Belmullet Dive Report April 28th – May 1st

Trip preparations

None of these trips happen without a lot of preparation work from a number of people. From accommodation to dive sites, conversations were well underway in early January. Without the engagement of a full team, dive trips do not happen. Equipment has to be in working order and prepped for transport and transported. Thanks to Jimmy, Luke, Sarah, and Dave for all their hard work and time preparing and towing boats and compressors. Thanks also to Christina and Ciaran for assisting with getting Lir and Danu from the mooring and ready for transport. Please do not be shy to offer your assistance when the call comes for future trips. An impromptu visit to Belmullet, the Mullet, the accommodation and the potential dive base at Portnafrankagh (Frenchport) pre the trip confirmed the suitability of all aspects of the weekend.

Boat Transport Based on a very wise suggestion from Luke, the boats were transported by Luke, Sarah and Joe on Thursday 27th of April. This proved to be very useful as it provided the opportunity to fuel, launch and moor the boats pre the arrival of the fill crew on Friday 28th. Friday 28th April The arrival of the full crew. Thirteen divers stayed at the comfortable Erris Head House and Apartment, and four stayed at the in the Western Stand Hotel. Both venues were excellent and warrant consideration for future use, in particular the Erris Head House and Apartment.

Day 2 (29th of April)

An early start, thanks for the sausages Stan and to all those that made breakfast on consecutive days, Brian and Joe. Stan and Maria took the opportunity to complete the 5 km hike around the Erris Head.

By 9:00 AM divers were already at Portnafrankagh for the first stick with kitted brief at 9:30 AM. Second stick had their kitted brief at 11:30 AM. Weather conditions were good and the ocean was relatively calm. Our morning dive site was at Scotchport, a sheltered inlet (in so far as any inlet is protected from certain winds on this rugged coast).

The afternoon dives went to Donamo point. Below is the outline of our dive sites for the day.

In between sticks, it was all hands on deck emptying boats, fueling boats, filling bottles and enjoying a sandwich or two in the intermittent sunshine. The DO, Joe wishes to acknowledge the hard work, the solid advice and the good will of all those participating on the weekend.

The trips to the dive sites were short with the inlet at Portnafrankagh providing a protected area and a near perfect location for dive operations.

While the visibility was not at the standard expected, partially due to one of the largest plankton blooms I (Joe) had ever seen. The sites themselves provided spectacular topography with gullies, walls and swim throughs. There were even some caves to be found and explored.

Launching from Portnafrankagh was comfortable, with access and egress for boats and parking relatively easy. In addition, the location presented a number of options for compressor location without any chance of disrupting the local population.

During the morning dive me and my dive buddy DaveM, got very lucky and managed to take the photograph and a video of an octopus.

Our second dive was adventurous as well, we managed to find an underwater cave and to explore some very impressive canyons. It was my first ever experience of cave diving at depth of 20-25 meters.

Day 3 (30th of April)

Our second dive day started with Joe and Brian preparing sausages, bacon and pudding.

Based on the sea conditions it was decided to cautiously look at the sites further afield such as Eagle Island and a particularly interesting sea shoal, Edye Rock. Unfortunately, it was the safer option to look at safer more sheltered sites. This decision was based on local knowledge (thanks PJ from the Grainne Uaile SAC) and our own observations. We had only one dive stick this time, so there were a lot of people on boats and the ocean was pretty rough. Based on PJ’s advise we went to Inishglora (a group of islands south of Frenchport) in the morning. For some, those that got off the kelp bed, the dive was spectacular, again with lots of walls and gullies. As we could not dive Eagle Island we headed for the North head of Frenchport (Portnafrankagh) in the afternoon.

Luke, Joe and Sarah had planned this contingency location when mooring the ribs on Friday. Thanks very much for being so thoughtful.

Me and my dive buddy Joe, had two amazing dives. The first dive on Inishglora we had with Luke and PJ, a local fisherman and a mate of a dive buddy of Joe’s from the Grainne Uaile SAC. PJ helped us a lot regarding advise about dive sites, facilitated storage of trailers, and gave advice regarding moorings that were safe to use. Our dive together was amazing, we had great time exploring the canyons and managed to get to 30m depth.

The second dive was also great and we spotted a large tom-pot blenny, uncharacteristically swimming about in the open, some hake and walls of jewel anemones.

Based on tides, the towing schedule and how tired everybody was after a full on weekend it was decided to remove the boats form the water on the tide.

In the evening, the crew had some woolly bear pints at Lavelle’s and for the second night, a great dinner, drinks and music in the Western Stand Hotel.

Day 4 (1st of May)

Boats and compressors loaded and ready for off all divers departed thinking about the next trip, can’t wait. Thanks all for your participation.