Dive Report for Wednesday 21st August.
With a strong south westerly forecast the only place to hide was Trefor Pier, which turned out to be calm and clear with the expected swell under the pier. With me suffering a bad back amd Mike recovering from one and Dewi seemingly still bootless, we almost had more doing shore cover than diving. Brett would have joined us given half an opening. But with the numbers being even he was embarrassed into diving, joining Phil, with Peter having Nia to look after him, leaving Adrian to keep tabs on Andrew, which proved neccessary as the pair crossed under the pier and headed off towards Nant Gwrtheyrn. The training then took over as they realized the mistake and diverted back to the pier. Peter took Nia to see his reef, and the only kelp for miles around, where something big swam over Nia's legs making her jump. Everyone reported lots of life and an excellent dive with only Peter and Nia getting slightly lost. We decamped to the Vic in Llithfaen to off gas.
Dive Report for Wednesday 28th August.
The plan was for a night dive in the Menai Straits and so with an excellent forecast and a good neap tide we met up under the Suspension bridge at 8pm. The viz. looked to be very good and the weather was calm and warm, perfect in fact. There were six divers, Dewi with Ian, Peter and Phil and myself with Andrew, while Mike and "our kid" turned out to do shore cover. We had to run the gauntlet of several fishing lines on entry which was just as it was getting dark. We headed south about parallel to the cable in crystal clear viz. and encountered the brilliant sight of masses of fish and crustaceans out feeding as early as about 7 metres just as we clearded the kelp. The dahlia anenomes formed a dense colourful mat with the few bare patches being occupied by numerous butterfish, big tompots and scorpion fish, while the extensive areas of sponge were taken over by edible crabs of all sizes and velvet swimming crabs. Andrew spotted a big (6lb) mullet and there were a lot of poor cod swimming around. There were hundreds of crabs but only a single lobster out foraging. We zigzagged out and eventually came to the cable somewhere in the deepest section after about 20 minutes. I thought to turn back by following it to the right but on checking the compass that way was south. I was so sure that I was right that I also checked Andrew's compass which just served to confirm that we needed to turn left, reminding me of the old maxim to "always trust the compass". We could see the line of yellow lights up on the bridge as we travelled back, seeing a lot more of the same before following a cliff off to the east, coming in coincidently just where we went in. The only mishap was Ian misplacing his mask somewhere on the walk back but an extensive search failed to locate it. We met up in the Antelope, from which the hordes of earlier in the evening had departed, for a very relaxing drink as we were too late for the curry.
Dive Report on visit to The Bronze Bell wreck site on BH Monday 26th
Although we have been cleared to dive the protected Bronze Bell wreck for about a year we had never got close to doing so, even after including it several times on the most recent dive programme. But on the Wednesday evening dive preceding the Bank Holiday weekend Andrew suggested giving it a go as the weather forecast was promising. So, on a lovely BH Monday morning, we launched at Criccieth, by the jetty, on to a millpond sea, as this is the closest launch site on the peninsula to the wreck site. Strangely, when we reported in to the coastguard that we would be diving in the area of Sarn Badrig, they asked at what time we expected to dive. (We later learned that Bill Turner of the Malvern Archaeological Diving Unit (MADU), who had authorized our visit, had informed the coastguard of our plans.) After an unsuccessful detour to see if we could locate the firefly wreck, we passed close to Shell Island and reached the dive site, only to find that the co-ordinates of the wreck which we had been given were those of a flat sandy looking bed. So we criss-crossed the area, locating a bit of a reef but nothing quite resembling our impresssion of a heap of large blocks of marble surrounded by cannons. There was, however, a mark on the screen of the GPS showing a wreck site nearby, but some distance further offshore, but a surface search of that area again failed to locate any obvious wreck features. We eventually decided to drop the shot about halfway between the two marks and the first group of Peter, Adrian and Andrew did a circular search, in about 7-8 metres depth, eventually finding two large anchors and a couple of cannon after almost an hour and towards the end of their dive. The position of the anchors was quite close to the mark on our GPS. Their search had been hampered by poor viz., of only a couple of metres, and a fairly strong S to N current. While they were down Brett and I continued the surface search and located a promising looking feature, which could be a heap of large blocks, to the north of the original mark. We checked out that area at the start of our dive, without success, before moving over to the site of the anchors. These we failed to locate, finding instead several cannon before bumping into a large heap of what we presumed must be marble blocks. The blocks were of different sizes, all seeming to be intact. We noticed a short length of rope attached to the pile, of which more had been tied off. We untangled this and reattached the line with the idea of attaching a buoy to mark the site for our second dives. In the event the rope was long enough to anchor the rib while we dozed over lunch. Fortunately, not having found the wreck until late on in our dives put paid to Peter's forlorn hope of possibly calling in at another famous wreck for the second dives. Instead, both teams of divers examined the site thoroughly in the afternoon, in viz. which had worsened with the ebbing tide, finding many more cannon spread around the heap of marble as well as the two anchors. All the cannon measured were of the same length of about 8 feet but some of their features appeared to be different, but extensive encrustment made this difficult to assess. The life around the area was abundant and typical of a wreck site, with even bib present. How did they know that it had been a wreck? We were all agreed that had the viz. been half decent the dives would have been stunning.
With regard to the suitability of the site for creation of a diver trail, which is what MADU have in mind, we concluded that it is unnessessary and would in any event be short lived. Unnessessary because the site is relatively small and there is nothing that could be moved or damaged without a significant effort. Short lived because the site is so shallow that the first severe storms would most probably destroy any rails or ropes set up. A further factor would be the inquisitive nature of the average diver who would soon become bored with traipsing around a fixed route and would be likely to set off to explore the area much as we were able to.
Dive Report Wednesday 7th Aug, West End Pwllheli.
Due to the wind from the North we were restricted to the South Coast, Irfon decided for a new dive site at the West End of Pwllheli. Seven turned up, Irfon paired with Phil. Andrew, David and Nia went as a threesome which left me and Dewi. There was very little life there, a few two spotted gobies and a small cat shark was all me and Dewi saw, Dewi and I Overcompensated for the tide and found ourselves about 150m east of our entry point along with Irfon and Phil. The threesome had managed to come out at the same point, Nia said she had seen a ray what species she didn’t specify. Highlight of the dive had to be Andrew getting caught by a fisherman on the way out, and as if once wasn’t enough he managed to get caught again on the way back in!