Wednesday September 3rd 2014, Porthysgaden.
Only four divers in attendance with Nia supplying shore cover, Mike and Vi did make a brief appearance before going home to pack for phase 127 of their 67th wedding anniversary.
Brett and Adrian kept it in the family and Irfon and Andrew paired up for a bimble up the western side of the bay. The viz was good initially at about 4-5m although it did deteriorate to 2-3m as we progressively got out of the bay. There was an abundance of species present including large wrasses, a codling, juvenile lobsters, leopard spotted gobies, tom pots, squat lobsters – the list goes on……
Of course we adjourned to the Lion to compare notes as it would be rude not to.
BARDSEY ISLAND Sunday 7.9.14
THE LOSERS Peter J., Brett, Adrian & Stephanie
First off - 8.30am the meet reporter lost her way to Pendre; went to wrong village, Llangwynnadl not Sarn.
Second off, someone who shall remain Jameless, er, I mean nameless, lost/mislaid/had nicked (by the N.T. carpark elves) the outboard cover & trailer straps.
Then Brett, our bold, boat-launch tractor driver lost a trailer bar, later recovered from hedge!
On surfacing after my second dive, I had trouble locating one of my weight pods to hand to Brett on Sea Wasp. No wonder - cos it wasn’t there:- LOST - somewhere on the Ilesha.
Finally, I’m racking my brains to think of something Adrian must have lost. Tho’ he was valiantly trying to lose & shake off a lousy cold (causing a problem equalising), in the end, probably all he lost was his patience, having to drive the tractor in low gear, very slowly, all the way to Aberdaron & back home at the end of the day.
A glorious, warm & sunny day with northerly wind, therefore sought shelter on SE coast of Bardsey. First overboard, father & son; a 45 minute 18m dive along shoreline; pollack seen, lots of wrasse, ballen & cuckoo, male & female & an upturned pot containing 2 lobsters & 2 crabs which appear to have contrived to get in the restricted entry to the upside down pot. Brett found the dive somewhat disappointing compared to abundance of fish life seen on last years’ Bardsey north coast dive. Next down, the dive leader & me for an interesting 14metre dive amongst lobsters, congers & a gobi.
The 4 of us landed on the island to enjoy lunch lounging in sunshine & the company of Earnest & 2 canoeists from Derby (who I happened to know,) who’d sailed across The Sound in a Canadian open canoe rigged with a Topper sail & outriggers.
From Earnest we heard all about ongoing work to change Bardsey Light from white to red (Fl.R.10s) anytime soon. The RSPB had previously complained about the number of birds killed on impact due to the attraction of the white light. Then, having requested a red light, were surprised when Trinity Ho. agreed & now apparently, are none-too happy about losing the white beam - wondering how the heck they’ll be able to identify birds flying in at night against a measly red light. And . . . if any will fly in at all, if there’s no white light to attract them! There’s no pleasing some folk.
In the afternoon Brett & Adrian did a shoreline dive to 16m, surfacing after 35 mins. due to deteriorating, murky 2m vis., the tide picking up, & Adrians annoyance with equalising problem.
The dive leader made a splendid choice for our second dive to 20metres - a stupendous study of & all around the ILESHA wreck - wow, fantastic! Lots & lots to see & marvel at. The stern is standing 2-3m proud of the seabed with the twin propellers still insitu amongst a tangled mass of winches, ribs & collapsed hull plates – absolutely enthralling; fascinating! (My first real wreck dive ~ can you tell?) In addition to the wreck structure, it was teeming with life: crabs, lobsters, seriously large scallops, 2 congers caught on camera by James . . . . .&, lots of those cute, little ‘one-spot-kind-of-fish’ (when BSAC delivers my recently ordered Pictolife Marine Life guide book I’ll may be able to impress you with their proper or even, Latin name!)
We returned to Aberdaron sometime after 5pm: a seamless, Brett-tractor recovery followed by a welcome cuppa from Malcolm & Melanie. Thank you dive leader, boat launcher & personal dresser (that’d be the stray hair tucker-inner) – hence I didn’t need to mask-clear once all day!
So I reckon the real losers were all those divers who didn’t/couldn’t come along & enjoy the diving on a gloriously sunny, September Sunday.
P.S. Not sure if D.L. will add his photos of the leatherback turtles we saw on the ILESHA to this report . . . . . .?
The ILESHA : Event and Historical Information
Lost on 8 August 1915
The ILESHA was a steel-hulled motor vessel built at Queensferry, Scotland, in 1914. The vessel's original name was KINGSHOLM. Technical and configuration specifications are given as 89ft length x 17ft 2in breadth x 7ft 3in depth; quarterdeck 22ft, 4 bulkheads; twin screw propulsion powered by 4cylinder oil engines; machinery aft; made by J & C G Bolinders Co Ltd.
