Sharon Hepburn's Dive Log
Coral Princess Hotel on 11/1/2006
We stayed at the Coral Princess and dove here several times. The main attraction is the mini-wall along the shore. The coral and sponge on the wall is so pretty I would have sworn it was a planted garden! Saw all kind of critters, eels, nudibranchs and the usual cast of Caribbean characters - including octopus! Max depth is only about 25 feet. Best thing is to swim against the current on the way out and drift back. The current can range from mild to ripping. Don't overshoot on the way back or you're in for a long, hard swim! Loved coming back from diving at 5:00 in time for Happy Hour! This is also a great snorkel and easy night dive.
Beavertail State Park on 11/1/2006
It has been 2 years since I've been to Beavertail, but have been several times, in Spring, Summer & Fall. Water temp is usually 5 or even 10 degrees warmer than Cape Ann, MA locations so it's good to come here in Spring & Fall. I have seen viz ranging from average to poor. Never excellent. That means everything from zero to 20 ft. From parking lot 2, you have to make a goat-trek down the cliff/rocks to the beach. But once on the beach, it's an easy entry and plenty of places on the rock to gear up. The entry is in a protected cove, but occasionally waves slam into the beach when the wind is right. Usually it's pretty easy to navigate out of the cove and out into the bay. Once out, pick a direction, left or right. I like to swim against the current (whichever way it's going that day) so I can drift back. Usually I get lucky finding the cove entrance again underwater but if viz is bad you usually need to surface to find it. Pretty seaweed but it sometimes disorients me when the surge is up and I can't see any rock underneath. I often see huge schools of silversides here - I like to get lost swimming with the fish! Overall a pleasant dive as long as the viz is reasonable and, if you don't mind the goat-path down to the water, it's easy in & out. I have dived the opposite side of the park only once. It's not as protected as Parking Lot 2 so usually the surf is too high to dive; but if it's calm, it's a very nice dive. Interesting rock formations & pretty kelp.
Fort Wetherill on 11/1/2006
I like Fort Wetherill better than Beavertail mainly for the ease of entry & exit. Doesn't get any easier than this, especially in New England. The boat ramp is the obvious choice for entry, but there are 2 entry points, each on opposite sides of a peninsula. You can do a point to point dive and navigate around the peninsula - even beginners can do this easily. There is an island off the tip of the peninsula and if you have advanced skills, you can navigate around the outside of the island and back around to the other side of the peninsula. But watch out: it gets to 80 feet deep on the left side of the island (if you're standing on shore facing it) so watch your air! If you've used up more than 500 lbs by the time you reach the island, take the inner route back to the peninsula rather than navigating the outside route. Also there is very little light at 80 ft so a flashlight is mandatory. And occasionally there is a ripping current outside the island. If I run into a current there, I feel more comfortable just heading back the way I came rather than risking it. Anyway, lots of flounder, skate, sunfish and stonefish. Also lots cool looking long-leg crabs. Not sure what they're called. This is a fun dive with something for everyone. The down side is EVERYONE is there. Lots of divers and classes so viz can be sketchy.
Folly Cove on 3/14/2005
Folly Cove is a fall-back dive when surf is up in other spots and tends to be pretty crowded. As a result viz tends to suffer. The wall to the left is pretty and easy to navigate. You can hit 60+ ft, too. Lots of interesting things to see every time we dive here. Tons of flounder, snails bigger than your fist, sand dollars, stripers, stone fish - I've even seen a dog fish here. I like it best at low tide. The sandy area is closer (good for donning fins & such) and fewer rocks to stumble over in the shallows.
Magnolia Rocks on 3/14/2005
Magnolia is a consistently good dive. Difficult, but not impossible at low tide. We've actually done belly-slides into the water here and almost always exit on hands & knees. Once you're in, there are a couple of sheltered spots to put your fins on. You often have to time your paddling with the waves to get over the rocks into deeper water. I prefer the swim to the left. The swim to the right can lead you up and over and around a maze of boulders that is hard on the ears. Often lots of fishermen here, so watch out for filament and hooks! We usually get lucky with parking. There are a few spots directly across the street. The homeowner adjacent has never complained and we've never been ticketed our towed. I think it's legal parking…
Pebble Beach on 3/14/2005
Not a very interesting dive. Come here only if all other sites fail and you absolutely have to dive! A thin strip of rock reef runs parallel to the shore quite a way out. Not a lot to see. Lots of sand. Easy parking and easy entry. Might be an ok night dive, but I think other sites might be better.
Back Beach on 3/14/2005
Lots of certification classes. I got certified myself here. Not the most interesting of dives. Head for the rocks to the left, of course. Lots of flounder, skate. Usually some stripers to follow you around. The best part about this site is the night diving. The easy in/out make it a good night spot and the cove is bio-luminescent! There are parking meters - keep them fed! Bathrooms are open sometimes, but usually locked when I go.
Loblolly Cove on 3/14/2005
Loblolly is really two dives sites in one. You can dive either side of the peninsula, entering either on the sandy beach side or the rocky side. We like to enter on the sandy side, swim around the peninsula and exit on the rocky side. The rocky side is a difficult entry & exit at low tide. Hit it at high tide. Often see lots of lobsters, sand shrimp, stone fish and lots of other critters. Viz is usually pretty good for New England, maybe 15 or 20 feet. Can't park here without a local parking sticker! Don't even try! You'll get towed! Drop your gear, and park at Pebble Beach on the far side. It's about a 10 minute walk.
Cathedral Rocks on 3/14/2005
This is my favorite Cape Ann dive site at high tide, but I avoid it at low tide. You can do a giant stride entry from a ledge. I usually carry the fins in and put 'em on in the water. Much easier that way! There's usually plenty of people to hand your gear up to if you need a hand exiting. Anyway, about the dive: Straight out, you can get to about 80 feet if the tide is right, but it gets mighty chilly! Swimming to the left, you'll stay at about 20-35 feet, with lots of pretty seaweed, sponges & anemones. I always see something new here! Swim to the right and you'll navigate around a bunch of interesting boulders and maybe max at 45 feet. Viz is usually above average for New England. Very pretty dive!
Norman's Woe on 3/14/2005
I'd dive here more often if it weren't for the hellish hike! 1/4 mile with all of your gear just isn't appealing! And then there are the dozens of fishermen who frequent this spot. Watch out for the fishing lines! Entry is intimidating - a giant stride about 3 feet up at high tide. Exit even harder. But it is a pretty dive and worth it if you're up to the task. Top side is very pretty too! Check it out for the photo opportunities if nothing else!