With the last UBUC trip to Lundy Island being (attempted – ask Jon) over 5 years ago it was high time we set sail once again to see the beauties that this island has to offer!
We begin on Thursday. Given the shenanigans of the last attempt (again, ask Jon) it was decided that Sam and Meg on Just Add Water along with Haydon and Hartley (CSAC) on Badger would take all dive gear over the to the island, some 20 nautical miles, while the rest of us enjoyed a relaxed crossing on the MS Oldenburg. Thus, we met bright and early at 8am in Watermouth Harbour where JAW and Badger arrived to be ladened with 4 twinsets, 10 singles, a re-breather, and a bunch of other diving & camping gear. We wished them a fair well as we made the arduous journey to the boat port which was a 4-minute drive of windy country roads.
Some hours later we landed on Lundy where we eagerly awaited the arrival of JAW and Badger who were only 10 minutes behind. Clearing the boat of fuel and getting into our suits we were straight onto our first dive of the trip!
To Knoll Pins we headed, a beautiful dive with depths down to 25m and an exciting 1 knot current if you fancied a drift. The first wave entered and after some 40 mins surface with tales of seals biting away at fins, belly rubs, and other cheeky behaviour. It was then the turn for me and Ben, with our hopes high for some seal action we enjoyed the epic drift but with only the slightest clips as they swam past. Today was not the day for Ben. Still with several catsharks, lobsters, and many nudibranch (apparently – still have no clue what they are) it was a very good dive to get us started!
We ventured over to Gull Rock Wreck – so named as its origin is unknown. Down go divers to yet more endless seal action and yet again for Ben none. However, this was another truly awesome dive with high currents, ample life, and some cool topology!
We ended the days diving and lugged up our bags some 30 mins to the campsite where we rushed to set up the tents ahead of some well earnt pubage! As always some very merry divers headed to sleep eager for the next day’s dive, set to be the best one yet…
Friday begins, and with the agreement at the pub the previous night that Alice and Alex would be our trusted bab heroes (waiting at the campsite to bring down some baps for breakfast) we kitted up ready to head to the Iona 2 and the Robert, two wrecks to the east of the island. We arrived and with the current still running at some 0.8 knots decided to hold out the extra half an hour till slack. Meanwhile, Jon decided it would be a good idea to let the coast guard know of our plans and with the call `Milford Haven Coast Guard, Milford Haven Coast Guard this is Just Add Water we have 10 divers about to enter the water diving the Gordon and the Iona 2’ – somehow, he had discovered a whole new wreck! Alas, the first divers jumped in and while myself, Hayley, and Meg awaited their return we discussed our plan for the dive! As they began to surface, some of the happiest divers ever seen emerged with Sam dropping his kit and swimming at some pace to take over Meg as cox to allow us to get in as soon as possible! With the two wrecks laying only a 2 minute swim apart there was much to see. We began by circling the wreck of the Robert only to then head off due west towards the Iona 2. With only a slight disagreement on which way west actually was we made it to the Iona 2 where we saw large conger eels, massive lobsters and some amazing pieces of this protected wreck! With just 4 minutes left of out NDL we made our accent and ended what was one of the best dives I have ever done!
Following this dive and while still with in a fair window for slack we ventured to the bottom of the island to attempt to dive the Montague. However, the seas were not looking as calm as they had previously, the swell was large and the current even larger. Four brave divers (Alice, Ben, Jon, and Haydon) ventured into the sea. And with Jon and Haydon returning within less than a minute, we had expected the others to also. However, after 15 minutes of waiting the divers were still no where to be seen. Luckily with two boats we had plenty of surface cover and they were eventually seen having been carried all the way over the very rocks that the Montague itself had met its fate! With divers back on the boats, it was decided we would return to Gull Rock instead. Haydon, Hayley, and I enjoyed a lovely drift dive with yet more seal interaction. But poor Ben who had used his fill on the Montague was yet again unable to experience them! Back to the pub for most, while Haydon and Hartley (enjoyed?) a shore dive which involved the summoning of a kayak by Hayley. On their return with gin drank and food eaten we made an impromptu visit with some tinnies to the top of the island’s lighthouse for the sunset view! With a short stop to look at the crashed UFO we returned to the pub where we met Rami and told him all about the experience so far!
Early the next morning, I was not a happy camper. With my tent not being able to keep the rain out I awoke cold and wet! Not to let this be a downer we headed to the pub for a hearty breakfast along with some much-needed coffee to fill us for the long day ahead. We had agreed that given the size and the amount to see on the Robert and Iona 2 we would venture there again! As we arrived, again just before slack, we decided it would be best to leave it a little while as to hit slack. However just as we said this, a charter boat appeared on the horizon! Not wanting them to ruin our vis, Ben and I kitted up at lightning speed to be in the water first! It was so worth it, with a whole 35 minutes just on the Robert we retuned to the shot to see that the vis was definitely worse than when we had entered! Either way, right on slack the next set of divers entered the water to also enjoy some truly awesome diving!
Ending our trip we headed back to Knoll Pins with the aim again of seeing some seals. For Ben this was the dive he had been waiting for. As the seal laid in front of us for some 5 minutes she allowed him to give belly scratches, played with the air from my secondary and genuinely just gave us the best thing we could have asked for. After she had enjoyed herself enough she left us to continue our dive which was yet more fun until I ran into some pesky twinset divers (Alex and Sam) who thought it funny to take my fin! After returning it, we ended our dives, returned to the harbour and disembarked from JAW and Badge to await the MS Oldenburg for our return to the mainland!
For all involved this was some of our best UK diving, with a huge thank you to Sam for organising the trip!