Muddy Hollow – We went, we did and we conquered
The forecast was ideal for a long awaited dive that had been lingering with the club for several years now. Wyn (marshal) decided to go to Muddy Hollow for the first dive and Porth Ceiriad for the second. The broken club boat had to be left at the boat yard but we were fortunate enough and very thankful to Mike and Craig for volunteering their fine vessels. The remainder of the divers to join the once in a lifetime dive day were David Jones, John, Hugh, David Hursey (crossing over from PADI spit.spit) and myself. The team met at Castellmarch and launched at the Warren courtesy of the Wyn Jones family and staff which was superb.
After Wyn’s briefing Mike set off following his punched in directions with John, Hugh and David Hursey. We, that is Cox Craig, David, Wyn and myself followed the Sparrow Hawk out to the illusive dive site of Muddy Hollow, (drum roll needed) and after a depth checking 15 min Mike and John dropped in first, followed by Craig and David some 300 meters southwest of the others. After nearly an hour the murky dirty bubbles and hands of the divers came to the surface reporting of a most interesting unique site which, yes was very muddy with near zero viz but up the slope became a light and sandy bed. Wyn and myself dropped in about 500 metres northeast to sample the new face pack material and as true adventurers got the t-shirt. The words starting “One small step for……” came to mind!
Whilst Wyn and myself were squidging around in Muddy Hollow Mike dropped Hugh and David Hursey South of St. Tud’s to play with the seals.
The lunch was taken on board along the beach at Abersoch with a delivery of air coming from Helen in the reliable landrover.
The second dive of the day was over at Porth Ceiriad were a planned extraction of a trailer was given up due to the poor condition of the trailer but a good find of an anchor by David compensated the divers. All the usual fish suspects were seen with no real surprises.
Hywel, Wyn’s brother and his farm manager picked us up from the beach at The Warren and took us back to the Castellmarch. Helen supported the fine diving day with a bit of fine dining: scones, cakes and tea. The last episode with the scones and Peter was not challenged and all behaved with decorum having only a couple each.
Thanks again to Mike and Craig for their vessels. We hope Mike made it back in time for the match of the 2 as the little race witnessed a smiling Mike’s face change to “I think a bigger engine might be required or maybe a drop of sugar in the other boat’s fuel tank would help”.
At long last a bit of settled weather, but with the wind from the north east the planned north coast dive was ruled out. So it was back to good old Gimblet Rock, and I never thought that I would say that. They had reported a cracking dive a week earlier on a rising Spring tide, so it was expected to be half decent again on a falling Neap tide. And so it proved, the viz. was excellent, the reef had a wide variety of fish and crustaceans, and those who headed off on the sand found large numbers of a particular shellfish. Everyone, i.e. Dewi & Jon, Irfon & Llyr, Wyn & Brian and Carol & yt, managed an hour or more, and were guided back in safely by the man with the newly acquired wind up lamp, namely Mickey. So, with the exceptions of Dewi & Carol who had to depart to deal with minor crises at home, the Wednesday evening routine at the Vic was re-established. On-on to Criccieth, or somewhere equally good for the final Wed. evening dive of the season next week. So if you can make it, please give Irfon a ring on Tuesday evening. It’s a long time until next Spring.
Bardsey was on the cards and for once this summer we had actually seen a few settled days in a row weather wise. By Saturday night dive organiser HQ, ie Tudor Lodge, reported 7 keen divers, Sunday morning had broken and we had already lost one. Please note, that the club’s safety record was not effected by this. Down to 6 and ever the environmentalists we decided to not only cut down our carbon footprint but also make it a cheaper day out (in that order) and only use one boat rather than two. Irfon (the “master”), Anja (the “slave”) and Peter (the “designated tower”) had arranged to meet at Pendre to sort out the boat. Brian, Mickey and Dewi were due to meet us at 9.30 am opposite the chapel in Aberdaron. At 9.18 am Irfon received a distress call from Brian who was at the location and claimed that nobody else was there. In true dive manager fashion and utilising all his previous training and knowledge (courtesy of absent David and Hugh) he calmed Brian down by telling him that a.) were on our way with the boat and b.) there was still plenty of time till rendezvous. Brian had had a tyre blow out on the way to Aberdaron and was panicking that he had literally missed the boat. Mind you, at least he was consistent in demonstrating how keen he was to come on this dive by calling in at precisely 18.30 GMT on Saturday night. Such is the dedication of the new wave of ex-trainees!
