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Razorbill RIB - Cardigan Bay 22nd April

1363 Views 12 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  Jennifer
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I've just read Simon's (Scramanga) post about Porthgain on the 18th of April and having just spent the day with Razorbill Ribs and Simon out of Cardigan Bay I thought I would add a trip report and some photos from today.

Bored and at a loss of what to do with some of my days off (most people work Monday to Friday but I have the pleasure of working only four days a week and regularly get Monday's and Friday's off, yay me,) I contacted Simon to see if he was up for some diving.

I'd dived with Simon before and had ribbed him a lot over his choice of headwear (still do hehe) however we'd discussed diving together again the next time I was in West Wales so seemed like the perfect opportunity to get some night diving done on the Thursday and or a day's diving on the Friday.

Details including RIB, possible sites, tides and ropes off time were discussed. At one point I thought I'd heard wrong when I was told RO at 12 noon, diving AND a lie in to boot, how often does that happen!

I woke early this morning despite not needing to get up until a civilised hour and as the kit was already sorted and in the car I decided to set off and take my time going via the scenic route.

Got to Teifi Boatyard just outside Cardigan about 11.15am and used their facilities to get changed into my undersuit, half an hour or so went by and still no sign of Simon, at which point I realise I should be on the beach part not the actual boat yard and promptly rang Simon to find out exactly where he was and move my car to the right place.

As it happened we all arrived within seconds of each other and formed a convoy across the pebbly beach. Introductions made, kit loaded and RIB ready to launch, we got underway.

The plan had been to get out to the SS Sutton and put a shot line in so several 1st's for me, 1st time RIB diving in the UK, 1st time diving with a dry suit and twin set whilst having to get back on a RIB and 1st time I'd put a shotline in. It was also possibly (depending on number of dives we managed to squeeze in) going to be my milestone dive after we'd had to bin a couple of night dives the week before.

The sea was flat calm and the weather glorious and we were going diving, what more could we ask for.

Got to the co-ordinates and attempted to locate the wreck using the echo sounder, a few passes and it wasn't clear what was down there so we decided to kit up and jump in for a nosey.

The entry off the RIB started well, right up until my head hit the water and I realised I had a dry glove leak (user error) and by the time I'd got the right way up and broke the surface the current had taken me and I had to fin like crazy to make the back of the RIB, resolve the dry glove problem and get to the front for the anchor line.

Signals exchanged and descent commenced we made our way down the line keen to see whether we were going to be lucky enough to find the wreck on the first attempt.

The viz was pretty good but the current was quite strong and as we got closer to the bottom we realised it was HMS Seabed we were looking at not SS Sutton but what a seabed, it was littered with brittle stars as far as the eye could see (which was about 10m).


(sorry it's a bit blurry but I was busy trying to fin against the current)

We looked at each other, shrugged and decided to follow the trail of the anchor where it had been dragged through the sand in the hope that at the end of it we would find the wreck. I took this opportunity to get some well needed practice in with my new camera and having been given a very quick 'manual white balance' tutorial on the RIB pre dive I was keen to see whether my photos would be any better than my last attempt.



1st piccie - not so good, too much back scatter and can barely make out Simon



2nd one was much better - am sure someone will be able to tell me (again) what fish this is but I just hear "fish" and the rest is blah blah blah :)

From the moment we left the anchor line we were finning like crazy just to get anywhere and I was sure that my SAC was going through the roof so I keep a closer than normal eye on my gauge and wonder if the wreck is just up ahead.

Then I get a light beam flashing in my vision and turn to see what has got Simon all of a frenzy and he points to this thing and is soooo exciting I wonder what it is I am seeing. At first I think it's a baby shark but then I realise it's not but it is something mahoosive so I grab for the camera and get this shot



before it starts to swim away



turns out later that it's one of the biggest dogfishes Simon has ever seen, to me it's just a fish lol

swimming on, I get some more photo practice in with the manual white balance even contemplate setting the white balanace off Simon's twin (Euro's sans boots - he is after all GUE, hehe) but they keep coming out a little blurry



Maybe I need to adjust the ISO speed (it's currently set on ISO80)?

