The preferred site was Trefor, but with a brisk north easterly wind forecast we had to move to Porth Ysgadarn, which turned out to be the right place to be as the bay was calm and apparently clear, while it was quite lumpy outside the reef. After the diving on the first two Wednesdays of the season had had to be cancelled due to stormy weather this was the first sea dive for the majority of the trainees, and it seemed that they were ready for it with 8 of the 10 wanting to go. In the event Catrin had trouble finding PY so there were eventually 7 trainees, 7 instructors and 4 others going in just for fun, a total of 18 divers, which I think is a record turnout for a Wednesday evening, or possibly for any dive day for the Club.
There were the inevitable problems with assigning bits and pieces of Club gear but surprisingly everyone managed to find everything they needed and the long trek down was soon underway. Simon & Brian had obviously decided they wanted to get their dive in before the lovely clear viz. was destroyed by a mass of unskilled finning and were away before most had their kit on, leaving Carl R, the third member of their group, stranded. This turned out to be pre-ordained as Malcolm then turned up, just ever so slightly late, as compared to his recent achievement when meeting Peter in Perth, bringing the new lady in his life, Melanie, for her first dive in Wales. So, for better or worse, she found a ready made buddy in Carl. ( Malcolm was off to do what Malcolm does, although he did resurface in the Lion later.)
Irfon took Nia who, a few drysuit problems aside, had a decent first outing, while Dewi and Andrew, who is getting to be an old hand already, managed most of the second lesson. Wyn and Pete had an uneventful first dive with Pete acquitting himself well, but Brett had the ignominy of finding himself inverted with enough air in his drysuit to blow his feet out of the boots, which made for an interesting retrieval exercise for Peter. There could be a couple of sets of ankle weights on their way to Brett and Nia. Stephen and Iorwerth also managed a good dive while Ian decided to try and give his instructor Lee the slip, which he eventually achieved at the third attempt. The two were obliged to surface separately and, after a synopsis of the buddy system from Lee, continued with their dive together. After failing to get under last week Emma was game to try again, preferably without an undersuit, but Stephen came to the rescue and this time she managed it without too much difficulty, after the air had been teased out of the recesses of her drysuit. We managed a long swim out and back and even achieved the partial mask clear and weight removal of the first exercise.
The viz. remained quite good at about 5 metres and there was a reasonable amount of sea life to whet the interest. It was surprising to see so few of the divers during the dive. My recollection is of Ian steaming past with Lee struggling to keep up several metres adrift. So, all in all a very good evening.
The only downside of the Scapa trip is that it interfered with the Easter weekend diving. Having realized at the Dive Planning meeting that we would not have the numbers for both days we settled for Easter Monday only, in the hope that some of the Scapa contingent might have surfaced by then. As it turned out they were all pretty much dived out so, being the dive marshal, I decided to cox only. The weather was fine with a northerly forecast so the plan was to go out from Castellmarch & dive over in Hell’s Mouth, away from the Bank Holiday crowds, but only Robin & Wyn phoned in. We could still have done it but they opted to do a shore dive at the Rhiw end of Hell’s Mouth, where Brett launches from, at high water which was at about 2.30pm. I undertook to do shore cover for them.
We met up a bit after the agreed time of 1pm as both Wyn, who had been there before, and me had difficulty in finding the track down. By then a stiff and chilly northerly wind had picked up and I could see that they were wavering. But, after a few mentions of the extreme weather we had braved up in Scapa, they decided to give it a go. They were rewarded with a 45 minute dive, in variable viz., poor inshore, better further out, and Robin managed to collect something for his, or someone elses, tea. My shore cover services weren’t needed as Wyn managed to navigate his way right back in to the slip, and I felt slightly guilty for having spent my time scouring the horizon and distant shorelines!! Well, at least someone in the Club managed a dive over Easter. The pity being that the weather on Sunday had also been good.
Conditions were perfect – tide was iffy as high water was at 22:40 so was a bit low at the start but was rising rapidly. A total of eight divers phoned in on the Saturday four of whom were trainees. Even Irfon was feeling jealous and considering a trip home from Scapa to join us as it was apparently misty and cold up there – very very sorry to hear that !! So it was we descended on a sun baked Criccieth with a millpond sea crystal clear water and a lovely sunset!! It was planned with military accuracy and we even had several briefings!! First in were Carl B, Andrew and Carl R who were just going for a bimble around the reef. Second in were Wyn and Lowri on her first dive and first open water lesson. Third and finally in were Robin with Emma and Iorwerth on their first dive and open water lesson.
