Archive for October, 2006

Night Dive, Independence II, October 9, 2006

Monday, October 9th, 2006

September 9 Night Dive on the Independence II

Summary: Fantastic night dive! The air was 78 degrees. The water was 64 degrees top to bottom. The bottom vis was 50ft. 35 or so lobster came up, many in the 3-5 lb range, and a few scallops for good measure.


With a full boat and a little trepidation we set out on the Independence II for a much anticipated night dive on the undisclosed lobster spot. Getting out of the inlet was slow going, but once clear the seas dropped down to the 2-4ft NOAA was forecasting. The major concern was the 12 ft seas over the weekend. Last week there was over 50ft of vis. What affect would the rough seas have on the bottom vis and temps? Capt Dan kept telling us, “I leave the diving to you , you leave the DRIVING to me”.

The boat looked like a page from rebreather world. There were Megaladons, Inspirations, Evolutions and a Kiss or two. That was only half the boat. The rest was filled with doubles and a couple of singles. On the way out Dan passed around a drawing of the wrecks layout. There was a quick discussion that the tie in would be on the boiler. When we got to the wreck the crew deployed the new laser guided shot line to hit the boilers. It must have worked, because Mark had us tied in within minutes.

The plan was to do an early dusk dive for orientation, then a night dive after the surface interval. Groups of divers quickly dropped in, and we watched them descend through the clear water. If the surface vis was any clue, the bottom should be nice. As I was gearing up, Mark returned with a report: 50+ ft of vis and 64 degrees top to bottom.

My plan was to keep the first dive short, and save the bottom time for the second dive. I soon rolled in and dropped down the line. There was no current on the line as I passed other divers on their ascent. I could not resist the urge to yank on a few fins on the way by. At the 60ft mark I could see the beacon below me. This was going to be a good dive! At 70 ft the wreck was visible. The sand was at 120+, so I leveled off at 100 ft, and started to reconnoiter. The layout was clearly visible, and easy to navigate. The sun was high enough in the sky that lights were not necessary. I was amazed how much this looked like the drawing Dan passed around.

The Fluke seem to know that they were just out of season as the swam around the wreck openly. Then again, it is their spawning season. Some real doormats were chasing each other around the wreck. One or two winter flounder were also about. A few large Seabass made me regret leaving my spear at home. Of course Ling are a prerequisite on wrecks of this depth, along with the Ocean Pouts peering out from under the wreck. Even a few Tog made an appearance. Sea Ravens, Sea Robins, and some Porgies rounded out the predominant fish population.

Detecting a slight current, I headed into it toward one end of the wreck. Passing the bow, I headed out into the sand for a few scallops. After grabbing a couple, I passed a few scattered pieces of debris, with telltale antenna. While I’m not the best lobsterman, I can try, and grabbed a pair on the smaller side. Heading back over the main wreckage, claws could be seen in every nook, or at least those that did not have Ocean Pouts. My plans had changed, and the short first dive turned into the contingency plan dive. Just didn’t want to go up. The light was fading, and the lobsters were getting bolder.

I hit the surface with the last of the crew. With two captains aboard, Dan was able to splash and enjoy a dusk dive with Louis and Carrie while the rest of us did our surface interval. They returned laughing! Why? It was just that nice a dive, and they had a good number of crustaceans between them.

Did I mention that this was a catered event? During the surface interval we were treated to a large deli tray complements of Louis. Quality deli meats and cheeses, potato salad, pickles, cookies. Just the thing to keep your energy up for the second dive. Now it was time for round two.

I splashed right after Bill T. I wanted to get a couple of lobster, so I could not leave him on the wreck for long. The sun had set and it was now quite dark. The beacons could be seen almost immediately. We dropped down the line quickly. I was right behind Bill, but not closed enough. He was already bagging a bug as I hit the bottom. They were everywhere! The small ones were roaming around like ants, ok ants with claws. You didn’t want to touch the bottom for fear of hurting them. The bigger ones were emerging, and could be cornered away from the safety of home. Eels were also about hunting in the dark. Many fish were sleeping about the wreck, with the exception of the Fluke which were now in full hunting mode. More could be seen now than during the day. Did I mention that Lobsters were everywhere? It was an amazing dive.

After grabbing a few, and trying to coax a few larger ones out of hastily chosen crevices, it was time to head up. The hang was surreal. You could not see divers, just lights. Below they were flickering as they passed around the wreck, and were obscured by the rising bubbles. There was no current. We hung by the line motionless counting down the minutes.

I climbed aboard and began to get out of my gear as Dan and crew were banding and sorting out the lobster bags. After the last few divers came up, we ran through roll call. Scott pulled the hook, and we and headed back. What a great dive!