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October 8, 2016

By October 8, 2016 No Comments

With the threat of a hurricane looming all week, and otherwise winds out of the NE churning up the seas, I certainly had my doubts about the prospects for the weekend. The forecast bounced all over the place. Saturday looked as if there would be a small window of opportunity, and Sunday looked like a blow out at times, and at other times, looked doable. The tides over Columbus day weekend looked quite good and so I said the heck with it and put a Stellwagen trip on the books. Rarely do we get out to Stellwagen this late in the season, but I figured it couldn’t hurt to try. As the week shaped up and it became clear the hurricane would not affect us in New England, it also became clear we had a real shot at our trip to the North Star on Saturday. Sunday still looked questionable though.

Loading in the dark in anticipation of an exciting day out in Stellwagen.

Loading in the dark in anticipation of an exciting day out in Stellwagen.

By Friday, things looked good enough that we went ahead and bought food and prepped for the trip. The weather looked good, although there was a swell running. As long as the wind stayed light, we’d be OK. Saturday morning rolled around and we got down to the boat at o’dark thirty to get things opened up and prep for loading. As much as I was still sleepy, nothing says there’s a fun day of adventure on the water waiting quite like loading in the dark. Before too long, the sun was rising and we were loaded, and off the dock bound for the North Star.

As we cleared Marblehead and headed out to the open sea, it was clear there was a swell running. We hoped the wind would stay light. As we got offshore, we skirted the edge of a large fog bank just to our south, coming as close as 1/4 mile to being enveloped in fog at one point. However, we stayed in clear air, and the sun was still cutting through the party cloudy sky. We arrived on the North Star a bit ahead of the slack window, so we took our time dropping the shot line and getting the divers prepped. Once the tide started slacking, we got Dave and Feng in the water to tie in the mooring. The next waves of divers followed and once everyone else was in, Dave and Feng were back. They had a great dive—conditions were excellent with 20-30 feet of visibility, they say several goosefish and when they first arrived on the wreck, there was a large school of cod aggregating around the wreck. And as an added bonus, they relocated the missing stern piece of wreckage thanks to information provided by the Sanctuary staff. As we usually do, they ran a reel out connecting all the pieces so everyone could easily explore the wreck, which is a debris field.

Scott hovering over the recently re-located stern piece of the North Star wreckage.

Scott hovering over the recently re-located stern piece of the North Star wreckage.

Scott and I waited a bit longer tracking everyone else’s time so we could splash for our dive and pulling the mooring once everyone was headed up. We suited up and splashed, passing the last divers on deco at 30 feet. We descended, released the granny and then continued our dive. The visibility was excellent and got right to work taking photos. Unfortunately the cod were quite skittish and had split as soon as divers came along, so I didn’t get to see any of those. But I did see at least 3, maybe 4 goosefish, along with the usual sightings—sculpin, scallops, cunner, some hake.  All in all it was a great dive. We pulled the reel and then pulled the line and headed up for a short deco. We surfaced, and got picked up by the boat. The wind was beginning to pick up and the sky had become overcast and gray, so we knew the weather was going.

We cruised home in a little under 2 hours, getting back to Beverly around 1:45 or so. The afternoon forecast painted a grim picture for Sunday, with NNE winds of 20-30 knots, so we reluctantly canceled Sunday’s trip. All in all, getting a trip to Stellwagen in October was a real treat, so no complaints here.

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