Wednesday June 29th 2011. Bae Cychod.
Ten became nine on the evening as Iorwerth decided to stay home and do some revision for the exam on the following evening, so the nine of us made the hike across the field, over to Bae Cychod.
David took Nia and Emma for some mask clearing practice and a swim, Stephen took Steven for OO1, Peter took Lowri and Brett for OO4, and by all accounts were very proficient in their CBL’s – just OO5 to go and they both will be qualified Ocean Divers. That left Irfon and Andrew who were supposed to take Iorwerth for a session to complete bits and bobs of OO5 – they instead did some compass exercises and of which, Andrew found that it’s much easier to guide from behind and use Irfon for pilotage! Surface cover for most of the evening was supplied by Mike, that is until he thought that he was due for a pint and headed off to the Lion. We all met up with him there for a debrief and a social. Irfon.
Wednesday 22nd June 2011 Menai Straits
Well thanks David for giving me this job!!!!!!!so here goes.We met at the car park at 19.15hrs where everyone was eager to go for their dive;the buddy pairs were David & Peter; Irfon & Lowri; Peter James & Iorweth; Carl & Andrew and finally Stephen & Brett. Irfon was off to a great start NO fins!!!!!!! So I came to the rescue. Everyone got kitted out and a strolled down to the shore.
David and Peter were off first followed closely by everyone else.they all descended leaving me to do shore cover. Iorweth popped up first followed shortly by Peter James but they descended again after a bit of a struggle. Iorweth noticed, when he came back to shore, that he had lost one of this integrated weights, which explained a lot!!!!!!! David and Peter were back first after a 40min+ saying Peter was exercising his somersaults for fun!!!! Everyone else pretty much ascended one buddy pair after another with everyone excited at the number of lobsters seen, Brett included!!!!!! Andrew commented that Carl had a bit of a hick up as well. All was well. We even managed a pint after!!!!!!!! and Tesco of course..... Nia.
Sunday 19th June 2011 Nefyn - Pistyll.
A beautiful sunny day began for all us eager divers waiting for a dip.
An in-depth plan & report of the days event awaits us---- from our trusty dive manager, Wyn and Julie his Co' organiser! & with a little help from Peter, David and whoever else joined in.!!
The day began for two extremely early birds Julie & Tracey who started their trip @ 5am from barmy Shropshire. Julie was the first to arrive at 7.15am at Chris Green's for a cylinder fill only to find he was having a lie in as it was Fathers Day. My next port of call was to Irfon's at 7.30 who was also having a lie in because of Fathers Day, but 'Big Thanks', for the Regs. The Dive Clan consisted of a few merry men & women, David J, Peter J, Wyn, Stephen T, Andrew S, Julie H & Tracey G. A phone call from the indecisive Mickey, shall I or shouldn't I and Wyn suggesting see you or see you not.
The day got under way and we all headed for Morfa Nefyn. Due to weather restrictions and SW wind, we all met at National Trust car park in Morfa Nefyn for a quick peak at the water. We launched the boat safely and headed right towards the headland off Morfa Nefyn towards Pistyll keeping fairly close to shore. David J & Tracey were first in the water followed by Wyn & Julie.
First dive was a drift at approx' 15 to 17 metres. Using DSMB we drifted smoothly across the sea bed.
Excellent sea life including Octopus, spider & edible crabs, dog fish, sand goby's, dragonet fish & lots small brittle stars, a lonely plaice and a pipe fish. We all enjoyed at least a good 50 minute dive.
On our return, Peter J, Steve T & Andrew S kittted up for the second morning dive. Peter had a special request to enter the water close to the Mosquito with David at the helm negotiating spot on navigation or there about's, ( apparently the GPS is playing up)! All entered the water safely with Andrew looking greener by the minute. Some time later, lets say 15 litres later, they finally returned having enjoyed the scenery below and Andrew looking a more healthy colour than when he went in. I'm unable to comment on whether Peter was close too or above the Mosquito or not. Julie rekindled her boat handling skills and steered the boat back to shore with no sharp comments, thanks Peter.
We returned back to Morfa Nefyn for lunch, cylinders and to pick-up the Mighty Duke. Mickey kindly stepped in as cox'n to allow us all in the water on the second dive. We decided to head back to the morning location as the opposite direction was too choppy. On arrival, Mickey gave us the nod to kit up. Very tight on space but we did well and entered as soon as we could before a few more of us joined Andrew and his merry shades of pale. The second Dive was a drift dive approx' 15 metres, it consisted of a marine garden with sponges, bryozoans, sea squirts, sea hares, sea slugs, anemones & a beautiful yellow nudibranch along with the usual crustaceans. Peter claimed to have seen a John Dory. All enjoyed the second dive and returned safely back on board with a general consensus of a good day at sea despite a few feeling worse for wear.
