The weather had blown up as forecast, so there really was no other alternative dive site to the Menai Straits, which attracted a reasonable turnout for slack at about 18.30. Peter took Tom for the AS & CBL lifts with Adrian getting in some dive leading practice before acting as a body. Andrew was to do similar exercises with Steph, who had completed her second lesson the previous day (at Gimblet Rock in gin clear viz. of about 10 metres or so!), with me as the body. That left Irfon and Jake to go off for a proper dive. Shore cover was somewhat excessive with Mike of the blocked right ear and an even more knackered than usual Brett, with Nia to look after them and do the actual dive records. The wind was ripping through but it was a real surprise to find that the viz. was no more than a cloudy half metre, due it seemed to a late plankton bloom. The conditions were, not surprisingly, a bit too much for Steph, who did very well to get down to about 13 metres. We abandoned the dive early so that I could go off to retrieve a lost SMB, which involved a long surface swim and an awful lot of air! The reward was finding an octopus sitting alongside the reel when I went down to retrieve it. Peter & co. pressed on though and completed all the exercises so Tom is only one lesson off completing his OD. And, unsurprisingly, Irfon & Jake did have a proper dive. We all adjourned to the Antelope where it was curries all round and a reasonably early night.
A sunny evening found the usual suspects gathered beneath the shadow of Criccieth castle, surveying a flat calm and apparently clear sea. While Steph made a mad dash home for forgotten equipment we kitted up and the dive pairings were sorted out. Myself and Wyn, Tom and Dewi, Peter and Jake and Andrew, David and Steph. With the shore being covered by Mike, who was hampered with a blocked ear and a pen that wouldn’t work on the recording slate.Wyn and I went in first,Wyn’s first immersion of the season.We soon found that the water was not as clear below as it had appeared from above and the viz quickly became poor,resulting in us returning to the shore separately. David reported that Steph did very well with her lifts despite the poor viz. Andrew reported being attacked by a singularly fierce lobster which ran/swam? up his arm. Last to emerge were Peter and Tom, Peter trying out his twin set by diving a circuit of the bay. Everyone saw plenty of lobsters, wrasse and other denizens of the deep and enjoyed their dives despite the poor viz.So it was in good spirits that most of the group headed for the Lion for well earned refreshment.
This was the second attempt to clean the hulls of the dragon class sailing boats in the moorings at Abersoch. The first try had failed miserably due to a combination of a rising Spring tide and a strong westerly breeze which were acting in unison. This time it was another Spring tide but little wind and we timed the clean for low water slack. There were also only 2 boats to clean. Mike was ailing, ears, back, nose, throat, head, you name it, but still turned out to cox, with Peter, Andrew and me as the scrubbers. The first boat, Ducru, needed only a wipe over with a sponge. Andrew filmed while Peter and I sweated away. It was only a short hop to the second boat, Mistere, but I needed a rest while the other two opted to swim across, to find that this one had a filthy hull covered in green weed, barnacles and sea squirts, to mention just a few. Cleaning was not helped by this boat having a dark grey hull. I dropped back in and Andrew resumed filming. It took the best part of half an hour for us to remove all but the green weed, which was impregnable to our scouring pads.
We then headed off to the west side of Hell’s Mouth to try and find a weight pod which Mike had lost at the end of June. The problem was that the search area was a little uncertain as both Mike and Peter, who was coxing that day, thought that it was well away from the Mark they had made at the time. We compromised with Andrew and I searching the area of the mark, moving towards the area they agreed was more likely to be it, while Peter went a-kelping, as only he does. As the bed was boulders and light kelp there was hope but it was always something of a long shot, which ended unsuccessfully. Nevertheless, it was a partially successful good day out.
With a North Westerly wind blowing in the mid-teens the North Coast was out of the question including any possibilities of diving Enlli. As the rib had been left at Castellmarch after Thursday’s boat cleaning, we decided to launch from there, the dive site was un decided and we would look for somewhere suitable once on the water. “Suck it and See” is the technical term I keep hearing!
So away we went to see if we could find somewhere to dive. We found what looked like caves half way between the old Life Boat slip and Ceriad Corner, so we paired up myself with Peter for the first wave followed by Irfon, David & Andrew.
