Treasure!!! Kevin and Linsley Found Treasure!!!

June 22, 2014

They called it Sea Hag cream. I call it a fisherman’s companion that slipped overboard:

Sea Hag Cream

Sea Hag Cream

It was great fun listening to Linsley, the nurse and farm-raised girl, explain what it is ordinarily used for to The Captain.  Her  husband, Kevin, retrieved a burlap bag stamped as having come from Brazil.  He then found a four-holed white button carved out of “ivory,” according to Kevin.  They are very good at finding stuff.

All this happened at Stone Garage off the southern side of Cape Ann or at the Flagpole around the corner on the Back Shore.  It was 58 degrees in the water and in the upper 60s in the air.  Full sun and very light wind with almost no chop made for  super sites for today’s dives.

I got some video footage in the notches and crevasses of the first place and then of some critters at the second place.  My wetsuit was perfectly comfortable, but I could certainly feel the difference in the cold water as I went deeper.  The visibility was in the 15 foot range – decent, but not outstanding.

We had Veronica on board for her first dive of the season as well as for the FOOD she brings us all :^)  Andy J. and Alex Shure were the heavy lifters of anchors and gear.  John Maren was King of the Downline.

All together it was as good as you could ask for – fun people and warm, sunny ocean conditions.

Summer is here.

WooHoo!

 

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Too Good

June 21, 2014

Sunny, almost windless, and clearing warming ocean water. It doesn’t get much better. We had Andy J., Alan Hicks, Dianne Kelleher, Peter and The Captain on board for a smooth ride to Folly Cove. It was Dianne’s first dive in over two years. She helped Alan and I wrangle some critters for photos and video. The water was cloudy and 57 degrees.

We were anchored right next to the wall on the west side of the cove and were visited by a local man and his son on their first paddle board trip. They were very friendly and inquisitive about what we saw “down there.”   We named horseshoe crabs (three of them), moon snails, hermit crabs circling an empty shell to fight over who would be its next occupant, and some vacated lobster shells from several that had already molted.

Pete made a dive and buzzed around on his scooter.  The new ladder got him aboard easily.  Dianne used it too.

We moved further out towards deep water for the second dive.  This time, we anchored in over 50 feet and the clarity was back over 20 feet on the bottom.  But it was 47 degrees down there as well.  I saw a beautiful lion’s mane jelly fish right next to the boat.  It looked like this image I found on the internet:

Lions Mane Jellyfish

Lions Mane Jellyfish

The one I saw was oriented towards the sun.  It pulsed and changed shape many times.  What a beautiful animal!

We had a shorter dive because it was colder here.  The ocean was totally flat, however, so we had no trouble locating people’s bubbles as they swam along the rocky ledges.  There was hardly any breeze, and the sun was warm, not hot at all.

Total bliss on a super day with wonderful friends.

That’s just too good.

 

Poly-PROP-ylene Problems

June 15, 2014

Remember that sudden speed decrease that we encountered last Sunday when we were entering the Annisquam River from Essex Bay?  Here’s what I found wound around the drive shaft as I began my descent today:

Yellow Polypropylene Line

This yellow polypropylene line was wrapped around our running gear from last week.

We’d made it all the way to Coolidge Point off Manchester with Ilya T., John Maren, Pete and The Captain.  John took a quick swim in a skin only to find the water unbelievably cold.  Later, Ilya told us his computer registered 47 degrees.  It had to have been in the high 50’s last weekend at Folly Cove.  I think the two days of rain and an off shore wind had churned up enough bottom for an upwelling of the real cold stuff.

I wore my wetsuit and my drysuit’s weight belt because I was using a steel 70 instead of my little bomb.  It worked just fine.  Except I got cold quickly even though we were only in 30 feet of water.  Ilya was my subject matter for part of the dive until he waved at the camera.   I’d forgotten to alert him to the need to refrain from making eye contact with me or the camera – let alone wave at it.  Oh, well.  There’s always next time.

The wind freshened instead of dying for the ride back to the dock.  It was a northwesterly one and I had to back down the slip to our dock.  There were a few close calls that got the neighbors’ attention as the breeze caught us and swung us, but I gunned it when we got close to our spot.  It slipped into place and made me look good.  Whew!

A Banner Day

June 9, 2014

After nine months, Peter was able to dive today. His drysuit fit loosely and his weight belt slipped down over his hips, but the Folly Point conditions couldn’t have been more appealing.  It was glass-smooth, with an out-going tide.  Visibility at 30′ was 20′ or more.  Pete made it to 70′ just because he could.