Back at shore, Wyn had a few hiccups with the landrover and boat but with help he managed to pull it out of the soft sand. Thanks to Wyn for the organisation and planning!!! we all had a good day. Thanks to all those turned in and to Mickey for the ice-creams! Julie & Wyn.
Wednesday June 15th, Bae Cychod, Porth Ysgaden.
At 19.30 on Wednesday 15th we met up at Porth Ysgaden with it being a bit windy we ended up doing a long walk round to the other side to have a bit more shelter which I think for us newbies was a challenge even before we got into the water. We had our briefing and got paired off. Brett, Nia and David did shore cover with a couple of four legged friends to keep them company.
First in was myself with Pete into water at standing height. I was determined to try and crack my mask clearing. After a few attempts we were off for a swim. The vis was very good with lots of sea life to see like cat fish, pollock and spider crabs, doing what nature does best. Pete was enjoying the kelp. This I found out when I thought that I had lost him; then his head popped out of what looked like a jungle under the sea. Following us in was Iorwerth with Stephen and Peter. They did lesson 4 c.b.l with Stephen taking photos of them both holding a lobster. Irfon went in with Steven for his first sea dive which he really enjoyed. Dewi was paired of with Lowri and Andrew. With Andrew now being a fully fledged ocean diver he could just relax enjoy the sea life and watch Lowri finishing of some exercises. After the long walk back and de-kiting we all went to the pub for a much deserved drink. Overall a very enjoyable dive with thanks to the instructors. Emma. (photos to be put in later - Ed)
June 3rd - 6th 2011. Dive Trip to the Manacles Reef, Lizard Peninsula, Cornwall.
(Or the trainee Advanced Diver's guide to what can go wrong on a Diving Expedition!!)
This was not really a Club dive trip although with 2 members along, (Lee was making up for missing out on Scapa), and everybody having been invited, it just about qualifies. The problem was it follows the great Valkyrie trip and thus had a lot to live up to. This time though, the organization was by Ros, of the Pennine Orca Club, who a number of us have joined on past trips to the IOM, Plymouth and Skye. The Manacles are reputed to be one of the top scenic dive sites in the UK, with a smattering of wrecks in the vicinity, so all boded well, i.e. until shortly before departure when Ros advised that we were to go out from Falmouth on the first morning, We were actually based at Porth Oustock, near the village of St Keverne which is within spitting distance of the Manacles but about 25-30 miles beyond Falmouth
We arrived to blue skies, light winds and a very favourable forecast, but that was as good as it got, as things rapidly went downhill from there. Gary, the skipper of our very spacious double hulled, twin engined dive boat, the "Cornish Pussy" met up with us at St Keverne at 10.15 on the first morning and asked the five vehicles in the group to follow him in to the jetty in Falmouth. This proved to be impossible, given Cornwall's love affair with double roundabouts and seriously heavy traffic. So we got lost and ended up following the signs to the docks, eventually straggling into the right one. It didn't really matter as we had to wait there for another half hour or so while Gary went for the boat. With the gear loaded and a 10 second briefing which pointed out the emergency exits and informed us that we had to make our own hot drinks if we wanted any, as Gary was a one man band, we set off on a millpond sea to dive the wreck of the Epsilon, which interestingly does not appear in any of the dive guides. As we were to discover, the Falmouth wrecks are old and/or badly broken up. This one comprised stern, swim NE over sand to the boilers, swim on over sand to the remains of the bow which had a heart stoppingly big conger living in the anchor tube, then try to find our way back, getting lost, SMB, etc.
As soon as we were back on board Gary announced that slack water on the Manacles was in an hour, so we could either have a short surface interval and stay shallow on the reef, i.e. stay in the kelp, or dive another wreck in the channel. As we were there to dive the Manacles the group opted for the former, but Gary wasn't finished with us yet, as he somehow contrived to hit a very well known submerged pinnacle called Pen Vin, on the approach to the exposed Manacles rocks. He reassuringly informed us that we "were in deep shit", and after a quick glance under the engine hatch, we steamed, on the other engine, into nearby Porth Oustock to assess the damage, which was confirmed to be limited to a smashed up prop and possibly a bent drive shaft. So we missed slack on the Manacles and dived a second nearby wreck called the Volnay, which comprised a couple of big boilers and a lot of beams and plates. On the plus side there was a lot of life including beautiful pink sea fans. Gary's weird schedule for our day's diving was explained when, on arrival back in Falmouth, we found his evening dive group waiting to go out!!
