I’m not sure if the tales of Folly Cove began during my Open Water or my Advanced Open Water courses – either way it’s been on my “to-dive” list for at least two years. A place of fun little critters and wonderful visibility…it sounded right up my alley. Well, I finally decided that I needed to make a dive happen and last weekend the stars aligned and I had my first visit! I was joined by two locals and a recent transplant and we were gifted with the most wonderfully beautiful day.
A five o’clock alarm (after climbing into bed around 12:30am) was not a particularly welcome sound, but the promise of a good dive day motivated me up and at’em! The dogs were fed and let out, the chickens were fed and watered…that only left me! haha. A quick stop at the local Bess Eaton provided the necessary fuel to start the day. After swinging by Seaview Scuba to grab my gear and a few tanks for my buddy, I was off! I thankfully encountered very little traffic – a blessing for sure. For anyone who has driven with me, you’ll know I have a smidgen of road rage. (but really? Must they go under the speed limit in the passing lane?!) It’s still very weird for me to drive up the Pike and not have to stop at the toll gates, but it has certainly smoothed out the flow of traffic.
With little fanfare, I reached my destination and found my buddy, Emily. A recent graduate, she moved here from Hawaii to work as a fisheries observer – these would be her first dives in New England. Thinking back on my first dives here and I’m a little jealous! We had to wait a little for our other two buddies to arrive, they stopped at the local dive shop, Cape Ann Divers, to replace a forgotten wetsuit. You can learn something from every dive – this day provided a few lessons. One being to always check your gear before you leave. I always assume everything is in my car…but when your car is in the shop you might find that the mechanic also has possession of your flag(s) and your booties…so even when you think it’s superfluous, check your gear.
Folly Cove has a teenie tiny parking area that is reserved for locals – those of us who drive to this magical site have to unload our gear and then park a quarter to a half mile up the road. After our cars were secured, we geared up and got in the water. Once we were all ready, we descended into the water…HOLY MOLEY THE VISIBILITY. Seriously, it was awesome. And I’m pretty sure it wasn’t even a noteworthy day for those who dive it frequently. But considering I’m excited for 10ft of vis at Stonington Point, the 20+ we had here was pretty frickin’ cool. For those who’ve dove with me, you’ll know I’m very conscious of where my buddy is and what my surroundings are. However, the only thing that will distract me is a cool fish or crabs. Folly Cove has plenty of the latter – thankfully Emily was awesome at sticking by my side when I darted off to look at the crabs. There were tons of Green Crabs (Carcinus maenus) – on the rocks, between the rocks, under the rocks…everywhere.
I also spotted a (seemingly) HUGE Lady Crab (Ovalipes ocellatus) – we get them at Stonington Point, but not as a regular offender. I know for a fact that I darted off after the Lady Crab like a dingus…she (I don’t actually know if it was a she…) was sitting so perfectly in the middle of the sand! I couldn’t just ignore her, especially since I needed a picture for SECONN’s Critter page. Similar to Blue Crabs, these aren’t a species I’d want to get up close and tangle with…but they are beautiful to look at! After a long swim across the sand, we finally reached the western edge of the cove.
The actual “wall” was a little bit of a further swim north, but the algae and sessile covered boulders captured my attention for awhile. I definitely could’ve spent hours poking around in the rocks. What surprised me was the lack of fish – I’m sure they were around, just hiding from me. I saw one Rock Gunnel, a handful of Cunner, some Winter Flounder, and not a whole lot more. Contrast that with my recent dive on the Wreck of the Onondaga where I saw hundreds of fish and this seemed like a desert. The dive profile on my computer truly shows how I was poking around in the rocks…it resembles a heartbeat for a little bit!
As we got deeper, the water became progressively colder. I was wearing my Fourth Element 5mm wetsuit, 5mm gloves, and no hood – usually keeps me quite toasty! But I’ll admit that in the 56ºF water we encountered, it was a little cold. Not enough to have me call for the turnaround time, but sadly, that time still came! We finally reached the wall and I was thoroughly engrossed with the sea stars, anemones, tunicates, bryozoans, and crabs clamoring (or clinging) about when Katie called for us to turn around. Instead of taking the same path, I strayed over to the sand and floated about looking for the carefully camouflaged critters. While I didn’t find anything super exciting (read: Torpedo Ray), I did spy lots of Sand Dollars, Moon Snails (including one the size of my thumb! I definitely squealed over how cute it was), and Winter Flounder.
We carefully made our way back over the slippery rocks that had been uncovered by the ebbing tide (I definitely fell at least three times…) and enjoyed a beautiful sunny day while contemplating our next move. While I would have loved to do our second dive at the same location, the potential for broken ankles led us to move just up the road to Back Beach for our second dive.
I will definitely be back to tackle this site again…and I’ll post about Back Beach soon! But I’m headed to Maine this weekend (the heavens are singing right now I’m so excited) and should maybe potentially start packing.