page has been added specifically for the "postings"
of our club secretary Phil Dewhurst (Phil the Post).
He has for some time, submitted postings of the dive weekends
and other club events that have been published on our web site
so that members can read about the wonderful times we have spent
diving in West Wales and abroad and the other significant events
relating to our club.
Any other club members who have a story to tell about their
diving adventures or anything else of interest are also welcome
to post them on this page.
These articles make very good reading and I'm sure, will encourage
other members to join us for dive weekends down in West Wales.
I know when its time?
by Phil Dewhurst
This year I only did a few dives. On previous visits to the
Maldives my dive tally would have been 20/24 over a twelve
I would have been up early to join up with the dive team and
be underwater by 09:00. Id do two dives before lunch,
one afterwards and if the opportunity presented Id do
a night dive as well.
Id be up for just about anything: washing machine currents,
serious drift dives, wrecks, Phils name would be first
on the list But time catches up, creaky old bones, aching
joints and maybe just a realisation that you cant do
what you once were able to.
first week of our holiday passed and I hadnt been diving.
I snorkelled of course, the reef edge was close enough to
our over-water bungalow to be able to be able to swim out
through channels cut through the coral to the drop off.
And believe it or not most of what you dive deep for you can
see here, in the shallows, amongst the coral: lion fish, parrot
fish, small white and black tip sharks, sand rays, mobular
rays, morays, even lobsters.
I almost convinced myself this was enough.
I didnt want to think that Id lugged all my gear
to the Maldives and not used it so with six days of our holiday
left I signed in at the dive centre and took part in an orientation
I was pleased that I did because I hadnt been underwater
for twelve months. I felt unsure. But I neednt have
worried; as soon as I descended it was like going home.
One, two, six metres: kneel on the sand to do mask clearing,
reg recovery, deploy an SMB, all under the gaze of an instructor.
The guys at Euro-divers are thorough and like to know youve
remembered the basics before they let you loose underwater.
chose to dive in the afternoons, these dives tend to be easy,
small currents, 15 maybe 20 metres max.
The dive sites were within 30 minutes of the island. Wed
meet up on the boat after lunch and be in the water before
15-00, dive time around 45 maybe 50 minutes.
Wed be back on the island in time for afternoon cocktails,
very civilised. And believe it or not I enjoyed myself just
as much as any hairy arsed diving Id done in the past.
The guys on the dhoni helped with my gear and when the dive
was over they helped me back onto the boat and had a hot cuppa
ready and waiting. Easy diving that ticked all the boxes.
Now what about next year?
saying Old Age Don't Come On It's Own has recently
become more than just words. For almost two decades I've enjoyed
diving with Llantrisant Sub Aqua Club, spending almost every
weekend of the season on dive sites around the lovely Pembrokeshire
coast and in the winter travelling to exotic destinations
to dive at world renowned locations. I consider myself to
be very fortunate and I thought I'd go on forever but in my
mid sixties (I'm 68 years old) I began to suffer with rheumatics
and this affected my mobility. I was OK in the water but had
dificulty getting back in the boat. And I didn't feel quite
I had doubts over my ability and last year (2016) I almost
didn't dive at all. I continued going out on the club boat,
enjoying the enviroment and being in the company of fellow
divers but I didn't want to dive. Mind; it wasn't the best
of seasons, we were plagued with wind and cold. Most weekends
were called off due to bad conditions so I convinced myself
I wasn't missing much and when we finally put the boats to
bed I was half a mind to calling it a day, selling my dive
gear and settling back to wait for God to come a knocking.
December Sandra and me went on our annual trek to the Maldives
where we had 12 days booked in an overwater bungalow at the
lovely Vilamendhoo resort, South Ari atol. I packed some dive
gear though I wasn't sure if I'd use it. However the lure
of the warm clear water and seeing the colourful fishes around
the shoreline was just too much. After two days of sunbathing
and reading I went down to the Eurodiver centre and asked
could I sign on
to dive. I was totally...well almost...honest with the dive
guide, I explained my issues with mobility and was assured
this wouldn't be a problem. The dives here are graded: difficult,
medium and easy. On past visits I'd be up for whatever was
available but today I was happy to put my name down for an
afternoon dive graded as easy.
the way to the dive site the young guide said he would keep
an eye on me and at the end of the dive would help with my
fins and getting back on the boat.
I may well have more than 700 dives logged but this assurance
was well received. There were eight of us on the boat. We
kitted up, checked our gear then a backward roll. I admit
to feeling a little anxious but as I dropped through the warm
clear water I was completely at ease, it was almost like someone
was calling, welcome back.
I did eight dives in twelve days, all in the afternoons and
all graded easy. And do you know what? I enjoyed them as much
as any of the hairy assed dives I've done in the past.
I've joined the club for another year and I intend to dive
in West Wales. I'll have a medical of course. I've had a chat
with our new D.O. And he's offered to buddy up for the first
dive or so. I'll have another season out and around the West
Wales islands, looking out for seals and puffins and watching
the gannets dive. I'll enjoy the banter and the company that's
all part of a day out with a bunch of divers. And when the
time's right and the site's right and the weather's right
(a big ask I know) I'll dive. And if it isn't? Well it's not
the end of the world is it?
I know I'll be looked after because that's what we do, that's
Llantrisant Sub-Aqua. And my aim? To still be diving when
we finally get a ladder fitted to help us back into the boat.
Mike and Martin please take note. Well you gotta aim high
REES: DIVING OFFICER 1995 - 2016
At a recent Committee meeting of the Llantrisant Sub-Aqua
Club, Diving Officer Peter Rees told members that he would
not be standing for re-election. Club Chairman Lyn Eade thanked
him for his services to the club and wished him all the best
for the future; he went on to say that whoever succeeded Peter
had huge shoes to fill.
Peter Rees joined Llantrisant Sub-Aqua Club in 1987 though
he does admit to "diving while unqualified" for
six years prior to this. He was keen to progress and worked
swiftly through the training programme. By the end of 1988
he gained his Club Diver qualification and became the Assistant
Club Training Officer and in 1989 he went on to become the
Club Training Officer.
On most weekends Peter dived with the club at sites around
the Pembrokeshire coast and he became a regular on club trips
to destinations outside of the UK including the Red Sea, Maldives
In 1995 the club Diving Officer stepped down, Peter was seen
as the ideal candidate to fill this role and at the AGM of
that year he was elected to that office. He quickly set about
stamping his mark by introducing structure to the club and
writing a set of club rules e.g. the need for members to use
an octopus. This was something he had seen in use on a trip
to the Great Barrier Reef. Later on and well before this became
the norm he made it mandatory for all members to carry an
SMB whilst diving not relying on just one blob between buddies
as was the practice at that time.
During his time in office Peter has qualified as a Dive Supervisor,
Rescue Diver and Open Water Instructor together with many
other qualifications including Boat Handling, Nitrox and EDFA
Peter enjoys his UK diving it is travelling to overseas destinations
that he favours and from the early 1990s he has been involved
in organising trips to worldwide destinations including Egypt,
Maldives, Cuba, The Great Barrier reef, Thailand, Burma, Costa
Rica & the Philippines. In 2008 he took a party of eighteen
divers to Cocos Island and in 2012 a trip to the Maldives
attracted so much interest that two live-a-board boats were
needed: twenty four persons, flights, accommodation, visas,
passports inoculations, currency, even who sits next to who
on the plane. Peter arranged the lot.
Peter had always worked closely with his Training Officers
and before the use of Powerpoint presentation he put the lecture
notes on acetate and projected them onto a screen to illustrate
the lectures. He is keen to be involved and his physics lectures
in particular are an interesting and enlightening experience.
Peter has always encouraged close links with the Sub Aqua
Association. He is a regular at S.A.A. AGMs and has been responsible
for strengthening the links between the club and Head Office
despite geographical distances. Under his guidance the club
has been three times winner of The SAA Golden Club Award and
at last year's AGM he was presented with a Certificate of
Recognition for his services to the club and to the sport.
Peter will remain a member of LSAC and will continue to manage
the club website. A keen underwater photographer he wants
to use his vast experience to help club members improve their
He hopes the next club D.O. gets as much pleasure from the
position as he did.
2016 Sub-Aqua Association Annual General Meeting.
years Sub-Aqua Associations AGM marked the fortieth
anniversary for the organisation. The event was held at the
Adelphi Hotel in Liverpool on Saturday 14th May.
Delegates from 23 clubs were present and the South Wales region
was represented by Llantrisant SAC, Trident and Haven Divers.
Matters got under way at 10-30 am, Chairman Collin Bryant
confirmed there were sufficient clubs to form a quorum, the
agenda was agreed and items voted on.
There were no surprises. The last item of the day was any
other business and the 13% fall in member numbers as noted
in the Chairmans report brought a number of observations.
The year on year decline in membership is a concern for all
clubs, several delegates offered opinion but the Chairman
said the solution was in the hands of the clubs, he singled
out Llantrisant SAC as being pro-active within their community.
Their activities encouraged applications for membership and
he urged more clubs to follow Llantrisants lead.
the meeting ended there were presentations from the Archaeological
Society and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution both were
well received. Representatives from Westfield Insurance and
Northern Divers were also present on the day and offered advice
and deals on equipment and travel insurance.
A dinner and dance held in the evening was an opportunity
for the ladies to show off their posh frocks whilst the men,
dressed in dinner suits did their best to look at ease. A
Bucks Fizz reception was followed by a four course meal. To
celebrate the 40th anniversary tables were decorated with
foil No.40 figures and ribbons, background music was provided
by a duo with guitars and a magician entertained guests at
the tables with a succession of clever card tricks.
Collin Bryan and Executive member Mark Blackshaw presided
over the award ceremony and Llantrisant SAC were awarded the
Golden Club Shield. This trophy goes to the club who in the
opinion of the judges has been most pro-active within their
area. Llantrisant SAC run several try-a-dive events each year,
they also play a major part in the Ponty Big Bite, an event
held annually in Pontypridd and attended by more than 20,000
people. This is the third time the club has been presented
with this award.
Llantrisants D.O. Peter Rees was also recognised on
the night. Peter was awarded a Certificate of Appreciation
for his work with the club, the SAA and the sport. Peter has
been a member of the SAA for more than 30 years and Diving
Officer of LSAC for 20 years.
Dancing went on well into the night; everyone agreed the event
had been a huge success. There were thanks for the organisers
and in particular Irene and to Carol. What will they come
up with next year?
Big Bite 2015
by Phil the Post
I really think the club should be put forward for some
sort of long service award, this was our ninth time at the
Ponty Big Bite and it was in my opinion the best yet.
Blue sky and sunshine brought the crowds in their 1000s to
Ynysangharad Park to see cookery demos, hawking displays,
terrier racing and most amazingly, a sheepdog herding a flock
of ducks. There were stalls selling exotic foods alongside
the usual burger vans, fish and chips and ice cream vendors.
The club had a stand in the Well Being Zone, 2 tables in a
good position opposite the main entrance. We had a supply
of leaflets with information about LSAC also some materials
from the Seasearch organisation and Irene from SAA headquarters
sent some pens to use as giveaways.
one side of the stand we had a tailors dummy dressed
in a wetsuit and wearing a hood, a bcd, mask and a set of
regs. This we used to answer many of the questions posed by
visitors such as how do we breathe underwater and how do we
get back to the surface?
On the other side of the stand we had a screen showing footage
taken at the National Diving Centre Chepstow featuring club
members exploring the many interesting items that lurk within
the murky depths.
On Saturday Richy, Chris, Kenn, Daffyd and myself were on
duty talking to visitors, pushing the duck race and signing
potential divers up for try-a-dive sessions.
At first our Kenn was a bit shy but once he got going we couldnt
shut him up. Chris was a star, rattling a bucket, shouting
the odds, he sold more ducks than the rest of us put together
and Daffyd, when he woke up soon got the knack of things.
One of the visitors was well known to us; Emma, and she had
her 2 gorgeous little daughters. Emma and hubby were frequent
divers until that is the kiddies came along. Now theyre
busy parents. Emma says theyll be back but I guess it
could be some time yet.
The day of the duck race. The show wasnt due to open
to the public until 11-00 so Richy and I had arranged a late
start but by 9-00 I was champing at the bit. Pontypridds
a different place on Sunday, there was hardly any traffic
and all the lights were on green. I was on site by 9-15: I
tidied the stand and drank tea as I waited for the others.
Martin was the first to arrive; complete with dry-suit and
prawn net he looked ready for business then Richy turned up
followed by Stuart and his wife. The others came in dribs:
Tall Paul, Allison and Janice, new member Mike, Sue and Mathew.
Gareth and Teresa came along with a tale of woe about a wetsuit,
Ill let Teresa tell. Its funny.
Tim Hutch arrived just in time to catch a duck or two and
Chris, Daffyd and Anne came back for a second helping. Richy
and Co got to work erecting a barrier to catch the ducks.
There was the usual to and fro with RCT but by lunch all was
in place and the boys in their dry-suits rattled buckets as
they sold ducks to folk coming into the show.
race went well. Richy launched the ducks at the second weir
up from the footbridge and they made their way slowly down
the Taf towards the finish line. Crowds lined the route shouting
for their ducks and eventually the first four crossed the
line where Tall Paul was waiting. He passed the winners to
the Lord Mayor and the Mayoress of RCT who had volunteered
to help with announcements and kindly pose for photos afterwards.
that was that. We spent the rest of the afternoon counting
money, sorting forms and tidying up. The show finished at
5-00 but we had to hang around till 5-30 for our vehicles.
As folk wandered off site there was just Richy, me and Tall
Paul left. We took our time packing away then went for a pint
or two at the Llanover Arms.
our presence at the show worth it? Well, we raised around
£600 for club funds and a donation of £200+ will
be made to the Mayors Charities appeal.
We signed at least 20 persons up for try-a-dives and we introduced
LSAC to 1000s of people most had probably never heard of us.
And most important, those members who came along to help said
they enjoyed their day.
will make a full announcement about proceeds from the duck
race at the club meeting 10th August. Our efforts along with
photos will appear in an article due to be published in the
SAA September Newsletter. And finally a big thank you to all
who took part. Next year the Lido will be open
has big plans.
a great day out last Saturday, the sun was shining, there
was little or no wind and the tides were just right. A problem
reported with power loss on Cobra 1 proved to be a loose plug
lead. Simple to fix so fuelled up, gear loaded, we headed
out of the Haven.
There was some swell around St. Ann's Head but there always
is and once through it was open throttle towards Skomer. Jack
Sound was a pussy cat with little to put us off then left
turn towards Stack Rock.
There's a school of thought that says we always head to Stack
but in fairness it's a bloody good dive site, the underwater
topography is varied, there's plenty of marine life and you
can almost always find shelter.
we dropped anchor off the south point. The depth finder read
18 metres and the dive plan was to head towards the rock.
The first buddy pair went in and we watched their bubble trail,
easy to spot in calm seas. They were underwater for 50 minutes
- giving those left on board plenty of time to slag them off
- and though the viz was poor they saw lobbies, plenty of
fish life and a shed load of starfish all piled together.
As we waited for their return we were entertained by grey
seals that popped up almost by the boat.
was 1-00pm when the second team finished their dive. We ate
lunch before heading slowly to the Hen and Chicks.
Here viz was much better and the divers saw lobbies, wrasse
and a bonus; the illusive trigger fish. Diving was restricted
to one team as Mike 'O ripped a wrist seal pulling his suit
back on following a comfort break.
Walkers on nearby cliffs must have heard his comments because
one minute they were watching us and the next they were haring
in the opposite direction.
were back at base just as the tide hit the slip. Mike has
recovery off to a tee. trailer attached to the front of the
jeep, boat in position, electric winch attached and the boat
slips up the rollers smooth and slow.
There was a regatta at the yacht club, loads of kids with
small craft, loads of parents helping out and lots of activity
in the clubhouse. But we found a space to sit and enjoy our
A really perfect day.
Phil the Post.
world's deepest swimming pool
and very tempting Y-40 Deep Joy pool
is located in a four-star hotel in northern Italy
The Y-40 Deep Joy caters for beginner cave divers as well
as advanced free divers
want to be able to say you've swum in the world's deepest
swimming pool, you need to book a stay at the four-star Hotel
Terme Millepini in northern Italy. It's home to the Y-40 Deep
Joy pool, which as the name suggests goes down to a depth
of 40 metres (or about 131 feet) that's almost half
the height of the Big Ben tower and the equivalent of nine
double-decker buses stacked on top of one another.
You can do much more than just swim in the Y-40. World-famous
architect Emanuele Boaretto has built the pool to be able
to accommodate scuba diving, free diving, water therapy and
even cave diving there are underwater cave replicas
built into the walls of the pool where beginners can get used
to being underwater in very confined spaces.
A transparent underwater tunnel guides visitors through the
dimensions and depth
At the surface of the water the Y-40 pool measures 21m (69ft)
by 18m (59ft). As you get deeper, this narrows: go beyond
a depth of 15m (49ft) and you'll need to swim carefully down
a circular well. It's not designed for the casual swimmer,
either you'll need to be an experienced diver to make
it all the way down though, as you're in a heated pool there's
no need to wear a wetsuit as you journey into the depths.
Several platforms and a transparent tunnel provide different
points of interest for swimmers and divers, and there's an
obligatory sun lounger area on the hotel roof directly above
the pool. The transparent tunnel enables visitors to get a
look at the record-breaking pool without actually getting
wet, while its makers are hoping it will be used by film crews
and photographers for various projects as well. Until the
Y-40 opened, the deepest swimming pool in the world was the
Nemo33 in Belgium, with a depth of 34.5m (113ft).
Platforms and artificial caves are built into the walls of
the Y-40 pool
cubic metres of heated water
The Y-40 pool is filled up with 4,300 cubic metres of thermal
water that's kept at an average temperature of 32-34°C.
As a result, you don't have to worry about getting colder
as you get deeper. "Y-40 is unique in its field thanks
to the spa water, which cannot be outsourced," said designer
Emanuele Boaretto as the pool was opened to the public. "We
want to open up new medium and long term work prospects to
try and guarantee prosperity, not only for my company but
also for the surrounding land and society."
As for the name Y-40, the number obviously refers to the depth
of the pool, while the letter "Y" is a reference
to the ordinate axis of Cartesian coordinate system (notable
for linking geometry and algebra together for the first time
in the 17th century). In other words, the name is inspired
by mathematical and geometrical standards, not just chosen
can walk through the pool without getting wet thanks to the
at the Hotel Terme Millepini
The Hotel Terme Millepini makes a big deal out of the Y-40
in its promotional material, though it's looking to attract
families, couples and anyone ready for a healthy retreat as
well as enthusiastic free divers. A wide variety of packages
are available, but a typical one night stay with access to
the Y-40 pool during that time will set you back €134
(£105) per person. There are various other pools throughout
the hotel too.
If you want some scuba diving equipment or any kind of lessons
then the price of admission is obviously going to go up. You
can also buy tickets for the pool on its own if you're passing
through the area and don't need anywhere to stay €35
(£28) is enough for a single ticket for the pool which
gives you 90 minutes to do whatever you like (diving equipment
is included in the price). If you want your own personal Y-40
trainer for the hour-and-a-half, the cost goes up to €75
may well need breathing equipment by the time you get down
to the bottom of the pool
deepest but not the biggest
The pool is open all year round and divers have wasted no
time in taking advantage of its facilities (search for "Y-40"
on YouTube to see some of the footage they've recorded). If
you're put off by enclosed spaces, you might want to give
it a miss, however the shaft that leads down to the
bottom of the Y-40 pool (marked by large letters on the floor)
isn't particularly wide, though three or four divers can move
around in it easily.
The Y-40 Deep Joy is the deepest swimming pool in the world,
but it isn't the biggest. That honour goes to one of the pools
at the San Alfonso del Mar, a private resort in Chile. That
pool, which stretches along the edge of a beach, is 1,013m
(3,323ft) long and holds 250 million litres of water. You
can sail small boats and canoes on it, but it's less than
a tenth of the depth of the Y-40, only going down 3.5 metres
pool roof and surrounding area are going to be developed further
Since opening in May the Y-40 has proved popular with tourists
and diving enthusiasts. There's also the opportunity to take
aqua-fitness classes in the water and engage in a spot of
Watsu, the aquatic therapy technique that gives the body a
relaxing series of stretches and massages, usually carried
out by a professional trainer in the water with you.
Get your tickets booked and your bags packed if you want to
be able to say you've touched the floor of a swimming pool
at a depth of 40 metres. The hotel and pool are part of a
picturesque natural park in the Euganean Hills, and there
are plans to add grass and foliage to the structures so that
they blend in more gradually with the surrounding environment.
The original goal was to "build the best swimming pool
in the world", according to its designers, and the Y-40
Deep Joy is certainly difficult to beat.
by Phil Dewhurst
What's the worst sensation you can experience as you leave
the relativity calm waters of the Haven towards St. Anne's
Head. Is it the Atlantic swells that seem to congregate and
throw your boat around? Not this time. With Evel Kniviel aka
Andy Hughes at the helm our rib cut through the waves with
hardly a bounce. Is it the fear of running into a yacht, there's
always a few about here? No, not today, perhaps it's a bit
early for the yachty types. Still don't know the answer? ask
Jeff Canning, he'll tell you that there's nothing worse so
far from base than realising you've forgotten to bring a weight
belt. He'd been shore diving Saturday and put his belt in
a bag away from the rest of his gear. Of course he received
loads of sympathy from a crew who were still laughing about
his misfortune when we got to Skomer. And it was about this
time that yours truly realised he'd forgotten his ankle weights,
what a pair of wallies!
