Open-faced Sunshine Sandwich

September 2, 2013

Just like yesterday, but with fog to start.  JK and Jim Castelli were with us for a trip that might not even happen.  The rain had pretty much stopped by the time we were ready to leave the marina.  South-facing coast had a thick soup of fog and we passed a long line of boats heading into it from up the Annisquam.  I think the leader had Radar and was leading them back to Salem, MA.

Our trip up towards Essex Bay was easy because it just kept clearing.  We watched rain clouds mass off the cape towards the northeast, but as we anchored near the Lobster Pool Restaurant the sun broke through.  And it got HOT!

I saw a red sculpin and lots of huge boulders.  JK got to 50 feet and saw a fish that might have been a cod.

The second dive was over at the west wall and we planned to shoot video.  Here’s a frame grab from my camera as The Captain hands me his to check:


The water was cold at 30 feet, but clear.

We didn’t find any fish at all, but JK saw a crab scratching its back on a rock.  Seems like we see them doing that a lot now that we’ve seen it happen once.

The trip back was through sprinkles and showers, but nobody was out except SUPers and kayakers and a very few fishermen.

It was a great weekend, even with the patchwork quilt of weather conditions.

Sunshine Sandwich

September 1, 2013

That’s rain on both sides of a hot, sweaty, windless late summer day.  We had Alex Shure on board with us to try for some photography.  Here’s a picture of The Captain picking up his camera from the swim platform:



We planned to capture the curious cunners with both close up and mid-range shots.  The water was warm with a surface layer of golden fuzz.  I’d say maybe 65 degrees, but Alex could say for sure because he jumped in with only a bathing suit.

The visibility was marginal at about 10-15 feet depending on whether you were below the fuzz or still in it.  

We had cunner action and then none at all.  The folks of the boat said there had been diving cormorants above us all the while.  Sure enough, I found about three frames where Cal caught the bird flying by underwater.  Co-o-o-o-l.

I’m going to need technical assistance to capture the shots for future use in the movie, but it sure was interesting to see them as I down-loaded the footage into our computer.

…and tomorrow we get to do it all over again.  WooHoo!!!

Curious Cunners

September 1, 2013

As I described in the previous post, cunners were attracted to commotion on yesterday’s dive.  Here’s a frame grab from the video of them lined up to investigate my tapping:



The biggest ones were as long as my hand.

Good fun.

Folly Point and LD’s Mountain

August 31, 2013

It was only supposed to be a 30% chance of rain today.  Yeah.  Right.  About 30% of me didn’t get rained on is more accurate.  But it was a warm summer shower and not a downpour (after 7 AM, that is).  Charley Gaylord and his son Brendan were coming down from Newburyport and were up for anything as was LD.

We avoided the schooner fest area in Gloucester Harbor by going up the Annisquam to Essex Bay.  It was almost deserted.  The Captain decided we wouldn’t bounce around at Folly Point, so we dropped anchor in about 20 feet near the last exposed pieces of rock on the west wall.

My first dive was mostly exploration because I hadn’t been here in several years.  The big jumble of rocks wasn’t as steep as farther into the cove.  The fish were very curious and I was able to attract several by just fussing with the downline in a rocky hole that had trapped it.  In the course of freeing it, I whacked it against rocks and raised a cloud of dust that had fish around me in a cloud.

Maybe the noise attracts them, so I set the camera down in a steady position and proceeded to tap the rock with a stone.  Sure enough, they arrived for dinner like puppies.  Some lined up and others shot in for a quick peek.  All were cunners or perch.

The water was in the mid 60’s and I wasn’t getting cold at all.

For the second dive, LD recommended a large rock he’d discovered just a little ways further out to sea.  Typical LD exploring just a little deeper/further/longer away from everyone else.

We all stayed together as he unerringly led us to a huge glacial erratic? in 60 feet or so.  It had a sheer wall and here’s Charley swimming along a notch in it:


The hunters were successful and so was the videographer, so I can confidently say that a good time was had by all.

I can’t wait to do it again tomorrow.


Folly Cove East and West

August 25, 2013

The weather was going to be perfect.  We could probably have gone anywhere, but the consensus was to the “front yard” of the Lobster Pool Restaurant on the east side of Folly Cove for the first dive.  The divers were Tom and Catie Childress, Jim Castelli, JK and Sandy Miller.

We were joined by Pat and Patti Scalli on their boat, Mary Anna.  Rafting up was a learning experience because of the passing boat traffic.  Nevertheless, it was fun to have another Sisu to examine.

The divers reported so-so visibility and not as cold as yesterday water.  I’d place that at 10 feet and low 60s.

For the second site, we decided to use the deep water at Folly Cove’s point.  It’s on the west wall, towards the open ocean.  It gets to 70 feet it you head east from here, but the boulders and notches are beautiful if you go west, with the sun on your left shoulder.

Here’s a picture of Sandy following that track:


I found some cunner gathering in groups and it was fun to have them keep returning to examine my camera’s lens after they’d scattered when I exhaled.

