Llantrisant Sub-Aqua Club
www.llantrisantdivers.com

 

 
The Posting Page
 
This page has been added specifically for the "postings" of our club secretary Phil Dewhurst (Phil the Post).

He has for some time, submitted postings of the dive weekends and other club events that have been published on our web site so that members can read about the wonderful times we have spent diving in West Wales and abroad and the other significant events relating to our club.

Any other club members who have a story to tell about their diving adventures or anything else of interest are also welcome to post them on this page.

These articles make very good reading and I'm sure, will encourage other members to join us for dive weekends down in West Wales.

Getting Old..er
by Phil Dewhurst

The saying “Old Age Don't Come On It's Own” has recently become more than just words. For almost two decades I've enjoyed diving with Llantrisant Sub Aqua Club, spending almost every weekend of the season on dive sites around the lovely Pembrokeshire coast and in the winter travelling to exotic destinations to dive at world renowned locations. I consider myself to be very fortunate and I thought I'd go on forever but in my mid sixties (I'm 68 years old) I began to suffer with rheumatics and this affected my mobility. I was OK in the water but had dificulty getting back in the boat. And I didn't feel quite so confident.

I had doubts over my ability and last year (2016) I almost didn't dive at all. I continued going out on the club boat, enjoying the enviroment and being in the company of fellow divers but I didn't want to dive. Mind; it wasn't the best of seasons, we were plagued with wind and cold. Most weekends were called off due to bad conditions so I convinced myself I wasn't missing much and when we finally put the boats to bed I was half a mind to calling it a day, selling my dive gear and settling back to wait for God to come a knocking.

In December Sandra and me went on our annual trek to the Maldives where we had 12 days booked in an overwater bungalow at the lovely Vilamendhoo resort, South Ari atol. I packed some dive gear though I wasn't sure if I'd use it. However the lure of the warm clear water and seeing the colourful fishes around the shoreline was just too much. After two days of sunbathing and reading I went down to the Eurodiver centre and asked could I sign on

to dive. I was totally...well almost...honest with the dive guide, I explained my issues with mobility and was assured this wouldn't be a problem. The dives here are graded: difficult, medium and easy. On past visits I'd be up for whatever was available but today I was happy to put my name down for an afternoon dive graded as easy.

On the way to the dive site the young guide said he would keep an eye on me and at the end of the dive would help with my fins and getting back on the boat.

I may well have more than 700 dives logged but this assurance was well received. There were eight of us on the boat. We kitted up, checked our gear then a backward roll. I admit to feeling a little anxious but as I dropped through the warm clear water I was completely at ease, it was almost like someone was calling, welcome back.

I did eight dives in twelve days, all in the afternoons and all graded easy. And do you know what? I enjoyed them as much as any of the hairy assed dives I've done in the past.

So I've joined the club for another year and I intend to dive in West Wales. I'll have a medical of course. I've had a chat with our new D.O. And he's offered to buddy up for the first dive or so. I'll have another season out and around the West Wales islands, looking out for seals and puffins and watching the gannets dive. I'll enjoy the banter and the company that's all part of a day out with a bunch of divers. And when the time's right and the site's right and the weather's right (a big ask I know) I'll dive. And if it isn't? Well it's not the end of the world is it?

I know I'll be looked after because that's what we do, that's Llantrisant Sub-Aqua. And my aim? To still be diving when we finally get a ladder fitted to help us back into the boat. Mike and Martin please take note. Well you gotta aim high haven't you?


PETER REES: DIVING OFFICER 1995 - 2016
By Phil Dewhurst

At a recent Committee meeting of the Llantrisant Sub-Aqua Club, Diving Officer Peter Rees told members that he would not be standing for re-election. Club Chairman Lyn Eade thanked him for his services to the club and wished him all the best for the future; he went on to say that whoever succeeded Peter had huge shoes to fill.

Peter Rees joined Llantrisant Sub-Aqua Club in 1987 though he does admit to "diving while unqualified" for six years prior to this. He was keen to progress and worked swiftly through the training programme. By the end of 1988 he gained his Club Diver qualification and became the Assistant Club Training Officer and in 1989 he went on to become the Club Training Officer.
On most weekends Peter dived with the club at sites around the Pembrokeshire coast and he became a regular on club trips to destinations outside of the UK including the Red Sea, Maldives and Australia.

In 1995 the club Diving Officer stepped down, Peter was seen as the ideal candidate to fill this role and at the AGM of that year he was elected to that office. He quickly set about stamping his mark by introducing structure to the club and writing a set of club rules e.g. the need for members to use an octopus. This was something he had seen in use on a trip to the Great Barrier Reef. Later on and well before this became the norm he made it mandatory for all members to carry an SMB whilst diving not relying on just one blob between buddies as was the practice at that time.

During his time in office Peter has qualified as a Dive Supervisor, Rescue Diver and Open Water Instructor together with many other qualifications including Boat Handling, Nitrox and EDFA 02 instructor.

Whilst Peter enjoys his UK diving it is travelling to overseas destinations that he favours and from the early 1990s he has been involved in organising trips to worldwide destinations including Egypt, Maldives, Cuba, The Great Barrier reef, Thailand, Burma, Costa Rica & the Philippines. In 2008 he took a party of eighteen divers to Cocos Island and in 2012 a trip to the Maldives attracted so much interest that two live-a-board boats were needed: twenty four persons, flights, accommodation, visas, passports inoculations, currency, even who sits next to who on the plane. Peter arranged the lot.

Peter had always worked closely with his Training Officers and before the use of Powerpoint presentation he put the lecture notes on acetate and projected them onto a screen to illustrate the lectures. He is keen to be involved and his physics lectures in particular are an interesting and enlightening experience.

Peter has always encouraged close links with the Sub Aqua Association. He is a regular at S.A.A. AGMs and has been responsible for strengthening the links between the club and Head Office despite geographical distances. Under his guidance the club has been three times winner of The SAA Golden Club Award and at last year's AGM he was presented with a Certificate of Recognition for his services to the club and to the sport.

Peter will remain a member of LSAC and will continue to manage the club website. A keen underwater photographer he wants to use his vast experience to help club members improve their camera skills.

He hopes the next club D.O. gets as much pleasure from the position as he did.



The 2016 Sub-Aqua Association Annual General Meeting.

This year’s Sub-Aqua Association’s AGM marked the fortieth anniversary for the organisation. The event was held at the Adelphi Hotel in Liverpool on Saturday 14th May.

Delegates from 23 clubs were present and the South Wales region was represented by Llantrisant SAC, Trident and Haven Divers. Matters got under way at 10-30 am, Chairman Collin Bryant confirmed there were sufficient clubs to form a quorum, the agenda was agreed and items voted on.

There were no surprises. The last item of the day was any other business and the 13% fall in member numbers as noted in the Chairman’s report brought a number of observations.

The year on year decline in membership is a concern for all clubs, several delegates offered opinion but the Chairman said the solution was in the hands of the clubs, he singled out Llantrisant SAC as being pro-active within their community. Their activities encouraged applications for membership and he urged more clubs to follow Llantrisant’s lead.

After the meeting ended there were presentations from the Archaeological Society and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution both were well received. Representatives from Westfield Insurance and Northern Divers were also present on the day and offered advice and deals on equipment and travel insurance.

A dinner and dance held in the evening was an opportunity for the ladies to show off their posh frocks whilst the men, dressed in dinner suits did their best to look at ease. A Bucks Fizz reception was followed by a four course meal. To celebrate the 40th anniversary tables were decorated with foil No.40 figures and ribbons, background music was provided by a duo with guitars and a magician entertained guests at the tables with a succession of clever card tricks.

Chairman, Collin Bryan and Executive member Mark Blackshaw presided over the award ceremony and Llantrisant SAC were awarded the Golden Club Shield. This trophy goes to the club who in the opinion of the judges has been most pro-active within their area. Llantrisant SAC run several try-a-dive events each year, they also play a major part in the Ponty Big Bite, an event held annually in Pontypridd and attended by more than 20,000 people. This is the third time the club has been presented with this award.

Llantrisant’s D.O. Peter Rees was also recognised on the night. Peter was awarded a Certificate of Appreciation for his work with the club, the SAA and the sport. Peter has been a member of the SAA for more than 30 years and Diving Officer of LSAC for 20 years.

Dancing went on well into the night; everyone agreed the event had been a huge success. There were thanks for the organisers and in particular Irene and to Carol. What will they come up with next year?

 


Ponty Big Bite 2015
by Phil the Post


I really think the club should be put forward for some sort of long service award, this was our ninth time at the Ponty Big Bite and it was in my opinion the best yet.

Blue sky and sunshine brought the crowds in their 1000s to Ynysangharad Park to see cookery demos, hawking displays, terrier racing and most amazingly, a sheepdog herding a flock of ducks. There were stalls selling exotic foods alongside the usual burger vans, fish and chips and ice cream vendors.

The club had a stand in the Well Being Zone, 2 tables in a good position opposite the main entrance. We had a supply of leaflets with information about LSAC also some materials from the Seasearch organisation and Irene from SAA headquarters sent some pens to use as giveaways.

On one side of the stand we had a tailor’s dummy dressed in a wetsuit and wearing a hood, a bcd, mask and a set of regs. This we used to answer many of the questions posed by visitors such as how do we breathe underwater and how do we get back to the surface?

On the other side of the stand we had a screen showing footage taken at the National Diving Centre Chepstow featuring club members exploring the many interesting items that lurk within the murky depths.

On Saturday Richy, Chris, Kenn, Daffyd and myself were on duty talking to visitors, pushing the duck race and signing potential divers up for try-a-dive sessions.

At first our Kenn was a bit shy but once he got going we couldn’t shut him up. Chris was a star, rattling a bucket, shouting the odds, he sold more ducks than the rest of us put together and Daffyd, when he woke up soon got the knack of things.

One of the visitors was well known to us; Emma, and she had her 2 gorgeous little daughters. Emma and hubby were frequent divers until that is the kiddies came along. Now they’re busy parents. Emma says they’ll be back but I guess it could be some time yet.

Sunday. The day of the duck race. The show wasn’t due to open to the public until 11-00 so Richy and I had arranged a late start but by 9-00 I was champing at the bit. Pontypridd’s a different place on Sunday, there was hardly any traffic and all the lights were on green. I was on site by 9-15: I tidied the stand and drank tea as I waited for the others.

Martin was the first to arrive; complete with dry-suit and prawn net he looked ready for business then Richy turned up followed by Stuart and his wife. The others came in dribs: Tall Paul, Allison and Janice, new member Mike, Sue and Mathew. Gareth and Teresa came along with a tale of woe about a wetsuit, I’ll let Teresa tell. It’s funny.

Tim Hutch arrived just in time to catch a duck or two and Chris, Daffyd and Anne came back for a second helping. Richy and Co got to work erecting a barrier to catch the ducks. There was the usual to and fro with RCT but by lunch all was in place and the boys in their dry-suits rattled buckets as they sold ducks to folk coming into the show.

The race went well. Richy launched the ducks at the second weir up from the footbridge and they made their way slowly down the Taf towards the finish line. Crowds lined the route shouting for their ducks and eventually the first four crossed the line where Tall Paul was waiting. He passed the winners to the Lord Mayor and the Mayoress of RCT who had volunteered to help with announcements and kindly pose for photos afterwards.

And that was that. We spent the rest of the afternoon counting money, sorting forms and tidying up. The show finished at 5-00 but we had to hang around till 5-30 for our vehicles. As folk wandered off site there was just Richy, me and Tall Paul left. We took our time packing away then went for a pint or two at the Llanover Arms.

Was our presence at the show worth it? Well, we raised around £600 for club funds and a donation of £200+ will be made to the Mayor’s Charities appeal.

We signed at least 20 persons up for try-a-dives and we introduced LSAC to 1000s of people most had probably never heard of us. And most important, those members who came along to help said they enjoyed their day.

Richy will make a full announcement about proceeds from the duck race at the club meeting 10th August. Our efforts along with photos will appear in an article due to be published in the SAA September Newsletter. And finally a big thank you to all who took part. Next year the Lido will be open… Richy has big plans.



Trigger Happy

Had a great day out last Saturday, the sun was shining, there was little or no wind and the tides were just right. A problem reported with power loss on Cobra 1 proved to be a loose plug lead. Simple to fix so fuelled up, gear loaded, we headed out of the Haven.

There was some swell around St. Ann's Head but there always is and once through it was open throttle towards Skomer. Jack Sound was a pussy cat with little to put us off then left turn towards Stack Rock.

There's a school of thought that says we always head to Stack but in fairness it's a bloody good dive site, the underwater topography is varied, there's plenty of marine life and you can almost always find shelter.

Today we dropped anchor off the south point. The depth finder read 18 metres and the dive plan was to head towards the rock.

The first buddy pair went in and we watched their bubble trail, easy to spot in calm seas. They were underwater for 50 minutes - giving those left on board plenty of time to slag them off - and though the viz was poor they saw lobbies, plenty of fish life and a shed load of starfish all piled together.

As we waited for their return we were entertained by grey seals that popped up almost by the boat.

It was 1-00pm when the second team finished their dive. We ate lunch before heading slowly to the Hen and Chicks.

Here viz was much better and the divers saw lobbies, wrasse and a bonus; the illusive trigger fish. Diving was restricted to one team as Mike 'O ripped a wrist seal pulling his suit back on following a comfort break.

Walkers on nearby cliffs must have heard his comments because one minute they were watching us and the next they were haring in the opposite direction.

We were back at base just as the tide hit the slip. Mike has recovery off to a tee. trailer attached to the front of the jeep, boat in position, electric winch attached and the boat slips up the rollers smooth and slow.

There was a regatta at the yacht club, loads of kids with small craft, loads of parents helping out and lots of activity in the clubhouse. But we found a space to sit and enjoy our beer.

A really perfect day.

Phil the Post.


The world's deepest swimming pool
The impressive and very tempting Y-40 Deep Joy pool
is located in a four-star hotel in northern Italy


The Y-40 Deep Joy caters for beginner cave divers as well as advanced free divers

If you want to be able to say you've swum in the world's deepest swimming pool, you need to book a stay at the four-star Hotel Terme Millepini in northern Italy. It's home to the Y-40 Deep Joy pool, which as the name suggests goes down to a depth of 40 metres (or about 131 feet) — that's almost half the height of the Big Ben tower and the equivalent of nine double-decker buses stacked on top of one another.

You can do much more than just swim in the Y-40. World-famous architect Emanuele Boaretto has built the pool to be able to accommodate scuba diving, free diving, water therapy and even cave diving — there are underwater cave replicas built into the walls of the pool where beginners can get used to being underwater in very confined spaces.


A transparent underwater tunnel guides visitors through the pool

Pool dimensions and depth

At the surface of the water the Y-40 pool measures 21m (69ft) by 18m (59ft). As you get deeper, this narrows: go beyond a depth of 15m (49ft) and you'll need to swim carefully down a circular well. It's not designed for the casual swimmer, either — you'll need to be an experienced diver to make it all the way down though, as you're in a heated pool there's no need to wear a wetsuit as you journey into the depths.

Several platforms and a transparent tunnel provide different points of interest for swimmers and divers, and there's an obligatory sun lounger area on the hotel roof directly above the pool. The transparent tunnel enables visitors to get a look at the record-breaking pool without actually getting wet, while its makers are hoping it will be used by film crews and photographers for various projects as well. Until the Y-40 opened, the deepest swimming pool in the world was the Nemo33 in Belgium, with a depth of 34.5m (113ft).


Platforms and artificial caves are built into the walls of the Y-40 pool

4,300 cubic metres of heated water

The Y-40 pool is filled up with 4,300 cubic metres of thermal water that's kept at an average temperature of 32-34°C. As a result, you don't have to worry about getting colder as you get deeper. "Y-40 is unique in its field thanks to the spa water, which cannot be outsourced," said designer Emanuele Boaretto as the pool was opened to the public. "We want to open up new medium and long term work prospects to try and guarantee prosperity, not only for my company but also for the surrounding land and society."

As for the name Y-40, the number obviously refers to the depth of the pool, while the letter "Y" is a reference to the ordinate axis of Cartesian coordinate system (notable for linking geometry and algebra together for the first time in the 17th century). In other words, the name is inspired by mathematical and geometrical standards, not just chosen at random.


You can walk through the pool without getting wet thanks to the tunnel

Prices at the Hotel Terme Millepini

The Hotel Terme Millepini makes a big deal out of the Y-40 in its promotional material, though it's looking to attract families, couples and anyone ready for a healthy retreat as well as enthusiastic free divers. A wide variety of packages are available, but a typical one night stay with access to the Y-40 pool during that time will set you back €134 (£105) per person. There are various other pools throughout the hotel too.

If you want some scuba diving equipment or any kind of lessons then the price of admission is obviously going to go up. You can also buy tickets for the pool on its own if you're passing through the area and don't need anywhere to stay — €35 (£28) is enough for a single ticket for the pool which gives you 90 minutes to do whatever you like (diving equipment is included in the price). If you want your own personal Y-40 trainer for the hour-and-a-half, the cost goes up to €75 (£59).


You may well need breathing equipment by the time you get down to the bottom of the pool

The deepest but not the biggest

The pool is open all year round and divers have wasted no time in taking advantage of its facilities (search for "Y-40" on YouTube to see some of the footage they've recorded). If you're put off by enclosed spaces, you might want to give it a miss, however — the shaft that leads down to the bottom of the Y-40 pool (marked by large letters on the floor) isn't particularly wide, though three or four divers can move around in it easily.

The Y-40 Deep Joy is the deepest swimming pool in the world, but it isn't the biggest. That honour goes to one of the pools at the San Alfonso del Mar, a private resort in Chile. That pool, which stretches along the edge of a beach, is 1,013m (3,323ft) long and holds 250 million litres of water. You can sail small boats and canoes on it, but it's less than a tenth of the depth of the Y-40, only going down 3.5 metres (11.5 feet).


The pool roof and surrounding area are going to be developed further

Future plans

Since opening in May the Y-40 has proved popular with tourists and diving enthusiasts. There's also the opportunity to take aqua-fitness classes in the water and engage in a spot of Watsu, the aquatic therapy technique that gives the body a relaxing series of stretches and massages, usually carried out by a professional trainer in the water with you.

Get your tickets booked and your bags packed if you want to be able to say you've touched the floor of a swimming pool at a depth of 40 metres. The hotel and pool are part of a picturesque natural park in the Euganean Hills, and there are plans to add grass and foliage to the structures so that they blend in more gradually with the surrounding environment. The original goal was to "build the best swimming pool in the world", according to its designers, and the Y-40 Deep Joy is certainly difficult to beat.

 


Weightless in Pembrokeshire
by Phil Dewhurst

What's the worst sensation you can experience as you leave the relativity calm waters of the Haven towards St. Anne's Head. Is it the Atlantic swells that seem to congregate and throw your boat around? Not this time. With Evel Kniviel aka Andy Hughes at the helm our rib cut through the waves with hardly a bounce. Is it the fear of running into a yacht, there's always a few about here? No, not today, perhaps it's a bit early for the yachty types. Still don't know the answer? ask Jeff Canning, he'll tell you that there's nothing worse so far from base than realising you've forgotten to bring a weight belt. He'd been shore diving Saturday and put his belt in a bag away from the rest of his gear. Of course he received loads of sympathy from a crew who were still laughing about his misfortune when we got to Skomer. And it was about this time that yours truly realised he'd forgotten his ankle weights, what a pair of wallies!

We anchored by the big rock, don't know what it's christened but the name must have some connection with birds because every space on the ledges was taken by guillemots and gulls. The noise was deafening. The first team rolled off the boat, we watched their bubbles as they headed to the rock then back to shore then out a bit deeper. As we chatted and generally slagged everybody off we had a visit from the Skomer team, Phil and his crew were keeping an eye on activity and they had their work cut out, there were all manner of craft about, it's surprising what a bit of sun will do. The boys were down for at least 40 minutes and returned to report plenty of marine life in reasonable viz.

Jeff borrowed Gareth's weight belt and I borrowed his ankle weights. See, we might take the piss but deep down we help each other... and the hire charge wasn't that bad... considering. We rolled off together and followed the anchor rope to the seabed. Viz was good, I'd say at least 5 metres, the bottom waas small rocks but further in we found a pinnacle that rose about 5/6 metres. There was loads to see: edible crabs, lobsters, nudibranchs. I was mesmerised and finned along slowly head down. Meantime, Jeff was being tracked by a big grey seal that swam so close you could count his whiskers. Our dive lasted almost 50 minutes.

In between dives we ate lunch in a pleasant bay and watched the puffins fly back and forth, their beaks crammed with sandeels. Further out dolphins turned on the surface and gannets swooped into what I assume must have been a shoal of mackerel.

Our second dive almost mirrored our first except we didn't see the seal. We finned around thoroughly enjoying the experience. Andy took us back to Gelliswick, I didn't know the boat could go so fast, we were almost flying, but fair play the sea was smooth and I still had my hat at the end.
The water was just about on the slip, even so we used a rope and soon had the boat on the trailer and back on land. 40 minutes later we were enjoying a drink in the bar. It had been a perfect day.