The second day found us again having to drive back into Falmouth, as Gary couldn't possibly manoevre the boat in Porth Oustock on a single engine, as a new prop could not be delivered for several days at a cost of £1074 & VAT, so Gary was not a happy bunny. He arrived at the jetty about 40 minutes after the set meeting time and without explanation whisked us off to dive another wreck in the channel. This one, the Karoli River, had been blasted and flattened and so comprised what was described as "a wreckage field, full of free swimming congers". Lee & I didn't see any, although one pair claimed to have seen 7 or 8, one sliding past Lee's legs! Perhaps a reflection of how much we were enjoying the dive? Shortly after Lee and I were back on board, and while other divers were still in the water, a large cargo ship steamed past about 60-70 metres away! Somehow, Gary had omitted to mention in his dive briefing that we were diving in the shipping lanes! However, he did come up trumps for the second dive, deciding that he could now manoevre the boat well enough to drop us on a part of the Manacles called Raglands Reef, on slack water. This was a submerged pinnacle which, below the kelp, was entirely covered in jewel and plumose anenomes, and attended by masses of fish, but virtually no crustaceans. A stunning dive.
For the third day Gary gave Ros a choice of either meeting on the quay in Falmouth at 7am to catch morning slack or meeting at Porth Oustock at 2pm for afternoon slack, as he had another dive group to fit in around us! Not surprisingly we did the latter. However, by then the millpond seas had been replaced by a stiff easterly blowing into the bay creating big breakers. Before diving we had to somehow get our cylinders back on board. This involved a finless swim out to the boat, which was moored about 40 yards out with our gear was on board. We then tied batches of 3 or 4 cylinders to a big lift bag for them to be towed out to the boat, before swimming out again with the last cylinders on out backs. Before we had time to recover we were dropping onto the famous wreck of the Mohigan, a liner which hit the rocks in 1898, and which now comprises a couple of huge boilers, some big condensers and a lot of assorted scrap metal, without any of the life and colour of Raglands reef. We were offered another wreck for our second dive but opted for a gentle drift on a nearby reef, which was very much like those around Bardsey.
The final day saw us back in Falmouth for an early start. The plan was to dive an intact wreck in the nearby Carrick Roads, which Gary informed us was crawling with crabs and lobsters, contrary to every other dive site, and which we were welcome to take, followed by a gentle drift over mud to collect scallops. Lee and I opted out of the scallop run, but were up for the wreck, which in the event was almost as degraded as most of the other wrecks, while the abundant crustaceans amounted to a few crabs and a single lobster, our only sighting on the trip, which everyone had the sense to leave where it was.
So, seven dives, five on wrecks or bits of wrecks, one superb dive and a lot of being messed around by a very experienced skipper who seems to have lost the plot, and who certainly didn't put his divers first. His apparent aim was to get us in the water asap, ideally on a wreck in the channel, so that he could get back for the next group of divers. St Keverne was where Gary had his compressor and dive shop and this may have led to us being wrongly based there as we had, in any event, to be in Falmouth on the first and final days to load and unload the gear, there being no jetty in Porth Oustock. In contrast, a friend from another northern dive club was diving out of Newquay at about the same time and had "the best skipper in the world and some really excellent diving", which I think says it all. If you're happy with the skipper, the diving usually falls into place. David J
Sunday June 12th, Porth Colmon and Porth Ysgaden Reefs.
With all weather media forcasting prolonged rain and strong easterlies for Sunday, it was suprising that six souls were up for a dive, or was it? it was an early start as low water was just before one o clock. We were launched by eight thirty and heading towards the reefs just out of Porth Colmon. It nearly didn't happen though as a foot and a half of rotting kelp at the bottom of the slip nearly caught us out and could have proved to be an embarrasment as Sea Wasp was almost grounded! Guto, who was launching after us suggested that we looked elsewhere for recovery as the kelp stretched out a long way down the beach.
Anyway, back to the diving, Wyn and Andrew were first in followed by John and Dave H. Both pairings reported excellent viz of 8m and fantastic topography and plentiful sealife including a smooth hound, crawfish and an octopus. Irfon and Brian made up the second wave and they also had an enjoyable dive, even though Brian had fin issues. It was decided that the conditions further out were not suitable for diving the tripods so it was decided to move camp to Porthysgaden and a decision would be made then if we were going out for a second dive as conditions were now getting quite grim.