Lowri was I believe slightly underweighted but managed to have a good dive until reaching the lesson part when her weightbelt slipped off. Wyn’s nightmare dive off Porth ysgaden a few years ago came flashed in front of his eyes so even though ditching the weight belt is part of the lesson they couldn’t quite complete the mask clearing. Over on the jetty Emma was having her own nightmare with her weights. With all her pouches full and two bust zips on her BC pockets we tried but couldn’t get her under so she reluctantly had to sit this one out. Iorwerth however managed to sink so with light fading fast we quickly moved off and managed to complete the lesson in torchlight. Unfortunately we didn’t manage to see much of the reef however did manage to spot some crabs, Greater and lesser pipefish and some large prawns. Plenty to whet the appetite of the students. Carl B and Andrew were having such a good time they came in to drop off Carl R with his leaky suit and went back out again spotting a cuttlefish on their way back. Carl then stayed and completed his remaining piece of DL training successfully. By the time we had all de kitted it was well after beer o clock so with the shore team of Hugh, Rhian and Mo we made our way to the Lion. A very enjoyable evening was had and a few extra bits of preparations required for a few of us before the next dive – who needs rusting hulks of metal and cold water ?!
Conditions looking pretty good – pretty darned good – as we put the boat in at Porth Colmon – and actually managed to be ahead of the planned 9 am departure time! We checked in with Holyhead Coastguard to let them know where and when we would be diving, and they in turn warned us about a loose drifting large metal buoy in the vicinity of Bardsey. The five of us – David Jones, Mike Duke, Irfon Jones, Peter James and Stephen Thompson – had as perfect a crossing to Bardsey as you are ever likely to get – including lots of porpoises to keep an eye out for. And on arriving off Bardsey – sure enough there was a large metal buoy looking lost and forlorn. We reported it’s location (only after Micky had decided – with great reluctance – that it was, at 2 metres long and 1 metre in diameter, a bit big to polish up and put on the mantelpiece) to Holyhead Coastguard.
And then on to dive at Caswenan. Mike, Irfon & Peter dived first, and had a good dive with the tide just starting to pick up towards the end. Irfon cleverly navigated back to the shot (or “blundered upon it”) and then refused to move so far away from it as to loose sight of it again. So the last part of the dive was an intensive examination of a section of seabed. David & Stephen then dived. By now the current was picking up a bit more – so much so that when David deployed a DSMB the dive became a fast drift – rapidly loosing sight of the bottom. So we came up!
Then on to Bardsey for lunch. Hot sun, mirror calm sea, warm weather – all before the middle of April. Remind me again – which country is this? Lunch overlooking the bay with many seals swimming around, basking on the rocks, and singing (at least as well as on “Britain’s got Talent”). And then after lunch around to the North coast of Bardsey for a second dive. Same groups and dive order – nice dives on a mixture of large boulders, very coarse sand, gullies and kelp park. There still isn’t a huge amount of life to see in the sea yet, but there were some really nice anemones, sponges, dead mans fingers, etc. Plus crabs – edible, spider, swimming crabs, and a few fish.
On the return trip we checked out the large metal buoy again – it seemed to be attached to the seabed, as it hadn’t moved, and was now being pulled nearly under by the running tide. We let the coastguard know this when reporting our return to Porth Colmon.The whole day produced a serious risk of divers suntans – stopping at a sharp line where the neck and wrist seals are! A really good day – fantastic conditions, and a couple of nice sites. There will get more and more life to see as the water warms up, but for such early season dives, these today were lovely. Stephen.
A good time. My first dive in the Centre, and I found it very interesting – very atmospheric, with quite good vis and lots of stuff to look at. Peter and I buddied – we each took a rock for a swim around the quarry (must get some more lead!), had a look at the huts including Santa’s Grotto, then round the point and back through the tunnel. Then I led back across the quarry, and in a stunning piece of precision navigation, managed to get us to a point exactly 57.3 metres West of the exit point – which is of course the precise point on the shore I was aiming at! Stephen T.
Well the alternate dive site was lively! Peter J and Steven T had a good dive to 25mtrs in Fairy Glen. Micky D David J and I had had a three man dive to 40mtrs. At 33mtrs I had a free flow but luckly had my pony. I had to surface fast as I had lost all the air in my main tank. I had tried in vain to stop it, but no luck! Unfortunately Micky didn’t see what was going on above him as he was having a bit of a problem with his under slung pony and torch. David came to his aid and they surfaced together. It was 4 degs down there and heavy rain above, but the diving was great. That’s the love of a great hobby for you!!