Where: Menai Straits, Anglesey
When: 20-22nd September
Who: Jack W, Tom D, Claudius P, Pippa K, Alana D, Soo P, Emma G, Jenny H
Organiser: Jack W
Accomodation: Travelodge, Bangor
Skipper: Scott Waterman
Cost: £200 + breakfast and Saturday night meal
Menai Straits is a place often frequented by SUSAC and is one of my absolute favourite places to dive (my third trip here in just over a year). It takes roughly 3 hours to make the pilgrimage from Sheffield and is totally worth the Welsh a-roads to see the orange glow of the Protector bobbing away at St George’s pier on a sunny Saturday morning. Luckily enough for us everyone on the trip were relatively experienced divers and so we knew it would be an excellent trip from the off.
Diving on the clubs new 15l tanks we first headed out to the wreck of the Mona. This is a relatively small but intact wreck that lies at around 27m. I was buddied with Jack and after descending the shot line and having a quick nosey at the resident conga eel, we decided first to follow the line that would take us to the boiler before making our way back to the main wreck. As we finned our way round we saw quite a number of rather large and slightly angry looking lobsters. Being the first buddy pair down I assumed we would scare them away and no one else would see them but these were some bold lobsters! A number of the group even saw one with no claws and the odd leg missing, due to a fight with a worthy adversary we assume. This wreck is covered in life and is well worth lapping once or twice to see something new each time. Having had a lengthy dive we decided to ascend as had Emma and Soo above us and Claudius and Pippa below us. Unfortunately this abundance of divers on the line and a slight current meant that upon reaching the 12m mark I looked up to see Soo waving her arm over the buoy at the top of the shot line. The top 4 of us moved aside and Jack deployed his DSMB to see us to the surface.
Having had a wreck dive in the morning we decided to try for some seal action in the afternoon and headed for Puffin Island. Fuelled up on peanut butter and nutella butties made with Soo’s super clean dive knife we entered the water and did the usual hanging round at various depths to see what seals we could entice. Among SUSAC Farnes is usually the place known for seals but I can attest that Puffin Island can be pretty good too!
Saturday evening saw us all pile (multiple trips in Lord KA required) to the Vaynol Arms to eat copius amounts of baked camembert and other tasty food! Upon returning to the Travelodge it was obviously port o’clock but due to the inhumane smell coming from Tom and Jack’s room (wash your undersuits kids) a unanimous vote was made to retire to a less smelly room.
Sunday saw us make the loooooong but sunny journey out to the wind farm to dive The Penhros. It is believed The Penrhos sank after hitting a mine whilst travelling from North Wales to Liverpool with a cargo of limestone chippings. This is a great wreck which is relatively intact, enough to do a small swim through, but with enough hidey holes for plenty of sea creatures to hang around in. Lobsters-a-plenty, we also saw a few crabs, lots of anemones and even a jellyfish.
Scott presented us with a few options for our afternoon dive with the two main contenders being Puffin Island or the Straits. Jack was out-voted and we steamed back towards the Straits to do The Bottle Run. Before the bridges were built over to Anglesey, a ferry would run between two jetty’s. Standard human nature kicked in and pubs were soon built beside each jetty. People would often take their bottle of merriment aboard the ferry and having finished it half way across, chucked it into the straits. We descended down a mammoth chain shot line covered in mussels and when we reached the seabed followed the chain along to a small wreck. The swim out there was a little slow until Pippa and I spotted not one, not two, but four nudibranchs in quick succession, making me a very happy diver. The wreck we were diving was a very small boat and we lapped it twice, quite warily after Scotts advice of “there’s a conger lives inside but we don’t know how friendly she is” aka “don’t go sticking your bonce in any dark holes!”. Following the chain back along the seabed a little way, we peeled off to look for bottles and were very much in luck. We left behind those we found with fish living in them but did return with part of a 200 year-old ginger beer bottle and an intact 100 year-old wine bottle.
After a hard weekends diving, it was time for some grub and we made a last meet up at a well recommended fish and chip shop in Llandudno. A massive thank you to Jack for organising the trip, thanks to all the drivers and just generally everyone who continues to make SUSAC trips so fantastic!