West Wales (Aug 2008)

by Tim, Laurence, Duncan & Sue.

Untitled 223rd – 25th August, 2008 :
Best described in the feedback from some of the attendees methinks,

Tim – Oh well, yet again, another Bank Holiday blown out 🙁 Still in spite of the weather trying to spoil our fun we did manage 15 boat dives on Saturday (enjoyed by all with lots to see in the limited vis) and topped the day’s diving off with 4 night dives. As a consequence of the torrential rain afterwards we didn’t even need to wash our kit!

 Then on Sunday, as the sea was boiling at Broadhaven and a regatta was on at Dale we opted for Martins Haven where 20 shore dives were chalked up. Once the diving was over we did a lovely walk around the headland and from the tops of the impressive wind swept cliffs observed many seals in the bays far below with cute, podgy, white, fluffy pups suckling – ahhhh! We also saw a Chuff (a black crow like bird) very rare I’m informed.

From one rare bird to another. My thanks go to John “Rooster” (my co-conspirator) for organising the camping in fields that in some places resembled Glastonbury and also for charging my mobile (please don’t press the buttons John!).  After an extremely wild night where us ‘real’ campers had being flapped, shaken, jet washed and generally kept wide awake all night, John was heard to state, “Of course, one of the big disadvantages of a camper van is you can’t tell what the weather’s doing outside”. Hmmm. Yes, I can see that is indeed a big disadvantage.You can go off people you know.

 Bob came up trumps again by recommending an alternative ‘award winning’ curry house (the Taj Mahal in Haverfordwest) for Sunday evenings entertainment where a thoroughly enjoyable evening of excellent food and drink and very good company and rapport was had by all. It was nice because we had a whole wing to ourselves – no I don’t mean chicken, I mean in the restaurant. An exclusive area all to ourselves with plenty of room and not having to be squashed into a corner against the window as was oft the case in the previous place. Ample parking too! On weekends such as that just gone I find the group evening meals out to be most enjoyable and a great opportunity to get to know people. It never ceases to amaze me how peculiar facts about people you have known for years come out of the woodwork; such as, did you know Bob went camping in the snow in Switzerland at Christmas and climbed the Eiger in shorts and a tee shirt and found it to be very cold?
Thanks once again to Rob for towing, to Hazel for letting him, to David and William for washing the parts of the boat us big people can’t get to (is that legal?) and also for my air freshener made out of sheep’s poo! Don’t ask.
But especially thanks to all who came and supported the weekend, even though the diving didn’t exceed my very low expectations, because of you all I still managed to have a bl**dy good time.
Attendees : Bob, Chris H, Christos, David, Duncan, Geoff, Jo, John, Jon, Laurence, Mary, Mike,Neil, Rob, Sue E, Sue R. Tim

LaurenceThis happened but was not quite as good as it normally is because of the weather. We did the Shag Rock from the boats, then there was quite a lot of shore diving at Martin’s Haven, including a night dive when the shore cover got wetter than the divers.

Also saw the seals around the coast there, and there was one in the sea close to where we dived, but he was busy with his lunch and wasn’t about to get within diver’s viz.

Here is the GPS trace for the first wave on Saturday.I think we would have missed Hand Marks anyway
Sat230808firstwaveIt shows the light patches which are presumably what we were aiming for ? 

The long dotted bit on the way back is probably where Rob was coaxing the engine to greater things and the stop button on the GPS got pressed.  It was restarted when I realised what had happened.   

Anyway, thanks to Tim, John, Rob and everyone for a great weekend in spite of the weather.

We did see the seals and pups, and Rooster met some of his farmyard friends, more to follow !
And congrats to Sue R for camping with us all in some of the foulest weather I’ve seen since our first Cabanon broke – if you weren’t put off by that, you can survive anything Sue !
Couple of web sites for the area:

DuncanMost impressive GPS track. Looking at the picture is that an old airfield that I spy. All the hours of watching time team on the telly has honed my observation skills..!

Thanks to all of my buddies over the 4 dives. I think that I could now run a Kelp recognition course. Pity the seal did not play with us in Martins Haven.
Lets hope for better weather next time and for those going to Ireland I hope the sun shines on you all.

Sue RI would like to say thankyou to both Tim and John for organising the bank holiday trip to West Wales.