We anchored by the big rock, don't know what it's christened
but the name must have some connection with birds because
every space on the ledges was taken by guillemots and gulls.
The noise was deafening. The first team rolled off the boat,
we watched their bubbles as they headed to the rock then back
to shore then out a bit deeper. As we chatted and generally
slagged everybody off we had a visit from the Skomer team,
Phil and his crew were keeping an eye on activity and they
had their work cut out, there were all manner of craft about,
it's surprising what a bit of sun will do. The boys were down
for at least 40 minutes and returned to report plenty of marine
life in reasonable viz.
Jeff borrowed Gareth's weight belt and I borrowed his ankle
weights. See, we might take the piss but deep down we help
each other... and the hire charge wasn't that bad... considering.
We rolled off together and followed the anchor rope to the
seabed. Viz was good, I'd say at least 5 metres, the bottom
waas small rocks but further in we found a pinnacle that rose
about 5/6 metres. There was loads to see: edible crabs, lobsters,
nudibranchs. I was mesmerised and finned along slowly head
down. Meantime, Jeff was being tracked by a big grey seal
that swam so close you could count his whiskers. Our dive
lasted almost 50 minutes.
In between dives we ate lunch in a pleasant bay and watched
the puffins fly back and forth, their beaks crammed with sandeels.
Further out dolphins turned on the surface and gannets swooped
into what I assume must have been a shoal of mackerel.
Our second dive almost mirrored our first except we didn't
see the seal. We finned around thoroughly enjoying the experience.
Andy took us back to Gelliswick, I didn't know the boat could
go so fast, we were almost flying, but fair play the sea was
smooth and I still had my hat at the end.
The water was just about on the slip, even so we used a rope
and soon had the boat on the trailer and back on land. 40
minutes later we were enjoying a drink in the bar. It had
been a perfect day.
End Note. If you haven't seen me for a while, I haven't done
a runner...honest, it's just that the weather has been so
good that we've been spending a lot of time in Pembroke. This
retirement lark is so far OK, we've got to know the local
pubs, I've joined the library and we've spent a lot of time
doing...well I'd be hard pressed to say what we've been doing
but whatever it is it beats work. Looking forward to seeing
you on the dive boats. If you haven't been out yet and there's
lots of faces I haven't seen, you really don't know what you're
missing. On Sunday the water temperature was 14.0c and the
viz was 5 metres+ and it's not even July. It don't get much
better than this.
Valentine's Day 2014
was an appropriate night for the Llantrisant Sub-Aqua Clubs
annual Las Vegas event. Fifty plus members and friends, all
in their best bib and tucker, attended Taffs Well Rugby
Club to have a flutter on the card table and a spin of the
credit to Sue and Dave Bennett, associate members of the club
who have recently taken on the roles of entertainment and
fund-raising. Sue rallied support from club members to assist
in preparing a fantastic buffet.
Dave helped with prizes for the grand auction and raffle,
he set up tables and on the night he sold roses to the men
to give to the ladies, what a romantic!
was provided by artist Lian Gill who sang popular songs we
all knew the words to.
In between activities Peter Rees presented his annual Diving
Officers award. This years recipient was Richy
Grice, training officer for the club and SAA regional coach.
Towards the end of 2012 Richy was involved in a nasty accident
at work. He spent weeks in hospital and underwent several
skin grafts. But through it all he kept touch with the club,
organising training events and monitoring trainees progress.
Richys dedication to the club deserved recognition.
was a huge success and over £640 was raised for club
tickets @ 12.50
sold on the night
prizes & roses
Dive Season Gets Underway.
By Phil Dewhurst
what seemed a never ending Winter, on Saturday 22nd April
LSAC's 2013 dive season finally got underway. It was a lovely
day, blue sky and bright sunshine that encouraged the temperature
gauge to rise to the giddy heights of double figures. But
before my report of the day's events I must make mention of
the hard work put in by Mike O'leary, Billy Whizz, Richy Grice
and others who helped move the boats and the equipment cupboard
from Hasguard Cross to the yacht club at Gelliswick. Boys,
you done good.
members turned up for the all important first dive trip of
2013: dive marshal for the day was Jeff Canning, he was joined
by John Crabhook Evans who was anxious to get into the water
before the scallop season ends; Andrew, Paul and Martin have
been shore diving since Christmas Day but were keen to get
out on the boat. I had intended to go fishing but having seen
the weather forecast and woken up to bright sunshine I'd changed
plans and decided to at least join the party and if I felt
brave enough I'd try a dive. And there was Claire, a new member
who had joined the club after moving to Wales. Claire comes
from Yorkshire, other than that she seems quite normal.
No matter how much hard work goes into preperation the dive
season traditionally starts with [minor] problems, and today
was no exception. We'd been given a lecture the previous Monday
and were assured that the GPS, the radio and the [boat] engine
had been tested. Nothing could go wrong. We stripped the covers,
loaded oxygen, first aid kit, throw line, tools and checked
for anchor and dive flag. AOK. Fuel contents were uncertain,
one of the only jobs left is to repair the connection to the
fuel gauge. I've been a member of LSAC for 14 years, the fuel
gauges on the boats have never worked in that time, it's something
I can live with but it does mean that before every trip you
need to top the fuel up. Jeff isn't keen on towing, no-one
else volunteered so Muggins, AKA Phillthepost said he'd do
it. I've driven the tow vehicle before....several times, but
not for a few months and there are differences between this
and my little Vauxhall. First off, the Pajero has a diesel
engine so you have to turn on the ignition and wait 10 seconds.
I remembered that. Then the gearbox is automatic, mine is
manual. The engine started, first try, I put the stick in
drive and pressed the accelerator. Nothing happened. I looked
at Jeff who was riding shotgun, he looked at me. Brakes
locked on the trailer. My diagonsis didn't register.
I tried again, the Pajero wheels spun and the trailer moved
tried and tried and....eventually the brakes freed off. It's
a common problem, so the experts tell us but they offer no
solution. We headed for Tesco's, source of everything including
petrol. I felt quite confident sat there, big man, big car
towing big boat. We turned into the petrol station and pulled
up...at the wrong side of the pumps. Jeff tried to stretch
the pump hose but it wouldn't. I'll go around again,
I said almost taking out pump number 5 as I swung the wheel.
This time I got it right. Jeff filled the tank, £20
worth, it was hardly worth the effort, we need those fuel
we made to leave, drivers who had witnessed my previous manouvres
volunteered, to takes their vehicles off the forecourt. As
the season progesses I will improve...honest.
We loaded our dive gear, Andrew Hughes was volunteered to
reverse the boat to the water, the manouvre went like clockwork
and with Jeff at the helm we headed out to sea. It's a glorious
feeling, the wind in your face, St. Anne's Head in the distance,
makes you glad you remembered to wear that wooly hat and put
that sun cream on. Our destination was Skokholm and we held
on tight as Jeff negotiated the Atlantic swell that is an
accepted at the entrance to the Haven. The journey took about
20 minutes, mid point, Jeff asked for volunteers and I took
the wheel for the remainder of the trip, taking care to slow
down as we approached the islands and encountered puffins
and shearwaters catching their lunch.
anchored on the South side of the island where there was shelter
from the swell. Martin and Claire kitted up and were soon
in the water, they descended via the anchor line, Andrew and
Paul kitted up and followed them. Jeff and John prepared their
gear, they wouldn't kit up until the others were back on board.
As we waited I tried to decide, would I dive or would I wait
and go in on the second dive? Martin and Claire surfaced and
finned towards the boat. What's the viz like,
I asked. 12 metres, Martin replied, or was that
½ metre? Yes, ½ a metre sounds about right.
.. and the water temperature was around 7.0C. I decided I'd
wait until the second dive. As we got the divers on board
a blob surfaced, Andew and Paul were ready for pick up, we
moved gently into position, the recovery went textbook.
John Evans kit up is a task not to be taken lightly. During
the past few years he has updated his kit to include a shoulder
type weightbelt, even so John has straps and clips that defy
logic. But evntually he was ready. Turn my air on Phil,
he asked. I did. Air hissed from his first stage, I turned
the valve off then on again. Hiss. I looked at the valve.
had spent the outbound journey telling Claire, a person relatively
new to diving, about his diving history which in fairness
goes back some forty years. Claire seemed impressed. The rest
of us had heard it before. As I examined the valve on John's
bottle it didn't seem believable that he had connected his
valve...the wrong way around. I whispered in his ear, his
look said...no I haven't. My grin said...oh yes you have.
We spent 10 minutes de-kitting John. He turned his tank around,
we waited another 10 minutes whilst he put his kit back on
then tested his valve, it gave air. He dropped nto the water
and, together with his buddy Jeff they descended.
I waited for the divers to ascend I watched Puffins and shearwaters
fishing and feeding. It's worth coming out just for that.
John and Jeff surfaced in different places and at times, see
things don't change.
Martin and Claire had a second dive, John declined, he was
cold as was Jeff and Paul. I prepared for a dive with Andrew
but as I went to put my fins on something wasn't quite right
and I called off. Sorry Andrew.
We arrived back in Gelliswick just after full tide. The boat
floated onto the trailer, we got out of our dive gear, washed
the boat and put her to bed. Andrew, Martin and Paul went
back to Haven Divers to re-charge their tanks, I'll bet they're
back in the water again tomorrow. Claire said she had enjoyed
her day, she admitted to feeling a bit out of it whilst we
put the boat away but we assured her she'd find her nitch.
Claire is a good diver and will be an asset to the club and
though she's a Yorkshire lass she's alreet... honest. John
Jeff and myself went for a pint in the club FelinFoel Double
Dragon, nectar, and only £2.80 a pint...so we had another.
Roll on next weekend.
Suits and Pickled Onions.
Monte Carlo Night 22nd March 2013
and I attended the club's Monte Carlo night held at the Taff's
Well rugby club. The event was 'black tie', no problem there,
Sandra has at least a thousand long dresses and I have evening
suits from my days when I was somebody or at least when I
thought I was somebody. Martin, AKA Captain Sensible, had
volunteered to pick us up on his way through from Sully, I'd
have loved to have heard his sat-nav voice along this route
but hey-ho, it gave me plenty of time to prepare.
I bathed and shaved and
then went to dress. My shirt
felt a bit tight but the top button fastened and my collar
looked OK with an elastic bowtie. It was when I tried my trousers
that the problem started; the fasteners at the waist wouldn't
meet. I breathed in and stretched the material, the clip clipped
"Where's my other dinner suit," I shouted to my
wife who was trying to choose between a strappy number and
something more sensible.
"What other dinner suit," she replied.
"The one with the bigger trousers,"
"That is the suit with the bigger trousers," she
said, "I gave your other to the charity shop last year
because you said the trousers didn't fit.
It couldn't be, she'd made a mistake, I hunted through the
wardrobe, my quilted waistcoat from years back, my funeral
mac, my dress suit, my fishing suit. "Must have a chuck
out here," I mumbled to myself, but there was no sign
of a dinner suit. I took my trousers off again and looked
at the measurements. 40 Waist, bloody hell, I knew I'd put
on the odd pound but
I tried again, this time with the
adjustment at maximum stretch. The clip fastened. I breathed
out slowly, feeling the material stretch to its limit. Sod
it I thought, they'll bed in and I'll bet I'm not the only
one there with a big belly.
Captain Sensible was cutting it fine, I guessed he'd blame
his satnav but for once technology wasn't at fault, "12
minutes late, heavy traffic on the link road," I could
see images of Reggie Perrin. It was an awful night, rain,
driving wind and freezing cold. Up north they'd had snow but
thankfully it hadn't reached us. I hadn't been Ponty way for
ages but we found Taff's Well rugby club managing to avoid
that sneaky speed cam at the bottom of Nantgarw and the maze
of road works around Moy Road.
The tables were set out lovely, the buffet looked superb,
they had Felinfoel Double Dragon on tap
and Philip wasn't
driving. We sat with Jeff Canning and his good lady and Mike
Rees and Pat. Most of the others had arrived, I did a rough
count, 35 with a few stragglers to come, not bad. We chatted
and enjoyed the free peanuts. More guests arrived. It was
good to see Mac and Mrs Mac. Mac stopped diving a couple of
years ago, sensible chappie, but fair play, he still comes
to the dos. Then I saw Lyn and smiled. His belly looked about
the same size as mine. "Bet he's trousers are tight as
well," I smirked to myself.
The room filled quickly, I recognised most people, Andrew,
Paul and their better halves, Karen, Mr. Karen and their daughter
Beth, Richie Grice complete with waistcoat, Ceri and Sam.
Young Mathew looked smart: he's going to be a great diver
and a good club member. Diving Officer Peter Rees arrived
just in time for the buffet. His dinner suit fitted well,
I'll bet he has more than one.
The buffet tasted better than it looked, if that's possible,
there was sliced ham, quiche, sausage rolls, sandwiches with
various fillings, samosas, sausages, pasties and for those
that wanted, there was a variety of salads. But the crème
de crème was the cheese board. There were magnificent
cheeses: stilton, brie, blue cheese and a white, maybe Leicester,
with apricot. I went back twice or was it three times. Then
Sam wheeled out a shed load of gateau and cheesecake. The
ladies stormed the barricades Sandra was orgasmic.
The gambling took time to get off the mark but thanks to Richie
who seems to have inherited his mike skills from the Diving
Officer, people were soon sat around the tables dying for
a chance to be parted from their wonga. Richie played croupier,
I'm sure he's done the job before, maybe in a past life. He's
too bloody good at it for sure. Peter Rees manned the roulette
wheel though Sandra said he kept pressing his hand on the
side of the table. "No, not Peter," I told her,
"he wouldn't do that". But it didn't take me long
to get rid of twenty quid's worth of chips. I watched
I couldn't see anything.
The young singer, Jay, only twenty years of age. My old mum
would have said, "He'll break a few hearts." Jay
put real feeling into songs old and new, his first session
lasted over half an hour and he received loud applause. During
the break Peter Rees took centre stage to announce his awards.
I was mellowing, pleasantly full and half way down my fifth
Double Dragon. The fastener at the top of my trousers was
undone and I was enjoying a freedom moment; until, "and
the winner of the award for the person who in the opinion
of the Diving Officer has done the most for the club throughout
last season is
there should be a drum roll here but...Phil
Dewhurst." Bloody Hell. I speedily fastened my pants,
checked the zip and stood up. My stomach heaved against the
waistband, I hoped it wouldn't make a break for freedom. We
were sat near the stage so it wasn't too far to walk. I accepted
the shield, Peter shook my hand, Captain Sensible took a picture
which I'm sure was eclipsed with my belly. I mumbled my thanks
and sat down. I was gob-smacked. Why me, I could think of
other people more deserving but Peter had chosen me. Thank
you Peter. Andrew Hughes was awarded a cup for being the wettest
diver. Andrew is always in the water, I'm sure he'll grow
Peter left just after that, apparently he had guests down
from North Wales. So who would do the raffle and the auction?
Enter Richie Grice, good old Richie. Six months ago he was
at death's door, an accident at work resulted in severe burns
and scalds but fair play, he fought back, he's even been diving
silly sod, 4 degrees C. you wouldn't catch me anywhere near
the water, but he's hard. Richie took the mike and Sam had
the raffle tickets in a jug. We'd bought a fiver's worth as
you do; there were some cracking prizes including a bottle
of liqueur. The tickets were drawn; I checked my numbers,
nothing. The liqueur went and the wine and the chocolate.
"343," shouted Richie, "red ticket." I
looked and looked again. 343, "Mine," I shouted.
Sam brought my prize, a catering size jar of big pickled onions.
My face told the story.
Give em back when no ones looking," Sandra hissed. I
tried but Richie just smiled.
"Son of a bachelor," I smiled back. The jar of onions
sat on the table like a big Buddha. I looked into the dark
liquid, the pickles seemed set to attack. "We don't eat
pickles," I smiled hopefully at my table companions.
"Neither do we." Their smiles were polite but unmistakeable.
The pickles smiled too, "Looks like you got us for keeps,"
"Not bloody likely," My eyes narrowed.
It was time for the auction and there were some cracking prizes:
a slow cooker, a new fangled cooker, a brush to wash your
I quite fancied that, a quality easter egg and
a lovely bunch of flowers. Richie took the mike again and
was soon in full flow. The bidding got heated, £5, £10.
The flowers went for £48 in a bidding war between Paul
the Gas and Mike Rees. "It's only money, "said Mike
then told everyone they were for his wife to celebrate their
48th wedding anniversary. There wasn't a dry eye to be seen.
Mike and Pat are a lovely couple and an asset to the club.
Jay came back on and managed to encourage couples onto the
floor. I won't call it dancing but we shuffled around to Jay's
dulcet tones. It was quite dreamy
or maybe the seventh
pint was kicking in. All too soon it was time to go. 12-15am.
I've not been up after midnight since I don't know when. Martin
drove home. The weather had improved slightly and the roads
were pretty clear. At the door I waved goodbye. Good old Martin,
he's a genuine friend, always ready to put himself out. I
try to reciprocate but somehow never manage. I must offer
to drive in the summer then he can have a few pints. He's
quite a boy when he's had a few, so they say.
Where do you start with the thanks? There's Sam who organised
the night, sold the tickets and prepared that magnificent
buffet. Then there's Richie for his sterling work on the microphone,
and Ceri, I'm sure Ceri features in there somewhere and there's
Lyn who arranged the room. If I've missed anyone out I'm sorry.
You were all magnificent. I'm proud to be a member of such
a good organisation. I hope you all enjoyed yourselves as
much as Sandra and me. Go back and tell everybody who didn't
come what a marvellous night they missed. We must have made
a few bob for the club but that wasn't really the purpose
which was to get everyone together and have a bloody good
time, friends, that purpose was achieved. THANK YOU. THANK
YOU. THANK YOU.
PS. I managed to slip the jar of pickled onions into
the auction, they weren't too pleased but I grinned as I sneaked
the jar back onto the table. Mac got them, he must have had
some chips left from the gambling or maybe he'd put a bid
in out of sympathy, whatever. The last I saw was him struggling
down the club steps cwutching his giant jar. Don't drop 'em
I thought, for God's sake don't drop 'em.
I Suited To Dive?
By Phil Dewhurst
As I progressed
through the training programme with Llantrisant Sub-Aqua Club
I was advised by all the training officers to start my open
water diving in a wetsuit.
need to get a couple of seasons under your belt, learn to
control your bouyancy proper like before you buy one of them
new fangled drysuits, all them valves to open and close, it's
too much to take in when you're learning like. Start in a
wetsuit then, if you need to, though I never bothered, you
can have a drysuit, it'll have to be made,one knowledgeable
trainer told me, and it'll cost you a bloody fortune.
I wondered what else he ould say to put me off. He was thinking
hard but I saw a sentence forming. And it'll leak.
He beamed. They alus leak, that's why I never bothered,
that's why I still dive in my wetsuit, winter and summer,
7 mil, keeps me toasty warm, I've even dived when we had to
empty t'boat 'o snow and clear ice off 't consul and I were
still warm enough. And I believed him.
first open-water dive was Martin's Haven. I had fins and a
mask but I hired regs, a bcd, a weightbelt two bottles charged
with air and a 7 mil suit from West Wales Divers. That was
in the days when WWD was an aladin's cave of a dive shop,
you couldn't ask for the wrong thing, they had rack upon rack
of dive gear, all the fancy names all tagged with little price
tickets. The cost of hiring gear wasn't cheap but needs must
so I used my credit card hoping that Sandra wouldn't hit the
roof when the bill came through and I staggered out of the
door with half a ton of smelly neoprene, a tangle of hoses
and Uncle Tom Cobly and all.
in the car, I followed my instructor through the narrow lanes
to the National Trust car park at Martins Haven. We parked
up and I struggled into my wetsuit. The first layer of neoprene
was restrictive, the second layer almost cut me in half -
how people dress in rubber for their bedroom activities is
beyond me. Then we had to carry all our kit down to the beach.
Not funny, by the time I'd got my second tank over the boulders
I was well and truly knackered. The tide was going out exposing
even more boulders. I needed help kitting up, finding somewhere
to connect all those rubber tubes and where the hell do all
those straps fit together? But eventually we were ready. With
the help of, I think it was Mr. Ceri Jones, I made my way
into the water up to my knees...then I fell over. Luckily
I didn't damage any equipment, oh, and I didn't damage myself.
It was early May, the sun was shining and I'd sweated cobblers
carrying that gear. But the water was freezing. I felt it
creep inside the suit, and almost immediately I needed a wee.
Then I remembered what the man at the shop told me But I couldn't
hold and for a couple of seconds the water was warm again.
remember that first cold water dive till my dying day. Eventually
my body got aclimatised and I enjoyed the experience but that
was my first and last time at Martin's Haven. I vowed never
to go there again unless I could take a pack mule. Back at
West Wales Divers I spoke with Dai and Amanda. I always found
this couple who owned and ran WWD, very friendly and helpful.