End Note. If you haven't seen me for a while, I haven't done a runner...honest, it's just that the weather has been so good that we've been spending a lot of time in Pembroke. This retirement lark is so far OK, we've got to know the local pubs, I've joined the library and we've spent a lot of time doing...well I'd be hard pressed to say what we've been doing but whatever it is it beats work. Looking forward to seeing you on the dive boats. If you haven't been out yet and there's lots of faces I haven't seen, you really don't know what you're missing. On Sunday the water temperature was 14.0c and the viz was 5 metres+ and it's not even July. It don't get much better than this.

 



Las Vegas Night

Valentine's Day 2014


Valentine’s was an appropriate night for the Llantrisant Sub-Aqua Club’s annual Las Vegas event. Fifty plus members and friends, all in their best bib and tucker, attended Taff’s Well Rugby Club to have a flutter on the card table and a spin of the roulette wheel.

All credit to Sue and Dave Bennett, associate members of the club who have recently taken on the roles of entertainment and fund-raising. Sue rallied support from club members to assist in preparing a fantastic buffet.

Dave helped with prizes for the grand auction and raffle, he set up tables and on the night he sold roses to the men to give to the ladies, what a romantic!

Entertainment was provided by artist Lian Gill who sang popular songs we all knew the words to.

In between activities Peter Rees presented his annual Diving Officer’s award. This years’ recipient was Richy Grice, training officer for the club and SAA regional coach.

Towards the end of 2012 Richy was involved in a nasty accident at work. He spent weeks in hospital and underwent several skin grafts. But through it all he kept touch with the club, organising training events and monitoring trainees’ progress. Richy’s dedication to the club deserved recognition.

The night was a huge success and over £640 was raised for club funds.

Takings:

54 tickets @ 12.50

675.00

Viv

20.00

Raffle

120.00

Roses sold on the night

50.00

Auction & Gambling

223.00

 

Outgoings:

Food, prizes & roses

331.14

Artist

80.00

Table cloth hire

35.00

Profit:

641.86



2013 Dive Season Gets Underway.
By Phil Dewhurst

After what seemed a never ending Winter, on Saturday 22nd April LSAC's 2013 dive season finally got underway. It was a lovely day, blue sky and bright sunshine that encouraged the temperature gauge to rise to the giddy heights of double figures. But before my report of the day's events I must make mention of the hard work put in by Mike O'leary, Billy Whizz, Richy Grice and others who helped move the boats and the equipment cupboard from Hasguard Cross to the yacht club at Gelliswick. Boys, you done good.

Seven members turned up for the all important first dive trip of 2013: dive marshal for the day was Jeff Canning, he was joined by John Crabhook Evans who was anxious to get into the water before the scallop season ends; Andrew, Paul and Martin have been shore diving since Christmas Day but were keen to get out on the boat. I had intended to go fishing but having seen the weather forecast and woken up to bright sunshine I'd changed plans and decided to at least join the party and if I felt brave enough I'd try a dive. And there was Claire, a new member who had joined the club after moving to Wales. Claire comes from Yorkshire, other than that she seems quite normal.

No matter how much hard work goes into preperation the dive season traditionally starts with [minor] problems, and today was no exception. We'd been given a lecture the previous Monday and were assured that the GPS, the radio and the [boat] engine had been tested. Nothing could go wrong. We stripped the covers, loaded oxygen, first aid kit, throw line, tools and checked for anchor and dive flag. AOK. Fuel contents were uncertain, one of the only jobs left is to repair the connection to the fuel gauge. I've been a member of LSAC for 14 years, the fuel gauges on the boats have never worked in that time, it's something I can live with but it does mean that before every trip you need to top the fuel up. Jeff isn't keen on towing, no-one else volunteered so Muggins, AKA Phillthepost said he'd do it. I've driven the tow vehicle before....several times, but not for a few months and there are differences between this and my little Vauxhall. First off, the Pajero has a diesel engine so you have to turn on the ignition and wait 10 seconds. I remembered that. Then the gearbox is automatic, mine is manual. The engine started, first try, I put the stick in drive and pressed the accelerator. Nothing happened. I looked at Jeff who was riding shotgun, he looked at me. “Brakes locked on the trailer.” My diagonsis didn't register. I tried again, the Pajero wheels spun and the trailer moved a fraction.

We tried and tried and....eventually the brakes freed off. It's a common problem, so the experts tell us but they offer no solution. We headed for Tesco's, source of everything including petrol. I felt quite confident sat there, big man, big car towing big boat. We turned into the petrol station and pulled up...at the wrong side of the pumps. Jeff tried to stretch the pump hose but it wouldn't. “I'll go around again,” I said almost taking out pump number 5 as I swung the wheel. This time I got it right. Jeff filled the tank, £20 worth, it was hardly worth the effort, we need those fuel gauges.

As we made to leave, drivers who had witnessed my previous manouvres volunteered, to takes their vehicles off the forecourt. As the season progesses I will improve...honest.

We loaded our dive gear, Andrew Hughes was volunteered to reverse the boat to the water, the manouvre went like clockwork and with Jeff at the helm we headed out to sea. It's a glorious feeling, the wind in your face, St. Anne's Head in the distance, makes you glad you remembered to wear that wooly hat and put that sun cream on. Our destination was Skokholm and we held on tight as Jeff negotiated the Atlantic swell that is an accepted at the entrance to the Haven. The journey took about 20 minutes, mid point, Jeff asked for volunteers and I took the wheel for the remainder of the trip, taking care to slow down as we approached the islands and encountered puffins and shearwaters catching their lunch.

We anchored on the South side of the island where there was shelter from the swell. Martin and Claire kitted up and were soon in the water, they descended via the anchor line, Andrew and Paul kitted up and followed them. Jeff and John prepared their gear, they wouldn't kit up until the others were back on board. As we waited I tried to decide, would I dive or would I wait and go in on the second dive? Martin and Claire surfaced and finned towards the boat. “What's the viz like,” I asked. “12 metres,” Martin replied, or was that ½ metre? Yes, ½ a metre sounds about right. .. and the water temperature was around 7.0C. I decided I'd wait until the second dive. As we got the divers on board a blob surfaced, Andew and Paul were ready for pick up, we moved gently into position, the recovery went textbook.


Helping John Evans kit up is a task not to be taken lightly. During the past few years he has updated his kit to include a shoulder type weightbelt, even so John has straps and clips that defy logic. But evntually he was ready. “Turn my air on Phil,” he asked. I did. Air hissed from his first stage, I turned the valve off then on again. Hiss. I looked at the valve.

John had spent the outbound journey telling Claire, a person relatively new to diving, about his diving history which in fairness goes back some forty years. Claire seemed impressed. The rest of us had heard it before. As I examined the valve on John's bottle it didn't seem believable that he had connected his valve...the wrong way around. I whispered in his ear, his look said...no I haven't. My grin said...oh yes you have. We spent 10 minutes de-kitting John. He turned his tank around, we waited another 10 minutes whilst he put his kit back on then tested his valve, it gave air. He dropped nto the water and, together with his buddy Jeff they descended.

As I waited for the divers to ascend I watched Puffins and shearwaters fishing and feeding. It's worth coming out just for that. John and Jeff surfaced in different places and at times, see things don't change.

Martin and Claire had a second dive, John declined, he was cold as was Jeff and Paul. I prepared for a dive with Andrew but as I went to put my fins on something wasn't quite right and I called off. Sorry Andrew.

We arrived back in Gelliswick just after full tide. The boat floated onto the trailer, we got out of our dive gear, washed the boat and put her to bed. Andrew, Martin and Paul went back to Haven Divers to re-charge their tanks, I'll bet they're back in the water again tomorrow. Claire said she had enjoyed her day, she admitted to feeling a bit out of it whilst we put the boat away but we assured her she'd find her nitch. Claire is a good diver and will be an asset to the club and though she's a Yorkshire lass she's alreet... honest. John Jeff and myself went for a pint in the club FelinFoel Double Dragon, nectar, and only £2.80 a pint...so we had another. Roll on next weekend.

PHILL THE POST.

 


Dinner Suits and Pickled Onions.
Monte Carlo Night 22nd March 2013

Sandra and I attended the club's Monte Carlo night held at the Taff's Well rugby club. The event was 'black tie', no problem there, Sandra has at least a thousand long dresses and I have evening suits from my days when I was somebody or at least when I thought I was somebody. Martin, AKA Captain Sensible, had volunteered to pick us up on his way through from Sully, I'd have loved to have heard his sat-nav voice along this route but hey-ho, it gave me plenty of time to prepare.

I bathed and shaved and… then went to dress. My shirt felt a bit tight but the top button fastened and my collar looked OK with an elastic bowtie. It was when I tried my trousers that the problem started; the fasteners at the waist wouldn't meet. I breathed in and stretched the material, the clip clipped…just. "Where's my other dinner suit," I shouted to my wife who was trying to choose between a strappy number and something more sensible.
"What other dinner suit," she replied.
"The one with the bigger trousers,"
"That is the suit with the bigger trousers," she said, "I gave your other to the charity shop last year because you said the trousers didn't fit.

It couldn't be, she'd made a mistake, I hunted through the wardrobe, my quilted waistcoat from years back, my funeral mac, my dress suit, my fishing suit. "Must have a chuck out here," I mumbled to myself, but there was no sign of a dinner suit. I took my trousers off again and looked at the measurements. 40 Waist, bloody hell, I knew I'd put on the odd pound but… I tried again, this time with the adjustment at maximum stretch. The clip fastened. I breathed out slowly, feeling the material stretch to its limit. Sod it I thought, they'll bed in and I'll bet I'm not the only one there with a big belly.
Captain Sensible was cutting it fine, I guessed he'd blame his satnav but for once technology wasn't at fault, "12 minutes late, heavy traffic on the link road," I could see images of Reggie Perrin. It was an awful night, rain, driving wind and freezing cold. Up north they'd had snow but thankfully it hadn't reached us. I hadn't been Ponty way for ages but we found Taff's Well rugby club managing to avoid that sneaky speed cam at the bottom of Nantgarw and the maze of road works around Moy Road.
The tables were set out lovely, the buffet looked superb, they had Felinfoel Double Dragon on tap…and Philip wasn't driving. We sat with Jeff Canning and his good lady and Mike Rees and Pat. Most of the others had arrived, I did a rough count, 35 with a few stragglers to come, not bad. We chatted and enjoyed the free peanuts. More guests arrived. It was good to see Mac and Mrs Mac. Mac stopped diving a couple of years ago, sensible chappie, but fair play, he still comes to the dos. Then I saw Lyn and smiled. His belly looked about the same size as mine. "Bet he's trousers are tight as well," I smirked to myself.

The room filled quickly, I recognised most people, Andrew, Paul and their better halves, Karen, Mr. Karen and their daughter Beth, Richie Grice complete with waistcoat, Ceri and Sam. Young Mathew looked smart: he's going to be a great diver and a good club member. Diving Officer Peter Rees arrived just in time for the buffet. His dinner suit fitted well, I'll bet he has more than one.

The buffet tasted better than it looked, if that's possible, there was sliced ham, quiche, sausage rolls, sandwiches with various fillings, samosas, sausages, pasties and for those that wanted, there was a variety of salads. But the crème de crème was the cheese board. There were magnificent cheeses: stilton, brie, blue cheese and a white, maybe Leicester, with apricot. I went back twice or was it three times. Then Sam wheeled out a shed load of gateau and cheesecake. The ladies stormed the barricades Sandra was orgasmic.

The gambling took time to get off the mark but thanks to Richie who seems to have inherited his mike skills from the Diving Officer, people were soon sat around the tables dying for a chance to be parted from their wonga. Richie played croupier, I'm sure he's done the job before, maybe in a past life. He's too bloody good at it for sure. Peter Rees manned the roulette wheel though Sandra said he kept pressing his hand on the side of the table. "No, not Peter," I told her, "he wouldn't do that". But it didn't take me long to get rid of twenty quid's worth of chips. I watched…but I couldn't see anything.
The young singer, Jay, only twenty years of age. My old mum would have said, "He'll break a few hearts." Jay put real feeling into songs old and new, his first session lasted over half an hour and he received loud applause. During the break Peter Rees took centre stage to announce his awards. I was mellowing, pleasantly full and half way down my fifth Double Dragon. The fastener at the top of my trousers was undone and I was enjoying a freedom moment; until, "and the winner of the award for the person who in the opinion of the Diving Officer has done the most for the club throughout last season is… there should be a drum roll here but...Phil Dewhurst." Bloody Hell. I speedily fastened my pants, checked the zip and stood up. My stomach heaved against the waistband, I hoped it wouldn't make a break for freedom. We were sat near the stage so it wasn't too far to walk. I accepted the shield, Peter shook my hand, Captain Sensible took a picture which I'm sure was eclipsed with my belly. I mumbled my thanks and sat down. I was gob-smacked. Why me, I could think of other people more deserving but Peter had chosen me. Thank you Peter. Andrew Hughes was awarded a cup for being the wettest diver. Andrew is always in the water, I'm sure he'll grow gills…eventually

Peter left just after that, apparently he had guests down from North Wales. So who would do the raffle and the auction? Enter Richie Grice, good old Richie. Six months ago he was at death's door, an accident at work resulted in severe burns and scalds but fair play, he fought back, he's even been diving silly sod, 4 degrees C. you wouldn't catch me anywhere near the water, but he's hard. Richie took the mike and Sam had the raffle tickets in a jug. We'd bought a fiver's worth as you do; there were some cracking prizes including a bottle of liqueur. The tickets were drawn; I checked my numbers, nothing. The liqueur went and the wine and the chocolate. "343," shouted Richie, "red ticket." I looked and looked again. 343, "Mine," I shouted. Sam brought my prize, a catering size jar of big pickled onions. My face told the story.

Give em back when no ones looking," Sandra hissed. I tried but Richie just smiled.
"Son of a bachelor," I smiled back. The jar of onions sat on the table like a big Buddha. I looked into the dark liquid, the pickles seemed set to attack. "We don't eat pickles," I smiled hopefully at my table companions.
"Neither do we." Their smiles were polite but unmistakeable.
The pickles smiled too, "Looks like you got us for keeps," they said.
"Not bloody likely," My eyes narrowed.

It was time for the auction and there were some cracking prizes: a slow cooker, a new fangled cooker, a brush to wash your caravan…I quite fancied that, a quality easter egg and a lovely bunch of flowers. Richie took the mike again and was soon in full flow. The bidding got heated, £5, £10. The flowers went for £48 in a bidding war between Paul the Gas and Mike Rees. "It's only money, "said Mike then told everyone they were for his wife to celebrate their 48th wedding anniversary. There wasn't a dry eye to be seen. Mike and Pat are a lovely couple and an asset to the club.

Jay came back on and managed to encourage couples onto the floor. I won't call it dancing but we shuffled around to Jay's dulcet tones. It was quite dreamy…or maybe the seventh pint was kicking in. All too soon it was time to go. 12-15am. I've not been up after midnight since I don't know when. Martin drove home. The weather had improved slightly and the roads were pretty clear. At the door I waved goodbye. Good old Martin, he's a genuine friend, always ready to put himself out. I try to reciprocate but somehow never manage. I must offer to drive in the summer then he can have a few pints. He's quite a boy when he's had a few, so they say.

Where do you start with the thanks? There's Sam who organised the night, sold the tickets and prepared that magnificent buffet. Then there's Richie for his sterling work on the microphone, and Ceri, I'm sure Ceri features in there somewhere and there's Lyn who arranged the room. If I've missed anyone out I'm sorry. You were all magnificent. I'm proud to be a member of such a good organisation. I hope you all enjoyed yourselves as much as Sandra and me. Go back and tell everybody who didn't come what a marvellous night they missed. We must have made a few bob for the club but that wasn't really the purpose which was to get everyone together and have a bloody good time, friends, that purpose was achieved. THANK YOU. THANK YOU. THANK YOU.

PS. I managed to slip the jar of pickled onions into the auction, they weren't too pleased but I grinned as I sneaked the jar back onto the table. Mac got them, he must have had some chips left from the gambling or maybe he'd put a bid in out of sympathy, whatever. The last I saw was him struggling down the club steps cwutching his giant jar. Don't drop 'em I thought, for God's sake don't drop 'em.


Phillthepost.


Am I Suited To Dive?
By Phil Dewhurst


As I pr
ogressed through the training programme with Llantrisant Sub-Aqua Club I was advised by all the training officers to start my open water diving in a wetsuit.

“You need to get a couple of seasons under your belt, learn to control your bouyancy proper like before you buy one of them new fangled drysuits, all them valves to open and close, it's too much to take in when you're learning like. Start in a wetsuit then, if you need to, though I never bothered, you can have a drysuit, it'll have to be made,”one knowledgeable trainer told me, “and it'll cost you a bloody fortune.” I wondered what else he ould say to put me off. He was thinking hard but I saw a sentence forming. “And it'll leak.” He beamed. “They alus leak, that's why I never bothered, that's why I still dive in my wetsuit, winter and summer, 7 mil, keeps me toasty warm, I've even dived when we had to empty t'boat 'o snow and clear ice off 't consul and I were still warm enough.” And I believed him.

My first open-water dive was Martin's Haven. I had fins and a mask but I hired regs, a bcd, a weightbelt two bottles charged with air and a 7 mil suit from West Wales Divers. That was in the days when WWD was an aladin's cave of a dive shop, you couldn't ask for the wrong thing, they had rack upon rack of dive gear, all the fancy names all tagged with little price tickets. The cost of hiring gear wasn't cheap but needs must so I used my credit card hoping that Sandra wouldn't hit the roof when the bill came through and I staggered out of the door with half a ton of smelly neoprene, a tangle of hoses and Uncle Tom Cobly and all.

Back in the car, I followed my instructor through the narrow lanes to the National Trust car park at Martins Haven. We parked up and I struggled into my wetsuit. The first layer of neoprene was restrictive, the second layer almost cut me in half - how people dress in rubber for their bedroom activities is beyond me. Then we had to carry all our kit down to the beach. Not funny, by the time I'd got my second tank over the boulders I was well and truly knackered. The tide was going out exposing even more boulders. I needed help kitting up, finding somewhere to connect all those rubber tubes and where the hell do all those straps fit together? But eventually we were ready. With the help of, I think it was Mr. Ceri Jones, I made my way into the water up to my knees...then I fell over. Luckily I didn't damage any equipment, oh, and I didn't damage myself. It was early May, the sun was shining and I'd sweated cobblers carrying that gear. But the water was freezing. I felt it creep inside the suit, and almost immediately I needed a wee. Then I remembered what the man at the shop told me But I couldn't hold and for a couple of seconds the water was warm again.

I'll remember that first cold water dive till my dying day. Eventually my body got aclimatised and I enjoyed the experience but that was my first and last time at Martin's Haven. I vowed never to go there again unless I could take a pack mule. Back at West Wales Divers I spoke with Dai and Amanda. I always found this couple who owned and ran WWD, very friendly and helpful. Amanda advised me to buy a drysuit. I told her what my instructor had said but she asured me that with some initial training I would cope with the mysteries of bouyancy control. So I took the plunge so to speak and splashed the cash. My first drysuit was manufactered by Typhoon. It was a low priced model made from membrane. The suit was part of a composite deal and included an undersuit, hood and a pair of ankle weights. I think the price was around £370 and together with a shotted weightbelt plus shot I parted company with just over £420. Amanda arranged for me to have a lesson on how to manage in the water. There was a training pool at the back of the shop, I squeezed myself into the undersuit, then struggled into the drysuit. The weightbelt weighed a ton. I breathed in, strapped it around my waist then breathed out. It stopped in place. By he time I'd added a BCD I wondered how I'd ever manage to move. My instructor for the day, a polite young man who looked young enough to be my grandson slipped into his drysuit as though he was putting on a leisure suit then he fitted a tank to a BCD and flung it over his shoulders as though it were a feather pllow. Not for the first time I wondered if this was really my scene We climbed down the steps and entered the water. It was a strange experience, floating there without feeling cold or wet. But one I thought I could get used to. David, that's what I think the child's name was showed me the valves and how to use them. Later that day we repeated the process at St, Brides Bay. This was my first dry dive.

I used that Typhoon suit for three or four years. It leaked occasionally and I replaced the neck and wrist seals but over time I noticed that water was coming in somewhere and I'd have to take action. I spoke with other club members, most dived in drysuits, most admitted to getting wet. I learnt that if you made sudden movemnts to look around, the water crept in. If you reached out to 'examine' a lobster or a crab, water crept in. Towards the end of it's life my Typhhoon suit leaked around the crotch and under the arms on every dive. It was time to look for another suit.