We anchored just inside the point for both dives.  With only Jacki K. and John M. on board, there was plenty of room to maneuver the new ladder and Pete’s scooter.  The passing boat traffic, however, made the surface conditions uncomfortable at some times for those who weren’t in the water.

Again, as yesterday, there were schools of fish – pollack and cunner – gathering in groups to spawn.  Some would pose, head down, and others would briefly turn their side to the sun and flash a quick shot of a silver line along their flank.  I am drawn to their antics and try to video it, but they scatter when I exhale.  This makes my breathing be very slow with long pauses between exhales.  After a while, they seem to get used to me.

Cunner

Cunner image from the internet

After the breezy ride home, we had a celebratory hamburger at The Clamshack near Cressi Beach at Stage Fort Park.  Pete’s recovery is remarkable and hard-earned.

Here We Go Again…

June 7, 2014

The day couldn’t have been prettier.  Warm breeze, clear skies and flat seas.  How fun is that?

We had John S. with Alan Hicks, Ilya T. , Andy J., Pete and me with The Captain for a “let’s test the equipment and get this summer dive season started” dive.

It was low tide at Folly Cove, so there were only a few hardy souls entering from the beach.  I anchored near Calf Cove and helped Pete into his dry suit, only to see a huge hole in the neck seal.  Oh, well.  He’ll make his first dive since getting sick tomorrow instead.

Andy saw spawning behavior in a school of pollack – head down, tail up, and belly rubbing against the bottom.  They are a handsome fish with a striking lateral white stripe.  Here’s a picture I found on the interwebs:

Pollack with white horizontal stripe

Pollack with white horizontal stripe

 

Plus there were horseshoe crabs about.

I moved out deeper for the second dive.  It was near another dive boat and between Folly Point and the bump where most shore divers turn around.  It was deeper here – about 40 feet under the down line.

John practiced breath-hold diving and made it to 50 feet behind the boat.

I suited up for a second time and marveled at how warm I felt in my wetsuit.  Granted, I have to wear a water polo beanie under my hood to keep from getting chilled, but that is easy to do.

The bottom here was boulder-strewn and the visibility was considerably better – 15-20 feet on the bottom.

Ilya caught a perfect lobster that would have been too big tomorrow :^)

The ride home was a practice session for Andy J.  He’ll be a great addition to the team.

We all felt the day couldn’t have turned out better and praised the diving gods for their indulgence.

 

Not the Best Day

October 12, 2013

But fun anyway.  We had Linsley and Kevin Mordasky, Jacki K. (on crutches), Jim Castelli, Andy J. and Alan Hicks on board for whatever might come.

We had rollers from the south east and a brisk breeze from the east northeast.  Hum.

During our ride around, we found calm water at Coolidge Point in Manchester.

As we left the harbor, going southwest, the only thought was how in the world we were ever going to get to the calm site.  The rollers were the worst because we were taking them broadside.

Oh, well.  Discretion is the better part of valor, someone said.  I turned us around and headed into the wind back into Gloucester Harbor.

We anchored in about 20 feet off NIles Beach.  At least it was calm.

There were classes of divers on the beach who had also made the decision to look for visibility in the calmest place on the cape.

We suited  up with no expectations and they were realized in the first few moments of descent down the anchor line.  Murk murkier murkiest.  And muddy to boot.

I swam around looking for anything interesting to video.  Here’s a frame grab from a shot of a fuzzy hermit crab who had climbed up a steel post on a mooring:

Image

It was quite a feat of mountain climbing on its part.

The rest of the gang was on board when I returned and the sky had darkened.

We all agreed that one was enough and retired to a laugh-filled lunch at Mile Marker 1 in the marina.

Flat Like Pancake

October 5, 2013

That’s the way the ocean looked as we drove around this morning.  Some predicted a freshening breeze from the north and east, but with two new (to us) divers on board today, I wanted somewhere contained.  John S. and David S. were eager to get wet and so were Jim C. and I.  Andy had an ear problem, but drove all the way from Worcester to help with the boat even though he couldn’t dive.  What a friend!

The Folly Cove Pier looked good and I anchored south of the Lobster Pool Restaurant amidst huge boulders.  The water was somewhere between 52 and 59 degrees, depending on how deep you ventured.  It was almost high tide, but the visibility was about 10 feet.  I scoured the bottom for video-worthy subject matter and ended up with a sequence that had this image of me:

Image

The second dive was at Lanesville Shores.  The wind had picked up some and passing boat traffic had bouncy results for anyone staying on the boat.  Nevertheless, we all explored huge boulders and crevasses in water that was clearer, but colder.