Amanda advised me to buy a drysuit. I told her what my instructor
had said but she asured me that with some initial training
I would cope with the mysteries of bouyancy control. So I
took the plunge so to speak and splashed the cash. My first
drysuit was manufactered by Typhoon. It was a low priced model
made from membrane. The suit was part of a composite deal
and included an undersuit, hood and a pair of ankle weights.
I think the price was around £370 and together with
a shotted weightbelt plus shot I parted company with just
over £420. Amanda arranged for me to have a lesson on
how to manage in the water. There was a training pool at the
back of the shop, I squeezed myself into the undersuit, then
struggled into the drysuit. The weightbelt weighed a ton.
I breathed in, strapped it around my waist then breathed out.
It stopped in place. By he time I'd added a BCD I wondered
how I'd ever manage to move. My instructor for the day, a
polite young man who looked young enough to be my grandson
slipped into his drysuit as though he was putting on a leisure
suit then he fitted a tank to a BCD and flung it over his
shoulders as though it were a feather pllow. Not for the first
time I wondered if this was really my scene We climbed down
the steps and entered the water. It was a strange experience,
floating there without feeling cold or wet. But one I thought
I could get used to. David, that's what I think the child's
name was showed me the valves and how to use them. Later that
day we repeated the process at St, Brides Bay. This was my
first dry dive.
used that Typhoon suit for three or four years. It leaked
occasionally and I replaced the neck and wrist seals but over
time I noticed that water was coming in somewhere and I'd
have to take action. I spoke with other club members, most
dived in drysuits, most admitted to getting wet. I learnt
that if you made sudden movemnts to look around, the water
crept in. If you reached out to 'examine' a lobster or a crab,
water crept in. Towards the end of it's life my Typhhoon suit
leaked around the crotch and under the arms on every dive.
It was time to look for another suit.
the dive show, held in Birmingham, there's always some bargains.
A couple of year's previous I'd bought a lovely 3 mil wetsuit
and had used it extensively on holidays to the Carribean and
the Maldives. So I searched through the racks. Why do manufacteres
only cater for young slim divers? At least some of the men
I see diving have a similar shape to myself and after all
I've paid a fortune for my beer gut. The task seemed hopless.
There were plenty of sm and lge, even a choice in xl. But
when it came to xxl there weren't many to choose from. I asked
at the Beaver stand Oh grow up for God's sake - a sympathetic
man said he'd have a look. I could hear him out the back,
searching the rails and eventually he came back with a suit.
Try this on, he said. I tried the suit on over
my clothes and it fitted with room to spare . My Typhoon suit
was black. This suit was blue and grey. It looked expensive
and I was surprised when I looked at the ticket to see the
price £385. Almost he same price I'd paid for the Typhoon.
Again I used my credit card.
had to wait for the new dive season to try my suit and so
Easter Monday, together with a few other nutters we launched
a boat at Broadhaven and headed for Stack Rock. It was a grey
old day, the air temperature according to the thermometer
in the car was 9.0C. I couldn't imagine the water being much
warmer. My new suit looked the part. It had slipped on lovely
over my new set of thermals,the neck seal wasn't strangling
me and the wrist seals weren't threatening to cut off my circulation.
I couldn't wait to get into the water so as soon as we'd set
the anchor I grabbed my dive bag. I was determined to be first
in. Kitting up was a piece of cake. My BCD fitted easily around
the brand new membrane, I'd changed the low pressure hose
to fit onto the new valve and for safety I'd added a couple
of kilos extra weight.
check completed, I looked to my dive partner, nodded then
rolled backwards off the boat. Freezing cold water ran down
my neck. Bollocks. But I carried on with the dive...for 15
minutes until the cold mad it impossible. Later that week
I took the suit in and had a smaller neckseal fitted. It appeared
that though I may have a xxl gut I have an xl neck.
time out I was anxious I rolled off the boat fully expecting
that cold cold feeling but there wasn't one...at least, not
around my neck. This time it was down my leg. I rang Beaver.
A nice young lady offered to have my suit tested if I could
send it to them which I did. Two days later the same lady
rang me back. A pressure test revealed two small holes in
the material. Where had I used the suit? Was it snaggy?
I am a bottom crawler but I was pretty sure I hadn't damaged
the suit. Where do you hang your suit when you've washed
it? This was a starnge question but I told the lady
I hosed the suit and left it to dry on the rotary dryer. Do
the legs dangle to the floor? Another strange question.
I answered in the affirmative. And do you have a dog.
I could imagine the scene. Two dangly legs and an inquisitive
puppy, we'd recently acquired a minature schnauzer pup, with
repaired the suit, it came back with two neat patches on right
leg and I've used it ever since. It hasn't been my best buy,
I've had it patched several times and the suit has needed
several replacement neck and cuff seals. Occasionally, very
occasionally I've had a nearly dry dive but in the main I've
had to strip off completely following a dive day and put on
dry underclothes. I've recently changed the neckseal from
latex to neoprene. The first fit was disastrous. Water poured
in but the second fit seemed ok and I had my first almost
dry dive for ages. But somehow on the way back to base I managed
to put a tiny tear once again in the material in the leg.
So the suit is currently awaiting repair at Haven Dive Services.
Maybe it's true, there's no such thing as a drysuit. Some
club members have paid over £1000 for their suits and
they reckon they stay dry, but I suppose if I'd paid that
sort of dosh I'd be tempted to say the same. Maybe I should
invest in a quality wetsuit. Or maybe, as I approach retirement
I should stick to warm water diving. But I'm sure I said that
last year...and the year before.
There's A Will There's A Way.
By Phil Dewhurst
a poor weather forecast eight divers turned up at Monty's
on Sunday prepared to defy the elements in the pursuit of
their sport. The wind was gusting from the South West and
following some discussion it was agreed if we launched from
the Haven our options would be limited. So we decided to launch
from Broahaven beach. Chris Elsworthy voluteered to drive
the Pajero. Good old Chris. You'll learn in time when and
when not to volunteer.
tide that morning was 07-00am. By the time we had the boat
ready the the sea was half way down the beach and wind against
tide was creating a surf to match anything you'd see in Cornwall.
But we've been here before, we knew what to do...So why is
it we always cock the launch up? Chris backed the trailer
down to the water, we unhitched, fitted the jockey wheel and
the push bar and we heaved. Nothing happened. The trailer
wheels had dug into the soft sand. So we towed the trailer
out and tried again. This time, we got it into the water and
pushed the boat off...and we grounded. There was lots of shouting
lots of suggestions but with the tide falling there was only
one option. So we winched the boat back onto the trailer and,
using a rope hauled it out onto dry sand. Our second attempt
was more successful. We got the trailer to the water and before
the wheels could sink in we started pushing. It wasn't easy
but with a bit of huffing and puffing and a lot of non-technical
language we got the wheels into deep enough water and the
boat floated off.
wasn't the end though. The surf was threatening to turn us
over, the crew couldn't board, the deck was swamped. We ran
out to calmer water, emptied the hull through the dicky and
waited until Chris had parked the trailer and the Pajero.
Boarding was a challenge but we managed and were soon nose
into the wind heading out to sea. Conditions worsened leading
to a change in plan. We had intended to dive around Martins
Haven but instead decided to head for Stack Rock. Here, we
found some shelter. Our divers kitted up and, in their allotted
pairs, rolled off the boat then used the anchor line to descend
to the seabed. For reasons that would take too long to explain,
I was wearing a 5 mil wetsuit and though I'd dived using this
suit the previous week and not felt the cold, today, with
the wind whipping through and a grey sky I just didn't fancy
the dive. So I stayed on board and the remaining divers went
in as a threesome.
the divers were underwater I scanned the rocks for life, there
were seals, cormorants and two peregrine falcons diving acrobatically
as they chased the gulls and the pigeons. The first blob came
up by the rocks. I started the engine, unhitched the painter
leaving the anchor on a buoy and made my way slowly to the
orange sausage. Another blob popped up, some distance away
from the first then a solitary diver; it was Connor. He had
lost his buddy and following procedure had made his ascent.
I helped him on board. Meantime two more divers came to the
surface. As we were getting them on board, a third blob hit
surface, then another one. Andrew Hughes and Paul Goddard
are proving themselves very good divers They surfaced almost
at the anchor rope and couldn't wait to tell us that amongst
the marine creatures they had spotted was an octopus. And
they had a video record to prove it. All the divers reported
underwater visibility around 3-4 metres and plenty to see.
surface viz was failing fast. Black clouds were forming over
Solva and the rain was sheeting across the rock. We went see
if we'd get a second dive at the Hen and Chicks but the sea
was forming into big swells so we did the sensible thing and
headed back to shore. The tide had just turned. Chris backed
the trailer to the water and, learning the lesson from the
launch, we unhitched and got it moving before it had chance
to sink in the mud. Recovery went well. We used the rope to
tow the boat and trailer onto firm sand and 30 minutes later
we were back at Montys. It hadn't been the best of days but,
by using a bit of common sense and working together we managed
a dive, encountering visibility as good or better than we've
experienced for most of the season. Andrew showed his video
at the club meeting the following Monday. The quality of the
images was superb, he had captured the octopus both stationery
and on the move. Peter Rees, as good an underwater photographer
as you are, I think you've got some competition.
Big Bite Duck Race
By Phil Dewhurst
our Entertainment Officer, Samantha Ady, organised a duck
race and the club invested in 600 yellow plastic ducks to
be released down the river Taff. We sold the ducks for £1
each on the stall and around the showground, meanwhile Training
Officer Richie Grice assisted by club members and SAA Regional
Rep Ceri Jones, donned their drysuits and erected barriers
across the river to catch the ducks on the finish line.
As the start of the race got closer Richie managed to persuade
the Lord Mayor to release our ducks from the landmark old
bridge at the top of the town. Crowds gathered along the river
bank to cheer their ducks on and the Mayor was on hand at
the finish to have a photo taken with the winner. There was
almost as much excitement after the race as the crowds stayed
on to cheer our boys as they valiantly collected stray ducks
that escaped through the barriers. All 600 ducks were collected.
A donation from the club will be made to the Lord Mayor's
20,000 people visited the show, our stand complete with banners
looked very professional and attracted lots of interest. I
highly recommend other SAA clubs to get involved, get their
name into the public domain and showcase our sport. It's a
great way to attact new members and if our expereience is
anything to go by, it can be a whole lot of fun as well.
up the barrier
for the ducks
and the Lord Mayor launch the ducks
the ducks go down the river
picking up the strays
and Lloyd testing the current
and Richie chasing the first past the post
the ducks at the barrier
with the first and second ducks
Lord Mayor with the winning duck, number 41
down the barrier
Officer Sam Ady presenting the first prize
stuffing his face!
by Phil Dewhurst
You'd think that if it's happened once, you'd make damn sure
it doesn't happen again. If only life were that simple.
A couple of Sundays ago, we met up as usual, at Monty's. There
were four of us, Andrew, Connor, Richie and myself. Richie
was dive marshal for the day. We loaded Cobra 1 and headed
for Dale. The weather was fine though a keen easterly wind
was blowing straight into the slip which for once was clear
backed the trailer down to the water, we un-hitched and prepared
to launch only to discover, the handle for the winch was missing.
Last time out, the winch handle, which on the new trailers
is detatchable, must have dropped off en-route...either that
or it had been nicked but whatever, we were minus one handle.
This in itself didn't present much of a problem. The tide
was rising, the trailer wheels were soon under water, Richie
jumped back into the Pajero, gunned the engine and jerked
forward. The boat slid off the rollers, job done. With Connor
at the helm we headed out to sea and the mystery of the missing
winch handle became another talking point.
anchored off Skomer and had two very pleasant dives in and
around Bull Hole. The sun was shining and though the wind
had picked up, Richie managed to find shelter tucked in below
the cliffs. There were seals, puffins, shearwaters and razorbills,
what more could you ask for?
We came back via Jack Sound, Richie, on the wheel, negotiating
big swells and white water to take us safely back to the calm
of the haven. Through the day we'd discussed how we would
recover the boat, if possible, we'd float it onto the trailer.
by the time we got to the slip, the tide had dropped, we'd
need to run the trailer onto the mud and we'd need a working
winch to get the boat back safe. We tied the boat up to the
pontoon, Richie dashed back to Monty's for the winch handle
from Cobra 2 and we relaxed in the warm sunshine He was back
in about thirty minutes complete with handle, it took about
10 minutes to recover the boat: an hour later we were back
following bank holiday Monday we intended taking Cobra 1 but
a problem with the battery meant we had to switch to Cobra
2 instead. Again, there were only four of us, Jeff, Chris
the Kiwi, myself and John, 'Crabhook', Evans.
we prepared the equipment I was conscious of events the previous
trip and the need to take the one remaining winch handle,
which, for safety, had been stored in the cupboard.
John Evans had been on a family holiday to Spain and hadn't
seen the new trailers. He was impressed and spent some time
examining the shiny metal and all the gubbins we'd added.
As I passed him the winch handle I told him the tale from
the previous trip.
went well, we needed fuel so Tesco at Milford Haven seemed
a wise move then down to Gelliswick where the slipway is wide
enough for anyone to negotiate, including me.
The tide was dropping fast so we rushed to load the kit and
the bottles, Kiwi Chris wanted to back the trailer down and
being a coward I had no hesitation in passing him the keys.
By this time the slip was dry but by using the launching buggy
we could manage.
un-hitched from the Pajero, connected the buggy and pushed
the trailer into water just about deep enough to effect a
launch, meantime, Jeff went to release the clip holding the
winch strap to the boat only to discover... the winch handle
We all looked at John; his eyes narrowed, his face went red,
for a moment, he was silent which, for anyone who knows him
is a rare event. He knew he'd fitted the winch handle to a
winch and in a subduded voice he admitted he'd fit the handle
to the winch on Cobra 1, not Cobra 2. So there we were, on
the mud, the tide receding fast and for the second time in
two outings... no winch handle.
sheer coincidence celebrated dive shop owner and valued club
member Greg Jewell was launching his boat and he too was stuck
in the mud, so with the help from both crews we managed to
push Cobra 2 into deep enough water to slide her off the rollers
then we repeated the process with Greg's boat.
The rest of the day went well and had two good dives off Skokholm.
back into Gelliswick the tide was well up the slip, we decided
we'd attempt to float the boat back onto the trailer but this
was more difficult than it seemed and we were struggling until
Gatchie Jones and Jill, who were enjoying the sunshine after
a day spent working on their boat, came along. Gatchie, resourceful
as ever, borrowed a winch handle that thankfully fitted our
winch. After this, recovery was a doddle.
We'd managed, again, and if I've learned anything at all from
the day it was that you can never check enough. And I'll bet
Crabhook won't let a trailer leave Monty's again without a
working winch ... complete with handle.
Kind Of Dive Holiday.
Lamaya Resort Marsa Alam Egypt.
by Phil Dewhurst
18th May 2011
always one on every flight and theyre always in the
seats near me, as I go to put my hand luggage into an empty
space in the overhead locker I hear a voice tell me, You
cant do that, Ive another case to go in there.
I look around; theres no reserve sign. Tough,
I should have told the giant of a man with his case poised
in mid air. But I didnt. Instead I find another gap
in the next locker. Whats the point? More to the point,
hes bigger than me. I make myself comfy, daps off, book
stored safe. Sandra has the bag with the earphones, neck-pillows,
eye shades, spare socks, sleeping tablets, tummy tablets,
We take off on time, the plane reaches cruising height, seat
belt sign goes off, theres a rush for the toilets. Nothing
changes. With five hours to go I settle down. The film starts;
Gullivers Travels; its crap but watch-able crap.
Cabin crew come around with their over-priced drinks. We order
two rum and cokes, tiny bottles of Bacardi and mega cans of
coke. Thatll be £11.30 Sir. Who cares,
were on holiday and anyway, Sandras paying. Im
glad weve ordered meals £7.50. Its
standard aircraft nosh but eating helps pass the time.
flight soon passes, we arrive on time. Theres a queue
to have our passports checked then another to go through the
scanners but all goes well and were soon outside in
the hot sun. Its 32c. Thomsons reps direct us
to the coach that will transfer us to our hotel, fifteen minutes
later were at the Lamaya resort.
Check in is quick and efficient. By the time we find our room
the cases have arrived, I tip the boys $5, theyre grateful
for the gesture, were grateful for the air conditioning,
its noisy but efficient. We have a king sized bed, lots
of cupboard space, a shower room and a separate room with
two sofa beds. Sliding doors lead out to one of three swimming
pools. We unpack quickly and within ten minutes were
enjoying a refreshing swim. Dinner is a relaxed affair, afterwards
over several rum and cokes, we chat with Peter and his family
and Mike and Pat Rees our companions for this holiday.
last visit to Lamaya was two years ago, were surprised
by not only how many of the staff we recognise, but how many
of them recognise us. Were greeted like old friends.
I get the feeling I must have been over generous with the
Its the same story at the dive centre and as a result
the formalities are completed in minutes. Im informed
that because Im a returning guest I dont need
to do a pre-dive check. Thank God for that, I store my dive
gear in my locker and book in for a dive.
At the briefing I list my qualification level and number of
dives; 500+. I look down the dive sheet. Some divers have
done ten dives, some twelve dives, some have completed twenty.
I see the others looking at the list. The dive master looks
at my entry, and smiles. Youve been here before?
I nod, and look around the table for re-action; Im a
briefing starts with safety procedures, dive signals then
the plan. I remember the dive site but listen along with the
eight other divers as the guide gives his spiel in English
then German then pigeon Italian. He tries a bit of Russian
but gives up when the guy from Moscow tell him, I speek
We don our suits and carry the kit to the jetty. En-route
I tell the guide this is my first dive this time but my third
visit to Coraya. How much weight do you use? He
Ive loaded my belt with 6 kilos
He looks at my girth. Youll need at least 8,
he tells me.
I dived with 6 in the Maldives, in January I reply
loud enough for the others to hear; theyre kitting up
but I can see theyre listening.
Theres lead on the rib if you need it. He
We load our gear onto the rib. Theres a strong wind.
Outside the bay there are white horses. Put your feet
in the straps and grip the handles, the guide demonstrates;
the skipper checks around then guns the twin engines. Were
off. Its a bumpy ride in the rib but within ten minutes
were at the dive site. Buddy teams had been selected
by the guide, my buddy is a biggish German guy, I smile; he
blanks me. Do I give a toss?
We roll of the boat in pairs, give the ok signal, the guide
gives the thumb down, divers descend, I lift the hose, squeeze
the button, nothing happens. I should be going down but Im
not. I put my head under the surface and see the other divers
sinking to the sea bed. I try again: lift the hose, press
the button to release air from my jacket, hear a re-assuring
hiss, still nothing happens. I look down. The guide is at
10 metres and signalling, Whats the problem?
My buddy is staring up at me. If looks could kill
not feeling so smug now. Mr. 500 dives and he cant even
descend tidy. I look to the boat. The skipper is leaning over
the tubes waving two kilo weights at me; I swim across and
stuff one in each pocket then try again. This time I sink.
The dive is good, we see the usual fish, the usual corals,
same old same old, but its good to be back and good
to be underwater. And the waters warm, my computer reads
25.C. Our dive lasts 50 minutes, back on board the rib I apologise
to the guide. Hes too polite to say told you so but
his expression tells me hes met smug bastards before
all the same. When we arrive at the jetty I add the two weights
+ another one to my belt. Im diving with Peter and Mike
later and cant afford another slip up. The plan is:
lunch then rest then another dive. The reality is: lunch,
one small beer, two glasses of rose wine then sleep. Bugger
The pattern for the week is soon established: get up at 08-00,
breakfast, usually three hard boiled eggs, crusty bread with
lashings of butter, two/three cups of tea then back to the
room for a lie down till 10-00am, down the dive centre at
10-20, get the kit together, briefing at 10-30, journey to
dive site, dive for an hour then back for lunch at 13-00.
I always intended to do another dive in the afternoon but
somehow never did.
did his check dive yesterday afternoon; Peter went along for
the dive. Today were diving together. The plan is to
drop in off the north reef and drift back to the jetty but
the wind is howling so we join a party who intend diving along
the south reef. Its a fifteen minute journey by speed
boat but should be a better dive.
briefing is given in a similar fashion to the one I sat in
on yesterday. We list our qualifications and number of dives,
I note Peters entry reads 1100+ dives and I thought
I was a smug bastard. The guide takes his time with the safety
issues and ends by telling us, Please check all your
equipment before you leave the jetty. After yesterdays
episode I listen and nod. We load our kit onto the rib then
climb aboard. Its a rough ride, the wind has whipped
the sea into a frenzy, we climb the waves and drop down the
other side, the kids think its great, the over twenty
ones hang on for grim death.
the dive site we kit up. Theres a problem with Peters
tank, the valve isnt seating, theres air leaking
you check your gear on the jetty?
roll off the boat, all of us except Peter.
is better, those extra weights have worked, I sink like a
stone and feel very comfy. Mike and I buddy up, we dont
see a great deal but its a pleasant, relaxed dive. After
45 minutes we shoot a dmsb to the surface and ascend slowly.Back
on board, Peter has fixed the problem using his knife as
a makeshift screwdriver. At the jetty he tells us after wed
gone down he sneaked a crafty twenty five minutes on a solo
dive much to the displeasure of the boat skipper.
glorious day and the wind has dropped back, slightly. We meet
at the dive centre and join our group to listen to the briefing.
