A dive day on Scott’s Boat, Anglesey with New Horizons Dive Centre 

NorthWales2-201504-7-MenaiSuspensionBridge-AndDivingArea©2015 Tony Gilbert

At the end of April New Horizons chartered Scott Waterman’s boat Protector for a Sunday. It was going to be an early start, because time & tides wait for no-man, as the saying goes, and today we were all on St. George’s dock at Menai Bridge for around 8am, in blue skies and sunshine. The wind was a strong north westerly, and the slack tidal window was but an hour away; the decision was made to stay in the Menai Straits, an isthmus of sea water separating mainland Wales with the Isle of Anglesey (Ynys Mon), where the water was much calmer in comparison, however during none-slack periods this can boil and run to over 11knots.


©2015 Tony Gilbert


On the boat were 8 divers, including trip leader Andy, with a mixture of dive equipment of BCDs, wings, bladders & harnesses, singles and twin sets, diving either air or nitrox.


Anglesey-201504-ConwayWreck-5-EdibleCrab-Small-LandscapeScene©2015 Tony Gilbert


HMS Conway wreckage was the first dive, a ship-of-the-line, launched at the end of the man-o-war era, when ships were now steam-sailers and ironclads. It became a training ship, moored up in the Straits until the mid half of the 20th century. Whilst being towed for a refit in 1953, the ship hit Platters rocks, just shy of the Menai Suspension Bridge, where it lay for a number of years, above the waterline, until a fire took hold and sank, where only wreckage may now be found.


Anglesey-201504-ConwayChains-2-SlateRocks-AndDeadmans-AlcyoniumDigitatum©2015 Tony Gilbert


Our band of divers duly kitted up, and in their allotted buddy pairs, giant-strode into the green water that awaited. A halocline greeted them to 5m, then clearer but darker water, until the seabed was found at 14m. Much shale-type rocks were in evidence, and we dropped onto a spike of metal. It was worth exploring the area during the good slack window that Neap Tides had brought, and in the green gloom found several pieces of wreckage, and a big block of hardwood which had two copper pins located in it. Cruising slowly off the wreckage site, the dive headed a rough north east down towards the bridge, hovering over gullies and small ridges adorned with anemones, and dotted with crabs. This made a fitting end to a great morning dive.


NorthWales2-201504-12-Andy-MakingItUp©2015 Tony Gilbert


As we were close to the launching point, mooring up again wasn’t a bad idea, for tea & biscuits, tank change, and a chat about the day’s dive. The day warmed, and it was time for the second dive, passing over the water under both bridges, and over to Plas Newydd, a large historic pile belonging to the Marquess of Anglesey, the first Marquess was an aide-de-camp to the Duke of Wellington at the battle of Waterloo, which is marking its bi-centenary this year. This has close associations with HMS Conway, and our second dive was on the mooring chains of this ship nearby.


Anglesey-201504-ConwayChains-5-Links-BW-AndDiver-Trevor©2015 Tony Gilbert


With sparkling green water, the seabed rose at 11m, a composition of stony ground, small angular rocks, metal pieces, and marine life amongst. There was a slight drift eastwards, which was expected, and divers could regulate this by either being deeper or shallower in the channel. Many small rocks had large bunches of bone-white deadmans fingers, some spotted scorpionfish or cat sharks amongst. Our dive took us along at a gentle pace, stopping to look at the lobsters, finding large sea lemon sea slugs with swirly bands of egg rings, both bright orange-yellow. Initially we encountered a small wall about 3m high, then eventually and rather suddenly a large link came into view, one of the links of the huge chain that stretched across the seabed. The links must be a good metre across, and covered in bright sponges or sea beards. Explored this for a while before ascending in to another vertical cliff, where the sun illuminated the marine life adoring the walls.


Anglesey-201504-ConwayChains-1-Protector-DiverRecovery©2015 Tony Gilbert

Sadly, it was time to launch the SMB and exit. One buddy pair decided to do the drift-proper, and travelled just over 1 land mile, we picked them up – their faces smiling from the adventure – no, it wasn’t the cold!