The Bicester Sub Aqua Club finally got to do their Pembrokeshire dive trip, which was originally organised for the Whitsun Bank Holiday 2020! Due to the Covid19 pandemic it was cancelled and carried over to the 2021 season by the Dive Pembrokeshire Dive Charter run by Len and Sue Bateman.
The club found a problem though, as they were unable to fill the boat. Originally booked for 10 divers, due to the short period of diving before the trip date many club members were not dive-ready so a call went out through the Welsh BSAC network for divers to fill the remaining places.
The Bicester club divers (Adrian Dodds, Danna Aerts, Dorothée Leroy, Rod Hogg, Karen and Trevor Dixon) were joined, from outside the club, by John Armstrong, Laurence Browne, Gareth Bishop and Ian Muffet.
The diving was based out of the Neyland Marina in Milford Haven on Dive Pembrokeshire’s boat ‘Predator’. The diving was over two days with the first day’s diving around the Skomer Marine Reserve where we had two fantastic 15m to 20m wall dives. These were based on the Martins Haven High Point where we also visited the recently discovered “Slate Wreck”. The marine life was extremely well preserved with scallops the size of dinner plates, nudibranchs and cat sharks galore, a selection of lobsters and masses of large spider crabs marching across the landscape. Water temperature was a balmy 8ºC!
The lunch period was spent in the sheltered bay of Skomer watching heaps of Puffin, Guillemots and Razorbills busy travelling to and from their feeding grounds. A real pleasure to watch.
Day two’s diving was based in the Milford Haven Sound visiting two great wrecks. First was the Dakotian – 400ft long at depth 15m. This ship hit a mine in November 1940 and although being torn apart by explosives in an attempt to reduce her as a navigation hazard, still made for a great dive. Much of the ship still stands proud, especially the stern with huge rudder set to one side, providing some great swim throughs and lots of structure to explore.
The second wreck was the Behar sunk in November 1940 by the same set of parachute mines laid by the Luftwaffe. This wreck also lies in the 15m range and still has large parts of structure standing. We found the large engine assembly with it’s pistons pointing sideward like huge signal paddles awaiting an aircraft to land. Then there’s the main central section of the ship before the boilers, which has vertical beams framing like windows without glass, the steel plate long since rusted away. The Behar is also 400ft long and one dive on this ship is not enough. We look forward to returning again to explore the remaining parts of the ship.
We had two excellent days diving in the Milford Haven area and look forward to returning again. Accommodation was great. We made use of the local hotels and Air BnB’s, and dined each evening at the Marina Quay where you could sample a different restaurant each evening for a week and still not have tried all of them.
This was a great place to restart our diving now that we are able to, so let’s stay safe and enjoy every dive.