She was primarily insured to operate in the Bristol Channel but when lost was carrying crude oil for ship's use, from Liverpool to Lagos. The vessel got into difficulty 3 miles off Bardsey when its port side engine failed. The ship was abandoned and drifted on the west side of Bardsey. The steamer LADY OF THE ISLES offered assistance and used divers to blast a channel through the rocks allowing the ILESHA to reach deep water again and the ship was taken around the island into shelter of the east side to undertake the necessary repairs. However, before these repairs could be undertaken, the ILESHA suddenly foundered.
Wednesday 9th September, Porthysgaden.
Numerous reasons saw us back at Porthysgaden for the second Wednesday in a row. It would be a mid-tide dive on a large spring therefore there was a distinct lack of water in the bay on our arrival at 7:00 p.m. Undeterred, five brave souls were up for it, although there were six initially with Stephanie having to drop out because her newly acquired cylinder was deemed unsafe and therefore unfillable. Nia provided shore cover.
With the light beginning to fade, we went in at 7:30 - Brett and Irfon decided to cross over to have a look on the outside of the bay whilst Adrian, Andrew and Phil opted to stay in the bay itself. We were greeted with a plethora of species doing out of the ordinary things. Brett and Irfon saw a cave which the far wall was covered with sucker fish, probably in excess of twenty. Tom pots were out playing on the sand and looked quite ungainly as they tried to avoid a poke up the backside. The number of flatfish was astounding, even in the shallows there was a decent sized flounder and numerous dabs.
The topography on the outside didn’t disappoint, with plenty of swim throughs and vertical walls it’s definitely worth a visit if you haven’t been. We did encounter quite a strong current therefore we only stayed for about fifteen minutes or so.
A combination of a rising tide and darkened skies made this probably my best Wednesday evening dive of the season, well worth a revisit in a couple of weeks time, oh I nearly forgot, we also went to the Lion.
Wednesday 17th September
On a very warm September evening the group met up at Porthysgaden at 6.00. Despite the beautiful weather there was plenty of parking space with not a camper van to be seen.(and no dog mess either). The tide was high and the sun was shining as we kitted up and headed down to the sea. David was paired with myself, Stephanie dived with Andrew and Adrian, Mike and Irfon made up a threesome. The two pairs set out to follow the rocky reef to see what they could see. whilst the three amigos went in search of an elusive anchor which had been sighted on a previous dive and never seen again.
The sea looked to be crystal clear from above but it became very murky after only a short while. Still there were plenty of fish to be seen, mostly wrasse including some very big specimens, lobsters, prawns and a couple of spider crabs. David and I left the water first around 7.00 and it was already growing dark. From the car park we could just see the bubbles from the other two groups. Stephanie and Andrew were next to reach the shore after an enjoyable dive. The three anchor seekers emerged a short while later, but the elusive anchor sadly remained elusive. Maybe some one will find it next time.
It was dark by the time we had de-kitted and packed the cars. Winter is on its way! I had to head back to the wilds of Dolgellau but I think everyone else headed for the pub.
Dive Report for Sunday 21st September.
Well another gorgeous Sunday with blue skies and no wind and an early start at Pendre. Today was my attempt at being Dive Manager as part of the Dive leader course so was hoping for a nice easy day with 4 to 6 divers in one boat to organise, that was totally shattered when there were 9 divers and 2 boats and a tractor to organise on the day… What could go wrong???, …well maybe the trailer slipping of the jockey trapping Brett’s hand was not the best start to the day. As Brett was not swearing and shouting it made me fear for the worst as he was very quiet which is very unusual for him even when things are going to plan, but he was very lucky and had only pinched from the thumb to index finger saying that it would have been extremely painful…, thankfully no serious damage was done as Brett is made from sterner stuff and just brushed it off.
So with Brett driving and Adrian riding shotgun David, Melanie and I jumped into the back. After arriving at Aberdaron David remembered he had left Stephanie’s 2 tanks in he’s car at Pendre so we unhitched the trailer and Brett and David rushed back to Pendre. Mike’s boat was first to be launched by Terry but on he’s return to hitch up Seawasp we we’re informed Sparrowhawk needed jump lead’s to get started after eventually launching Seawasp and getting Sparrowhawk started, I thought why me?..... and I’m DOOMED but afterwards I kept repeating to myself it can only get better… I hope!!.
On arrival at Pen y Cil Cave to my relief it looked slack so in the first wave , David & Stephanie were first in followed by Brett & Adrian, Mike boarded Seawasp so Peter, Melanie & Me could go and John was left on Sparrowhawk there was a bit of a swell and visibility was a bit poor but we made it through the first cave and then went through the small second one to the left and had a interesting dive with plenty of life to be seen Crabs, Lobsters, Prawns, Wrasse & Pollock with Peter seeing some mysterious large silver fish. Second wave consisting of Mike & John who dived St Marys Well. We headed to Bardsey for lunch but first we decided to look for a mislaid anchor in the Bardsey bay we were given compass barings to locate we dropped the shot but Peter couldn’t wait and went snorkelling for it, as David & Adrian kited up Melanie spotted the yellow buoy under the water which was reported to be attached to the anchor one very quick search and recovery then Sparrowhawk turned up and we all had lunch and changed tanks.
