I had a suspicion that it might be quiet even though it was an excellent neap tide and the best weather of the season thus far, as there was nobody aavailable to take over as dive organizer from Kirk, so I valiantly stepped in! Mike was all set to give his RIB it's first outing of the year but when there were only five takers, Wyn, Irfon, Mike, John & me, he opted to join us on the Club rib. Wyn had slack on the Tripods for 11.15, but after a long wait, during which some of us started to cook and with it still running slightly, I voluntarily, in a moment of heat induced madness, joined Mike and John sometime in the early afternoon in an attempt to drift onto the pinnacles, but as often happens we found them only briefly before drifting off onto a none too interesting shingle bed at about 34 metres for a correspondingly short dive. Irfon & Wyn though, having studied the bed, relocated the shot and were rewarded with deep gulleys on virtual slack seeing a big crayfish as well as lots of other big things, and so an excellent dive!! We kept to the plan, having lunch on Bardsey before opting for a northerly drift to the west of lighthouse point. It was a depressing dive for Mike & I as the magnificent terrain was almost void of life, in an area I remember as having something in and around every nook and cranny. By the time Irfon & Wyn dropped in the tide had created an eddy so they drifted back towards the lighthouse slightly inshore from our path, seeing lots of splendid things including another smaller crayfish, although mostly everything was very big!!! Just goes to show how different dives on the same sites can turn out. We did have a very pleasant return journey to Porth Colman on a flat calm sea. As a postscript, we had commented on the presence of so few seals in the bay alongside the Bardsey slip, compared to the usual hordes, only to learn on Monday of reports of Orca in the area!!
Wednesday 5th June.
The weather was magnificent and Porth Ysgadarn appeared to be crystal so it was a surprise that there were so few takers. Irfon took Dilwyn for a lesson while Adrew & I went with Adrian for the AS acscent exercise, leaving Brett & Nia to fend for themselves. We were all in at pretty much the same time to find it still distinctly murky with lots of plankton around. Fish and other life was relatively scarce although the spiders crabs are clearly coming inshore. Dilwyn managed all the exercises without problem and dropped another 6kg of lead after the weight check, and so has now dropped from 30 to 20kg. Adrian's exercise went sufficiently awry for us all to agree that another go was needed but we all learnt, or relearnt, several things during it's course, not least the need for an SMB when doing ascents in a boating channel. Brett and Nia were first out, having already had a much better dive earlier in the day in Hell's Mouth. Mike turned up to count us out and back although the lure of the Lion may have been a wee bit of the attraction!
Sunday 9th June
Well with the weather STILL holding out the plan was to dive the North side as Dewi or I had had a boat dive this side. So there was 7 of us going to be venturing out ;Mike decided he was going to bring sparrow hawk out for an outing. We were meeting at Porth Ysgaden for 9am, Mike and John were going to come round from Nefyn to meet us ; which left Dewi , Brett and myself to get everything ready in Pendre and Peter James and Gwyn to meet us in Porth Ysgaden .
Gwyn phoned in SICK!!!!!!! which left us with six divers. The buddy pairings were Mike and John , Peter J and Brett and Dewi and Me. Everything was going to plan. We arrived at Maen Mellt and the tide was still running a little,Peter J and Brett opted to be dropped of just off Maen Mellt and drifted onto the reef they had a good dive by all account apart from Brett's moaning and groaning about how cold it was, Wusssss!!!!!!! Dewi and I followed with Mike as Cox. We went in closer and drifted onto the reef. The vis was a murky 3-4 m, we saw plenty of life ; lobster,conger eel,wrasse,pollock,cuckoo wrasse,leopard spotted goby ,tompot just to name a few and had a good dive. Mike and John opted to have their dive further out from Maen Mellt . With Peter J as Cox on sparrow hawk he decided to make the most of it and do a bit of some EXTREME FISHING Robson Green eat your heart out!!!!!!!!!! He kept us entertained with his rod bent over with a big whopper turned out to be a pot or even a ROCK fish!!!! Mike and John reported a good dive as well, spotting a Dover sole or was it a lemon one??
With being so close to Porthor it would have been rude not to call in. We anchored the ribs and had lunch on the rocks there enjoying the sun , and of course we could not leave without having an ice cream. Nice it was too.
The second dive was going to be a fast drift just off Porth Ysgaden . Brett did plenty of moaning when he went in ......anyone would think it was COLD. The vis was not good so I held on tight to Dewi's Smb.Went over a few boulders saw plenty of scallops a big skate , brittle stars. Dewi went hungry as he didn't manage to get any scallops. Mike and John managed to lose each other and John even managed to lose his reel and smb. But all in all a very good day. The boat retrieval even went without a hitch a text book retrieval.
We planed the dive and dived the plan.
Wednesday, June 12th, Menai Straits, Bangor Normal.
Once upon a time there was bad viz reported in the seas, some mysterious creature known as plankton had escaped the bowels of the Earth during an earthquake from distant lands and was devouring all the light that penetrated the Straits of the Menai. This didn't deter the six gallant knights and one fair maiden from venturing into its murky depths in the quest for the missing silver fork.