 Tim, who was under the weather, still organised each day’s diving even though he only managed to dive on the first day. This meant that he was the shore cover expert for the rest of us and had to listen to the stories of all that we saw on our dives, which he did without complaint!
Well ok, sometimes a pair would surface and say that they had only seen kelp and not much else, but there were also lots of lobsters, crabs and huge scallops as well as the tiny creatures, fan worms, the sea mat covering the kelp, boring sponges and not so boring sponges, dead men’s fingers, huge starfish and sea urchins.
I really enjoyed the weekend in spite of the rain and wind and look forward to ‘going right round the corner’ next time at Martins Haven.
Thanks also to Mary and Laurence for all the fetching and carrying they did with cylinders and other people’s equipment and to Jan and John on Monday for not sitting in their van watching me while I tried to catch my tent in order to fold it up !!!

The following briefing is worth including as a great example of upfront notification of what to expect – thanks Tim & John!

Assuming there is diving then I currently have 19 divers on the list but with 2 boats we only have 10 places maximum at any one time. Therefore there will inevitably be a lot of waiting around. Nothing I can do about that so please be understanding.Camp Site: Once again, those of us camping will in be staying at South Cockets Farm near Broadway. See the map for details. If you haven’t done so already you will need to have booked yourself a pitch. Phone Mrs. James on nnnn nnnnnn and mention you are with BSAC Aerodivers and that you are with Johns’ party.

Air: is available from West Wales Divers at Hasguard Cross (near the blue ‘12’) however as it is a bank holiday weekend and as it is one of the few places in the area that does air it is likely to be heaving. Therefore please bring as many full cylinders with you as you can muster.

  • Also, please make sure your cylinders are clearly marked with your name.

Boat Launching. As we are on a peninsula if the wind is up we can dive on whichever side is more favourable. We can launch either at Broadhaven or Little Haven (slipway/beach) on the northern side or from Dale (slipway) on the southern side. Wherever we go parking is limited so early starts will be the order of the day.

Boat Diving: There is plenty of choice when it comes to the diving. Skomer and the surrounding area is a designated underwater marine reserve (so no flatty bashing, crabbing or scalloping please). Diving all along the north coast is very good – scenic, reefs, gulleys, it even boasts shoals of Trigger Fish. Stack Rocks is one of Tim’s favourites. A good chance to see octopus and grey seals are usually around. Alternatively we can dive from Dale. As last year we do have a lot of people on the list so as we cannot fit you all on the boats at the same time, so there will be some inevitable waiting for your turn. Rest assured we will do our best to make sure everyone gets to dive. Please be patient. Some of you may wish to do a shore dive to get a second dive. Please be sure to check with Tim before you do, as there are essential things you first need to know.

Shore Diving: There are two places where we have shore dived, St Brides and Martins Haven. There are a few others but these are the only two sites we know. Both are best done when the tide is in.

Contact Numbers: Should you need to contact Tim his mobile number is nnnnn nnnnnn. If he’s not answering try John on nnnnn nnnnnn. Failing that send a text message and we’ll get back to you as soon as.

Disclaimer: As always we are very dependant on the weather and your safety is paramount. If Tim considers the conditions are unsafe we will not launch. Please read the Terms & Conditions below. Bring your waterproofs and walking boots just in case the diving is blown out, as the coastal scenery is both beautiful and spectacular.

Terms & Conditions:

  1. The number of names on the list is used to plan if the trip is viable or not and also to determine how many boats are required. Therefore if your name is on this list and you do not turn up, or turn up but do not dive, you will still be expected to pay one dives equivalent of towing & launch
  2. If you wish to remove yourself from the list you may do so without penalty so long as it is on or before Wednesday 20th
  3. If boats are towed to the site but for any reason diving does not take place, the towing fees will be recovered in full by means of equal contributions from all who are on the list.
  4. If your name is not on this list and you turn up unexpectedly there is no guarantee you will have a place on a boat.

Air is available at West Wales Divers, Hazguard Cross, Little Haven, however being in-land this is a drive away from all the potential launch sites and from past experience, with it being a Bank Holiday it will not be a quick turnaround if you drive off to get some.

To make life easier for yourselves and also help the smooth running of the weekend, the more full cylinders we start with, the better. So please help yourselves and in doing so help me as follows:

  • ensure you bring at least one, preferably two cylinders with you.
  • make sure they are all in test.
  • make sure they are filled (in Bristol) before you set off.

Cylinder management and etiquette.

  • Take every opportunity to fill cylinders when you are waiting between dives. The dive shop doesn’t usually stay open late and we don’t tend to get out of the water early, so there is potential for people not having air for the 1st dive of the morning.
  • If you need air, don’t be selfish and just go off and get your own. Ask around if others need some and if so, take their cylinders too if you have room – and take a person with you to help humping them around.
  • If someone has been kind enough to take your cylinder off for a fill go out of your way to ensure they are paid, up front if possible and don’t leave it for them to chase you for the money.
  • If you borrow a cylinder, from club or a buddy, it is your obligation to ensure it is returned full.

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