As we were at Bardsey and it was coming to slack after lunch we decided to dive the Ilesha and attempt to recover Stephanie’s weight pod, so in the first wave David & Stephanie were the first in and shortly afterwards a lift bag appeared with Stephanie’s weight pod, followed by Brett & Adrian, Mike boarded Seawasp so Peter, Melanie & Me could go and John was left on Sparrowhawk again. We all went down the shot line and had a pleasant dive it was my first dive on the Ilesha not much left as a wreck just basically the bare bones but plenty of life consisting of Crabs, Lobsters, Prawns, Wrasse, Congers & one very large Conger. Peter found another weight pod we secured it to the shot chain and put a lift bag on it. On the way up the shot line Mike & John came whizzing down I had a 6 minute deco to do at 6 meters and the current started to pick up, shortly after getting on the boat the lift bag was on the surface with shot and pod attached with Mike & John out of the water we headed back to Aberdaron the swell made the boat recovery interesting but went well, after we had put the boat to bed at Pendre and all chores sorted regarding my Dive Manager attempt. I went home cracked open a bottle of red wine….my god after that day boy did I need it..
Dive Report for Sunday 21st September.
Plenty of interest so the plan was for Terry to launch both ribs and 9 divers from Aberdaron. Andrew was in charge, doing the Dive Manager bits to finish his Dive Leader training, and had decided on an early start to catch slack in the Pen y Cil cave. However, we were a bit late reaching Aberdaron as he made the basic mistake of having a chat with Malcolm at Pendre. Having been rescued from that there was a big hiccup when David realized that he had left Steph's 2 cylinders back at Pendre. So, Brett obliged with a lift back there for them. Needless to say, not everyone managed the cave. David and Steph were first in and found it very swelly with viz. at no more than a cloudy 2-3 metres. Exiting into the swell was like being shaken by the neck. We then came across numerous lobster, the daddy of all edible crabs , conger and ling, so interesting enough. The next pairing of Brett and Adrian couldn't enter the cave, partly as Adrian was having a mask sqeeze, so dived along the Pen y Cil side. The final threesome of Peter, Melanie and Andrew did get in, and out through the chimney, before also diving towards the point. Brett then took Mike and John off to St. Mary's well looking for a lost smb & reel. Although Andrew had planned on the Seagull Islands for the second dive we set off to Bardsey to try and locate a yacht's missing anchor. We had 3 bearings for it and after a little bit of messing around, and 2 drops of the shot, spotted the anchors yellow buoy, several metres down. Adrian and David were already kitted up so they went for a short recce after lifting it. Lunch was had on the island where it was much busier than usual with groups waiting to be ferried off. Andrew now elected for plan B, which was, "As we're here at Bardsey we might as well dive here", so when Steph mentioned that she had recently lost a pod on the Ilesha, that was it. As luck would have it, it was slack there and the pod was quickly found. Peter also found another one which had been there for quite a bit longer. Divers reported lots of lobsters and massive conger but there was, for a wreck, a distinct dearth of fish. Mike thought he spotted Pilot whales out from the bay but further research identified them as Risso's Dolphin. Certainly a bit of a spectacle which, unfortunately, we couldn't get close to. Terry landed both ribs safely and Andrew then had to wait until the following Wednesday evening dive before I remembered to let him know that he had in fact qualified as a Dive Leader, with flying colours in fact.
Dive Report for Wednesday 24th September.
As usual, the preceding weather and the forecast were less than ideal but a recce on Tuesday found the planned dive site of Criccieth to be choppy but seemingly clear. So at 6.30pm 8 divers met up at the lifeboat slip to be met by a flat, calm sea but not a lot of water. Well, actually it was 7 divers, as Peter was a bit late, and thus almost 6 as Mike, his prospective buddy, was all set to do a runner. Nia and Tink were there to keep tabs on proceedings as it was a night dive. The other pairings were Andrew & Phil, Irfon & Adrian and Brett & me. Most stayed on the sand, being rewarded with a myriad of small things and juveniles including pipe fish, 15 spined stickleback, cuttle fish, various rays and flatfish, red mullet, tub gurnard, bib and weaver fish, as well as the usual assortments of gobis and crabs. The pair who stayed on the reef (rocks), Phil & Andrew, had a totally different dive seeing crabs, lobsters, wrasse and pollack. So take your pick! Only one pair managed to get separated (guess who) but they must have been on the same wavelength, or they were both enjoying it so much, as they swam in all the way to the main beach. Dewi had arrived by then to witness what he aptly called "the walk of shame" as they trudged back along the seafront. All managed between 50 & 60 minutes which, with the water temperature still recorded as 16 degrees, made for a very enjoyable dive, for all but one that is! Refreshments were taken in the Lion where talk of grants, plans for the pool and training, kept some of the other customers amused.