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Sunday 30th August 2009 The story of the Good, the bad, & the ugly (Porth Colman)

So let us begin at the beginning…

A few mad fools decided they wanted to go diving. These being: Dewi, Wyn, Gwynfor, David J & Dave H. The two Dave’s being mercilessly dragged out in the horrible conditions by eager divers back from sunning themselves in Portugal & Turkey! Anyway the day started early to meet at Porth Colman for 8.00am. Wyn was on towing duty as Peter was in his sick bed with a new strain of flu (Mushroom flu). All went well, the boat was launched without problems, but then David J & Wyn spent 20 minutes getting the wheel lock back on the trailer! (what was that about easy to operate Mike?)

It had been decided the previous night that Caswenan was not a goer with the forecast. And this was definitely the case, as the weather was on the bad side of the range of forecasts. But never mind, we did not really want to be at home in the cosy warm of our homes, did we!

As we arrived at the first dive site, not far out from Porth Colman, trying to find a site sheltered from the chop of the windy sea conditions, Wyn & Dewi kitted up first. They went down with smb inflated as we did not know the speed of the tide. They has a gentle drift until suddenly the boat crew saw second smb pop up. Great debate followed as the first smb seamed stationary while the second carried on with a slow drift. The boat crew went and gave the stationary smb a gentle tug to see if any one was on the end of it. It was attached to something, but what? Anyway we followed the moving smb until they came up. The lads had found an old weight belt and tied the smb to it. So we went back and hauled in the weight belt. Vis being reported around 4 to 5 metres.

Unfortunately after all the bouncing around Gwynfor rapidly came to the conclusion that if he tried to kit up he as going to get sick, so poor lad had come all this way to roll around in the rib for a couple of hours getting plashed & rained on. David J and Dave H then started to kit up. Now the list of omissions (not mistakes) that David J went through at this point does not bear repeating, so here goes:

  • No dry suit hose. (because he has been using his wetsuit for the summer! – excuses!!! Dewi came to the rescue with a spare)
  • Pee zip undone at the end of buddy check! Spotted by Dave H
  • Fins not on at end of buddy check

Dave J saying ready to go without the sign of a reg near his mouth, although the previous omissions had totally distracted him at this point. In we went to murky conditions without a lot to see. Poor old David J came out with a leaking dump valve to top it all off. This just after spending out on new zip and seals. We headed back to Porth Colman for lunch. David J and Dave H did some running repair to the trailer. Raising the height of the runners to try to stop the boat grinding its hull on the trailers cross beams (result inconclusive due to seaweed blocking view during lift out). We had lunch saying goodbye to Gwynfor for the day, while debate raged over the merits of a second dive, but David J held his nerve and stopped the mutiny.

We headed out again to do battle with the sea. Both sets of divers reporting an interesting reef at start of the dive, Dewi and Wyn seeing a Conger plus lobsters etc. David J and Dave H came across a large reef with 6 foot kelp covering big gulleys. Dave H showing off his new smb reel deploying smb with David J’s help, only to see the smb rocket off with no string attached. Obviously in need of a BSAC knot tying course. Thankfully Dewi and Wyn did rescue loose smb, during the only really heavy rain shower of the day. So all home for dinner and a warm bath. YOU DO FEEL GOOD ABOUT IT, AFTER THE EVENT!

Dave H

Wednesday 26 August 2009 – Menai Straits -The Hurricane Bill Dive.

So what if it was blowing a bit and had been just a wee bit damp all day, there had to be somewhere to escape from the awful weather. Fortunately, an error in the dive programme, giving slack in the Menai as 17.34 instead of 19.34, was spotted so just before 7pm Irfon, Lee and I met up at the Normal college, more in hope than expectation, to find the Straits calm and the viz. looking good. Apart from Lee having a go at sliding down the first set of steps we made it safely to the shore. We dropped about halfway down the slope before turning into Cimwch Alley where we found 5 lobsters at home, with a couple already out on their evening constitutional, and quite pissed to be disturbed. Seems like we may have done them a favour as there was a marauding seal on the prowl who decided to check out Irfon face to face. Fortunately Irfon, who had already decided to forgo the post dive curry due to a dicky tummy, had taken a double dose of Imodium and so survived the encounter intact. He had to put up with several sweeping passes before the seal decided he didn’t want to play any more. We then headed off into the deep and beyond where we came across masses of dogfish at an oversubscribed convention which was taking place under a couple of large boulders. The viz. was a real bonus at about 3m but it was very dark at depth so the local inhabitants were out in abundance. There cannot be a local dive site with more fish, crabs and lobsters. Coming inshore we made the day for a fisherman and his two companions, who had set up at our entry point after our departure, when they thought that the Lochness monster and friends were about to come and get them. All in all another excellent dive when least expected, particularly after a couple of dud Sundays.

David J.

