Charterboat captain in Deale got anchor hung up near a pound net. While trying to pull anchor free - the bow pulpit broke off sliding down the rode. Before he could tie a marker jug on the rode - the jagged fiberglass acted like a knife and cut the rode.
Sitting on the bottom was the anchor - 30 feet of chain - aluminum anchor launcher. We planned to go after it on Monday but it was too windy. Met up last evening about 6 pm. Bay was about as flat as it gets with not too much current - perfect diving conditions.
While captain ran boat to the pound net poles - I got gear ready. On board were three others to help plus one guy had also lost anchor in about 8 feet of water. Plan was to get the lost pulpit - the aluminum launcher was needed badly. None around here - captain was set to drive to New Jersey if I could not find it. No pressure or anything.
We got to the poles and found no other boats there. Captain took time to line up where anchor should be and we dropped over a marker buoy in 25 feet. I really wish I had my boat with side scan to check area out. Rumors of old net had me on edge - but pound netting is tight weave - not like diver killing gill netting.
Over I went - water had slight chill but felt good. Down the marker buoy line I went water going from green to dark as I sank deeper. Dive light went out - I had landed in thick mud. Put a stake into muck and pulled few feet off reel - going in a circle feeling along for the chain or anchor. Went around 5-6 times each circle getting 2 feet bigger. Visibility was zero as I kicked up the soft mud. No idea if chain was all on top of anchor or played out so had to do tight search pattern. Felt a big log / piling and then the chain of an anchor. Gently pulled chain and it was tight. Pulled along it and felt a roller assembly - this was anchor I was after. Carefully pushed the pulpit to anchor - if raw edge of fiberglass cut the rode it would easily slice through my light dive gloves.
With broken pulpit / roller tight to anchor - I reversed and followed chain to end and put lift bag on it. Turned back toi free the anchor. It was wedged into the V of the X formed by two big logs. Took a lot of digging to get to flukes and slowly twisted it free from the snag.
Once free I put a lift bag on chain to prevent pulpit from sliding. Went up and captain eased boat over to lift bag. The crew carefully pulled chain in - and then pulpit with anchor was hoisted in. Captain was thrilled to get everything back. I got back into boat - air gauge was at 450 PSI , 500 is about min. a diver should surface with. Knew tank was low but no way to see gauge in the stirred up mud.
While switching to new tank with 3,000 PSI - I looked at what I had been feeling underwater. My hands gave me very close picture in my mind.
There was another anchor lost just 100 feet away by another captain. The shackle pin worked or broke loose on Friday. This would be tough but we were right there. Dropped marker on the GPS numbers given and went back over. This was going to be tricky - I worried anchor was under the mud. Tried for about 20 minutes but gave up - need metal detector for this one. We still had daylight and other lost anchor in 8 feet was on the way back. Crew had cold beer - drank half of one to wash bay out of my mouth.
We got to new area and put over marker - crew now pros in helping me put on my gear. Back over and down to bottom. This time it was nice hard sand - but visibility was only about 6 inches. My light was on but not helping much. Since this anchor was lost while fishing - rode chafed - it was good target. 20 feet of chain stretched out so I could do 6 -7 feet increases in my circles. I use a 5 foot piece of 1/2 inch conduit - laying it flat on bottom. Once I do a full 360* search - I find it and move it out.
Round and round I went - finding cool spots along bottom. Temperature drop was about 5* - enough that I was chilly. Being underwater close to two hours pulls heat from body. Felt a few small Flounder or Rays - not sure which. They swam out from under my hand as I swept the sand for chain. Reel was more than half empty - about 60 -70 feet out when I felt chain. I was elated but confused - chain went over my head. Took about 5 seconds to realize I had found my dive boat anchor.
Air was getting low so reeled back to the center pin - line getting snarled. No big deal - I left reel on bottom and followed line to pin tied to the marker line. Surfaced and saw sun setting - crew pulled in the marker line and my reel line. Wrapped it up to be untangled later.
Short boat ride back - captain still telling me how happy he was to get everything back. Put gear away and once at dock unloaded tanks. Put everything in truck about 9 pm and agreed to drink one shot to celebrate the successful recovery. Well , getting four fishermen together at a bar - you just know one drink is almost impossible. Three shots and three beers plus late dinner later - headed for home. Captain gave me very generous finder's fee along with bottle of rum.
I hope to get back next week to get the other anchors.
They say that life's a carousel - spinning fast, you've got to ride it well.