Moments on the Water

By Michael Roberts aka. Salty Dog

It's 5:30 in the morning in early September. It's cold in the house so I start the coffee pot and head to the cellar to throw a couple of logs on the wood furnace. Run back upstairs and throw pants on and an old sweater. Drag the drysuit off the rack over the air vent and roll it up and stuff it a bag. Heave it in the fish tote by the door with the other dive gear. I got to stop and think, what am I gonna forget today? Nothin, its gonna be a perfect day. Frowning, I pour a cup of coffee with cocoa in it. Let's see, gear - ok, air - gotta pick that up on the way to the boat, dishes - in the sink, car - gassed up, boat - gassed up. Great, I'm all set. Time 6:00 hit the road for an hour and a half. As I head down the dirt road to the cove where my boat is moored I fight down that moment of anxiety every boat owner has just before he see's their boat swinging on the mooring. Now that that moment has passed I take a moment to absorb the most beautiful scenery. The sun is behind me in the pine trees and it is quiet except for the seagulls and the fishing trawler heading out. There is no wind and the smell of the seaweed on the rocks mixes with the pine needles as I sit on the dock putting my drysuit on over my clothes. Grabbing my fins I slide off the edge of the dock not wanting to wrinkle the surface of the water. As I swim out to my boat I get those familiar goose bumps I always get when I can't see down into the water, I kick a little harder even though I know I suffer from an over active imagination. Upon reaching the boat I kick once hard, grab the rail and spin my butt onto the rail smiling at my foolishness once that I see that there are no fins in the water. Pulling my suit off I head for the motor for a quick check of the wires and fuel lines. With everything in order I cast off the mooring line and push the starter button ending the stillness with the whining roar of the six cylinder outboard that is on my ridiculously light boat. Although I love sailing I also love speed and that is something this boat has. I slide up to the dock cutting the motor. Tying off with a quick motion I jump up on the dock grabbing gear and fish totes heaving them into the back of the boat nearly all in one motion. After parking the car I run back down the dock leaping into the boat and I'm off, it's only 8:00. My destination for today is an island called Brown Cow near the south end of Small Point. Its a Sunday and there are no lobstermen out, just a couple of pleasure boats are venturing out as I confidently fly down the shoreline I grew up on and have been diving for two years. The trip lasts less than fifteen minutes at 45 knots. The conditions are great. Warm and sunny by this time with a slow 5' swell and a 2-4 knot current running north. Tossing the anchor in on the NE corner, the island covers no more than 2 acres, I start gearing up for the dive. I notice some snorting after I turn of the motor and I see that I have disturbed the sunning of a small group of grey seals. I smile thinking that maybe there will be more to do today than rake sea-urchins into net bags! After throwing the net bags, bouy lines and a small hand rake into the water I notice four or five heads staring at me with big black watery eyes. I roll back into the water after checking the depth, I'm in shallow water close to the island because of the current and because it drops off to 180' or more very quickly. The water is expectionally clear for Maine, vis. is around 35' water temp. hasn't really started to cool from summer and is 66 at the surface and 58 at 40'. The devil's tail kelp grows thick on the Brown Cow partly why I wanted to harvest sea-urchins here. The surge and current waves it back and forth like a jungle in a tropical storm. Ocassionally I have to grab ahold to keep from bouncing off the rock outcropings. I see lots of lobsters of all sizes and a school of mackrel have found something worthy of their attention. The sunlight dances off them like it does off of branches after an ice storm. There are lots of good urchins and I diligently rake them up into the 6 net bags I brought with me. Every once in awhile I glimpse a fast moving shadow out of the corner of my mask. After filling the bags I take a moment to break a few urchins open. Waving the broken urchin in the water almost instantly brings dozens of different small fish. It also brings rock crabs and a couple lobsters looking for an easy meal! Since my air is running low I leave the smorgasboard I created and head back to the boat. I've been in about 1.5 hrs and I got 3 more tanks onboard! Reaching the boat I loosened my weight belt and flip it up into the boat. Next goes the tank and lastly myself. Once back on the boat I notice right away that the boat deck is wet. Figuring it must have been a freak wave slapping the stern I gear up for the next tank and throw 6 more bags with line into the water. I'm sitting on the rail near the stern when I hear an over excited barking coming from the rocks. Looking up I see a large seal head way up, looking at me! Something out of the corner of my eye gets my attention and I look down at the water next to the boat and there was this little fellow maybe no more than 2 - 3 feet long looking up at me!! He was so cute, looked like a black lab in the water. He wasn't the least bit afraid and obviously didn't give a damn about what his mother had to say. I kneeled down and reached my hand out and he swam the few inches up and sniffed my hand just like a puppy would! Well the barking stopped and I heard a big splash and figured little buddy here was gonna get a lickin from mom. I stood up and still he just stayed there next to the boat looking at me. I was getting concerned that there was something wrong with him. Momma came within 10' of the boat and started snortin at him. So I went up to the ignition and turned the motor on. I didn't want to frighten him but I figured I better get him to leave. I'v ealways wondered if he would of stayed there if I had slipped into the water. Anyway he took off when I fired up the motor. I saw him, least I thought it was him, later up on the rocks sunny himself. The whole day was one of those unusually perfect days. I didn't forget anything, I did three tanks on the Brown Cow, made good money and even got to Portland early enough to hit a couple of waterfront pubs. Course I ended up stayin at someones house in Portland but I had nothin to do the next day but go divin with the fish and seals of Maine again. How come things aren't always like this?

KBB Mike

O.K. Diving data - 3 Luxfer Al 80's, Viking Pro 2 drysuit, no BC, Sherwood Blizzard and pressure guage, no secondary, 38 lbs. of weight mostly to help combat the surge. 4 lbs of ankle weights, U.S. Diver Rocket fins. Dive profiles
- (12' 30 min.,35' 50 min.) -20 min. SI
- (20' 45 min., 40' 40 min.)
- 15 min. SI- (40' 40 min., 30' 50 min.)
current varied from 2 knots to almost 5 knots right at the end of the day. Whole day was solo- Beer consumed -Sam Adams.

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