With only one day of charters scheduled this weekend, we were going to make it count with a big day on the water. We dusted off one of the classic Gauntlet trips—a combo of the Pinthis and the Paul Palmer. This trip covers about 80 nm and begins with steaming down to Scituate to dive the Pinthis, and then heading over to the Paul Palmer in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary to catch the afternoon slack. It takes us about 11 hours dock-to-dock to make this voyage. It’s a fun trip, as it’s not too often that one can leave home port in Beverly, dive off Scituate, then dive off Provincetown and head back to Beverly in a single day’s trip.
Everyone was right on-time and we got loaded up, and off the dock a few minutes early, which is always a good thing since it gives us more time on the Pinthis. Everything has to go clockwork and delays can throw the entire day off. The weather was fabulous—light winds, comfortable temperatures and good sea conditions. We arrived on the Pinthis and picked up the mooring. Dave and Jessica splashed right away so that we could stay on track and the next groups followed behind them. Tim, Scott and I awaited our turn to dive. We were planning to do some video/photography stuff playing around with lighting, so I was hoping for a good visibility report. Sadly, we did not get one. When Dave and Jessica returned both gave a rather grim report. They reported the visibility was about 10 feet with a lot of particulate in the water. Ugh. Anyway, we suited up with the camera/video and headed in determined to work with it.
We dropped down to the wreck and indeed, it was disappointing visibility. I dismissed any possibility of taking photos outside the wreck and we just headed in to see what we could do there. We did a trip up to the bow and back, going slow and trying to set up various shots with the remote slave strobe and Tim’s video lights. It was challenging, but good practice. For sure, we have some ideas to keep working with in better conditions. With our bottom time up, we headed up for a short deco before climbing aboard at 11:10 am—perfect timing, as we needed to leave the Pinthis by 11:15 am. We pulled the lines and headed east into the sanctuary.
We had a great ride over, with Provincetown emerging in distance and an increasing number of whales splashing around nearby. We hoped for a visit underwater with all the great action on the surface. We got over the Paul Palmer and there was a lot of fishing gear in the water all around the wreck. Nevertheless, we dropped the shot line off the bow and got Dave and Jessica in. Before long, the cups were up signaling the shot line was in position, and we dropped in the next groups. Some whales got pretty close, but none wanted to play and we watched them go swimming off into the distance. Some of them were breaching and giving us a pretty good show!
Before too long, it was our turn to dive again, but once again we got a rather grim visibility report. Dave said the visibility was a murky 10 feet at best. Ugh, ugh, ugh!! He did say the marine life was great, with a lot of big lobsters that are always really neat to see. With that, Tim, Scott and I suited up for our dive. We hit the water at 1:55 with about 35 min left in the slow/slack water window. We’d do our dive and then pull the shot away from the wreck when we were done. We got down to the bottom and indeed the visibility was poor. It was definitely not at all well suited for wide angle photography. The current was picking up on the bottom too and was running towards the stern. We went with it, and rode it back to the stern. It’s a fairly long wreck at 276’ in length. Although there isn’t much wreckage, the foot print is large enough that there are a lot of nooks and crannies to check out where one can spot very large lobsters, among other marine life.
When we got to the end of the wreck, we spotted two monster lobsters hiding in holes. I think one lobster had a claw the size of my head. I needed something in the picture to give it some scale, but I couldn’t get any volunteers to stick a hand close to the claw! We could really feel the current at the end of the wreck, and I signaled we should start heading back to the bow. We inched our way up to the bow, where the current was even stronger – it was too strong to round the winch and chain pile outside the wreckage. We saw lots of sculpin, a few large sea raven and just a few dogfish. We poked around the area a bit more before deciding to head up. We had a short ascent and stop before surfacing and being retrieved by the boat.
When we were back aboard and the gear had been stowed, we broke out the food and enjoyed a good lunch while relaxing for the 2.5 hour ride back to Beverly. It was a little before 5:30 when we hit the dock. It was a great day and mission accomplished!
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