CELTIC DIVINGS DIVE-BOAT WANDRIN STAR chugs slowly north-east from Fishguard, deep into Cardigan Bay. Punching the tide, it will take us three hours to get to the wreck of the Sutton, which foundered in altogether less clement weather on 27 November, 1925, while carrying lead and zinc ores from Aberystwyth to Antwerp.
The sun is shining and the sea, if not as calm as it can get, is pretty close to it.
The big steel hull barely notices the waves as skipper Mark Deane uncovers the barbecue and sets the sausages cooking. Is Marks singing voice better than that of Lee Marvin is the topic of conversation.
Once the smell of sausage starts to waft across the deck, the subject moves on to Is that Pinky or Perky were eating today Mark had raised a couple of piglets on his smallholding, but had refused to name them before they became pork chops and sausages. Not that it prevented the rest of us divers from proposing names.
At 485 tons, the steam coaster Sutton is fairly small, but shows up easily on the echo-sounder against a flat gravel seabed. Not that we really need it today. They left a small buoy tied to the stern a couple of weeks ago, and the echo-sounder is merely to confirm that were not about to dive a lobster pot.
Even punching the tide we arrive early, with plenty of time for kitting up. While there are still tides here, they are not as strong as further south towards St Davids, or further north towards the Lleyn Peninsula and Anglesey.
On a day like this, we can take turns to dive, and even Mark can get a dive in as one of the others takes a turn to mind Wandrin Star.
With this in mind, the first pair are in and down the line while the current is still running a little, a good 15 minutes before I dive.
The stern of the Sutton is the highest point of the wreck, capsized to port and rising a good 5m from the 31m seabed. It must be my lucky day, because we have some of the best visibility anyone can remember for the wreck. I can take in the whole of the anemone-covered stern in one glance, then skip past the engine, as someone investigating the debris is throwing up considerable silt.
The Sutton has a classic small coaster layout. The engine is located aft, immediately inside from the propeller, with a small deckhouse above it. The wheelhouse and bridge are then halfway forward between the two holds.
As I pass the remains of the aft deckhouse and funnel, broken across the seabed, Mark is coming back the other way, returning to the shot and to the wheel of Wandrin Star.
I know some skippers who cant bear to leave anyone else in charge of the boat while they dive, no matter how well qualified, but Mark is pretty chilled out about it. Jim at the wheel helped Mark bring Wandrin Star round from the east coast, where he purchased it a few years ago, and has been ships engineer ever since. She couldnt be in better hands.
Having reached the bow, nicely marked by a section of open framework and a cluster of cuttlefish eggs, I venture further, drawn by a shadow in the distance. It turns out to be a seemingly endless carpet of brittlestars. They like the sand and gravel, but not immediately surrounding the wreck.
Off the deck side I have a look for what might have fallen to the seabed.
A scattered pile of rocks seems out of place on the gravel, until I remember that the Sutton was carrying a cargo of ore. I am then surprised that there is not more ore to be found.
All the other signs are that the Sutton has not been salvaged. Perhaps the cargo spilled further away as it shifted and caused the Sutton to sink, or it could be buried beneath the collapsed hull.
Then again, it may have rolled and been reduced to gravel, which is what the brittlestars dont like about the immediate vicinity of the wreck.

THE CLOUD OF SILT BY THE ENGINE and boiler has now cleared. Space was at a premium on these small coasters, and many were fitted with two-cylinder compound engines, because they were more compact than the newer and more efficient three-cylinder triple-expansion engines.
Sutton is atypical, the triple-expansion engine squashed in tight behind a single boiler, and now well broken.
I ascend the stern for a last look at the spread of plumose anemones before returning to the line and a short decompression. Jim descends past me to the wreck, so Mark must be back at the wheel to handle pick-ups for the rest of us.
The wreck of the Sutton is located in the Cardigan Bay firing range, so before departing Mark had telephoned range control to see what its plans were for the day, and whether we would be able to dive at slack water.
The firing range is not to be taken lightly. Another wreck we dive is HMS Whirlwind, a decommissioned frigate shot full of holes by blank ammunition while in use as a range target, left moored overnight and sunk by the morning of 1 November, 1974.
HMS Whirlwind has quite a history, beginning life as R87, a 1710-ton World War Two W-class emergency-build destroyer that entered service with the Royal Navy home fleet on 20 July, 1944.
In 1945 Whirlwind transferred to the Far East, taking part in Operation Meridian and escorting the carriers that launched air attacks on Japanese-held oil refineries in Indonesia, then supporting the reoccupation of Hong Kong and the landings on Okinawa.
After the war, strategic priorities changed and the Royal Navy suddenly found itself needing large numbers of anti-submarine frigates to combat the threat of Russian submarines. New frigates were commissioned, but they took time to build, and to fill the gap a number of wartime destroyers were converted.
In 1953, HMS Whirlwind was stripped down to hull and engines, the forecastle was extended aft, a new superstructure was fitted, with latticework masts to accommodate the quantity of radar and communication antennas warships now required, and new armament optimised for hunting submarines and defending from air attack was fitted.
To match her new role as a Type 15 anti-submarine frigate, she re-entered service as F187. Displacement was now 2300 tons, the increase having more to do with how tonnage is measured than any increased draught.
This time we leave later in the day, travelling from Fishguard with the tide, but hugging the coastline before heading out to catch slack water after the range schedule finishes in mid-afternoon.
We arrive with time to spare, and again Celtic Diving has a small buoy marking the site, so we dont need to drop a shotline.

