Menai Bridge, Anglesey, Wales – 2nd -5th June 2012
Accommodation: (Huge) Rented House in Pentraeth
Skipper(s) and Boat(s): Scott Waterman, The Protector
Dive Sites: SS Kyle Prince, Starvation Reef, Carg-Y-Try, Kimya, Gwyn Faen and Castle Reef
Divers: Chris Aspinall, Alana Dempsey, Alex Muhl-Richardson, James Leyland, Rory Welsh, Salman Al-Nasir, Shin Ng, Stephan Broek, Claudius Kerth and Josh Smith
Conditions: Generally calm sea and reasonable visibility. Weather good with some rain.
I’ve dived with Scott off the Protector once before on a weekend in February and it was bloody freezing and the viz was pretty awful. This time around however, the weather was much better, the seas much warmer and we had an extra days diving thanks to the Jubilee bank holiday! I like the Protector, with its inflatable tubes that make it seem somewhere between a RIB and a normal hardboat and that allow you to roll backwards off the side, but the downside is the limited space and the fact there’s only room for 10 divers. We stayed in part of a large old house in Pentraeth, not far from Red Wharf bay, and even though it was only part of the house it was huge, with plenty of room for the ten of us, good cooking facilities and even an out of tune piano for Alana to entertain us with.
Unfortunately our arrival coincided with a large scale plankton bloom on the north side of Anglesey, so our diving was restricted to the south side, but this didn’t stop Scott from getting us two good dives, one on a wreck and one of a reef, each day. One of my favourite dives was the Kimya, a 200ft vegetable oil tanker at about 10m, the viz was good and despite some swell around the shallower parts it was a good dive with some easy penetration and lots to see. Unfortunately our final dive of the trip consisted of a drift over sand and lots of thrilling sand there was too. I got very excited when Alana stopped to dig something out of the bottom, only to see that it was a shell, but then things really heated up when the sand turned to pebbley sand. Sarcasm aside, it was unfortunate that an otherwise excellent trip ended with a boring dive, but sometimes things like that happen and no one came away feeling unhappy with the trip as a whole. Throughout the trip we saw lots of life, including tons of spider crabs, some huge dogfish, a thornback ray, pipefish, lobsters, varied flat fish, edible crabs and congas.
We self-catered on two of our days there, with Alana busting out the goulash (with some aid from her beautiful assistant – guess who?) and Shin dishing up some cream with pasta (I forgot which was the main ingredient), both meals were lovely and we were all well fed. On our last night we ate at the Bull Inn in Pentraeth, it was good value pub quality food that filled us all and the desserts were especially nice.
On the Monday we finished diving relatively early, so we had the best part of an absolutely gorgeous afternoon to spend how we wished. The majority of us took this as an opportunity to visit Aber Falls, a stunning waterfall not far up the A55 northbound. We parked and began the walk up to the base of the falls, taking in the fantastic scenery and enjoying the sunshine, and after reaching our destination we even found a nice place for a spot of Pooh Sticks (if you don’t know what Pooh Sticks is then you didn’t have a childhood and you should ask your parents for a refund).
Finally, I’d like to say thank you to Scott for being a great skipper (even if he did drop us for a drift over a load of sand) and to Chris for organising the trip and making sure we had extremely tasty lunches every day on the boat (as well as pulling off wearing that hat incredibly well). Honourable mentions go to Rory (Ken) for coming out of his shell somewhat (and also trusting my estimate of water depth from the surface), James for taking part in spooning and pile-ons, Alana for being most tuneful and Shin for being an elusive wrestler.