BH Monday 2nd May 2022
Sunday was windy and generally miserable so we chose to go out on Monday. The plan was to replicate the final dive of last season, which was in mid-October, by returning to the Incorrectly named PD Cracker pinnacles which are actually offshore from Porth Ysgaden. There were going to be lots of us diving but with Andrew and Brett down with Covid and Mike suffering from severe man flu there were just 3 divers on the day as Dewi had blocked sinuses but was still willing to tow and launch as well as coxing the rib. We had been out on Friday evening to check the boat but it broke down on us and we had to be towed back into Pwllheli, so this was very much another test run. Mike had spent much of Saturday servicing the auxiliary engine to ensure that we could make our own way back in – should we need to.
We launched at Porth Colmon at about 9am to find that the coastguard couldn’t hear us on the radio, so we had to phone in. The depth sounder wouldn’t activate and the GPS wasn’t picking up any satellite signals and had us located in Pwllheli with our intended reef way off to the west! So we initially tried to locate the dive site by checking out the pot buoys, without success, but then, just as we were starting to think of an alternative drift dive, the depth finder clicked itself on and, after a frustrated tap on the screen, so did the GPS. Good job some of us are technically minded!!
Fortunately we were well ahead of schedule for HW slack so were still able to kit up and drop in just as the current dropped off. The 3 divers were Melanie and Jake with me leading. Dewi dropped us right on the edge of the largest pinnacle, but our woes weren’t over. I couldn’t equalize at depth while Jake found that his computer was showing that he had only 40 bar, due to a dodgy transponder. And, there was very little viz. due mainly to a pea souper of a plankton bloom. Melanie managed to sort out Jake while I did a few up and downs to clear my sinuses. We set off round the pinnacle at depths between 12 and 20 metres able, as we all had good torches, to see what a beautiful dive site this is. There were lots of dead man’s finger and dahlia anemones, many red eyed crabs, a big lobster and one of his clawless cousins, some very big idle dogfish, sea hares and a few odd fish, wrasses mainly. We put the buoy up on 30 minutes and left the reef, after what must have been several circum-navigations of the pinnacle, 5 minutes later to meet Melanie’s request for a maximum 40 minute dive time which, due to each computer needing an extra minute deco, we missed by 3 minutes. As the second dive would have had to be a drift, which would have seen us lose each other in minutes, we called it a day and headed in. There were a few minor issues with the engine which will need resolving but it didn’t really miss a beat and the auxiliary also had a short run. So, all in all, there were a few positives from the day!!
It can only get better after this!
Saturday May 7th 2022.
Due to Laura needing boat experience and the good forecast for the south side, two of us met at Plas yn Rhiw car park to go down to Brett’s boat. He was not diving due to a cough and had kindly offered to skipper for us. Went out to dive on the ridge to ensure no strong currents and the ability to end fairly shallow if floatation problems ensued. On the way out we saw dolphins and they came close to the boat, excellent start, all else was a bonus after that. Kit sorted and off we went, down to about 15 mts. Lots to see and it was visble not like Monday on the north side. Lots of fish including lots of spectacular male cuckoo wrasse and good looking females, ballan, rockcook and cork wing wrasse. Lots of sponges, tunicates ( sea squirts), bryozoans and hydroids. A few large spider crabs and edible crabs. Lovely dive. All kit and divers worked successfully. Home for lunch after hot chocolate. Water still a bit chilly at 11 degrees, sun made it warmer up top. Thanks Brett.
Sunday 8th May 2022
Having missed out on the boat diving on Saturday and with good weather promised for Sunday I decided to send a message to see if anybody was interested in a shore dive, fortunately Brett offered another boat dive off the ridge. Given my lack of diving this year that was ideal. Could we assemble some divers to take Brett up on his kind offer was the question. In the end we managed a threesome with Melanie, Mike and myself taking the plunge and meeting at the National Trust car park for a very respectful 9.30am.
We popped down the the Rheol were Top Cat was eagerly waiting, boat loaded and launched we motored to the dive location. I was diving in my dry suit the first time since about 3 years, Mike was testing out his new suit again and hoping it would keep him dry this time, Melanie had dived the day before so it would be fair to say was the least rusty out of us all. Brett put us down on the ridge and it soon became apparent that both Mike and myself were under weighted, having over come this we hit the bottom at about 10m and navigated our way along the ridge, visibility was excellent especially compared to my previous shore dive at Porth Ysgaden, we all estimated it to be about 6-8 meters. Plenty of life throughout the dive which eventually got down to a depth of about 17m and a sea temp of 11 degress. Surfacing back onto Top Cat Mike was dry but unfortunately my dry suit was once more a semi dry. Back to the Rheol where we enjoyed a paned and some biscuits that Brett had baked that morning, all in all an excellent impromptu dive day, many thanks Brett.