At the dive show, held in Birmingham, there's always some bargains. A couple of year's previous I'd bought a lovely 3 mil wetsuit and had used it extensively on holidays to the Carribean and the Maldives. So I searched through the racks. Why do manufacteres only cater for young slim divers? At least some of the men I see diving have a similar shape to myself and after all I've paid a fortune for my beer gut. The task seemed hopless. There were plenty of sm and lge, even a choice in xl. But when it came to xxl there weren't many to choose from. I asked at the Beaver stand – Oh grow up for God's sake - a sympathetic man said he'd have a look. I could hear him out the back, searching the rails and eventually he came back with a suit. “Try this on,” he said. I tried the suit on over my clothes and it fitted with room to spare . My Typhoon suit was black. This suit was blue and grey. It looked expensive and I was surprised when I looked at the ticket to see the price £385. Almost he same price I'd paid for the Typhoon. Again I used my credit card.

I had to wait for the new dive season to try my suit and so Easter Monday, together with a few other nutters we launched a boat at Broadhaven and headed for Stack Rock. It was a grey old day, the air temperature according to the thermometer in the car was 9.0C. I couldn't imagine the water being much warmer. My new suit looked the part. It had slipped on lovely over my new set of thermals,the neck seal wasn't strangling me and the wrist seals weren't threatening to cut off my circulation. I couldn't wait to get into the water so as soon as we'd set the anchor I grabbed my dive bag. I was determined to be first in. Kitting up was a piece of cake. My BCD fitted easily around the brand new membrane, I'd changed the low pressure hose to fit onto the new valve and for safety I'd added a couple of kilos extra weight.

Buddy check completed, I looked to my dive partner, nodded then rolled backwards off the boat. Freezing cold water ran down my neck. Bollocks. But I carried on with the dive...for 15 minutes until the cold mad it impossible. Later that week I took the suit in and had a smaller neckseal fitted. It appeared that though I may have a xxl gut I have an xl neck.

Next time out I was anxious I rolled off the boat fully expecting that cold cold feeling but there wasn't one...at least, not around my neck. This time it was down my leg. I rang Beaver. A nice young lady offered to have my suit tested if I could send it to them which I did. Two days later the same lady rang me back. A pressure test revealed two small holes in the material. “Where had I used the suit? Was it snaggy?” I am a bottom crawler but I was pretty sure I hadn't damaged the suit. “Where do you hang your suit when you've washed it?” This was a starnge question but I told the lady I hosed the suit and left it to dry on the rotary dryer. “Do the legs dangle to the floor?” Another strange question. I answered in the affirmative. “And do you have a dog.” I could imagine the scene. Two dangly legs and an inquisitive puppy, we'd recently acquired a minature schnauzer pup, with sharp teeth.

Beaver repaired the suit, it came back with two neat patches on right leg and I've used it ever since. It hasn't been my best buy, I've had it patched several times and the suit has needed several replacement neck and cuff seals. Occasionally, very occasionally I've had a nearly dry dive but in the main I've had to strip off completely following a dive day and put on dry underclothes. I've recently changed the neckseal from latex to neoprene. The first fit was disastrous. Water poured in but the second fit seemed ok and I had my first almost dry dive for ages. But somehow on the way back to base I managed to put a tiny tear once again in the material in the leg. So the suit is currently awaiting repair at Haven Dive Services. Maybe it's true, there's no such thing as a drysuit. Some club members have paid over £1000 for their suits and they reckon they stay dry, but I suppose if I'd paid that sort of dosh I'd be tempted to say the same. Maybe I should invest in a quality wetsuit. Or maybe, as I approach retirement I should stick to warm water diving. But I'm sure I said that last year...and the year before.

 


Where There's A Will There's A Way.
By Phil Dewhurst

Despite a poor weather forecast eight divers turned up at Monty's on Sunday prepared to defy the elements in the pursuit of their sport. The wind was gusting from the South West and following some discussion it was agreed if we launched from the Haven our options would be limited. So we decided to launch from Broahaven beach. Chris Elsworthy voluteered to drive the Pajero. Good old Chris. You'll learn in time when and when not to volunteer.

High tide that morning was 07-00am. By the time we had the boat ready the the sea was half way down the beach and wind against tide was creating a surf to match anything you'd see in Cornwall. But we've been here before, we knew what to do...So why is it we always cock the launch up? Chris backed the trailer down to the water, we unhitched, fitted the jockey wheel and the push bar and we heaved. Nothing happened. The trailer wheels had dug into the soft sand. So we towed the trailer out and tried again. This time, we got it into the water and pushed the boat off...and we grounded. There was lots of shouting lots of suggestions but with the tide falling there was only one option. So we winched the boat back onto the trailer and, using a rope hauled it out onto dry sand. Our second attempt was more successful. We got the trailer to the water and before the wheels could sink in we started pushing. It wasn't easy but with a bit of huffing and puffing and a lot of non-technical language we got the wheels into deep enough water and the boat floated off.

That wasn't the end though. The surf was threatening to turn us over, the crew couldn't board, the deck was swamped. We ran out to calmer water, emptied the hull through the dicky and waited until Chris had parked the trailer and the Pajero. Boarding was a challenge but we managed and were soon nose into the wind heading out to sea. Conditions worsened leading to a change in plan. We had intended to dive around Martins Haven but instead decided to head for Stack Rock. Here, we found some shelter. Our divers kitted up and, in their allotted pairs, rolled off the boat then used the anchor line to descend to the seabed. For reasons that would take too long to explain, I was wearing a 5 mil wetsuit and though I'd dived using this suit the previous week and not felt the cold, today, with the wind whipping through and a grey sky I just didn't fancy the dive. So I stayed on board and the remaining divers went in as a threesome.

Whilst the divers were underwater I scanned the rocks for life, there were seals, cormorants and two peregrine falcons diving acrobatically as they chased the gulls and the pigeons. The first blob came up by the rocks. I started the engine, unhitched the painter leaving the anchor on a buoy and made my way slowly to the orange sausage. Another blob popped up, some distance away from the first then a solitary diver; it was Connor. He had lost his buddy and following procedure had made his ascent. I helped him on board. Meantime two more divers came to the surface. As we were getting them on board, a third blob hit surface, then another one. Andrew Hughes and Paul Goddard are proving themselves very good divers They surfaced almost at the anchor rope and couldn't wait to tell us that amongst the marine creatures they had spotted was an octopus. And they had a video record to prove it. All the divers reported underwater visibility around 3-4 metres and plenty to see.

But surface viz was failing fast. Black clouds were forming over Solva and the rain was sheeting across the rock. We went see if we'd get a second dive at the Hen and Chicks but the sea was forming into big swells so we did the sensible thing and headed back to shore. The tide had just turned. Chris backed the trailer to the water and, learning the lesson from the launch, we unhitched and got it moving before it had chance to sink in the mud. Recovery went well. We used the rope to tow the boat and trailer onto firm sand and 30 minutes later we were back at Montys. It hadn't been the best of days but, by using a bit of common sense and working together we managed a dive, encountering visibility as good or better than we've experienced for most of the season. Andrew showed his video at the club meeting the following Monday. The quality of the images was superb, he had captured the octopus both stationery and on the move. Peter Rees, as good an underwater photographer as you are, I think you've got some competition.

 


Infographic: The Science of Beer Goggles

 
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The Big Bite Duck Race
By Phil Dewhurst

This year our Entertainment Officer, Samantha Ady, organised a duck race and the club invested in 600 yellow plastic ducks to be released down the river Taff. We sold the ducks for £1 each on the stall and around the showground, meanwhile Training Officer Richie Grice assisted by club members and SAA Regional Rep Ceri Jones, donned their drysuits and erected barriers across the river to catch the ducks on the finish line.

As the start of the race got closer Richie managed to persuade the Lord Mayor to release our ducks from the landmark old bridge at the top of the town. Crowds gathered along the river bank to cheer their ducks on and the Mayor was on hand at the finish to have a photo taken with the winner. There was almost as much excitement after the race as the crowds stayed on to cheer our boys as they valiantly collected stray ducks that escaped through the barriers. All 600 ducks were collected. A donation from the club will be made to the Lord Mayor's charity fund.

20,000 people visited the show, our stand complete with banners looked very professional and attracted lots of interest. I highly recommend other SAA clubs to get involved, get their name into the public domain and showcase our sport. It's a great way to attact new members and if our expereience is anything to go by, it can be a whole lot of fun as well.


Setting up the barrier
 
Ready for the ducks
--- -- ---

Megan and the Lord Mayor launch the ducks
 
Watching the ducks go down the river
--- -- ---

Martin picking up the strays
 
Ceri and Lloyd testing the current
--- -- ---

Ceri and Richie chasing the first past the post
 
Scooping the ducks at the barrier
--- -- ---

Richie with the first and second ducks
 
The Lord Mayor with the winning duck, number 41
--- -- ---

Taking down the barrier
 
Entertainment Officer Sam Ady presenting the first prize
--- -- ---

Martin stuffing his face!
     

Well Handled
by Phil Dewhurst


You'd think that if it's happened once, you'd make damn sure it doesn't happen again. If only life were that simple.

A couple of Sundays ago, we met up as usual, at Monty's. There were four of us, Andrew, Connor, Richie and myself. Richie was dive marshal for the day. We loaded Cobra 1 and headed for Dale. The weather was fine though a keen easterly wind was blowing straight into the slip which for once was clear of yachts.

Richie backed the trailer down to the water, we un-hitched and prepared to launch only to discover, the handle for the winch was missing. Last time out, the winch handle, which on the new trailers is detatchable, must have dropped off en-route...either that or it had been nicked but whatever, we were minus one handle.

This in itself didn't present much of a problem. The tide was rising, the trailer wheels were soon under water, Richie jumped back into the Pajero, gunned the engine and jerked forward. The boat slid off the rollers, job done. With Connor at the helm we headed out to sea and the mystery of the missing winch handle became another talking point.

We anchored off Skomer and had two very pleasant dives in and around Bull Hole. The sun was shining and though the wind had picked up, Richie managed to find shelter tucked in below the cliffs. There were seals, puffins, shearwaters and razorbills, what more could you ask for?

We came back via Jack Sound, Richie, on the wheel, negotiating big swells and white water to take us safely back to the calm of the haven. Through the day we'd discussed how we would recover the boat, if possible, we'd float it onto the trailer.

But by the time we got to the slip, the tide had dropped, we'd need to run the trailer onto the mud and we'd need a working winch to get the boat back safe. We tied the boat up to the pontoon, Richie dashed back to Monty's for the winch handle from Cobra 2 and we relaxed in the warm sunshine He was back in about thirty minutes complete with handle, it took about 10 minutes to recover the boat: an hour later we were back in base.

On the following bank holiday Monday we intended taking Cobra 1 but a problem with the battery meant we had to switch to Cobra 2 instead. Again, there were only four of us, Jeff, Chris the Kiwi, myself and John, 'Crabhook', Evans.

As we prepared the equipment I was conscious of events the previous trip and the need to take the one remaining winch handle, which, for safety, had been stored in the cupboard.

John Evans had been on a family holiday to Spain and hadn't seen the new trailers. He was impressed and spent some time examining the shiny metal and all the gubbins we'd added. As I passed him the winch handle I told him the tale from the previous trip.

All went well, we needed fuel so Tesco at Milford Haven seemed a wise move then down to Gelliswick where the slipway is wide enough for anyone to negotiate, including me.

The tide was dropping fast so we rushed to load the kit and the bottles, Kiwi Chris wanted to back the trailer down and being a coward I had no hesitation in passing him the keys. By this time the slip was dry but by using the launching buggy we could manage.

We un-hitched from the Pajero, connected the buggy and pushed the trailer into water just about deep enough to effect a launch, meantime, Jeff went to release the clip holding the winch strap to the boat only to discover... the winch handle missing.

We all looked at John; his eyes narrowed, his face went red, for a moment, he was silent which, for anyone who knows him is a rare event. He knew he'd fitted the winch handle to a winch and in a subduded voice he admitted he'd fit the handle to the winch on Cobra 1, not Cobra 2. So there we were, on the mud, the tide receding fast and for the second time in two outings... no winch handle.

By sheer coincidence celebrated dive shop owner and valued club member Greg Jewell was launching his boat and he too was stuck in the mud, so with the help from both crews we managed to push Cobra 2 into deep enough water to slide her off the rollers then we repeated the process with Greg's boat.

The rest of the day went well and had two good dives off Skokholm.

Coming back into Gelliswick the tide was well up the slip, we decided we'd attempt to float the boat back onto the trailer but this was more difficult than it seemed and we were struggling until Gatchie Jones and Jill, who were enjoying the sunshine after a day spent working on their boat, came along. Gatchie, resourceful as ever, borrowed a winch handle that thankfully fitted our winch. After this, recovery was a doddle.

We'd managed, again, and if I've learned anything at all from the day it was that you can never check enough. And I'll bet Crabhook won't let a trailer leave Monty's again without a working winch ... complete with handle.

 


My Kind Of Dive Holiday.
Lamaya Resort Marsa Alam Egypt.
by Phil Dewhurst

Wednesday 18th May 2011

There’s always one on every flight and they’re always in the seats near me, as I go to put my hand luggage into an empty space in the overhead locker I hear a voice tell me, “You can’t do that, I’ve another case to go in there.” I look around; there’s no reserve sign. “Tough,” I should have told the giant of a man with his case poised in mid air. But I didn’t. Instead I find another gap in the next locker. What’s the point? More to the point, he’s bigger than me. I make myself comfy, daps off, book stored safe. Sandra has the bag with the earphones, neck-pillows, eye shades, spare socks, sleeping tablets, tummy tablets, kitchen sink.

We take off on time, the plane reaches cruising height, seat belt sign goes off, there’s a rush for the toilets. Nothing changes. With five hours to go I settle down. The film starts; Gulliver’s Travels; it’s crap but watch-able crap. Cabin crew come around with their over-priced drinks. We order two rum and cokes, tiny bottles of Bacardi and mega cans of coke. “That’ll be £11.30 Sir.” Who cares, we’re on holiday and anyway, Sandra’s paying. I’m glad we’ve ordered meals – £7.50. It’s standard aircraft nosh but eating helps pass the time.

The flight soon passes, we arrive on time. There’s a queue to have our passports checked then another to go through the scanners but all goes well and we’re soon outside in the hot sun. It’s 32c. Thomson’s reps direct us to the coach that will transfer us to our hotel, fifteen minutes later we’re at the Lamaya resort.

Check in is quick and efficient. By the time we find our room the cases have arrived, I tip the boys $5, they’re grateful for the gesture, we’re grateful for the air conditioning, it’s noisy but efficient. We have a king sized bed, lots of cupboard space, a shower room and a separate room with two sofa beds. Sliding doors lead out to one of three swimming pools. We unpack quickly and within ten minutes we’re enjoying a refreshing swim. Dinner is a relaxed affair, afterwards over several rum and cokes, we chat with Peter and his family and Mike and Pat Rees our companions for this holiday.

Thursday 19th May

Our last visit to Lamaya was two years ago, we’re surprised by not only how many of the staff we recognise, but how many of them recognise us. We’re greeted like old friends. I get the feeling I must have been over generous with the tips.

It’s the same story at the dive centre and as a result the formalities are completed in minutes. I’m informed that because I’m a returning guest I don’t need to do a pre-dive check. Thank God for that, I store my dive gear in my locker and book in for a dive.

At the briefing I list my qualification level and number of dives; 500+. I look down the dive sheet. Some divers have done ten dives, some twelve dives, some have completed twenty. I see the others looking at the list. The dive master looks at my entry, and smiles. “You’ve been here before?” I nod, and look around the table for re-action; I’m a smug bastard.

The briefing starts with safety procedures, dive signals then the plan. I remember the dive site but listen along with the eight other divers as the guide gives his spiel in English then German then pigeon Italian. He tries a bit of Russian but gives up when the guy from Moscow tell him, “I speek little Inglis.”

We don our suits and carry the kit to the jetty. En-route I tell the guide this is my first dive this time but my third visit to Coraya. “How much weight do you use?” He asks.

“I’ve loaded my belt with 6 kilos”

He looks at my girth. “You’ll need at least 8,” he tells me.

“I dived with 6 in the Maldives, in January” I reply loud enough for the others to hear; they’re kitting up but I can see they’re listening.

“There’s lead on the rib if you need it.” He smiles, knowingly.

We load our gear onto the rib. There’s a strong wind. Outside the bay there are white horses. “Put your feet in the straps and grip the handles,” the guide demonstrates; the skipper checks around then guns the twin engines. We’re off. It’s a bumpy ride in the rib but within ten minutes we’re at the dive site. Buddy teams had been selected by the guide, my buddy is a biggish German guy, I smile; he blanks me. Do I give a toss?

We roll of the boat in pairs, give the ok signal, the guide gives the thumb down, divers descend, I lift the hose, squeeze the button, nothing happens. I should be going down but I’m not. I put my head under the surface and see the other divers sinking to the sea bed. I try again: lift the hose, press the button to release air from my jacket, hear a re-assuring hiss, still nothing happens. I look down. The guide is at 10 metres and signalling, “What’s the problem?” My buddy is staring up at me. If looks could kill…I’m not feeling so smug now. Mr. 500 dives and he can’t even descend tidy. I look to the boat. The skipper is leaning over the tubes waving two kilo weights at me; I swim across and stuff one in each pocket then try again. This time I sink.

The dive is good, we see the usual fish, the usual corals, same old same old, but it’s good to be back and good to be underwater. And the water’s warm, my computer reads 25.C. Our dive lasts 50 minutes, back on board the rib I apologise to the guide. He’s too polite to say told you so but his expression tells me he’s met smug bastards before…they’re all the same. When we arrive at the jetty I add the two weights + another one to my belt. I’m diving with Peter and Mike later and can’t afford another slip up. The plan is: lunch then rest then another dive. The reality is: lunch, one small beer, two glasses of rose wine then sleep. Bugger the diving.

The pattern for the week is soon established: get up at 08-00, breakfast, usually three hard boiled eggs, crusty bread with lashings of butter, two/three cups of tea then back to the room for a lie down till 10-00am, down the dive centre at 10-20, get the kit together, briefing at 10-30, journey to dive site, dive for an hour then back for lunch at 13-00. I always intended to do another dive in the afternoon but somehow never did.

Friday 20th May

Mike did his check dive yesterday afternoon; Peter went along for the dive. Today we’re diving together. The plan is to drop in off the north reef and drift back to the jetty but the wind is howling so we join a party who intend diving along the south reef. It’s a fifteen minute journey by speed boat but should be a better dive.

The briefing is given in a similar fashion to the one I sat in on yesterday. We list our qualifications and number of dives, I note Peter’s entry reads 1100+ dives – and I thought I was a smug bastard. The guide takes his time with the safety issues and ends by telling us, “Please check all your equipment before you leave the jetty.” After yesterday’s episode I listen and nod. We load our kit onto the rib then climb aboard. It’s a rough ride, the wind has whipped the sea into a frenzy, we climb the waves and drop down the other side, the kids think it’s great, the over twenty ones hang on for grim death.

At the dive site we kit up. There’s a problem with Peter’s tank, the valve isn’t seating, there’s air leaking big time.

“Did you check your gear on the jetty?”

We roll off the boat, all of us except Peter.

This is better, those extra weights have worked, I sink like a stone and feel very comfy. Mike and I buddy up, we don’t see a great deal but it’s a pleasant, relaxed dive. After 45 minutes we shoot a dmsb to the surface and ascend slowly.Back on board, Peter has fixed the problem using his knife as
a makeshift screwdriver. At the jetty he tells us after we’d gone down he sneaked a crafty twenty five minutes on a solo dive much to the displeasure of the boat skipper.

Saturday 21st May

Another glorious day and the wind has dropped back, slightly. We meet at the dive centre and join our group to listen to the briefing. We load our gear on the rib and climb aboard, everybody else is kitted up except us three. The guide smiles sympathetically and sighs. “Eet is little ride to site, we kit up first, save time, I told you at briefing.” We smile back. “Don’t worry,” he says, “you can kit up when we stop.” The other divers looked on Bloody Inglis. We kit up at the site, it didn’t make a deal of difference.

Backward roll off the boat, Mike, myself and Peter are a team for at least five minutes, then Peter finds something worth shooting…with his camera. After that he was a trail of bubbles somewhere to the rear. Mike and I carried on. Eventually Peter catches up.

Sunday 22nd May

We’re getting into a routine and even though Mike had said he was having a day off he’s there at the dive centre with his kit. Out guide looks to be about 12 years old. He gives the briefing then tells us he isn’t coming in the water. We drop to 10 metres then down to another wall at 15 metres. I signal to Mike I’m going over, he hovers above. I descend, 20, 25, I level out at 27 metres, I can see Mike above me, Peter’s bubbles rise somewhere in the distance. There’s not a lot to see, I re-join Mike and we drift slowly along the reef. There are two other divers in front of us; I recognise them from the rib. They drift along slowly, stopping here and there to look. They look so relaxed and remind me very much of Lyn and Mac from the club.

