The weather nor sea state wasn’t brilliant but the dive planning meeting that was to follow the dive meant that there were a few more than usual in attendance, including one Mike Duke who was to make his first ‘wet’ appearance of the year.
The pairings were forewarned that there was a strict one hour dive time as the Lion beckoned for 9:00 p.m. So hastily all pairings kitted up quicker than usual and went in on a rising spring tide. David and Adrian went for a rummage on the reef, whilst Irfon and Brett, followed by Mike crossed over to the eastern side. Andrew and Nia were the last in (and out) after taking a more direct straight out and back approach. Plenty of life was observed in the 5m viz or so.
We were only 15 minutes late for the meeting at the Lion where we thrashed out a plan for the second half of the season, Peter in his absence, did get his usual spring tides and visits to Muddy hollow and the Challenge.
With f3-4 SW on the cards, the forecast was marginal so it was decided to play it safe and launch from Porthysgaden and plan the day as we went along. There were only four up for it which made the decision to load up for the day and head for the Porthdinllaen headland an easy one. The voyage over was a little lumpy but was made in 15 minutes or so.
The lee of the headland gave plenty of shelter for Wyn and David to kit up in readiness for their dive on the tip of Porthdinllaen. They reported decent viz of 5m and plenty to see with an impressive number of fish sighted towards the end of their dive. Peter and Irfon decided to start their dive where David and Wyn ended theirs. The most part was spent heading south on the western side of the headland, a site that neither had dived before. The underwater topography was quite impressive with one area of prominent large boulders which the in between gaps had a lobster, conger or crab in residence.
Lunch was a pleasant, leisurely affair. We moored to the RNLI buoy next to the slip of the lifeboat, the sea was flat, the sun was shining and the banter was good.
The second dive was to investigate how well the Gwynfaen had weathered the winter. The site was shotted, Wyn and David kitted up and had a very pleasant dive, reporting viz of 8m and critter a very large stature in residence. By the time they were up, the tide was turning so Peter and Irfon wasted no time in getting in. The report of the large critters was indeed verified, the lobsters were huge, but what was amazing was the sheer number of them. Other species also seemed to be thriving with congers, blennies, squat lobsters, urchins and the usual reef fish in abundance. Probably the most healthily that I’ve ever seen this ‘reef’ which is good to report.
The return to Porthysgaden was much flatter as the wind was now with the tide. Recovery was as straightforward as the launch, utilising the DO’s JIT approach (Just In Time), you had to be there to understand. A fantastic day out and thanks to Wyn for towing.
The weather looked good enough to get the boat wet for the first time on a Wednesday this season, so a plan was hatched for a return visit to the Gwynfaen to V notch some of the big lobsters seen there on the preceding Sunday, with an evening dive on one of the reefs off Porth Ysgaden. Four were up for the afternoon, namely Jake, Andrew, Peter and the v-notcher himself, Brett, with me as dedicated cox’n. We launched from Porth Ysgaden slightly earlier than planned in order to detour to Porth Dinllaen to try and find an anchor which pirates had thrown overboard from an old lady’s yacht. (Have a read of Steph’s recently circulated e-mail for more details.) With the wind much stronger than forecast the run up the coast was just a bit more bumpy than Sunday’s journey had been, with Andrew doing most of the complaining! Then, while chugging about the moorings, the engine started to over-rev, which required Peter’s expertise to identify and straighten out a kink in the throttle cable. As there was no