell overboard.  She had already been swimming so it wasn’t too much of a stretch.  I, however, had only managed a plunge and immediate exit.  57 degrees on the surface of the water and 100 degrees on my skin were too much of a mismatch.  I slathered SPF 30 for the ride back to the marina.

Hot hike up the steep ramp, but who’s complaining?  It’s summer!

Good time with nice people.



June 22, 2013

We had Will, Candace and Alex F. with us today.  As well as Alex S. and LD, with Pete, The Captain and me.  Will and Candace are fun to see because they’re in their 30’s and just starting out.  Father of Candace, Alex, was keeping an eye on them underwater and using his compass to assist:

Alex F., daughter Candace and Will Agree on a Direction to Go

Alex F., Daughter Candace, and Future Son-in-Law, Will, Agree on a Direction to Go

We were making our second dive in Folly Cove after starting out at Straitsmouth Island in Rockport.  That was a sandy and rocky place where LD lost and then found his own yellow Force Fin.  The wind from the southwest had made that inlet on the island seem like a good first spot.

But we were ready for a little more warmth (Pete had recorded 57 degrees) and maybe a little better visibility (I felt it was 10ish feet or so).

Folly Cove was like a mirror, so we dropped anchor just off Calf Cove’s rocky entrance and everyone went back in the water for more fun.

I found a small torpedo ray, maybe a juvenile, and it had a very brave olive snail making a track on one of its pectoral fins.  I read that torpedo rays eat shellfish.  This little guy wouldn’t have even registered as a snack to the ray.

The day was still hot as we returned to the marina.  And it was a hellatiously steep ramp up to the parking lot.  Just upping and downing to carry my camera and dry bag was enough exercise for this trip.

Good day with great people.

I need a nap.

A True “Lock”

June 16, 2013

Meteorologist Harvey Leonard of Channel 5 called today’s forecast for beautiful weather a “lock.”  He wasn’t wrong.  Warm, sunny, clear with little wind.  Summer in New England at its finest. 

We had a full boat and wanted somewhere with as good visibility as possible, considering last week’s rain.  Oh, and not too much surge, please.  And a little warmer water would be nice.  We drove up the river and around the top looking for all three.  I decided on Thacher Island for the first dive site.  The anchor caught in rocky boulders about 1/2 way between the dead light and the welcome center house.

Here’s a picture from Linda Hurd of the crowd of us after the first dive:


We had Zeke and Jerry Shine, LD, Linda and Kerry Hurd, Kevin and Linsley Mordasky on board, with Pete as crew.  The Captain managed to maintain decorum and I drove the boat.  I was happy with the water temp because I was in my Atlan dry suit.  Reports varied from low 50’s to low 60’s in the shallows at the Island.

For the second dive, I chose Gully Cove in Rockport.  Linsley found a big sea raven and was quick to let us know where it was hiding.  I wasn’t yet zipped, so it got away before I found the spot.  Nevertheless, the bottom’s terrain was interesting.  There was a big, swirling wall with a sandy path alongside that begged to be followed.  Lots of critters made it their home.

The wind was shifting and although we anchored facing west, by the time I surfaced, we’d swung 180 degrees.  

On both dives, LD was successful in his quest for food for his contribution to Father’s Day lunch.  He made a total of four dives in the space when the rest of us only made two.

I shot some footage of Kerry and a school of pollack.  They are mesmerizing critters who just dare you to take their picture.  It almost always comes out too dark, or too far away, or blurry with motion.  We’ll see.

As we made for home, the sun in our faces and the cool breeze combined for perfect conditions down the river to the marina.

Great day with good friends.



Silvery Sides

June 16, 2013

There were clouds of fish behind Kettle Island.  We had Jim Castelli, Bill Low, and LD with Pete as crew on Father’s Day.  The Captain directed traffic and I drove the boat.  It was going to be blowing from the southwest today, but not very strongly.  Since we only had regulars, we decided to travel south from the marina, out into Gloucester Harbor, and then southwest down to Kettle Island.

We set the anchor in about 50 feet of water and put out lots of scope so we drifted into the lee of the island somewhat.  As I descended to about 30 feet, I noticed a school of small cunner coming and going under the boat.  Periodically, one would turn its side to the surface and flash silver in the gloomy green water.  Spawning activity?

The water here was clearer than it had been yesterday on the north side of the island.  I found LD in full on hunting mode – half his body under rocks.  I never saw Bill at all.  But I did pass through many other groups of fish of varying sizes and shapes.  All were lefting and righting along the shore of Kettle.  Some were tiny baitfish and up in the shallows.  Others were striped bass following the little guys.  At mid-water, I encountered little pollack and some tautog.

As I swam over boulders and up ravines, I found a too big lobster who seemed to be willing to come out to be videoed:


I set the camera down and backed away.  It advanced to the lens, cradled it between its to massive claws and looked into the port intently.  Maybe he saw himself?  After a moment, it let go and slowly retreated back into its cave.

The water was in the upper 50s, so I was able to drain my little bomb of a tank without getting too cold.  Visibility varied from 10 to 15 feet on the bottom.  The very bottom was the coldest and the clearest, but also the darkest.  There was still lots of material floating in the water column.

On our way back to the slip, we passed under the Blynman Cut bridge with inches to spare.  The bridge tender had said there was 12 feet of clearance in the middle, and we only need 9 1/2 feet to get through it.  Nevertheless, I had to duck and crouch to avoid being decapitated by the girders.  What excitement!

Of course, the sun came out as we tied up at J dock.



June 9, 2013

After Tropical Downpour Andrea, we were treated to perfection:  little wind, warm sun, high tide.  The water temperature was in the low 50’s (unless you were crew member Veronica, then it was in the high 40’s).

