Archive for the ‘Posts by Pete’ Category

Like Being in a Bus Station Full of Flounders

May 23, 2010

That’s how Peter described their dive on the USF NH today.

He says:

“We jumped into 25 foot visibilty water.  We could see 25 feet, which meant I could see the wreck from the surface.  We were tied up on the buoy with Richard Brandolini on his first dive of the year and LD.  It was an every man for himself sorta dive (some of you might call it solo diving), but Richard and I occasionally bumped into each other and we could hear LD diggin’ and poundin’ and as long as the noise didn’t stop, we knew he was OK.  If fact, his efforts of diggin’ produced two bullets, a couple of small cinch nails, and rusty knees on his dry suit.

Richard and I sailed down the front of the rock, assiduously dodging flounders as they ricocheted hither and yon, to and fro.  It seemed like a million of ‘um, but I stopped counting at 15 and that was 1/2 way through the first dive.  We spotted a hugely fat (pregnant?) sea raven on the bottom, a myriad of short lobsters (perhaps they’re coming in?), several eggers (did they carry these eggs all winter?), and two baseball-sized hermit crabs.  Stay tuned for the answers to these questions coming in a future blog.

We never moved the boat, and I was clueless, but LD had us tied to the buoy on the wreck so it was a very easy unanchoring process.

As we sailed under the Blynman bridge, after having been told by the bridge to do so, we went by a lobster boat, pulling pots in the river – sheesh!

I think we covered it all.”

…And the Heavens Opened

September 15, 2007

It was supposed to be damp this morning and then clear up, and become breezy. 

Yeah, right.

There was drizzle, rain, grey clouds, and then more rain and the promised wind.  You didn’t miss anything if you weren’t able to join us.  Except, Jacki and Andy were surrounded by curious stripped bass behind Kettle Island.  Andy noted they were skittish about being lit with his flashlight.  Pete saw “teen-aged” sea ravens, and a bevy of four inch flounders.  There weren’t enough of them to actually be a school.  It was more like a small class of them, according to Pete.  Loads of lobsters, they were crawling everywhere.  They were on the sand, trying to hide in the depressions they make.  They were on top of the rocks; they were beside the rocks; they were under the rocks.  They were in lobster pots, under lobster pots, on top of the lobster pots, and on their way to the lobster pots.  It was a free-for-all of lobsters (most of them were shorts, but it is still fun to see them).  As had been his plan, Laurent Dubois caught enough of them to feed his “grand tante”-in-law and her family.

Bill Low and Larry Fine were exploring in the warmish water – 57 degrees.  They reported visibility from 5 feet to 15 feet, depending on whether you’d been following a lobster hunter or not. 

We pulled the anchor to motor to the second site and the wind picked up to usher through a front of rain and clouds.  The white board where we display the numbers of lobstering divers flew off its perch on the ladder on the starboard side of the boat.  We were half way to the site and turned around to find it on the surface near the island.  What a surprise to learn that it floats!

Turning once again for the second site at Saddle Rock, the wind picked up briskly and the rain was arriving sideways.  I was driving in full foul weather gear and getting blasted in the face by the wind/water.  I shouted down to see if anyone wanted to call it quits with one dive for 1/2 price.  There was a chorus of yes votes.

So, it was one and done.

We hope for better conditions tomorrow.

Sunnier Sunday and Copper Mania

May 13, 2007

Although the day was clearer and the sun warmer today, the visibility was still about 15 feet and the water temperature was about 40 degrees.  We headed back to the Wreck of the USF New Hampshire as a rash of spike fever has infected the entire boat. 

We were joined today by Jerry Comeau, Adam Champion and his fiance, Sara, and Mike Lane, as well as Laurent, Pete, Pat, Me and The Captain. 

 As soon as the anchor hits the bottom, divers are flying over the gunnels in search of spikes, pins, nails, and copper sheathing from the wreck.  Today, beginners luck abounded.  Laurent Dubois found his first spike, Mike Lane found a pin with its associated ring, numerous pieces of sheathing and some incredibly smelly piece of rusted steel something-or-other, covered in barnacles and burned wood.  We were able to convince him that this souvenier was best left on the bottom.

Everyone welcomed the hot chili served on the boat between dives.  And most divers did one dive and were done, but those of us infected sucked down a second tank.

It was even better than yesterday, but not as good as it will be later this month.