So at this point I think time to go up and signal to Simon and turn to head back to the anchor drifting back at a fair old speed however I do manage to get this shot of an anenome with Simon's light illuminating it from the side.



In no time at all we see the anchor and make a grab for it before we miss it, once on the line Simon spots a crab so I quickly hone in for one last shot at depth.



We make our way up to the first stop at 10m and then on up to 6m for the next stop. Looking up we can see the bottom of the RIB and as Mark leans over the front of the RIB and looks down he can see the two of us lying on our backs holding the line looking at the surface, chilled and at peace with the world waving up at him and he waves back.



Then comes the fun bit, getting back in the RIB, I listen to the instructions and dekit and de-tangle myself from the twins and then it's time for the duck down and pull yourself up while finning trick. A few moments later and I am safely on board, fins off and sitting on the other side I watch while Simon does it like it's 2nd nature, grrrrrr lol!

A quick call to a local skipper for some assistance in locating the wreck using his bigger and better sonic thingamybob and we have alternative co-ordinates to dive, anchor over, kit on and in we go for round two. This time taking the buoy line with us (Simon was in charge of that with me just observing) so if we find it we can tie off straight away and then enjoy diving the wreck while we are there.

Again backflip off the RIB and again a dry glove issue and current. This time the current was so strong I could barely make any headway back to the rear of the RIB so a line was thrown in to tow me back - joy.

A quick adjustment to the dry gloves (Mark is defo the man to ask if you need fit dry gloves fitted properly) and a hand over hand crawl up the side of the RIB while sucking thro my air like a good un and I reach the anchor line and signal to start descending. Descending at a 90 degree angle from the line, I place one hand over the other and drag myself down the line fighting against the current that is battering away at us.

Somewhere in my brain it was telling me that much as I hoped that the current would ease as we got lower down I really know it was just not going to happen but keen to see if the wreck was at the bottom and tie the line in we carried on.

Alas we got to visit HMS Seabed again which was apparently strew with brittle stars too but I only recall seing sand and no wreck, I must have finally found my narcosis level lol.

We decide that it's just not possible to swim any direction off the anchor line in those conditions and signal to ascend and turn to begin the ascent when I discover what it feels like to ride an elevator under water.

No finning or effort was required all we had to do was simply hold on to the anchorline and the current pulled us up the line, as I only dive with air in my dry suit not my wing I was happily automatically venting air all the way up however Simon had to stop a couple of time to get rid of some air out of the wing. He also had to make a concious effort not to breath out while looking right at me coz I would get a face full of bubbles as the current took them horizontal instead of vertical.

Didn't get any piccies on the 2nd dive and by the time I made it to the side of the RIB I was totally exhausted and not in the mood for dragging my sorry ar*e and twin set onto a RIB thankfully the crew were happy to oblige and drag me and my kit (seperately) into the RIB - I think I need to do some work on my upper body strength and stamia and before you ask yes Simon got back on board no trouble, everybody hates a show off, lol x.

As soon as we were on board, Dan the skipper, answered the coastguards call for assistance in determining whether there was a boat in distress in the Bay and shot off in search of the troubled boat.

Not sure what speed we were doing but it was damn good fun.
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Coastguard call and distress boat issue resolved (turned out to be the sun reflecting off a fishing boats glass windows that the member of the public had seen and mistaken for flares) we returned to shore for a bit of snorkelling without a snorkel (cause don't u know techies don't wear snorkels)



Having commented on Simon's perfect GUE trim in the water and made him laugh and swollow some sea water, see you really should wear a snorkell at all time, Simon then had even more fun doing backflips off the pontoon (and yes I did ask him if it was deep enough but secretly hoped it wasn't and he would landed face first into the sand and silt coz then I would could have got £250 from YBF)



Then headed off for some apres diving at the Cliffs hotel overlooking the Bay where myself and Simon took some of the most stunning sunset shots.