We load our gear on the rib and climb aboard, everybody else
is kitted up except us three. The guide smiles sympathetically
and sighs. Eet is little ride to site, we kit up first,
save time, I told you at briefing. We smile back. Dont
worry, he says, you can kit up when we stop.
The other divers looked on Bloody Inglis. We kit up at the
site, it didnt make a deal of difference.
Backward roll off the boat, Mike, myself and Peter are a team
for at least five minutes, then Peter finds something worth
with his camera. After that he was a trail of
bubbles somewhere to the rear. Mike and I carried on. Eventually
Peter catches up.
Sunday 22nd May
Were getting into a routine and even though Mike had
said he was having a day off hes there at the dive centre
with his kit. Out guide looks to be about 12 years old. He
gives the briefing then tells us he isnt coming in the
water. We drop to 10 metres then down to another wall at 15
metres. I signal to Mike Im going over, he hovers above.
I descend, 20, 25, I level out at 27 metres, I can see Mike
above me, Peters bubbles rise somewhere in the distance.
Theres not a lot to see, I re-join Mike and we drift
slowly along the reef. There are two other divers in front
of us; I recognise them from the rib. They drift along slowly,
stopping here and there to look. They look so relaxed and
remind me very much of Lyn and Mac from the club.
We see lion fish, puffers, clown fish, moray eels and just
before the forty minute mark a turtle. He was swimming along
in the blue, not a care in the world. I fin over expecting
him to shoot off but he didnt. Mike joins me and we
spend a few moments in his company, I managed to take some
close up photos before he decides hes had enough and
turns towards the reef. Peter catches up with us and we fizz
off at 10 metres amongst colourful corals before ascending
slowly to our safety stop.
I had planned to visit the water park, a-joining the hotel,
after lunch but the beer and the wine. What else can you say?
Monday 23rd May
This is my last but one diving day. Usual meet up and briefing,
theres only the three of us
until a German guy
turns up, hes mixed his days up. But we accommodate
him. Hes only open water qualified so the guide, who
wasnt planning on diving, has to come in the water.
We drop in on what is known as the pinnacles and descend to
29 metres then ascend to keep within de-compression limits.
The colours are beautiful, the fish life stunning. Our dive
lasts 52 minutes.
Todays plan is: lunch, then snorkelling but by now you
have an idea whats going to happen and youre spot
Tuesday 24th May
My last dive; Mike isnt coming and Peter almost
doesnt make it due to a dose of the Pharaohs Revenge.
Two Loperamide later though he thinks hell risk it.
The wind is bending the palm trees double and the bay is a
mass of white horses. Were supposed to be going North
so far Ive only dived South. The guide says we
cant follow the plan; well have to dive south.
What the hell, at least well get wet and theres
no such thing as a bad dive. Briefing, get the kit together,
I could nearly do this blind fold.
Aboard the rib we hang on as wind and waves buffet us. I lose
the strap off my hat and have to ride with one hand on my
head. After ten minutes we stop. Kitting up is a challenge
but eventually were all ready. The guide counts 1, 2,
3. We roll in. Its calm beneath the surface but above
us we can see waves thundering against the reef. Peter and
I descend; 20, 25, 30 metres. Were at the bottom of
a pinnacle. In the rocks banded shrimp play around a mammoth
moray, a giant puffer fish sleeps on the white sand, groupers
lurk in search of a meal. We rise to 20 metres and swim around
a coral garden. The diving here is so relaxed. Our dive lasts
52 minutes. We swim into the blue and send up a buoy.
On the surface theres no sign of our boat. The sea is
rough and Im glad of the 50 bar reserve. I keep my regulator
in my mouth and my mask on. Eventually the boat appears. The
skipper has seen us. Other divers have ascended at different
points, were the last on board. The guide does a head
count, hes relieved to see us all back safe. The trip
to the jetty is hairy but we make it without incident.
For the last time I wash my gear in one of three tanks available
at the dive centre. The sun is beating down. My stuff wont
take long to dry. After lunch I intend to pay my bill, buy
some tee-shirts and pack but two glasses of wine and a beer
or two then a snooze
.I can always pack tomorrow.
Going home today, I pick my gear up from the centre, pay
my bill and say my good-byes. But, Ill be back, I know
spend the day mooching around the hotel, checkout time is
12-30 but they let us keep our room for a bit longer, no charge.
Our cases are collected just before lunch, at 2-30pm we hand
the key into reception; the coach arrives at 3:00pm.
Peter and Mike wave us off. Our flight home is on time and
despite rumours of ash clouds from Iceland we land on time
at Gatwick airport. The temperature here is a chilly 9c.
our stay I did six dives, all from a speedboat, all at sites
about 20 minutes journey time south of the jetty. My bill,
including two tee-shirts came to around 200 euros. I took
all of my own gear but you can hire and the prices are reasonable.
The Coraya Dive Centre is 20 metres from the Lamaya resort.
Its a very efficient and very conservation minded operation
so much so they have sacks available for divers to collect
Diving is either from the jetty, in the bay, or via speedboat
to marks along the north and south reefs. There are also full
day trips each day to visit sites further down the coast.
travelled with Thomson. Our all inclusive package included
flights from Gatwick and transfers to and from the hotel.
The accommodation was superb; the food excellent with plenty
of variety and the drinks just kept coming. There are three
swimming pools, a gym, a spa and a library.
Night-time entertainment is low key but what is lacking in
professionalism is made up for in enthusiasm by a hard working
animation team. Children are catered for but theres
not a lot for teenagers.
flight time is five and a half hours. We booked extra luggage
allowance £17.50 for an extra 5 kilos, and on
board meals £7.50. Our 7 day package cost just
short of £600 each.
For a little bit more we could have stayed for a fortnight
but we had commitments. I like Coraya because its civilised
diving, the Lamaya resort is one place where I dont
feel so guilty going off diving and leaving Sandra on a sun-bed
with a nice cocktail for company.
View of the Coraya Medinat
Resort Holiday in the Maldives
Jan/Feb 2011 - by Phil Dewhurst
not the easiest destination to get to, flying direct from
Heathrow or Gatwick to Male in the Maldives takes over ten
hours, and it isnt the cheapest of places to visit.
Two weeks, all inclusive in a four star resort can cost anywhere
between £1800 to £3500 per person depending on
the type of accommodation and the season. Half board is a
cheaper option but with cocktails from the bar priced from
$10 U.S. and half a litre of gassy lager at $6 you can soon
run up a big bar bill.
Believe me, Ive been there, done it and hadnt
enough left to buy a tee-shirt. But once youve visited
the Maldive Islands youre spoiled for life. Its
our favourite place!
was our eleventh visit and as we were celebrating our fortieth
wedding anniversary we decided to push the boat out, so to
speak. We booked with Virgin, not the cheapest option, but
weve travelled with them before and enjoyed the little
add-ons not always available with lower priced agents.
January through to April is high season which added to the
bill as did the water bungalow we opted to stay in but as
this was a special event, cost consideration took a back seat
and overall we got what we paid for.
overnight flight from Heathrow with Sri-Lankan Airways was
a good experience. The plane wasnt full and we had extra
seats to sprawl out on, so for once, sleep was an option.
The in-flight food was good, as was the choice of films and
the bar service was excellent. Arriving at Male around midday
(The Maldives are five hours ahead of GMT) we breezed through
customs and immigration and were taken by coach to the seaplane
air taxis offer a quick service to the resorts and as Sandra
suffers from sea-sickness weve always used this option
for the transfer to our resort. The tiny de Havilland aircraft
was loaded with twelve passengers plus luggage and we were
soon airborne. The view from a seaplane is spectacular and
I never tire of looking out at the different colours of the
sea from the turquoise of the reef tops to indigo as the Indian
Ocean drops away to depth.
flight only took twenty five minutes. We first saw Ellaidhoo
as a tiny speck; it got bigger as the plane landed in the
clear waters of the lagoon then taxied up to a platform where
a Dhoni waited to take us to the Island.
a resort on the north east corner of the Ari Atoll is famous
for its house reef. A short swim from the white sandy beach
takes you to the reef edge where a wall drops some thirty
metres to the seabed.
The Dive and Sail Company who operate the dive centre offer
the option of diving on the house reef and daily boat trips
to neighbouring dive sites. I tried both options and had some
good dives and some that were spectacular.
the fortnight I dived nineteen times and saw turtles, manta
ray, eagle ray, sharks, napoleon wrasse and a host of colourful
reef fish including some I hadnt seen before most memorably
a zebra moray eel. I took some photos and though Im
not good with a camera you can see the amazing marine life
we saw on most dives. Sandra doesnt dive but she loves
to snorkel. When she wasnt sprawled on a lounger around
the pool, she was in the lagoon with mask, fins and snorkel
enjoying the rich marine life on view.
morning dive boat leaves at 8-30am: the first dive site tended
to be around thirty minutes travel allowing for some preparation
and a briefing en-route. The dive guide would select buddy
teams, check the direction of current and give instructions
as to how the dive would proceed.
Visibility was in excess of twenty metres and currents ranged
from nil to raging depending on the site: the stronger the
current the more chance of seeing the bigger fish. Normally
we would go around as a group but if the guide could sense
a buddy team was confident he would allow some freedom.
I had some good buddies and we spent time on the reefs away
from the main group. Our dives lasted around an hour and we
deployed a safety balloon before each ascent. Surface intervals
took up at least an hour during which time wed travel
back to the island. A second dive would be on shallower site
and wed arrive back in time for lunch. Both nitrox and
air are available in ten or twelve litre bottles.
cost of diving in the Maldives has been affected by rises
in fuel prices and the addition of a 3.5% tax. A single dive
cost $50 and boat fees are additional as is a charge for night
diving and any equipment you may want to hire but packages
are available to reduce your overall bill.
too soon our holiday was over but memories of the two weeks
we spent on Elaidhoo will stay with me forever. Our over water
bungalow was lovely: we had a big room with a king-size bed,
a luxury bathroom and a balcony with a view across the lagoon.
poolside restaurant was open-sided allowing cooling breeze
to counter the 30.0C heat.
The choice of food was excellent and the resort staff, who
come from all around Asia, were polite and efficient.
the day of our anniversary the manager arranged for our table
to be put on the beach. We had a candlelight dinner and were
served with a delicious selection of seafood, chilled wine
and to follow, a choice of deserts.
Afterwards, the boys from the restuarant decorated a table
chef brought out a celebration cake. Where else would you
get this service?
the seaplane left the lagoon and we rose into clear skies
I watched as our island became once more a tiny speck then
disappeared into the Indian Ocean. I turned to Sandra. She
was brown from the sun and looked very relaxed.
Would we come back? Too damned right we would. As long as
we have our health and as long as we can afford to, well
keep coming back to the Maldives and though there are loads
of places we havent visited, Ellaidhoo is definitely
on our "must go back to" list.
Chairman visits the club
Sub Aqua Club had a very special visitor to their club night
recently when S.A.A. Chairman Mike Burley who had spent a
pleasant weekend diving around the Pembrokeshire coast called
in on the club on his way home. Members packed the room to
listen as Mike spoke passionately about training and the club
system and he illustrated his points with examples he had
encountered in almost thirty years of diving experience.
complemented LASC on their Golden Club Award presented at
the recent Sub-Aqua Club AGM. He was impressed with the clubs
recruitment record twenty new members in the last two
years and he praised the clubs policy of taking
the sport out into the community at every opportunity.
answer to questions from the floor Mike told members that
he would like to see more regional instructors particularly
in Wales and the Midlands. LASC diving officer, Peter Rees,
spoke about the facilities available in Pembrokeshire which
are ideal for boat handling courses. He said that the club
had a good training record. Five members were due to sit their
club diver exam, four members were doing open water training
and several members were currently progressing to open water
instructor level. Mike made notes as Peter went on to say
there was a demand for courses in boat handling, diver first
aid and oxygen administration.
closing Mike spoke about the National Diving Officers
Conference which this year will be held at the RNLI training
centre Poole Dorset 13th November 2010. In recognition of
the priceless service provided by the Lifeboat Service to
all water users the Sub Aqua Association intend to donate
£1600, the proceeds of recent fund raising events.
Ponty Big Bite.
third year running the club had a stand at the Ponty Big Bite.
This festival held over three days in the beautiful Ynysangharad
Park Pontypridd attracted over 20,000 visitors. And there
was plenty of interesting things for them to see including
stalls laden with tempting foods and a full programme of displays
including dancing dogs, dancing kids, lumberjacks, even sheep
dogs herding ducks.
stand was in the Well Being Zone, a marquee occupied with
groups and societies promoting healthy lifestyles. Last year
we were situated next to the alcohol abuse team and I wondered
who had been telling tales. This year our neighbours were
from heart- start. One of their team was a diver so we managed
to get the latest info on how to handle an emergency.
used material kindly provided by the SAA and the Marine Conservation
Society; the kids were thrilled to pick up glossy pics showing
seal pups and coral. Irene from the SAA loaned us two stands
which added colour to our display and we took along a couple
Our DVDs shot on recent club trips and some stills of a training
event held at the National Dive Centre Chepstow had a constant
members took it in turns to man the stand and Im grateful
to Owain Jenkins, Mike Rees, Sam Ady, Mark Jones, Richie Grice,Tall
Paul, Paul The Gas Ray Williams, Gareth
H and young Rachael for their efforts; I dont know what
they all do for a living but if they show as much enthusiasm
in their work as they did promoting our sport their bosses
are lucky people. Apologies if I missed anyone out and please
tell me if I did so I can add your name to the list of honour.
name the diver competition was well supported;
the mannequin dressed as a diver was very realistic but Im
not sure about the open mouth and judging by some of the names
submitted neither were the public at large!
3:00pm on Sunday we were close to 150 names and telephone
numbers from people interested in having a go at Try-A-Dive
and just before the show closed Mark Jones got the 150th candidate
to enter their details on the list.
event closed at 5:00pm. Sunday. By 6:00 wed cleared
the stand and left the park. Mark Richie and me then retired
to Rickards for a well earned pint.
Over our drinks we talked about the stand, the club and diving
in general and concluded that Big Bite is a good showcase
for our sport and our club. Were already making plans
I put my hands up; Im guilty as charged, I did it and
in front of witnesses who cant be trusted to keep their
gobs shut. I thought that divers were supposed to be buddies
and remember Billy Whiz telling me not long after Id
joined the club that what happens on the boat stays on the
boat. So was I entitled to think that if I did something daft
whilst diving and my MATES were there to see me do it, theyd
be entitled to see the funny side, maybe pee themselves laughing
but the matter would be left there? I think so. Thats
not how it was. Somebody just couldnt keep schtum and
bad news spreads faster than swine flu.
heres the senario. Despite what happened, Id had
a good days diving and was on my way home. My mobile
was on the passenger seat amongst various junk. I was making
good progress and would soon be necking one or three Speckled
the phone went. I glanced at the tiny screen. The name Dai
Flip Flop was pulsing and an image formed in my mind of a
thin baldy guy who used to dive some time ago but then went
off to do cliff jumping or blancmange juggling or something
equally engrossing. What the hell could he want? I pulled
over, stopped the engine and the conversation went something
Dai what can I do for you?
heard you jumped in without your weight belt.
a text. Is it true
telling you. Got to go.
By now he was probably telling the world or at very least
the diving fraternity via twitter or face book and Ive
got a feeling that what happened to me today could well get
a late mention on the 6.00pm news.
I admit it. Phil jumped ship without his weight belt. And
I wondered why I couldnt get down, DOH!! Fair play to
the boys on the boat, when they eventually stopped laughing
they hauled me back on board, helped me de-kit then re-kit
and re-enter the water, this time plus 12Kg of lead
Then via the wonders of technology they began to tell the
course there is a serious side to this. When I first started
diving the need to carry out buddy checks was mandatory. BRWAF
- BCD, Releases, Weight belt, Air and Final Check
sense I hear you say, so why dont us experienced
divers do it? Is it because we think were too good for
any of that? Or because we just cant be bothered? Or
is it a combination of both? Whatever, I didnt check
my gear or my buddies and thus deserve to join the Hall
Of Shame that includes some very famous names including:
Richard Rattle who rolled off the boat minus his fins. We
were on the Smalls where the tide runs fast. He was some way
away before we stopped laughing and was fuming when we finally
managed to catch up with him.
Mark Jones who whilst diving off Skomer one chilly day in
April, forgot to check his dry suit zip was fastened. It wasnt
a dry suit that day.
And I wont be the last on the list; as my fingers fly
over the keypad news comes through of another incident. Whilst
diving off Stack Rocks none other than Dai Flip Flop rolled
off the tubes only to discover he wasnt going to get
anywhere fast without his fins. See. It can happen to anybody.
Dai, it wasnt me who blabbed
going to be next?
PHIL. THE POST
all in a day's diving.
How is that we meet up at 9.00 but it's dinnertime before
we ready to dive. I've tried for ions to come up with a solution
to this persistent problem but there's always something to
cause delays. This time it started with the lack of a cupboard
key. Now you'd think with two committee men present we'd have
at least one key between us. No. I was sure Lyn would have
one he thought I'd have one. We were both wrong. Luckily Dai
Flip Flop had one and he went back to his caravan to get it.
Meantime we waited.
there's not a lot to do at Monty's. When we used to met at
West Wales Divers there was the café and I've spent
many a happy hour there gorging on pure cholesterol whilst
others who can (I can't) have tinkered with screws and played
around with wires. There's no café at Monty's, there's
not a lot at Monty's but fair play it's a safe haven for the
boats and without the distraction of a café we should
be on the water quicker. But we're not. We should be more
prepared. But we're not.
minutes later Dai arrives back with the key. Meanwhile Lyn
is debating the weather forecast with the coastguard. There's
some concern about the wind direction and speed, finally they
concur. Wind, north, north-west, force 3 to 4.
a key is one thing getting into the cupboard is another. This
requires a two part manoeuvre involving a pair of rusty old
pliers and a lot of brute strength. It goes something like
a key, undo the padlocks top and bottom.
the pliers between the bottom of the cupboard door and the
slabs; using your left hand apply upward pressure.
your right hand, remove the locks then ease the hasps away
from the staples.
this fails delegate the task to someone more able.
applied enough pressure with the left hand, the hasps come
away easy and all you suffer are rust encrusted fingers that
are still stained even after a day's diving. If you get this
pressure wrong be sure to count your finger ends when the
door finally springs. If you're unsure number 4 applies.
Loading the boat takes ten minutes, after all we've done it
zillions of times; oxygen, first aid box, tool box, throw-
line. Have we an anchor and a dive flag on board? Is the radio
working? Will the engine start? Yes. Yes. And Yes.
It's going too well. We fit the trailer board only to discover
the coupling on the Pajero has corroded and is dangling. A
search in the back of the cupboard results in a mould encrusted
bungy cord. Lyn, ever resourceful, probably a boy scout maybe
even a policeman in an earlier life, lashes the coupling to
the bumper. This provides a temporary repair which will survive
bungy rots or
clips rust through or
finds out and throws a wobbly.
and we're almost ready to roll. Now LSAC is, has always been
a democratic club, we all have a say about where to launch
and where to dive after which Lyn decides we're launching
from Gelliswick but hey, he's a big fella and who's going
to argue? Not me, cause whilst we're topping up with fuel
I can buy some food and drink which I've somehow forgotten
to bring along.
Chris the Kiwi in his swanky Merc takes the lead, Lyn in the
Pajero towing the boat is in the middle and I follow up keeping
a watch through the rear view mirror at the evil eye from
the driver of the following car who has to crawl behind at
20mph until we turn off the main road for Milford. The journey
passes without incident, we even have a trailer board that
works and that's got to be a first. Lyn tops the fuel then
adds £20+ of diesel to the Pajero tank. We're ready
to rock and roll.
are several dive boats waiting to launch at Gelliswick which
just goes to prove we're not the only dive club who couldn't
organise a you know what and where. We take the straps off,
detach the trailer board, put the little plastic plug into
the hole at the back of the boat, take the wedge from behind
the engine and load the gear. It's all going like clockwork
and I can't help thinking maybe just maybe we'll get a dive
before noon but I hadn't accounted for the crew who one by
one traipse down to the little boy's room and spend what seems
like ages. I follow suit; when you're grave side of 60 it
pays to squeeze out the last little drop especially if you're
wearing a dry-suit.
ready to launch and with almost military precision Lyn backs
the trailer down the slip where the tide has somehow waited
for our entrance. We undo the painter from the trailer and
push; the boat glides off, Dai FF leaps aboard, the engine
minutes later we're on our way. Chris the Kiwi has been eyeing
the controls but he doesn't stand a chance. I've decided to
have a go and having exercised my rights as a committee man
I take the wheel and head for Skokholm. I'm bloody ruthless
There's a bit of a swell around St. Anne's head but nothing
we can't handle and the new engine plows the rib through the
waves almost without effort. I familiarise myself with the
dials and note there's enough technical info to keep Martin
happy for years to come.
arrive at the island at 12.30 and jostle for space in a sea
crowded with puffins, seals and razorbills. Lyn decides to
dive with Dai FF and John Crabhook Evans. As they prepare
their equipment Lyn's regulator decides it's time to play
up and he needs to effect running repairs. We watch as he
strips his second stage, waggles the needle, applies pressure
in just the right place and puts it all back together again.
