Before we all set off for Pembroke, I was asked in my capacity as Trip Secretary to ensure that I booked the weather. I put in my order for wall to wall sunshine and we were blessed with the best Bank Holiday weekend ever. We had sun from the Friday evening schlepp down to South Wales to the last of the stragglers limping over the Yorkshire border on Tuesday afternoon.
Pembroke is a lovely town with a beautiful castle, river and selection of pubs. We chose the High Noon guest house as it has a quaint 70’s, tired charm to it and run by a lovely couple Chris and Sherry Barnikel who clearly lived in a parallel Hippy universe. They did however, make the best Full English/Welsh breakfast ever.
Day 1 saw the slick, well-oiled machine that is Robin Hood Dive Club load the boat in quick time and soon set off in glorious sunshine out to Skomer Island, a 90 minute sail away. Our skipper and Predator boat owner was Len Bateman who also doubles up as the local radio weather forecaster and he was ably assisted by expert hot drink maker Alan.
Day 1 dives were on Skomer Island North Wall and Dead Eye reefs which saw an array of life including octopus and giant scary King Spider Crabs. The Spring plankton bloom reduced visibility a little, but still enjoyed a good 5-8m. Ruth decided that a two minute two metre dive was as much as she wanted to do and hopped back aboard in order to sunbathe for the rest of the weekend. On arrival back in the Marina car park I realised that I had inadvertently taken my car keys on two dives in my drysuit pocket and were starting to rust. Unfortunately the car key battery was completely dead and refused to open the doors. Access was only available to the driver door as the emergency skeleton key was all we had. Perhaps it will dry out by tomorrow. A rather convivial meet up in the Royal Oak resulted in much beverage consumption until it was too late to go to a restaurant so we just ordered in pizzas. Not sure what the pub owners thought but we doubled their takings so put up with us.
Day 2 had us back on the way to Skomer, this time to dive the wreck of the Lucy which sank on 14th February 1967 as the skipper was trying to take a short cut to get home for his Valentine’s Day rendezvous with his beloved ( see www.divernet.com/wreck-tours/p301710-wreck-tour:-3the-lucy.html) . The sea bed lies at 42m and the deck at around 34m, so this was one to be dived with care. Reports following the dive ranged from ‘That was awesome, can we do it again?’ to ‘Well that was dark and horrible wasn’t it? The absence of nitrox extended one or two dive times as decompression stops were in order for most (you really all do need a rebreather). Dive 2 was sold to us as a drift dive from Gateholme. ‘Head west and pick up the fast drift north’ said our intrepid skipper. So west we went. And went, and went and went until there was no west left. No drift. Liz chose to sit this one out (how did she know?). Barry was determined to do an hour, so an hour we did. Back at the Marina car park we tried the dried out keys in the car. Still nothing. There is no way this car is going to start. Arrangements were hastily made to have the spare keys couriered down at great expense.
On day 3 we said goodbye to our guests Anne and Steve from Cardiff BSAC and enjoyed the extra space on the dive deck. Strangely enough we filled it very easily even with just 8 divers. The wind had picked up slightly so we didn’t head out for Skomer but dived a couple of wrecks fairly close to Milford Haven. The first, Thor was upside down and resembled a submarine in about 22m of water. Here was plenty of wreckage to rummage through and scallops were collected as a present for the skipper. The second and last dive of the bank holiday was the wreck of the Dakotian again at 22m. This was a massive ship at some point in its life but now sadly broken up. There were however large areas of structure with several swim throughs.
On arrival back at the Marina Car Park the courier had arrived with keys for my car. Unknown to me, Nigel Troth had got to her first and arranged for me to be presented with the wrong keys as a joke. Yes, I fell for it hook line and sinker and uttered a tirade of expletives, cursing everyone involved in the failure to be able to perform a simple task. I was then presented with the correct keys…… Oh how we laughed and laughed until we wet ourselves. It’s a good job I didn’t throw the joke keys in the sea in a fit of rage as the courier would not have seen the funny side of it. The feeling of relief as the engine turned over sweetly was immeasurable. At least we could go home now.
The Team:- Tim Saville (Trip Sec and car key washer), Liz Saville (Tim’s conscience), Ruth Hair (Trip Sunbather), Barry Shaw (I WILL do an hour), Nigel Troth (just another 15 minutes deco), Andy Crowther (that was dark and horrible), Mark Jenner (twin 8.5 litre cylinders are all the rage), Keith Johnson (Keithy McKeithface) and Amanda Taylor (another bottle of red please). Thanks to Anne Hudson and Steve Turnbull of Cardiff BSAC who both paid to join us thus saving the club a couple of hundred quid.