Sunday 4th June 2017
This was my call ! As usual the weather was not promising. It was a neap tide. I watched the weather patterns from Wednesday onwards and visited Porth Colman on 3 occasions. The last being at 17:30 on Saturday. The bay itself fairly calm and very diveable. The open sea was running a force 3-4.
With slack water in the afternoon I decided to do a drift on the reef and “Irfon’s reef” on slack.
I had established who was diving as early as Thursday. Dewi offered to tow the boat and cox the first dive.(Thanks Dewi)……. Brett, Melanie, David, Andrew myself and Jake (Henri) made the team. Pleasant dive.
The second dive which Jake was not taking part due to family commitment. Anyway he ripped his neck seal after the first dive.
“Irfon’s reef”…… vis was a good 8m, Dewi and Mel went first then Brett and Andrew. Dewi and I counted 15 of the brown species, very scenic dive, gully’s etc. Max depth 18mtrs, top of reef 9mtrs. Average depth of 13.8mtrs. Water temp. 12C.
I managed to V notch a large brown one and saw 3 or 4 small ones.
A good day which could have easily been cancelled.
(Don’t forget if you hear “clicking” the brown ones are there!!)
Sunday 18th June, Wreckfest.
Peter had delivered Sea Wasp to Fort Belan on the Saturday evening in readiness for a leisurely Sunday morning start. However at 9:30 on the Sunday morning it became apparent that lunching at Belan wasn’t to be as the tide was too low and still falling. It was decided to head to Ty Calch on the Foryd for a tractor launch. A frantic 20 minute drive and we were at the Foryd, a launch had been negotiated and we were ready to load up and head out.
It would be tight, but we went with plan A of heading out to the Segontium. As we arrived on site we were pleased to find that the wreck had already been shot by another club and for good measure, the Gwynedd club turned up and put a second one on.
Peter and Irfon headed in first, followed by David and Jake, Mike staying on board as a dedicated cox for the first dive. The vis didn’t look too appealing on the way down as there was quite a lot of plankton in the first 20 meters. It gradually disappeared and the vis on the wreck was probably 7 meters plus. This made appreciating the layout of the wreck much easier, probably the best conditions that I’ve dived it in six visits. The fish life was abundant and the lobsters on here were numerous and huge to say the least. At around 20 minutes, deco was knocking on the door so both pairing ended their dives and surfaced, all four pleased with the dive.
Lunch was eaten at Porth Gro, adjacent to the wreck of the Kimya, which was to be our second dive.
Mike joined Peter and Irfon for the second dive. The vis was less at around 3m, but was enough to appreciate the wreck. The starboard side was still quite intact but the port side, especially near her bows had collapsed onto the seabed which made looking into her that much easier. There was plenty of stainless to see and this made perfect sense as her purpose was carrying liquid foodstuffs.
Retrieval was a doddle at Ty Calch as the tractor even had an electric winch – well worth the £18 launching fee. It was agreed that it would be worth revisiting soon and exploring the Straits, especially on a weekend that the wind is less favourable on the Llŷn.
Wednesday 21st June, Porth Ysgaden
On the previous evening it was warm with blue sky’s, sunshine and no wind and a very inviting sea, typically on the Wednesday high winds, cloudy, cold and showers and the sea state was not inviting.
Never the less we had good numbers with 8 divers, the pairings were as follows: Irfon with Wil, David with Jake, Gwenno with Andrew and Brett with Mike and Nia on shore cover.
On entry there was a very nice surprise, fantastic visibility of 10 meters plus. There were huge shoals of Sand Eels and Pollock hunting them, and all sorts of Wrasse lots of Dragonets and Cat Sharks with Gwenno spotting a large Flounder. We also found a Lobster in the open which swam straight at Gwenno and then I spotted my first Fifteen Spine Stickleback tending its nest.
On our return to the beach after a very pleasant 42 minutes dive with Gwenno navigating, we de-kitted and I got changed into some dry clothes as my shoulder dump was leaking like a sieve.
Nia had organised a BBQ for after the dive with Brett taking on the roll as cook “that explains the change in the weather”, one of us was more prepared than others as Mike had brought his chair, table, and a bottle of cheeky red and a glass the only thing he forgot was a table cloth.
We gave Brett our burgers, steaks and sausages to cook, Nia supplied a very nice salad. We congregated around the BBQ for warmth and after we all had finished eating Brett surprised us with Lobster’s to cook on the BBQ very nice for us ,but unfortunately for Wil who had already left earlier but never mind more for us!.
Thanks again to Brett and Nia for organising the BBQ.
Dive Report for Wednesday 28th June.
