Saturday, June 9, 2018

The voyage of the Dawn Treader: part 2

"My own plans are made. While I can, I sail east in the Dawn Treader. When she fails me, I paddle east in my coracle. When she sinks, I shall swim east with my four paws. And when I can swim no longer, if I have not reached Aslan's country, or shot over the edge of the world into some vast cataract, I shall sink with my nose to the sunrise." - C.S. Lewis in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Friends, it's another weekend, and Carl and I were at it again - dive training, that is. We reprised our search for the wreck of the Corwin in Buzzards Bay, this time with much greater success. The Dawn Treader was smoke-free, so we made it to the wreck and had a wonderful hour-long dive.

Our day started at 6 am. The low tide was predicted to be around 10 and we wanted to dive when the current was slack (about 9:30 - 10:30), so we got ourselves up and moving in plenty of time. The catch? The Dawn Treader is parked on a mooring in a marina, out in the middle of the water, and the marina's shuttle service doesn't begin until 8:00. Long story short, our morning started with a very cold swim to the boat. Invigorating!

Dive gear, calm seas and sunshine on the Dawn Treader 
Once we had everything loaded, we headed out to the wreck. We had a trustworthy set of coordinates for the site from the boat's owner, but we still used the echosounder to make sure we had arrived. We drove over the site multiple times, and whenever we were right over the wreck, the echosounder would display a bump on the seafloor and a shallower depth in the read-out. Once we were sure of our position, we tossed a wreck hook (an anchor that attaches to the wreck) over the side and donned our dive gear.

The water was like pea soup. It was chock-full of algae and marine snow, so the whole dive, I could only see about 3 ft in front of my face. As we descended through the water column, the ambient color went from green to black, so I turned on my dive light and tried to stay close to Carl. The conditions actually made for a really challenging dive. I had to stay close enough to Carl to see his fins but far enough away not to get kicked. I had to swim within sight of the line he laid on the seafloor for navigation but far enough away not to get tangled in it. It was dark, there was some current, and closer we got to the wreck, the more things there were for me to run into. It felt like stumbling through a dark house on an alien planet in a space suit. I spent a lot of mental energy just trying to be in the right place.

When we got to the wreck, though, the experience was immensely rewarding. I was proud of us for finding it, and I got to gawk at all the beautiful benthic invertebrates. I wish I could show you pictures, but as I am currently bereft of underwater camera, descriptions will have to do. The Corwin had completely different fauna than the Poling, which I attribute to differences in geography (south versus north of Cape Cod) and water temperature (it's much warmer down here). There were yellow sponges, Halichondria (breadcrumb sponge) and Cliona (boring sponge - not because it's a snooze but because it bores into rocks), but the majority of the animals on the wreck were a species of small orange anemone. So far, I haven't been able to identify it, but the anemone lived in dense clumps and covered most of the shipwreck surface. It obviously thrives there!

We swam for a while over a destroyed part of the wreck - metallic rubble strewn across the seafloor - then turned and explored the more intact portion. Carl loves going inside shipwrecks, but I'm a bit more cautious (= less experienced), so when he disappeared through an opening in the metal, I stopped to consider whether I wanted to follow. I decided to swim through the opening, but once I did, I discovered I was not inside the wreck at all! Metal beams rose on both sides of me, but the top deck was gone. It was very much like swimming through a rib cage.

Eventually, I approached the safety limit of my gas supply, so we headed back to the Dawn Treader's anchor. We swam slowly back up the line until we were once more bobbing in the ocean swell. I was grateful for the chance to explore a new dive site and experience the biodiversity on another island-like habitat. It was a great trip.

No comments:

Post a Comment