Fifteen club members were present along with five relatives and friends to swell our numbers up to 20 for the first official night dive of the season. Irfon and Carol supplied the shore cover, aided by Elgan, Wyn’s youngest son – more later. Eight divers ventured seaward in quick succession, the pairings being Wyn and Ben, Dewi and Simon, Robin and Anja and lastly Peter and Craig. About 20 mins later, David, Lee and Gemma joined them. Last in were Hugh and Carl who nearly passed Wyn and Ben on their return leg.
Indeed, first out were Wyn and Ben, the only pairing incidentally who didn’t require a visit to the surface for some ‘real time navigation’. However, upon their return, Wyn did confess that he couldn’t see his compass underwater, so read into that what you may! The rest of the groups returned in fairly quick succession apart from Hugh and Carl (with twin 18’s on his back) who surfaced near the castle (Harlech Castle that is) to ask for directions. Some frantic torch waving from Elgan enabled their safe return to the slipway.
Many critters were spotted including Dover Soles, Cuttle Fish, Squids, Rays / Skates and an intoxicated or should that be leg-less lobster was observed / created by Robin and Anja! A good evening was had by all.
For the first time in a while there was sufficient interest to dive both days of the BH. With more divers it was necessary for Wyn, Peter and David to bring the boat round from Porth Colmon to Aberdaron to pick up Carol, Dewi, Lee and Carol & David’s nephew Richard. The sea was calmer so we had time to check out the planned dive site at the the Seagull Islands on route, finding a strong current running E-W. So the first 2 groups were dropped in on the same spot on the W side of the smaller S island. Typically, Wyn’s lot went S while Lee headed N and through the channel between the islands. The tide had turned!! Wyn & co. were eventually swept off the island heading due S so that the 2 groups ended up almost out of view from the boat. Both reported enjoyable dives all the same. So David and Carol were able to drop in on the E side of the S island in dead man’s finger country where they found a really aggressive lobster and among a wide variety of fish a large ling.. They were eventually swept away but it turned out to be a back eddy which brought them back to the island each time after a tour of the bay. The dive was slightly marred though when Carol set up an interesting Search and Recovery exercise for the Club by dropping her weight belt. Steven Harrison, the lobster fisherman, intercepted us as we were about to return to Aberdaron for lunch as he had a line of pots stuck in 30 metres off to the W of the S island. We said we would try to give it a go in the afternoon. Dewi departed to be replaced by Carl, and for some reason the boat seemed to go better in the afternoon! An extended break proved to be needed as we had to cart the cylinders all the way to and from the car park as Lee could not get out without losing his spot. We dived Carreg Ddu again, i.e. twice in 2 days after an absence of many years. The viz. was not as good, probably down to 5-6 metres! Are we getting spoilt, as everyone still enjoyed a really good dive. Finally, Peter and David released Steven’s pots before dropping four happy divers back at Aberdaron. The ride back to Porth Colmon was interesting with a big swell in the Sound and a huge chop along the N coast. Peter did an excellent job in getting us safely home although there were one or two concerned glances at the near empty fuel gauge.
The forecast was for fine weather with moderate winds from the W turning to the N on Monday. The reality on Sunday morning was a very choppy sea at Porth Colmon which had Robin, the boat handler, saying, 200 metres, out “Do you still want to go to Bardsey”. Perhaps he had the spluttering, under-reving motor just behind us in mind. We pressed on, and after a bumpy crossing were rewarded with calmish seas and slack water on the N coast of Bardsey. With the Organizer sleeping in after a heavy night at the Vaynol, we were down to 5 divers. Given the choice of diving in a threesome with David & Irfon both Robin & Peter opted to look after Hugh!! They missed out on an excellent dive to 35 meters in good viz. The highlight was perhaps a rocky ledge at about 30 metres which had a big conger in just about every hole,As the current was picking up towards the end the threesome elected to go just round the corner to dive what appeared to be slack water on the E face of the island. However, as it continued to run ever stronger they did in fact manage to see the entire E face all the way to Pen Cristin at the entrance to the harbour.
Lunch was a relaxing affair on the island, followed by an early inspection of the planned dive site, Carreg Ddu, which was found to be already slack. So both groups were able to dive this infrequently visited site, and it did not disappoint. From 10 metres down the rock faces were covered with multi-coloured jewel anemones and life of some form was present in every hole and crack, while the rock and boulder formations are spectacular. Bed level was 27 meters but the best part of the dive is in the 10-20 metre range. The threesome also located a crab infested mussel bed on the N side of the island, just as they were joined by a large group of divers off Shearwater, which demonstrated how essential it is to have your name, or John’s, marked clearly on your SMB!
Although the weather had been fine it had been blowing strongly from the N/NE for several days and was forecast to stay much the same. So having been to Vivian on both previous outings there was just a little urgency to find somewhere with salt in it. Neither the boat or the North Coast were options, and as high tide was a neap in mid-afternoon, prospects were bleak, until your organizer had a brainwave. There’s always dear old Gimlet Rock, which had not been dived by the Club for some years and not then on the west side. The turnout was surprisingly high comprising Lee & Anja, Robin & Gemma (both under protest at being paired up), and David & Carol, while the dynamic duo of Dewi & Irfon were given Ben to ensure that they did not get lost yet again. Shore cover was provided by, well we won’t go into that now, except to say that he had obviously enjoyed his wedding anniversary and it was very good of him to turn out, or was that fall out. We are all awaiting our “We dived Gimlet Rock” memento tee-shirts.
