West Wales St Ann’s Head. Pembroke Dolphin Dive
Painted from memory of this under water dive scene experience at St Ann’s Head Pembroke.West Wales. Wreck of the Baraminto sunk in 1943. Later on a further dive Author worked on retrieving the engine telegraph and porthole. Diving buddy Alan Hartland. All of our happy band of pirates were Diving members of the British Sub Aqua Club. Buddy on this dive was Joe O’Brien. Joe is in possession of this Painting. Joe now lives in the Blackwood or Bargoed area of the Valleys. Retired chief fire officer.
A dive experience – In the late circa 1945 years.
Serving in the Royal Artillery in Ceylon Mog in his leisure time engage in some sub aqua swimming. One of the first lesson Mog learnt was on being told by one of the Ceylonese locals who on watching Mog and friends snorkeling with just a tube. Warned about the sucker-fish that would suck ones eyes out the fish going for the attraction of the whites of the eyes. Don’t open your eyes swimming under water was the warning given by these knowledgeable locals. With no mask the swimming underwater was abandoned. Many years later however Mog became interested and engaged actively in the snorkel diving when the progress of mask and snorkel gear became more available. The regained interest occurred while on a holiday visit to first Jersey then Spain. Being good at swimming not being his strong point or ever being the perfect example of a good diver considering the fact that Mog was in the age group of forty-three. Possessed own ski boat enabled regular use to become quite proficient at water skiing. This added to the learning process of experience of the sea conditions. Introduction to the BSAC club diving training program took place at the Maindee bathes on a Thursday evening.
Under the watchful eye of the diving officer at that time Bill Berdett It was pretty hard going at first for Mog to swim and get fit. Swimming to reduce the beer potbelly and after much training and puffing and blowing diving to the bottom of the pool and all the stipulated by the basic book procedure in progression to become a qualified snorkel diver. Mog made many friends and enjoyed the after training meeting at the Then RAF Club in Park square. The indulgent in a few drinks sometimes cancelled out the nights good training work. Eventually Mog passed out as a snorkel diver and went on and qualified to take the Third class divers test.
Training in design is laid out by Diving manual BASC book instruction. Practical Progression through each test enables one to be fit and trained to take the next test and finale to obtain a qualified diver stamp in ones log book of ones ability. Being an Hazardous sport Mog found that this proper training from a club like the BASC to protect ones life in an emergency this type of training will bring you through. Many dive trips to various locations were made over a period time with various diving club members. Mog then on a team up with Orrin and Tort a previous dive they had located a wreck at St Ann’s Head Pembroke. At that time Mog was only a novice diver. The recalled the follow up dive on this wreck was one hell of an experience.
Mog arranged to take his fourteen-foot ski boat the Tiger Shark. From Newport to Pembroke West Wales the journey took some three hours this being the early years of 1972 when Little or no motor way to the west of Wales was built or fully opened up. Mog made up the team of three divers and they made their base at Hasguards Cross an old second world war service camp which now had been made into a caravan park arriving and booking in for a short overnight stay. All decided on going out for a few refreshing pints of ale and the trip to Broadhaven with its nice wide beach with and its public house or hotel. Settled in the center of the fore shore with road and Car Park near at hand to the road, which made it hard not to miss. After our allotted agreed few jars and a quiet start. Orrin one of the trio met one of his work mate friends slowly the pace increased on the drinking Orrin was having a great time well oiled up and pissed in a nice sort of way.
Torts after discussion with Mog for both to try persuade Orrin to return to base camp but to no avail. Orrin he was happy as a frog in a pond of female frogs with no tongues swilling the ale. Orrin was friendly abusive subject to calling of a few names calling Mog Mucus and laughing like coco the clown. The name Mucus is a little tale in itself the nickname. Referring back to the early training session of swimming at the Newport Maindee baths. Mog’s philosophy for an hour swimming Breast and back stroke and float making for an hour at training. This would improve his survival factor in the open sea. With a wet suit worn one could survive and endure longer. For Mog was not a strong swimmer and this would increase his stamina. Once a week around the middle day when it was relatively quiet at the bathes Mog would meet his friends after doing an early six till two shift. One of the friends a rigger at the Llanwern steel works a big Lug of a feller with a heart of gold and slung podging spanners to match. Plus the added joking and ribbing from Rigger workmates and the like of about sharing a bottle added to the remarks of any mishap or experience no secrets were able to be from kept from workmates about ones actions at work or play.
Most steelworkers would understand this humour. Mog had dived to the bottom of the pool on coming to the surface the big lug remarked What’s That on your face Mog. Its MUCUS! Hanging on to the word that particular catch word that sometime stick out in minds like a sore thumb. Of coarse referring to the lectures on the equalising of pressures when diving of sinuses and the effect on eardrums and of coarse mucus when one has a cold came up. That name stuck to Mog like baby’s excreta to a napkin. Moc had in the past blown off the bottom half of his nose in an explosion when making bombs with carbide and water in a flagon beer bottle. On the carbide coming in contact with the water gives off an explosive gas. The stopper must be screwed down quick. The bottom half was cut into the face level but sown back on. Middle inside part of the nose was a hole and a ring could go trough like a bullring going through a bull’s nose. The abusive name calling cared not Mog and finale both Tort and he returned to the Hasguard caravan base but after and hour both were concerned that all had come has a team and we should stay together a team.
