Archive for April, 2010

Cold but good April dive!

Sunday, April 18th, 2010

Sunday, the NOAA forecast was right, but a little late. They called for 2 foot seas from the Northwest. On the way out, we kept watching behind us as waves were building. We figured we would make a call at 10 miles, at that point we were still in 3-4, so we made a dash for the parking lot.

On arrival, the seas were 3-5, with a steady wind from the northwest. This was not representative of the forecast, but was still quite manageable. We had some new crew members on the trip, so it was a good trip for some training. Bill had us over the wreck, and we jumped in and headed down. Given the length of line that payed out, the shot was assumed to be in the sand. As it turned out, it was the mid water current that was to blame for the line. Dropping down the line, the direction changed several times. The vis was good, and I could see the changes below me. First it went to the right, then to the left. I was tempted to just drop past the loops to the line below me, but did not want to let go.

When we finally hit the wreck, the line was laying over the hull, with the shot somewhere below us. The vis was 40 + , and the line draped over one of my favorite spots, with the shot off in the distance. I did a few wraps to mark the way back, and we headed down to find the shot, that we assumed was in the sand. Luck was on our side, and the grapnel had caught up on the undergrowth. We dropped down and quickly shot it back to the surface. After hauling the chain and line back up to the top of the wreck, I let the new crew wrap it for the tie. With a few minor corrections, we were done. No way we would pull out like other boat have done lately. The pool was open. It was safe to dive.

We listening carefully to the engines above, as we dropped down to the bottom. We could clearly hear the Independence maneuvering, then shutdown (they were in, without issue). I was looking for lobster, but did not see any indications of the tasty crustacean. Instead, I kept running across scallops. Last year we saw a lot of small scallops close to, even on top of the wreck. However, the ones we saw today were much larger. With the bottom temps at 38 degrees, I’m not surprised that there was not much moving.

I looked off into the sand, but there was nothing there. Normally we see loads of winter flounder, and a few scallops, but there was nothing off in the distance. During the dive I saw on small Black fish, and lots of cunners, and the the occasional ling cod, but little else. No one else saw any evidence of lobster. Either the wreck had been cleaned out recently, or they are not active yet. At 38 degrees, I cooled off quickly, and we headed back up. After a short deco, we were soon back on board.

Bags of scallops

Bags of scallops

Topside, the wind was dying down, and after a bit the waves did also. By the time we headed back, the NOAA forecast was becoming accurate. Several of us were suffering some first dive equipment concerns, and decided to make it a on dive day. Nothing dangerous, just no need for a second dive. Most passengers did two dives, and we were soon on our way back home.

It was a great start to the season, everyone had a great dive, and a bag of scallops to prove it. My wife, Valerie (1000 ways to cook fish) Oldham did herself proud, and made a fantastic scallops and pasta dish.

Given the rough seas, I did the Advil thing. Many people do not understand that standing on a boat for several hours adjusting you center of gravity uses a lot of muscles that you do not use every day. It can be a work out. Today it was. For those of us in the over 40 club, advil is a great help the first couple of times.

Well despite the forecast, it was a great day. Personally, I’m looking forward to a fantastic season!

Dive season is open. Lets go diving!

Bags of scallops

Dinner

Check it out

Saturday, April 10th, 2010

With a few gear changes, it was time for the annual trip to Dutch for spring checkout.

I encourage everyone to check out their gear changes and gear service in a controlled environment (Dutch  Springs is perfect in the North East) before jumping into an uncontrolled environment like the ocean.  If there is an issue, it’s easier/ safer to walk into the water, and stand up when there is an issue rather than do a giant stride in 100 ft of water and find out there is an issue.

After a few repairs to my backup drysuit, and a new setup for side mount bailout.   I headed up to Dutch with a few friends for practice and checkouts.   I was running a little behind schedule, but we did get in two dives to check out our gear.   In addition, I just received my camera housing back from another (see previous posts) service.  I wanted to try this out also.

Our dives were in clear water (40+ vis).   The new gear worked great, and we had plenty of time to practice at the platform.   I was sidemounting my stage bottles / bailout, and working on the setup.   This takes some practice, but it is a configuration that can improve the divers profile.   It’s not for everyone.   Many agencies do not support this configuration.   With a rebreather, it makes a lot of sense.    For me this is a work in progress.

On the second dive, I brought my camera.  The housing just got back from annual service, so I wanted to make sure it worked well prior to salt water immersion.   Everything seemed to work, until I realized that the focus was set for land rather than UW, and none of the UW shots were in focus.   Oh well, the rest of the functions worked, just operator error.

In the long run, I had some great dives with Tom and Leon.   I dragged them around the quarry, and was surprised that I still knew my way.  Dutch is a fantastic place for this type of checkout.  I recommended everyone go up there in the beginning of the season, after having gear serviced.   It’s a controlled environment with lots of support.  A great place to dust off a few skills, and see/dive with good friends doing the same.   Work with your buddy and get ready for dive season.

Let’s get this diving season started!

Dave