Sir Brett from Rhiw and his footman, Young Phil from Dolgellau were the first to take on the pits of hell head on and head straight for the well known explorer locally known as Prince Madog. Sir Andrew and maid Nia quickly followed and headed towards the Roman town of Segontium as did the dark knight of Bala, atired in his new black armour, and acompanied by his donkey, Irfon.
Many mysterious creature was encountered, battled with and conquered along the way. The dreaded plankton tried it's best to deter the six, reducing their viz to a couple of feet. With shouts of encouragement from King Mike on the shore, the six braved on. Finally at a crushing depth of 16.3m, there it was, the elusive silver fork. It shone brightly as it emmitted it' magical powers. Bravely, Sir Dilwyn took charge and with great care picked it up before turning and heading for home in the knowledge that he had won the day and had sucessfully gathered his first bit of diving memorabilia.
With the quest completed it was off to the local Inn for a banquet of curry and ale and to discuss the next adventure. The silver fork can be viewed at a remote castle on the shores of lake Tegid.
Dive Report for Wednesday 19th June.
After the howling gales of the weekend a few days of light breezes had caused Brett to report the viz. in Hell's Mouth to be of a Mediteranean nature, so with Nia, Andrew, Mike and me also available we were able to launch the rib at the Warren for an afternoon dive. Melanie celebrated her birthday by taking the afternoon off to join us but was so keen to get away from Pendre that she managed to collapse the suspension of her car before she had got moving, which is actually probably the best way to do it. Malcolm was busy, for a change, so Mike drove back from Castellmarch to pick her up, while we prepared to go and rescue a broken down speedboat from beyond the moorings. End result was a late launch and slightly short dives. The wind in Hell's Mouth was a stronger than expected north westerly so we tucked in behind Cilan headland and dropped Mike and Melanie, followed by Andrew and Nia, in 12 and 16 metres respectively close to the west edge of Porth Ceiriad for fast drifts towards Cilan point. Brett and I sat it out in Hell's Mouth for their allotted 45 minute dives. Mike's SMB appeared right on schedule with both reporting an interesting dive in viz. of 7 - 10 metres, and Mike's reputation in tatters having failed to lose his buddy on two consecutive dives. Brett and I then managed to kit up and drop in just to the east of Cilan point on a slacker tide before Nia and Andrew surfaced. They threw Mike into a paroxyzm (now there's a word that fits the bill) as they had failed to mark a huge anchor they came across somewhere or other. God knows how he'll react when Andrew posts the photos!! Our dive was interesting, especially as this is a site the swell rarely allows access to. We encountered bass, pollack and wrasse in numbers on the point and entered right into a wonderfully sculptured cave, which was full of white bait. Even with the swell barely evident on the surface entry and, more importantly, exit from the cave were only just do-able in the amplified swell inside it. We continued to investigate interesting gullies and nooks until Brett inexplicably headed out onto the sand where we picked up the current again. This strange behavior turned out to be so that he could have a pee in his wet-suit in private, but as we were limiting our dive to 30 minutes it served to bring us into open water for the ascent. We were only a few minutes late back at Abersoch slip to pick up the night shift, which Mike was to cox. Dilwyn was up for his first boat dive with Dewi, while Wyn was to lead Adrian on his second boat dive. Both pairs reported excellent dives off the islands, until Dilwyn managed to drop off a bit more wieght than intended. So now we have a real project for those still to complete the Search & Recovery course. Brett's first stage threw a wobbly causing him and Andrew to miss out on their second dive. Meanwhile, back in the bay Nia led Phil for a 50 minute shore dive, i.e. 20 minutes out and 30 back?, with just a hint of concern about her navigation, which turned out to have been fine. Ian did find the slipway this time and showed me that he had lost none of his buoyancy skills in a 37 minute dive to all of 3 metres, which isn't as easy as it sounds. So 10 divers on the boat and 12 in total on a lovely afternoon and evening in good viz. It was 10.15pm by the time we'd put the boat to bed so refreshments in the Pen y Bont went down well.
Sunday 23rd June
Well yet again we were blown off the Llandulas and had to settle for a new
site. Six came to try the new site of Nanhoron Quarry.
Adrian,David and Andrew went in to finish some lesson that had gone pair
shape on a previous attempt due to poor vis and trying to adapt to unfamiliar
Peter played in the shallows of really deep 8 metre pool with his new toy,
That left Nia with the short straw,back with her hubby!
Entry was a very cautions affair but everyone managed.
It was a good sight for navigation practice and buoyancy control,and for exercises
as all the lessons went well,and Peter surfaced with the rebreather happy with the
new bit of kit. And I didn't loose my buddy either,although Nia did loose me,but that
may have been intentional.
From now on this sight is to be called by its new name;
The Green Lagoon.
Dive Report for Wednesday 26th June.
