Accommodation: Plas Pwll Melyn, Benllech: booked through Sykes Cottages
Skipper: Scott Waterman, Protector
Dive sites: The wreck of the ?Mona, two other wrecks, a reef site, and two drifts in the Straits.
Divers: Emma Keeley, Laura Davison, Clare Jelinska, Gareth Jones, Oliver Lomax, Spiros Siouris, Laura’s friend Neil.
Water conditions: Average temperature around 15C, reasonable visibility apart from the third day.
Weather conditions: Odd showers, with occasional sunny spells, though generally overcast and windy.
Menai Straits is unfortunately one of the places that is not very popular in SUSAC compared to other diving sites. However, as it is always interesting to explore and dive new places, when the opportunity came to go and dive at Menai, I quickly signed up to the trip without second thought. This was going to be an unusual trip as only two people came from Sheffield (Emma and myself), whereas the others which had been SUSAC members in the past and know very well. They came from places like Sussex (Gareth), Cardiff (Olly), Oxford (Clare), Glasgow (Laura and Neil who we learned has a strong appetite for everything deep fried!). I had not seen a lot of them in ages so this trip was a great opportunity to catch up with friends.
We set off Friday evening from Sheffield, and after two and a half hours we reached our destination which was a fantastic self catered house that Emma booked. Upon entering the house, most people’s reaction was to forget about diving and just spend the weekend there. The house had a Gothic character with lots of timber, very large rooms, and two fireplaces, yet it looked like Spanish from the the outside. The large garden and BBQ was a bonus that we made sure we took full advantage!
One of the reasons Menai Straits may not be a popular destination with SUSAC is because the tidal currents are very strong, and the wrecks are deep at around 25 meters. But, these two elements also make diving there even more interesting. There are great drift dives and lots and plenty of very nice wrecks to explore. Unfortunately, because of the strong currents and depths, Menai Straits is suited to experienced divers rather than people learning the basics of scuba diving. Everyone had to be dived up for this trip as warm up dives are not ideal.
During the course of Saturday through Monday, we managed to do six dives and these were a combination of scenic, drift, and wreck. Although Menai Straits is primarily known for drift diving, the life and wrecks were as equally impressive. They were lots of crabs, starfish, and huge lobsters that we saw. The weather was not on our side as the winds were strong on that weekend, but once we were in the water then that did not matter any more. The choice of wrecks was weather dependent, and it was not ideal to dive the best wrecks in wavy seas. Still, the ones we did dive were pretty large with plenty of rusty metal to explore. Scott, who is the skipper of the RIB we used, is a very experienced diver that has vast knowledge of the waters in that area and knew exactly where to take us with flat calm seas for a relaxing surface interval and second dive of the day.
Overall, I think Menai Straits is a great place to go diving, and would definitely go there again in better weather. The RIB and skipper were pretty good, there are quality drift, scenic and wreck dives, the accommodation was impressive, and all this is just two and a half hours away from Sheffield.
Thanks to another of Laura’s epic Makro shop we self catered for the weekend. Scott will fill tanks for you overnight. The accommodation was fabulous, but there is a 3 night minimum stay. Even paying for 3 nights, it would be worth staying for the weekend.