As we started to inch out of lockdown, six club members decided it was time to get the boat out and have a look around Anglesey’s best dive sites. This was a small trip with an aim to get into water that is not Stoney Cove.
We had an evening drive from Nottingham to Anglesey. There were only two cars, one of which was towing a boat and we therefore had to do a bit of awesome kit packing. A feat made harder by the fridge Ed has installed into his land yacht – but having a cool beer ready at the other end is marvellous. We managed to avoid the worst of the traffic and arrived in time to do shopping for our little trip. I always wonder what the checkout staff think we are doing emptying our trolley which includes: an assortment of breakfast food, miscellaneous alcohol, enough cheese to throw down a hill on certain weekends in Gloucestershire and chocolate milk.
Divers started the day with a full NUSAC breakfast, except Will who was very sleepy missing this and instead had a solitary carbonized bacon rasher, an egg that was unique in burnt yet underdone and of course a generous helping of beans.
Our dive base for the day would be Trearddur Bay. An attractive beach with slipway. First, we prepped the boats and our kit. Before we could launch, we had to register Max with Anglesey council. A process that involved filling in a form asking many impertinent questions but curiously not “are actually you able to launch and drive the boat?”. It had been over a year since any of us had used the boat so we were eager to find out.
Fortunately, we were able to launch and drive the boat avoiding myriad jet skis, other dive boats, rocks, children, drunk scousers on inflatable lilos.
Our first dive site was to be the wreck of the Missouri, an American steam cargo ship that sank in 1886 after hitting rocks in a snowstorm. The Missouri sank sailing from Boston in the US to Liverpool. Fortunately, as the rocks were so close to the shore the crew survived. There were already divers on the wreck when we arrived which made locating it very much easier.
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Today the wreck lies at around fifteen metres with its boilers still intact. Over a century of storms rolling up the Irish Sea has flattened most of the remainder of the wreck. However, there is loads of life on the wreck including plenty of fish and crustaceans hiding under the wreckage.
We had shared out boat handling so once the first group of divers had returned the boat handler and their buddy could do a dive. It was extremely exciting going down the shot line onto a wreck after months of lockdown or only a quarry to dive in.
Our second dive of the day would be Raven’s Point Gully a noticeably short distance away east of the bay. Ed had taken over Boat Handling duties as his drysuit was wetter than Bikini Bottom. Raven’s Point is exposed and home to all manner of sponges and corals like Dead Man Fingers. This combined with the good visibility created a light and vibrant dive. Meanwhile James and Will managed to find an underwater cave to have a tentative look inside. This was a shallow but interesting dive. We had to be careful not to go too far out of the gully or risk the building current catching an unsuspecting diver.
Once we were all back on the boat we returned to the slip, this was made significantly more challenging since the morning as the bay had been filled with more children, jet skis and Liverpudlians on lilos cradling six tins of Stella.
Packing the kit away and returning the boat to its trailer took a long time possibly because it was so warm and early in the afternoon, so no one felt particularly rushed. Will and I finished off the cylinder filling by the time we were back at the accommodation, James and Katie had got the dinner started, Ben was poring over the dive guides as he would be Dive manager on Sunday and Ed was returning from the petrol station after topping the boat up for Sunday. We congratulated ourselves on a smooth first day with a trip to the pub and had a bit of play on a child’s swing.
The cars were packed and we headed off to our launch point for the day Beaumaris. Ben kicked the day off with a briefing. We would be diving a couple of spots on the Northeast of the island before heading home. Ed was boat handling again as he could not quickly repair his drysuit and it was still as wet as wet could be. It was a long motor out to our first site of the day.
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A little island offers steep rocky sides with the jumble of limestone rocks providing an ideal habitat for marine life including dozens of Catsharks. These are members of the shark family and are usually a highlight of a dive, but we saw loads of Catsharks on this dive which was brilliant. Dead Man Fingers and Plumose Anemones cover the rocks here, giving the site a high energy.
After surfacing we had quite a long motor over to our next dive site. We stopped on the way to swap over cylinders and eat lunch.
This site is often visited on trips to Anglesey sitting just out of the Menai Strait. The site is a rocky slope a home to crustaceans hiding under the rocks with sponges clinging onto the boulders with clumps of kelp to mix things up. Dive apathy had struck with James and Katie joining Ed on the surface. Overall a nice dive on our way back to Beaumaris.
We brought the boat back onto the trailer and packed up. We debriefed in the car park before the long drive home. As we sat in the standstill traffic on the A55; we were able to chat through our favourite parts of the weekend. Ben identified the massive fish he and Will saw on the last dive as a Bull Russ. Lambert tried (and failed) to find gluten free service station food.
It was a fantastic trip: we got back in the water, played with the boat, and met up with good friends. Overall, a remarkable success.
Written by Peter Dix
Trip Participants: Ed Chester, Peter Dix, Katie Eminson, James Lambert, Will Pimblett and Ben Prestwich