viz. inshore, and the whereabouts of the anchor were far from clear, we left that for another day and headed out in a big sea to the Gwynfaen. Andrew and Jake were first in with the task of locating the lobsters, with Brett and Peter to follow to do the deed. However, Andrew had to abort their dive when he noticed that Jake’s BC was not retaining air, and they came up the shot with Andrew providing all the buoyancy as Jake was in a semi-dry. Not easy, and full marks to Andrew for averting a possibly serious incident. Back on board the feed hose was found to be totally detached from the jacket. The reason for the failure is being looked into and will be reported on later. Their dive was not a complete wash-out though as they did spot a tiny cray-fish hiding in the wreck. Brett and Peter were too busy counting congers to catch lobsters and so managed only one. We’ll try again if the opportunity presents itself. Peter then had to go down again to dislodge the shot which, for reasons best known to themselves, they had relocated from the seabed clear of the wreck onto to gunwale, from where it had predictably dropped into a hole!!! The throttle, which had been fine since being straightened decided to over-rev again just as we were going in to retrieve Peter, which was not clever as Peter’s white face testified. It did behave for the return trip until we turned into the bay when it decided to stick on 4,000 revs which, had we not turned off the engine, would have had us well up the beach in no time. At that point, with the tide still low enough for an immediate recovery of the boat, we bit the bullet and called off the evening boat dive. Mike & Melanie had joined us. Mike had a 15 litre and wisely decided to go and walk the dog, while Melanie buddied up with the irrepressible Peter. Andrew, for some reason, didn’t fancy a shore dive with his twin 12’s, while Brett’s and my own enthusiasm had waned somewhat, in my case possibly into the lower regions of my dry suit as Peter wryly observed, so we went and put the boat to bed before adjourning to the Pen y Bont for some much needed R & R. Andrew’s state of mind was evident when, on being asked to “say when” (to turn on the water for the engine clean) he immediately replied “when” (although the water pipe had yet to be connected)!! Classic. On reflection, it was a day when pretty much everything went pear shaped but we managed, with a bit of skill and some good fortune, to scrape through unscathed, just about. When we fitted new cables a few days later the old throttle cable was found to be in two pieces.
A nice leisurely start to the day Me, David, Melanie & Peter meeting at Pendre for 10:30 as Peter likes to call it a civilised time. We launched from Porth Colmon without a hitch and waited for Dewi to arrive and then setoff to Maen Mellt with me at the helm but I still needed reminding to put the kill cord on as if there wasn’t enough reminding stickers. On the way there the sea state was a bit rough so I decided to take it easy and not bounce all the way there so we arrived at Maen Mellt a bit later than expected.
First down was Me David and Melanie with a nice pleasant dive at around 16 meters with crabs lobsters and a nice big conger, we followed David around until David caught the current and went shooting past and as he did he signed to turn back we finish the dive with Me and David putting up the DSMB and all three of us surfaced with a dive time of 42 minutes. Second wave was the semi dries team of Peter and Dewi who also had a pleasant dive but decided to follow the reef into unpleasant and rough seas for pickup.
We then setoff back to Porth Colmon for dinner with very large waves off Maen Mellt with Me driving us back we got stuck on one of the larger waves and we were surfing with Peter humming the (Hawaii Five O) theme tune and David commenting “we’re a bit high”, to be fair there was a 2 to 3 meters drop off the bow but we eventually got to Porth Colmon.
