The much vaunted but oft cancelled trip finally happened. The weather on the drive there was disconcerting. Hailstone in June ? Fortunately there was a warm welcome and some excellent beer (Purple Dragon) waiting in the pub in Criccieth when we finally arrived.
However, waking on Saturday to a bright blue sky and a few whitecaps out in the bay was a revelation. Only slight problem was the early start (7.00 am) to avoid being grounded on the river at low tide. New Shearwater is a fantastic boat. Much more luxury and space than we have ever seen in the UK. Full internal seating area, walk though onto bow area, flying bridge deck seating, storage and kitting area for 12 divers !
Glorious trip out to Bardsey Island spotting for wildlife on the way; some dolphins out in the distance, lots of sea birds, including shearwaters. As a consequence of the previous rough weather the surge was still strong on the south west tip so we opted for the more sheltered option to the SE of the island. Jumping in close to the cliffs we headed down to 20m for a bit of exploration. Vis was about 5m with lots of life and colour – lobsters, crabs, blennies, gobies, pollack, wrasse and nudibrachs.
With the early start everyone was ready for a feed, so off to the islands off Aberdaron for a quiet mooring. The puffins, gannets and a lonely seal entertained us as we lounged in the sunshine. Eventually we had to emerge from out stupor to consider the 2nd dive. We agreed on the drift between the two islands. Jumping in at intervals, stopping to admire anything wasn’t really an option ! The kelp and the wildlife fairly whizzed past.
After everyone had had their bit of excitement we made our way towards Pwllheli. At the ‘dolphin spot’ we were rewarded with the sight of these always exciting characters at play. Don’t know where the day had gone (a little too relaxed I think) but we didn’t get into the marina until 5.00. So then the dash for fills and showers ! The remains of the Wakestock festival day and start of the evening events slowed us down only a little.
If you have ever dived this part of the world then a visit to Tynrhos is essential. In a ramshackle outbuilding lies a wonder of Engineering, the compressor system, and you get the chance to talk to Chris. As an added bonus the drive up there gives outstanding views over Abersoch and the bay. On that day, with a clear blue sky reflecting on the water, there couldn’t be any better place to be in the world.
Well, pub again for an excellent meal, beer and talk of exploits old and new. Then another early, but slightly more civilised 8.00 am, start. Can you believe it, sunshine again ! Although we didn’t get much time in them everyone said the B&Bs in Criccieth were really good.
Headed out to Bardsey on fast burn ! Not quite flat calm but pretty good. Does it get any better than this: blue water, fast boat, comfortable accommodation and sunshine. Looking for the early slack. SW tip this time but coming back along the shore to avoid any current. Classic Bardsey terrain with sculpted rocks and boulders – lots of places for the life to scurry into. Great colours and lots to see. Everyone came back with the stories of what we each just missed seeing !
The back to the Aberdaron bay islands and the bird watching for a well deserved break. Since this was our last day we didn’t lounge about too long and headed off to the cliffs around Hells Mouth for a very gentle drift. Lovely location for small critter spotting, just at the edge of the sand as the rocks start up.
Well worth the wait to this dive weekend. Many thanks to Alan, our skipper, and Roy, the first mate.