The first cave was the biggest taking me and peter 15 mins to reach the end and come back out. The vis was also good with approx 7m, there was plenty of life wrasses and Pollack’s, Tompot Blenny’s and a gobies. Everyone reported having a good first dive, so it was back to the warren for lunch and to pick up spare cylinders along with Wyn for the afternoon dive.
We headed back near to the first dive site where the depth was a maximum of 4.8 for me and Peter although it was still a good dive again with plenty of life, David had opted out of the second dive to Cox so there was only one wave in the afternoon, with Wyn joining Irfon & Andrew.
All in all two good dives.
The forecast looked promising, the sea looked inviting and The Llanddulas had been waiting all winter. A date was set for the expedition and word sent far and wide to recruit a team of would be adventurers from the ranks of the LSAC. From the huge response it was necessary to whittle it down to only four for the final push. It was imperative that only those with the finest skills, knowledge and experience be considered. Unfortunately none were available so we ended up with me, Adrian, David and Steph, two of which were there just to make up the numbers and wanted to dive a pretty little reef! David and I picked up the boat on schedule and arrived at the Pwllheli launch slip at 5 to the hour expecting to see Adrian and Steph eagerly awaiting us but no sign. We got geared up and ready to launch, still no sign of them. Panic was starting to set in, had they been warned off? Eventually their giggling gave them away as we found them sitting around the corner in the boatyard having pre-dive aperitifs and wondering where the hell we were with the boat. The Pwllheli slip which has always been a pleasure to launch from has gone decidedly downhill in my book as it is now chained off and only opened upon donation of 10 gold pieces for a self launch. The plan was for the first dive pair of David and Steph to dive the Pen Y Chain reef. Do you want to do the inner or outer shoal I ask. Neither says David I want to dive the one at the end of the headland which is very small and not on the chart or waypointed on the GPS. Half an hour of round and round searching later we found a blip and dropped the anchor on it quickly in case we never saw it again. Now according to David there is never any current on this particular reef so it seemed strange that Seawasp was tugging at the anchor rope, Perhaps she was just keen to get on with the real business of the day. But no, as they went over the side and faffed around on the surface they became smaller and smaller figures disappearing astern. A lot of flippering and a mile of anchor rope later they managed to re-joined the boat. After regaining regular breathing, heartrate and bloodpressure they eventually descended the anchor line. I am used to seeing David struggle but it was good to see Steph take it in her stride and help him out. Recovery was back up the anchor line and went OK until at the boat Steph tried to reel herself in on the loose end of the anchor line, we only realised as we saw the end of the anchor line disappearing out of the bucket. After all this they had to say they had a good dive didn’t they.
Now on to the main event of the day…The Llanddulas.
The GPS confirmed the wreck had not moved during the winter storms so we were hopeful to find her still intact. The sonar showed her sitting high and proud on the bottom and the shot was deployed.
There was no sign of the mooring line so the first part of the dive was to locate this and send it back to the surface for a new float to be fitted. As in the Red Sea we are trying to discourage anchoring on the wreck to prevent damage. Adrian had been very quiet on the trip out mentally preparing himself for the challenge ahead, this was set to be the high point in his diving career thus far and he was up for it. We buddy checked after lodging last will and testaments and with a cheery wave plopped over the side into the crystal clear waters of which Tremadog Bay is justly proud. The shot had landed directly in the centre of the wreck and we soon found the tangled mooring line which had neatly wrapped itself around every deck support. The rope released and sent to the surface, we then had a delightful couple of turns around deck noting all the immaculate artefacts and abundant life. With air running low and Adrian’s computer demanding 10 minutes of deco we reluctantly bid her adieu.
What a day! Seldom has the wreck looked so well. There is still a lot to uncover so form an orderly queue and sign up for the next trip.
The perfect plan!
Dive plan was for a trip to Bardsey to Maen Bugail,4 hardy soles phoned in which was great as there was plenty of room on the rib for all the bottles, so we could stay on bardsey for lunch.
The tow to Porth Golmen went without a hitch, well apart from nearly running David down, you would of thought he would of learnt to keep well clear of me by now.
So off we set, as we passed maen mellt we all commented what a good dive it was to Adrian, little did we know!