We see lion fish, puffers, clown fish, moray eels and just before the forty minute mark a turtle. He was swimming along in the blue, not a care in the world. I fin over expecting him to shoot off but he didn’t. Mike joins me and we spend a few moments in his company, I managed to take some close up photos before he decides he’s had enough and turns towards the reef. Peter catches up with us and we fizz off at 10 metres amongst colourful corals before ascending slowly to our safety stop.

I had planned to visit the water park, a-joining the hotel, after lunch but the beer and the wine. What else can you say?

Monday 23rd May

This is my last but one diving day. Usual meet up and briefing, there’s only the three of us…until a German guy turns up, he’s mixed his days up. But we accommodate him. He’s only open water qualified so the guide, who wasn’t planning on diving, has to come in the water. We drop in on what is known as the pinnacles and descend to 29 metres then ascend to keep within de-compression limits. The colours are beautiful, the fish life stunning. Our dive lasts 52 minutes.

Today’s plan is: lunch, then snorkelling but by now you have an idea what’s going to happen and you’re spot on.

Tuesday 24th May

My last dive; Mike isn’t coming and Peter almost doesn’t make it due to a dose of the Pharaoh’s Revenge. Two Loperamide later though he thinks he’ll risk it. The wind is bending the palm trees double and the bay is a mass of white horses. We’re supposed to be going North – so far I’ve only dived South. The guide says we can’t follow the plan; we’ll have to dive south. What the hell, at least we’ll get wet and there’s no such thing as a bad dive. Briefing, get the kit together, I could nearly do this blind fold.

Aboard the rib we hang on as wind and waves buffet us. I lose the strap off my hat and have to ride with one hand on my head. After ten minutes we stop. Kitting up is a challenge but eventually we’re all ready. The guide counts 1, 2, 3. We roll in. It’s calm beneath the surface but above us we can see waves thundering against the reef. Peter and I descend; 20, 25, 30 metres. We’re at the bottom of a pinnacle. In the rocks banded shrimp play around a mammoth moray, a giant puffer fish sleeps on the white sand, groupers lurk in search of a meal. We rise to 20 metres and swim around a coral garden. The diving here is so relaxed. Our dive lasts 52 minutes. We swim into the blue and send up a buoy.

On the surface there’s no sign of our boat. The sea is rough and I’m glad of the 50 bar reserve. I keep my regulator in my mouth and my mask on. Eventually the boat appears. The skipper has seen us. Other divers have ascended at different points, we’re the last on board. The guide does a head count, he’s relieved to see us all back safe. The trip to the jetty is hairy but we make it without incident.

For the last time I wash my gear in one of three tanks available at the dive centre. The sun is beating down. My stuff won’t take long to dry. After lunch I intend to pay my bill, buy some tee-shirts and pack but two glasses of wine and a beer or two then a snooze….I can always pack tomorrow.

Wednesday 25th May

Going home today, I pick my gear up from the centre, pay my bill and say my good-byes. But, I’ll be back, I know I will.

We spend the day mooching around the hotel, checkout time is 12-30 but they let us keep our room for a bit longer, no charge. Our cases are collected just before lunch, at 2-30pm we hand the key into reception; the coach arrives at 3:00pm.

Peter and Mike wave us off. Our flight home is on time and despite rumours of ash clouds from Iceland we land on time at Gatwick airport. The temperature here is a chilly 9c.

During our stay I did six dives, all from a speedboat, all at sites about 20 minutes journey time south of the jetty. My bill, including two tee-shirts came to around 200 euros. I took all of my own gear but you can hire and the prices are reasonable.

The Coraya Dive Centre is 20 metres from the Lamaya resort. It’s a very efficient and very conservation minded operation so much so they have sacks available for divers to collect rubbish.

Diving is either from the jetty, in the bay, or via speedboat to marks along the north and south reefs. There are also full day trips each day to visit sites further down the coast.

We travelled with Thomson. Our all inclusive package included flights from Gatwick and transfers to and from the hotel. The accommodation was superb; the food excellent with plenty of variety and the drinks just kept coming. There are three swimming pools, a gym, a spa and a library.

Night-time entertainment is low key but what is lacking in professionalism is made up for in enthusiasm by a hard working animation team. Children are catered for but there’s not a lot for teenagers.

The flight time is five and a half hours. We booked extra luggage allowance – £17.50 for an extra 5 kilos, and on board meals – £7.50. Our 7 day package cost just short of £600 each.

For a little bit more we could have stayed for a fortnight but we had commitments. I like Coraya because it’s civilised diving, the Lamaya resort is one place where I don’t feel so guilty going off diving and leaving Sandra on a sun-bed with a nice cocktail for company.

 


Aerial View of the Coraya Medinat


A Resort Holiday in the Maldives
Jan/Feb 2011 - by Phil Dewhurst

It’s not the easiest destination to get to, flying direct from Heathrow or Gatwick to Male in the Maldives takes over ten hours, and it isn’t the cheapest of places to visit.

Two weeks, all inclusive in a four star resort can cost anywhere between £1800 to £3500 per person depending on the type of accommodation and the season. Half board is a cheaper option but with cocktails from the bar priced from $10 U.S. and half a litre of gassy lager at $6 you can soon run up a big bar bill.

Believe me, I’ve been there, done it and hadn’t enough left to buy a tee-shirt. But once you’ve visited the Maldive Islands you’re spoiled for life. It’s our favourite place!

This was our eleventh visit and as we were celebrating our fortieth wedding anniversary we decided to push the boat out, so to speak. We booked with Virgin, not the cheapest option, but we’ve travelled with them before and enjoyed the little add-ons not always available with lower priced agents.

January through to April is high season which added to the bill as did the water bungalow we opted to stay in but as this was a special event, cost consideration took a back seat and overall we got what we paid for.

Our overnight flight from Heathrow with Sri-Lankan Airways was a good experience. The plane wasn’t full and we had extra seats to sprawl out on, so for once, sleep was an option. The in-flight food was good, as was the choice of films and the bar service was excellent. Arriving at Male around midday (The Maldives are five hours ahead of GMT) we breezed through customs and immigration and were taken by coach to the seaplane terminal.

Maldivian air taxis offer a quick service to the resorts and as Sandra suffers from sea-sickness we’ve always used this option for the transfer to our resort. The tiny de Havilland aircraft was loaded with twelve passengers plus luggage and we were soon airborne. The view from a seaplane is spectacular and I never tire of looking out at the different colours of the sea from the turquoise of the reef tops to indigo as the Indian Ocean drops away to depth.

Our flight only took twenty five minutes. We first saw Ellaidhoo as a tiny speck; it got bigger as the plane landed in the clear waters of the lagoon then taxied up to a platform where a Dhoni waited to take us to the Island.

Ellaidhoo, a resort on the north east corner of the Ari Atoll is famous for its house reef. A short swim from the white sandy beach takes you to the reef edge where a wall drops some thirty metres to the seabed.

The Dive and Sail Company who operate the dive centre offer the option of diving on the house reef and daily boat trips to neighbouring dive sites. I tried both options and had some good dives and some that were spectacular.

Over the fortnight I dived nineteen times and saw turtles, manta ray, eagle ray, sharks, napoleon wrasse and a host of colourful reef fish including some I hadn’t seen before most memorably a zebra moray eel. I took some photos and though I’m not good with a camera you can see the amazing marine life we saw on most dives. Sandra doesn’t dive but she loves to snorkel. When she wasn’t sprawled on a lounger around the pool, she was in the lagoon with mask, fins and snorkel enjoying the rich marine life on view.

The morning dive boat leaves at 8-30am: the first dive site tended to be around thirty minutes travel allowing for some preparation and a briefing en-route. The dive guide would select buddy teams, check the direction of current and give instructions as to how the dive would proceed.

Visibility was in excess of twenty metres and currents ranged from nil to raging depending on the site: the stronger the current the more chance of seeing the bigger fish. Normally we would go around as a group but if the guide could sense a buddy team was confident he would allow some freedom.

I had some good buddies and we spent time on the reefs away from the main group. Our dives lasted around an hour and we deployed a safety balloon before each ascent. Surface intervals took up at least an hour during which time we’d travel back to the island. A second dive would be on shallower site and we’d arrive back in time for lunch. Both nitrox and air are available in ten or twelve litre bottles.

The cost of diving in the Maldives has been affected by rises in fuel prices and the addition of a 3.5% tax. A single dive cost $50 and boat fees are additional as is a charge for night diving and any equipment you may want to hire but packages are available to reduce your overall bill.

All too soon our holiday was over but memories of the two weeks we spent on Elaidhoo will stay with me forever. Our over water bungalow was lovely: we had a big room with a king-size bed, a luxury bathroom and a balcony with a view across the lagoon.

The poolside restaurant was open-sided allowing cooling breeze to counter the 30.0C heat.

The choice of food was excellent and the resort staff, who come from all around Asia, were polite and efficient.

On the day of our anniversary the manager arranged for our table to be put on the beach. We had a candlelight dinner and were served with a delicious selection of seafood, chilled wine and to follow, a choice of deserts.

Afterwards, the boys from the restuarant decorated a table and the
chef brought out a celebration cake. Where else would you get this service?

As the seaplane left the lagoon and we rose into clear skies I watched as our island became once more a tiny speck then disappeared into the Indian Ocean. I turned to Sandra. She was brown from the sun and looked very relaxed.

Would we come back? Too damned right we would. As long as we have our health and as long as we can afford to, we’ll keep coming back to the Maldives and though there are loads of places we haven’t visited, Ellaidhoo is definitely on our "must go back to" list.

 


SAA Chairman visits the club

Llantrisant Sub Aqua Club had a very special visitor to their club night recently when S.A.A. Chairman Mike Burley who had spent a pleasant weekend diving around the Pembrokeshire coast called in on the club on his way home. Members packed the room to listen as Mike spoke passionately about training and the club system and he illustrated his points with examples he had encountered in almost thirty years of diving experience.

Mike complemented LASC on their Golden Club Award presented at the recent Sub-Aqua Club AGM. He was impressed with the club’s recruitment record – twenty new members in the last two years – and he praised the club’s policy of taking the sport out into the community at every opportunity.

In answer to questions from the floor Mike told members that he would like to see more regional instructors particularly in Wales and the Midlands. LASC diving officer, Peter Rees, spoke about the facilities available in Pembrokeshire which are ideal for boat handling courses. He said that the club had a good training record. Five members were due to sit their club diver exam, four members were doing open water training and several members were currently progressing to open water instructor level. Mike made notes as Peter went on to say there was a demand for courses in boat handling, diver first aid and oxygen administration.

In closing Mike spoke about the National Diving Officer’s Conference which this year will be held at the RNLI training centre Poole Dorset 13th November 2010. In recognition of the priceless service provided by the Lifeboat Service to all water users the Sub Aqua Association intend to donate £1600, the proceeds of recent fund raising events.

 


The Ponty Big Bite.

For the third year running the club had a stand at the Ponty Big Bite. This festival held over three days in the beautiful Ynysangharad Park Pontypridd attracted over 20,000 visitors. And there was plenty of interesting things for them to see including stalls laden with tempting foods and a full programme of displays including dancing dogs, dancing kids, lumberjacks, even sheep dogs herding ducks.

Our stand was in the Well Being Zone, a marquee occupied with groups and societies promoting healthy lifestyles. Last year we were situated next to the alcohol abuse team and I wondered who had been telling tales. This year our neighbours were from heart- start. One of their team was a diver so we managed to get the latest info on how to handle an emergency.

We used material kindly provided by the SAA and the Marine Conservation Society; the kids were thrilled to pick up glossy pics showing seal pups and coral. Irene from the SAA loaned us two stands which added colour to our display and we took along a couple of laptops.

Our DVDs shot on recent club trips and some stills of a training event held at the National Dive Centre Chepstow had a constant audience.

Club members took it in turns to man the stand and I’m grateful to Owain Jenkins, Mike Rees, Sam Ady, Mark Jones, Richie Grice,‘Tall Paul’, ‘Paul The Gas’ Ray Williams, Gareth H and young Rachael for their efforts; I don’t know what they all do for a living but if they show as much enthusiasm in their work as they did promoting our sport their bosses are lucky people. Apologies if I missed anyone out and please tell me if I did so I can add your name to the list of honour.

Our ‘name the diver’ competition was well supported; the mannequin dressed as a diver was very realistic but I’m not sure about the open mouth and judging by some of the names submitted neither were the public at large!

By 3:00pm on Sunday we were close to 150 names and telephone numbers from people interested in having a go at Try-A-Dive and just before the show closed Mark Jones got the 150th candidate to enter their details on the list.

The event closed at 5:00pm. Sunday. By 6:00 we’d cleared the stand and left the park. Mark Richie and me then retired to Rickard’s for a well earned pint.

Over our drinks we talked about the stand, the club and diving in general and concluded that Big Bite is a good showcase for our sport and our club. We’re already making plans for 2011.

 


Weight Watchers.

Ok, I put my hands up; I’m guilty as charged, I did it and in front of witnesses who can’t be trusted to keep their gobs shut. I thought that divers were supposed to be buddies and remember Billy Whiz telling me not long after I’d joined the club that what happens on the boat stays on the boat. So was I entitled to think that if I did something daft whilst diving and my MATES were there to see me do it, they’d be entitled to see the funny side, maybe pee themselves laughing but the matter would be left there? I think so. That’s not how it was. Somebody just couldn’t keep schtum and bad news spreads faster than swine flu.

So here’s the senario. Despite what happened, I’d had a good day’s diving and was on my way home. My mobile was on the passenger seat amongst various junk. I was making good progress and would soon be necking one or three Speckled Hens’.

Then the phone went. I glanced at the tiny screen. The name Dai Flip Flop was pulsing and an image formed in my mind of a thin baldy guy who used to dive some time ago but then went off to do cliff jumping or blancmange juggling or something equally engrossing. What the hell could he want? I pulled over, stopped the engine and the conversation went something like this.

“Hi Dai what can I do for you? ”

“I just heard”

“Just heard what?”

“Just heard you jumped in without your weight belt.”

“Who told you?”

“Had a text. Is it true”

“Yes.”

“Who blabbed?”

“Not telling you. Got to go.”

Silence.

By now he was probably telling the world or at very least the diving fraternity via twitter or face book and I’ve got a feeling that what happened to me today could well get a late mention on the 6.00pm news.

So I admit it. Phil jumped ship without his weight belt. And I wondered why I couldn’t get down, DOH!! Fair play to the boys on the boat, when they eventually stopped laughing they hauled me back on board, helped me de-kit then re-kit and re-enter the water, this time plus 12Kg of lead…. Then via the wonders of technology they began to tell the world.

Of course there is a serious side to this. When I first started diving the need to carry out buddy checks was mandatory. BRWAF - BCD, Releases, Weight belt, Air and Final Check… Common sense I hear you say, so why don’t us ‘experienced’ divers do it? Is it because we think we’re too good for any of that? Or because we just can’t be bothered? Or is it a combination of both? Whatever, I didn’t check my gear or my buddie’s and thus deserve to join the Hall Of Shame that includes some very famous names including:

1. Richard Rattle who rolled off the boat minus his fins. We were on the Smalls where the tide runs fast. He was some way away before we stopped laughing and was fuming when we finally managed to catch up with him.

2. Mark Jones who whilst diving off Skomer one chilly day in April, forgot to check his dry suit zip was fastened. It wasn’t a dry suit that day.

And I won’t be the last on the list; as my fingers fly over the keypad news comes through of another incident. Whilst diving off Stack Rocks none other than Dai Flip Flop rolled off the tubes only to discover he wasn’t going to get anywhere fast without his fins. See. It can happen to anybody. Dai, it wasn’t me who blabbed… Honest.

Who’s going to be next?

PHIL. THE POST

 


It's all in a day's diving.

How is that we meet up at 9.00 but it's dinnertime before we ready to dive. I've tried for ions to come up with a solution to this persistent problem but there's always something to cause delays. This time it started with the lack of a cupboard key. Now you'd think with two committee men present we'd have at least one key between us. No. I was sure Lyn would have one he thought I'd have one. We were both wrong. Luckily Dai Flip Flop had one and he went back to his caravan to get it. Meantime we waited.

Now there's not a lot to do at Monty's. When we used to met at West Wales Divers there was the café and I've spent many a happy hour there gorging on pure cholesterol whilst others who can (I can't) have tinkered with screws and played around with wires. There's no café at Monty's, there's not a lot at Monty's but fair play it's a safe haven for the boats and without the distraction of a café we should be on the water quicker. But we're not. We should be more prepared. But we're not.

Fifteen minutes later Dai arrives back with the key. Meanwhile Lyn is debating the weather forecast with the coastguard. There's some concern about the wind direction and speed, finally they concur. Wind, north, north-west, force 3 to 4.

Having a key is one thing getting into the cupboard is another. This requires a two part manoeuvre involving a pair of rusty old pliers and a lot of brute strength. It goes something like this.

  1. Using a key, undo the padlocks top and bottom.
  2. Insert the pliers between the bottom of the cupboard door and the slabs; using your left hand apply upward pressure.
  3. With your right hand, remove the locks then ease the hasps away from the staples.
  4. If this fails delegate the task to someone more able.

If you've applied enough pressure with the left hand, the hasps come away easy and all you suffer are rust encrusted fingers that are still stained even after a day's diving. If you get this pressure wrong be sure to count your finger ends when the door finally springs. If you're unsure number 4 applies.

Loading the boat takes ten minutes, after all we've done it zillions of times; oxygen, first aid box, tool box, throw- line. Have we an anchor and a dive flag on board? Is the radio working? Will the engine start? Yes. Yes. And Yes.

It's going too well. We fit the trailer board only to discover the coupling on the Pajero has corroded and is dangling. A search in the back of the cupboard results in a mould encrusted bungy cord. Lyn, ever resourceful, probably a boy scout maybe even a policeman in an earlier life, lashes the coupling to the bumper. This provides a temporary repair which will survive until either:

  1. The bungy rots or
  2. The clips rust through or
  3. Martin finds out and throws a wobbly.

It's 10.15 and we're almost ready to roll. Now LSAC is, has always been a democratic club, we all have a say about where to launch and where to dive after which Lyn decides we're launching from Gelliswick but hey, he's a big fella and who's going to argue? Not me, cause whilst we're topping up with fuel I can buy some food and drink which I've somehow forgotten to bring along.

Chris the Kiwi in his swanky Merc takes the lead, Lyn in the Pajero towing the boat is in the middle and I follow up keeping a watch through the rear view mirror at the evil eye from the driver of the following car who has to crawl behind at 20mph until we turn off the main road for Milford. The journey passes without incident, we even have a trailer board that works and that's got to be a first. Lyn tops the fuel then adds £20+ of diesel to the Pajero tank. We're ready to rock and roll.

There are several dive boats waiting to launch at Gelliswick which just goes to prove we're not the only dive club who couldn't organise a you know what and where. We take the straps off, detach the trailer board, put the little plastic plug into the hole at the back of the boat, take the wedge from behind the engine and load the gear. It's all going like clockwork and I can't help thinking maybe just maybe we'll get a dive before noon but I hadn't accounted for the crew who one by one traipse down to the little boy's room and spend what seems like ages. I follow suit; when you're grave side of 60 it pays to squeeze out the last little drop especially if you're wearing a dry-suit.

We're ready to launch and with almost military precision Lyn backs the trailer down the slip where the tide has somehow waited for our entrance. We undo the painter from the trailer and push; the boat glides off, Dai FF leaps aboard, the engine fires.

Ten minutes later we're on our way. Chris the Kiwi has been eyeing the controls but he doesn't stand a chance. I've decided to have a go and having exercised my rights as a committee man I take the wheel and head for Skokholm. I'm bloody ruthless…not! There's a bit of a swell around St. Anne's head but nothing we can't handle and the new engine plows the rib through the waves almost without effort. I familiarise myself with the dials and note there's enough technical info to keep Martin happy for years to come.

We arrive at the island at 12.30 and jostle for space in a sea crowded with puffins, seals and razorbills. Lyn decides to dive with Dai FF and John Crabhook Evans. As they prepare their equipment Lyn's regulator decides it's time to play up and he needs to effect running repairs. We watch as he strips his second stage, waggles the needle, applies pressure in just the right place and puts it all back together again. Meanwhile John dons his rig, a wonder of straps and clips that all have colour matched ends so you know which bit clips in where – or at least John knows which bit clips in where. Dia FF dives in a wet-suit. He's hard. We're drifting close to an unfamiliar buoy with the letters PYC painted on it. So what! Lyn decides they'll go down the rope attached to the buoy; we watch as one by one the first team descend in a cloud of bubbles.

Shortly afterwards an expensive looking yacht can be seen coming towards us, it reaches the buoy and turns swiftly. In a flurry of sails and ropes, an efficient crew meet the conditions change tack and they're on their way again. Another yacht approaches. It dawns on me, ( I admit to being a bit slow)we're in the middle of a yacht race-track. Luckily when our divers surface it's some distance away. We poodle (as Chris likes to say) over. By this time he has charge of the wheel and is sporting a big smile. Lyn is first to the boat.