Frickin’ Freezin’

May 6, 2007

Oh, well.  It’s only Cinco de Mayo (May 5th for those north of the border), 50 degrees in the air and the water’s still 45 degrees up here on the north shore of Boston.  The problem was really with the wind — 25-30 knots.   It was blowing out of the northwest, so we decided on The Wreck of the New Hampshire for the first charter trip of the season.  Northwest wind comes out of the cove in front of the house with seven chimneys.  That is relatively comfortable for anchoring right over the wreck site at the edge of Graves Island in Manchester-by-the-Sea.  Clouds scudded across the sun periodically and reminded us that spring was just a promise, so far.

We had Kevin and Linsley Mordasky, Pat and Karen Hatcher, and their friend Julius with us.  Pete, Pat, and I rounded out the crew with The Captain in charge.  Chicken soup was bubbling in the big silver pot even before everyone suited up for the dive.  Pete was slavering for a chance to see what the winter’s storms had uncovered on the site.  He wasn’t to be disappointed.  He managed to drain two aluminum 80’s on the site while the customers were still getting ready for and making their first foray. 

Here’s his take on it:

“I was sailing up a crevasse that I’ve had success digging up spikes in before.  I was only armed with a soft piece of aluminum when at the top of the rock, about 10 feet deep, I spotted the edge of a spike.  Hammering the burnt wood around the spike started to loosen it, but my  aluminum was too soft to be of help.  I shot around the corner to where I knew there were pieces of steel left over from the wreckage and lo and behold I found a crowbar I lost there five years ago – the spike didn’t stand a chance.  Two quick blows, a gently pry with the crowbar, and the prize was mine.  I shot to the surface and signaled the boat with the cry of a successful spike hunter – MANGO!

I couldn’t get a fresh tank fast enough because there was another spike six inches from the one I’d just brought up.  I brought in a five pound sledge and a screw hammer and started chiseling burnt wood away from the spike.  It took several twists and turns and went straight down, so I banged and hammered and sucked down air and eventually the spike started to move.  A quick glance at my gauge revealed I had less than 200 pounds and I was breathing heavily from all the exertion.  I calmly continued my assault on the spike realizing each breath could be my last.   Suddenly, the spike broke free and I raced to the surface in jubilation bellowing MANGO!!!!! at yet another successful spike recovery.”

Here’s the evidence:

Pete and two spikes

He said the water was incredibly clear, at least 80 feet, but I think it was more like 20.  He saw a couple of short lobsters, like in the 3 to 4 oz. range, but they’re in and more are on the way.  The kelps are starting to grow as are most of the sea weeks, but they’re very small right now.

The clouds had covered the sky by the time we were ready for the second site.  I saw that Diver’s Leap looked relatively calm so we anchored under the bluff with the modern, glass house on it.  Julius, Kevin and Linsley jumped in for more fun while I ladeled myself a second cup of chicken noodles.  The customers said visibility wasn’t outstanding but was OK.  Maybe 10 feet.

Back to the marina with teeth chattering.

Our second trip was for Ted Barnes, a NAUI instructor candidate, and owner of Freedom Diving in Gloucester, MA.  He needed to do some more water work and bail out.  I picked the corner of Gloucester Harbor up by Stage Fort Park.  The DUI Dog Days were going on so there were lots of scuba flags in the water by the three big rocks.  It made us feel right at home.  No other boats were nearby or came through while we were anchored there.  AND THEN THE SUN CAME OUT!!  The temperature climbed by at least 10 degrees.  Everyone had more chicken soup in honor of Ted’s excellent adventure.

Back to the marina with diminishing winds and blazing sun.

Spring in New England.

10 Pound Island, as Told by Peter Donahue

September 3, 2006

It was a dark and stormy night. 

The crew abandoned me.

Cal and Chris ran from the rain to edit the movie they shot this summer.

Walshie went off on her eating safari to the Vineyard.

Laurent ran all the lines on the boat rather skillfully and I drove in a downpour.  We all had our suits on.  Better than football.

The water was 61 degrees.  The visibility was 6″ to 5′.  The boat was anchored in 20 feet behind 10 Pound Island.

As we jumped in, Bill Low saw a squid in about 18 feet of water. 