Meanwhile John dons his rig, a wonder of straps and clips
that all have colour matched ends so you know which bit clips
in where or at least John knows which bit clips in
where. Dia FF dives in a wet-suit. He's hard. We're drifting
close to an unfamiliar buoy with the letters PYC painted on
it. So what! Lyn decides they'll go down the rope attached
to the buoy; we watch as one by one the first team descend
in a cloud of bubbles.
Shortly afterwards an expensive looking yacht can be seen
coming towards us, it reaches the buoy and turns swiftly.
In a flurry of sails and ropes, an efficient crew meet the
conditions change tack and they're on their way again. Another
yacht approaches. It dawns on me, ( I admit to being a bit
slow)we're in the middle of a yacht race-track. Luckily when
our divers surface it's some distance away. We poodle (as
Chris likes to say) over. By this time he has charge of the
wheel and is sporting a big smile. Lyn is first to the boat.
grab my weight-belt," he shouts. Chris, reluctant to
leave go of the wheel in case I grab it, is a fraction late
The weight-belt is consigned to the depths. We recover all
the divers. They report good viz but bugger-all else. John
is convinced we should have gone to Stack Rock I wonder why?
Dai FF is shivering, maybe he ain't so hard after all, Lyn
looks glum, he's mourning the loss of his belt. Now I knew
it was sort of newish because he usually wears a leather contraption
that would look better on a shire-horse. This one looked proper
it expensive?" I ask
he replied turning to look at me with big soulful eyes, "I
had it off Gatchie, he found it on Stack last year, suppose
I'll have to buy one now though, maybe one with a harness."
look at Crabhook. He's unfastening his cat's cradle of straps
and belts. I decide there and then to stick with my tried
Thank you very much.
problems multiply. The Kiwi's first stage won't couple to
his air cylinder. We try a variety of O rings. No joy. Lyn
has a go and eventually forces a seal. By now it's 2.00pm
and I still haven't dived. I wait patiently until Chris seems
happy with his regs. We cross check and roll in.
heck but it's bloody cold. We go down the rope and meet at
the bottom. Viz is good. I take the lead, Chris follows. We
scour the gullies and rocks. There are the usual spider crabs,
wrasse and Pollack and some very pretty sea cucumbers. I look
at my computer dial, the water temperature reads 11.0C. I'm
cold but glad to be underwater. We swim around for 30 minutes
till Chris points to his air gauge which is behaving oddly.
It's time to go. We surface. I'm glad because by this time
John and I want to do a second dive. We promise to look for
Lyn's belt but there's little chance of finding it as we were
drifting when he dropped it. The viz is still good but with
no sign of the lost belt, within minutes, John returns to
scouring the seabed. There's little in the way of crustaceans
however and after 25 minutes the cold kicks in forcing us
drives the boat; it's consolation for his regs which will
need a major overall before he can use them again. He enjoys
the responsibility but is disappointed that the sea has flattened
off somewhat. He wanted a go at the 3 metre swells we met
on our way out. The water is lapping the slip at Gelliswick.
Lyn backs the trailer down, we couple up and take turns on
the winch to recover the boat.
at Monty's we store the gear, flush the engine and wash the
tubes. It's been an eventful day, as is normal for the start
of the season. There's been issues, but between us we've met
the challenges, found solutions and enjoyed each other's company;
that's what it's all about. I'd be willing to wager Jacque
Cousteau didn't have half as much fun.
PHIL. THE POST
bought a boat!
A guy bought a new boat and decided to take her for her maiden
This was his first boat and he wasn't quite sure of the exact
procedure for launching it off a slip but he figured it couldn't
be too difficult.
He consulted his local boat dealer for advice but they just
said "don't let the trailer get too deep when you are
trying to launch the boat".
Well, he didn't know what they meant by that as he could barely
get the trailer in the water at all!
Anyhow, here's a picture below.
You're gonna love this bloke!!!
can't make this stuff up!
by Mike Rees
wife and I booked two weeks at the Coral Hills Hotel in Sharm
el Sheikh starting 10th Jan 2010. The plan was for me to get
in 5 days diving and spend the rest of the time together soaking
up the sun.
Back at home with yet more snow forecast for Sunday morning
(flight day) we wisely made a last minute decision to stay
overnight at The George and Dragon just half a mile from Bristol
airportl. Just £55 for a comfortable room and full English
gave us a stress free start to the holiday.
The outward journey went well. Flying with Thompson we each
had 20kg luggage allowance plus I had a free 5 kg for diving
equipment. No hassle at the check in desk but I had a copy
of their email confirming it just in case. We duly arrived
at the Coral Hills at 11pm. The restaurant had closed but
the helpful bar staff quickly rustled up some food from somewhere
and changed our room to one on the second floor at our request.
day we visited the new on site dive centre run
by Alun and Moria Evans of Elite Diver fame where we were
given a typical valleys welcome loads of
tea and plenty of banter.
Alun has been providing diving in Egypt for a few years now
but has only recently opened the new Dive Centre. He has already
started giving Welsh language lessons to his staff so Welsh
divers can be expected to be greeted by Bora Da in
an Egyptian or Italian accent every morning. For my part I
helped by demonstrating one of the meanings of couch
to the lovely Francesca.
dropped off my kit at the centre and thereafter it appeared
washed and cleaned on the boat for every dive. I prefer to
do an initial shore dive just to test/confirm my kit is ok
rather than risk finding a problem on the boat and waste a
So Francesca took my wife and I to the beach at Sharks Bay
for a pleasant afternoon. No problem with my kit and a nice
dive to boot.
Aluns usual boat is Delphin 2 which I found
to be quite good. There was plenty of room for divers and
the food was excellent. The crew were always smiling and eager
to help with your kit. We alternated the diving between Ras
Mohamed and the reefs off Tiran.
As usual, unless there are enough divers to fill the boat
it is sometimes shared with other dive centres but only once
did I find it a bit crowded. I had two weeks to get in my
5 day diving so I was able to pick and chose when I went diving
to avoid the busy times.
the first week our dive leader was Steve who was as solid
as a rock yet still prepared to think outside the box when
it came to selecting dive sites.
For example Woodhouse, a long narrow reef is generally
a drift dive on the more sheltered Tiran side of the reef
because normally the sea on the Egyptian side is just too
lumpy for the safe recovery of divers.
But when we arrived at Woodhouse with just 6 divers and unusually
calm seas we decided to dive the backside of Woodhouse
to examine the damage caused by the Hamburg which
ran onto the reef on 31st December.
damage was a huge vee shaped gouge directly into the reef.
There was a metal box 3 metres deep which we thought could
be a jettisoned air con. unit and various scraps of metal.
The freighter had clearly struck the reef at right angles
yet was supposed to have been travelling parallel to the reef.
Quite how the helmsman managed this is still under investigation
but the date of the incident, 31st December, may prove to
be significant. Russian divers are keen to discover what he
had been drinking so they can get some as well. Few divers
will have the opportunity to see this damage but its
in MY log book.
another less popular reef in Ras Mohamed I finally managed
to make out the outline of the prophets head which gave the
area its name. We saw the usual moray, barracuda, rays, turtles
etc but my very last dive we saw a rare feather tailed ray
and thats in my log book as well!
Yet another rare sight (or more correctly a sound) was that
of the underwater singing undertaker. A certain Cardiff based
undertaker, who shall remain anonymous, has taken to singing
through his regulator in an effort to improve his air consumption.
We (the other divers) were all rather puzzled as to where
the muffled tones of The men of Harlech were coming
from until we found out. What the fish thought of it I have
no idea but they had better get used to it because plans are
afoot for the first ever underwater welsh choir.
second week we saw damage of a different kind. A few drops
of rain in the early evening soon turned into a monsoon with
tremendous lightening by nightfall. Egypt normally expects
half an hour shower of light rain per year and makes absolutely
no provision for any rainfall.
No gutters on buildings and no drainage in the roads. Most
buildings are flat roofed and not particularly sealed against
water. Within an hour Sharm and most of Cairo was awash. The
electricity supplies failed and the mobile phone networks
went down. Sharm airport was closed and flights diverted to
Cairo where the planes stayed for two days. In Cairo itself
buses were overturned by the flood waters. They even stopped
the dive boats operating for two days. The terminal at Sharm
airport was still closed when we left. This was definitely
not a shower!
Coral Hills, like most resorts, became a water park. Water
poured into the building through the ceiling lights and was
blown in under patio doors. The corridors became rivers and
the stairs became waterfalls. The swimming pools overflowed.
Large sections of the ceilings in the foyer and restaurant
fell to the floor. In many rooms the beds were soaked by water
pouring in from light fittings. We both spent the night together
in a single bed. The hotel staff were wonderful. They all
worked for 24 hours solid to sweep away the water and restore
Virtually everything was back to normal with a day or two.
It was the worst storm in fifteen years or living memory depending
on whom you asked - and - we were there! -but its not
in my logbook.
After all that excitement it would be nice to report an uneventful
return journey but I cant. The travel rep forgot to
arrange the transfer to the airport (complaint already written)
and the flight was delayed an hour. A strong headwind added
another hour -AND THEN - they closed Bristol Airport for runway
repairs. So they diverted us to Cardiff, bused us back to
Bristol to collect our car and we drove back home to Wales.
Thats not in my log book either. Sometimes diving in
West Wales looks a lot more attractive.
because Richy is organising a trip to Sharm here are some
tips for the Sharm virgins. They are based on
my experiences but other, more experienced divers may differ
so listen to them as well and make up your own mind.
out for the luggage allowance when booking flights. Some
only allow only 15kg. Monarch and Thompson give an extra
5kg in a separate bag for divers if you produce your qualification
at check in. I get them to confirm this in an email and
take a copy with me just in case. If you need extra weight
allowance you can purchase it from the airline in advance
to avoid excess baggage charges. You can always hire some
or all the kit from the dive centre.
- I have
been told that, if possible, you should take your own regs
because you should know they have been serviced and are
in good order. They are the most important piece of your
I take a 3mm long john, boots, fins, BCD, regs, mask, smb,
reel and computer. I also take my Lidl weight
belt which although designed for shot weights will take
standard size solid lead weights in each pocket. It makes
for easier and quicker weight adjustment on the boat when
you do your buoyancy check. This January I found it a bit
cold for the optional third dive so hired another shortie
as an oversuit. I will also take my hood next time.
of interest I weighed all the kit. It came in at 13kg. My
Buddy BCD takes up all my extra 5 kg even with a lightweight
bag. Other BCDs are lighter.
arrival at Sharm airport you will be asked to purchase an
entry visa at $15.They will accept £15 but dont
expect change. They also now ask you to complete a medical/health
form as well. You will also need to fill in an exit visa
when you leave but there is no cost for that.
dive centre will provide transport to and from the boat
for you and your kit. They also provide your 12ltr air /
nitrox bottles. Nitrox and 15ltr bottles may extra.
the boat water, coke, tea/coffee is provided together with
a lunch. There is normally a charge of 50LE (£5) for
this payable on the boat. There are toilets on board.
Mohamed is a Marine Protected area and all divers have to
pay a levy 50LE for entry. This will be an extra payment
to the dive centre when you settle up.
packages are normally based on two dives per day.Time permitting
the dive guide will normally offer an optional third dive
to those who want it. This will be an extra charge.
to the Dunraven and the Thistlegorm will also attract an
extra charge because of the extra distance involved.
What Heart Attack?
Diving 9th August
a difference in two Sundays. On Sunday 2nd August I awoke
at 02:00am with pains across the chest.
I tried indigestion tablets but three hours later the pain
was still there and in fact getting worse so much so that
I woke Sandra (not a task to be undertaken lightly) and between
us she decided to take me into the casualty unit at the nearby
Royal Glamorgan Hospital by now, I was not only in
pain but sweating heavily, feeling faint and wondering who
would be first to claim my dive gear.
A very efficient nursing team coupled me to a machine, checked
my temperature, oxygen levels, and took blood samples (ouch).
I'm sure to this day it was only trapped wind, but as a precaution
I was admitted and given further tests.
Eventually the pain eased. I was released at 6:00pm after
a day filled with tests and tests and tests and finally a
visit from a consultant who told me if I was still feeling
bad I was to remain in hospital. It's funny how you feel so
much better when someone gives you this option.
day, I was supposed to be on duty at the Big Bite and am grateful
to Richie Grice and Allan and Owain Jenkins for covering for
me. So, life goes on thankfully, and though it took
me all week to recover and I'm still due to go for
a treadmill test I'm trying to live as normal which
of course meant that on the following Sunday 9th August I
was ready with my dive gear and at Monty's by 08:45.
were nine of us. Jeff was dive marshal; he decided to use
both boats; that we would launch from Gelliswick and dive
around Skokholm Island. The logistics of two boats and one
tow vehicle were overcome by teamwork and in minimum time
we were underway, through the jetties and out into the Haven
proper. The weather was perfect with light winds and sunny
skies but the sea around St. Anne's Head was still affected
by previous spells of bad weather. Big swells made for slow
progress until we cleared the Haven and were able to open
up the throttles and power across the bay.
members had been diving around Skokholm on both Friday and
Saturday; they reported good visibility and plenty of marine
life. Indeed we saw some seals as we approached the island,
they were basking in the sunshine and completely oblivious
to our presence even when we took the ribs close to the rocks.
The water temperature was a heady 16.0c and in what must have
been at least six metres of viz I had a very pleasant first
dive with Chris the Kiwi. Despite Chris being slightly under-weighted
and lumbered with a camera we managed to stay together and
spent 45 minutes at depths up to 20 metres observing all types
of aquatic life and trying to persuade bored looking lobsters,
crabs and prawns to pose for a picture.
Our second dive didn't go so well. We descended into thick
kelp and in trying to find a way out, we separated. The current
had by this time strengthened making conditions difficult.
Back on board the rib Chris was cursing; whilst de-kitting
he'd donated his weight-belt to Neptune.
back was smoother and despite losing Gareth's hat and turning
back to retrieve it, we were soon at Gelliswick. We'd had
a cracking day, the viz had been so good that even Crabhook
John excelled himself by managing to stay with his buddy for
a whole dive.
Gillett had been feeling 'crook'; he blamed it on fumes from
the engine but admitted to a few pints the previous night.
Gareth dived with Jeff and added two more descents in his
log-book. Alan managed a couple of decent dives at the end
of his week's holiday; he's back as Store Manager at Asda
Llanelli first thing Monday.
Owain had a bad back, we suspected we knew why but because
his father was sat by him, he couldn't reveal the cause. Dai
Flip-Flop wasn't too pleased with the kelp but still seemed
to enjoy his diving. Chris will need to use some creative
accountancy to hide the cost of a new weight-belt from the
And me; well apart from being glad to be alive I'd really
enjoyed my day, good weather, good diving, good company and
the prospect of a couple of pints to follow, what more can
you ask for?
PHIL. THE POST
Another Dive Day
Sunday 5th July 2009
Montys: Despite a brisk (for brisk, read blowing a hooly)
southerly wind and a dramatic drop in air temperatures, six
hardy souls turn up at Montys to support the D. O. on
this his first ( for this season anyway) stint at Dive Marshalling.
A boat has been prepared but where to launch from? Following
deliberations that would not have been out of place on Who
Wants To Be A Millionaire the D.O. asks the audience who respond
with 66% Broadhaven, 24% Gelliswick, 10% dont know (don't
10.30. ( why the time gap?-dont even bother to
ask) Broadhaven car park: boat loaded, divers suited and booted,
fuel organised, Martins flask filled with hot water,
knots checked and triple checked. The D. O. gladly hands over
dive marshalling to the secretary. His dry suit, which he
keeps in his garage, has been attacked by mice over the winter
and has more holes than a colander so he cant
go. (Peter, you should really come out more often). The secretary
isnt keen to launch from Broadhaven, but as hes
not known for decision making, unless theres a drink
involved, he opts to proceed with plan A.
Broadhaven Beach: The sand is deserted apart from one or two
people with packs of rabid dogs and some suicidal canoeists.
Its almost low tide; the breakers are up to two metres
(six feet in real money) and coming in three at a time. We
roll the trailer into the surf and manhandle the boat to face
the waves. Four divers struggle aboard, Martin takes the helm,
the boat is almost vertical as the engine (when it finally
fires) struggles to cope through giant surf, Philthepost and
Peter Swarfield (ex product development executive from the
Del Ray) watch them clear the waves then recover the trailer
and drive off the beach to park up.
11 15. Lima 1 can be seen beyond the waves. Phil and
Peter ( yes, drysuits zipped up, weve all been there)
struggle through the waves until their hats begin to float.
Lima 1 stays put. Phil and Peter wait about in the surf until
Peter is heard to say Theres summat wrong out
there, theyre all crowded around the engine.
Glug, You cant say much else with ten tons
of sandy seawater down your gullet Phil clears his airway
before assessing the situation then makes his way up the beach
to the Lifeguards hut where he reports that Lima 1 appears
to be having engine problems.
12.00. A lifeguard rides out on his surf ski Hawaiian
style, through the breakers, finally reaching Lima 1. A problem
with the engine is identified and the inshore lifeboat is
summonsed to assist. Phil stays with the other lifeguard,
Peter Swarfield waits chest deep in the surf.
The inshore lifeboat comes out of Littlehaven, attaches a
tow to Lima 1 and proceeds to seek shelter. Meanwhile Gatchie,
Billy and Peter turn up at the lifeboat station; theyve
been contacted by Martin on his mobile phone. Their reaction,
whats the problem, they could have drifted in
from there is answered with some well chosen expletives
13.30. Dai Flip Flop and Gareth Henderson (yes, there
was one sensible member in the party) plus the dive kit are
delivered to the beach by the lifeboat crew. Martin and John
Evans are taken into Littlehaven. We make our way there to
join them The lifeboat coxswain very kindly offers to recover
Lima 1 when the surf drops back. He promises to return with
a crew at 15.30.
14.00. till 15 30. The dive party can be seen frolicking
like kids in the waves. Its absolutely pissing down,
the sky is black and theyre the only ones daft enough
to be out and about, everyone else, except Dai Flip Flops
missus who is sheltering under the little bridge with their
dog, is making merry in the local hostelries.
15 30. True to their word the lifeboat crew turn up
complete with rib and launch in the haven. Within half an
hour they return with Lima 1 in tow, we cant thank them
enough. (a donation to the RNLI was authorised at the next
meeting along with a more tangible thank you for the local
crew). The surf is almost non- existent, we recover our boat
and make for Montys.
30. The boat is washed down and covered up and the equipment
stored in the cupboard. We laugh and joke but are aware how
serious the incident could have been and how grateful we are
to the RNLI.
Billy will look at the engine and fix the fault, (where would
we be without him?) Phil has calmed down and after ranting
on about launching from bloody Broad Haven he relents and
accepts it opens the door to better dive sites.
Peter Swarfield is grateful he wasnt on the boat as
hes sure they would have been sick as a dog. John (Crabhook)
Evans is for once going home empty handed but at least his
tanks are filled for next week.
Martin has greased the winch (and anything else that stops
still for two minutes).
Dai Flip Flop resolves to have a shed load of beer tonight,
a move that has the full backing of the club secretary who
intends doing the same.
We all head for home. On the way I think back. It seemed wed
had a wasted day and when you only get one day a week off
work that hurts, ouch!! But on reflection it was just another
Shit happens, its how you handle events that matters.
We got into a situation and made the right decisions to resolve
it. At the end of the day we all returned safe and sound.
The boat was recovered as was all the kit. Club diving is
all about team work and being a member of that team is what
makes for a good day. Yes, were there to dive, but getting
on well together, having a laugh, tolerating each others weaknesses
or idiosyncrasies and being on hand to help out when needed
makes us want to come back for more.
PHIL. THE POST
Script by Martin Sanders (AKA Captain Sensible)
Due to an engine breakdown I called out the RNLI to tow the
boat initially to a safe anchorage, and then to shore for
recovery. The options for other recovery were limited as no
one else was in the bay at the time.
As the breeze was southerly, allowing the boat to drift to
shore was not an option. (There were rocks that way!)
As soon as it became apparent we had a problem the anchor
was deployed, mainly to maintain the boat into the wind, though
it did appear to be holding OK.
We spent maybe an hour working on the problem before calling
for help. I'm not sure of the exact time.
I look forward to the barbed comments at the next club meeting!
further comment by the DO.
discovered that mice had attacked my dry suit and chewed several
big holes in it rendering it useless, my initial reaction
was to seek revenge by putting down mouse traps and killing
off the culprits. However, when I saw what happened to the
others I was really glad that I wasn't on the boat. If the
mice hadn't destroyed my dry suit I would have been. So I
am very grateful to the little beasties and I have decided
to give them a reprieve.
Coraya Divers - Marsa Alam
June 10th to 24th 2009
on the whole arent shy about their sport and take every
opportunity to tell the world that THEYRE GOING DIVING.