Sunday 9 August 2009 Pre-Dive Assessment Exam and Maen Mellt

Exam Report

This week’s diving involved a surprise pre-dive assessment exam in accordance with BSAC syllabus 19591111. The purpose of this exam is to evaluate if, after all these years, clubs are still worthy of the BSAC membership. As our D.O. Dave was in on the act and under strict instructions not to compromise the outcome of the assessment. “I have to look after the dogs this weekend”, yeah, right, Dave, whatever!!!
In order to cover a broad spectrum of club members and, more importantly, to maximise the success rate, only 4 elite representatives were chosen, each for their respective individual qualities. They were: Dewi, the manager, for his valuable leadership experience in the police force, Anja, the organiser, for her track record of first time pass rate in previous exams, Dave H as a PADI crossover-convertee and last but not least Peter, the time-served member.

The exam was divided into 3 parts:

A – General pre-dive alertness
B – Ability to solve complicated puzzles
C – Problem-solving skills in the unlikely event of mis-matched buddy pairs

Part A was passed with 110% thanks to Dewi scoring valuable bonus points by not only having a gut instinct (Have you ever had the strange feeling that you forgot something???) but promptly acting upon it by returning home to collect his mask and computer.

Part B was a bit trickier. The challenge was to unlock and take off the new wheel clamp on the trailer within the allowed 15 min. time window. The task was mastered, but only just and with nanoseconds to spare.

Part C initially seemed straight forward enough: get the boat trailer hitched onto Dewi’s new Nissan. The two of them seemed to bond initially (up the the top bit of the drive in Pendre) but ultimately proved a mismatch when the Nissan declared: Don’t even think about getting your coat, love, ‘cos you are so NOT pulled! By now it was 11am and we were running about half an hour late for our rendevouz at Porth Colmon were David H and Peter were waiting. Once again, outstanding resourcefulness and quick thinking were demonstrated and it was only a matter of minutes before Peter was contacted who seemed happy enough to come back from Porth Colmon with his van in order to collect his own brew (thank you, Julie) before we were finally on our way to dive. RESULT!

And, by the way, it’s now official: Llyn Sub-Aqua Club’s exam score rocks!!!

Dive Report

They boys must have thought that I needed the practice, otherwise they would not have appointed me (Anja, the newly qualified boat handler) to take us to Maen Mellt, unless, of course, and there is a remote possibility, they wanted some more of the “smooth style” ride they got last time round, especially since we were running a teeny bit late for our midday slack now. But hey, ever the BSAC club, Plan the Dive – Dive the Plan, so once we arrived (safely) at Maen Mellt, Peter and Dave H got ready. The shore side of Maen Mellt seemed a bit more protected, so that’s where we dropped them in. They had arranged to deploy Dave’s SMB in case it was running too fast. So when Dave’s SMB popped up we were not surprised. However, we had serious concerns that Dave was being underwater-stalked by JOHN, a member of the nearby Shrewsbury Club, until the pair got separated and it turned out that it was actually Peter (and not John) with his own Ebay-purchased SMB (only 1 careful previous owner)! After 50 minutes they came up reporting a cracking dive with rocky outcrops and lots of nooks and crannies with the viz not being too bad either. Dewi and myself found pretty much the same conditions on our 52 minute dive. Below is a list of some of the wonderful things we saw and if I were you I would look them up because it might just give you a competetive edge in the next quiz, hint, hint!

Parablennius gattorugine
Conger conger (disallowed for quiz)
Palaemon serratus
Homarus gammarus
Galathea strigosa
etcetera, etcetera, etcetera

It was off to Porth Iago for lunch. By the way, if you don’t want soaked sarnies, waterproof bags are really quite handy when you have to swim to shore. Anyway, being the only girl in the group I was off wee-spot hunting and got myself ready by getting unzipped and half undressed only to slip, fall in the water and manage to fill up the drysuit good and proper… I have to say that there was a serious lack of compassion amongst the boys, and, to be frank, all of them would have absolutely failed their “Alertness for Shock Treatment Exam” by putting mockery and laughter before first aid. Well, as it happens, I am actually quite choosy whom I receive rescue breaths from anyway! So stick that in your pipe and smoke it, guys!

The second dive was meant to be a drift dive and we decided to go just around the corner from Porth Iago. Again, Dave and Peter went in first and after 50 minutes reported rocks, gullies and generally what sounded like a lovely dive. When Dewi and I went in the same spot, all we found was kelp, kelp and more kelp. Not the best dive but we still managed to last 50 odd minutes or so and some of the boys were trying to make up for their shortfall earlier by complimenting me that I had lasted so long in the water considering my suit was drenched. Too little, too late, I’m afraid.

On our return to Porth Colmon it was low tide and we encountered what can only be described as a gooey, stinky, disgusting mess that covered the once shiny trailer, which, just for future reference, has a brake that needs to be OFF when you are trying to pull it up the slipway. We went back to Pendre were it took absolutely ages to hose down the boat/trailor because of the stinky state they were in. Once finished, all the mess was left on Malcolm’s drive, so before heading home we had to make a crucial decision: should we either do a runner and pray for rain (as suggested by one member whose name is being withheld but can be made available for a small fee) or carry out operation “Drive clean”. In the interest of a continuing healthy working relationship with Pendre, we decided for the latter and sincerely hope that Malcolm appreciates our commitment. All in all, a fabulous albeit long day in good company!