I saw flounders exploding off the bottom in a cloud of dusty silt when we came near, not even knowing they were there until they bolted.  I saw lobsters on the mud huddled under kelp fronds that were constantly moving – frond and lobster together.  There were also stands of green fleece alga in the shallows and beds of orange sheath tunicate on abandoned lobster pots.  There were lots of abandoned pots.

Found a fisherman’s knife with an orange handle, buried to the hilt in the mud, just the handle exposed.  I pulled it out, looked at it, and returned it to the mud.  (Later, at the dock, I saw the same knife on deck.  Laurent had found it and kept it.)

We came to the surface and saw raindrops landing in the ocean from the underside of the interface. 

The only boat we saw was the Coast Guard Zodiac on a call, blue lights flashing.

Didn’t catch a single legal lobster although I gauged several shorts and let them go.  Didn’t see any monster eggers.

The cookout tomorrow will just have to be more hamburgs and hotdogs.

Although Shaw’s IS open until 11.


Star Tunicates and a Vibrating Lumpfish

May 29, 2006

The first dive site was off the beautiful stone house at Gully Point in Rockport, MA.  It is dive site 36 in The Diver's Guide to Cape Ann.  Its coordinates are 42 degrees 39.641 minutes North and 70 degrees 36.076 minutes West.  We could see that the red tide hadn't left yet.  Pete said the visibility was brown and murky for the first 15-17 feet and then the visibility cleared up below that to about 20 feet.   But it was much colder on the bottom – 42 degrees.  The tide was coming in, with high due at 1:44 PM.

We had friends Roz and John Fiandaca on board, as well as Laurent Dubois and John, the student.  Jacki Kronenberg joined us for the first dive in her new drysuit. 

Pat Walsh located one of the "Ten Most Wanted" species by the Salem Sound Coastwatch during her dive and Fred took its picture.  We decided it was a Star Tunicate (Botryllus schlosseri).

We saw lots of ocean kayakers exit from Rockport harbor and pass us on their way out to the ocean side of Straitsmouth Island.  Their boats looked like flower petals clustered in the little Gully Point cove as they rested and took a water break.

Our second site was just a little way away.  Straitsmouth Island's north side has a cove that is great for lobstering.  Since it was Don Dunsky's birthday, Pete wanted to get him a lobster.  Laurent obliged and found a big one and two soft ones at 42 degrees 39.778 minutes north and 70 degrees 35.392 minutes west.  I saw many clumps of Star Tunicate myself on this dive.  It is site 40 in The Diver's Guide to Cape Ann.

Pete and John Bulman, the student, found a lumpfish.  Pete went to gently place his hand under its belly to lift it up for John to see better.  Pete said it started vibrating very hard and very violently – he's never seen one do that before.  He left it alone after that.

Pete says, "As we were sailing down the cliff, I felt an abrupt tug on my fin.  Fearing the worst, with a brand new student, I turned to see him calmly pointing under a rock.  A quick look confirmed a claw the size of a dinner plate.  I reached in, felt under his belly, found no eggs, and we wrestled him out.  It had a 5.25" long carapace, a 1/4" too long for the dinner pot, but a wonderful specimen to watch walking across the bottom.  That night, John went home, logged onto the Division of Marine Fisheries web site, bought a lobster license and is ready for action next weekend.  Bingo!" 

Thanks to Pete, we had hot dogs in honor of Memorial Day.  Yum!

Pete adds, actually, the hot dogs came from Pat Walsh's freezer.  Her father often buys items on sale.  There typically is three or four dozen eggs, several pounds of bacon, and numerous packages of hot dogs in their freezer.  Thanks, John!

Fisherman’s Canyon and The Restaurant at Folly Cove

May 21, 2006

We traveled north again to avoid the west wind.  It was lots warmer than yesterday and the wind was considerably calmer.  We decided Fisherman's Canyon, near Cathedral Rocks in Rockport, would be a good anchorage.  We were right.  It's located at 42 degrees 40.760 minutes North and 70 degrees 37.288 minutes West. It's number 19 in The Diver's Guide to Cape Ann.

Pete describes the bottom as flattening out to a 10 degree down slope at about 40 feet.  He and Jim Castelli descended through 6-8 feet of brownish ocean that was 50 degrees into clearer water at 50 feet that was only 44 degrees.  There were a fair number of lobsters roaming about, including one egg-bearing female.  Wonder how long they hold onto their eggs.

