Wave Shape
Wave Shape
Wave Shape

Wednesday 31 August 2011, Criccieth.

It had been flat calm for 2 – 3 days after the weekend so we kept to the plan and chose Criccieth as it has always provided good night dives, and it didn’t disappoint. Although, when we arrived at 7.30 to find much of the reef still exposed and water lapping at the end of the jetty, it didn’t look too promising. There was even a complaint that it was chilly, but that remark was quickly withdrawn when mention was made of Vivian Quarry in January. High water was due at 10.20pm and as it was a big spring tide some of us weren’t too concerned. There were initially 12 takers but Wyn’s day went pearshaped (quote) and Pete poked himself in the eye at work and wasn’t sure that the sea water would be a good idea. I suggested that he try his mask on to see if it hurt but he said his head hurt enough without the mask, so I guess he wasn’t kidding.

It took a while for anyone to start kitting up; the exception being Carl R, who had kitted up at home. So he and Andrew were first in at 8.15 followed closely by Stephen and Brett. Access was from the top of the jetty on the south facing slip as the boulders have been covered by sand and gravel, thus avoiding the fishermen on the end of the jetty. Irfon took Nia, and I went with Iorwerth & Emma while Mike joined his friend Torpy in search of yet another deep ravine which Carl pointed out to him; this one just to the left of Simon’s reef!! Needless to say, he didn’t find it. Dive times varied from 31 minutes for Mike, to 73 minutes for Stephen and Brett with most doing 50 minutes or more. Those who stayed on the reef saw numerous crabs and lobsters, big tompots and pipefish while those who ventured out on the sand saw many juvenile plaice and solenette flatfish, gobies, assorted crabs, weaverfish and even the occasional young cuttlefish or beautiful grey gurnard. Viz. was a bit cloudy inshore but excellent further out and , contrary to most people’s expectations, we did get a decent depth of all of 5 meteres, although no one reported any flourescence, too clear perhaps!. The schoolteacher amongst us was back at school the next morning, so could only be persuaded, against his better judgement, to stay for a couple in the Lion! DJ

Sunday 28th August 2011. Porth Ceiriad.

The high point of the summer dive season you might think, but not for the first time the weather forecast was poor, with a strong north westerly breeze forecast for both days. So, there were only four takers for the Sunday, namely, Irfon, Dewi, Andrew & myself. Irfon had not been off the boat for 6 weeks, so would have dived in anything, anywhere, while Dewi was making his first weekend boat dive of the season. It was a leisurely late start from Castellmarch, with an early break to drain the main bilge which was not pumping out, as the plan was to catch low water slack mid-afternoon at Ceiriad Corner for the autumn fish mecca. We ventured into Hell’s Mouth for a look see but quickly turned tail as it was rather choppy, being fully exposed to the wind. Andrew’s gasp as we turned the corner said it all. In contrast it was relatively calm outside Porth Ceiriad so Irfon & Andrew dropped in for a drift over new ground, mostly sand but they seemed to enjoy it, as they stayed in for almost an hour. Dewi & I dropped in a bit further west and found cobble beds, which we managed to stay on with a bit of hard finning for half an hour, and also managed a longish dive until we tired of sand.

A relaxing lunch on the rocks at the west end of Porth Ceiriad in the sun gave us only a short hop over to Ceiriad Corner, where it appeared to be a bit swelly. So the ventures into the gullies were interesting, with the Spider crabs back in abundance for what appeared to be the autumn mate. But true to form there were vast numbers of wrasse & pollack, some huge, bass, bib & poor cod. So even though the viz. was a murky 3 metres it was an excellent dive, with both pairs managing 50 minutes or more. Monday’s diving was cancelled as only Stephen phoned in offering to cox in the afternoon, but a cox without divers is a very sad sight! DJ

Wednesday 17th August 2011. Gwynfaen.