Going back to Broad haven for our friend Orrin who now was full with ale to the gunwales and true to likeness to our Celtic ancestors of drinking and cavorting Mog did not take much persuasion to join having another couple for the road to keep the party going. The finale arriving back at caravan and bed down now very late or early morning the stars were fading fast in the sky. The morning after the night of hammers in the head and all symptoms of night before mouth like an Arabs under pants the only diving Mog wanted was to dive back into bed. Some how a breakfast of fried greasy bacon and eggs was hustled up. Equipment and boat gear we made the journey to the little village of Dale and at the slipway a very nice day with little light wind. The craft launched Trailer being left at the top of the ramp spare ground. Carried and stowed our bottles down the ramp into the boat at the water edge. Mog noticed a very attractive female appeared from among the various Yacht at mooring in the bay.
What looked like a chamber pot pram dingy? Some comment spoken that it was Mills Walker on one of her attempt On an Atlantic or sea crossing at the water edge various stores of items of food were loaded. Stores for her adventure as a lone yacht woman. Surely it must have been her. Our engine started and last man ashore pushed us off and climbed aboard. We made a steady speed towards our intended dive target St Ann’s Head. Hugging the rocky coastline past Dale fort then sandy bay breaking out into open sea at the point. Selection of dive spot some twenty-five yards from off shore.
The lighthouse of St Ann’s far above our boat perched on the steep rocky cliff. Orrin let go the anchor and Mog cut the engine. Prepare to dive. We had all already dressed in our wet suits prior to launching. My buddy diver on this dive being Orrin. Mog was feeling queasy from last nights beer a few greasy bacon oil regurgitated patches floated from the breakfast on the surface of the clear blue sea calming the water.
Over the side backwards and down the anchor rope Mog’s mask-leaking Mog cleared the water by snorting through the nose. Head back the pressure of water forcing mask tight on to face. Now down to about forty feet at sixteen we bottomed out on kelp garden among large strewn rocks littered brass the ship bow and anchor chains. Trailing further into the blue darkening as the depths increased beyond view. This graveyard of many ships the rusting plates twisted and sharp. Mog ripped of a tube of copper and brass flange. Orrin beckoned to go this way we floated slowly fining over a steam winch its big end assembly brass bearing he tried to free Orrin bent it back and forth and it broke off. Moc now with the extra piece of loot and carrying Over twenty pounds of lead weight belt plus the bottle weight became low on air at thirty atmosphere signaled Orrin to surface. The beautiful sight and wonderful feeling swimming in pace to the sight those small bubbles. As the large and small bubbles slowly go to surface from ones set. Lovely sight of color blue of the last few feet as one breaks the surface. Still on air Orrin and Mog surfaced.
Mog was using a Merlin mark six-twin rubber hose mouthpiece set. Both exchanged okay signal. Orrin made off to the anchored boat. Tort had gone under off diving underwater on his own and left the boat untended No diver flag being displayed or any manned boat cover. Mog was very heavy in the water. Made to change buoyancy by opening valve on buoyancy jacket compressed cylinder blowing some air into my ABLJ spirotechnique. Okay some air in spiro jacket. Mog still clutching the scrap brass with one hand close to body. Changing to snorkel from mouth piece of Merlin set Mocs mouth just getting teeth onto snorkel mouth piece the whole mouthpiece came away from the tube falling apart at the same moment the drain plug on the spiro blows out flat goes the spiro.
I start to sink below the surface panic! Finning frantically blue beautiful water Mog was swallowing and spluttering it. The fancy valve snorkel mouthpiece in Mog’s mouth like a dummy in what seemed eternity was spit out? Mog in more panic grasps for the Merlin mouths piece of the set where the hell is the mouthpiece groping with his spare hand. But now under the surface finally the struggle still holding those bloody two brass objects. Mog snags the weight belt and flips up the flip release that had a flip release on the belt which Mog had made and designed for himself. At same time Merlin mouthpiece enters Mog’s mouth. The weight belt ditches and plunges to the bottom. Now on the surface still choking from water Mog could only try to drink to clear the mouthpiece of seawater spit farted and did everything to clear that choking feeling.
Mog now more buoyant turned on his back and the diaphragm under water pressure gave some air to clear the tubes of the Merlin set when mouthpiece held up above the diaphragm. Mog had recovered and made for the anchored boat Orrin was unaware what had happened in that short space of time and thought Mog was behind him swimming to the boat. Orrin started Helping the old feller aboard Mog still had the brass and handed it to Orrin already on-board. Mog knew Orrin wondered what had happened to the weight belt – Mo never recounted any account of that experience.