At the gate for flight TOM38 to Marsa Alam we saw plenty of
hand luggage emblazoned with big brand dive names, Mares,
Scubapro, Northern Diver, etc.
were several passengers wearing tee shirts that stretched
over big bellies and carried bold messages; Dive Thailand,
Dive Maldives and Dive Red Sea, even Dive Cocos Island (Guess
Other people perhaps less inclined to brag about their travels
wore shirts with quirky dive slogans like Dive Now Work Later
(I like that one), Dive In A Wet Beaver (didnt quite
get that) and there were several PADI Dive Masters and PADI
Instructors in evidence. Well, thats what it said on
their fleeces and jackets and who was I to argue?
divers like this show of identity, it gives us an opportunity
to communicate, a series of nods and winks, a half smile and
maybe an opening for a conversation.
However, there were not many UK divers at the Coraya Dive
Centre and although most people there spoke reasonable English
I didnt speak their languages making conversation a
rather one sided affair.
(my wife) and I stayed at Lamaya Resort, one of four hotels
situated around the bay of Marsa Umm Gerfait and about ten
minutes travel from the airport.
The Lamaya is rated "5T" by travel company Thomson
and the facilities here are excellent. Our accommodation had
two large rooms plus a bathroom and a balcony with views across
the bay. Air conditioning, satellite TV and a fridge full
of drinks added to the comfort.
all inclusive package included all meals and drinks. The beer
was a little bit gassy for my taste but hey! When its
. There are three swimming pools and plenty of sun
Entertainment was provided by an enthusiastic if somewhat
amateurish young animation team who worked hard from 10am
till almost midnight trying to get guests involved. Sometimes
this was a little bit too much like Hi-De-Hi for my liking.
Even though the food, presented buffet style, was very good,
the cavernous restaurant was noisy. At times it felt like
being in a posh works canteen making leisurely eating
not an easy option.
Divers, an independent dive centre, was a mere 5 minutes walk
from our room. The reception staff remembered me from previous
visits and greeted me by name before allocating a locker and
checking my plastic. (they keep your cards for inspection
by the tourism police).
Later I took the opportunity to meet up with the dive guides
most of whom were at the centre when I visited last year.
I needed to re-acquaint myself with the facilities. The lockers
had been re-situated and a new comfy area created. Here amongst
big cushions and colourful throws folk can relax, fill in
their log books, have a coffee or a soft drink, read up about
marine life or watch DVDs of trips to Elphinstone, Port Galib
and other dive sites, its a dive anoraks paradise
and believe me there were more than a few of them!!
was my first visit to Coraya without the company of a dive
buddy. I was a little unsure of how Id cope.
On day one I elected to join a group who were planning to
dive a site to the north of the resort. Our young Egyptian
dive guide gave the briefing (perfect English), we kitted
up; suits, BCDs and regs, and made our way to the jetty. This
is the starting point for all local diving. Here a friendly
and efficient team are on hand to assist with air cylinders,
nitrox for those qualified, and weights.
The centre has three RIBs, two big ones with powerful twin
engines, these are used to ferry divers to sites north and
south of the bay. The third rib, a smaller boat is used to
drop divers along the reef edge allowing a pleasant dive to
depths of up to 30 metres where you can drift in a gentle
current back to the jetty.
that first dive I saw moray eels, spotted rays, lion fish,
and a host of colourful reef fish. Visibility was at least
30 metres and with water temperatures around 27C we drifted
along the reef face for an hour before surfacing.
Over the two weeks I dived on sites to the North and South
from the large ribs and used the small rib to explore the
reef within the bay.
had no trouble finding a buddy and dived with a number of
different people including a fireman from Luton and an engineer
I did 14 dives and as well as the usual marine inhabitants
saw octopus, sole, turtles, dolphins, barracuda and crocodile
fish, in fact Im sure there was a greater variety of
fish to see than on my last visit.
time there were a lot of jelly fish in the water and I wondered
if more fish had been attracted by this feeding opportunity?
In between dives Sandra and I went snorkelling.
We entered the water from the snorkelling jetty which goes
to the edge of the reef. Here the wall drops to 25metres but
along the reef top there are all types of marine life all
easy to spot in clear warm water. Some fish were so tame they
swam right up to our masks.
in all we had a good holiday. Of course I suffered (as usual)
with the Pharaohs Revenge. Following past visits to
Egypt Id sought prior advice and been told to drink
plenty of water and stay away from the alcohol.
This worked for the first few days but then in a moment of
weakness I downed a few ales followed by a shed load of rum
and coke. The following morning I suffered and boy
did I suffer. Imodium!! Forget it. Sandra went to a local
pharmacy with a fistful of Egyptian wonga and came back with
some dubious looking yellow capsules, some white tablets and
some re-hydration powders. I followed the instructions and
thankfully they did the trick. I was more cautious for the
rest of the holiday.
booked the holiday on-line with Thomson Travel and were aware
from the outset that we were each allowed 23kg of luggage.
There was an option to increase this by 5kg at a cost of £17.50.
This is a small price to pay and avoids un-necessary stress
and arguments at check-in.
I paid for the increased allowance for myself and we packed
all the heavy gear including two wetsuits and two sets of
fins into my case. We also pre-booked an in-flight meal at
an extra cost of £6.00 each. The food supplied, a starter,
a chicken meal on the way out and sausage and mash on the
way back, + a dessert, was standard aircraft nosh, Im
sure you know what I mean. Tea and coffee came free but we
had to pay for the wine.
have introduced a facility where you can check-in the evening
previous to your morning flight so we travelled to Gatwick
a day early and after checking in our luggage (no queue) made
our way to Horley where we spent a comfortable night at the
Lawn Guest House.
Our flight was 10:30am. We booked a taxi for 9:00am and were
in the departure lounge in plenty of time to do some last
minute shopping prior to take-off. Leg room on these flights
is still a problem (First Choice the operators, classify
this "five hours plus" flight as short haul and
cram the passengers in) especially if youre tall but
the stewards were very good and used what free seats there
were to try to accommodate people.
the return trip we were pleasantly surprised at improvements
made to the airport at Marsa Alam. Members who know this airport
from previous club trips to the area will remember how spartan
the facilities used to be, but not any more.
Now there are plenty of comfy seats and a variety of shops.
Theres even a Kentucky Fried Chicken counter and a Pizza
in our case both out-going and in-coming flights were on time
but should a delay occur as has been our previous experience,
conditions are much improved.
to end, just a word of warning: At the duty free shop they
only take American dollars. On the resort and in the dive
centre all the prices were quoted in Euros.
I took Egyptian pounds. They will take local currency but
I lost out on the conversions. I wont bore you with
facts about Marsa Alam; information about the area and Hotel
facilities are well documented in past reports.
If you are considering a visit to the area, you can read up
about the diving at www.coraya-divers.com
or drop them an e-mail, email@example.com
2009 Annual General Meeting
four Llantrisant delegates at the AGM
AGM was held on Saturday 14th March at the Buxton Palace Hotel,
Buxton. The meeting started at 10-30am which meant us leaving
South Wales at 06-30am. Our journey took us north to Stafford
where we left the motorway to travel through towns and villages
and some stunning countryside. We reached our destinations
with just minutes to spare.
the meeting there were thirty five clubs represented. Mike
Burley, Chairman opened proceedings by introducing members
of the National Executive and commenting on the recently announced
number of ordinary resolutions were then put to a vote. All
were passed un-opposed. Falling member numbers was a cause
for concern. The special resolution relating to Direct Membership
caused much comment from the floor. Issues such as Diving
Officer involvement, insurance, potential loss of members
to the clubs, the lack of an alternative plan and other concerns
were voiced by members.
Llantrisant Sub-Aqua has a thriving membership. We told the
Executive of our success in promoting the Club and encouraging
new members. We explained that we have a varied programme
that includes regular diving around the Pembrokeshire coastline,
overseas trips and a number of social events. We have good
web-site that is both informative and up to date and our Officers
encourage new members. We queried whether the SAA do enough
to encourage member clubs to promote themselves within their
communities? Perhaps this should be plan A.
a coffee break the meeting re-convened and the Chairman asked
member clubs to vote. On a show of hands and including postal
votes, the special resolution failed to get the 75% majority
needed and was rejected.
meeting ended with a variety of awards to individuals and
clubs. These were presented by Executive Member John Gough.
This was followed by a power-point presentation given by new
Executive Member Mark Durham. Mark has re-designed the SAA
web-site. He showed members the new facilities which included
club information for prospective members, downloads and a
members page. The graphics are illustrations of coldwater
diving. Despite difficulties with connections, Mark managed
to access enough from the site to show members the improvements
he has made.
before lunch we spoke with the National Diving Officer. We
put to Steve Love our concerns about the lack of suitable
courses. Steve took our points on board. We also spoke with
the new National Training Officer and made him aware that
our club needed more open water instructors and that South
Wales was short of Regional Instructors.
events are useful for networking and before we left we took
the opportunity to re-acquaint ourselves with both head office
staff and members from other clubs. We arrived back in South
Wales at 17-00. It had been a long day but we all agreed
D.O. Peter Rees, T.O. Richie Grice, Marine Conservation Officer
Ceri Jones, and yours truly, that it had been a day well spent.
Wed helped to conduct the business of the S.A.A. whilst
at the same time managing to put a lot of names to faces and
making some very useful contacts. I just hope that next years
AGM is a little closer to home.
Sub-Aqua Club presents:
VIVA LAS VEGAS!
an evening of superb entertainment
16th January 2009
Taffs Well Rugby Club
can hear the girls declare, he must be a millionaire.
You can hear them sigh and wish to die
You can see them wink the other eye
At the man who broke the bank in Monte Carlo
Friday night to anyone watching club president Viv Griffiths
playing the roulette tables at Llantrisant Sub Aqua Clubs
Las Vegas event, the words of this old music hall favourite
had a ring of truth. Looking quite the part in an immaculate
dinner suit and bow tie, Griff had a string of big wins that
had the croupier on more than one occasion, sending out for
extra chips. The biggest winner on the night though was Llantrisant
Sub-Aqua, where ticket sales, a raffle and of course the legendary
auction at the end of the evening all contributed to net almost
£500 for the club.
for the night was Taffs Well rugby club whose committee not
only allowed us to use their functions room, but organised
the bar to include a barrel of real ale
Entertainment was provided by Rockin Dave Riley who kept the
dance floor full until the early hours with a non stop selection
of music from the 50s, 60s and 70s.
buffet was to die for. Elaine, partner to Lyn Eade our hard
working entertainments officer, must have been baking for
days. There was just about every savoury imaginable, pasties,
sausages, chicken legs, sausage rolls, sandwiches, the list
goes on and on; there was even a plate of black pudding, and
if this wasnt enough there was crisps, nuts, olives,
pickles and more dips than enough, and yes, there was plenty
of goodies for the veggies amongst us. This feast was set
out along one wall and I was not alone to re-visit the tables
on more than one occasion. Elaine,
it was wonderful and we can't thank you enough!
on the gambling tables was brisk. As well as the roulette
where El Presidento was doing his own version of spread betting,
there was black jack and the atmosphere was tense as Big
Paul The Gas dealt the cards with the air of a professional.
On the other table Richie Training was a convincing
double for Maverick
until the 6X finally got the better
of selling the raffle tickets was delegated to Vanda who managed
to charm wads of dosh off all the fellas in the room
and the bar
and God knows where else because she came
back with a pint glass literally stuffed with tenners.
A big thankyou to Vanda!
at the end of the evening was an opportunity to spend those
hard earned chips. Lyn had been shopping and there was a raft
of quality goods to bid for. Auctioneer for the event our
much slimmed down D.O. Peter Rees took the microphone and
controlled the bidding which was at times quite frantic. One
by one the items were knocked down to the highest bidder and
some of you must have woken up the morning after to ask yourselves
Where the hell did I get that pedal bin/ radio alarm/
set of ankle weights/painting/digital tuner? But it was all
for a good cause and raised lots of cash.
stepping down from the post of Entertainments Officer. This
is his third Las Vegas night; theyve all been successful,
theyve all been enjoyed by those whove attended
and theyve all made money for the club. He organises
the events and with his partner Elaine does all the hard work
that makes for such a marvellous evening. Lyn, we cant
thank you enough for what youve done for the club and
we look forward to your reports as the clubs next Marine
Conservation Officer. Entertainment Officer for 2009 is Emma
Reece (see I can spell your name right) and we wish Emma every
success in her new role.
Island and The Hen & Chicks
August 24th 2008
light winds and calm seas forecast, we journeyed across St.
Brides bay to Ramsay. This craggy offshore island has
cliffs up to 120 metres high and numerous caves around the
Here, gannets dive spectacularly and there are numerous other
sea birds to spot. Theres also a resident colony of
grey seals and we spent time watching as they played around
the rocks coming closer and closer to our boat.
are regular boat trips around the island from nearby St Justinian,
so the seals are quite used to seeing visitors. The diving
here can be quite spectacular but today conditions were murky
and underwater visibility practically nil.
Our dive lasted just twenty minutes when I lost sight of my
buddy amongst the kelp and made my way to the surface. He
surfaced just after me. Other members of the team had similar
experiences so we decided to try a different venue, and made
our way over to the hen and chicks, a rocky outcrop 2 miles
out of Little Haven.
conditions were much better and with underwater visibility
around three or four metres and a water temperature of 17c
we spent almost an hour in and around the rocks and canyons.
There was plenty of marine life to see including spider crabs,
velvet crabs lobsters, an array of colourful anemones
and a big shoal of trigger fish.
These visitors to British waters are residents of the Mediterranean
but have been regularly spotted by divers and fishermen at
this time of year around the Pembrokeshire coastline.
is usual to see trigger fish wedged in crevices in the rocks;
they have the ability to lock their dorsal fin thus securing
their position then unlock by depressing the second spine
the trigger, but today they were out in numbers, swimming
around, almost as though we werent there.
Back on board we discussed our day. Everyone had seen the
triggers and there would be some good photos to show friends
back home. Our party included three novices, this was their
opportunity to practice skills learnt over many weeks of pool
training and gain the experience needed to become qualified
divers; they all did well.
by Martin Sanders
Sunday 6th July, several club members attended a Sub Aqua
Association course on resuscitation and how to administer
The venue, the Tynant Inn, Morganstown was the same one we
had used for the recent nitrox course. It's a convenient location
with good parking and the first floor conference room is ideal
for training purposes.
our beloved leader and D.O. Peter Rees on holiday (yes, again!)
in Beijing, we were fortunate to secure the services of regional
instructors Mike Rose and Steve Jakeways.
The first session of the morning saw Mike take us through
a power-point presentation on the types of dive related incidents
where oxygen admin is beneficial.
After a break for coffee, there was a talk on the type of
cylinders used including the unique two pin connections and
practical guidance on storage and precautions to be taken
when using oxygen.
was followed by a practical demonstration on how to connect
the hoses and masks to the cylinders, after which we were
all allowed to 'have a go'.
Lunch was served from the extensive range of food available
on the hotel menu, and apart from a mix up over what had been
ordered resulting in Peter Swarfield almost going without,
all went smoothly.
After lunch it was time for Steve to show us how to deal with
casualties. He talked us
through various situations, dealing with conscious and unconscious
persons and what to do if the casualty is not breathing.
Then he introduced us to 'Annie' or in this case, several
'Annies'. The mannequins provided for the day from the organisation
Heart-Start were used to demonstrate the techniques involved
in applying CPR.
I have been on several first aid courses including one not
too long ago, but it's amazing how quickly methods change;
CPR now involves 30 chest compressions followed by two mouth
to mouth breaths.
during a recap, Mike went over the salient points covered
throughout the day and he finished the session by asking if
anyone had any questions.
We broke once more for coffee then it was time for the dreaded
test 50 questions not multi-choice mind, proper
written answers were required from all the material covered
through the day.
were allowed an hour, during which time there were several
vague expressions and lots of anxious scribbling.
Finally we were allowed to retire to the bar for a well deserved
pint of Bass whilst Mark and Steve marked our papers. When
we returned we were told that we'd all passed phew!
It had been a long day, but very interesting and very rewarding.
thanks go out to Mike and Steve for giving up their day and
presenting their material in a most professional manner.
I must also thank Dave Pring, SAA Regional Representative
who not only organised the course, but also came along to
be 'one of us' for the day, Dave, you really should consider
joining a proper club like ours.
finally I must mention our D.O. Peter Rees whose hard work
in forging links with the SAA have resulted in firstly the
recent nitrox course, then this Oxy admin course and the forthcoming
boat handling course to be held in August.
Hopefully other courses will follow and I urge all club members
to make the effort to attend what you learn may be
a life saver!
Coraya Beach - Marsa Alam
June 4th to 11th
the full story
is a copy of an entry made by Phil on the Trip
Advisor web site:-
have just returned from a week's holiday at the Coraya Beach
Hotel. This was our second visit to Marsa Alam, in October
2007 we stayed at the Lamaya Hotel, part of the same group
of hotels, Iberotel. The Coraya Beach is within the same complex,
and is just a 10 minute drive from the airport; a definite
bonus after a long flight from Gatwick.
We booked the holiday on-line through Thompson's; the process
was user friendly and the documentation sent to us was easy
to follow and full of useful tips on how to enjoy our holiday.
On landing at Marsa Alam we were met by representatives of
the travel company and taken by coach to the Hotel. Check
-In was quick and efficient; we left our cases by the Hotel
entrance and they were taken to our room by the hotel staff.
Accommodation is in blocks built in traditional Nubian style;
ours was on the third floor which meant climbing 40 steps.
It was worth it however if only for the view which took in
the three scenic swimming pools, the hotel buildings, the
sea and the desert.
The room had a double bed, a dressing table and a large wardrobe
which also contained a small safe to store valuables. We made
a request for extra pillows and was pleasantly surprised at
being offered a choice of hard soft or medium! we asked for
two soft pillows; they were delivered within minutes. The
air conditioning was efficient and not too noisy. There's
a mini- bar (all chargeable if you're half board), a kettle
and all that's needed for your early morning cuppa and a television
though visitors from the UK be warned, the only English speaking
channel we could access was the BBC world service. (but who
comes to Egypt to watch the telly?) The bathroom contained
a toilet and a shower and a hair drier. Ali, our room boy,
was very friendly and extremely hard working. He visited daily
to clean and keep us supplied with fresh linen and towels.
Electricity is 220 volts and two pin plugs; don't forget your
The main restaurant is a large airy room staffed by a very
efficient and friendly team of chefs and waiters. We were
very impressed with the choice and variety of food available
and had no complaints about the cleanliness or service from
the waiters who were always on hand to supply drinks on request.
There is also an a la carte restaurant, a snack bar and a
beach bar where sandwiches are available but the food was
so good and plentiful in the main restaurant that we only
visited the snack bar once.
In the evening we would visit the Night and Day bar to enjoy
a cocktail and listen to the 'easy' music. There is a wide
choice of other bars each with their own attractions. Bar
and table staff were friendly attentive and polite and have
the ability to greet and speak to guests in a number of languages.
If like myself you like scuba diving, there is an excellent
dive centre which is situated across the bay. For those who
just like to snorkel, there is a terrific variety of marine
life and beautiful corals to view in crystal clear waters
just yards off the hotel beach. There's no shortage of things
to do and we were amazed at the energy of the young animation
team led by Max who worked hard to entertain guests throughout
the day and well into the night.
We found little to complain about (which is very unusual for
Phil), but I must make comment on the Thompson Rep, Mark.
The fat bastard invited us to a welcome meeting on our first
day and after telling us that the presentation would only
take about twenty minutes, he went on to bore us for almost
an hour in a stuffy room without air conditioning. He explained
in detail the facilities available to guests who'd booked
on an all inclusive basis but gave very little info to those
of us who had booked in half board, it was as if we didn't
exist. I found this 'welcome' meeting to be of little use
did however give info on how to avoid stomach upsets - a common
illness with visitors to Egypt, and advised us to "go
and see him if you were suffering". The following day
I was, and I did. Mark advised a visit to a pharmacy, telling
me how to get there on foot, however, he failed to tell me
it was literally miles from the Hotel in blistering heat.
Also, a trip we took into the desert by camel which we booked
through Mark was somewhat disappointing as our 'guide' spoke
little English and was as much use as a chocolate teapot when
it came to answering questions.
All in all, a good holiday though next time I'd check out
the difference in price between half board and all inclusive.
Due to my dodgy stomach I avoided alcohol all week; the cocktails
my wife had cost us 65 Egyptian pounds each (they were supposed
to be made from named brand spirits but I very much doubt
that they were) and water cost us 15 EP per bottle so it would
be easy to run up a big bill. (the exchage rate was £1
Would I go back? I liked the Hotel and the scuba diving is
amongst the best in the world, but I suffered with a bad stomach
through the week. My wife suffered as well though not for
so long and not so bad; other people I spoke to (including
those who had stayed at other hotels) had been affected with
diarrhoea at some time during their stay. It seems almost
un-avoidable. If there's anyone out there with any advice
that will prevent stomach upsets on future trips to Egypt,
I'd be most grateful.
PHIL. THE POST
advice on Travellers' Diarrhoea
go to the Travel Doctor web site!!
