Dive Report for Sunday 05th August 2018.
A number of the regular divers were away or had bad backs so, with Brett being available, the plan was to use the new (to the Club) tractor with the Club rib alone for a trial launch at Aberdaron, as both the tide and the weather were on our side. There were seven divers, Brett & Nia, John, Andrew & new member Neil, and myself & Laura. The plan was to dive Maen Bigail in the Sound, for the first time in yonks, followed by the Gull Islands in the afternoon. The tractor launch went well with Mike, who had come down to observe, noting that with a bit more co-ordination we could have got the boat off in much shallower water. Brett said it struggled in the soft sand at the end of the boards and recovery would be a problem. We had a few heart stopping moments when the old problem of engaging forward gear happened, but a bit of Brett's poking in the engine and some good fortune got us away, and then, at the second time of asking, Holyhead coastguard responded to our call in. As we passed Carreg Ddu we noted that it was slack so, as there was some doubt about the time of slack on Maen Bigail, Brett and Nia opted to dive there. However, by the time they had got their kit out, i.e. 5 minutes later, it was seen to have picked up and to be running strongly. So it was back to Plan A. Maen Bigail was a maelstrom, but we were early, so we had a bimble along the north coast of Bardsey, returning at 10am, the time we had for it to be slack enough to dive in the lee, but there was no change. So we took Brett and Nia over to the East coast of Bardsey, which was slack, and dropped them close in at a point where the rock face shelved steeply to almost 20 metres. The threesome were given a choice of this site or Maen Bigail and chose to continue to sweat away in their drysuits, even refusing the offer of a cool off dip!! Brett and Nia did over 40 minutes and barely moved but saw lots of fish, conger and lobster, reporting an excellent dive. Brett took the helm to rush us back to a very slack Maen Bigail where both groups were quickly in. By chance, we all dropped in on the North side of the rock and swam round it clockwise, on much the same route, and so saw much the same things, namely : beautiful topography, with huge boulders tumbled around with caverns big enough to swim in and through under some of them. There were more ballan wrasse than I can ever recall seeing in one place and shoals of big pollack hovering, with the occasional big lobster and conger, but it was a truly majestic place. Along the south side the boulders gave way to weed covered rock which appeared to stretch out along the west side. Here the current picked up and both groups got swept off to the west, both doing about 44 minutes. For the record, Slack would have begun about an hour before LW Liverpool (BST). It 's thought to be about the same w.r. to HW. Lunch was had back at Aberdaron, where we changed cylinders, and Neil departed for Manchester. Brett predicted that the current would be too much around the Gull Islands, which it most definitely was, so he elected for Cadlan where he and Nia came across the Porth Ysgo monster, which after a long tussle with Brett failing miserably to subdue it, Nia caught at the first go for V notching. The rest of us dived a bit further out and had pleasant dives. The tractor did get stuck in that area of soft sand so we had to use a rope to pull the trailer up to the boards. All in all it proved to be a long day, but really enjoyable all the same. To my mind, the dive at Maen Bigail alone went some way to paying off the cost of the tractor!!
ps. The Maritime dept. of the Council don't think that there is much they can do this season to cover the area of soft sand, but they will look to see if there is anything at all in their yard which might help. For next season they have a budget to buy and install a sand roadway!? which should cover the whole length of the access. Also, they have closed Trefor to private launchings for all but those with Moorings.
Dive Report for Wednesday 8th August
With a blow from the south-west forecast, the diving was moved to Trefor Pier, where I managed to fall out rather badly with one of the locals before we had even started!! It could only get better, which it did to some extent for most of us. Andrew and Dewi were paired with OD trainees Ron & Julie respectively, leaving a threesome of Gwenno, new member Chris and myself. Mike returned to the fold to do shore cover, with Vi and Carol for backup!! There was a bit of a swell beyond the pier but the viz. didn't look too bad. Just as we were all kitted up and ready to go the Porth Dinllaen lifeboat berthed alongside the end of the jetty and put a small inflatable in the water to come ashore as part of an exercise to take off a casualty. So we had to sweat it out for 15 minutes or so as, for some reason, nobody fancied swimming out under the lifeboat. I managed to get my group well and truly lost so we had a shallow bimble along the reef where a bunch of fishermen were casting their lines. Not so clever! The others did keep to the area of the old pier but all reported it somewhat devoid of life compared with the old days, with some even threatening never to come back. All did well over 40 minutes, even Julie with a taped up wrist seal which had caught in her jewellery on kitting up, which I don't think will happen again. After all the delays it was quite late, duskish even, when we finished so we had a quiet cuppa and went home.