The second dive was supposed to be Dukes Reef but the GPS through a fit and reset to factory defaults and loosing all the waypoints. There is a backup laminated sheet under the seat but we decided to go in blind with David opting to be dedicated coxswain. Going in first with a depth of 20 meters was Me and Melanie, at first it started as a brisk drift and slacking of at the end we covered an assortment of terrain from small gullies, boulders, sand, gravel and some sort of reef, and there was plenty of life and Melanie spotted a crayfish we finished the dive after 46 minutes and at 14 meters. Dewi and Peter had an identical dive and even spotted a crayfish I think possibly the same one, all in all a good days diving with better visibility than expected 4 to 5 meters and incident free can’t ask for more….well actually yes you could, calm seas, no wind, and 15 meters visibility …still we can only hope for better conditions next time…
Mike had four of the dragon class sailing boats for us to clean the hulls of on the moorings in Abersoch. As slack water was not until the evening the plan was for an afternoon dive, which with moderate winds forecast, would likely be in the vicinity of the islands. Six were available so we met up at Castellmarch mid-afternoon and had the first divers, Mike and John, in off the south side of east St Tuds by just after 4pm. As it was mid tide a westerly drift was expected, which with 2 pairs going in was set as the plan, with buoys up if we left the island. The second pair, me & Melanie, did just that, but as there was actually little or no current, Mike & John chose to head off in the opposite direction and their buoy was eventually spotted (just, thanks to Adrian’s exceptional eyesight) half way to Carreg y Trai!! At least they stayed together and as this was Mike’s first boat dive of the season their rusty navigation(?) was just about excusable. By the time we came up after an interesting dive Mike & John had replaced Brett & Adrian on the rib. We were then treated to having a young dolphin swim around the rib for the duration of their dive, which appeared to follow an identical track to mine & Melanie’s. We were in the moorings ahead of schedule but with a good neap tide there was little current evident. Mike & Melanie were first in on Mistere, the dirtiest of last season’s boats, and found it to be just as dirty. The other 3 boats were moored in a row so Adrian and I dropped in on the usually clean Merlin at one end of the row to find it as clean as before, so we were soon swimming over to the next boat, Ducru. This one was covered in a thick layer of brown slime which needed considerable effort to remove, such that by the time we finished it I was also finished. In contrast, Adrian continued on to the last boat, Djinn, which fortunately turned out to be quite clean, so by the time that Brett joined him it was largely complete. Wyn & Hywel picked us up promptly and we were done and dusted and on our way to Pendre before 8pm.
An impromptu request for boat cleaning saw 6 Llyn Sub Aqua scrubbers meet at Castellmarch for 1pm looking for a dirty hull or two, a total of seven to complete no less. Slack was scheduled for 1.45pm it was a quick kit up, a seamless launch which saw the scrubbers thrusting through the choppy sea. With chief scrubber David Jones directing operations the targets were acquired, Wyn & Melanie were quickly told to get there kit on and go down on Mistrel with fluffy mitts (Who could refuse such an offer), Wyn being a novice he had to have a quick crash course from the master himself (Peter James) ” If she’s dirty you need to use the rough side”, wise words me thinks!!!!
With Peter and Dewi next in line for some scrubbing, the willing participants were quickly kitted up and down they went, at the same time Wyn and Melanie had finished and were hankering for more. The choppy conditions were making scrubbing difficult but with a quick tow they were transported to the next boat. A quick pickup and drop off for Peter & Dewi got them onto their second boat. After completing their second boat Wyn & Melanie had a well deserved rest. Chief Scrubber David Jones and trusty lieutenant Andrew Scott decided to take the plunge, preferring to go down on the dirty ones!!!, Andrew deciding his done his non standard personalized scrubbing mitt “turbo Charged perhaps”. Whilst David & Andrew were getting on to their first boat Peter & Dewi were left to swim the perilous channel to their third boat. Having finished their first boat, Chief Scrubber declared the alleged seventh boat “Secret” which was obviously the best kept one, as it couldn’t be found anywhere, leaving a 3:2:1 ratio completed. All in all six boat cleaned in 45 minutes and a well deserved dive was to be had thereafter. We headed off to Cilan head to see if we could find Andrew’s mysterious anchor. In first, Wyn and Melanie on a small reef off Cilan head, a good dive reported with 5 meters viz. David / Andrew & Peter / Dewi opting to dive Cilan head point with an expected Easterly drift to seek the anchor. Good dives reported at max depths of 18 meters, a variety of big boulders, plenty of life, Dewi gave Peter his fix of kelp at the conclusion of the dive but unfortunately no anchor, all pairs reporting slack dives approx 2 hours after slack in Abersoch on a good spring tide – bonus and food for thought for the future.
A good day was had and a healthy contribution to club funds minus expenses was made, Vi will be thrilled I’m sure – oh forgot to mention the coercive tactics used by the Chief Scrubber in allocating a report writer – This is mine Peter James and Wyn Jones (looking forward in anticipation) !!!!!!!!