The 2001 “Vineyard Trip”

Five guys, eight days, ten wrecks, and fourteen dives. 

     After a summer of diving there’s usually at least one adventure that sticks out prominently in our minds. For me the most enjoyable dive trip in 2001 was the week of July 15th through the 22nd.  That’s the week John Banks, Jack Fiora, John Jascot, Larry Lawrence, and myself spent eight beautiful days diving wrecks from Mystic to Nauset Cape Cod Massachusetts aboard the Baccala on the Vineyard trip. 

     Day one began early in the morning loading our dive gear and the provisions we’d need to see us through the next few days.  The swim platform started the morning a number of inches above the water but as we’re set to leave the fuel dock all the extra weight has it almost touching the waters surface.  Under perfect summer boating conditions we leave Noank harbor and set our sights some fifty miles away to the first wreck of the week.  This first day we dove the Vineyard Lightship, looked for the City of Columbus off Marble Head, and spent a peaceful calm night in Vineyard Haven.  All in all day one was a great start to the week with plenty to look forward to. 

     With the dawn of day two it was decision time.  At some point during the week, if the weather offshore was cooperative, we were hoping to make a run for Nantucket Shoals but unfortunately right now the weather forecast looked bleak.  We made the decision to head for Monomoy Island on the elbow of the Cape and spend the majority of the week diving the wrecks around there.  If the weather broke then we would be in easy striking distance to the shoals from this area. The wrecks around Monomoy average about 50 fsw and provide long dive times with plenty to see and find.  Also, slightly north is a favorite destination of mine and we always have something new to look for.  So day two finds us heading for Monomoy Island and once we arrive we have two lazy dives, one on the Alva and one on the Horatio Hall. 

     After a nights stay in Stage harbor we headed for my favorite wreck in this area the 703.  For me today would turn out to be the most interesting day of the trip.  The day started out calm and sunny but as we headed North around Monomoy and passed our first whales of the trip the skies grew darker and darker as we neared the wreck.  As Larry and I stood on the bow of the boat perched to throw the hook a lighting storm, which was earlier on shore, started to move our way.  Also at this time we noticed a large group of Humpback whales about a mile to our east breeching.  The lighting got closer and Larry and I became more apprehensive until there was a bolt about a mile away.  That was it, on the wreck or not we throw the hook and headed inside.  Shortly after we got inside the rain came and the lighting danced around us but never got more then about a mile away.  It was interesting but disconcerting to see lighting hit the water and watch the ensuing burst of steam from where it struck.   As if the storm wasn’t enough for us to take in the whales to the east were in a long steady procession South and we watched as one after the other breeched again and again.  An hour later the storm had passed, we caught or first and only Cod of the week, we were ready to make our dive, and the whales were still breeching. 

     After a long cold dive on the 703 we headed south past our cetacean friends to the Perkiomen.  On this dive Jascot and Larry were fortunate to find and bag a lobster that weighed in at 15 pounds.  Since it was so early in the week and there was some concern as to whether or not the lobster would live long enough to make it back to the dock in Mystic, Larry decided it would be best to let him go.  So as the sun set over Monomoy Island and the cameras clicked away Larry released the lucky crustacean back to his home in the sea.  As we headed back to Stage harbor for a well-deserved dinner and a good nights rest we all felt the privilege of having again enjoyed the wonders of nature and another fine day at sea. 

     After having spent three days on the water and traveled some 200 miles it was time to get food, fuel, water, and air.  After sleeping in a bit we made a run to the Aransis for the late tide and then headed for Saquatucket and our needed provisions.  Following our stop and flurry of activity we headed back to Stage Harbor in the dark for a late but excellent dinner prepared again by John Jascot. 

     Although I didn’t know it when I woke Thursday morning, this was to be my lucky day.  Since the first tide of the morning was at 8:30 and we had gone to bed so late the night before, we decided to get a late start to the day.  The first dive of the day would be a drift dive in search of the Dixie Sword.  I don’t know what possessed me to agree to do this dive with Larry, but when it was done I was glad it was over.  Suffice it to say we did find a spar sticking 20 feet out of the sand but the drift dive was equivalent to diving the Race at peak flow. To top it off, upon arriving home at the end of the week we were reading stories about a charter boat that lost it’s catch to a Great White that was cruising the Rip, makes you think. 

     The second dive was much more pleasant and was on one of our more productive lobster wrecks, the wreck of the ;-) The wreck is in about fifty feet of water and although there isn’t much left it has degraded into a perfect lobster hotel.  Two years prior I pulled a twelve pounder out of her and this year I topped that by eight pounds.  After pulling my share of lobsters out of their rooms I was following John Jascot around the wreck letting him get his share.  Well, to my right side I spotted a behemoth sitting on a mound of sand like he was the king of the wreck, which he was.  He was just to good to pass up and since my bug bag was full John was gracious enough to let me borrow his bag so I could get him to the surface.  Tony, what we call all the big lobsters, was on display at the Mystic Aquarium until this past January when he unfortunately passed away.  He was a really cool animal that a lot of people got to enjoy very close up and I’m going to miss watch him roam around the tank. 

  Although there are still two days of diving left to write about, I’ve covered what I believe to be the most exciting and I hope it gives you a feel for our trip this year.  I have to say that the weather was the best I’ve ever experienced on this trip and that combined with the good company and great diving made it the best trip I’ve had.  The weather was so good we even did three dives on Friday, which I think is a first since I’ve been going on the trip.  Unfortunately I can’t cover all the details of the 2001 Vineyard Trip here but if you’re interested in reading a more detailed version or looking at pictures of the trip go to, select articles from the main menu, and then pick “Vineyard Trip 2001”.

Mark Munro 3/1/02