In spite of the weather having settled down after the weekend gales and a half decent forecast there were only 4 takers, Ian, Adrian, Andrew and myself, with Mike and a fishing rod doing his customary shore cover, while being berated by Andrew's better half for not having brought Millie along. Gimblet was chosen as the forecast wind was from the north and it had appeared to be clear when inspected on Tuesday. I went with Adrian to complete his final OD lesson which, with it being mid-tide on a big Spring, would be a good test of his navigation and dive leading skills. Conditions were perfect with only a sprinkling of fishermen to contend with. As expected it was running strongly so we crabbed to the west but overcompensated slightly and so failed to find the sewage outfall as the viz. was only a slightly disappointing cloudy 4 metres or so. We did, however, see myriads of interesting things and goings on, ending the dive with Adrian proving that his weighting was spot on after successfully bringing us right back to our starting point. Ian and Andrew also had a good long dive although they were slightly off course on the return leg having over over compensated for the slacker current. So congratulations to Adrian on becoming a qualified diver, which warranted a stop off at the Vic on the way home.
Dive Report for Sunday 30th June.
The forecast was for it to be just a bit breezy, just for a change, which is probably what limited the numbers to only four souls, namely Mike, the Dive Manager; Wyn, getting in a dive before the hoped for Castellmarch boat launching season really got going; Peter, who is always game when a wreck is down on the programme; and me, who still occasionally tries to be game for anything! Gwyn, the Dive Organizer, pleaded work leaving Mike in total charge. He decided for a latish start to tie in with slack on the Gwynfaen with the launch to be from Nefyn beach, where we just managed to manually push the trailer out into water that was just deep enough to accomodate the rib. We then had to ferry all the dive gear out to the boat, but we still managed to get going on time, finding the Gwynfaen at the first attempt and dropping the shot on target. For those of you with a nervous disposition please don't read on for that is where we should have turned round and gone for a paddle on the beach, as the day went steadily downhill thereafter. Mike and I were to be first in. It appeared to be slack so we wasted no time and I was soon heading down a near horizontal shot line, having to fin hard to reach the bottom. It was clear that the tide had in fact turned some time earlier and was already running quite strongly. There was no sign of Mike so I put a lift bag on the shot and carried out a thorough search of the wreck in a vain attempt to locate him. Plenty of fish and the huge conger still occupying the bow but not a single crab or lobster for the first time ever!! Having done a couple of circuits and satisfied myself that Mike was not trapped anywhere I came up. Sitting at 6m I then had a fish eye view of the rib coming in and getting tangled with the shot line. Apparently this was when Mike dropped off the second pair, having aborted his own dive after the trailing buoy had fouled his regs and prevented his descent, (it can happen to the best of us!!) While Mike was untangling the shot line from the prop Peter & Wyn had been carried off the buoy, so as soon as the rib was clear I completed my ascent, to find it just arriving back with Peter and Wyn in tow. I drifted off and Mike picked me up by which time we had travelled a considerable distance. He then said that Peter & Wyn were still on the surface and set off to see what was wrong, stopping on the way to recover a floating fin. We then recovered Peter and Wyn, both of whom were knackered from hanging on the shot in an ever stronger current. It turned out that Peter had lost both fins during the tow back to the shot line, so we carried out a futile search before asking them where they would like to dive instead. The short, printable answer is that they would very much like to have lunch at Porth Dinllaen, not least as Wyn had missed his te deg!! Clearly Mike had misread the tide tables and consequently the morning's efforts had resulted in just half a dive. I offered to cox in the afternoon but Mike had decided that he wasn't meant to dive that day so instead I joined Peter and Wyn, with the remains of the air from my first dive, for a drift across the bay as the wind had got up and there was a bit of a chop further out. When I left them I signalled to Wyn to put up an SMB to replace mine. Back on the boat we looked in vain for the SMB and so, as it hadn't been running too fast, we kept station. Just as we were starting to get really worried, and Mike was cursing himself for getting out of bed that morning, he spotted a flash of red way off to the north, which is where we found them, clearly oblivious to their fate, and Mike's palpitations. Even now the day had not finished with us, or Mike in particular. Just as we were about to recover the two miscreants I heard a splash and looked over the transom to see that the cover off the light on the A Frame had fallen off and was sinking out of reach. Why & How and why just then??? Then the final straw to round off Mike's day was when for some inexplicable reason, as we were recovering the boat, he put the perspex box containing his computer and all other fragile bits and pieces down on the deck just alongside the control box, i.e. where we usually store the weight belts & pods. Yes, you've guessed it, instead of using the anchor we had opted for the shot which , when no longer needed, was heaved over the side back into the boat alongside the console, landing with a crunch on .............. By this time Mike simply shrugged, he was past caring, but on inspection the box top had shattered but had been strong enough to protect all it's contents so it actually seemed to cheer him up!! To round off the day we had to use Wyn's newly fitted winch to pull the unloaded trailer and rib off the beach, as the trailer had sunk into the sand and would not be budged manually, attracting considerable interest in the process. Hopefully, a few lessons were learnt and, as Peter said, at least we all got back. Just about, minus only one fin!
J K Rowling