As we approached Braech y Pwll, vis had deteriated to a mere 50 or so yards, as we fought to navigate round the Gps, it was deemed to dangerous to carry on with plan A, so we opted for plan as you go, and decided to back for Maen Mellt.
After a few manoeuvres away from shore and what seemed an eternity Maen Mellt loomed out of the mist.
Adrian and David went first, and with the help of the smb Dewi and I kept an eye on them.
They very nearly made a full circuit ,but alas tide waits for no man, and they had to turn round with 20mtrs to go to completely go round.
44 mins was there dive.
Dewi and me had a 40 Minuit dive, which had us head out to sea on our dive.
plenty of life including Pollock ,wrasse, conger,squidgies,oh yes not forgetting the 3 crays,Awsum!!!
Went to see my wife in Porthor for lunch, and then off for second dive.
Adrian and David dived what I think was Porth Iago, doing lessons in his Sports diver training, mask clearing at 10mtrs,and As and lift to 10 mtrs. This turned out to be a good dive as well, with loads of china being found ,but all in bits.
Dewi and I did a drift on one of the reefs, which has been entered on the GPS for future trips, well worth the effort.
It went from 19mtrs up to 8mtrs in parts All in all good day out.
With the hot weather a decent turnout was perhaps to be expected, and although the boys were otherwise engaged nine divers, with Nia to keep an eye on things, turned out at Trefor Pier at 7pm. The trainees, twin setted Andrew and Mike in his new waterproof semi-dry, were paired up to the relief of all. Peter took Phil to look for a mark, while Brett joined up with Wyn. Adrian and Steph both had CBL’s and tows to do which was ideal as they could lift each other. The evening didn’t start well as the parking was full but we did all manage to squeeze in eventually. There were lots of moans from both dry suits and wet suits about the heat, which was impressive. I for one, and also Adrian, have never sweated so much in a wet suit as we waited for Steph to get herself organized. Next time it’s hot I think that I’ll leave kitting up until a bit later. Everybody headed off under the pier, which was very sandy and rather devoid of it’s past variety of life. Viz. was a cloudy 4-5 metres, so slightly disappointing. Peter found a reef some way to Nant Gwrtheyrn but missed the pier on the way back so he and Phil had a 78 minute dive. Everyone else managed about 55 minutes. Adrian’s CBL and tow with rescue breaths were textbook and Steph was recovered onto the beach intact at the end. Steph’s lift was a little less well controlled, and needs another go, but the tow and non required rescue breaths were excellent. So congratulations to Adrian on completing his Sports Diver qualification, and it won’t be long before Steph becomes a fully fledged Ocean Diver. All but Wyn, who is getting back into it gently, adjourned to the Vic in Llithfaen for a much needed refresher.
This was the third bash at cleaning the hulls of the Dragon class sailing boats on the moorings at Abersoch. Peter, Adrian, Mike and myself turned out with Steph along to keep a lookout. Four were to be done, with Peter and Adrian knocking off the first two in no time at all. The third was equally easy but the fourth, the now infamous Mistere, which seems to be devoid of anti-fouling, took three of us as long as the other three together. The owner of the first boat to be cleaned even turned up, in his weekday powerboat, to check how the cleaning had gone. When I told him it can’t have been bad as they’d done it very quickly, Steph proved her worth by adding, “it only took half an hour instead of the usual hour!” It was a beautiful afternoon with a millpond sea so we then headed over to Carreg Y Trai for a dive on the Timbo. Viz. was as much as 10 metres, as Steph and I were visible from the boat as we rummaged around the boiler, which was inhabited by some quite aggressive tompots. The kelp has largely been cleared in the winter storms and much of it is a scene of devastation, not unlike a felled forest, but it has exposed a lot more of the seabed and an awful lot of slate. An excellent dive was topped off when a seal came to say hello. The only downside was the large number of boats that had to be warded away from the divers position as they came in close to view the seals.
The bodies:-Adrian, Dewi & Peter. David & Stephanie. Mike with pal John.
The boats: Sea Wasp & Sparrow Hawk
The beginning: 8.30am meet at Castellmarch.