"Quick, grab my weight-belt," he shouts. Chris, reluctant to leave go of the wheel in case I grab it, is a fraction late… The weight-belt is consigned to the depths. We recover all the divers. They report good viz but bugger-all else. John is convinced we should have gone to Stack Rock I wonder why? Dai FF is shivering, maybe he ain't so hard after all, Lyn looks glum, he's mourning the loss of his belt. Now I knew it was sort of newish because he usually wears a leather contraption that would look better on a shire-horse. This one looked proper…almost.

"Was it expensive?" I ask

"No," he replied turning to look at me with big soulful eyes, "I had it off Gatchie, he found it on Stack last year, suppose I'll have to buy one now though, maybe one with a harness."

I look at Crabhook. He's unfastening his cat's cradle of straps and belts. I decide there and then to stick with my tried and trusted…Thank you very much.

Equipment problems multiply. The Kiwi's first stage won't couple to his air cylinder. We try a variety of O rings. No joy. Lyn has a go and eventually forces a seal. By now it's 2.00pm and I still haven't dived. I wait patiently until Chris seems happy with his regs. We cross check and roll in.

By heck but it's bloody cold. We go down the rope and meet at the bottom. Viz is good. I take the lead, Chris follows. We scour the gullies and rocks. There are the usual spider crabs, wrasse and Pollack and some very pretty sea cucumbers. I look at my computer dial, the water temperature reads 11.0C. I'm cold but glad to be underwater. We swim around for 30 minutes till Chris points to his air gauge which is behaving oddly. It's time to go. We surface. I'm glad because by this time I'm freezing.

Only John and I want to do a second dive. We promise to look for Lyn's belt but there's little chance of finding it as we were drifting when he dropped it. The viz is still good but with no sign of the lost belt, within minutes, John returns to scouring the seabed. There's little in the way of crustaceans however and after 25 minutes the cold kicks in forcing us to surface.

Chris drives the boat; it's consolation for his regs which will need a major overall before he can use them again. He enjoys the responsibility but is disappointed that the sea has flattened off somewhat. He wanted a go at the 3 metre swells we met on our way out. The water is lapping the slip at Gelliswick. Lyn backs the trailer down, we couple up and take turns on the winch to recover the boat.

Back at Monty's we store the gear, flush the engine and wash the tubes. It's been an eventful day, as is normal for the start of the season. There's been issues, but between us we've met the challenges, found solutions and enjoyed each other's company; that's what it's all about. I'd be willing to wager Jacque Cousteau didn't have half as much fun.

PHIL. THE POST

 


He bought a boat!

A guy bought a new boat and decided to take her for her maiden voyage.

This was his first boat and he wasn't quite sure of the exact procedure for launching it off a slip but he figured it couldn't be too difficult.

He consulted his local boat dealer for advice but they just said "don't let the trailer get too deep when you are trying to launch the boat".

Well, he didn't know what they meant by that as he could barely get the trailer in the water at all!

Anyhow, here's a picture below.


You're gonna love this bloke!!!

 

You can't make this stuff up!


Sharm Experience
by Mike Rees

My wife and I booked two weeks at the Coral Hills Hotel in Sharm el Sheikh starting 10th Jan 2010. The plan was for me to get in 5 days diving and spend the rest of the time together soaking up the sun.

Back at home with yet more snow forecast for Sunday morning (flight day) we wisely made a last minute decision to stay overnight at The George and Dragon just half a mile from Bristol airportl. Just £55 for a comfortable room and full English gave us a stress free start to the holiday.

The outward journey went well. Flying with Thompson we each had 20kg luggage allowance plus I had a free 5 kg for diving equipment. No hassle at the check in desk but I had a copy of their email confirming it just in case. We duly arrived at the Coral Hills at 11pm. The restaurant had closed but the helpful bar staff quickly rustled up some food from somewhere and changed our room to one on the second floor at our request.

Next day we visited the new “on site” dive centre run by Alun and Moria Evans of Elite Diver fame where we were given a typical “valleys” welcome – loads of tea and plenty of banter.

Alun has been providing diving in Egypt for a few years now but has only recently opened the new Dive Centre. He has already started giving Welsh language lessons to his staff so Welsh divers can be expected to be greeted by “Bora Da “in an Egyptian or Italian accent every morning. For my part I helped by demonstrating one of the meanings of “couch” to the lovely Francesca.

I dropped off my kit at the centre and thereafter it appeared washed and cleaned on the boat for every dive. I prefer to do an initial shore dive just to test/confirm my kit is ok rather than risk finding a problem on the boat and waste a day’s diving.

So Francesca took my wife and I to the beach at Sharks Bay for a pleasant afternoon. No problem with my kit and a nice dive to boot.

Alun’s usual boat is “Delphin 2” which I found to be quite good. There was plenty of room for divers and the food was excellent. The crew were always smiling and eager to help with your kit. We alternated the diving between Ras Mohamed and the reefs off Tiran.

As usual, unless there are enough divers to fill the boat it is sometimes shared with other dive centres but only once did I find it a bit crowded. I had two weeks to get in my 5 day diving so I was able to pick and chose when I went diving to avoid the busy times.

In the first week our dive leader was Steve who was as solid as a rock yet still prepared to think outside the box when it came to selecting dive sites.

For example “Woodhouse”, a long narrow reef is generally a drift dive on the more sheltered Tiran side of the reef because normally the sea on the Egyptian side is just too lumpy for the safe recovery of divers.

But when we arrived at Woodhouse with just 6 divers and unusually calm seas we decided to dive the “backside” of Woodhouse to examine the damage caused by the “Hamburg” which ran onto the reef on 31st December.

The damage was a huge vee shaped gouge directly into the reef. There was a metal box 3 metres deep which we thought could be a jettisoned air con. unit and various scraps of metal.

The freighter had clearly struck the reef at right angles yet was supposed to have been travelling parallel to the reef. Quite how the helmsman managed this is still under investigation but the date of the incident, 31st December, may prove to be significant. Russian divers are keen to discover what he had been drinking so they can get some as well. Few divers will have the opportunity to see this damage but it’s in MY log book.

From another less popular reef in Ras Mohamed I finally managed to make out the outline of the prophets head which gave the area its name. We saw the usual moray, barracuda, rays, turtles etc but my very last dive we saw a rare feather tailed ray and that’s in my log book as well!

Yet another rare sight (or more correctly a sound) was that of the underwater singing undertaker. A certain Cardiff based undertaker, who shall remain anonymous, has taken to singing through his regulator in an effort to improve his air consumption. We (the other divers) were all rather puzzled as to where the muffled tones of “The men of Harlech” were coming from until we found out. What the fish thought of it I have no idea but they had better get used to it because plans are afoot for the first ever underwater welsh choir.

In the second week we saw damage of a different kind. A few drops of rain in the early evening soon turned into a monsoon with tremendous lightening by nightfall. Egypt normally expects half an hour shower of light rain per year and makes absolutely no provision for any rainfall.

No gutters on buildings and no drainage in the roads. Most buildings are flat roofed and not particularly sealed against water. Within an hour Sharm and most of Cairo was awash. The electricity supplies failed and the mobile phone networks went down. Sharm airport was closed and flights diverted to Cairo where the planes stayed for two days. In Cairo itself buses were overturned by the flood waters. They even stopped the dive boats operating for two days. The terminal at Sharm airport was still closed when we left. This was definitely not a shower!

Coral Hills, like most resorts, became a water park. Water poured into the building through the ceiling lights and was blown in under patio doors. The corridors became rivers and the stairs became waterfalls. The swimming pools overflowed. Large sections of the ceilings in the foyer and restaurant fell to the floor. In many rooms the beds were soaked by water pouring in from light fittings. We both spent the night together in a single bed. The hotel staff were wonderful. They all worked for 24 hours solid to sweep away the water and restore the facilities.

Virtually everything was back to normal with a day or two. It was the worst storm in fifteen years or living memory depending on whom you asked - and - we were there! -but it’s not in my logbook.

After all that excitement it would be nice to report an uneventful return journey but I can’t. The travel rep forgot to arrange the transfer to the airport (complaint already written) and the flight was delayed an hour. A strong headwind added another hour -AND THEN - they closed Bristol Airport for runway repairs. So they diverted us to Cardiff, bused us back to Bristol to collect our car and we drove back home to Wales. That’s not in my log book either. Sometimes diving in West Wales looks a lot more attractive.

Finally because Richy is organising a trip to Sharm here are some tips for the Sharm “virgins”. They are based on my experiences but other, more experienced divers may differ so listen to them as well and make up your own mind.

  1. Watch out for the luggage allowance when booking flights. Some only allow only 15kg. Monarch and Thompson give an extra 5kg in a separate bag for divers if you produce your qualification at check in. I get them to confirm this in an email and take a copy with me just in case. If you need extra weight allowance you can purchase it from the airline in advance to avoid excess baggage charges. You can always hire some or all the kit from the dive centre.

  2. I have been told that, if possible, you should take your own regs because you should know they have been serviced and are in good order. They are the most important piece of your kit.

  3. Generally, I take a 3mm long john, boots, fins, BCD, regs, mask, smb, reel and computer. I also take my “Lidl” weight belt which although designed for shot weights will take standard size solid lead weights in each pocket. It makes for easier and quicker weight adjustment on the boat when you do your buoyancy check. This January I found it a bit cold for the optional third dive so hired another shortie as an oversuit. I will also take my hood next time.

  4. Out of interest I weighed all the kit. It came in at 13kg. My Buddy BCD takes up all my extra 5 kg even with a lightweight bag. Other BCDs are lighter.

  5. On arrival at Sharm airport you will be asked to purchase an entry visa at $15.They will accept £15 but don’t expect change. They also now ask you to complete a medical/health form as well. You will also need to fill in an exit visa when you leave but there is no cost for that.

    THE EXTRAS

  6. The dive centre will provide transport to and from the boat for you and your kit. They also provide your 12ltr air / nitrox bottles. Nitrox and 15ltr bottles may extra.

  7. On the boat water, coke, tea/coffee is provided together with a lunch. There is normally a charge of 50LE (£5) for this payable on the boat. There are toilets on board.

  8. Ras Mohamed is a Marine Protected area and all divers have to pay a levy 50LE for entry. This will be an extra payment to the dive centre when you settle up.

  9. Dive packages are normally based on two dives per day.Time permitting the dive guide will normally offer an optional third dive to those who want it. This will be an extra charge.

  10. Dives to the Dunraven and the Thistlegorm will also attract an extra charge because of the extra distance involved.

Heart Attack!
What Heart Attack?

Diving 9th August

What a difference in two Sundays. On Sunday 2nd August I awoke at 02:00am with pains across the chest.

I tried indigestion tablets but three hours later the pain was still there and in fact getting worse so much so that I woke Sandra (not a task to be undertaken lightly) and between us she decided to take me into the casualty unit at the nearby Royal Glamorgan Hospital – by now, I was not only in pain but sweating heavily, feeling faint and wondering who would be first to claim my dive gear.

A very efficient nursing team coupled me to a machine, checked my temperature, oxygen levels, and took blood samples (ouch). I'm sure to this day it was only trapped wind, but as a precaution I was admitted and given further tests.

Eventually the pain eased. I was released at 6:00pm after a day filled with tests and tests and tests and finally a visit from a consultant who told me if I was still feeling bad I was to remain in hospital. It's funny how you feel so much better when someone gives you this option.

That day, I was supposed to be on duty at the Big Bite and am grateful to Richie Grice and Allan and Owain Jenkins for covering for me. So, life goes on – thankfully, and though it took me all week to recover – and I'm still due to go for a treadmill test – I'm trying to live as normal which of course meant that on the following Sunday 9th August I was ready with my dive gear and at Monty's by 08:45.

There were nine of us. Jeff was dive marshal; he decided to use both boats; that we would launch from Gelliswick and dive around Skokholm Island. The logistics of two boats and one tow vehicle were overcome by teamwork and in minimum time we were underway, through the jetties and out into the Haven proper. The weather was perfect with light winds and sunny skies but the sea around St. Anne's Head was still affected by previous spells of bad weather. Big swells made for slow progress until we cleared the Haven and were able to open up the throttles and power across the bay.

Club members had been diving around Skokholm on both Friday and Saturday; they reported good visibility and plenty of marine life. Indeed we saw some seals as we approached the island, they were basking in the sunshine and completely oblivious to our presence even when we took the ribs close to the rocks.

The water temperature was a heady 16.0c and in what must have been at least six metres of viz I had a very pleasant first dive with Chris the Kiwi. Despite Chris being slightly under-weighted and lumbered with a camera we managed to stay together and spent 45 minutes at depths up to 20 metres observing all types of aquatic life and trying to persuade bored looking lobsters, crabs and prawns to pose for a picture.

Our second dive didn't go so well. We descended into thick kelp and in trying to find a way out, we separated. The current had by this time strengthened making conditions difficult. Back on board the rib Chris was cursing; whilst de-kitting he'd donated his weight-belt to Neptune.

The trip back was smoother and despite losing Gareth's hat and turning back to retrieve it, we were soon at Gelliswick. We'd had a cracking day, the viz had been so good that even Crabhook John excelled himself by managing to stay with his buddy for a whole dive.

Phil Gillett had been feeling 'crook'; he blamed it on fumes from the engine but admitted to a few pints the previous night. Gareth dived with Jeff and added two more descents in his log-book. Alan managed a couple of decent dives at the end of his week's holiday; he's back as Store Manager at Asda Llanelli first thing Monday.

Owain had a bad back, we suspected we knew why but because his father was sat by him, he couldn't reveal the cause. Dai Flip-Flop wasn't too pleased with the kelp but still seemed to enjoy his diving. Chris will need to use some creative accountancy to hide the cost of a new weight-belt from the wife.

And me; well apart from being glad to be alive I'd really enjoyed my day, good weather, good diving, good company and the prospect of a couple of pints to follow, what more can you ask for?

PHIL. THE POST

 


Just Another Dive Day
Sunday 5th July 2009

9.00. Monty’s: Despite a brisk (for brisk, read blowing a hooly) southerly wind and a dramatic drop in air temperatures, six hardy souls turn up at Monty’s to support the D. O. on this his first ( for this season anyway) stint at Dive Marshalling. A boat has been prepared but where to launch from? Following deliberations that would not have been out of place on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire the D.O. asks the audience who respond with 66% Broadhaven, 24% Gelliswick, 10% don’t know (don't care).

10.30. ( why the time gap?-don’t even bother to ask) Broadhaven car park: boat loaded, divers suited and booted, fuel organised, Martin’s flask filled with hot water, knots checked and triple checked. The D. O. gladly hands over dive marshalling to the secretary. His dry suit, which he keeps in his garage, has been attacked by mice over the winter and has more holes than a colander – so he can’t go. (Peter, you should really come out more often). The secretary isn’t keen to launch from Broadhaven, but as he’s not known for decision making, unless there’s a drink involved, he opts to proceed with plan A.

11.00. Broadhaven Beach: The sand is deserted apart from one or two people with packs of rabid dogs and some suicidal canoeists. It’s almost low tide; the breakers are up to two metres (six feet in real money) and coming in three at a time. We roll the trailer into the surf and manhandle the boat to face the waves. Four divers struggle aboard, Martin takes the helm, the boat is almost vertical as the engine (when it finally fires) struggles to cope through giant surf, Philthepost and Peter Swarfield (ex product development executive from the Del Ray) watch them clear the waves then recover the trailer and drive off the beach to park up.

11 15. Lima 1 can be seen beyond the waves. Phil and Peter ( yes, drysuits zipped up, we’ve all been there) struggle through the waves until their hats begin to float. Lima 1 stays put. Phil and Peter wait about in the surf until Peter is heard to say “There’s summat wrong out there, they’re all crowded around the engine”.

“Glug,” You can’t say much else with ten tons of sandy seawater down your gullet Phil clears his airway before assessing the situation then makes his way up the beach to the Lifeguards’ hut where he reports that Lima 1 appears to be having engine problems.

12.00. A lifeguard rides out on his surf ski Hawaiian style, through the breakers, finally reaching Lima 1. A problem with the engine is identified and the inshore lifeboat is summonsed to assist. Phil stays with the other lifeguard, Peter Swarfield waits chest deep in the surf.

12.30. The inshore lifeboat comes out of Littlehaven, attaches a tow to Lima 1 and proceeds to seek shelter. Meanwhile Gatchie, Billy and Peter turn up at the lifeboat station; they’ve been contacted by Martin on his mobile phone. Their reaction, ‘what’s the problem, they could have drifted in from there’ is answered with some well chosen expletives from Phil.

13.30. Dai Flip Flop and Gareth Henderson (yes, there was one sensible member in the party) plus the dive kit are delivered to the beach by the lifeboat crew. Martin and John Evans are taken into Littlehaven. We make our way there to join them The lifeboat coxswain very kindly offers to recover Lima 1 when the surf drops back. He promises to return with a crew at 15.30.

14.00. till 15 30. The dive party can be seen frolicking like kids in the waves. It’s absolutely pissing down, the sky is black and they’re the only ones daft enough to be out and about, everyone else, except Dai Flip Flop’s missus who is sheltering under the little bridge with their dog, is making merry in the local hostelries.

15 30. True to their word the lifeboat crew turn up complete with rib and launch in the haven. Within half an hour they return with Lima 1 in tow, we can’t thank them enough. (a donation to the RNLI was authorised at the next meeting along with a more tangible thank you for the local crew). The surf is almost non- existent, we recover our boat and make for Monty’s.

17 30. The boat is washed down and covered up and the equipment stored in the cupboard. We laugh and joke but are aware how serious the incident could have been and how grateful we are to the RNLI.

Billy will look at the engine and fix the fault, (where would we be without him?) Phil has calmed down and after ranting on about launching from bloody Broad Haven he relents and accepts it opens the door to better dive sites.

Peter Swarfield is grateful he wasn’t on the boat as he’s sure they would have been sick as a dog. John (Crabhook) Evans is for once going home empty handed but at least his tanks are filled for next week.

Martin has greased the winch (and anything else that stops still for two minutes).

Dai Flip Flop resolves to have a shed load of beer tonight, a move that has the full backing of the club secretary who intends doing the same.

We all head for home. On the way I think back. It seemed we’d had a wasted day and when you only get one day a week off work that hurts, ouch!! But on reflection it was just another learning curve.

Shit happens, it’s how you handle events that matters. We got into a situation and made the right decisions to resolve it. At the end of the day we all returned safe and sound.

The boat was recovered as was all the kit. Club diving is all about team work and being a member of that team is what makes for a good day. Yes, we’re there to dive, but getting on well together, having a laugh, tolerating each others weaknesses or idiosyncrasies and being on hand to help out when needed makes us want to come back for more.

See you next week.

PHIL. THE POST

A Post Script by Martin Sanders (AKA Captain Sensible)

Due to an engine breakdown I called out the RNLI to tow the boat initially to a safe anchorage, and then to shore for recovery. The options for other recovery were limited as no one else was in the bay at the time.

As the breeze was southerly, allowing the boat to drift to shore was not an option. (There were rocks that way!)

As soon as it became apparent we had a problem the anchor was deployed, mainly to maintain the boat into the wind, though it did appear to be holding OK.


We spent maybe an hour working on the problem before calling for help. I'm not sure of the exact time.

I look forward to the barbed comments at the next club meeting!

A further comment by the DO.

When I discovered that mice had attacked my dry suit and chewed several big holes in it rendering it useless, my initial reaction was to seek revenge by putting down mouse traps and killing off the culprits. However, when I saw what happened to the others I was really glad that I wasn't on the boat. If the mice hadn't destroyed my dry suit I would have been. So I am very grateful to the little beasties and I have decided to give them a reprieve.


RED SEA DIVING
Coraya Divers - Marsa Alam
June 10th to 24th 2009

Divers on the whole aren’t shy about their sport and take every opportunity to tell the world that THEY’RE GOING DIVING. At the gate for flight TOM38 to Marsa Alam we saw plenty of hand luggage emblazoned with big brand dive names, Mares, Scubapro, Northern Diver, etc.

There were several passengers wearing tee shirts that stretched over big bellies and carried bold messages; Dive Thailand, Dive Maldives and Dive Red Sea, even Dive Cocos Island (Guess who?).

Other people perhaps less inclined to brag about their travels wore shirts with quirky dive slogans like Dive Now Work Later (I like that one), Dive In A Wet Beaver (didn’t quite get that) and there were several PADI Dive Masters and PADI Instructors in evidence. Well, that’s what it said on their fleeces and jackets and who was I to argue?

We divers like this show of identity, it gives us an opportunity to communicate, a series of nods and winks, a half smile and maybe an opening for a conversation.

However, there were not many UK divers at the Coraya Dive Centre and although most people there spoke reasonable English I didn’t speak their languages making conversation a rather one sided affair.

Sandra (my wife) and I stayed at Lamaya Resort, one of four hotels situated around the bay of Marsa Umm Gerfait and about ten minutes travel from the airport.