Suprisingly five were up for a second, with only John opting out as he didn't have a second cylinder. It was also decided to take David J's kind offer of being a dedicated cox for the second dive which was to be on low water slack. So we were a six again, and after being fed and watered we made the short journey out to the Porthysgaden reefs. Wyn and Andrew were again in first with Dave H making a threesome with Irfon and Brian. Again the viz was good and both groups reported good dives, with both of them finding the kelp covered outcrop that stood up from the bottom at 19m up to 8m from the surface - it has been waypointed on the boats GPS for future referance.
Recovery of Sea Wasp was a doddle and it was almost pointless in washing her down after arriving at Pendre as the rain really was relentless. So to sum up, rotten weather, two great dives, plenty to see in very good viz so it was definately worth it. Many thanks to Dave J for giving up a couple of hours of his Sunday afternoon and for Wyn for towing. Irfon.
Thursday June 9th, Glyn Y Garth, Ocean Diver Exam.
Congratulations to Lowri, Andrew and Ian for passing their Ocean Diver exam, Ian came top of the class with 29 out of 30 - very impressive. Further congratulations are in order for Andrew as he is now a fully fledged Ocean Diver. Irfon
Wednesday June 8th, Vivian quarry.
Neil Rawlinson kindly informed me that the viz in the Straits was about six inches, so that was that. There was only one other place that we could go and that was Vivian. There were five of us in all, David and Irfon were the instructors and Andrew, Pete and Iorwerth were the trainees. On the agenda was getting some depth experience for Pete and Iorwerth and honing Andrews navigation and DSMB deployment skills. All went well and we even had a pint at the Glyn Twrog on the way home. Irfon.
Sunday 5th June 2011. Porth Neigwl.
It was a very early start and a phone call from Mike to ask if it was calm enough to warrant getting out of bed or not coz it was ‘’Bl**dy rockin out there yesterday !!!’’ Well it looked ok in Criccieth anyway. We arrived in Pendre at precisely 8am to meet Irfon and Andrew and get the boat sorted – we had a bit of a job to take the clamp off but what was worse the key for the ignition was sitting nicely on the indicator stick of Malcolm’s van! Having been at his son's wedding the night before Malcolm was nowhere to be seen !! I eventually found him in a coma with all the phones ringing and found the keys. In the meantime Irfon had also managed to retrieve the keys but in a different manner and a trick no doubt he picked up from school ! We were eventually off and 15 minutes late for our meet in Castellmarch. We duly loaded and both boats went down to launch in a rather bumpy sea.
The sea was a bit calmer around by the islands as we made our way to Cilan Point. First in were Irfon with Andrew and Peter with Carl R. Carl R enjoyed the descent so much he came up and tried again ! Both opted for a shallow but scenic dive and reports came back of excellent conditions and a lovely scenic dive. Next in were Mike and organiser Tim and myself with Carl B. Again it was a very enjoyable scenic dive – plenty to see as we found ourselves on a light sandy bottom with steep rocky sides covered in kelp with masses of Wrasse and a large shoal of Pollack. Also swarms of Spider crabs doing what they do best at this time of year !! We then caught the tide and were whisked away over several steep sided sandy gullies. Vis was a good 8 meters and a lot of moon jelly fish were around the upper 5 meters.
We lunched at sea on the still waters and basked in sunshine. We had a quick discussion of where next and duly decided to go across the bay to Trwyn y Rhiw. Irfon found us a nice reef just below Porth Peipen Pw and again we had a scenic and very enjoyable shallow dive. Mikes boat however went further along and into slightly deeper waters for some hunter gathering where Carl R learnt that a lift bag might be handy in the future ! With all divers up by 2:45 we rang Wyn to arrange recovery and steamed off. We arrived back in Abersoch to see Castellmarch Marine Recovery Crew coming to meet us. All done and dusted and back on dry land before 3:30!! All in all everything went like clockwork, impeccable timing with enjoyable scenic dives. Robin.
Wednesday 1st June 2011, Trefor Pier.
The weather was windy, just for a change, with Trefor the only option once again. There was a good turnout with Irfon taking Pete & Iorwerth for the assisted ascent part of lesson OO3, while Stephen & Emma, Dewi & Nia, and Wyn & Brett went in to do the mass of exercises which form the bulk of lesson OO2 at 2 metres. All did well although Emma came out with a pain in her chest which took a while to subside. The group of trainees were complemented by Carl R, Tony Robertson & Andrew, who has completed his certification dives. Tony managed to record a first with buoyant feet in a wet suit so came back in after one reccee of the pier while Carl & Andrew decided to repeat the experience. I think that most of them headed off to the Vic in Llithfaen for a quick one while I headed home for something to eat and last minute packing before setting off to Cornwall with Lee to dive the Manacles reef. David J
Click thumbnails to see larger versions of the photographs