I put air into my drysuit as I followed some trenches and marveled at the sheer wall soaring above me some 30 feet.  Because of the gloom and cold, I didn’t stay long down there.

Our ride home was into the warm sun and I kept thinking, “How long will this weather hold?”  Let’s hope until after next weekend’s three-day Labor Day holiday.

Clear Air and Cool Breeze

August 24, 2013

Channel 5’s Harvey Leonard predicted that the weather would be perfect for this weekend.  He nailed it.  Thank goodness because we had a full boat with Tom and Catie Childress, Charley and Brendan Gaylord, Alan Hicks, and LD all cursing the steep ramp as we loaded up the boat.

Because Catie was with us, we made the first dive off the southwest corner of Graves Island at the wreck of the USF New Hampshire, one of her favorite places, she said.  She’s off to Lesley University in a few weeks, so she and her dad, Tom, were enjoying the last few moments of summer underwater.

Here’s what it looks like from the air:


The divers found a too-big lobster, molten copper shards, curly nails and a mysterious roundish black object.  It was too big to be a cannon ball and too light as well.

For the second site, I chose the west side of Kettle Island in about 25 feet of water.  Visibility here wasn’t very good (10-15 feet), but there were lots of lobsters everywhere.  I saw a very big skate, but it saw me too and took off.

We tore through the cookies that Tom and Catie donated and were happy to have them – both the people and the cookies, that is.

As payment for the tough ramp as we loaded, the unloading one was f-l-a-t.  We saw lots of cars and folk milling about during the final hours of the Bluefin Blowout at the Cape Ann Marina.  Let’s hope it’s a success for them.

Eye to Eye with Kerry’s Skate

August 21, 2013

Here are two more shots from Kerry Hurd:

I See You

I see you looking at me with that big “eye.”


Maybe this red stuff will hide me.

Kerry’s Photo-savy Juvenile Black Sea Bass

August 20, 2013

Here’s a photo from Kerry Hurd of the fish he played with last Saturday:


He’s posing, don’t you think?

Click on the picture and then click on it again and you’ll see that even his eye has stripes in it.

Cloudy with a Little Bit of Freezin’

August 18, 2013

We had a group that was up for the Rockport Breakwater today – Denis Foley and his son, Melandon, plus Jim Castelli.  In fact, it was Jim who was the instigator, noting that it was flat calm everywhere and that we could make an easy trip to The Breakwater.  Sounds good to us.

Here’s an aerial view of the structure:


We anchored near the top of the exposed granite block part.  It was cloudy but not windy at all – just a gentle breeze from the southwest.  The water was cloudy in the first 15 feet too, but the tide was going out and it got colder quickly as you descended the granite boulders.

I stopped above the silt and looked up at the massive debris field of granite above me.  It was in the low 50’s, according to Jim’s computer.  But the visibilty was 20 feet or more.  I saw lots of ghost traps and lines were everywhere.  Some of the traps were very old and wooden.  Others were a twisted mass of wire and rope.

Trying to mimic the opening shot from last year’s video, I created a setup where I advanced on the camera in the clear, cold water and hoped I’d be in focus the whole way.

Although we were in the same ocean, on the same wall, on the same day, I never saw anyone else.

We powered around a regatta to the second dive site at Lanesville Shores.  Here father and son were right in front of me, so I could video their descent.  I trapped some bubbles on the lens, but I think the effect was successful.

My tank only had 1200 pounds in it, so I cut the dive short to be sure I had enough air to get back to the boat if the tidal current had increased.  It had and I did.  I was bushed though.

We were surprised to see Elizabeth Calhoun (Fred’s oldest daughter) and her husband, Michael Ahern, at the dock as we returned.  Liz even helped me position the boat for a good landing.

Then it was off for hamburgers at Mile Marker One.  What a great end to the weekend!

USF New Hampshire and Kettle Island

August 17, 2013

We had fun, fun, fun today.  Linda and Kerry Hurd with their friend, Cindy, plus Kevin and Linsley Mordasky and Jim Castelli were ready for anything.  The predicted northeast breeze aimed us south.  The wreck of the USF New Hampshire had Kerry’s blessing, so that’s where we headed.

The water was ebbing and seemed colder today that usual.  Kerry recorded 50 degrees and visibility of about 10 – 15 feet.  He also ran into a juvenile black sea bass with aspirations for a movie career.  Seems like this year they are more prevalent than ever before.  As a refreshment, Linda’s pineapple chunk snacks were luscious.

Cindy had fun looking for treasure:


For the second dive, we chose the southwest corner of Kettle Island, because the wind had shifted to south east.  It was calm and flat and an easy place to use my wetsuit for the last time this season.  The cold stream gushing down my spine as I entered the water was enough to convince me that its time had come and gone.

We saw many too-big lobsters and learned that striped bass had circled Cindy in the shallows.  She noted that one had a heart-beat pattern instead of stripes on its side and it was the leader of the pack.  Her veges and dip contribution to post-dive munchies was consumed by everyone and, surprise, we all had room for brownies.

These guys are all a class act.