|SCUBA with the Sharks - September 7, 2002
Activity & report by Alison O.
|My friend Pat and I headed
to Galilee on the southern tip of RI for 6am <groan> Sunday morning,
gradually awakening as the sun came up. We loaded our scuba gear onto
the fishing boat SNAPPA and greeted the other five divers as they came
aboard. Captain Charlie was a very calm, patient, and happy-go-lucky
man who also happens to be a medic (good thing to have along on a
We drove past Block
Island and spotted a few dolphins happily jumping alongside the boat,
so we stopped there to watch them and catch a few blue fish for shark
bait. This trip comes with no guarantee of finding sharks, so at that
point we were happy to see the dolphins and to get in some fishing as
Another hour further out to blue water we
found our spot for diving. It took about an hour or so after letting
out the "chum" (fish guts to attract sharks) before the first shark
arrived. I couldn't be happier to have earned the title of "First
person to spot a blue shark" for the day. :)
Most folks had stayed on the boat so as
not to use up the air in their tanks until more sharks arrived, so
Pat, Phill (a diver from Ohio) and I were the only ones in the water
at the time, snorkeling on the playpen (a styrofoam float device).
Originally I hung out on top of the shark cage, but it was not very
comfortable with all those bars under me. It's just nice to know you
can quickly enter the cage from the top should a group of sharks
suddenly appear. The view from the playpen is rather limited as you
are reduced to peering over the side.
With the arrival of the second blue shark,
two other divers jumped in. Chris is a computer programmer from
Wallingford, CT who does "old-fashioned" underwater photography as a
hobby, and Becky is a headhunter from western MA who is just getting
into marine videography. Her camera cost her down payment savings on a
new house, over $7,000. Here's hoping she shares that footage with us
this winter after she's had a chance to edit it.
Before booking this trip, I asked Charlie
if anyone had ever been bitten on his trips. He told me there was one
woman who was bitten on the butt while climbing back into the
boat--turns out that woman was Becky! She laughed as she related the
tall tale of how she'd supposedly been mauled to death by the thing
after the rumor swelled, when actually the account of being bitten on
the butt wasn't quite true either. She was in the water and had felt a
blue biting on her air tank, and when she tried to poke him with the
stick that Charlie provides, she was bitten on the thigh. The docile
blues release once they realize you're not food, so there was no
thrashing. Still, she had a pretty good bite that left a circular scar
after fifteen stitches and a skin graft.
Blue sharks are about 5 feet long and are
a very graceful animal with light skin, which to Pat looked purple
under the water. They have an arc of spectrum blues on their backs,
which is how they got their name. Simply beautiful! I watched as Phill
gently petted one on the nose, and stroked another on the side, but I
was not able to reach the sharks myself since I was in between Pat and
Phill. :^( After a third blue arrived, the trio played around,
circling Chris for a bit. Then realizing we weren't edible, they
slowly swam off into the abyss. They didn't seem very interested in
the chum or in hanging around, but they were definitely curious about
Normally waters in New England have a
visibility of about 5-20', but we had gorgeous skies, calm waters and
thus visibility of about 50'! The rays of sun seemed infinite as they
poked down through the 250' depth. It doesn't get any better than
When you're hanging out on the playpen,
there's really nothing else to see under the water but last year's
frozen tuna that Charlie strung out as "live" bait. Occasionally
someone would yank the string to make the tuna dance, and at one point
Chris brought it up and put a cracker in its mouth to see if we'd
notice. :) The sharks weren't the least bit interested in the tuna,
perhaps sensing its frozen state. I noticed a white fish with big
brown spots (dogfish?) that looked like a dust mop as it swam upward,
so Charlie teased me the rest of the trip about the "squirrel" I'd
After a period of about a half hour, Phill
called out, "Baby mako!" Becky had seen one the day before and was
hoping to see him again. The mako sharks, even the small ones, have a
fierce look about them. Pierre from Montreal now jumped in, but only
Pat chose to use the cage. Then the two guys from Long Beach, NY
jumped in, but only for a short time since one of them was sea sick
from the boat ride (I took Bonine beforehand myself. Not good to
chance sea sickness in scuba gear!).