They came across a male lumpfish, bright pink, guarding his nest diligently.  They also saw a Northern Red Anemone in about 30 feet.  That's the animal on the cover of Andy Martinez' book, "Marine Life of the North Atlantic."

Chris saw clumps of Didemnum sp., one of the Top 10 Most Wanted of the Salem Sound Coastwatch folk.  She even saw a decorator crab covered with the stuff.  Because they are cute and easy to work with, she shot video of it moving about:–LgA

She also saw some Orange Sheath Tunicate smothering a small shell.

We powered back around Halibut Point to the Restaurant at Folly Cove for the second dive.

Pete said the brown muddy layer was deeper here, extending from the surface down 16-17 feet.  Again the surface water was warm.  He went to 40 feet where there was about 20 feet of visibility.  He saw dark, winter flounder and skates and freed a dark green sculpin from a ghost trap.  The bottom was littered with ghost traps and all of their tops were open and bent so that you don't have to lift them if you're a fish.  He felt lobster can walk through a dorway that was closed but not locked, but a fish can't.

Chris saw another decorator crab covered with Didemnum and a scarlet psolusActually, it was a crevasse with many specimens, each about the size of a dime.

Laurent Dubois and Jim's friend, Trisha, were also with us.

Everyone agreed that Pete's chili hit the spot.

Let's hope next weekend is warmer because it's going to be Memorial Day.  We need some HEAT!

Rain? What Rain?

May 13, 2006

It poured today.

The Captain, Chris and Pat took off to attend a seminar training recreational scuba divers on how to monitor Marine Introduced Species, also known as Hitchhikers. We're going to be looking for the "10 Most Wanted" from the boat this season and logging our finds with the Salem Sound Coastwatch folks.  We're also going to video customers and crew as we do it.

Andrew and John are leaving for their biannual Australia trip on Friday and wanted to brush up on skills.  Jim C. just wanted to dive.

All the fishing charter boats cancelled so we were the only ones who needed the Blynman Bridge open. He was so accommodating that we didn't even need to slow down as we approached – the bridge was already open – both ways.

We motored over to Niles and picked up the mooring right off the beach. There was about 8 feet of visibility and the water was 52.25 degrees F.

After completing their skills flawlessly, Andrew and John saw many round oysters. Some were 4" across and covered with barnacles. Jim wore The Capt's boots and they fit.

Some short lobsters were strolling about. They must have thought it was night because of how murky it was.

We saw:

  • a small sea perch
  • a 4" spider crab – with 8" legs – that makes him 20" across
  • the usual assortment of sand, mud, grass, bottles, and trash

At the end of the dive, the Zodiac inflatable had 2" of water in it from the rain.

We cooked up the two cans of corn chowder that had been rattlin' around the kitchen. It went down well.

Until tomorrow…


April 30, 2006 – by Peter Donahue

April 30, 2006

The word is out.  Easy Diver is back in the water.  We plan to have two students with us – one a beginner looking for a refresher course and one a PDIC instructor crossing over to NAUI (wise choice).

When I arrived at the boat, the two students were there and 1/2 dozen hanger-onners (regular customers).  So, somehow the boat was full and we headed off on our adventure.

A howling wind out of the north pushed us into Niles Beach where we made a day of it.  From a teaching standpoint, everyone did well.  Underwater, Chris saw:

  • crabs
  • sea grass with little perriwinkles on every blade
  • orange flopper stoppers cut loose from some sailboat last season
  • lots of rubbish
  • bright red encrusting sponge
  • crabs
  • more crabs
  • still a few more crabs

So we didn't observe a lot of underwater animals.  We were mostly interested in performing skills.

Laurent Dubois helped Paul and, after the trip, handed in his final paperwork to become the newest NAUI Instructor in New England.  He has been working with us over the winter and now is one of the family.  Welcome, Laurent!

NAUI Divers Photo of the troops by Trish.

The water was warm enough to be comfortable for Chris and Andrew as they swam around the perimeter.  Jim looked for the two pound weights again (but still didn't find them either).  Paul Ingersoll bailed out several times and successfully passed his cross over water work.

On a personal note, my little brother turned 50 years old today.  I'm not sure how old that makes me, but I'm sure it's more than that number.  And yesterday, my 16 year old nephew hit his first home run in a high school baseball game and, in fact, it was the winning run.  Congrats, Billy!

A good weekend.  See everybody next time.

 Peter, smiling. Pete, photo by Pete, using Trish's camera.