The sun tried peeking through buckling clouds on the way home.  Andy and I saw shafts of silver light hit the ocean’s surface with dark clouds all around.  The water’s surface sparkled.

Not too shabby for early October.

Shall We Dance?

September 28, 2013

This was the kind of September day that we especially appreciate – clear skies, bright sun, little wind and water of 57 degrees.  It almost doesn’t get any better than that in the fall.  We had Andy and Jim aboard for a short run to Diver’s Leap in Manchester-by-the-Sea.  

I had on my new hooded chicken vest from Bob Boyle’s Undersea Divers in Beverly. Combined with neoprene socks under my wetsuit boots, and very tight three-fingered mitts, my wetsuit was very comfortable.  I wore my little bomb of a tank and my tropical weightbelt.  I was a little floaty on the surface, but pulled myself down the downline and was fine at 30 feet.

Jim was testing the 3mm suit he had bought to take on vacation at the end of next month.  He pronounced it good to go because he had a thick hood and gloves.  The water in the Azores will be warmer than it is here.  

Fred and I videoed lobsters who were holed up in the sand.  This fellow was very friendly and asked if he could have this dance…or else he was seeing if he could eat my camera:

Image

Andy found yet another crab scratching its back, this time on the too-big shell of a hermit crab.  He also found a school of striped bass up against the bouldery cliff.

We had fun on a tremendously comfortable fall day.

Too bad it has to end so soon.

Ripsnortin’

September 8, 2013

It started with a breath of cool air from the northwest.  It ended in a “reverse wind” docking with gusts to 26 mph.  Such a strange variety of wind conditions.  We had John Maren and Christopher from Detroit for a trip to the USF New Hampshire. 

The day’s adventures started with us sneaking under the Blynman bridge with about 1 foot to spare.  Pete heard from the bridge tender that there was 10 1/2 feet from the middle of the span to the water surface.  We only need 9 1/2 feet to clear it without having to have it opened for us.  Here’s a shot of how it looks as it opens:

Image

We arrived at the wreck site to find the wind blowing briskly from the northwest.  We slipped our bow line through the loop at the marker buoy’s top and had an easy peasey mooring.  The visibility was about 10 feet on the wreck in high 50s water.   John and I toured the wreckage and jiggled all the copper drift pins that were exposed.  We found two wigglers that teased you into thinking that they might come loose if you tried hard enough.  All looked golden underwater.  Copper can trick you like that.

I saw several juvenile black sea bass.  I’ve seen more of them this year than I ever have before.

I also saw lots of salps.  They look like jelly fish, but are actually an animal all unto themselves.  They typically herald colder water in the fall.

We were looking for a second dive site as the wind started picking up even more.  Nothing looked good enough.

We called it “one and done” and made our way back to Cape Ann Marina.

By this time, the wind had freshened so much that I couldn’t even back down the slip to the finger dock without it taking hold of the Easy Diver and pushing me sideways.  Lots of jockeying and backing and forthing landed us safely at the J dock address.  Whew!

Fall is definitely on the way.

 

Fabuloso

September 7, 2013

Another perfect late summer day found us at Folly Point for both dives.  The water was warm-ish on the surface, but the golden fuzz factor was still in charge.  Visibility was 5 feet or so in the shallows with lots of floating debris.

We had Charley and Brendan Gaylord, JK and Sandy Miller, Jim Castelli and LD on board and all were ready to try to find LD’s Mountain or cunner converging on a rock-tapping scuba.

Here’s a frame grab of Sandy collecting fishy visitors due to her stellar stone-tapping technique:

Image

 

Deeper was certainly colder, but visibility didn’t improve with depth.  It was still 10 -15 feet at the best.

I made the second dive with the second 1/2 of my “little bomb” tank.  1200 psi of air was enough to try another direction in search of interesting sea life.  

Sandy reported finding a cluster of several hundred cunner and “the biggest flounder I’ve ever seen” along the rocky shoreline towards the cove.

The easy trip home had the sea in front of the boat sparkling from the low sun.  LD reminded me we’d seen a mola mola in the area right off Lane’s Cove last weekend and I’d forgotten to mention it in my trip report.

Fun day with nice people.

One of the very last crumbs in the summer’s chocolate chip cookie bag.