Saturday’s plan was the epic Pinthis and Paul Palmer trip where we leave Beverly, head south to Scituate to dive the Pinthis, then turn east out into Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary to dive the Paul Palmer before finally making the trek back to Beverly. It is about 11 hours dock to dock and 75 nm. For this trip, we need good weather, good food and a group keen on a lot of fun. Indeed, we got the weather although the forecast was certainly a little dicey looking at times.
We loaded up and got underway a little before 7 am. For this trip earlier is better since we’re on the tides for the Paul Palmer and we can only spend so long on the Pinthis. Everything has to be timed just right on this trip. There was a little ground swell running as we were heading out, but it dissipated as we got further south. We did encounter a few dense fog banks, but it came and went and we plugged along. We arrived on the Pinthis and met up with our friend Tom who was out on his boat. We took the mooring and he rafted up with us. The conditions were great, although there was a decent current running. No sooner than we arrived did whales begin visiting us with one coming right up to the boat and surfacing several times. It was very cool. The first groups of divers splashed in. Today’s mission was finding my back-up light that I dropped when it became unclipped accidentally while at the back of the boat on our last trip.
Before long, the divers were returning with the dive report – good visibility, current on the bottom, no back-up light despite a sand sweep. Scott, Tim and I suited up next. I left the camera behind so I could focus on looking for the light and swimming out into sand with current running would be annoying with the camera. We splashed in and dropped down. We took a good swim about 200 feet off the wreck and ran a sweep pattern. No light. Oh well. We took a quick swim down the wreck and through the interior before heading up and getting underway to the Palmer. We were running a little late relative to the slack, which I knew might be an issue because we didn’t have an ideal window on this day.
We had a nice ride over the Palmer. The fog had cleared out and the wind was light. It was a beautiful day. We got on the Palmer and dropped the shot line in the water – this wreck we’re not able to tie into because of sanctuary regulations. We got the first team ready and splashed them in on the shot line. It looked like there was decent current running on the surface, and I was just hoping it wasn’t too bad on the bottom. Dave came up first to give us some time while the others remained on the bottom. Scott, Tim and I scrambled to get ready. Dave said the conditions were good – nice vis, tons of HUGE lobsters, but definitely some current on the surface. We suited up and got ready for the drop. The current was running hard on the surface. We jumped well upstream, grabbed the shot and pulled ourselves down. Since we were eating into the dive window and really getting into the unfavorable end of it, the current was moving on the bottom.
We were at the bow with the current running stern to bow, which is what I wanted to set up although I admit it was luck that it worked out that way. We inched our way to the stern taking photos and video before drifting back to to the bow. The wreck seemed exposed on the starboard side and more sanded in on the port side. There is also a large dragger net tow line hooked around the wreck, I guess that will be there forever. We poked around the wreck admiring the very large lobsters, including one that had to be about 30 years old that was covered in barnacles – it looked like it had prevailed in a few fights over the years. Anyway, it was a nice dive with some spectacular marine life. The current was screaming at this point and it was a challenge moving the shot and coming up, but we managed. We climbed aboard Gauntlet, hauled the line and headed home. While we didn’t see any whales underwater, but they were cruising around on the surface! We enjoyed a nice lunch and some nap time as we made the long ride back to Salem. It was a great day on the water!