After last years’ successful trip (after 2 years off due to COVID & awful weather) we just had to go back so we did!
We (Vicki, Bounty & I) came down on Thursday for some non-diving excursions to a variety of beaches, towns, castles etc.
The rest of the party (Chris H & Steve) came down on Friday evening while Colin unfortunately had to call it off due to other commitments.
Saturday: Dive 1 – Stack rocks
With an 09:00 ropes off we arrived at the docks in plenty of time, this visit the boat was outside the marina so it was a case of down the walkway to the pontoon & on to the boat. With capacity for 10 we were two down (including Colin) so that left plenty of space – even with 10 it would still be roomy.
The wind had been looking a little strong (better on Sunday) but we still motored on round to Skokholm to dive a well reviewed site – Stack Rocks while we sipped a very welcome cuppa to warm us up before the dive.
With Geoff & Steve as buddies & Chris H & myself in we went & down to kelp & then headed south to a gravel bottom and then east along the reef
There was certainly no shortage of life here with what seemed like the UKs’ population of dogfish in residence along with plenty of big spider crabs with the odd yellow sponge & beautiful snakelocks anemones which isn’t to mention the fish & the small jelly fish that Chris H spotted
Saturday: Dive 2 – ‘Slate’ wreck
After pulling alongside the other boat (Celtic Discovery) near Skomer where people had been dropped by the shuttle to go bite/puffin watching – there were a lot circling in the skies were were offered drinks, bacon butties & choc chip rolls – that’ll do nicely!
Then back to near the first dive for the Slate wreck; the skipper explained the main wrecks are in the Haven (the Behar, Dakotian & Thor) & it is very tidal there. The Slate wreck is mostly stacks of slates
It was down to kelp & then south again to get deeper; there were surprisingly few fish but it got more interesting where the kelp stops & the reef hits the gravelly bottom with lots of big spider crabs crawling on the walls or sitting on the bottom in small groups.
As we moved along there were velvet swimming crabs hiding in the cracks & crannies & even a biggish lobster! Chris spotted a conger – just the eye & a little grey patch in a hole. All of this was in pretty good visibility (5/6m) but a bit milky with lots of particles in the water.
After pickup we unloaded the cylinders for fills then headed back in Steve’s car (leaving the rest of the kit left on the boat).
Time for a shower & change then down to Broadhaven for a play on the beach with Bounty (he’d slept all day so Vicki had read – good to get out). Steve & Geoff had walked on the promise of a lift back & Chris had driven from Milford Haven for our evening meal in the Galleon – the same table as last year!. The meal & beer (Reverend James – nice & dark) were excellent & it seemed they were setting up for live music but we were all tired from the days’ activities – though Steve was ready to stay & boogie the night away!
Sunday: Dive 3 – Rye rocks
It was much calmer today but there was some serious fog/sea mist – you could imagine the Flying Dutchman making an appearance! In fact we thought our boat was coming of the mist but it was a big old fishing boat popping in for some beers! (clearly they don’t know Wales shops opening hours on a Sunday morning!)
Both Pembrokeshire Boat Charters vessels duly appeared & we carried our refills down & got ourselves set up; the other divers were amazed at some of Steves’ vintage & none the worse for it kit – if it ain’t broke…
Hoping the mist would burn off later & considering it too dangerous to dive in the Haven (due to other water traffic) we headed back out to Skomer to dive the reef round Rye rocks. Instructions were north to go deeper, south back to the island. 45 minutes max dive time & blob up at the start (due to the currents & lack of surface visibility).
Chris took the blob & I took the photos though in the end this wasn’t much compared to yesterday; lots of kelp down to a sandy bottom for a while before finding ourselves back in the kelp & trying to find sandy patches to swim through. A few spider crabs watched our passage.
One of the other divers who was on a rebreather apparently spent his last 10 minutes communing with a seal – we didn’t spot any 🙁
Sunday: Dive 4: SS Dakotian
We tied up alongside the Celtic Discovery again for the surface interval but then realised we’d miss the slack if we didn’t get going!
We were plied with ham & cheese (or ham or cheese) rolls & choc chip cakes with hot drinks (have to admit I had 2 rolls – shame to waste them!) while hoping for the mist to clear (it did a little)
We headed for the Dakotian, which seemed very popular (3 other boats on it) but below the surface you wouldn’t know it – she’s a pretty big wreck). Besides the vast quantities of rusting metal there was plenty of life including lots of crabs & a big shoal of mackerel on the way up.
Heading back we had a nice chat with the other divers comparing diving tales before the inevitable unloading & goodbyes
Later that afternoon we headed down to Broadhaven for a play with Bounty & it was very spooky in the mist – you could hardly see the town or sea
The rest of the diving party (Chris H, Steve & Geoff) packed up & headed home while Vicki & I were to brave it out for another couple of nights – there were more beaches & castles to explore!
My thanks to my diving buddies for supporting the trip, I think we’ll do it again next year