The Lamaya is rated "5T" by travel company Thomson and the facilities here are excellent. Our accommodation had two large rooms plus a bathroom and a balcony with views across the bay. Air conditioning, satellite TV and a fridge full of drinks added to the comfort.

Our all inclusive package included all meals and drinks. The beer was a little bit gassy for my taste but hey! When it’s free…. There are three swimming pools and plenty of sun loungers.

Entertainment was provided by an enthusiastic if somewhat amateurish young animation team who worked hard from 10am till almost midnight trying to get guests involved. Sometimes this was a little bit too much like Hi-De-Hi for my liking.

Even though the food, presented buffet style, was very good, the cavernous restaurant was noisy. At times it felt like being in a posh work’s canteen making leisurely eating not an easy option.

Coraya Divers, an independent dive centre, was a mere 5 minutes walk from our room. The reception staff remembered me from previous visits and greeted me by name before allocating a locker and checking my plastic. (they keep your cards for inspection by the tourism police).

Later I took the opportunity to meet up with the dive guides most of whom were at the centre when I visited last year. I needed to re-acquaint myself with the facilities. The lockers had been re-situated and a new comfy area created. Here amongst big cushions and colourful throws folk can relax, fill in their log books, have a coffee or a soft drink, read up about marine life or watch DVDs of trips to Elphinstone, Port Galib and other dive sites, it’s a dive anorak’s paradise and believe me there were more than a few of them!!

This was my first visit to Coraya without the company of a dive buddy. I was a little unsure of how I’d cope.

On day one I elected to join a group who were planning to dive a site to the north of the resort. Our young Egyptian dive guide gave the briefing (perfect English), we kitted up; suits, BCDs and regs, and made our way to the jetty. This is the starting point for all local diving. Here a friendly and efficient team are on hand to assist with air cylinders, nitrox for those qualified, and weights.

The centre has three RIBs, two big ones with powerful twin engines, these are used to ferry divers to sites north and south of the bay. The third rib, a smaller boat is used to drop divers along the reef edge allowing a pleasant dive to depths of up to 30 metres where you can drift in a gentle current back to the jetty.

On that first dive I saw moray eels, spotted rays, lion fish, and a host of colourful reef fish. Visibility was at least 30 metres and with water temperatures around 27C we drifted along the reef face for an hour before surfacing.

Over the two weeks I dived on sites to the North and South from the large ribs and used the small rib to explore the reef within the bay.

I had no trouble finding a buddy and dived with a number of different people including a fireman from Luton and an engineer from Sheffield.

I did 14 dives and as well as the usual marine inhabitants saw octopus, sole, turtles, dolphins, barracuda and crocodile fish, in fact I’m sure there was a greater variety of fish to see than on my last visit.

This time there were a lot of jelly fish in the water and I wondered if more fish had been attracted by this feeding opportunity? In between dives Sandra and I went snorkelling.

We entered the water from the snorkelling jetty which goes to the edge of the reef. Here the wall drops to 25metres but along the reef top there are all types of marine life all easy to spot in clear warm water. Some fish were so tame they swam right up to our masks.

All in all we had a good holiday. Of course I suffered (as usual) with the Pharaohs’ Revenge. Following past visits to Egypt I’d sought prior advice and been told to drink plenty of water and stay away from the alcohol.

This worked for the first few days but then in a moment of weakness I downed a few ales followed by a shed load of rum and coke. The following morning I suffered – and boy did I suffer. Imodium!! Forget it. Sandra went to a local pharmacy with a fistful of Egyptian wonga and came back with some dubious looking yellow capsules, some white tablets and some re-hydration powders. I followed the instructions and thankfully they did the trick. I was more cautious for the rest of the holiday.

We booked the holiday on-line with Thomson Travel and were aware from the outset that we were each allowed 23kg of luggage. There was an option to increase this by 5kg at a cost of £17.50. This is a small price to pay and avoids un-necessary stress and arguments at check-in.

I paid for the increased allowance for myself and we packed all the heavy gear including two wetsuits and two sets of fins into my case. We also pre-booked an in-flight meal at an extra cost of £6.00 each. The food supplied, a starter, a chicken meal on the way out and sausage and mash on the way back, + a dessert, was standard aircraft nosh, I’m sure you know what I mean. Tea and coffee came free but we had to pay for the wine.

Thomson’s have introduced a facility where you can check-in the evening previous to your morning flight so we travelled to Gatwick a day early and after checking in our luggage (no queue) made our way to Horley where we spent a comfortable night at the Lawn Guest House.

Our flight was 10:30am. We booked a taxi for 9:00am and were in the departure lounge in plenty of time to do some last minute shopping prior to take-off. Leg room on these flights is still a problem (First Choice – the operators, classify this "five hours plus" flight as short haul and cram the passengers in) especially if you’re tall but the stewards were very good and used what free seats there were to try to accommodate people.

On the return trip we were pleasantly surprised at improvements made to the airport at Marsa Alam. Members who know this airport from previous club trips to the area will remember how spartan the facilities used to be, but not any more.

Now there are plenty of comfy seats and a variety of shops. There’s even a Kentucky Fried Chicken counter and a Pizza Hut.
Thankfully in our case both out-going and in-coming flights were on time but should a delay occur as has been our previous experience, conditions are much improved.

And to end, just a word of warning: At the duty free shop they only take American dollars. On the resort and in the dive centre all the prices were quoted in Euros.

I took Egyptian pounds. They will take local currency but I lost out on the conversions. I won’t bore you with facts about Marsa Alam; information about the area and Hotel facilities are well documented in past reports.

If you are considering a visit to the area, you can read up about the diving at www.coraya-divers.com or drop them an e-mail, info@coraya-divers.com

PHIL. THE POST


Sub-Aqua Association
2009 Annual General Meeting


The four Llantrisant delegates at the AGM

This year’s AGM was held on Saturday 14th March at the Buxton Palace Hotel, Buxton. The meeting started at 10-30am which meant us leaving South Wales at 06-30am. Our journey took us north to Stafford where we left the motorway to travel through towns and villages and some stunning countryside. We reached our destinations with just minutes to spare.

At the meeting there were thirty five clubs represented. Mike Burley, Chairman opened proceedings by introducing members of the National Executive and commenting on the recently announced resignations.

A number of ordinary resolutions were then put to a vote. All were passed un-opposed. Falling member numbers was a cause for concern. The special resolution relating to Direct Membership caused much comment from the floor. Issues such as Diving Officer involvement, insurance, potential loss of members to the clubs, the lack of an alternative plan and other concerns were voiced by members.

Llantrisant Sub-Aqua has a thriving membership. We told the Executive of our success in promoting the Club and encouraging new members. We explained that we have a varied programme that includes regular diving around the Pembrokeshire coastline, overseas trips and a number of social events. We have good web-site that is both informative and up to date and our Officers encourage new members. We queried whether the SAA do enough to encourage member clubs to promote themselves within their communities? Perhaps this should be plan A.

Following a coffee break the meeting re-convened and the Chairman asked member clubs to vote. On a show of hands and including postal votes, the special resolution failed to get the 75% majority needed and was rejected.

The meeting ended with a variety of awards to individuals and clubs. These were presented by Executive Member John Gough. This was followed by a power-point presentation given by new Executive Member Mark Durham. Mark has re-designed the SAA web-site. He showed members the new facilities which included club information for prospective members, downloads and a members’ page. The graphics are illustrations of coldwater diving. Despite difficulties with connections, Mark managed to access enough from the site to show members the improvements he has made.

Just before lunch we spoke with the National Diving Officer. We put to Steve Love our concerns about the lack of suitable courses. Steve took our points on board. We also spoke with the new National Training Officer and made him aware that our club needed more open water instructors and that South Wales was short of Regional Instructors.

These events are useful for networking and before we left we took the opportunity to re-acquaint ourselves with both head office staff and members from other clubs. We arrived back in South Wales at 17-00. It had been a long day but we all agreed – D.O. Peter Rees, T.O. Richie Grice, Marine Conservation Officer Ceri Jones, and yours truly, that it had been a day well spent. We’d helped to conduct the business of the S.A.A. whilst at the same time managing to put a lot of names to faces and making some very useful contacts. I just hope that next year’s AGM is a little closer to home.

PHIL THE POST

 


Llantrisant Sub-Aqua Club presents:



VIVA LAS VEGAS!

an evening of superb entertainment

Friday 16th January 2009

7.30pm

Taffs Well Rugby Club

“You can hear the girls declare, he must be a millionaire.
You can hear them sigh and wish to die
You can see them wink the other eye
At the man who broke the bank in Monte Carlo”

And last Friday night to anyone watching club president Viv Griffiths playing the roulette tables at Llantrisant Sub Aqua Club’s Las Vegas event, the words of this old music hall favourite had a ring of truth. Looking quite the part in an immaculate dinner suit and bow tie, Griff had a string of big wins that had the croupier on more than one occasion, sending out for extra chips. The biggest winner on the night though was Llantrisant Sub-Aqua, where ticket sales, a raffle and of course the legendary auction at the end of the evening all contributed to net almost £500 for the club.

Venue for the night was Taffs Well rugby club whose committee not only allowed us to use their functions room, but organised the bar to include a barrel of real ale… Wadswoth 6X. Entertainment was provided by Rockin Dave Riley who kept the dance floor full until the early hours with a non stop selection of music from the 50s, 60s and 70s.

And the buffet was to die for. Elaine, partner to Lyn Eade our hard working entertainments officer, must have been baking for days. There was just about every savoury imaginable, pasties, sausages, chicken legs, sausage rolls, sandwiches, the list goes on and on; there was even a plate of black pudding, and if this wasn’t enough there was crisps, nuts, olives, pickles and more dips than enough, and yes, there was plenty of goodies for the veggies amongst us. This feast was set out along one wall and I was not alone to re-visit the tables on more than one occasion. Elaine, it was wonderful and we can't thank you enough!

Business on the gambling tables was brisk. As well as the roulette where El Presidento was doing his own version of spread betting, there was black jack and the atmosphere was tense as ‘Big Paul The Gas’ dealt the cards with the air of a professional. On the other table Richie ‘Training’ was a convincing double for Maverick… until the 6X finally got the better of him.

The job of selling the raffle tickets was delegated to Vanda who managed to charm wads of dosh off all the fellas in the room… and the bar… and God knows where else because she came back with a pint glass literally stuffed with tenners.
A big thankyou to Vanda!

The auction at the end of the evening was an opportunity to spend those hard earned chips. Lyn had been shopping and there was a raft of quality goods to bid for. Auctioneer for the event our much slimmed down D.O. Peter Rees took the microphone and controlled the bidding which was at times quite frantic. One by one the items were knocked down to the highest bidder and some of you must have woken up the morning after to ask yourselves “Where the hell did I get that pedal bin/ radio alarm/ set of ankle weights/painting/digital tuner? But it was all for a good cause and raised lots of cash.

   

Lyn is stepping down from the post of Entertainments Officer. This is his third Las Vegas night; they’ve all been successful, they’ve all been enjoyed by those who’ve attended and they’ve all made money for the club. He organises the events and with his partner Elaine does all the hard work that makes for such a marvellous evening. Lyn, we can’t thank you enough for what you’ve done for the club and we look forward to your reports as the club’s next Marine Conservation Officer. Entertainment Officer for 2009 is Emma Reece (see I can spell your name right) and we wish Emma every success in her new role.

PHIL. THE POST


Ramsay Island and The Hen & Chicks
August 24th 2008

With light winds and calm seas forecast, we journeyed across St. Bride’s bay to Ramsay. This craggy offshore island has cliffs up to 120 metres high and numerous caves around the shoreline.

Here, gannets dive spectacularly and there are numerous other sea birds to spot. There’s also a resident colony of grey seals and we spent time watching as they played around the rocks coming closer and closer to our boat.

There are regular boat trips around the island from nearby St Justinian, so the seals are quite used to seeing visitors. The diving here can be quite spectacular but today conditions were murky and underwater visibility practically nil.

Our dive lasted just twenty minutes when I lost sight of my buddy amongst the kelp and made my way to the surface. He surfaced just after me. Other members of the team had similar experiences so we decided to try a different venue, and made our way over to the hen and chicks, a rocky outcrop 2 miles out of Little Haven.

Here conditions were much better and with underwater visibility around three or four metres and a water temperature of 17c we spent almost an hour in and around the rocks and canyons. There was plenty of marine life to see including spider crabs, velvet crabs lobsters, an array of colourful anemones… and a big shoal of trigger fish.

These visitors to British waters are residents of the Mediterranean but have been regularly spotted by divers and fishermen at this time of year around the Pembrokeshire coastline.

It is usual to see trigger fish wedged in crevices in the rocks; they have the ability to lock their dorsal fin thus securing their position then unlock by depressing the second spine – the trigger, but today they were out in numbers, swimming around, almost as though we weren’t there.

Back on board we discussed our day. Everyone had seen the triggers and there would be some good photos to show friends back home. Our party included three novices, this was their opportunity to practice skills learnt over many weeks of pool training and gain the experience needed to become qualified divers; they all did well.


PHIL. THE POST

Some Photos
by Martin Sanders


Oxygen Administration Course

On Sunday 6th July, several club members attended a Sub Aqua Association course on resuscitation and how to administer oxygen.

The venue, the Tynant Inn, Morganstown was the same one we had used for the recent nitrox course. It's a convenient location with good parking and the first floor conference room is ideal for training purposes.

With our beloved leader and D.O. Peter Rees on holiday (yes, again!) in Beijing, we were fortunate to secure the services of regional instructors Mike Rose and Steve Jakeways.

The first session of the morning saw Mike take us through a power-point presentation on the types of dive related incidents where oxygen admin is beneficial.

After a break for coffee, there was a talk on the type of cylinders used including the unique two pin connections and practical guidance on storage and precautions to be taken when using oxygen.

This was followed by a practical demonstration on how to connect the hoses and masks to the cylinders, after which we were all allowed to 'have a go'.

Lunch was served from the extensive range of food available on the hotel menu, and apart from a mix up over what had been ordered resulting in Peter Swarfield almost going without, all went smoothly.

After lunch it was time for Steve to show us how to deal with casualties. He talked us through various situations, dealing with conscious and unconscious persons and what to do if the casualty is not breathing.

Then he introduced us to 'Annie' or in this case, several 'Annies'. The mannequins provided for the day from the organisation Heart-Start were used to demonstrate the techniques involved in applying CPR.

I have been on several first aid courses including one not too long ago, but it's amazing how quickly methods change; CPR now involves 30 chest compressions followed by two mouth to mouth breaths.

Later, during a recap, Mike went over the salient points covered throughout the day and he finished the session by asking if anyone had any questions.

We broke once more for coffee then it was time for the dreaded test – 50 questions – not multi-choice mind, proper written answers were required from all the material covered through the day.

We were allowed an hour, during which time there were several vague expressions and lots of anxious scribbling.

Finally we were allowed to retire to the bar for a well deserved pint of Bass whilst Mark and Steve marked our papers. When we returned we were told that we'd all passed – phew! It had been a long day, but very interesting and very rewarding.

My thanks go out to Mike and Steve for giving up their day and presenting their material in a most professional manner.

I must also thank Dave Pring, SAA Regional Representative who not only organised the course, but also came along to be 'one of us' for the day, Dave, you really should consider joining a proper club like ours.


And finally I must mention our D.O. Peter Rees whose hard work in forging links with the SAA have resulted in firstly the recent nitrox course, then this Oxy admin course and the forthcoming boat handling course to be held in August.

Hopefully other courses will follow and I urge all club members to make the effort to attend – what you learn may be a life saver!

PHIL. THE POST

 


The Coraya Beach - Marsa Alam
June 4th to 11th

For the full story
Click HERE

This is a copy of an entry made by Phil on the Trip Advisor web site:-

We have just returned from a week's holiday at the Coraya Beach Hotel. This was our second visit to Marsa Alam, in October 2007 we stayed at the Lamaya Hotel, part of the same group of hotels, Iberotel. The Coraya Beach is within the same complex, and is just a 10 minute drive from the airport; a definite bonus after a long flight from Gatwick.

We booked the holiday on-line through Thompson's; the process was user friendly and the documentation sent to us was easy to follow and full of useful tips on how to enjoy our holiday.

On landing at Marsa Alam we were met by representatives of the travel company and taken by coach to the Hotel. Check -In was quick and efficient; we left our cases by the Hotel entrance and they were taken to our room by the hotel staff.

Accommodation is in blocks built in traditional Nubian style; ours was on the third floor which meant climbing 40 steps. It was worth it however if only for the view which took in the three scenic swimming pools, the hotel buildings, the sea and the desert.

The room had a double bed, a dressing table and a large wardrobe which also contained a small safe to store valuables. We made a request for extra pillows and was pleasantly surprised at being offered a choice of hard soft or medium! we asked for two soft pillows; they were delivered within minutes. The air conditioning was efficient and not too noisy. There's a mini- bar (all chargeable if you're half board), a kettle and all that's needed for your early morning cuppa and a television though visitors from the UK be warned, the only English speaking channel we could access was the BBC world service. (but who comes to Egypt to watch the telly?) The bathroom contained a toilet and a shower and a hair drier. Ali, our room boy, was very friendly and extremely hard working. He visited daily to clean and keep us supplied with fresh linen and towels. Electricity is 220 volts and two pin plugs; don't forget your adapter.

The main restaurant is a large airy room staffed by a very efficient and friendly team of chefs and waiters. We were very impressed with the choice and variety of food available and had no complaints about the cleanliness or service from the waiters who were always on hand to supply drinks on request. There is also an a la carte restaurant, a snack bar and a beach bar where sandwiches are available but the food was so good and plentiful in the main restaurant that we only visited the snack bar once.

In the evening we would visit the Night and Day bar to enjoy a cocktail and listen to the 'easy' music. There is a wide choice of other bars each with their own attractions. Bar and table staff were friendly attentive and polite and have the ability to greet and speak to guests in a number of languages.

If like myself you like scuba diving, there is an excellent dive centre which is situated across the bay. For those who just like to snorkel, there is a terrific variety of marine life and beautiful corals to view in crystal clear waters just yards off the hotel beach. There's no shortage of things to do and we were amazed at the energy of the young animation team led by Max who worked hard to entertain guests throughout the day and well into the night.

We found little to complain about (which is very unusual for Phil), but I must make comment on the Thompson Rep, Mark. The fat bastard invited us to a welcome meeting on our first day and after telling us that the presentation would only take about twenty minutes, he went on to bore us for almost an hour in a stuffy room without air conditioning. He explained in detail the facilities available to guests who'd booked on an all inclusive basis but gave very little info to those of us who had booked in half board, it was as if we didn't exist. I found this 'welcome' meeting to be of little use to me.

Mark did however give info on how to avoid stomach upsets - a common illness with visitors to Egypt, and advised us to "go and see him if you were suffering". The following day I was, and I did. Mark advised a visit to a pharmacy, telling me how to get there on foot, however, he failed to tell me it was literally miles from the Hotel in blistering heat. Also, a trip we took into the desert by camel which we booked through Mark was somewhat disappointing as our 'guide' spoke little English and was as much use as a chocolate teapot when it came to answering questions.

All in all, a good holiday though next time I'd check out the difference in price between half board and all inclusive. Due to my dodgy stomach I avoided alcohol all week; the cocktails my wife had cost us 65 Egyptian pounds each (they were supposed to be made from named brand spirits but I very much doubt that they were) and water cost us 15 EP per bottle so it would be easy to run up a big bill. (the exchage rate was £1 = 10LE).

Would I go back? I liked the Hotel and the scuba diving is amongst the best in the world, but I suffered with a bad stomach through the week. My wife suffered as well though not for so long and not so bad; other people I spoke to (including those who had stayed at other hotels) had been affected with diarrhoea at some time during their stay. It seems almost un-avoidable. If there's anyone out there with any advice that will prevent stomach upsets on future trips to Egypt, I'd be most grateful.

PHIL. THE POST

For advice on Travellers' Diarrhoea
go to the Travel Doctor web site!!

www.traveldoctor.co.uk


Diarrhoea is quite common amongst travellers to Egypt. Commonly known as the "Cairo Quick Step" it is usually quite mild, normally lasting for around 24 to 48 hours, but in a few cases a bit longer. It can easily be treated by taking imodium (loperamide) and oral rehydration solution (dioralyte, etc.).

However, sometimes more serious forms of food poisoning can be contracted such as acute gastro-enteritis which is characterised by headaches, a feeling of malaise together with bouts of diarrhoea and vomitting. Fortunately this usually subsides within 24 hours. Another more prolonged illness also exists and can last for several days even up to a week. In this case 500mg Ciprofloxacin twice a day for 3 days should clear it up. Remember to take plenty of fluids too.

Besides taking all the usual hygeine precautions, a course of Pro-Biotics prior to travel can be taken to boost the body's immunity to stomach bugs. This would be of particular use to people who seem to be prone to getting stomach upsets.

