Freesteel Blog » Dive kayaks win Lleyn again

Dive kayaks win Lleyn again

Saturday, May 21st, 2011 at 2:44 pm Written by:

On Friday 22 April we got out to the Lleyn Peninsula for some kayak diving at short notice.

According to my pre-blog website, we first went there with our new dive kayaks 8 years ago! They’re still going strong, and I love them to bits.

There were two slight snags with the plan.

First, I’d lent my diving cylinders to the club for their annual Easter trip because they were short for the number of novices they were taking.

Luckily, Tyn Rhos diving campsite still existed and was able to rent us a two.

The other issue was that I had left the Lleyn diving guide book with someone in Heswall.

“Oh, let’s just go without it,” Becka said.

Absolutely not! There is no point in being there if you can’t find out where to go. I caught the bus for an hour to Heswall, picked up the book, then caught the bus back for an hour. How delightful.

After avoiding the A55 and going via Betsy-Coed, we put our kayaks into the water at Porth Lago at 6pm simply for a paddle. We went up and down the coast until it was very gloomy. Maen Melt is small rock 400m off-shore in the current. I snorkeled around it and noticed that the visibility was surprisingly poor. Oh well.

To the south there was a gill net strung out from the shore like an underwater tennis net as if to catch any fish migrating along the coast.

Saturday 23 Glenocum and Pen-y-cil sea cave

The day was disappointingly grey, claggy and cold.

We set off from Aberdaeron beach and tested out our diving skills on the Glenocum wreck (point A) not far off shore in 9 metres of water. It’s a murky place, home of a large conger eel, but otherwise less interesting than you would expect it to be.

I had just replaced my drysuit neck seal with one made from the neoprene of a 30 year old single lined wetsuit I got from a jumble sale, and it was excellent. My wrists seals leaked badly though, so I need to fix them next.

We were saving the air for the highlight of the day, which was the underwater cave at the headland in Bardsey Sound (Point B)

Bardsey Sound has big scary tides, so you have to get them right. We arrived with time to spare, which meant that Becka got impatient as we hung around not daring to go round the tip where we could see the standing waves. She doubted my tide information and calculation. Luckily I had verified them with a passing sea-kayaker who was on his way to spend the night on Bardsey Island.

As the right time drew near the standing waves remained on the headland. How long were we going to wait around? I proved we could go against the current by paddling out to several lobster pot buoys in the main stream. Then we rafted up together and drifted towards the line of disturbance and over it into Bardsey Sound.

The vista opened up wide with all the islands in view across calm water.

We tucked into the alcove where the cave was and anchored up. Eight years ago this was the one of the most beautiful dives we had ever done, using our last 30 bar of air.

This time the visibility was crap, and there was a swell. We kept bumping into overhead rocks underwater. There was blackness. We couldn’t find the way in.

Finally we sank right down to the floor littered with barren cobble stones. With our dive reel lining us from the anchor we inched forwards along this floor side-by-side into complete darkness (with our torches), until it became light again. We were through the cave. There wasn’t anything to see, with visibility of around 1 metre. But we declared it done and retreated before anything could go wrong.

Sunday 24 Timbo and Hell’s Mouth

The carpark at Bwlchtocyn (Point A) south of Abersoch was free and half empty on a gloriously sunny bank holiday Saturday. It was unreal. Plan was to poke around the St Tudswal Islands, and then dive under the cliffs of Hell’s Mouth where we have been before. There’s a reef further out to sea beyond the second island I had my mind on for a few years (Point B). The tides were going to be right to dive it on Monday, but I thought we might just check it today to see what it was like.

We got there and the water was calm and full of seals bobbing around. Someone needed a comfort break and there was no where else to go but on the exposed reef with all the jetskiers watching.

The current seemed okay, so I thought might as well take the chance. It was the right choice. We drifted across the wreck of the Timbo, which was very attractive. Then on further to a mussel bed that was being attacked by an army of starfish. And finally saw a seal underwater before we surfaced.

With too much of the day to go, it was now time to haul ourselves around the coast and into the bay (Point C) to where all the motor boats and sailing boats were parked not doing much. What the heck can you do with a big fat motor boat that resembles a car? Can’t see the point.

Then it was on to the cliffs on the east side of Hell’s Mouth where the swell was too big to dive the two islands close to the coast. However I found a sheltered spot further north where we could go down in 9 metres of water and then out to sea to about 15m (Point D). It was a fine view with lots of life and fish.

The get out was on the beach (Point E), quite a haul along the coast. Surprisingly, we didn’t wipe out in the surf. Then I had to wait for Becka to walk back to fetch the car. She was supposed to use the bike, but had forgotten keys for the lock, so it was left in the car. One guy who was a diver stopped by and took an interest. This is very unusual.

Monday 25 Cyprian and Nefyn

Having done the Timbo a day early, I had to find something else from the book. We headed for the north coast. The waves were a bit wild. We went out of Porth Ysgaden at the same time as four people on a RIB dive boat. They didn’t do the Porth Ysgaden reef 500m off shore, and neither did we. We headed for the wreck of the Cyprian, which is about 20m from a rocky shore in 6m of water.

The RIB divers went to somewhere further out that wasn’t in the book, probably too reluctant to risk damaging their expensive boat to come in to this wreck. It’s well spread out, with lots of flat steel plates lobsters like to hide beneath and the occasional giant crankshaft jutting from the sand.

Second dive was on the west side of the peninsula at Nefyn where the waves were really slopping about. Underwater, however, it was flat calm for me at least. Becka, who carried the anchor throughout the dive, was jerked this way and that bu the canoes on the surface. There were a heck of a lot of dogfish sitting around, as they do. Being mini-sharks, they sink and lie on the rocks among the weeds, only swimming off when disturbed.

No underwater pictures, I’m afraid. My camera was getting me down owing to being out of focus all the time. Diving without it is a much more enjoyable experience, I find. Though it doesn’t leave me with anything to help me remember the experience.

Retrieve was from Morfa Nefyn. Becka cycled back to the car and it seemed to take forever.

We packed up and then headed over to Bill’s house for the evening.

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