The forecast wasn't great and the only realistic dive site due to the tide was the Straits. A recce on Tuesday found it to be worth a try and despite the projected poor weather there were a number of enquiries, some seemingly in hope more than expectation. Only one, Jake, dropped out on the day leaving Andrew to guide Brett, while I led Laura for her third OD lesson which was essentially a vertical descent and exploratory dive to 12 - 15 metres, with Melanie providing support. Nia provided much needed shore cover. For a change we went under the bridge but as the parking is now so limited we met up in the back car park of the Antelope and managed to get all the gear and divers into Brett's and my vehicles. It was a biggish Spring tide with slack set for just before 7pm so when we parked up at about 6.30 and found it running like a river Brett wondered whether the timing of slack wasn't just a bit dubious. Inshore was very stirred up but it did look a little better further out. Even so enthusiasm, with the drizzle getting heavier, was clearly starting to wane. But after a few checks of the access, which has been improved greatly by the addition of a rope handrail inside the narrow steps, and which established the silt to be ultra slippery except immediately alongside the wall, we set to move the gear onto the bench and get kitted up. Even so, while Brett and Andrew made it in exactly on time we were 5 minutes late. As expected the viz. wasn't good, peaking at about 2-3 metres but it was enough. Brett and Andrew followed the cable out and back reaching almost 15 metres while we, according to Nia who could see our bubbles throughout ventured further towards the bridge. Andrew had offered his newly acquired buddy line which Laura and I used from the off, and which was of reassurance to both of us. We turned round on the gravel in the middle where it flattened out at not quite 14 metres before zigzagging back up the slope at around 10 metres. Apart from the multitudes of assorted crabs we saw dragonnets, butterfish and gobis and eventually beds of numerous open dahlia anenomes. Laura handled the dive well until at about 5 metres her dump valve failed to dump and a bit of help was needed to persuade it to do so. Those ND valves are seemingly still as unreliable as ever. Both groups managed 36 minutes and with the tide already turned and the current evident as we ascended the slope I don't think that much longer would have been possible. To quote Mike from last weekend it was certainly better than not diving and we did of course have to adjourn back to the Antelope for a bit of sustenance.
Dive Report for Sunday 25th June.
At the dive planning meeting, Irfon egged on by Mike and Co., had put Peter down to marshal for a trip out to the Llanddulas on a 9.8 metre spring tide. Amazingly, Mike was one of those who phoned in to find that Peter had gone a step further (is that possible you may wonder) by selecting a wreck called the Hamila which is marked as being even further into Tremadog Bay. This was a timber vessel which sank shortly after the Roman invasion but as it was rumoured to be copper lined Peter was hopeful that a few odd plates might still exist above the silt. Tim, the organizer, must have had a sixth sense as he had dropped his regs. off for servicing a few days earlier and thus regretted that he was unable to dive!! After days of wind, and a forecast to keep all but the lunatic fringe indoors, the other idiots making up the minimum numbers were Jake. presumably out of innocence, and me, for reasons which now totally escape me. We met up at Castellmarch and set off on a slightly choppy sea for what Peter said was a 9 mile trip which, as the wreck was beyond Criccieth, was probably somewhat longer. We had a following sea but bit by bit the wind picked up, as per the forecast, and the sea got gradually choppier, prompting Mike to observe that it was going to be a rough ride back. Certainly, apart from a single sail off Porthmadog, there were no other vessels out. By the time we got to the dive site it was decidedly unpleasant. Searches at two sets of co-ordinates failed to locate a scrap of copper but with Mike having pulled out Jake (naively, and possibly for the last time) agreed to accompany Peter on a look see. Meanwhile the wind continued to pick up, to what Mike assessed to be a force 6, gusting 7, so while they were down we realized that we were now in a 2-3 metre swell on a very rough sea. Peter had failed to radio in to the Coastguard but by now we were too embarrassed to do so, just in case they sent out a rescue mission. When I ventured to ask Mike where he would like to dive he just said "I want to go home", and sounded as if he meant it. Not unexpectedly, they were back on the surface in under 10 minutes as there was NO viz. As soon as we were shipshape we started heading inshore but needing a course we plugged in the Challenger and headed off west into a very big sea. We could just about manage 9-10 knots and with a lot of throttle work needed it was very stop start. The shoreline was barely visible as it now raining and after a seeming eternity Jake was able to make out Penychain headland. As we approached Pwllheli the sea started to abate and we now decided againg the Challenger, which was clearly much further out than we wanted to be, and headed off instead to the relative inshore comfort of Llanbedrog reef. Mike recovered enough to join me and we managed a circuit of one of the smaller reefs in viz of about 2-3 metres, in a big swell before drifting off over a cobble bed which we endured for a while as there was little life. The reef itself had numerous juvenile dogfish. Peter and Jake then selected the Abersoch moorings, where they managed a 50 minute current free dive on sand, to Mike's absolute mystification. Their reports of what little they saw didn't really help. Peter was all set for a second dive but I don't think that the proverbial wild horses would have gotten Mike back in, so we called it a day. Certainly one that none of us will forget in a hurry.