Yesterday I had the great opportunity to join many of the Sea Rovers on a dive on the Chester Poling. The Chester Poling is a ship that sank in 1977 just outside of Gloucester harbor. Apparently, a massive storm hit the ship just outside of port and the violent waves ripped the boat in half. Today, the stern of the boat lies in about 90 feet of water, while the bow rests at 180, making the stern a popular wreck dive close to shore. To get out to the wreck we left Gloucester harbor on the Cape Ann Diver 2, a boat associated with the East Coast Dive shop. On the boat were a number of sea rovers, several of whom were diving doubles or rebreathers which was neat to see in action. While I didn’t have any of that, I was able to use my DUI dry suit to get some useful dry suit training at depth.
Once in the water, we followed the mooring line down into the depths of the ocean until out the gloom, a shipwreck emerged at about 70 feet. We descended on the stern, and slowly swam along the level top deck until we reached the break. There, we descended once again to about 90 feet, and were able to use our lights to look into the belly of the ship’s cargo hold. Unfortunately, at depth we didn’t have too much bottom time, so we soon turned around and made our way back. Luckily, I was able to bring my big underwater camera I have on loan from backscatter with me on the dive and capture the rich life that the wreck supports. While absent of the corals that dominate tropical wrecks, the Chester Poling houses many fish, lobsters, and sponges.
On our second dive we followed a similar dive plan, however when we neared the break, my dive buddy Kim took me inside the wreck. We descended down the massive opening into the cargo hold, coming just to the other side of the break where we had been on the previous dive. After we ascended back up to the top of the deck, I spotted a massive scorpionfish, and chased it around the wreck until we had to go up.
After our two dives, I stayed on the boat for the afternoon shift, where a whole other host of Sea Rovers joined the crew to do their dives. While I didn’t join them in the water, it was great to meet all of them!