Diarrhoea is quite common amongst travellers to Egypt. Commonly
known as the "Cairo Quick Step" it is usually quite
mild, normally lasting for around 24 to 48 hours, but in a
few cases a bit longer. It can easily be treated by taking
imodium (loperamide) and oral rehydration solution (dioralyte,
However, sometimes more serious forms of food poisoning can
be contracted such as acute gastro-enteritis which is characterised
by headaches, a feeling of malaise together with bouts of
diarrhoea and vomitting. Fortunately this usually subsides
within 24 hours. Another more prolonged illness also exists
and can last for several days even up to a week. In this case
500mg Ciprofloxacin twice a day for 3 days should clear it
up. Remember to take plenty of fluids too.
Besides taking all the usual hygeine precautions, a course
of Pro-Biotics prior to travel can be taken to boost the body's
immunity to stomach bugs. This would be of particular use
to people who seem to be prone to getting stomach upsets.
The Travel Doctor
Sunday 9th March 2008
and Gatchie didn't come down this way", the advice from
the back seat was sound but I carried on in the wrong direction
regardless; thank goodness we were nearly there. M4
M11 A113. Sound simple? Well it was really, it's just
a bloody long way from South Wales and I managed to pick the
most awkward route to the Excel Centre. Eventually though
we saw the signposts and followed the road into London's dock
land. Parking our car in a multi storey cost £10 for
5 hours but the place looked reasonably secure and it was
only a short walk to the Excel centre and the exhibition halls.
inside, all the familiar names were on show: AP valves, Mares,
Northern Diver and many more. The stalls were loaded with
all the latest in dive gear and manned by friendly, helpful
staff. Peter wanted to visit the Maldives Scuba Tours stand
so we made this our first stop and whilst he was renewing
acquaintances with the staff, I spent a pleasant five minutes
watching a video of manta ray, whale shark and coral reefs.
Gazing at this paradise took me back to December when I was
there in the flesh experiencing the sights first hand
wanted to look for a new dry suit and boy, was I spoilt for
choice. We walked around and eventually stopped at the Beaver
stand (it's all in the mind - honest) where I managed to find
a suit to fit and not a bad price either!
day passed quickly. We collected carrier bags like they were
going out of fashion so much for global warming
and stuffed them full of brochures, leaflets and the odd freebie.
Along the way we bought strobes, knives, torches, dry-bags,
gloves and other bits and pieces that will make a day's diving
easier and safer. It didn't take long to spend a shed load
of dosh, so we were grateful for a coffee break and even at
£1.60 a cup and £3 for a Cornish pasty, it was
worth it to take the weight off our feet for a while.
in the day Chris had a go with a re-breather and was mighty
impressed, Martin bandied words with a German guy on a camera
stall and Peter had a really useful conversation with the
people on the SAA stand, then all too soon it was time to
leave. We carried our loaded carriers to the car and set off.
Leaving dock lands wasn't so easy but thanks to the guys where
we stopped for petrol we were soon on the right road.
and Gatchie didn't use this route." I was just about
to reply with something sarcastic but when I looked in the
rear view mirror the offender was eyes closed head lolled
and the only sound was a rhythmic snore. It had been a long
day. It's a long way to come and it seemed even longer going
home because I ignored the directions coming from the back
seat as I headed towards Dartford in exactly the wrong direction
but we'd enjoyed the experience, made some useful contacts
especially with the SAA and bought plenty of gear. And now
I can't wait for the start of the season to try my new dry
Friday 18th January 2008
those members who didnt attend the clubs Las Vegas
night held recently at the Taffs Well Rugby Club, I have this
missed a very good night!
was ideal. The club let us use their upstairs premises, a
lovely big room with a stage, a dance floor and of course
was provided by Rocking Dave, a larger than life
character who sang along to a selection of well known tunes
from the 50s, 60s, and 70s. Dave was very good; he could sing
almost any song requested and he invoked many memories with
hits from Cliff Richards, The Platters, Dean Martin, and even
Cilla Black. I wondered at one time during the evening whether
there was too much nostalgia for our younger members, who,
fair play, had turned up in droves to support the event, but
judging by the energy they put into their activity on the
dance floor, they enjoyed Rocking Dave as much
as us old uns.
buffet was superb theres no other word to describe
it. Lyns partner Elaine must have been up all the previous
night preparing the food. There was so much variety and everything
was so well presented and so delicious I went back
at least three times and I wasnt the only one. A
big thank you to Elaine.
for fun only the roulette wheel manned by Lyns
guest for the evening, Keith gave members a chance to win
chips which could be used to bid at the auction to be held
later. There were those who knew how and those who hadnt
played before. I couldnt tell you who came off best,
but judging by the crowd around the table and the wry smiles
even the losers seem to enjoy having a flutter.
And big Paul Morgan was in his element in charge
of the Black Jack table. He had a willing audience even after
Rocking Dave started his second session. I must mention
also, the initiative of Paul Markwell who on being given the
job of selling the raffle tickets, devised a spiel so good
that he abstracted a minimum of £3 from every purchaser.
He was so good he even had me convinced Id had a good
ended with an auction and Peter Rees did a superb job as auctioneer
in separating members from their hard won chips in exchange
for a range of useful household items.
event not only raised much needed funds for the club but it
gave members an opportunity to socialise, get to know one
another away from boats and salt water and neoprene suits.
A big thank you to Entertainments Officer Lyn Eade and his
partner Elaine for organising the event, selling the tickets,
and generally seeing that everybody had a very good time.
Lyn, you did a bloody good job, and Elaine, that buffet was
to die for! Thank You, and I cant wait for your next
9th September 2007
Phil the Post
can list amongst his life experiences, teaching, caving ,
rambling, and world travelling. Hes also a good scuba
diver and was originally with a Cardiff club but is now a
well established member of LSAC. His standing within the club
is renowned, but despite this he is amongst the first to offer
words of encouragement to new club members during their initial
West Wales diving ventures. Some say this is because he is
always on the look-out for recruits to help him on and off
with his dive gear, a spaghetti of straps, hoses and dubious
bits of equipment, all colour coded, but requiring a person
with a degree in logistics to decide on the order of unbuckling
so as to avoid consigning the lot, to the depths.
dry-suit has always leaked and I mean really let in
the wet stuff. This is in spite of his efforts to find a solution
to the problem. On Sunday last, as we sat in the café
behind West Wales Divers, enjoying our bacon and egg butties
and mugs of tea, John came in and announced he had finally
solved the problem
by getting a replacement suit. Not
a new one mind. He had been rummaging in the attic and unearthed
a suit belonging to his son. It fits perfectly and the
seals feel brand new. He told the assembled audience.
were eventually eight of us. Paul Gray, dive marshal, decided
that we would use one boat, and that launching from Broadhaven
would allow access to Skomer Island.
parked in the back car park and loaded the equipment then
struggled into our suits. What do you think then?
John stood there in said suit black and shocking pink.
We were speechless but at least wed have less
chance of losing him on a crowded beach!
was a doddle and within thirty minutes we were moored to the
visitors buoy in Skomer haven. Buddy teams were decided
I was to dive with Martin and Mike Rees and
we motored slowly to the north wall, before dropping into
twenty metres of water. Visibility was very good 8+
metres and we did the drop off, seeing lots of marine life
including big pink fans and some lovely anemones. Our dive
lasted 40 minutes. John and Club President Viv Griff did the
same dive whilst Max, Richie and Paul dived on the Lucy. All
reported excellent viz and enjoyable diving. We returned to
the visitors buoy to eat lunch and were joined by a
very tame cormorant that came right up to the boat in search
of free offerings. John commented on his new suit;
I feel quite dry except for my left foot
or maybe my right leg. And whats that trickling down
happened just before our second dive. John decided he needed
a comfort break and whilst climbing out of his suit, tugged
half of a cuff seal off the eight years lying in his
attic hadnt improved the suits quality. Now I
know its not funny but we couldnt help but laugh,
and of course that put an end to hes diving for the
day. Our second dive on the hen and chicks was really special.
Again, viz was really good and we saw amongst other marine
life, trigger fish a first for me in British waters.
We were also joined on the dive by a grey seal that played
peek-a- boo around the rocks. Our dive in depths up to thirteen
metres, lasted an hour.
day was not without further incident and Richie added to our
equipment lost at sea list by somehow losing his
weight-belt after ascending from the Lucy.
had been another successful day. The boat was re-fuelled and
readied for next weekends training event. John is still
without a dry dry suit. Will he invest? Or will
his inventive side come up with another home made remedy?
I think we all know the answer to that one.
Bank Holiday Sunday
26th August 2007
Phil the Post
evening events have of late, been very well attended. There
are twenty plus people using the pool and the training team
are kept busy with a stream of new recruits. Later our numbers
are swelled as other club members join us and with thirty
plus people in attendance, we just about take over Llantrisant
Leisure Centres main bar area. At the last Monday meeting,
D.O. Peter Rees asked for a show of hands re- diving over
the bank holiday weekend; the response for diving on Sunday
was good and so when I didnt receive many phone calls
on the Friday, I wasnt unduly concerned. The weather
through the week was glorious and the forecast for the weekend
was for more of the same.
dawned with bright sunshine, rising temperatures and no wind.
By 9-30 there were fifteen of us at West Wales Divers,
our best attendance so far this season. Lyn Eade was dive
marshal. We readied and launched both boats and with assistance
from Billy and his trusty tractor, launched successfully from
a crowded Broadhaven beach. The sun had prompted a rare attendance
by our D.O., who, complete with a cap clearly marked THE
BOSS, skippered Lima 1. Mac took charge of Lima 2 and
we bumped across a choppy sea to anchor just off the Mares
buddied with Phil (the blade) Gillet. We rolled off the boat
and swam over to the rock then descended, landing on a rocky
seabed at 14 metres. Visibility was murky - probably due to
divers in the water before us, because as we crossed the bottom,
the water cleared. There was plenty to see including the usual
spider crabs, velvet crabs and lobster, whilst above the rocks,
huge pollack and wrasse hovered in search of lunch. Underneath
one particular ledge we spotted a conger eels tail and
had to swim around a rock to find his head. He was all of
four feet long well, thats my version
I am a fisherman after all. Our dive lasted the best part
of an hour and we ascended slowly into bright sunshine.
our lunch in Solva Harbour. Of all the beautiful places along
this coast, Solva is my favourite; we spent a pleasant hour
enjoying the scenery and relaxing.
dive site, Dinas Fawr, was one I hadnt visited before.
Visibility here was poor, but we managed forty odd minutes
at depths up to 13 metres. Our day had been good; wed
had almost perfect weather, good diving, and enjoyed good
company with plenty of chat and laughs. What minor difficulties
we encountered had been solved one way or another and even
a little difference regarding tank fittings Din versus
A. Clamp concluded in uncontrolled laughter.
to Broadhaven around 4-30. One of the boat trailers needed
attention Billy was on the case what would the
club do without this man? Hes a dab hand at repairs
and always the first person to volunteer; he must save the
club a fortune. The other boat was taken back to base. The
road home was surprisingly quiet; by 9-30 I was sorting my
kit and half way down a glass of Speckled Hen. It had been
a perfect day.
PHIL. THE POST
be Dive Leader?
12th August 2007
Phil the Post
had a nagging doubt whilst driving down to West Wales. The
response at our Monday night meeting was positive, but there
had been no contact since. Surely somebody would turn up
and what if they didnt? Well, Ive been a club
member for long enough to have faith. Dont worry;
itll be alright on the day, should really be our
By 09-15, there were six of us. We operated like a well oiled
machine; the boat was prepared, the jeep hitched up, we were
ready to go but where to? And more important, who was
going to be the dive marshal? My nagging doubt had come true
and as I looked around, I realised that I was the only person
present with a dive leader ticket and that had only
recently been acquired there were others present better
able and more experienced, but
Suddenly, for me at least,
today was going to be different. The others seemed happy enough
so I became a dive marshal for the very first time, and started
my duties by driving the jeep with boat in tow down the narrow
lanes to Gelliswick boat slip. By the time we were ready to
launch, there were eight of us; Richard Griff and Wayne had
been delayed, but would join us as soon as theyd filled
A strengthening wind and a heavy swell meant that diving today
would be confined to the sheltered waters of Milford Haven,
and a consensus opted to find the shipwreck Behar,
a cable laying vessel that was one of the first casualties
of WW2. Our navigation was spot on and we dropped anchor almost
into the wreck. Selecting buddy teams, part of the dive marshal
duties, means matching divers ability and experience.
Luckily we had all dived on previous occasions making selection
quite an easy task. I paired up with Mike, who has just recently
qualified as a diver. We were the first to roll off the boat
and descended through the murky water to land beside the wreck
at 16 metres. Visibility wasnt bad around 2 maybe
Mike hadnt been on a wreck before so I took the lead
and we swam slowly around the rusty metal and exposed spars.
My torch beam picked out dead mens fingers
and other marine growths as well as shoals of fish hovering
safe within the wreckage. Ropes and old fishing net swayed
in the gentle current, whilst long strands of seaweed added
ghostly movement to an otherwise still, silent scene. Our
dive lasted 45 minutes and we ascended slowly into bright
The wind was still causing a heavy swell. Our second dive
was on the wreck of the Loch Shiel a ship that
went down in 1901 off Thorne Island. She was reputedly carrying
a cargo of whisky and bricks and whilst there are still lots
of the latter, Ive yet to find any bottles of the hard
stuff. The wreck itself is now very skeletal but covered
in marine life. There are lots of crabs, fish, and the occasional
lobster to see. In the relative shallow depth of under10 metres,
Mike and I enjoyed a relaxed dive that lasted the best part
of an hour.
The day had been good. We headed back to shore, recovered
the boat and were soon on our way back home. En- route, I
reflected on my day. It had been different. In between my
dives, I checked on safety issues, kept an eye on other boat
traffic, and timed the others on their dives. There had been
no incidents and the boat was returned safely to base. Later
there would be reports to complete and logs to keep. Maybe
this dive marshal bit isnt too difficult after all
or do I owe a round of drinks to a very experienced and well
organised crew. Ive a sneaky feeling its more
the latter than the former.
PHIL. THE POST
Sunday 5th August 2007
Phil the Post
had started off fine and sunny but clouds were forming as
we approached Haverford West. According to the cheery forecaster
on national radio, most of the country was to be bathed in
glorious sunshine and temperatures would be in the middle
20s C. Len Bateman on radio Pembrokeshire was more conservative.
A cloudy start with rain coming in by the early afternoon
and maximum temperatures 17/18C. Why does West Wales
always have to be different? There were six members at the
Dive Centre and another couple turned up as we enjoyed a bacon
9-30 there were twelve of us. We decided to go to Skomer and
prepared both of the club boats. Launching from Broahaven
is never easy, but today we had Billy Whizz and his trusty
tractor. He pushed the boats through the big breakers and
into the smooth waters beyond. We headed out taking our time
and riding lumpy swells. In the lee of the island, conditions
were much calmer. Jeff Canning, dive marshal for the day,
set the buddy pairs and we kitted up for our first dive. I
was paired with Paul the gas Morgan. We rolled
off the boat alongside Skomer North Wall, landing at 20 metres,
onto a rocky bottom. Visibility was good 5 maybe 6
metres. Finning against a mild current we saw loads of marine
life; spider crabs, lobster, big edible crabs, ballan wrasse,
cuckoo wrasse and Pollack. They werent worried by our
presence and seemed to recognise their safe status within
the marine reserve. After half an hour, we turned around and
drifted gently back with the current. Our dive lasted 45 minutes
and with my air supply at 50 bar, we ascended slowly. At the
surface, it had started to rain. Our boat was 50 metres down
tide and as we drifted slowly towards it, gulls wheeled overhead,
and the odd puffin flew by. Back on board, we ate lunch in
North Haven then decided to head back to the Hen and
Chicks for our second dive. The rain was now falling steadily
and visibility deteriorating.
Hen and Chicks is one of my favourite dive sites. Its
shallow, with little or no current, and the viz is generally
good. We spent almost an hour around and under the rocks,
seeing lots of marine creatures including shoals of juvenile
fish, probably bass.
had been a good days diving and by the time wed
washed the boats and stored the equipment it was after 7-00.
There are always things worthy of recall and today was no
exception. Mark Jones had a new toy; a green force torch,
which he wanted to try out. Well, according to his dive buddies,
it was so bright, the crabs and lobsters hastily took opposite
sides; they thought someone had arranged a night match and
had forgotten to tell them. And Billy Whizz had new spring
type fin straps. He was full of praise after his first dive,
but we learnt some new words when he accidentally lost a fin
complete with new strap, over the side. Is there anybody in
the market for one fin complete with (new) spring strap? Then
we learn that Jeff C had tried a minilistic approach to his
equipment by rolling off the boat minus his weight belt. The
quest to discover his unsuccessful attempt to descend was
solved via a series of elimination.
my memory of the day would be twofold. Firstly, Wanda one
of our novice divers enjoyed her first undersea experience
in the safe confines of Skomer North Haven. Accompanied by
tall Paul, she spent 30+ minutes enjoying the
marine environment, and is looking forward to more dives in
the future. And, our oldest member, Phil the Flute,
celebrated his 76th birthday by completing two dives. Well
dive week Ramsey Island
Tuesday 24th July 2007
Phil the Post
diving trip was very successful. I travelled down West with
Peter Swarfield. The journey was uneventful; we chatted about
club events past and present, club members, and other 'man'
Arriving at West Wales Divers we met up with John Evans, Jeff
Canning and Richie Grice. A brief discussion, then Richie
left to fill the boat with fuel; he met us at Broadhaven.
Our launch was almost successful, but we misjudged the depth
of water and the boat grounded onto the sand. Thankfully the
tide was rising; we manhandled the boat into deeper water
and were soon riding the wave crests as we headed for Ramsey
The journey was lumpy, a result of the poor weather conditions
of late, though thankfully, the sun was shining; it was a
lovely day. Arriving at Ramsey, Richie used our new monitoring
system to gauge depths and we dropped anchor in a sheltered
I dived with John 'Crabhook'Evans. We dropped into 18 metres;
the visibility was good and the current slight. John followed
his favourite pursuit ie, find the lobster I followed behind,
admiring the marine creatures of which there were lots.
the end of the dive, John shouted at me (well, he would have
if he could have) I followed his moving torch beam and saw
a large grey seal. This inquisitive creature played hide and
seek with us and eventually came close enough to nibble at
my fins. I was ecstatic!! I've seen it happen to other people,
read about it, and seen pictures, but when it happened to
me, I was over the moon. He or she looked up at me with large
soulful eyes; I reached out, and in a flash, he was gone.
He re-appeared as we were ascending, this time playing around
Back on the boat we were like a pair of school children as
we tried to relay our experiences to the others. The same
seal interacted with the next pair of divers. After their
dive, they recalled similar experiences.
Our next dive was in another bay. Here we experienced a mixture
of reef and sand. There were lots of dog fish, lobsters, velvet
spider crabs, and scallops.
Boat recovery was a smooth operation and apart from having
to negotiate lots of holiday makers who are unfamiliar with
the narrow lanes of West Wales, theres nothing else
We got back to base around 6-30pm.
Sunday 15th July 2007
Phil the Post
Very First Time
something special about that very first time. We sit there
exchanging glances, making small talk; throwaway remarks.
I can tell by her expression that she's anxious. I know what's
going through her mind. 'Will it be as good as they said it
would be? Will it be safe? I've come so far, is there any
way of turning back?'
it's the moment. We've been through the checks together, weight-belt,
air turned on, releases identified, fins and mask in place.
I motion that I'm going in first, then confidently roll off
the boat and on resurfacing, encourage my student to follow.
"Come on in, the water's lovely". She remains statue
like then there's movement and almost as if in slow
motion she falls backwards; there's a mighty splash, she resurfaces
thankfully, her regulator clasped tightly in her mouth. Her
eyes are wide she's breathing fast; I issue words of
encouragement "well done, stay calm". And
then, "Are you ready?" She nods, nervously, unable
to answer for fear of losing the regulator. I know how she's
feeling right now; it's not too long ago that I was in a similar
situation. I remember how my instructor encouraged me and
try to do the same for my student.
the time is right, and raise my inflate/deflate hose with
my thumb on the deflate button, indicating for her to follow
the example. We prepare to descend. She finds the controls
and together we leave the surface; the sky disappears from
view; now we're entering the undersea world and within seconds
my feet hit the sand. Thankfully my student is within touching
distance, wobbling clumsily, almost toddler like, trying to
balance in this unnatural environment. She tries to move,
and falls over. I motion for her to add a small amount of
air to her jacket and demonstrate. She follows my example
and instantly gains neutral buoyancy. I clap my hands in encouragement,
and prepare to move off. Visibility is good at least
three metres and at this shallow depth 4/5 metres,
there's plenty of light. We spot wrasse, small flat fish,
and lots of spider crabs. All this is new to my student and
she is clearly enjoying this new experience. There's lots
to see, anemones, different coloured weed, and in the eel
grass, hundreds of juvenile fish. But she's smitten with the
spider crabs, and I watch with amusement as she gingerly picks
one particularly lively specimen up taking care not to engage
with its extended claws, and then gently replaces it to the
sea bed where it scuttles to the safety of a large rock.
been monitoring the air gauges throughout the dive; at this
shallow depth, air consumption is conservative. We've been
underwater for thirty minutes, I'm beginning to feel the cold,
and at thirty five minutes, give the signal to ascend. She
adds a little air to her jacket almost as if she's been doing
it for years. We ascend slowly and soon there's the sky, and
scores of puffins wheeling overhead. I signal the boat and
watch as they respond. We bob together in the gentle swell;
I'm tempted to ask "How was it for you?" But the
huge smile behind her mask make words unnecessary.
confident throughout this her first boat dive. She managed
to control her buoyancy and her breathing; a compliment to
club trainers and training policy. The dive had been one activity
of the training weekend and congratulations are in order for
Chris, Alan, Owen, Phil, 'Smudge', Mike, Paul and Liz who
all attended lectures and completed several exercises at both
open water and club diver level. A big thank you is also owed
to club training officer Richie, committee member 'Tall Paul'
and Max who gave up their time over the weekend. Both club
boats were used on the Sunday, a rare sight these days according
to one local observer; but hopefully with plenty of new divers
being introduced to the pleasures of diving off the West Wales
coast, two boats filled with Llantrisant Divers heading out
to sea, will in future become a frequent sight.