After the shore cover had cleared a path through the ranks of fisherman we all headed out, the more considerate groups using SMB’s, to keep the shore cover oriented. Our dive was really interesting. We headed due South over sandy shingle, over two distinct scallop beds, the latter comprising mainly small youngsters many of which swam away like pairs of mechanical false teeth. The beds were split by an area of seaweed which was a nursery area for many species of young fish and starfish, with predatory rock gobies and dragonets in abundance. There were quite a lot of tiny spider crabs, one variety of which had extra-ordinary long claws extended at each side, and a number of big spiny starfish, one of which was gorging on a full grown whelk, of which there were also quite a few. Another had found a meal of mussels from somewhere. After half an hour, just as we were thinking of turning back, we bumped into Dewi & Ben on their way back in, having ventured out as far as the sewage outfall, where they came across one or two tubby lobsters! So that’s why they call them the dustbins of the sea (the lobsters that is!).
On returning to shore we were castigated by the shore cover for not having an SMB up, and were greeted with long faces from most of the group when I said we’ll be doing that again. I’ll have to remember never to take this lot out on mud!! Finally Mike, could we have the slate back!
Forecast high winds and rain put off all hopes of a dive in the sea, so just for the sake of getting wet we went to Vivian, along with the entire diving population in the Northwest. David took Ben and Simon to play with SMB’s. Irfon went with Carl to see how quickly he could suck a 15 litre tank dry, 35 minutes! What challenge next? Twin 10’s? I’m not sure what Hugh got up to with Gemma but he was overheard to say that if it helped he would hold her down??? Micky Duke continued the hard sell while modeling this years ‘must have’ semi drysuit. Both Micky and Peter passed the practical demonstration of the ABTU (Adjustable Buoyancy Tea Urn) but failed with the SML (Surface Marker Leg).
Although the forecast for the early part of the week had proved to be overly pessimistic we stuck to the plan of doing training in the quarry at Vivian. With priority Gemma (and Ben) dropping out Carl and Anja were able to start their Sports Diver training with the SMB exercise 502, which served to identify one or two more general points, particularly the need to stay close during descent. While both acquitted themselves well there were times when the exercise threatened to disrupt the domestic idyll that is Snowdon Lodge!
Hugh, with the assistance of Robin, who has taken over the role of the Club’s most used (and abused) body from Carol, took Wyn successfully through his final Dive Leader certification dive D07, the CBL from 15 metres, with tow and rescue breaths. Simon & Craig were left to play with SMB’s but seem to have taken up a new underwater sport of rock lifting!. Llanberis provided its customary wet weather which moved us quickly on to the Glyntwrog just as Hugh was about to give us a review his debrief!
The weather on Sunday morning didn’t follow the predicted forecast therefore plan ‘B’ was instigated and a change from the proposed Bardsey trip to ‘find anywhere dive able on the south coast’ was made. Upon hearing this, Mr Duke (the marshal) groaned and said that he was staying put, or words to those effect. It would be therefore just the five of us, Irfon (organiser, now marshal and receiver of much abuse for the change in plan, the swell and just about everything else), Robin, David, Wyn and last but no means least Anja – who was partaking in her first full day’s diving, thanks to Carl sacrificing his cylinder.
The first dive would be at wherever looked half descent, this proved to be the SE side of Porth Ceiriad. Wyn and David were first in and had an interesting bimble at 10m, coming across many strange and interesting artifacts including the skin of a Bull Huss(?) which the innards had been devoured by a smug looking crab nearby and a padlocked boat trailer!?! (Narcosis possibly?). Anja then had the pleasure of a threesome with Robin and Irfon. They almost followed exactly the same route, they saw the skin, even a free swimming conger swam in-between them (which altered Robin’s buoyancy somewhat), but alas, no boat trailer.
Lunch was a sedate affair on the beach at the western point of Porth Ceiriad and it was there that the dive plan for the afternoon was hatched – we’d Anja on her first wreck dive. We headed towards Half Tide Rocks and try and locate the ‘Timbo’. Just before slack water was predicted, Wyn and David rolled off the side of Seawasp and had a good 45 min rummage around the wreck before swapping places with the threesome. A grappling anchor was found by Robin and it was attached to Irfon’s DSMB and sent towards the surface, the hope was that the surface cover would work out that there was something attached to the DSMB since it was deployed less than 10 min into the dive (and we weren’t diving with Carl). Anyway, we found the winches of the Timbo and a few ribs, girders and some ironwork, but this failed to impress Anja. So we went looking for some seals in the hope that they would come and play, but alas they stayed to sunbathe on the exposed rocks. Upon reaching for the surface, the trio were informed that the anchor had snagged on something and it was now pulling the DSMB underwater and that the boat crew had failed to get it onboard. Irfon was volunteered to hang onto the side of the boat and be dragged back a 100m or so to try and retrieve the anchor. This is something that he will not be doing again – lesson learned – de-kit, get on board, re-kit, go back in – right! Anyway, a short dive from the surface and the club now has a grappling anchor to find those ‘proper’ wrecks for Anja. A good day despite the wind and swell.
