The Gauntlet

After several weekends of miserable weather and cancelled plans, the conditions were finally good enough to go diving (sort of). It was still a little rainy and choppy, but there was less wind predicted than usuall. So I headed up to Dave and Heather’s house in Beverly Mass. on Friday so that we could get up bright and early the following morning. Around 6 we made the short commute over to were they keep the Gauntlet docked in Salem. Heather went over the boat, opening things up and checking the oil in the engine. Next we brought all of their gear down into the boat and by 7 o’clock it was time to start loading all of the guest’s gear onto the boat. Since the target wreck for the morning was 190 feet deep everyone was diving steel doubles sith all sorts of stage bottles, which all had to be secured with bungee ropes so as not to move around and break things during the ride out to the wreck. Before the dive a mooring had to be prepared for the wreck since it did not already have one. I helped out with this by coiling a ton of rope into a bucket, which is actually not nearly as easy as it sounds, but I managed. One end of the rope had a bunch of milk cartons and such attached to it. The other end had some weight attached. After the hour long ride to the dive site the mooring was thrown in on top of the wreck and Dave and another diver went down to secure it to the wreck. After they returned, the divers began entering the water, which was sometimes quite a trick since the water was a little choppy. Everyone managed to get in and down though, and there was nothing to do but wait in the cabin with the heater until they started to emerge again. Then all the divers had to be helped to remove all their gear. This is tricky on a rocking boat with huge tanks strapped to your backs, I came to learn. Once all the divers were safely disassembled the journey back began as all napped or swapped diving stories. Back at the dock the unloading process began, just to reload again for the afternoon dive on the Chester Poling. I was to be diving this wreck so I hauled all my gear down the ramp to the boat. On this dive only myself, and three other people taking classes were on the boat with Dave and Heather as opposed to the morning’s ten person load. The ride out to the Poling was much shorter than the mornings commute, so once the wreck was spotted (this was easy since another boat was already there) we started suiting up. I can now don my drysuit in record time (like half an hour), but still lagged behind my budies who pulled on their wetsuits like jack rabbits. Eventually though, I was all geared up and ready to enter the water with Dave and my two other budies. After lumbering over to the platform and plunging into the water I swam over to the tag line. The current was moving extremely fast, so holding on was a bit difficult. We then had to haul ourselves over to the line down to the wreck. This was still a bit frightening since the boat was smacking the water in an intimidating fashion. However at a depth of about five feet the current vanished and it was smooth sailing. The water was murky and dark, but visibility wasn’t too bad, especially with a light. The wreck somewere around 75 feet of water and is a magnificent artificial reef, covered in wildlife. The wreck itself is spectacular too, and seems huge underwater. Once back on the boat, I made the hideous mistake of not asking for help with my zipper and learned a valuable lesson ; zippers and zip seals do not, in fact, get along. With a puncture wound in my wrist seal and no backup, a second dive was out for me. So instead I helped the other divers get back in the water and then at the end of their second dive, helped them unsuit and secure their tanks. At this point it was close to 5 o’clock and time to head home, tired and contented. At the dock I moved all my gear back into my car, said good-bye to Dave and Heather and began the long drive home.