Normally Charlie would insist on everyone
being either in the cage or on the playpen, but since four of the
divers had done this trip with him before and the rest of us didn't
seem like foolish divers, he let us choose what we wanted to do. Pat
was ready with her stick when the mako looked as though he would enter
the cage. The shark chose not to enter, but rather swam over to me to
investigate. I must've looked like food in my purple wetsuit and lack
of air tank, since I chose to skin dive instead. He was a much faster
and erratic swimmer than the blues, and the look on his wide-eyed
toothy face made me think twice about trusting him, but I just held
still under the water as he came very near, hoping to pet him once
that head went by... Unfortunately at the last minute he veered off,
and then he left us.
The experienced shark divers were saddened
when they realized it was time to head back soon, and that there would
probably be no more sharks arriving for the day. Who would've guessed
a pod of about 30 dolphins would be leaping by just then, and so close
to the boat?! What a blessing! Becky and Chris jumped in and swam
toward them for the ultimate shots while the rest of us looked on in
With no guarantee of blue skies, calm
waters, shark sightings, cool fellow divers and warm weather, we all
booked this trip in advance hoping for the best. The day couldn't have
been better! We'll do it again next year for sure.
Thanks, Captain Charlie!!
|World's End Walk - September 7, 2002
Activity & report by Jan G.
Pam, Marilyn, Denise 1, Jan, Jim, Jen, Ann, Denise 2, and Patrice
met in the parking lot at the World's End in Hingham, MA. The latter
three were brand-new to GONewEngland, and I hope to see you again
soon. The day was warm, sunny...couldn't have been better. Well, the
dragon taking tolls at the gate could have been nicer, but we got over
||World's End is a figure-8 of land sticking out into the
Boston Harbor. It is filled with easy loops of trails that go
through woods and by the water, with views of Nantasket.
For about 2 hours, we walked the trails. There is a "Rocky
Neck" portion that is perfect for resting, eating lunch, and
enjoying the view. We saw some cormorants, and Denise 1, our
birder, kept us well-informed re wildlife, etc. Did you know
Gorgonzola cheese is made with worms? I didn't, and I still
can't believe it. I'm gonna have to research that one.
After lunch, we inadvertently circled around the neck a few times,
but we made it back to the parking lot after a great walk with good
|Mt. Greylock Camping Weekend - October 4-6, 2002
Activity, report, and photos by Dawn S.
Additional photos from Kathryn D.
Overlook Trail View
The 5 people (Joe, Joan, Michelle, Kathryn, and Kim) who joined me
at the Stoney Ledge group campsite on Mt. Greylock now understand why
I say it's the best campsite on the mountain. In order to snag this
wonderful site, I had to call for the reservation in July. It's so
hard to know what you will get for weather in October in New England,
especially a couple thousand feet up a mountain, but I was optimistic.
As the date approached, I got nervous. For a while, it looked like we
might have some hurricane rains to deal with - but in the end, we had
some fog, rain, and wind on Friday but then had beautiful autumn
weather for the rest of the trip.
On Saturday, those who showed up late on Friday got their first
peek at the spectacular Hopper, the valley below.
We had breakfast on the ledge and then we headed up to the top of
the Massachusetts' tallest point, enjoying views on the Overlook Trail
along the way.
At the top we had lunch and climbed the War Memorial
A lighthouse that landed far from the sea
The Group: Dawn, Joe, Michelle,
Kathryn, Joan, Kim
From there we continued down the other side to Robinson's Point, a
short detour with spectacular views.
We headed back to our campsite and cooked a wonderful dinner. We
donned some fleece and cranked up the fire, and even got a great view
of the stars (if only Gary and his telescope had come along!)
Sunday we enjoyed another "breakfast with a view", packed up, and
did a quick hike to Rounds Rock - where we soaked up some sun and more
amazing views, before we all headed our separate ways.
Overall, the foliage might have been little behind schedule but it
was still spectacular, and it was a great weekend!