As part of his Dive Leader qualification, Barry-John set himself to organise a club trip to Wales.
He selected Pembrokeshire for a weekend trip with accommodation at Pembroke Dock and boat launching at Milford Haven Marina. Our dive operator was Pembrokeshire Boat Charters on board the Catamaran ‘Celtic Discovery’ skippered by Dave.

“Milford Haven is a commercial dock mainly used for fuel oil and liquid gas logistics. The town’s port is one of the largest in the United Kingdom and plays an important role in the country’s energy sector, with several oil refineries and one of the biggest LNG terminals in the world.”

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Our diving team consisted of Barry-John, Hugh, Steve, Joe, Martin, Rob, Jake, Marc, James, Pete, Luke, and Riley.

However, Rob, Martin, and Joe elected to go shore diving early on Friday, May 17th, at Martin Haven. 

Rob takes up this part of the story….

Friday the 17th of May

It’s slightly depressing when you compare the miles driven to the number of dives undertaken on a trip. So, if I can get a shore dive in as part of the deal, I’m a happy boy. The tides at Martin’s Haven were in our favour (High Water was at 1507), meaning I could leave Nuneaton at the very respectable time of 0800 and still have a leisurely drive down to arrive just before 13:00. Passing the National Trust car park and parking on the left side of the road is possible, as long as you leave enough room for the lifeboat to get past if required. If these spaces are full, you can drop your kit and use the carpark  

It is still about a 100-meter walk to get into the water, some of which is on a steep, shale beach. As we were using twins, we opted to do this journey only once and went for one longer dive. 

We started at 1415 in the centre of the bay before descending over kelp to a depth of about 4 meters. We then turned left past the ferry pier to pick up where the rock face meets the sand. Following this down, we started to notice lots more life beyond 8 meters, including several Nudibranchs and Flatworms. The visibility was good at around 6-8 meters. 

Heading deeper, more life emerged, including Catsharks, prolific Scallop beds, inquisitive Wrasse, and huge spider crabs that had emerged from the depths to breed. The deeper water contained large boulders and deep gullies covered in the emerging soft corals and Anemones. The water was still cool at 12℃. This is a fantastic site when the water warms up a little more. We reached a maximum depth of 28 meters when we decided to turn around and ascend slightly as the current started pulling a little too much. 

Once we reached around 18 meters, the current eased off, and we returned to the bay with a dive time of 98 minutes. We would have happily stayed longer, but with the tide heading out, we knew the walk would be getting longer!

Other species encountered on this dive were;

Spider, Brown and Velvet swimming crabs, Common sea urchins, Sea cucumbers feeding, Double spiral worms, Sea pens, Pollock, Shrimp, Rainbow weed, Boring sponge, Yellow staghorn sponge. Lightbulb sea-squirts, Painted Top shell, Potato crisp bryozoan.

Please note that this site is an active port for the Skomer ferry, so an SMB should be used during the dive. 

Hugh now continues the story…. 

Saturday the 18th of May

We all had self-made breakfast on Saturday and got to the Quay by 08.30. Having got our kit onboard down a steep low-tide floating pontoon ramp, we roped off just after 09.00.

The first dive was complicated by most of us having 32% Nitrox, and the intended first dive was ‘The Lucy’ at North Haven, Skomer Island.

MOD was 34 M, but the wreck lay upright at 35 to 40 M. Four elected to dive ‘The Lucy’, but everyone else dived on nearby Rye Rocks. (More about The Lucy will follow.)

It was a scenic dive, first through kelp and eventually finding a wall edge where everyone could dive as deep as they wanted. There was not as much life about as there is later in summer when it is warmer (it was 12℃), but we saw large Sea Urchins, Crabs, Lobsters, Wrasse, large spiny Starfish, and more. With viz 6-8 M, it was a pleasant 20 M+ dive except for the one whose Dry Suit leaked. 

After a surface interval, a cup of tea, and a Ham and cheese roll courtesy of Dave, we relocated to the North side of Skokholm Island to dive “The Alice Williams.” This was an 83-foot wooden schooner used as a coal transporter, which sank in 1928 after a serious leak. Being wood, there was not much left, and only two could find it. However, it turned into a wall drop-off with a gentle drift, again at about 20+M.

A highlight was seeing two cat Sharks. Back to the Marina. We could leave our kit on the boat, and the cylinders were now easier to carry up the high water-raised pontoon. Back ashore, we showered and walked to a local pub for a couple of beers and a good evening meal. Then, all off to bed early by 22.00, knackered!

Sun the 19th of May

As Rob and Martin dived The Lucy yesterday, they reported that the deck level was 32-35 M, but the sea bed was 40 M. Therefore, we could dive to deck level on 32% Nitrox without exceeding MOD. A Quayside meeting decided we would proceed with this as a first dive. However, one had depth limitations and dived the nearby wall with a suitable buddy.

So… back to Skomer down the shot line. With viz about 6 M, we all had a good dive and a D-SMB ascent.

“The Lucy” was a 450-ton Dutch Coaster 52 metres long. It hit a rock and sank in 1967, carrying a cargo of Calcium Carbide. This reacts with water to produce Acetylene gas, so there was a chance of a huge explosion, but it never happened. The crew abandoned the ship very quickly. It is the most dived wreck in this area, and it was good to see the structure and wheelhouse still remaining.

Again, after a Ham and Cheese Roll and now cake and tea during our surface interval, we relocated back east along the estuary towards Milford Haven and the Oil refinery for our second dive. 

This was to be on “The Dakotian”, a 6400 ton 130m long multi-purpose Marine Vessel which hit a mine in 1940 at the beginning of WWII. This was well broken and flat, but some parts were slightly tilted, either port or starboard, laying at about 18 metres. It has been ‘swept’ to avoid shipping danger, and a large Cardinal Buoy nearby warns other shipping to stay clear. It is silty if disturbed, but the gentle current sweeps this away. We saw Lobsters, Crabs, Conger Eels, Cat Sharks and a shoal of Bib. It still has remnants of a wheelhouse at the stern, and the huge prop shaft is clearly visible. 

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Then the diving was over, and the long drive home. Thanks to Barry-John for a good trip and to Team-MSAC for your company and good-humoured diving banter all weekend. I’m not really getting old. Am I??? Hugh.