The weather forecast was excellent so, for only the second time this season, we were able to get the boat out on a Wednesday. Even better, LW slack was due at the Gwynfaen at about 7pm. So Mike launched the boat at Porth Ysgadarn mid-afternoon with John, Andrew and myself for company. The plan was to drop a shot on the Gwynfaen then do a couple of drifts which should get us back somewhere near Porth Ysgadarn in time to pick up the evening contingent at 6pm. However, it was running so fast that the shot line buoy was pulled right under, which we took to indicate that the shot was either in or up against the wreck, with the former proving to be the case. Andrew & I dropped in first, at nowhere in particular, knowing that the depth as we had approached on that line was a fairly constant 20 metres. We flew along initially, with Mike’s last words echoing around, “you’ll have to run into a reef sometime at the speed you’ll be travelling”. Well, we never did, shingle, bedrock, cobbles, huge sand dunes, but no reefs. Enjoyable, all the same. Mike & John picked up where we left off, but a bit further out and a few metres deeper, and did run along some good reefs to end up about half a mile short of Porth Ysgadarn at a quarter to six.

The evening crew were waiting. Dewi and Pete, with Andrew joining Wyn, and that most dedicated of cox’ns, while Brett & Carl R both got waylaid and missed out. Nia and I went for a few exercises in the bay and a poodle to the end of the reef, but at low water the viz. was hazy and not as much life as usual, but enjoyable all the same. Both pairs enjoyed 40 minute dives on slack at the Gwynfaen and were back before Nia and I had time to get changed. We had the boat put to bed just as it got dark before resusitating ourselves on Dewi’s Nuts and, in Mike’s case a much needed dose of Brains, at the Pen y Bont. For once the plan had worked well, although I must admit that I had left so many bits and pieces, clothes, cylinders etc. behind, once again, that there was no way I could delegate this particular report. Thanks are due to Mike for the hoody, there’s a first time for everything, and to John for the 15 litre cylinder, another first on a shore dive!! DJ

Sunday 14th August 2011. Out of Castellmarch.

The boat was repaired so I think that Peter would have taken us out whatever the weather. He played safe by choosing the South coast, launching from Castellmarch, announcing only when we were assembled there that he rather fancied doing a certain little wreck at the far side of Hell’s Mouth which is at about 8 metere in thick kelp and which he had recced the previous weekend ( see Anja’ report). This went down like a lead balloon with the assembled group of Tim, Wyn, Mike, John & me so, amazingly, an alternative plan of Mike’s to go out beyong Carreg y Trai to find a vertical mud wall near Muddy Hollow was accepted as if it were the Holy Grail. We chased out past the islands, then headed East as per Mike’s advice before deciding that it was probably to the south , or maybe it was near that line of pots, off to the SE, before opting instead for a venture over to wards Porth Ceiriad, where a bit of a choppy sea saw us turning back to St. Tuds., which John had mentioned as our likely destination as we passed them on the way out!! It was running like a train. Peter & Wyn were first in, buoy up and off they went covering much the same ground underwater as we had covered earlier in the boat, actually ending up not far from where they went in. Seeing this, Mike & John dropped in closer to the island and found slacker water. Viz. was a murky 2-3 meteres. Tim & I dropped in close inshore and managed a current less dive, albeit with not a massive amount of life to be seen.

We dropped off Wyn when we picked up second cylinders at lunchtime and decide to dive the isolated reef, Carreg Fawr, off Llanbedrog headland, only to find that it’s location had disappeared from the GPS. Peter did a somewhat half hearted search before almost conning us into checking out a possible wreck site off Pwllheli. Trouble was, some of us remembered checking out the same site last year, so it was back to St Tuds for the second dive. I sat it out as cox’n while Mike & John dropped in near the cave and although they somehow became separated they both spent much of their dive playing with seals. They even met up again midway through the dive. Peter & Tim dropped into the bay on the SW corner of the East island and had what both discribed as an excellent dive. Peter going so far as to say he could have stayed there all day. They were mainly at about 10 metres in thick kelp!! So it was straight onto the waiting trailer and scones and sponge cake from Helen. Now, was that why Peter chose the South Coast? DJ

Wednesdays 3rd & 10th August 2011. Vivian Quarry.

