Finally, after a very long stretch of bad weather and not having a dive scheduled on the few nice days we did experience on the weekends, we got off the dock for not one, but two charters! The weather leading up to the weekend was far from good and so we decided to keep it simple for our first trip of the year with a dive on the Herbert on Saturday, followed by what ended up being the Poling on Sunday due to blustery north wind. All in all, it was a great weekend of diving.
Saturday we loaded up and headed to the Herbert. Conditions were better than predicted with light winds and no fog, which had been in the marine forecast. Part of the reason for selecting the Herbert was that it’s a short ride for us, and there was a reasonable chance there would be a mooring there. Indeed, we were right. When we arrived the mooring (albeit rather crusty and slimy) was present. We picked up, tied off and got to diving.
Dave and Josh headed in first and the rest of the divers following as is usually the case. When Dave returned, we were shocked to hear the visibility was pretty good at about 10-15’ with some ambient light—this is very good for the Herbert. Scott, Tim and I suited up and splashed. We dropped down to the wreck, got situated and then did the usual tour of the wreck beginning with the stern, followed by poking around the bow, with a visit to the clam dredge last. The water is still pretty chilly at 39-40 degrees, so when we were beginning to feel the chill, we wrapped it up and headed up. There was a decent current running in the water column, which is less common on this wreck.
We surfaced and enjoyed a nice ride back. The sun even came out a bit, with warm temperatures to go with it. However, we knew it wouldn’t last, as Sunday was to bring markedly different weather. With blustery north wind coming, it was going to be cold again. We decided to make a go of it (with an early AM weather check to be sure) and aim for the Poling. Sunday rolled around and in the early morning it looked nice with light NW wind. However by the time we were leaving the house there was around 20 knots of north wind. Hmm.
We gathered at the boat, loaded up, got rebreather checks done with students and headed to Gloucester. It was a fairly smooth ride, but for sure, it was choppy up at the Poling. For sure, we wouldn’t have been able to make it to the City of Salisbury. Scott and I were diving first with Vitaliy so we suited up to get ready. We were tied into the sole mooring on the wreck. We splashed in and kicked hard back to the boat—the current was running hard and the seas were a bit bumpy. Immediately I knew something was not right though. The lines were pulling sideways and the granny line was bowed out. I swam back over the ladder and shouted out. At the same time, Dave realized we had broken out of the wreck and we were drifting. So, we dragged ourselves out of the water, back aboard while the crew got a new mooring shot line dropped in for us to tie in. Never fun when that happens!
With the new line in, we dropped back in. I decided to leave the camera behind since it looked pretty murky from when I first jumped in. We dropped down, Scott moved the line over the stern and chained it in. In a few minutes, we shot the bag and continued our dive. Visibility was OK on the wreck, maybe 10-15’—not terrible, but not great for photos so I didn’t feel too bad about leaving it behind. We did a tour through the inside and a lap around the wreck before heading up. The water temperature was about the same as the day before at 39-40 F. The current was screaming from about 30 feet up and it was definitely some effort to get out of the water. The next groups of divers had to splash holding a line and be pulled over to the downline.
When the next groups were done diving, we pulled the lines and headed home. We left a new mooring, this one with chain, which will hopefully hold up better. Overall, a great weekend getting back at it, although we sure did have to work for it Sunday.