Wednesday 05 August – Menai Straits.

As nobody had phoned in on the Tuesday evening, no doubt put off by the awful weather that day while failing to note the better forecast for Wednesday, the gentlemen of leisure, i.e. Irfon & Mickey, persuaded me to drop tools and lead them on an afternoon dive in the Straits from the site of the moment at the Bangor Normal College. As they both managed to lose me before we had even cleared the kelp, having zoomed off down the slope it later transpired, I did wonder why I had bothered. But it was well worth it, good viz., two congers, one massive; four lobsters, including a monster barnacle encrusted grand-dad, and a beautiful shining blue big daddy that was almost as large. There was life under every stone, although fewer fish with the tompots and butterfish seen hiding away. Once again though the navigation skills were impressive as we (all) made it back to the entry point.

For anyone who is looking for a really good dive to kick start their season this is about as good as it gets and next Wednesday evening may be the last opportunity for some time.


Sunday 2 August 2009 Pen Llyn Reefs and The Gwenfaen

What promised to be a pretty normal day’s diving turned out to be a bit of an epic for the organiser, oohh, yes, that would be me (Carl). 7 divers had signed up: Irfon (manager/monkey grinder), Carl (organiser aka monkey) David, David H, Peter, Mike and John. We met at 10am at Porth Dinllaen were white horses were having a bit of a race past the marker buoy at the point. Sparrowhawk and Seawasp were made ready to launch with the club boat proudly presenting its new set of shiny wheels and undercarriage. There was lots of talk about the potential of the new club asset.

Our first dive was to be on the reefs I believe to be known as the Pen Llyn (PE) Reefs. We dropped the first wave of divers in, Mike and John, Peter and Dave H. 40 mins later and approx ½ mile of drift the divers surfaced with reports of all the normal creatures around and viz of about 6 metres. We dived the second wave as a three-some (Irfon, David and myself – it’s just not the same without) drifting at around 26 metres for about 40 mins. Despite a slow ascent my computers were having a bit of a shouting match, wanting more and more (deco time, that is). One cleared but in the end Wyn’s old Aladdin simply got too greedy demanding even more time which I chose to ignore and from then on, computer said NO. We had lunch in a lovely bay surrounded by happy locals and out of town tourists enjoying the grey skies and wind we sometimes get in this part of the world.

The second dive was at the Gwenfaen, with Mike and John going in first. They managed to get separated and came up at different times quickly followed by Peter and David H. Irfon, David and myself were in last having endured some choppy seas and engine fumes. But once in the water, the fun was only just beginning with my sea sickness really taking its toll. Reluctantly I decided to feed the fish by sharing my lunch. Not once but several times trying various techniques in the process. My first attempt (mouthpiece out) worked ok, the second one (mouthpiece in) was not so successful as I managed to get some peppers (not carrots) stuck in the diaphragm resulting in water intake with every breath. Mouthpiece in sucks, trust me, if ever you are in a similar situation. And one more thing to be aware off: sympathy is the last thing on your buddy/ies mind…Anyway, the octopus worked just as well and, once settled, the dive actually turned out to be great with good viz and plenty of life. Just for consistency’s sake, I continued my regurgitating session on the surface and from inside the boat.

Once back on shore, the boats were recovered after David man handled lots of tourists out of the way as the RNLI were doing an event on the slip next to the access road. Several items were highlighted with respect to the new trailer like having the engine up a bit before reversing the rib back into its home at Pendre. So please read David and Peter’s latest trailer handling dos and don’ts paper that has been sent out and is on the club website.

All in all an eventful day’s diving, rounded off by Landrover engine bigend failure on the way back to Porthmadog. Moral of the day: Give up diving and start using the Wii instead.


Saturday 1st August New Trailer Arrives.

Following de-rusting and red lead painting in April, the trailer took on a marked bow, haunching over the axle. Some thought that this was due to the over excessive zeal of the de-rusting crew, others that the haunch had been there since a particularly heavy recovery in Aberdaron and that the paint merely accentuated the defect. Whichever it was, nobody was happy about it. The final straw though was Mickey’s accident, see separate report and photos, when his corroded trailer hitch failed and ended up lodged over his off side rear wheel. The Club’s trailer hitch had been rusted solid for about 6-7 years and so there was no way of assessing it’s condition.

So your dynamic Committee met, and in an outstanding act of self preservation decided to invest in a new trailer, the Club funds being sufficient to leave an adequate balance for contingencies. The old trailer and the boat were weighed, together and separately, and a new trailer, which can safely carry the RIB fully loaded with dive gear, was ordered after considerable research by Mickey. The new trailer was delivered on Saturday 01 August and set up to suit the size and shape of the Club RIB, with the RIB being dropped off the back of the trailer only once in the entire process. It clearly has runners which actually run, and also a winch that anyone can handle, and is even legal with vehicle operated wheel brakes and a handbrake. However, as is the case with all new bits of gear there are things to learn, a list of which has been posted on the Planning page.

So all we need now is a new RIB, although having said that the present one is working like a dream at the moment.


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