Wednesday 11th May 2022.
Well today was the big day for some of the new trainees, a weather window had opened and trainees Sianed, Lowri and Mari were in receipt of all their equipment and ready for the first plunge into the sea. The Rheol was selected as it was an ideal location to undertake weight checks and go for a small bimble in the pool given the current visibility.
Given that we are a few instructors down due to Covid it was decided that Melanie would take Sianed and Dewi would take both Lowri and Mari supported by MIke. All trainees got changed into their dry suits which fitted well with Lowri’s neck seal somewhat to fitted and will probably need trimming before her next outing to ensure proper circulation. They all had a refresher on how to assemble their kit and a briefing on what to expect.
Whilst the kitting up process was ongoing Brett and Andrew went for a shore dive to test their fitness to dive following Covid, fortunately they returned to lend assistance whilst all trainees were under going their weight checks, Sianed was correctly weighted and was able to get down straight away and then went for a short dive around the pool. Lowri stared with 13Kg and had to have an additional 3kg before she could get down, Mari was the next who also started on 13kg and also had to have an additional 4kg before she could get down. Having completed the weight check Lowri, Mari. Mike and Dewi went for a short 10minute dive, Mari had problems with water in the mask and hood needing trimming back, both having problems with mask fogging up, but other than that all went fine. All trainees had a low visibility dive and coped very well with the conditions given that it was their first outing in the sea with plenty of big spider crabs to see on their short dive.
We achieved what we set out to do, Sianed, Lowri and Mari are now ready to continue with their Open water training. Thanks to all for their assistance and well done to all trainees.
Hopefully all the remaining trainees will be in receipt of their dry suits soon so we can get on with all the training.
Tuesday 24th May 2022
The dive was meant to be at Porth Ysgaden but I decided to change the venue to the Rheol and meet up for 18:30 instead.
The pairings were as follows: Andrew with Keiron, Brett and Melanie with Mari and Dewi with Lowri with David on shore cover. The wind had changed direction and was coming from the south west and created a bit of a swell, Andrew and Keiron had a pleasant dive and having a dive time of 44 min and a max depth of 5 metre with an OK vis of 4 metre. Lowri did a bit of unplanned mask clearing and Mari requiring a bit more lead.
Monday 30th of May 2022
The weather had been settled for a few days with the wind blowing from a Northerly direction. Given that their was no diving on the weekend and Wednesday evening dive would have been mid tide Dewi decided to move the mid week diving forward to Monday 30th with a change of venue to Criccieth which would afford the new trainees easier access to the water.
On arrival at site with Lowri and Mari in tow we were greeted with shaking heads from Andrew,, Brett and Jake with what can only be described as a less than enthusiastic urge to get into the water. I have to confess that the Viz was far worse than the day before but why let that get in the way of getting wet.
It was clear that the trainees Lowri, Mari and Sion (1st outing) were keen to get in, so the designated Instructors of Brett, Andrew and Dewi had very little say in the matter. It could be said that the allure of the Criccieth sea grass and potential sightings of godly creatures probably got the better of Jake who was teaming up with Melanie and Keiron.
David and Mike provided shore cover with Guy and Mary also turning out to see what they were missing whilst awaiting their new dry suits.
It was decided given the restricted viz that entry from the pier beach would be the best course of action. With high water slack due at 9.15pm most divers entered around the 7.30pm with very little in the way of water movement being experienced. The dive pairing of Brett and Mari ventured out completing a dive to 4m for 35minutes and completing mask clearing, the pairing of Andrew and Sion completed their weight check and completed an exploratory dive to 4m and also completed mask clearing, the pairing of Dewi and Lowri also dived to 4m and completed mask clearing remove and replace bcd hose and AS work as donor and recipient. The threesome of Jake , Melanie and Keiron ventured out to 5m for a whopping 52 minutes.
Whilst viz was limited to 2m max all pairings were rewarded with a fairly good amount of life including bass, Lobsters , crabs and butter fish. With the limited amount of diving in recent weeks for a variety of reasons a low viz dive is better than No dive. Well done to all trainees, keep it up and it could be entirely possible for a boat dive by the end of June.