As we powered up the Annisquam River to Lanesville Shores, we noted how few boats were out and about.  Maybe the rain yesterday had caused boaters to make alternative plans for today.  Too bad for them.  More space for us.

The passenger list today included LD, Erik T., JK and Andy, and Ilya T., plus Veronica and Pete as crew.  The Captain was his fabulous self and I drove the boat.

As we anchored, the boat pointed into the incoming tide’s current.  It was a chug to get to the downline if your giant stride took you too far astern.  The surface looked green to me as I peered down the anchorline.  Must be a result of all the rain and runoff, I thought.  Turns out visibility on the bottom was the typical Cape Ann 10-15 feet, according to Pete.

Erik reported almost “tripping” over a sea raven.  They are wonderfully camouflaged.  Here’s a picture of one from the interwebs:

Atlantic Sea Raven (Hemitripterus americanus) portrait, Nova Scotia, Canada

Atlantic Sea Raven (Hemitripterus americanus) portrait, Nova Scotia, Canada


There was also mention of a too-big lobster in a hole near the anchor.

For the second site, I chose the rock pile north of the Lobster Pool Restaurant at Folly Cove.  The tide was just starting to leave the cove as I inched down the line, venting my Atlan as I went.  Cold water prickled my exposed facial skin, but as it became numb, I forgot about the chill.  I had my video camera and was determined to make something happen today.

It was dark periodically as I lay on the bottom – almost like the boat had moved over me.  But I was too far from it for that to happen.  Then I realized it was clouds.  What a difference their shadow made to the ambient light.

I posed the camera for a set-up shot and rounded the boulder in time to see a hermit crab scurrying to shelter.  I herded it towards the lens.  We’ll see if that come out.

When I returned to the swim platform, the boat had swung 180 degrees and was pointing into the cove.  JK and Andy swam up and remarked on the wonderful pile of jumbled rocks and its denizens.  Erik was happy with the site’s terrain, too.

Add the tasty, legal snacks that Veronica shared to our calm, smooth return to the river, and you have a delightful Sunday in early June.

It was ah-h-h-mazing.

Not So Hot – and That’s Good Thing

June 2, 2013

Today was mercifully cooler than yesterday.  It was going to be blowing from the south even more strongly, so we went north.  We had  Bill Low, JK, Andy J., LD, with Veronica plus Pete as crew.  The Captain gave the orders and I drove the boat.

JK was glad to go to Folly Cove.  It was her and Andy’s first dive of the season.  That was true for Veronica as well.  You couldn’t tell by their stylin’ as they entered the water:

Veronica and Her Giant Stride, photo by Bill Low

Veronica and Her Giant Stride, photo by Bill Low

Andy's Entry, photo by Bill Low

Andy’s Entry, photo by Bill Low

We heard that the water was coolllddd when Veronica’s shriek echoed off the cove’s cliff.  All the warm water from yesterday had been blown out to Essex Bay by the stiff southerly wind.  Her thermometer read 48 on the bottom.  She was diving wet.  I heard something about Novocaine lips and numb hands as she climbed back aboard.   But everything worked and the gear is ready to go for the season.

We moved to the other side of the cove for the second dive.  The breeze was freshening and the anchor took hold with a jolt.  This area has a jumbled, rocky bottom and it wasn’t surprising to have LD find a treasure in the first few minutes of his dive:

Anchor and Chain, photo by LD

Anchor and Chain, photo by LD

If you know of anyone who has lost this, LD is open to negotiating.  The combination weighs over 40 pounds.

The Captain got wet too and reported that it was “frickin’ freezin!”  His Mares has a leaky zipper and his gloves have holes.  No wonder!

After their trek to the wall, JK and Andy climbed in to get warm.

The divers reported a red sea robin, tons of skates, and anemones.

We got scorched by the June sun and frazzled by the breeze (someone lost a hat, even though they’d been warned to “…hold onto your hat!”).  I think I saw V holding her arms out like a cormorant and declaring she wouldn’t even have to change out of her wet bathing suit because the breeze would dry it before we got back to the marina.

New England summer at its best.

Blistering Hot Deck

June 1, 2013



Today we were lucky to have daughter-in-law, Martha Calhoun, with us.  She joined LD and Pete with The Captain and me for a trip up the river to Folly Cove.  The weather was predicted to be hot, hotter, hottest with a south west wind later in the day.  That meant that our best bet for good visibility and flat water was going to be on the north shore of Cape Ann.

We got started when there was hardly a breeze, however.  My tee shirt was sticking to my back as we loaded gear and ice at the slip.  I hosed myself down and felt better for it.  I also filled the Sun Shower for the first time this year.  It’s another aid in keeping cool.

The trip up the river was at a falling tide and I saw the depth meter read “- -” several times. That’s an indication that the bottom is close by.  By sheer skill, I kept us from running a-ground or a-sand or a-mud.

We anchored in the lee of the bluff on the west side of the cove.  LD, Pete and The Captain jumped in with toys (cameras and tow sub).  They found a horseshoe crab who was willing to pose for pictures, lots of skates, and hungry flounders circling like vultures above the hole The Captain was digging to attract them.  Fred’s Mares was comfortable, he  avowed.  LD and Pete were diving dry.

For the second dive, we tried to move around the point to Lanesville Shores, but the wind had kicked up and it was too rough for an easy anchoring there.  Instead, we moved across the cove to the rocky point just south of the Lobster Pool Restaurant.  Anchoring here is easy because rocks cover the bottom and some are monster.

I got into my Atlan and down the line quickly to cool off.  The camera was able to capture the antics of a decorator crab munching on a limpet and a glowing golden sea peach, set against the dark background of deep water.  

We headed home into the chop and cool air.

Summer is here.