The blow: launching fee doubled to £20 ( – to be fair, no increase for many years.)
First a.m. Dive:
East of Hells Mouth:- 60 minutes. Involved an interesting swim-through a gulley (both ways for the A Team), below the cliffs. Sea was teeming with fish, lobsters, pipefish, etc. By the time the B team descended, a strong inshore swell had developed ~ the washing machine effect adding to the interest & enjoyment of the dive.
The Bwyd-Stop : landed on shore for butties & banter.
Second p.m. Dive:
Carreg y Trai : 55minutes; between the 2 half tide rocks and over the wreck of the Timbo (more of which has been exposed by the winter storms). Many , many seals swam with divers. At least 100 counted on rocks & estimated to be below. A shorter dive of 32 minutes by B team.
Somebody got lucky & caught some mackerel from their boat between dives.
Nobody dropped their mask (& had to dive to retrieve it) ~ like they did last week at Carreg y Trai.
Somebody left their spectacles on the lunch beach.
Some(bad)body purloined a beautiful, purple ‘Bloody Henry Starfish’ (- my wrist still writhing from reprimand.)
And . . . . . . somebody on Sparrowhawk scoffed ALL my toffee caramel shortbreads . . . .& I want to know who!
All in all, an excellent days’ diving in perfect conditions – bendigedig!
Stephanie Connor 30/7/14
Mike had set us up to clean six of the dragon class sailing boats and a bigger 35 foot yacht, which was perfect as the tide was useless for shore diving. Low water in the moorings was at 5.15pm so we decided on an afternoon dive before the boat cleaning with an evening dive for those who couldn’t make the afternoon. Amazingly, or perhaps not as the afternoon dive was on the house, there were seven scrubbers at Castellmarch for the afternoon session, only just, as Steph hadn’t known about Pwllheli traffic on a midsummer Wed. afternoon. Mike & Adrian drove over to Abersoch with gear for the evening only to find that parking spots were a little bit scarce. Mike eventually had to walk down from the village hall in his wet suit. At least it is new so he looks quite tidy! You might just be able to imagine his response when we queried why he had kept us waiting at the slip!! As recent dives at Carreg y Trai had been so good we headed back there, albeit in a bigger sea as it was quite windy, with Dewi as the dedicated cox’n for the afternoon. Peter and Melanie were first in, followed by Mike & Adrian and me & Steph. The tide was falling so we had slack again on the south and west sides but the viz. was much cloudier than of late. It didn’t deter the seals though and it was only by heading into deeper water to the south that we lost them, finding a series of interesting rocky reefs and the remains of many big edible crabs. The idea was to keep enough air for the boat cleaning but this was Steph’s first ascent from deep and she found out that if you dump too much the finning to stay up becomes a bit difficult so it was a bit of a yoyo affair which had her down to 50 bar at the surface. Back at the moorings we knocked off four of the dragons in short order, as the other two were away on manoeuvres. The big yacht, Wombat, was a different story with all having to get involved. But, as none of the boats had been a problem ( Mistere was off the list), even though there was a brisk breeze, we now know that it is the tide alone that is critical. We were back in at the slip well in advance of the 6pm evening pickup time. Adrian, Mike and Steph departed to be replaced by Phil, Jake, Tom & guest Matthew. It was late, well after 6.30pm, by the time we eventually headed back to Carreg y Trai, as Jake, for reasons best known only to him, had thought that we were to meet at the yacht club jetty!! The sea out beyond the islands was now even choppier with a strong south westerly blowing and the tide also running from the south west. So we sneaked in on the east side of rocks for Peter to take Tom for his first boat dive and Dewi to take Matthew for his first sea dive. Melanie led Phil and Jake with a 40 minute dive time limit as it was clearly going to be very late by the time we finished. All managed to stay in the shelter of the island, which was a relief for me as I spent the whole time scanning the horizon for an SMB. No seals, but no current either, and all seemed happy with their dives, with Peter and Tom managing yet another hour dive, which was enough to complete Tom’s OD training. With 4 dives in 5 days Peter must now be the leading world expert on Carreg y Trai. It was 9pm by the time we got back to Castellmarch and after 10pm before the boat was put to bed, so the Pen y Bont was even more welcoming than usual.