The plan had been for a night dive at Criccieth, but as it was more likely to have been a twilight dive and it had been blowing a bit from the south, and a reasonable evening was forecast, we reverted to a boat dive. Despite an initial slow uptake the numbers swelled, aided by the return of Irfon from Australia. He had only landed at 4pm that afternoon!
The afternoon started off damp at Pendre but at Porth Ysgadarn the sky cleared and the sea was surprisingly calm, with something of a swell at first but by the early evening it was mill pond. David & Irfon were fortunate enough to catch low water slack and thus were able to circumnavigate Maen Mellt, in a clockwise (i.e. northerly) direction, in effect relocating the northwest passage. The North face of the reef which runs out from the island makes an excellent wall dive, with the benefit for novice divers that the seabed is only a few meters below. There were an awful lot of fish, although the viz. at 3-4 metres was not great, but given the winds earlier in the week, was not too bad either.
The evening divers faced the prospect of a fast drift, as it was approaching mid-tide on a 9.1 metre Spring, and that is precisely what they got, 1.7 mph rising to 2mph. Both pairs chose to go deep, and found the viz. to be even poorer than that a few hours earlier, so it was very very dark down there. As a consequence Robin & Wyn became separated on the descent. Both put up SMB’s, but Wyn’s mid-water deployment served only to establish that his SMB is neutrally buoyant at about 7 metres, i.e. if it has slightly more water than air in it. So their dives were rather short. As it happened they had been swept off the reef and were travelling over a wavy shingle bed. Peter and Dewi were less fortunate as they did not get separated and so, having chosen the same line, had much longer to observe the shingle bed, which continued throughout their dive. However, being deep, it only lasted for just over half an hour in all. Perhaps not what any of them would have chosen but a useful bit of experience for everyone involved nevertheless!!!
We just managed to catch the rising tide to recover the boat, with Wyn demonstrating that a strong right arm is a definite asset for winching the boat, if not necessarily for deploying an SMB in the dark in midwater while travelling at 2mph.
The forecast was not auspicious but a few hardy souls were interested. Fools and farmers was actually mentioned by the non-diving organizer. The wind direction and strength clearly ruled out the north coast, so Plan F was adopted and we launched from Pwllheli at about 1.30 pm for a single dive in the vicinity of St. Tudwal’s. After a futile search for a Bayliner which needed a battery, and which had presumably sunk, we bounced across the bay to a cacophony of complaints about the standard of the driving.
Malcolm, Mick and Wyn dived between the islands, planning to drift north in a southerly direction on the incoming tide.(sic) As it turned out they did drift north, but in a northerly direction. Apparently the tide now flows in a different direction than when Malcolm last dived the area 10 years ago, and compasses just can’t be trusted!! As it turned out they had a long, 70 minute, dive at 8 – 10 meters, with the highlight being a cannon which was home to a massive lobster. Malcolm was testing his new camera so there is a record, somewhere. Viz. was OK at 5 metres plus. Peter and David risked the seals at half tide rocks as Peter had never dived there.
The plan to visit the Timbo was scuttled by kelp filled gullies and the direction of the flow, but we did avoid the seals. Peter had his kelp fix before we drifted off over cobbles onto the seabed. Notable were a number of dense groups of common starfish and, at 20 metres, a garden of Ross Coral. The sea had settled down during the afternoon but the new driver still managed to find every pothole on the way back. However, the conditions can’t have been too bad as Mick wasn’t sick!
A lovely evening. Hugh, Cathy, Lee & Dewi, Mick & Peter, Neil and Tim took the plunge and went for the shore dive. David was present but did not take part. The visibility was terrible and quite unexpected. Despite that many pipefish were seen some small at around 3″ and one or two large ones and some baby squid with their weeny tenticles. One the way back on the surface Hugh & Cathy had the company of a seal. Mick and Peter managed to spend a whole 90 minutes underwater – in zero viz ?! After the diving it was off for the main event of the day, a pint at the Prince of Wales- poor viz forgotten.
When the advance party met in Pendre for an early start it didn’t look very promising, with thick mist hanging over the Lleyn Peninsula, but we’d planned the dive, so dive the plan it was. Leave Pendre at 8.30am, launch from Porth Colmon 9.00-9.15 am, be on the first dive site by 10.00am. It was going rather well actually until ‘Mrs’ M Griffiths and ‘Mrs’ E.W. Jones started talking about the spectacular pyrotechnics you can get when the gas BBQ goes up in flames. Luckily they realised before they turned down towards Porth Ysgaden that they were heading for the wrong launch site.
When the convoy eventually made it to Porth Colmon all was forgiven as the sun was shining in a clear blue sky.
The first dive was to be a drift on a reef straight out of Porth Colmon with Dave Robin and Wyn going in first, Lee and Mick went in second. It was a gentle drift heading inland slightly off the reef but with sightings of lobster, anemones, crabs, brittle stars and according to Robin some small cod.
On the way back to Porth Colmon for lunch and collect Peter and Carol, Robin and Wyn did their good deed for the day and freed one of the local fishermens’ lobster pot. The second dive was on a reef near Maen Mellt. The first two in were Dave and Carol followed by Robin and Wyn and finally Lee Peter and Mick. Time was limited but the variety of life on this reef made a very interesting and enjoyable dive site.
The organiser is pleased to report that Mick managed to complete two dives today and not have to “sit” the second one out on some barren headland in the Irish Sea.