Dive Day at the Smalls
Sunday 10th June 2007
Phil the Post
Sunday 10th of June, several club members took advantage of
excellent weather conditions to chance a trip to the Small's
This rocky outcrop 22 miles out from the Haven, is a once
a year trip, and that's if you're lucky.
Due to its remote location, sea and weather conditions have
to be near perfect to be able to go there, and enough members
need to turn up as club safety policy dictates that two boats
must be used when travelling this far out.
particular Sunday, the sun was shining, there was almost no
wind, the temperature was approaching 20c at 9:00am, the tides
were favourable and there were ten of us present and correct
at WWD, ready and eager to go. Due to fuelling needs, we decided
to launch from Gelliswick. Lyn, dive marshal for the day,
used the Pajero to tow one boat, Jeff Canning followed on
with the other.
went smoothly and we were soon zooming out of the Haven. There
was a mist over the sea, and it was mainly thanks to our senior
members, Mac, Billy and Lyn, that we eventually saw the tall
lighthouse. I feared a day out in Dublin was on the cards,
had navigation been left to the rest of us. A compass or GPS
on each boat, and members properly trained in their use was
never more obvious, (strong hint to the committee).
we were privileged to see feeding puffins, shearwaters and
my favourites, the mighty gannets; we were also lucky enough
to be joined by a pod of dolphins as they played in our bow
wave for several seconds before disappearing only to be seen
minutes later in the distance.
were several boats at the Smalls, fishing boats, dive boats,
and a hard boat full of excited people who had come to see
There are lots of seals here, big ones and small ones; they
sprawl across the rocks as though catching the rays, or pop
up at the side of the boat with an inquisitive look on their
face; they really are most amusing creatures, I could willingly
watch them all day. But we were here to dive. It was slack
tide. Perfect! Lyn paired people up and we were soon underwater.
was good, and I'm not just saying that! Apart from a bit of
suspended sediment, it was possible to see clearly for at
least six metres. We saw wrasse, pollack, and the biggest
crabs and lobsters you could imagine. The marine vegetation
was stunning; every rock surface was covered with bright,
beautiful colours, you could almost have been in the tropics.
Water temperature wasn't bad either, a heady 13c, wow!!
time we had all got out of the water, the tide was racing
and boy; for our second dive we needed to change location
and so reluctantly we left this paradise and headed back towards
Skokholm. The ebb tide was flowing as we rolled off the boat;
this time I buddied with Jeff. We levelled off at 16 metres
and explored the many gullies that are a feature of this mark.
Again, the viz was good and we saw plenty of marine life.
6:30pm when we eventually got back to WWD. There was a queue
to wash the boats; we waited our turn patiently. The temperature
was still in the 20s, it would have been nice, after putting
the boats away, to enjoy a couple of beers and watch the sun
go down, but we needed to head East, and it was 9:00pm when
I and my travelling companion Peter Swarfield pulled into
the Cross Inn pub near Llantrisant. Over a pint or two we
reflected on what had been a brilliant day. Perfect weather,
lots to see, a few laughs.
not to tell about Richie Griff rolling off the boat without
his fins on; he was quite a way down tide when we managed
to catch up with him, we couldn't move for laughing, and I've
a feeling it'll be some time before he's allowed to forget
I'm travelling to Cuba and whilst I'll be diving there, I'm
sure it won't be half as much fun as a day out with the club
Sunday 20th May 2007
Phil the Post
was quiet in the little café behind West Wales Divers;
surprisingly quiet considering it was a lovely Sunday morning
in the middle of May, but understandable, taking into account
the nasty winds and heavy showers that had been the weather
pattern for the previous week. There were seven of us assembled;
men on a mission; all present for this, a training day; all
anticipating the challenge involved in demonstrating skills
that would lead onto a higher level of S.A.A. recognition.
We launched from Broadhaven, the scene more reminiscent of
an Australian surf beach as we fought to hold the boat against
powerful oncoming rollers. Luckily, we managed to remain upright
and Richie, dive marshal for this trip, powered across the
bay, past the Hen and Chicks and out towards Skomer. Todays
exercise was a deep dive and Richie had chosen the site of
the wreck, Lucy, to complete the necessary tasks. The Lucy
ran aground in Jack Sound on Valentines Day 1967. The
next full tide lifted her off and she sank into 40 metres
of water where she still sits perfectly upright. Further details
We tied up to the buoy and assembled our kit. Paul Morgan,
Max, and myself were doing this dive as part of the Dive Leader
level. Richie gave a briefing, going through the hazards of
deep diving, and then using tables, we calculated our dive
plan. We rolled off the boat and descended the shot line.
The water temperature was 12.C; not violently cold, but I
was thankful for the layers of insulation. Visibility was
awful, a result of the previous weeks storms, and as
we got to the 25metre mark the light faded; we were literally,
in the dark; it was eerie; I couldnt see anything, and
needed to use a torch to read my computer.
The top of the wreck is at 36 metres; at this depth, my computer
told me I had 10 minutes before de-co. Groping in the blackness,
I followed the rail towards the stern, shining my torch and
picking out huge spider crabs and dead mens fingers
in the narrow beam. The combination of darkness and depth
was awesome; I gripped the rail tightly! A further glance
at my computer revealed 6 minutes remaining; it was time to
turn around. We gathered at the shot line and made our ascent
slowly, pausing at 3 metres for a safety stop.
Back on the boat we discussed our brief adventure into the
depths and all admitted to a heightening of sensations as
we had descended into the dark. Theres no doubt in my
mind that a deep, dark, and cold environment provided a challenge
that I hadnt encountered before and one I would have
to try again several times before I could say I would be confident
in this sort of environment.
Richie and Tall Paul were next, and they completed a more
involved deco dive as part of their dive supervisor
level. Phil Gillett and Mark Jones were last in the water.
We had lunch whilst watching the antics of the Puffin population
around Skomer, and were entertained by numerous grey seals.
They popped up frequently as if wanting to know what we were
doing in their backyard. Our second dive, on the North
Wall, was abandoned due to zero visibility and we completed
the day with a relaxed dive on the Hen and Chicks, where the
viz was slightly better.
By the time we had recovered the boat and returned to W.W.D.,
it was after 7.00pm; it had been a long day, but luckily traffic
heading east was light and we were enjoying a well deserved
pint in the Barn on the outskirts of Llantrisant just before
Next weekend is a bank holiday and West Wales diving will
be extended to Monday. I look forward to seeing you there.
Sunday 22 April 2007
Phil the Post
you want to get up at 05-30am on a Sunday morning? Well, if
youve a dog to walk, a hundred mile+ journey to do,
a date with a bacon sandwich and a mug of steaming tea; and
all to fit in before 09-00am; you aint got much option.
Martin picked me up at 06-45am and we headed West. We spent
the journey discussing mundane topics; family, work, holidays;
and trying to ignore the darkening clouds and the odd speck
of rain. Why, after such a lovely week of weather must it
suddenly deteriorate on a Sunday? The odd specks turned to
big drops, and the windscreen wipers needed to be on constant,
to cope with the downpour. Like little boys, we talked our
way through the rain. Maybe it was only a shower; it wouldnt
be raining in Haverford West would it?
the time we pulled up outside of West Wales Divers the rain
had stopped; see, told you so!! Max and his buddy Dave were
in the little Café. The rest of the team began to arrive;
two more, then two more, then two more, and more
Marshall for the day, Lyn, appeared on the scene. Now there
were ten of us; and only one boat!! Lyn, not known for making
hasty decisions, and armed with the knowledge that West Wales
Divers had cancelled their charter for the day,( because of
the deteriorating weather conditions) called a conference.
We decided that given the circumstances, it would be safe
and sensible to have one dive each and to confine our activities
to the seas around the Haven.
was a doddle as the full tide was lapping the top of the slipway
at Gelliswick. Martin took the helm and we headed around the
piers and out towards St. Annes Head. The sea was a
horrible grey colour and the breakers made progress slow.
It soon became obvious that conditions outside of the Haven
would be un-comfy to say the least. A dive on the wreck of
the Behar seemed a safer option. We buddied up and dropped
into the water. It was cold around 10C according to
my computer. Martin and myself followed the anchor rope down
onto the seabed. Visibility was surprisingly good (this would
have compensated for the cold which was by now making my fingers
very numb), except that there was nothing to see!! The seabed
was featureless and the Behar? The old hands on board told
tales of a huge wreck. Well either we had dropped on the wrong
spot or somebody had pinched the rusty old hulk overnight.
Our dive lasted half an hour during which time we managed
to find several patches of rough ground where there was at
least a little bit of life to see.
aboard the rib, it transpired that nobody had managed to find
the wreck. Max and Dave had come the closest. They had found
a huge anchor, but when they followed the rusty old chain,
it ended in nothing!! Maybe a working GPS on board our rib,
was achieved with polished performance. We really are getting
quite good at this; though I must admit, the Pajero makes
life a lot easier. Back at West Wales divers, we washed the
boat down and stored the safety gear. We were on our way East
by 4-00pm. Not the best days diving, but good to see
so many enthusiastic members so early in the season, and its
always great to get out on the water, regardless of the end
ten members who braved the cold were Lyn (dive marshall) Martin
(he has a tool for just about any situation) John (Crabhook),
Max, Dave, Phil (Crabhooks apprentice), Mike Rees,(who
only came to feed the fishes) Gail and Griff; nice to see
Gail come back to cold water diving, next time she may even
get into the water) and yours truly
I look forward to seeing you on future dive weekends; come
along and join us, theres plenty of room for more.
Dive Of The Season
(Easter Sunday 2007)
by Phil the
weather over the Easter weekend, was glorious. On Easter Sunday,
an early veil of mist gave way to blue skies, bright sunshine,
and virtually no wind. We met up at the West Wales Divers
base, Hasguards Cross, which is just beyond Haverfordwest.
There were seven of us including a rare appearance of our
leader Mr. Rees. Once a frequent diver in West Wales, in recent
years, Peter is better known for his diving exploits in warmer
climes. Maybe this is a comeback, watch this space!
a substantial breakfast and two mugs of tea, we towed the
boat to Broadhaven. The tide was just off the slipway; ideal
conditions for launching and we were soon on our way, zooming
across the water towards Mares rock. The sea was silky
smooth. We saw cormorants, shearwaters and as we approached
Solva, a lone dolphin rolled on the surface.
were five of us prepared to dive and we split into two teams.
I was partnered with Phil the Blade. We rolled
off the boat together and hit the water. It was cold; it might
have been a warm day but believe me, the sea was cold
degrees Celsius according to my computer, and it got colder
as we descended. Visibility however was surprisingly good
and we made our way across the rocky bottom down to twenty
metres. Along the way we saw pollack, wrasse, dogfish and
literally hundreds of spider crabs. Our dive lasted forty
minutes by which time we were running low on air.
a leisurely lunch spent in the picturesque Solva harbour,
we headed back, past Stack rock, and anchored up at a well
known dive mark, the hen and chicks.
second dive was similar to the first; maybe the visibility
was a little better but it was still very cold. There was
plenty to see though including lobsters edible crab and the
biggest spider crabs you could imagine. As in the first dive,
our air supply began to dwindle after about forty minutes
and we surfaced slowly into bright sunshine.
in Broadhaven, team effort made boat recovery a doddle and
I was soon on the motorway heading east. It had been a perfect
day; good diving, good company, and most important, Id
be home in time to enjoy a couple of pints of good beer in
members please note, the dive calendar has been published
on the club web site. www.llantrisantdivers.com I hope to
see you over the next few dive weekends.
of the Dive Week
(29th & 30th July 2006)
by Phil the Post
it Sods Law others are more explicit! But thats
how it goes. So on the Sunday that ten of us turn up to dive,
the wind is blowing at force 4/5, limiting our choice of venues
and launch sites. We divers are a resourceful lot mind, and
following a discussion, we decided that Gelliswick slip would
be a safe launch site, and that this would be an ideal opportunity
to see how we could handle a situation towing and launching
two boats with just one tow vehicle. Tall Paul volunteered
to drive, and with Lima 1 hitched up, was soon on his way.
Meantime, we took advantage of the café facilities
for a leisurely breakfast. Paul was back within the hour,
and with Lima 2 in tow, we set off in convoy for Gelliswick.
went smoothly and two boats headed around the jetties out
towards the mouth of the Haven. The wind had picked up, and
it soon became clear that our diving today would be very restricted.
Amidst rolling waves, we decided to dive inside the Haven;
our first dive would be on the wreck of the Dakotion.
Now. I make no secret of the fact that I do not like wreck
diving, and see the Dakotionas a pile of rusty
metal sheets! But, any dive is better than none, so after
the buddy teams had been appointed by marshall for the day
Jeff. Canning, we dropped into the murky water and followed
the anchor rope down to the sea bed, some 18 metres below.
Visibility was just about zero, but thankfully my buddy Phil.
(the blade) Gillet had a powerful torch and we fumbled our
way around the bottom spotting small lobsters, and several
species of fish amongst the wreckage before deciding to knock
it on the head.
surface, the sun was shining brightly, in fact it was a glorious
day, but the wind and the tide were causing the anchored boats
to rock about wildly. On our boat, young Peter Swarfield was
sharing his breakfast with the fish whilst on the other boat,
new member, Mike Rees who many of us considered was more at
home on the sea than Popeye, had turned a whiter shade
of pale and was close to joining Peter!
to seek shelter and headed for the Thorn Island; our second
dive would be on the wreck of the Loch Sheil.
Here, visibility was a little better and we spent a pleasant
half hour perusing the wreckage, and searching for remnants
of the cargo, bottles of whisky, and bricks, (we found the
bricks). It was now time to go; we made our way back to the
slip; boat recovery went well, and we were soon back at base,
West Wales Divers. Just after six pm I settled down as passenger
in Martins car and enjoyed a very pleasant journey home.
was supposed to be diving all the next week, in fact, I fully
intended to return to West Wales on Thursday, but the weather
deteriorated and reports indicated that visibility remained
poor so I didnt make it. The next dive weekend is 12/13
of August when it is intended to visit the Lucy
for some deep dive training. Yes! I know, another wreck, but----.
Maybe Ill see you there.
(1st & 2nd July 2006)
by Phil the Post
two weeks spent diving in the Maldive Islands, I couldnt
wait to get back to the challenging waters of West Wales
(NOT!) The recent spell of fine weather held out. Sunday dawned
bright and sunny with temperatures of 20.0c and rising. My
early morning journey to Hasguards Cross was rewarded
with the sighting of a kite hovering over a roundabout at
St. Clears; quite a start to the day.
behind West Wales Divers was heaving; workers toiled
valiantly to satisfy demand for healthy breakfasts; bacon,
two eggs, sausage, beans and toast being the order of the
day. I spotted our treasurer Jeffrey, working his way through
what is commonly known as a Divers Delight and joined
him. Jeff had come down on Friday with every intention of
a camping, canoeing and diving weekend. He confided in me
that he had forgotten to bring with him one basic piece of
kit the tent, but in true pioneering fashion had managed
to secure accommodation locally. He asked me not to tell of
his dilemma, and I promised not to; so please dont tell
of the gang arrived and we prepared the boat. Later, using
our recently acquired Pajero, we launched Lima 2 from Gelliswick.
We had been joined by our President, Viv with his own boat,
and we made our way together, around the jetties, out towards
Skokholm Island. Our team for the day, Viv, Phil the flute,
Martin, Jeff, Mac, Phil Gillet, and myself. Dive Marshall
for the day was Jeff, and he set the buddy teams.
I were first in. The shock of cold water-13.0c- penetrated
my dry-suit, under-suit and base layers. It was a sharp contrast
with the 30.0c Indian Ocean I had been enjoying just a week
previous! Visibility however was good and there was plenty
to see amongst the rocks and kelp. Half-way through the dive,
the current seemed to pick up. It was not surprising therefore
to discover when we surfaced, that we had strayed into the
race and were heading at a rate of knots towards Jack Sound.
Luckily, Jeff had spotted our SMB and followed us to the pick
managed two dives before the weather turned. The journey back
was a wet one. Gelliswick slip was thankfully clear, and following
a smooth recovery we were soon back at base. It had been another
successful day with plenty to see, including, seals, puffins,
cormorants; and underwater, pollack, wrasse, dogfish, crabs,
lobsters, and a host of other colourful marine life. WHY THEREFORE
were there so few of us diving? Surely we cant all be
just warm water divers. Perhaps well have a better turn
out next weekend. Members please note, if youre unsure
of the arrangements for the weekends diving, give me
a ring on my works number, 01443 226201, during office hours
on Fridays. I have up to the minute details of who will be
Dive Marshall, and how many people are likely to turn up.
Theres no problem with towing now that we have our own
vehicle. I look forward to hearing from you.
Holiday Weekend 2006
is Dive Day!
Phil the Post
a week of dismal weather, Sunday started dry and bright. Richard
arrived to pick me up at 7.00am, and following a minor emergency
when I took time to find my glasses, we were soon heading
down the M4. Conversation at this time of the morning tends
to be limited, and I took a rare opportunity of being a passenger,
to admire the lovely countryside. The journey was uneventful
and it was just after 9.00am, when we rolled up outside of
West Wales Divers where the other club members making up the
team for today, were waiting. The look we got
didn't seem right and we were greeted with the news that the
promised tow vehicle, our very own long awaited 4x4, wasn't
available. We resigned ourselves to using the smaller Humber.
It never ceases to amaze me what a co-operative bunch we divers
are however, and over a cup of coffee in the café,
the Dive Shop owner offered to tow and launch our Cobra. We
were very grateful to Roland for saving the day.
Haven, a stiff breeze was coming off the sea, causing breakers
to roll up the beach. We made our way slowly towards Stack
Rock where we hoped to get a little shelter. The Cobra rode
the waves well; and we were soon anchored; grey seals eyed
us warily as the dive teams busied themselves kitting up.
There were two other dive boats in the area, a sure sign of
the weather which would restrict out diving today. Jeff and
Martin were first to roll off the boat; Richard discovered
he had forgotten to fit a low pressure hose to his first stage,
but prepared as we always are, (or if were honest, purely
by good fortune), we had a spare and he was soon ready to
join John Evans, and Phil. Gillett; they disappeared beneath
the grey sea and I watched their bubbles as they made their
way towards the rock. The sun had stayed out and in the shelter
of the rock, it was quite pleasant. I watched the seals and
the sea birds whilst looking out for the S.M.B. which would
signal the divers return. Martin and Jeff surfaced after 50
minutes. Due to the low tide, their dive had been restricted
to 12 metres. Visibility however had been reasonable; they
had spotted edible and spider crabs, as well as dead
mens fingers and the ever present dog fish. The
others surfaced soon afterwards. All had enjoyed the dive.
We decided to try the Hen and Chicks for our second
dive and made our way back slowly. Following a respectable
surface interval, and butty break, the dive teams
entered the water. This time, visibility wasn't as good, and
due to the state of the tide, depth was restricted to 8 metres.
By the time the divers had surfaced and wed stowed all
the gear away, it was 4.00pm. We made our way to Little Haven
and following a challenging recovery were soon back at West
had been enjoyable; we had managed to get two dives in, and
in between, there was plenty of surface activity with seals,
and a variety of sea birds to view. Whats that you say,
Why didn't I dive? I almost forgot to mention.
We had kitted up as we usually do, in the car park at Little
Haven. As I was struggling into my dry suit, a wrist seal
ripped, consigning me to boat cover for the rest of the day.
In fairness, Martin, (always the man to be relied upon to
have just about anything you might need) tried a repair using
strong tape, but I didn't fancy a soaking! As you can well
imagine, when the boys came up from their first dive and said
that the sea temperature was a staggering 11 degrees Celsius
I was truly disappointed that I hadnt shared their experience.
And on their second dive when the viz was almost zero; well,
I was gutted. So, on our return,it was West Wales Divers to
the rescue again; they took my suit and fitted two new wrist
seals. I wont need it for while as its the Maldives
for me in June. I wont be diving in the U.K. again until
July; hopefully the water will be warmer by then; I hope so
because Im fast running out of excuses!