The first really fine, calm evening, possibly since Criccieth in April, found a large group drifting gently under a millpond sea at high water. We launched both the Club & Mickey’s ribs from Porth Colmon in mid-afternoon, and used Mickey’s boat for Mickey & David to dive somewhere in the vicinity of Mickey’s beloved Tripods. However, as we landed on a flat bed at 35 metres, a slightly annoyed Mickey put up his SUB and was promptly swept away while David was taking photos of a clawless lobster. According to Irfon, in the boat we did stay in close formation after that! We managed to drift onto another interesting reef with large shoals of saithe but the mysteries of The Tripods remain Mickey’s for now.
The evening turnout comprised Tim & Carl who worked their way inshore on the Porth Colman Reef, while Wyn & Simon drifted gently E-W along the 19.95 metre contour. Mickey’s group of Irfon, Craig & Anja, tried one of the reef’s towards Porth Ysgaden, coming across a large crayfish, which is good news as they were reportedly fished out of this area some years ago. I must add that it was as perfect an evening as could be wished for, and a bit of a pity that we had to leave, although the Pen y Bont did provide some compensation!
Plan A was to dive the Segontium;
Plan B was to dive anywhere if conditions allowed;
Plan C was to spend quality time with the family!!!!
After 2 days of rain and a force 5 – 6 south westerly wind, plan B was implemented. By Sunday morning the numbers had dwindled down to 4 divers, so David, Carol, Carl and Wyn launched from Porth Colmon for an afternoon dive to coincide with high water slack. David and Carol decided to do it together but not before Carl had turned Carol on as requested! Both Carol and David emerged 49 minutes later after an interesting dive exploring the reef and gullies out of Porth Colmon. A large bull husk was seen lying in one of the gullies presumably waiting for his next meal to pass by.
Next in was Wyn and Carl who had a somewhat shorter dive in vis about 3 – 4 metres. Dead men fingers, crabs, squat lobsters and wrasse were seen. The weather was deteriorating by the time they surfaced which made for a choppy recovery of divers. Was Wyn almost run over by David? Or did he slide under the boat? It depends on which version of events you believe!! However all were returned safely to Porth Colmon and managed to keep the boat at Pendre before getting too wet.
An early launching of Sea Wasp and Sparrow Hawk by Mike, David and Irfon would mean a single wave dive for the other seven club members who would join later.
With Sea wasp anchored safely in Porth Ysgaden bay, David at the helm of Sparrow Hawk, Mike and Irfon were taken about half a mile out of Porth Ysgaden for a drift (on a slackening 9.5m tide). The site was waypointed on Sparrow hawk’s GPS as ‘PD Cracker’, it sure was a corker. It provided varying topography and terrain, interesting critters and one particular area of deep gullies and outcrops well worth a re-visit on slack water. It was then back to Porth Ysgaden to pick up Sea Wasp and the remaining seven divers.
With Mike at the helm of Sparrow Hawk, along with Dewi, Wyn, and Anja and Irfon coxswaining Sea Wasp with David, Gemma, Simon, Craig and Carl on board, we made our way towards Maen Mellt. Wind against tide gave us a bumpy journey and on our approach to the ‘Rock’ it was quite obvious that this would be a challenging dive, a spring tide was about to turn, and from low to high as opposed to high to low as previously encountered at the site by most of the divers. It was a challenge keenly accepted by Dewi, Wyn, David and Craig who would be guiding Anja, Carl, Gemma and Simon.
It was Gemma’s first boat dive, and she performed brilliantly, a slight hitch on the first descent, but she found a depth of 15m and stayed put with David on the ‘Maen’, she saw her first conger and bull huss and kept her dignity whilst ‘ground baiting’ on her return to the surface. Craig and Simon also manage to ‘hanker down’ and stay put whilst Dewi and Anja and Wyn and Carl elected for a northerly drift and were picked up much nearer to home.
The conditions did sort out the ‘men’ from the ‘boys’ and I’m glad to report that we returned to Porth Ysgaden with two ribs’ full worth of more experienced and worthwhile divers.
A good club outing. Also it didn’t rain, well it nearly didn’t, until we were about to leave Porth Ysgaden, but it had stopped by the time we arrived at Pendre, so really it wasn’t worth mentioning, well it was a bit damp, but, not that wet though – argh – forget I even mentioned it.
David’s addition: The weather was good enough to warrant both the Club & Mickey’s ribs. We launched both boats at Porth Ysgaden in mid-afternoon with Mickey & Irfon doing an E-W drift on the falling tide on one of the offshore reefs, with the main group comprising David & Gemma, Craig 8c Simon, Wyn & Carl and Dewi & Anja diving around Maen Mellt in the early evening. Congratulations to Gemma on her first boat dive. See Irfon’s report for more details.