On our arrival at Aberdaron beach there seemed to be an awful lot of sand there, especially the softer variety. We also found out that the boards have been taken away which wasn’t a major problem on launch but naturally our “master” formed plan B in his head, which basically was go to Porth Colmon on our return.
So off we went for a day of fun. Dewi and Anja dropped in first, swiftly followed by Mickey and Peter, then Brian and Irfon. Everybody had a good dive with the viz being ok but not super. Most of us saw large congers and big lobsters, I claimed an old 2kg weight from the sea (worth a fortune in today’s lead market) and Mickey found an abandoned lobster pot “for the missus in the garden” to establish that maritime theme and all that. Talking of Mickey, we nearly lost him overboard whilst de-finning Brian whose fins had some serious suction which eventually gave way with a vengeance, Mickey sitting directly opposite.
Having completed our first dives we went on Bardsey for lunch and found that “our bench” was occupied by some locals (the cheek of it!). I made a mental note that next time I will have to make the journey to Bardsey at midnight to lay out my German towels to make sure that proper seating arrangements are in place. Fancy having to sit on the grass!
After lunch we carried out operation “Anchor & Chain” which was a challenging 6 metre kelp dive for Peter and Mickey to find an anchor connected to a chain that had been lost near a mooring. Mickey was that keen that he went straight in only to come up 2 minutes later for the briefing to check on the goal of the exercise. The anchor and chain were quickly found and attached to the rope provided by the owner who unfortunately also claimed the lobster pot (Sorry Mrs. Duke!).
Then it was time for the second dive of the day. We dropped in the same pairs, Dewi and myself first, followed by Peter and Mickey, then Irfon and Brian. Viz was not very good and although the topography of the site was interesting there was no life. So the dives were on the short side and one by one we all surfaced safely, albeit Mickey and Peter not together or at the same time but then again, the viz was terrible indeed! Peter reported that it was just getting interesting when he had to come up. For future reference, from the lighthouse onwards is where the good diving is!
Anyway, with everybody back up on the surface we went to check out the situation at Aberdaron beach. On our arrival it looked very much like Plan B was going to be our only option when we witnessed how the tractors struggled to get up the slip road with the jet skis in tow. And I mean really struggled! At that point our cox Mickey reported that all of a sudden a part to do with the gear selector was kaput (the ins and outs I don’t really understand) but it became apparent that the boat was no longer it a fit state to go to Porth Colmon and Plan B was therefore no longer an option. So Irfon and Dewi went off to the beach to try their best in siarad Cymraeg PR to see if we could get a tow from one of the struggling tractors. With the help of the tractor, some man (and 1 woman) power plus a long rope we struggled but managed to get the boat onto dry land and back to Pendre.
Thanks to Mickey the RIB now has an appointment with Ben at Dickie’s for “a good seeing to” to hopefully have the broken part repaired.
All in all a very enjoyable and eventful day despite the inferior lunchtime seating arrangements on Bardsey.
Dry weather, virtually no wind to speak of, clear seas and a Wednesday night have been rarely associated within the same sentence this season, but for once, just once they coincided on this night.
It was a shame really that only five club members were up for this monumental occasion, the rest opting to stay at home to watch United scrape a dull 0-0 draw at home to some fourth division side from Spain. Anyway, Dewi, Irfon, Brian, Llyr and Jon had a fantastic night dive at the old Lifeboat slip at the far side of the Rock. Lobsters and prawns were a plenty, out in the open in hunting mode! Size of prey seemed to be unimportant as one lobster fancied his chances of dragging Jon back to his lair, thankfully Jon brushed him (or was it a her??) to one side and lived to dive another day. Dives of 60 and 64 minutes were recorded and upon our return to the slip we were greeted by the fantastic site of an orange glow on an almost full moon.
We called in at the vic for a de-brief and to be collared by Dewi for sponsorship money for his cycle ride to Aberystwyth on Friday – good luck to him with that.
