Sunday 7th October
Not sure if it was the lack of decent dive days during the "summer" but the biggest turnout of the season was delayed to October with two ribs and six divers out for a drift off Porth Ysgadarn in the morning followed by a visit to the Slate wreck in the afternoon for which a further four divers turned up. Mike dropped Kirk and myself on the northern edge of the beautiful PD Cracker reef, but as the tide was rising, and therefore running to the north, we only saw it for a few minutes before drifting onto the biggest brittle star bed I've seen for many a year. Kirk had never seen one so, as we got separated, he did at least have some company. My BC chose to self inflate during the second half of the ascent, so not the best of dives. By the time Irfon & Dewi dropped in Mike had realised his mistake and dropped them off further to the south so they were able to stay on the reef. Mike and Andrew then managed to last the 30 minutes that Mike had prescribed after learning that the viz. wasn't brilliant. After picking up Brett, Nia, Wyn & Peter we headed for the Slate wreck and after a little difficulty in dropping the shot to Mike's satisfaction, and with Mike and myself coxing, the divers were dropped in pairs, with the more experienced having been tasked with recording the size and orientation of the slate pile and the relative positons of the two anchors. The poor viz. didn't do the site any favours but at least many of us now have an idea of what the remains of the wreck look like. We were just a few minutes late in getting back into Porth Ysgadarn to get round the reef to recover at the access road so had to wait an hour or so for the tide to fall, thus losing the advantage of having had dedicated cox's. However, it was a lovely afternoon and Neil Rawlinson had come over on his bike to see what was going on.
Wednesday 10th October
The calm weather lasted into midweek allowing Andrew to join Brett & Nia for the calm water part of the boat handling. The plan had been to get further out and do the open water part of the course later in the day but the weather remained windless and the sea flat calm so those parts of the exercises had to be left for another day.
Sunday 21st October
The weather forecast was good but with many of the usual suspects away or injured there were only 4 divers to enjoy one of the better mornings of the season. Wyn launched us from Castellmarch and we headed out for a gentle drift on the rising tide on the south side of west St Tuds. Pete Roberts and myself were first in, quickly followed by Brett and Nia, all made possible by Wyn defying a badly strained ankle to cox for us. The viz. was the usual few metres we have become accustomed to this season so, with there being a dearth of living creatures on the seabed, it wasn't the most interesting of dives. We then motored back to Abersoch to pick up Peter James, fresh fron the opera in a sparkling brand new Toyota pickup, newly acquired off the internet to replace the one that was wrecked in Cornwall. As soon as we had finished our sandwiches, and to the relief of those who couldn't face any, we headed off to the moorings so that Peter could have a rummage around for a big old fashioned anchor that could be lodged on the Llanddulas. But with nearly all of the moorings gone Wyn apparently dropped him in the wrong place and he didn't find one, although he did enthuse about the life on the seabed. We then headed out to the afternoon, slack water, dive site at Porth Ceiriad, where we hoped to encounter the autumn run of sea bass, only to find that as soon as we left the shelter of the headland the sea was very choppy on a big swell, which would have made for a very uncomfortable dive in the shallow water of the bay. We then had a look at Carreg y Trai but, with the rock outcrops submerged and no indication of their position on the surface, we played safe and headed back to the moorings to see how good the life Peter had seen was. Imagine Gimblet rock with fewer scallops and you'd be about there. However, Nia did find a juvenile ray about 4 inches across, and the two Pete's were in for over an hour without a sniff of an anchor. It all made for a very pleasant day out on what was probably one of the warmer and calmer days of the season.
Saturday 27th October.
After a very settled week it blew up on Friday but with the sea still appearing reasonably clear Brett, Mike, Dewi & myself met up at the Normal college at lunchtime only to find the water in the Straits looking like diluted pea soup. Mike immediately offered to do shore cover, in his weasel undersuit!, while the other three decided it was worth a go (as you don't need a lot of viz. in the Straits!!). Dewi proved to be the odd man out getting separated immediately, although we apparently followed the same route towards the bridge and back, seeing the same big lobsters and myriads of small fish and other crabs, including large numbers of small edible crabs, and all managed 30 minutes, exiting together. The viz. was actually a very murky metre but the big surprise was the low water temperature of 10 degrees, which was a bit of a shock if you're still wearing gardening gloves!
On-on to next season, which just has to be the brilliant one we are due for!!!!