Pembrokeshire, September 2018
Staying at: http://www.upperneeston.co.uk/
Diving with: http://www.dive-pembrokeshire.com
Travelling down at various time through the day the first 5 members met at the bunk house throughout the day on Thursday. The plan was to do some shore diving on the Friday followed by 2 days of boat diving over the weekend.
Shore Diving : Martin’s Haven
We aimed to arrive at the site a little before high water to make access for the first dive as easy as possible. Parking on the road down to the beach it was a short but steep journey to the water’s edge. A northerly breeze created some swell into the bay. We split into two groups with Rob, Ellie and Steve going in first followed by Mike and Jamie second.
As the boat from the beach was not running today the first dive was around the left side of the bay where there is a small outcrop of rock that reaches out to sea. Following the line of the rocks and sand we checked around for life. There wasn’t an abundance of creatures but we did see a very large white spiny starfish at least 40cm across, a large black sea cucumber and a small lobster amongst the rocks. A number of large scallops sat in the sand, this bay is inside the Marine Reserve and is a strict no take area. Visibility wasn’t great at a couple of meters but navigating around was easy with the rocks to follow. We ended the dive and exited the water just after high water.
During the break between dives we noticed a seal swimming in the bay, then another. Investigating further we found a seal pup was on the beach around the corner from where we were diving and one of the seals in the water must be its mother. We kept our distance so to not stress the pub and gave the mother plenty of space on our second dive.
With the tide falling we knew getting in and out would be more difficult on the 2nd dive. We made our way across a seabed of kelp to the right hand side of the bay.
The kelp started to clear and reveal large boulders that gave some nice swim swim throughs. Lots more large white spiny starfish on this side of the bay and good sized orange sponges. We turned around as we reached the mouth of the bay as we could feel the current and traced our route back to the entry point past some more large clams and small fish on the sea bed. Getting out was a bit more difficult now on the low tide and although we nearly lost a dive computer there were no major issues.
We hauled our kit back up the cars and packed up for the journey back to the bunk house. By the time we cleaned up and had some food the Mike W and Dawn not far away. We all walked into the village where we had a table booked for dinner that night.
The boat left from Neyland marina and started the journey around the headland to Skomer Island. This would be where we were to make our first boat dive of the day. We pulled up along the north wall of Skomer, the current was still running but it would ease off towards the end of the dive. I was buddied up with Rob and like most of the pairs we dropped over the edge of the wall and allowed the current to carry us past the scenery only stopping when we saw something of interest.
There were lots of small sea fans and small sponges tucked in amongst the rocks along with crabs, shrimp and small fish hiding in the gaps. As we started to surface towards the end of the dive a couple of seals came over to check us out, they had a quick pull at some fins but they didn’t hang around long to pose for the camera.
Dive 2: High Hill, North
The skipper gave us a good tale of seeing octopus here in the sheltered bay, we looked but didn’t see any so sadly cannot confirm if it was true or not. The sea bed slowly dropped from the cliff base out to around 17m where it became sand. Lots of small rocks covered with small but colourful sponges. A few lobsters, shrimp and even a tompot blenny hid in the holes they could find around the different sized rocks that littered the sea floor. A few sea fans stood proud of the bottom adorned with with egg sacs like an underwater Christmas tree.
All too soon it was time to start our journey back to the marina. Taking what we needed from the boat and stopping to check out the suitability of the showers for the following day. Time to get the cylinders refilled and refill ourselves with fish and chips.
Dive 1: Dakotian
The weather wasn’t the best on Sunday so sheltered dive spots were the choice locations. Happily the area around Pembrokeshire had a fair number to choose from and the first was the Dakotian. We dropped down amidships and swam towards the stern. As we explored the cargo holds, in and around the overhangs small groups of fish shot around in the gloom. We continued to the stern as this is the highest point of the wreck. It was a good call as a number of cat sharks were lying on the deck and didn’t want to move.
After a short surface interval tooked into a sheltered cove we moved over to the Behar. We dropped down the shot into green haze. The viz stayed green for the whole dive but a slight swell and small current kept the area clear of any sediment. My buddy and I chose to swim toward the stern as this was again the highest point.
There were some small lobsters under the large plates that were once the hull and are now lying around the sea bed. We spotted a couple more cat sharks just as we passed what I believe was the boiler. Reaching the end of the wreck we circled around and while navigating around a piece of the stern railings we stumbled on the wheelhouse. The wheelhouse has large openings that allowed some swimthroughs and sitting only about 7m short of the surface on our tide was a great place to bag off and end the dive.
I certainly had a great time in Pembrokeshire and I feel the area has a lot more to offer so a return trip may soon be in the planning.