Whether it was the difficulty in reaching the organiser or the shock of calm seas and what looked like sunshine, its hard to tell but only five intrepid divers were up for a Sunday dive !
Peter had phoned to check on the boat situation – all was fine the last time I was on it I replied – apart from a minor mishap with the coffer dam. So off we went to Aberdaron for launching – the tide was in so straight down the boards and off she rolled. We initially had some difficulty in starting the outboard – it was either lazy due to lack of outings this year but mainly due to a dodgy kill switch. Peter had a go and it duly roared into life.
We headed out to Bardsey on a mill pond sea with a firm plan in mind – to dive somewhere around Bardsey in the morning and find somewhere else in the afternoon – plan the dive dive the plan ….
First dive was Cray Alley – Carreg yr Honwy then head west for Wicklow for about ¼ mile. We found a nice green buoy – no movement whatsoever – ideal slack !! Unfortunately the boat seemed to be drifting and the buoy as well which we found wasn’t attached to anything !! 25m depth rocky bottom – Oh well give it a go anyway. In went Mickey, Irfon and Robin SMB inflated and at the ready. We found a very dark gloomy rocky bottom with a very strong current and typically lost Mickey straight away ! So torch in one hand smb in other we bumped, crashed, shoulder-charged our way along managing to spot a large crayfish, crabs, pollack, wrasse, and a string of lost pots. We entered deco after 25 minutes and duly came up after a very exhilarating dive !
Wyn and Peter were up next – they didn’t fancy cray alley so opted for the shelter of Carreg yr Honwy instead. The fact that it was around 8 m and strewn with kelp didn’t have any bearing whatsoever on the choice !! Wyn was saying that peter was showing strange signs of glee and much hand rubbing on the descent ! What seemed like a lifetime later the broke the surface with wyn desperate for a pee and Peter grumbling that he still had half an hours bottom time left !! They reported lots of kelp and Wyn sighted a nice lobster out for a stroll.
It was at this point we noticed that the engine was playing up again – we duly fixed it with a cable tie and a pair of pliers ! We also noticed that the left hand tubes were very soft so pumped them up again and off to Bardsey for lunch. We arrived at a crowded harbour found a parking spot and had our lunch.
After lunch we inflated the tubes once more and found a small puncture on the inside tube where it had caught something sharp – nothing major but another un needed headache for the boat officer. We motored over to the Horse brass wreck but the water looked a bit green so it was back to the Ilesha. Wyn and Robin prepared the shot as expertly as two Irish sailors – what do we do with the other end ? – I don’t know – just chuck it in !! So on Peters command in it went . The trio went in first so that the tide would be nice and slack for the other two when we came out ! Irfon followed the line down so did mickey – but the wrong end !! For some unknown reason Mickey and Robin hit an upcurrent and were sent to the surface – we descended again to meet Irfon at 6m then carried on – we located the wreck eventually having been off in all directions. Robin found a litter picking / lobster pinching tool which he took home to annoy the kids. Mike and Robins earlier ascent must have added some penalties as they went into deco with Irfon still 12 minutes bottom time remaining. Peter and Wyn then jumped in and enjoyed the slack period and Wyn found some bent copper ( no not Mickey Duke)
Back to Aberdaron with gloomy skies and rain approaching. Aberdaron has never been kind to the club rib and proved that fact once more when we tried to retrieve the rib. The soft sand and heavy rib meant we got stuck just before the boards so unhooked the trailer and dragged it with the rope.The sand wheel worked well –but unfortunately the pin was stuck which with several blows was removed but will need replacing. We got back to Pendre in the rain around 6pm to wash down and catch up with Malcolm.
Ever wondered where eels go for a social on a Wednesday night, well after sunset they come out to play at Vivian. Brian and Irfon were the only two divers on the 3rd and by the 10th they had spread the word and both were joined by Wyn, Simon and Jon.
A night dive at Vivian does give a different feel about the place, with good visibility, a good buddy and a good torch for company, it was agreed that a feeling of tranquility and well being came over us. Add to that the most life you could dream to see at the quarry and it does make for a really excellent dive. If the recent spell of bad weather does hold up, I for one won’t be terribly disappointed if a re-visit to Vivian wouldn’t be a chore.