Camera envy kicked in for Simon as he has the same camera but one model down from mine and took gr8 pleasure in trying to figure out what was different before giving up and admitting mine was better and trying to sneak mine in his pocket

All in all a brilliant day, great diving, fabulous company and can't wait to do it all again next time.

Big thanks to Dan, Dan and Mark on Razorbill Ribs and Simon for being a gr8 buddy.
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Cheers for the report Jen, it was a cracking day to be out on the water.


I must say that the vis at the bottom was fab, and as you say, entirely unneccessary to have a torch. Considering the plankton and the depth (35m) I think that's pretty cool.

I loved the bottom life as well, and have never seen such a complete carpet of brittle stars. Also nice to see lots of plumose anenomies on the rocks on the bottom. Also I believe were some dahlias, beadlets and I think, firework anenomies.

The 'fish' is a male dragonet in mating colours and I think they are one of the prettiest fish in uk waters. Lots of them out on the pull with a couple of worried looking females around as well!

As for the dogfish (Bull Huss), I swear it was longer than me. I've never seen such a huge specimen.

It was lovely lying on our backs at 6m blowing bubble rings up to the watching crew. I just wish they had understood my sign language for "get the bloody kettle on you gits!"

Despite not finding the wreck, I really enjoyed the mooch on the seabed, helped by the abundant life and corking vis.
The second dive was certainly much more of a mission and the current a real challenge. Not helped by dragging a line down to bouy of the wreck. I suspect that had the tide been slack, we could have searched forward a bit and would probably have got to it. Oh well, maybe next time!

It was a corking day out, great weather, great company and I even enjoyed our trips to the seabed. I've got some pics of the octopus that Len kindly threw into the boat. Even got one of Dan desperately prying one off the hypalon tube after I mentioned the sharp beak and their penchant for rubber!

Have to do some more out here, just let us know when you want to pop back.
Cheers,

Simon
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I love the sunset photo with the spiky grass silhouette -- really striking image! The one below it with the vertical contrails coming down through the sky is great too.

Sounds like a good day's diving, dryglove and current issues notwithstanding! With your underwater pics, I like the side-lighting on the anemone, very artistic. (now can you really say you don't want an external strobe? ;) ) The crab is pretty good too. Awesome about the giant dogfish!

I think yes, you probably do need to up the ISO -- 80 is the very lowest setting on most cameras and is really best used when you have lots of light. Are you using program mode with custom WB? If the camera can't get enough light it will open the aperture further (meaning lower number, minimum on mine is 2.8 I think), but if it still can't get enough light it will drop the shutter speed which can result in blur from camera movement. You should be able to check what shutter speed your pics were taken on to see whether this is causing the blurriness in some of them. I think Mike Ward recommends keeping shutter speed 1/30 or greater (I try for 1/50, I have shaky hands like woa) for best results... in fact he used to have a page with lots of tips for compact photography but I can't find it right now, Google is not my friend. Anyway defo worth a read if you can find it.

The other thing that used to be a big source of blurriness in my pics (apart from me of course!) was the camera not having enough light to focus. This can be a problem particularly when zoomed in because I think zooming restricts the amount of light getting to the sensor, or something like that. (Don't ask me the technical stuff...) My photos got better when I stopped using the zoom and started getting way up close instead. Though not always possible of course, like with Huge Shark!

Glad you had such a nice day :)
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The one below it with the vertical contrails coming down through the sky is great too....
Whilst where we live is unspeakably lovely, we are on a flight path and the sky is usually littered with vapour trails....it was so unusual / nice to have clear skies when we launched from Porthgain last weekend....whilst the planes were still grounded.

Thanks for the report Jen...fab. Apparently Octopus don't have a rubber fetish....and yes i am gullible.

Dan :thumbsup:
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I love the sunset photo with the spiky grass silhouette -- really striking image! The one below it with the vertical contrails coming down through the sky is great too.
That was Simon messing about with my camera after he didn't believing me when I said the sunset mode is excellent.

Sounds like a good day's diving, dryglove and current issues notwithstanding!
Any day I can get out and dive is a good day. Roll on the summer...............