The Travel Doctor


London Dive Show
Sunday 9th March 2008

"Me and Gatchie didn't come down this way", the advice from the back seat was sound but I carried on in the wrong direction regardless; thank goodness we were nearly there. M4 – M11 – A113. Sound simple? Well it was really, it's just a bloody long way from South Wales and I managed to pick the most awkward route to the Excel Centre. Eventually though we saw the signposts and followed the road into London's dock land. Parking our car in a multi storey cost £10 for 5 hours but the place looked reasonably secure and it was only a short walk to the Excel centre and the exhibition halls.

Once inside, all the familiar names were on show: AP valves, Mares, Northern Diver and many more. The stalls were loaded with all the latest in dive gear and manned by friendly, helpful staff. Peter wanted to visit the Maldives Scuba Tours stand so we made this our first stop and whilst he was renewing acquaintances with the staff, I spent a pleasant five minutes watching a video of manta ray, whale shark and coral reefs. Gazing at this paradise took me back to December when I was there in the flesh experiencing the sights first hand – happy days!

I wanted to look for a new dry suit and boy, was I spoilt for choice. We walked around and eventually stopped at the Beaver stand (it's all in the mind - honest) where I managed to find a suit to fit and not a bad price either!

The day passed quickly. We collected carrier bags like they were going out of fashion – so much for global warming – and stuffed them full of brochures, leaflets and the odd freebie. Along the way we bought strobes, knives, torches, dry-bags, gloves and other bits and pieces that will make a day's diving easier and safer. It didn't take long to spend a shed load of dosh, so we were grateful for a coffee break and even at £1.60 a cup and £3 for a Cornish pasty, it was worth it to take the weight off our feet for a while.

Later in the day Chris had a go with a re-breather and was mighty impressed, Martin bandied words with a German guy on a camera stall and Peter had a really useful conversation with the people on the SAA stand, then all too soon it was time to leave. We carried our loaded carriers to the car and set off. Leaving dock lands wasn't so easy but thanks to the guys where we stopped for petrol we were soon on the right road.

"Me and Gatchie didn't use this route." I was just about to reply with something sarcastic but when I looked in the rear view mirror the offender was eyes closed head lolled and the only sound was a rhythmic snore. It had been a long day. It's a long way to come and it seemed even longer going home because I ignored the directions coming from the back seat as I headed towards Dartford in exactly the wrong direction but we'd enjoyed the experience, made some useful contacts especially with the SAA and bought plenty of gear. And now I can't wait for the start of the season to try my new dry suit.

PHIL. THE POST


Las Vegas Night
Friday 18th January 2008

For all those members who didn’t attend the club’s Las Vegas night held recently at the Taffs Well Rugby Club, I have this message.

You missed a very good night!

The venue was ideal. The club let us use their upstairs premises, a lovely big room with a stage, a dance floor and of course a bar.

Entertainment was provided by ‘Rocking Dave’, a larger than life character who sang along to a selection of well known tunes from the 50s, 60s, and 70s. Dave was very good; he could sing almost any song requested and he invoked many memories with hits from Cliff Richards, The Platters, Dean Martin, and even Cilla Black. I wondered at one time during the evening whether there was too much nostalgia for our younger members, who, fair play, had turned up in droves to support the event, but judging by the energy they put into their activity on the dance floor, they enjoyed ‘Rocking Dave’ as much as us ‘old uns’.

The buffet was superb – there’s no other word to describe it. Lyn’s partner Elaine must have been up all the previous night preparing the food. There was so much variety and everything was so well presented and so delicious – I went back at least three times and I wasn’t the only one. A big thank you to Elaine.

‘Strictly for fun only’ the roulette wheel manned by Lyn’s guest for the evening, Keith gave members a chance to win chips which could be used to bid at the auction to be held later. There were those who knew how and those who hadn’t played before. I couldn’t tell you who came off best, but judging by the crowd around the table and the wry smiles even the losers seem to enjoy having a flutter.

And big Paul Morgan was ‘in his element’ in charge of the Black Jack table. He had a willing audience even after ‘Rocking Dave started his second session. I must mention also, the initiative of Paul Markwell who on being given the job of selling the raffle tickets, devised a spiel so good that he abstracted a minimum of £3 from every purchaser. He was so good he even had me convinced I’d had a good deal!

The night ended with an auction and Peter Rees did a superb job as auctioneer in separating members from their hard won chips in exchange for a range of useful household items.

The event not only raised much needed funds for the club but it gave members an opportunity to socialise, get to know one another away from boats and salt water and neoprene suits.

A big thank you to Entertainments Officer Lyn Eade and his partner Elaine for organising the event
, selling the tickets, and generally seeing that everybody had a very good time. Lyn, you did a bloody good job, and Elaine, that buffet was to die for! Thank You, and I can’t wait for your next event.


PHIL. THE POST


Club Diving
Sunday 9th September 2007
by Phil the Post

John Evans can list amongst his life experiences, teaching, caving , rambling, and world travelling. He’s also a good scuba diver and was originally with a Cardiff club but is now a well established member of LSAC. His standing within the club is renowned, but despite this he is amongst the first to offer words of encouragement to new club members during their initial West Wales diving ventures. Some say this is because he is always on the look-out for recruits to help him on and off with his dive gear, a spaghetti of straps, hoses and dubious bits of equipment, all colour coded, but requiring a person with a degree in logistics to decide on the order of unbuckling so as to avoid consigning the lot, to the depths.

John’s dry-suit has always leaked – and I mean really let in the wet stuff. This is in spite of his efforts to find a solution to the problem. On Sunday last, as we sat in the café behind West Wales Divers, enjoying our bacon and egg butties and mugs of tea, John came in and announced he had finally solved the problem… by getting a replacement suit. Not a new one mind. He had been rummaging in the attic and unearthed a suit belonging to his son. “It fits perfectly and the seals feel brand new.” He told the assembled audience.

There were eventually eight of us. Paul Gray, dive marshal, decided that we would use one boat, and that launching from Broadhaven would allow access to Skomer Island.

We parked in the back car park and loaded the equipment then struggled into our suits. “What do you think then?” John stood there in said suit – black and shocking pink. We were speechless – but at least we’d have less chance of losing him on a crowded beach!

Launching was a doddle and within thirty minutes we were moored to the visitor’s buoy in Skomer haven. Buddy teams were decided – I was to dive with Martin and Mike Rees – and we motored slowly to the north wall, before dropping into twenty metres of water. Visibility was very good – 8+ metres and we did the drop off, seeing lots of marine life including big pink fans and some lovely anemones. Our dive lasted 40 minutes. John and Club President Viv Griff did the same dive whilst Max, Richie and Paul dived on the Lucy. All reported excellent viz and enjoyable diving. We returned to the visitor’s buoy to eat lunch and were joined by a very tame cormorant that came right up to the boat in search of free offerings. John commented on his ‘new’ suit; “I feel quite dry – except for my left foot – or maybe my right leg. And what’s that trickling down my sleeve?”

It happened just before our second dive. John decided he needed a comfort break and whilst climbing out of his suit, tugged half of a cuff seal off – the eight years lying in his attic hadn’t improved the suit’s quality. Now I know it’s not funny but we couldn’t help but laugh, and of course that put an end to he’s diving for the day. Our second dive on the hen and chicks was really special. Again, viz was really good and we saw amongst other marine life, trigger fish – a first for me in British waters. We were also joined on the dive by a grey seal that played peek-a- boo around the rocks. Our dive in depths up to thirteen metres, lasted an hour.

The day was not without further incident and Richie added to our ‘equipment lost at sea’ list by somehow losing his weight-belt after ascending from the Lucy.

It had been another successful day. The boat was re-fuelled and readied for next weekend’s training event. John is still without a ‘dry’ dry suit. Will he invest? Or will his inventive side come up with another home made remedy? I think we all know the answer to that one.

PHIL. THE POST


August Bank Holiday Sunday
Sunday 26th August 2007
by Phil the Post

Our Monday evening events have of late, been very well attended. There are twenty plus people using the pool and the training team are kept busy with a stream of new recruits. Later our numbers are swelled as other club members join us and with thirty plus people in attendance, we just about take over Llantrisant Leisure Centre’s main bar area. At the last Monday meeting, D.O. Peter Rees asked for a show of hands re- diving over the bank holiday weekend; the response for diving on Sunday was good and so when I didn’t receive many phone calls on the Friday, I wasn’t unduly concerned. The weather through the week was glorious and the forecast for the weekend was for more of the same.

Sunday dawned with bright sunshine, rising temperatures and no wind. By 9-30 there were fifteen of us at West Wales Divers, – our best attendance so far this season. Lyn Eade was dive marshal. We readied and launched both boats and with assistance from Billy and his trusty tractor, launched successfully from a crowded Broadhaven beach. The sun had prompted a rare attendance by our D.O., who, complete with a cap clearly marked ‘THE BOSS’, skippered Lima 1. Mac took charge of Lima 2 and we bumped across a choppy sea to anchor just off the Mares rock.

I was buddied with Phil (the blade) Gillet. We rolled off the boat and swam over to the rock then descended, landing on a rocky seabed at 14 metres. Visibility was murky - probably due to divers in the water before us, because as we crossed the bottom, the water cleared. There was plenty to see including the usual spider crabs, velvet crabs and lobster, whilst above the rocks, huge pollack and wrasse hovered in search of lunch. Underneath one particular ledge we spotted a conger eel’s tail and had to swim around a rock to find his head. He was all of four feet long – well, that’s my version – I am a fisherman after all. Our dive lasted the best part of an hour and we ascended slowly into bright sunshine.

We ate our lunch in Solva Harbour. Of all the beautiful places along this coast, Solva is my favourite; we spent a pleasant hour enjoying the scenery and relaxing.

Our second dive site, Dinas Fawr, was one I hadn’t visited before. Visibility here was poor, but we managed forty odd minutes at depths up to 13 metres. Our day had been good; we’d had almost perfect weather, good diving, and enjoyed good company with plenty of chat and laughs. What minor difficulties we encountered had been solved one way or another and even a little difference regarding tank fittings – Din versus A. Clamp concluded in uncontrolled laughter.

We returned to Broadhaven around 4-30. One of the boat trailers needed attention – Billy was on the case – what would the club do without this man? He’s a dab hand at repairs and always the first person to volunteer; he must save the club a fortune. The other boat was taken back to base. The road home was surprisingly quiet; by 9-30 I was sorting my kit and half way down a glass of Speckled Hen. It had been a perfect day.

PHIL. THE POST


Who’d be Dive Leader?
Sunday 12th August 2007
by Phil the Post

I’d had a nagging doubt whilst driving down to West Wales. The response at our Monday night meeting was positive, but there had been no contact since. Surely somebody would turn up – and what if they didn’t? Well, I’ve been a club member for long enough to have faith. ‘Don’t worry; it’ll be alright on the day’, should really be our club motto

By 09-15, there were six of us. We operated like a well oiled machine; the boat was prepared, the jeep hitched up, we were ready to go – but where to? And more important, who was going to be the dive marshal? My nagging doubt had come true and as I looked around, I realised that I was the only person present with a dive leader ticket – and that had only recently been acquired – there were others present better able and more experienced, but… Suddenly, for me at least, today was going to be different. The others seemed happy enough so I became a dive marshal for the very first time, and started my duties by driving the jeep with boat in tow down the narrow lanes to Gelliswick boat slip. By the time we were ready to launch, there were eight of us; Richard Griff and Wayne had been delayed, but would join us as soon as they’d filled their cylinders.

A strengthening wind and a heavy swell meant that diving today would be confined to the sheltered waters of Milford Haven, and a consensus opted to find the shipwreck ‘Behar’, a cable laying vessel that was one of the first casualties of WW2. Our navigation was spot on and we dropped anchor almost into the wreck. Selecting buddy teams, part of the dive marshal duties, means matching divers’ ability and experience. Luckily we had all dived on previous occasions making selection quite an easy task. I paired up with Mike, who has just recently qualified as a diver. We were the first to roll off the boat and descended through the murky water to land beside the wreck at 16 metres. Visibility wasn’t bad – around 2 maybe 3 metres.

Mike hadn’t been on a wreck before so I took the lead and we swam slowly around the rusty metal and exposed spars. My torch beam picked out ‘dead men’s fingers’ and other marine growths as well as shoals of fish hovering safe within the wreckage. Ropes and old fishing net swayed in the gentle current, whilst long strands of seaweed added ghostly movement to an otherwise still, silent scene. Our dive lasted 45 minutes and we ascended slowly into bright sunshine.

The wind was still causing a heavy swell. Our second dive was on the wreck of the ‘Loch Shiel’ a ship that went down in 1901 off Thorne Island. She was reputedly carrying a cargo of whisky and bricks and whilst there are still lots of the latter, I’ve yet to find any bottles of the ‘hard stuff’. The wreck itself is now very skeletal but covered in marine life. There are lots of crabs, fish, and the occasional lobster to see. In the relative shallow depth of under10 metres, Mike and I enjoyed a relaxed dive that lasted the best part of an hour.

The day had been good. We headed back to shore, recovered the boat and were soon on our way back home. En- route, I reflected on my day. It had been different. In between my dives, I checked on safety issues, kept an eye on other boat traffic, and timed the others on their dives. There had been no incidents and the boat was returned safely to base. Later there would be reports to complete and logs to keep. Maybe this dive marshal bit isn’t too difficult after all…. or do I owe a round of drinks to a very experienced and well organised crew. I’ve a sneaky feeling it’s more the latter than the former.

PHIL. THE POST


Club Dive Day
Sunday 5th August 2007
by Phil the Post


The weather had started off fine and sunny but clouds were forming as we approached Haverford West. According to the cheery forecaster on national radio, most of the country was to be bathed in glorious sunshine and temperatures would be in the middle 20s C. Len Bateman on radio Pembrokeshire was more conservative. ‘ A cloudy start with rain coming in by the early afternoon and maximum temperatures 17/18C’. Why does West Wales always have to be different? There were six members at the Dive Centre and another couple turned up as we enjoyed a bacon sandwich.

By 9-30 there were twelve of us. We decided to go to Skomer and prepared both of the club boats. Launching from Broahaven is never easy, but today we had Billy Whizz and his trusty tractor. He pushed the boats through the big breakers and into the smooth waters beyond. We headed out taking our time and riding lumpy swells. In the lee of the island, conditions were much calmer. Jeff Canning, dive marshal for the day, set the buddy pairs and we kitted up for our first dive. I was paired with Paul ‘the gas’ Morgan. We rolled off the boat alongside Skomer North Wall, landing at 20 metres, onto a rocky bottom. Visibility was good – 5 maybe 6 metres. Finning against a mild current we saw loads of marine life; spider crabs, lobster, big edible crabs, ballan wrasse, cuckoo wrasse and Pollack. They weren’t worried by our presence and seemed to recognise their safe status within the marine reserve. After half an hour, we turned around and drifted gently back with the current. Our dive lasted 45 minutes and with my air supply at 50 bar, we ascended slowly. At the surface, it had started to rain. Our boat was 50 metres down tide and as we drifted slowly towards it, gulls wheeled overhead, and the odd puffin flew by. Back on board, we ate lunch in North Haven then decided to head back to the ‘Hen and Chicks for our second dive. The rain was now falling steadily and visibility deteriorating.

The ‘Hen and Chicks is one of my favourite dive sites. It’s shallow, with little or no current, and the viz is generally good. We spent almost an hour around and under the rocks, seeing lots of marine creatures including shoals of juvenile fish, probably bass.

It had been a good day’s diving and by the time we’d washed the boats and stored the equipment it was after 7-00. There are always things worthy of recall and today was no exception. Mark Jones had a new toy; a green force torch, which he wanted to try out. Well, according to his dive buddies, it was so bright, the crabs and lobsters hastily took opposite sides; they thought someone had arranged a night match and had forgotten to tell them. And Billy Whizz had new spring type fin straps. He was full of praise after his first dive, but we learnt some new words when he accidentally lost a fin complete with new strap, over the side. Is there anybody in the market for one fin complete with (new) spring strap? Then we learn that Jeff C had tried a minilistic approach to his equipment by rolling off the boat minus his weight belt. The quest to discover his unsuccessful attempt to descend was solved via a series of elimination.

But my memory of the day would be twofold. Firstly, Wanda one of our novice divers enjoyed her first undersea experience in the safe confines of Skomer North Haven. Accompanied by ‘tall Paul’, she spent 30+ minutes enjoying the marine environment, and is looking forward to more dives in the future. And, our oldest member, ‘Phil the Flute’, celebrated his 76th birthday by completing two dives. Well done Phil.

PHIL. THE POST


The dive week – Ramsey Island
Tuesday 24th July 2007
by Phil the Post


Yesterday's diving trip was very successful. I travelled down West with Peter Swarfield. The journey was uneventful; we chatted about club events past and present, club members, and other 'man' topics.

Arriving at West Wales Divers we met up with John Evans, Jeff Canning and Richie Grice. A brief discussion, then Richie left to fill the boat with fuel; he met us at Broadhaven. Our launch was almost successful, but we misjudged the depth of water and the boat grounded onto the sand. Thankfully the tide was rising; we manhandled the boat into deeper water and were soon riding the wave crests as we headed for Ramsey Island.

The journey was lumpy, a result of the poor weather conditions of late, though thankfully, the sun was shining; it was a lovely day. Arriving at Ramsey, Richie used our new monitoring system to gauge depths and we dropped anchor in a sheltered bay.

I dived with John 'Crabhook'Evans. We dropped into 18 metres; the visibility was good and the current slight. John followed his favourite pursuit ie, find the lobster I followed behind, admiring the marine creatures of which there were lots.

Towards the end of the dive, John shouted at me (well, he would have if he could have) I followed his moving torch beam and saw a large grey seal. This inquisitive creature played hide and seek with us and eventually came close enough to nibble at my fins. I was ecstatic!! I've seen it happen to other people, read about it, and seen pictures, but when it happened to me, I was over the moon. He or she looked up at me with large soulful eyes; I reached out, and in a flash, he was gone. He re-appeared as we were ascending, this time playing around John's fins.

Back on the boat we were like a pair of school children as we tried to relay our experiences to the others. The same seal interacted with the next pair of divers. After their dive, they recalled similar experiences.

Our next dive was in another bay. Here we experienced a mixture of reef and sand. There were lots of dog fish, lobsters, velvet spider crabs, and scallops.

Boat recovery was a smooth operation and apart from having to negotiate lots of holiday makers who are unfamiliar with the narrow lanes of West Wales, there’s nothing else to report.

We got back to base around 6-30pm.

PHIL. THE POST


Club Training Day
Sunday 15th July 2007
by Phil the Post

Her Very First Time

There's something special about that very first time. We sit there exchanging glances, making small talk; throwaway remarks. I can tell by her expression that she's anxious. I know what's going through her mind. 'Will it be as good as they said it would be? Will it be safe? I've come so far, is there any way of turning back?'

And now it's the moment. We've been through the checks together, weight-belt, air turned on, releases identified, fins and mask in place. I motion that I'm going in first, then confidently roll off the boat and on resurfacing, encourage my student to follow. "Come on in, the water's lovely". She remains statue like – then there's movement and almost as if in slow motion she falls backwards; there's a mighty splash, she resurfaces thankfully, her regulator clasped tightly in her mouth. Her eyes are wide – she's breathing fast; I issue words of encouragement – "well done, stay calm". And then, "Are you ready?" She nods, nervously, unable to answer for fear of losing the regulator. I know how she's feeling right now; it's not too long ago that I was in a similar situation. I remember how my instructor encouraged me and try to do the same for my student.

I sense the time is right, and raise my inflate/deflate hose with my thumb on the deflate button, indicating for her to follow the example. We prepare to descend. She finds the controls and together we leave the surface; the sky disappears from view; now we're entering the undersea world and within seconds my feet hit the sand. Thankfully my student is within touching distance, wobbling clumsily, almost toddler like, trying to balance in this unnatural environment. She tries to move, and falls over. I motion for her to add a small amount of air to her jacket and demonstrate. She follows my example and instantly gains neutral buoyancy. I clap my hands in encouragement, and prepare to move off. Visibility is good – at least three metres and at this shallow depth – 4/5 metres, there's plenty of light. We spot wrasse, small flat fish, and lots of spider crabs. All this is new to my student and she is clearly enjoying this new experience. There's lots to see, anemones, different coloured weed, and in the eel grass, hundreds of juvenile fish. But she's smitten with the spider crabs, and I watch with amusement as she gingerly picks one particularly lively specimen up taking care not to engage with its extended claws, and then gently replaces it to the sea bed where it scuttles to the safety of a large rock.

I've been monitoring the air gauges throughout the dive; at this shallow depth, air consumption is conservative. We've been underwater for thirty minutes, I'm beginning to feel the cold, and at thirty five minutes, give the signal to ascend. She adds a little air to her jacket almost as if she's been doing it for years. We ascend slowly and soon there's the sky, and scores of puffins wheeling overhead. I signal the boat and watch as they respond. We bob together in the gentle swell; I'm tempted to ask "How was it for you?" But the huge smile behind her mask make words unnecessary.

