Scuba Diving in New England
A guest blogger!! Jen Kahn learned to scuba dive in a much warmer climate, Los Angeles, California. She moved to New England from L.A. a year and a half ago to work for Yankee Magazine and continues to enjoy the sport she loves, though her season is much shorter on this side of the map. I asked Jen to write about her most recent dive. Enjoy.
First Dive of the Season
by Jennifer Kahn
I would love to plunge into every ocean, lake, river, and mud puddle I come across. I’ve been underwater sightseeing in Fiji, Curacao, California, New York, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine and Massachusetts, and can’t wait to add Connecticut and Rhode Island to the list. I’ve been dreaming about diving since the snow started to fall in November. In these dreams the water is 80 degrees and I can see into the deep blue.
To get through the colder months dive-free, I thought about going on vacation (too expensive). I thought about taking an ice diving class (brrr). Then March came along and the days got longer, the sun higher, and gardening season started. It was mid-June and I hadn’t even put a toe in the water. How could I have let it go this long? Would I even remember how?
Luckily I’ve found some like-minded souls in the Monadnock Dive Club. During the winter we meet once a month and talk about the diving we are going to do when it warms up. Or we drool over the vacation pictures from those members lucky enough to spend two weeks in Aruba, or two months in Florida. In June we switch to two meetings a month, since that’s when the diving starts. This year we scheduled a “tune up” dive at Stage Fort Park in Gloucester, Massachusetts, where we planned to practice skills, make sure our gear still worked, and maybe even see some fish.
The week before the scheduled dive I was a wreck. What should I bring to the dish-to-pass? How long was the drive? Would it be easy to find? I checked the weather forecast at least four times a day. Was it going to thunder? Would it be too cold? Was it going to be so hot that I would feel like I was going to pass out putting on my wetsuit? Oh no! My wetsuit! After 6 months of hibernation, would it even fit?
The Thursday before the scheduled dive I decided to find out. This was Thursday, June 12 – the week where it was 150 degrees out, with 99% humidity, and I had 700 mosquito bites.
I took my wetsuit down to the basement where it was a few degrees colder, and tried to put it on. You see, there’s this thing about wetsuits – when they’re left on a hanger for months and months, the Neoprene stiffens up. They don’t shrink, but they turn from really-hard-to-put-on but stretchy into even-harder-to-put-on and not-so-stretchy at all. Plus, when a person is wet (or in my case – sweaty and puffy, from 150 degree weather with 99% humidity) and the suit is dry, it sticks to you like it’s coated with super glue. It took me almost half an hour and a few minor injuries to get the wetsuit on, but it still fit.
That Sunday morning the alarm went off at 5 a.m. Diving is definitely an early morning sport – better conditions, easier parking, and that’s when the boats leave if you are lucky enough to be on one. It was pouring outside at home, but I consoled myself with the fact that at least there was no lightening, and since we were two and half hours from our destination, perhaps the weather was different there. The trip went mostly without incident, but for one wrong turn and an almost-flooded highway. We made it to Stage Fort Park right on time, and found near-perfect dive conditions, not much rain, and ample parking.
We geared up, and went in. The water was a balmy 63 degrees, and for once I was warmer in my wetsuit than the fancy dry-suit divers were in theirs. We spent the next hour cruising around in about 20 feet of water. We saw many moon snails, a few lobster, crabs, hermit crabs, flounder, and some lovely skates. The highlight of the marine life was the moon snail we found devouring his lunch. All that was left was one lobster claw, sticking out of the moon snail like a beak, while a skate patiently waited in the wings for leftovers.
After the dive we toweled off, put gear away, and hung around for a picnic of hot dogs and dish-to-pass salads. We told stories, and talked about dive adventures for the summer ahead.
Now that the first dive of the season is over, I can’t wait for the next one. Next year I’m not waiting until June. I’m signing up for that ice diving class, and I’m going to like it! But that is a few months off (thankfully).
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