The 3rd was down for the Straits but with it being a 9.7 metre spring tide and a likely high proportion of inexperienced divers expected we opted for a move over to Vivian. There is absolutely no truth in the rumour that this was done so that Dewi could give his kit a wash! Nine divers turned out, with Mike along for a play with his toys. Irfon took Nia for her first leap of faith and a deeper dive to 12-15 metres, while Dewi was to shadow the buddy pair of Brett & Pete, with me doing likewise with Andrew and Iorwerth. Nia did very well. Brett decided that if he did a few confused circles Dewi might take over, which worked a treat, while Andrew did an excellent job, in the murk of the near end ( Mike had been through), by keeping exactly to the dive plan. So, a quite fruitful evening which ended, just for change, in the Glyn Twrog.

The weather forecast for the 10th was abysmal but, ever the optimist, it being such a nice, quiet evening on Tuesday, we decided to hold a decision until Wednesday afternoon. The plan being to cancel if the forecast happened, which it did. But with Irfon being away on holiday and at a wedding over the coming few weeks, he decided that he was off to Vivian to get wet come what may, and with Andrew due to miss the coming weekend he had a willing buddy. The mystery is why Lowri, Brett & Nia and me chose to join them at the quarry, as the forecast proved to be spot on and it was torrential. Even stranger, you might think, is how we managed to get a certain someone to come along to do shore cover. The saying, “only here for the beer” comes to mind, but that would be belittling his dedication. I took Nia & Lowri for a deep dive, managing 18.9 meteres in the sump, before doing a reccee over and through the blast hut in viz. of a metre or two. It was in fact the worst viz. I have ever experienced at Vivian. Brett & Andrew dived as a buddy pair leading Irfon out and back, while Mike stuck to his task to the point that his totally waterproof sailing gear started to leak. Congratulations to Lowri on qualifying as an Ocean Diver. Needless to say, we had to go to the Glyn Twrog for the debriefs!! DJ

Sunday, 7 August 2011. “Brett’s place” otherwise known as the shore at the bottom of the single track lane opposite Plas yn Rhiw

With the boat still out of action and a good turnout for a shore dive the previous Sunday, I expected little interest in the 3-4m dive Lee (the manager) and I had on offer. I couldn’t have been more wrong. After an exhausting hour on the phone Saturday evening, we managed to rally up a group of 10 divers, despite an 8.45am start. They were: Nia, Brett, David J, Andrew, Lee, Peter, Dewi, Irfon, Wyn and I.

With Brett being the only one boasting proper local knowledge of that particular dive site, the manager’s briefing went ahead as follows: “Just go for a dive of sorts and see what’s there.” Rest assured, behind the scenes there was a clear blame order established, i.e. if it turned out to be a rubbish dive, the manager (Lee) would blame the organiser (Anja) who in turn would pass the buck down to Brett. Sorry, mate!

Having negotiated down the track in a skilful 4×4 convoy, the waters were assessed and following rumours about a shallow wreck covered in kelp, Peter was off without further delay, taking Wyn and Andrew with him on his little hike. Despite the wreck being a touch on the elusive side; the trio had a good dive with Andrew setting a new personal record of his longest ever dive. (Our 90 min record set at Criccieth remains to be beaten).

The other pairs were Nia and Dewi, Irfon and I, and Brett with David who had obviously decided that a shallow dive was a safe bet for his social experiment (sponsored by Cadbury’s) to establish the SHSHSHaring nature of the divers present. I must say, he went about it in a very clever way by pretending to have forgotten his “box of bits” to see who would lend him surplus kit to ensure that his dive can still go ahead. Anyway, as it happens, there were quite a few of the caring, sharing type present, so the social experiment was a great success!

Not a great deal of marine life was seen during the dive. There was a lot of kelp swaying going on but we spotted a few small wrasse, some juvenile pipefish and a beautiful snakelock anemone. I collected a couple of bits of pottery from different spots which, once on the shore, very freakily turned out to be a perfect match.

Lee, who wasn’t feeling too good that day, provided shore cover to keep an eye on things although, if the evidence is anything to go by, I have the sneaky suspicion that he was secretly earning a fortune by providing canine driving lessons whilst we were in the water.

All in all, a better than expected half day’s diving was enjoyed by all. Anja

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