It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Northeast Wreck Diving

We were in Boston for a wedding, and decided to finally do some diving. We usually go to Boston a couple times a year, but we never get around to diving, because the gear (drysuit) schlep doesn't seem worthwhile for one day of diving. But we finally decided to do it. The gear schlep, however, did not involve Rob's camera, so no pictures for this one. For me, "northeast wreck diving" conjures up images of hard coreness which I do not possess. So, I thought I'd put that in the title to trick some people into reading the post. In truth, what we did was "northeast wreck diving" in its softest form. We dove the stern of the Chester A. Poling, an oil tanker that broke apart on the surface before going down off of Cape Ann. The stern sank in about 100 feet of water, very close to the Gloucester Harbor, while the bow is in like 190'. Now Rob is obsessed with diving the bow "next time" (surprise surprise). We dove with Cape Ann Divers, and did two dives on the Poling.

The wreck is like right outside of the breakwater at the entrance to Gloucester Harbor, but the Harbor is long (check out this aerial shot) so it was still about a 20 minute ride out to the site. The water was calm when we got to the site, it seemed like the boat was hardly moving while we geared up. We managed to flop into the water first, and scurried down the line, with surprisingly not bad viz. I was worried it would be really bad, like hard to keep track of your buddy bad, based on what I'd read about viz around there. It was probably around 20 or 25 feet. The mooring line was at the stern, and after we dropped there, we dropped alongside the back and swim around the port side. I noticed one or two Cadlinas on the wreck. There were also some Metridium senile, and some small and medium-sized fish (don't know what they were). And various sponges, tunicates, and hydroids. As we came to the break, for whatever reason, it seemed like the encrusting life really picked up. We came to the break and swam around it. It was a big cavernous area and you could see in, but with our lame little Scout lights, we couldn't see much. This dive definitely called for real lights, but they didn't make it into the luggage.

We then swam around the starboard size, and I noticed some bigger Cadlinas on debris off in the sand. On this side of the wreck, we encountered several abandoned lobster traps. Also, we encountered a few lobsters :) After we got back around to where we started, we came up to the deck and swam around that for a little while, not make it to far forward before I called the dive because I was cold :) It was like 46 degrees on the bottom, which I wasn't exactly prepared for -- I left my Thinsulate vest at home. When we got back to the surface, the conditions had picked up a tiny bit, but it was still a pretty easy climb back onto the boat. We motored back into the harbor for the surface interval, and ate some surface interval snacks. I had an epiphany and decided that peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are the perfect dive food. 96 feet, 48 minutes, 44 degrees

For the second dive, we decided to swim along the starboard side back to the break, and then come up over the top and check out the deck some more. Since we had pretty much seen the side of the ship, we spread out from it a little bit and were looking at the debris on the bottom nearby. On this dive I realized there were Cadlinas everywhere. I also found a tiny little slug in a hydroid, which I am pretty sure was some kind of Eubranchus (there are a couple of different species in that area though, so I don't know which it is). A little later Rob found another little slug, some sort aeolid, on a hydroid. It reminded me of a tiny Hermissenda, because its tips were a different color than the rest of the cerata so they sort of looked like they glowed at the tips. I have no clue what it was. We also shined our lights into some of the holes along the wreck; it seemed like there was a lot of growth in there, but with our tiny lights, we couldn't see it very well. At some point before we got to the break, both of our lights died, boohoo.

When we got to the break, we moved up to the deck and swam back along that. We peered down the various hatches, many of which had intact ladders, and tried to convince each other to climb the ladders :) The insides of the hatches had interesting encrusting life, including some pretty little anemones (that seemed like aggregating anemones, in the sense that there were multiple of them seemingly aggregated together, not that they actually looked like our "aggregating anemones"). When we made it back to the stern, we started our ascent, which was uneventful other than Rob getting annoyed at me for staying on the line :) 97 feet, 40 minutes, 42 degrees

One thing that we did find strange about the Boston diving scene was that Nitrox does not seem to be nearly as common as it is out here. We had to go out of our way to find a shop that pumps 32%. Everyone else on the boat was diving air; to me, it seems barely worth it to pay for a boat charter so you can do two 20-minute dives.

While we were in Boston, the kitties spent some quality time with Ted, who checked in on them and replenished the kibble stock. He sent me some iPhone pictures of them each doing what they do best.

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