Title: Scuba Diving in Massachusetts
Date Occurred: Sunday, June 9, 1991
Date Written: Sunday, June 9, 1991
Date Modified for My Web Site: December 31, 2003
Written by: Joel T. Kant
Copyright (c) 2003
Six years passed since I had scuba dived in open water. That had back in 1985 at Madison, Wisconsin. I had realized then scuba diving was an expensive sport. I had thought I would take it up again after getting a job an electrical engineer. However, almost as soon as I had started working in 1986, I had started planning on attending graduate school full time. I was saving money for that. I also saved money by continuing to drive old, used cars. By June of 1991, I had been accepted back to University of Wisconsin-Madison, but I did not like the lack of a teaching or research assistantship. I had applications in to many other universities. Before returning to college, I wanted to finally go out scuba diving again. It was time.
The scuba club I contacted decided six years inactive had been too long. I had to do a refresher in a swimming pool. I had done that without difficulty.
On Sunday, June 9, I met the other divers at a restaurant. We formed a caravan of three vehicles and drove out to Cape Ann. It is north of Boston. It doesn't jut out nearly as far into the ocean as Cape Cod does to the south of Boston. Cape Cod is far more famous. However, Cape Ann was a closer drive. It was also much less crowded. in June.
We pulled into a parking area above a beach. A driver got out of a Ford Escort. He talked to the driver of a tan pickup. The driver returned to the Escort. We left that beach in the vehicles, reforming the caravan. After a couple miles, we pulled into another beach and parked. Everyone got out of their respective cars. I was surprised that nobody got out their gear. I got out of my car and walked over to where the group looked over the sea. They were discussing the wave height. After a few minutes, it was decided not to dive there. Someone explained to me that the way the waves were coming in that day and their size meant they could pound you into the rocks.
The caravan reformed. We returned to the first beach we had been at. This was White Beach in Manchester, Massachusetts. This beach was sheltered in a natural cove, so the waves were much smaller. Another diver told me that the diving here was not as fun as at the other site, but the waves were usually much less.
This time, everybody got out their gear. The instructor that was supposed to be my dive buddy discovered he had forgotten his regulators. That meant all he could do was snorkel. He could not be my dive buddy because of that. I thought I might not dive that day because of this. However, another diver became my assigned buddy. He was named Dave Weidleck. I may have his last name wrong. His signature in the dive book is hard to read.
Dave and I waded in by walking backwards. This was to prevent tripping when walking in our fins. After we were out far enough, we put our regulators in our mouths and submerged. Initially, the bottom was sandy. It was a smooth, heavy sand. Waving a foot or hand above it did not kick up thick, blinding clouds as had the fine silt on the bottom of Devilís Lake back in Wisconsin.
Along the bottom we saw crabs. The crabs ran sideways, moving quickly.
Dave started waving his hand along the bottom. The force of the water kicked up sand, but not in a way to obscure vision. I was confused as to why Dave was doing this. After a few minutes doing this in various areas on the bottom, Dave found what he was looking for. A sand-colored fish lay flat on the bottom. The fish thrashed a few times. He lifted from the bottom, then swam away from us. After the fish had gone about ten feet, he returned to the bottom. He flicked sand back over himself.
Dave and I settled down to the sandy bottom and knelt. Dave had me do some review exercises such as flooding my mask and clearing it. Years earlier back at Madison, Paul Lewandoski had taught me well, so I completed the review without difficulty.
Dave and I swam on. He found a couple more of the sand-covered fish partially concealed on the bottom.
We swam out deeper, and the bottom changed to seaweed-covered boulders. Little crabs climbed on the seaweed. Dave pointed out something that looked like a caterpillar that could swim.
While Dave and I did this, the instructor who was snorkeling because of leaving his regulators behind and the other scuba divers caught lobsters. They searched around and under rocks for them. One of the divers had a blue, net-like bag. He would measure the size of each lobster found with a gauge. Two were big enough to keep. Although restricted to snorkeling,
Dave noticed my curiosity about the activity. He found a lobster. He demonstrated how to catch a lobster without getting pinched by the claws. He swiftly grabbed the lobster from behind. After Dave put the lobster back down, I picked him up without getting pinched. I put the lobster back down. He would' have been too small to keep anyway. Besides, I believe some sort of fishing license was needed, and I had none.
A very large fish was momentarily visible swimming between some of the boulders. Later, Dave told me that it was a striped bass.
Behind a boulder, I pushed away some of seaweed and saw two large crabs having a good time. It was easy to anthropomorphize their annoyance at being disturbed as they glared up at me. I swam on, thus restoring the crabsí privacy.
As we headed back towards shore, Dave pointed at a large, flat, diamond-shaped fish that looked like a stingray. It was about a foot long and a foot wide. Dave grabbed him and flipped him over. I could see his mouth and vents in his white bottom.
After we had returned to the surface, I asked, "Was that a stingray?"
Dave said, "No. I wouldn't have picked him up like that if he was a stingray. That was a skate."
The sea life at this beach had been far more varied and visually interesting then what I had seen in Wisconsin.
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