Liz was confident throughout this her first boat dive. She managed to control her buoyancy and her breathing; a compliment to club trainers and training policy. The dive had been one activity of the training weekend and congratulations are in order for Chris, Alan, Owen, Phil, 'Smudge', Mike, Paul and Liz who all attended lectures and completed several exercises at both open water and club diver level. A big thank you is also owed to club training officer Richie, committee member 'Tall Paul' and Max who gave up their time over the weekend. Both club boats were used on the Sunday, a rare sight these days according to one local observer; but hopefully with plenty of new divers being introduced to the pleasures of diving off the West Wales coast, two boats filled with Llantrisant Divers heading out to sea, will in future become a frequent sight.

PHIL. THE POST


Club Dive Day at the Smalls
Sunday 10th June 2007
by Phil the Post


On Sunday 10th of June, several club members took advantage of excellent weather conditions to chance a trip to the Small's lighthouse.

This rocky outcrop 22 miles out from the Haven, is a once a year trip, and that's if you're lucky.

Due to its remote location, sea and weather conditions have to be near perfect to be able to go there, and enough members need to turn up as club safety policy dictates that two boats must be used when travelling this far out.

On this particular Sunday, the sun was shining, there was almost no wind, the temperature was approaching 20c at 9:00am, the tides were favourable and there were ten of us present and correct at WWD, ready and eager to go. Due to fuelling needs, we decided to launch from Gelliswick. Lyn, dive marshal for the day, used the Pajero to tow one boat, Jeff Canning followed on with the other.

Launching went smoothly and we were soon zooming out of the Haven. There was a mist over the sea, and it was mainly thanks to our senior members, Mac, Billy and Lyn, that we eventually saw the tall lighthouse. I feared a day out in Dublin was on the cards, had navigation been left to the rest of us. A compass or GPS on each boat, and members properly trained in their use was never more obvious, (strong hint to the committee).

En route we were privileged to see feeding puffins, shearwaters and my favourites, the mighty gannets; we were also lucky enough to be joined by a pod of dolphins as they played in our bow wave for several seconds before disappearing only to be seen minutes later in the distance.

There were several boats at the Smalls, fishing boats, dive boats, and a hard boat full of excited people who had come to see the seals.

There are lots of seals here, big ones and small ones; they sprawl across the rocks as though catching the rays, or pop up at the side of the boat with an inquisitive look on their face; they really are most amusing creatures, I could willingly watch them all day. But we were here to dive. It was slack tide. Perfect! Lyn paired people up and we were soon underwater.

Visibility was good, and I'm not just saying that! Apart from a bit of suspended sediment, it was possible to see clearly for at least six metres. We saw wrasse, pollack, and the biggest crabs and lobsters you could imagine. The marine vegetation was stunning; every rock surface was covered with bright, beautiful colours, you could almost have been in the tropics. Water temperature wasn't bad either, a heady 13c, wow!!

By the time we had all got out of the water, the tide was racing and boy; for our second dive we needed to change location and so reluctantly we left this paradise and headed back towards Skokholm. The ebb tide was flowing as we rolled off the boat; this time I buddied with Jeff. We levelled off at 16 metres and explored the many gullies that are a feature of this mark. Again, the viz was good and we saw plenty of marine life.

It was 6:30pm when we eventually got back to WWD. There was a queue to wash the boats; we waited our turn patiently. The temperature was still in the 20s, it would have been nice, after putting the boats away, to enjoy a couple of beers and watch the sun go down, but we needed to head East, and it was 9:00pm when I and my travelling companion Peter Swarfield pulled into the Cross Inn pub near Llantrisant. Over a pint or two we reflected on what had been a brilliant day. Perfect weather, lots to see, a few laughs.

I promised not to tell about Richie Griff rolling off the boat without his fins on; he was quite a way down tide when we managed to catch up with him, we couldn't move for laughing, and I've a feeling it'll be some time before he's allowed to forget it.

Next week I'm travelling to Cuba and whilst I'll be diving there, I'm sure it won't be half as much fun as a day out with the club 'down west'.

PHIL. THE POST

 


The Training Weekend
Sunday 20th May 2007

by Phil the Post

It was quiet in the little café behind West Wales Divers; surprisingly quiet considering it was a lovely Sunday morning in the middle of May, but understandable, taking into account the nasty winds and heavy showers that had been the weather pattern for the previous week. There were seven of us assembled; men on a mission; all present for this, a training day; all anticipating the challenge involved in demonstrating skills that would lead onto a higher level of S.A.A. recognition.

We launched from Broadhaven, the scene more reminiscent of an Australian surf beach as we fought to hold the boat against powerful oncoming rollers. Luckily, we managed to remain upright and Richie, dive marshal for this trip, powered across the bay, past the Hen and Chicks and out towards Skomer. Today’s exercise was a deep dive and Richie had chosen the site of the wreck, Lucy, to complete the necessary tasks. The Lucy ran aground in Jack Sound on Valentine’s Day 1967. The next full tide lifted her off and she sank into 40 metres of water where she still sits perfectly upright. Further details on www.westwalesdivers.co.uk.

We tied up to the buoy and assembled our kit. Paul Morgan, Max, and myself were doing this dive as part of the Dive Leader level. Richie gave a briefing, going through the hazards of deep diving, and then using tables, we calculated our dive plan. We rolled off the boat and descended the shot line. The water temperature was 12.C; not violently cold, but I was thankful for the layers of insulation. Visibility was awful, a result of the previous week’s storms, and as we got to the 25metre mark the light faded; we were literally, in the dark; it was eerie; I couldn’t see anything, and needed to use a torch to read my computer.

The top of the wreck is at 36 metres; at this depth, my computer told me I had 10 minutes before de-co. Groping in the blackness, I followed the rail towards the stern, shining my torch and picking out huge spider crabs and dead men’s fingers in the narrow beam. The combination of darkness and depth was awesome; I gripped the rail tightly! A further glance at my computer revealed 6 minutes remaining; it was time to turn around. We gathered at the shot line and made our ascent slowly, pausing at 3 metres for a safety stop.

Back on the boat we discussed our brief adventure into the depths and all admitted to a heightening of sensations as we had descended into the dark. There’s no doubt in my mind that a deep, dark, and cold environment provided a challenge that I hadn’t encountered before and one I would have to try again several times before I could say I would be confident in this sort of environment.

Richie and Tall Paul were next, and they completed a more involved ‘deco’ dive as part of their dive supervisor level. Phil Gillett and Mark Jones were last in the water. We had lunch whilst watching the antics of the Puffin population around Skomer, and were entertained by numerous grey seals. They popped up frequently as if wanting to know what we were doing in their backyard. Our second dive, on the ‘North Wall’, was abandoned due to zero visibility and we completed the day with a relaxed dive on the Hen and Chicks, where the ‘viz’ was slightly better.

By the time we had recovered the boat and returned to W.W.D., it was after 7.00pm; it had been a long day, but luckily traffic heading east was light and we were enjoying a well deserved pint in the Barn on the outskirts of Llantrisant just before 9.00pm.

Next weekend is a bank holiday and West Wales diving will be extended to Monday. I look forward to seeing you there.

PHIL. THE POST


Diving Report
Sunday 22 April 2007
by Phil the Post

Why would you want to get up at 05-30am on a Sunday morning? Well, if you’ve a dog to walk, a hundred mile+ journey to do, a date with a bacon sandwich and a mug of steaming tea; and all to fit in before 09-00am; you ain’t got much option. Martin picked me up at 06-45am and we headed West. We spent the journey discussing mundane topics; family, work, holidays; and trying to ignore the darkening clouds and the odd speck of rain. Why, after such a lovely week of weather must it suddenly deteriorate on a Sunday? The odd specks turned to big drops, and the windscreen wipers needed to be on constant, to cope with the downpour. Like little boys, we talked our way through the rain. Maybe it was only a shower; it wouldn’t be raining in Haverford West – would it?

By the time we pulled up outside of West Wales Divers the rain had stopped; see, told you so!! Max and his buddy Dave were in the little Café. The rest of the team began to arrive; two more, then two more, then two more, and more… Dive Marshall for the day, Lyn, appeared on the scene. Now there were ten of us; and only one boat!! Lyn, not known for making hasty decisions, and armed with the knowledge that West Wales Divers had cancelled their charter for the day,( because of the deteriorating weather conditions) called a conference. We decided that given the circumstances, it would be safe and sensible to have one dive each and to confine our activities to the seas around the Haven.

L
aunching was a doddle as the full tide was lapping the top of the slipway at Gelliswick. Martin took the helm and we headed around the piers and out towards St. Anne’s Head. The sea was a horrible grey colour and the breakers made progress slow. It soon became obvious that conditions outside of the Haven would be un-comfy to say the least. A dive on the wreck of the Behar seemed a safer option. We buddied up and dropped into the water. It was cold – around 10C according to my computer. Martin and myself followed the anchor rope down onto the seabed. Visibility was surprisingly good (this would have compensated for the cold which was by now making my fingers very numb), except that there was nothing to see!! The seabed was featureless and the Behar? The old hands on board told tales of a huge wreck. Well either we had dropped on the wrong spot or somebody had pinched the rusty old hulk overnight. Our dive lasted half an hour during which time we managed to find several patches of rough ground where there was at least a little bit of life to see.

Back aboard the rib, it transpired that nobody had managed to find the wreck. Max and Dave had come the closest. They had found a huge anchor, but when they followed the rusty old chain, it ended in nothing!! Maybe a working GPS on board our rib, would help.

Recovery was achieved with polished performance. We really are getting quite good at this; though I must admit, the Pajero makes life a lot easier. Back at West Wales divers, we washed the boat down and stored the safety gear. We were on our way East by 4-00pm. Not the best day’s diving, but good to see so many enthusiastic members so early in the season, and it’s always great to get out on the water, regardless of the end results.

The ten members who braved the cold were Lyn (dive marshall) Martin (he has a tool for just about any situation) John (Crabhook), Max, Dave, Phil (Crabhook’s apprentice), Mike Rees,(who only came to feed the fishes) Gail and Griff; nice to see Gail come back to cold water diving, next time she may even get into the water) and yours truly

PHIL. THE POST

P.S. I look forward to seeing you on future dive weekends; come along and join us, there’s plenty of room for more.


First Dive Of The Season
(Easter Sunday 2007)
by Phil the Post

The weather over the Easter weekend, was glorious. On Easter Sunday, an early veil of mist gave way to blue skies, bright sunshine, and virtually no wind. We met up at the West Wales Diver’s base, Hasguard’s Cross, which is just beyond Haverfordwest.

There were seven of us including a rare appearance of our leader Mr. Rees. Once a frequent diver in West Wales, in recent years, Peter is better known for his diving exploits in warmer climes. Maybe this is a comeback, watch this space!

After a substantial breakfast and two mugs of tea, we towed the boat to Broadhaven. The tide was just off the slipway; ideal conditions for launching and we were soon on our way, zooming across the water towards Mare’s rock. The sea was silky smooth. We saw cormorants, shearwaters and as we approached Solva, a lone dolphin rolled on the surface.

There were five of us prepared to dive and we split into two teams. I was partnered with Phil ‘the Blade’. We rolled off the boat together and hit the water. It was cold; it might have been a warm day but believe me, the sea was cold…ten degrees Celsius according to my computer, and it got colder as we descended. Visibility however was surprisingly good and we made our way across the rocky bottom down to twenty metres. Along the way we saw pollack, wrasse, dogfish and literally hundreds of spider crabs. Our dive lasted forty minutes by which time we were running low on air.

After a leisurely lunch spent in the picturesque Solva harbour, we headed back, past Stack rock, and anchored up at a well known dive mark, ‘the hen and chicks’.

Our second dive was similar to the first; maybe the visibility was a little better but it was still very cold. There was plenty to see though including lobsters edible crab and the biggest spider crabs you could imagine. As in the first dive, our air supply began to dwindle after about forty minutes and we surfaced slowly into bright sunshine.

Back in Broadhaven, team effort made boat recovery a doddle and I was soon on the motorway heading east. It had been a perfect day; good diving, good company, and most important, I’d be home in time to enjoy a couple of pints of good beer in my local.

Club members please note, the dive calendar has been published on the club web site. www.llantrisantdivers.com I hope to see you over the next few dive weekends.

PHIL. THE POST


Start of the Dive Week
(29th & 30th July 2006)
by Phil the Post

Some call it Sod’s Law – others are more explicit! But that’s how it goes. So on the Sunday that ten of us turn up to dive, the wind is blowing at force 4/5, limiting our choice of venues and launch sites. We divers are a resourceful lot mind, and following a discussion, we decided that Gelliswick slip would be a safe launch site, and that this would be an ideal opportunity to see how we could handle a situation – towing and launching two boats with just one tow vehicle. Tall Paul volunteered to drive, and with Lima 1 hitched up, was soon on his way. Meantime, we took advantage of the café facilities for a leisurely breakfast. Paul was back within the hour, and with Lima 2 in tow, we set off in convoy for Gelliswick.

Launching went smoothly and two boats headed around the jetties out towards the mouth of the Haven. The wind had picked up, and it soon became clear that our diving today would be very restricted. Amidst rolling waves, we decided to dive inside the Haven; our first dive would be on the wreck of the ‘Dakotion’. Now. I make no secret of the fact that I do not like wreck diving, and see the ‘Dakotion’as a pile of rusty metal sheets! But, any dive is better than none, so after the buddy teams had been appointed by marshall for the day Jeff. Canning, we dropped into the murky water and followed the anchor rope down to the sea bed, some 18 metres below. Visibility was just about zero, but thankfully my buddy Phil. (the blade) Gillet had a powerful torch and we fumbled our way around the bottom spotting small lobsters, and several species of fish amongst the wreckage before deciding to ‘knock it on the head’.

At the surface, the sun was shining brightly, in fact it was a glorious day, but the wind and the tide were causing the anchored boats to rock about wildly. On our boat, young Peter Swarfield was sharing his breakfast with the fish whilst on the other boat, new member, Mike Rees who many of us considered was more at home on the sea than Popeye, had turned a ‘whiter shade of pale’ and was close to joining Peter!

We decided to seek shelter and headed for the Thorn Island; our second dive would be on the wreck of the ‘Loch Sheil’. Here, visibility was a little better and we spent a pleasant half hour perusing the wreckage, and searching for remnants of the cargo, bottles of whisky, and bricks, (we found the bricks). It was now time to go; we made our way back to the slip; boat recovery went well, and we were soon back at base, West Wales Divers. Just after six pm I settled down as passenger in Martin’s car and enjoyed a very pleasant journey home.

There was supposed to be diving all the next week, in fact, I fully intended to return to West Wales on Thursday, but the weather deteriorated and reports indicated that visibility remained poor so I didn’t make it. The next dive weekend is 12/13 of August when it is intended to visit the ‘Lucy’ for some deep dive training. Yes! I know, another wreck, but----. Maybe I’ll see you there.

PHIL. THE POST


Last Weekend's Diving
(1st & 2nd July 2006)
by Phil the Post

After two weeks spent diving in the Maldive Islands, I couldn’t wait to get back to the challenging waters of West Wales – (NOT!) The recent spell of fine weather held out. Sunday dawned bright and sunny with temperatures of 20.0c and rising. My early morning journey to Hasguard’s Cross was rewarded with the sighting of a kite hovering over a roundabout at St. Clears; quite a start to the day.

The café behind West Wale’s Divers was heaving; workers toiled valiantly to satisfy demand for healthy breakfasts; bacon, two eggs, sausage, beans and toast being the order of the day. I spotted our treasurer Jeffrey, working his way through what is commonly known as a Diver’s Delight and joined him. Jeff had come down on Friday with every intention of a camping, canoeing and diving weekend. He confided in me that he had forgotten to bring with him one basic piece of kit – the tent, but in true pioneering fashion had managed to secure accommodation locally. He asked me not to tell of his dilemma, and I promised not to; so please don’t tell anybody else!

The rest of the gang arrived and we prepared the boat. Later, using our recently acquired Pajero, we launched Lima 2 from Gelliswick. We had been joined by our President, Viv with his own boat, and we made our way together, around the jetties, out towards Skokholm Island. Our team for the day, Viv, Phil the flute, Martin, Jeff, Mac, Phil Gillet, and myself. Dive Marshall for the day was Jeff, and he set the buddy teams.

Mac and I were first in. The shock of cold water-13.0c- penetrated my dry-suit, under-suit and base layers. It was a sharp contrast with the 30.0c Indian Ocean I had been enjoying just a week previous! Visibility however was good and there was plenty to see amongst the rocks and kelp. Half-way through the dive, the current seemed to pick up. It was not surprising therefore to discover when we surfaced, that we had strayed into the race and were heading at a rate of knots towards Jack Sound. Luckily, Jeff had spotted our SMB and followed us to the pick up point.

We all managed two dives before the weather turned. The journey back was a wet one. Gelliswick slip was thankfully clear, and following a smooth recovery we were soon back at base. It had been another successful day with plenty to see, including, seals, puffins, cormorants; and underwater, pollack, wrasse, dogfish, crabs, lobsters, and a host of other colourful marine life. WHY THEREFORE were there so few of us diving? Surely we can’t all be just warm water divers. Perhaps we’ll have a better turn out next weekend. Members please note, if you’re unsure of the arrangements for the weekend’s diving, give me a ring on my works number, 01443 226201, during office hours on Fridays. I have up to the minute details of who will be Dive Marshall, and how many people are likely to turn up. There’s no problem with towing now that we have our own vehicle. I look forward to hearing from you.

PHIL THE POST


Bank Holiday Weekend 2006

Sunday is Dive Day!

by Phil the Post

After a week of dismal weather, Sunday started dry and bright. Richard arrived to pick me up at 7.00am, and following a minor emergency when I took time to find my glasses, we were soon heading down the M4. Conversation at this time of the morning tends to be limited, and I took a rare opportunity of being a passenger, to admire the lovely countryside. The journey was uneventful and it was just after 9.00am, when we rolled up outside of West Wales Divers where the other club members making up the team for today, were waiting. The ‘look’ we got didn't seem right and we were greeted with the news that the promised tow vehicle, our very own long awaited 4x4, wasn't available. We resigned ourselves to using the smaller Humber. It never ceases to amaze me what a co-operative bunch we divers are however, and over a cup of coffee in the café, the Dive Shop owner offered to tow and launch our Cobra. We were very grateful to Roland for saving the day.

At Little Haven, a stiff breeze was coming off the sea, causing breakers to roll up the beach. We made our way slowly towards Stack Rock where we hoped to get a little shelter. The Cobra rode the waves well; and we were soon anchored; grey seals eyed us warily as the dive teams busied themselves kitting up. There were two other dive boats in the area, a sure sign of the weather which would restrict out diving today. Jeff and Martin were first to roll off the boat; Richard discovered he had forgotten to fit a low pressure hose to his first stage, but prepared as we always are, (or if we’re honest, purely by good fortune), we had a spare and he was soon ready to join John Evans, and Phil. Gillett; they disappeared beneath the grey sea and I watched their bubbles as they made their way towards the rock. The sun had stayed out and in the shelter of the rock, it was quite pleasant. I watched the seals and the sea birds whilst looking out for the S.M.B. which would signal the divers return. Martin and Jeff surfaced after 50 minutes. Due to the low tide, their dive had been restricted to 12 metres. Visibility however had been reasonable; they had spotted edible and spider crabs, as well as ‘dead men’s fingers’ and the ever present dog fish. The others surfaced soon afterwards. All had enjoyed the dive. We decided to try the ‘Hen and Chicks’ for our second dive and made our way back slowly. Following a respectable surface interval, and ‘butty’ break, the dive teams entered the water. This time, visibility wasn't as good, and due to the state of the tide, depth was restricted to 8 metres. By the time the divers had surfaced and we’d stowed all the gear away, it was 4.00pm. We made our way to Little Haven and following a challenging recovery were soon back at West Wales Divers.

The day had been enjoyable; we had managed to get two dives in, and in between, there was plenty of surface activity with seals, and a variety of sea birds to view. What’s that you say, “Why didn't I dive?” I almost forgot to mention. We had kitted up as we usually do, in the car park at Little Haven. As I was struggling into my dry suit, a wrist seal ripped, consigning me to boat cover for the rest of the day. In fairness, Martin, (always the man to be relied upon to have just about anything you might need) tried a repair using strong tape, but I didn't fancy a soaking! As you can well imagine, when the boys came up from their first dive and said that the sea temperature was a staggering 11 degrees Celsius I was truly disappointed that I hadn’t shared their experience. And on their second dive when the viz was almost zero; well, I was gutted. So, on our return,it was West Wales Divers to the rescue again; they took my suit and fitted two new wrist seals. I won’t need it for while as it’s the Maldives for me in June. I won’t be diving in the U.K. again until July; hopefully the water will be warmer by then; I hope so because I’m fast running out of excuses!

PHIL THE POST


 
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