I like the side-lighting on the anemone, very artistic. (now can you really say you don't want an external strobe? ;) )
i am willing to try (almost) anything once

yes, you probably do need to up the ISO
ISO80 is my lowest setting so not sure how I can get it any lower

Are you using program mode with custom WB?
Yes the pictures taken that day were all with custom WB

I try for 1/50, I have shaky hands like woa
The camera has built in wobble reducer (not the technical term obviously)

This can be a problem particularly when zoomed in because I think zooming restricts the amount of light getting to the sensor, or something like that. (Don't ask me the technical stuff...) My photos got better when I stopped using the zoom and started getting way up close instead
I tend not to use the zoom as it's more to do with the amount of water between the lense and the subject which you just can't fix by zooming in

Still it's all good practice and I took a few more shots in very silty conditions Saturday and they weren't the best due to the settings. I have going to have to spend quite a considerable time getting used to the menu's and settings on my camera if I want to make sure I get some good shots in the UK conditions.
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The rampant current was precisely the reason my camera stayed in my drysuit pocket. You need a dive where the subjects are not passing you at 8 knots!

I must confess that the sunset mode is fab. For lower light stuff underwater I tend to go with video instead. At least until I sort some strobes.

S/
ISO80 is my lowest setting so not sure how I can get it any lower
what I meant was, you need to make it higher. Higher ISO = equivalent of faster-speed film. So for example if you took the same picture at (eg) F4.5 and 1/100 using first ISO 80 and then ISO 200, the second picture would come out a lot lighter. This means that to get a correctly exposed shot at higher ISO you can use shorter exposures and/or smaller apertures (higher F-number). If you are getting blurriness because of too-long exposures when shooting in program mode, increasing the ISO should help.

Yes the pictures taken that day were all with custom WB
It was more whether you were in program mode that I was wondering (though it's interesting to note that your camera incorporates the flash into its white-balancing; mine doesn't which means if you custom WB and then use flash everything comes out red!). Another recommendation that I was given is to use aperture priority mode (Av), set the aperture quite wide, increase the ISO until the shutter speed is fast enough to give a clear shot and then adjust the brightness of the shot using exposure compensation.

There are lots of people who could probably explain it way better than me but until they do, that's the best advice I've been given so far... :)

The camera has built in wobble reducer (not the technical term obviously)
hehe, image stabilisation? Yes so does mine but it's not always enough to overcome my wobbling! :)

Still it's all good practice and I took a few more shots in very silty conditions Saturday and they weren't the best due to the settings. I have going to have to spend quite a considerable time getting used to the menu's and settings on my camera if I want to make sure I get some good shots in the UK conditions.
Yep definitely good practice! I could really use more practice with mine too but haven't really had much chance on recent dives...
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It seems I mis-counted my dives and when I checked my log book a few days later it turns out HMS Seabed was my landmark dive, still at least it wasn't a quarry, lol
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Thanks for the report Jen...fab. Apparently Octopus don't have a rubber fetish....and yes i am gullible.

Dan :thumbsup:
I wouldn't have done the same as you and not taken the risk, they were determined 2 stick

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I wouldn't have done the same as you and not taken the risk, they were determined 2 stick

Jen,

Here i am trying to remove the offending octopus (and panicing mildly)....

Also, congrats on the landmark (or should that be sea mark?) dive...here is a nice photo of you on Razorbill from that momentous occasion ;)

Hope to see you on the 15th too!

Dan :thumbsup:

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Here i am trying to remove the offending octopus (and panicing mildly)....
It was quite amusing to watch your face change from enjoyment to sheer panic :):eek:mg::eek:

Also, congrats on the landmark (or should that be sea mark?) dive...here is a nice photo of you on Razorbill from that momentous occasion ;)
cheers and not a bad foto if I do say so myself, must have been before the fun started as my hair is dry, lol

Hope to see you on the 15th too!
have pm'd u ;)
Dan, I've emailed you a few more piccies I had of Neifion, let me know if you can't download them and I will send them another way.
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