THE ADMIRALTY REPORT SAYS that, soon after sinking, HMS Whirlwind was intact on its port side, and salvage work not expected for some time.
The report was last updated in 1989, since when the wreck has broken in several places. The bow stands above the seabed on its port side, deck almost vertical, reaching from 36m to 30m.
The stern has rolled further, and is almost completely inverted.
Nevertheless, following the seabed along the deck side of the wreck I can easily recognise it as a frigate from the armaments and masts.
Forward of the bridge is a twin 40mm Bofors anti-aircraft gun turret, then, aft, a twin 4in gun turret.
Finally, beneath the now-overturned stern are the almost-hidden tubes of the starboard Squid anti-submarine mortar; a triple-tube, wide-bore mortar for firing depth charges. HMS Whirlwind had two of these, but the matching weapon on the port side is buried beneath the hull.
The big latticed main mast is still intact just behind the bridge. I suspect that radar and radio systems were removed before HMS Whirlwind was used as a target.
Squarer latticed structures close to the bow and stern are additions made by the firing range to support target markers, and nothing to do with the original ship.
From the Squid mortar, I cross the transom stern beneath a shoal of pollack that hover off the end of the wreck.
The propellers have been salvaged and the shafts dislodged from the A-frames that used to support them. Nevertheless, shafts are the links between propellers and engines, so I follow them forward to the intact turbine casings.
Salvage has been very limited, perhaps restricted to the propellers, with the damage to the hull being a result of collapse due to time and tide.
In my mind there are wrecks, great wrecks, and truly inspiring wrecks to dive. HMS Whirlwind easily falls into the inspiring category.
After warships, another divers favourite are liners. The bonus dive is a convenient liner wreck tucked in against Cardigan island, shallow enough and sufficiently sheltered from the tide to be a convenient second dive. We dived it after the Sutton, as we were too late in the day to do it after HMS Whirlwind.
The Herefordshire was a 5905-ton cargo liner, a fast ship carrying a mix of cargo and passengers to a schedule. She entered service with the Bibby Line in 1905. On 15 March, 1934, she was under tow from Dartmouth to the breakers yard in the Clyde.
In hurricane force winds, the tow lines broke and the Herefordshire drifted ashore on Cardigan Island. The four-man towing crew was rescued by breeches buoy from the mainland cliffs.
Much of the Herefordshire was salvaged in situ and sold locally, including the luxury fittings and furnishings. The wreck now lies broken against the shallow reef down to 12m.
Mark drops the anchor from Wandrin Star just offshore from the wreck. Close to the rocks and the Teifi river, visibility is a pale shadow of that further offshore.
I follow the pebbles and rocks in until I encounter wreckage and turn left for the stern.

I AM HALF-EXPECTING TO SEE only splattered scraps among the rocks and kelp, but am pleasantly surprised by the amount of wreckage and recognisable features. First some cargo winches, then four boilers tumbled out from the main body of the wreck, with fractured steam pipes leading a scattered trail towards the engines.
The broken pistons and bent connecting rods confuse me by their sheer quantity, until I remember that the Herefordshire was powered by two shafts of quadruple-expansion engines.
Thats eight pistons in total, and five more than are found on the more usual single shaft of a triple-expansion steam engine.
The two crankshafts in turn lead to two thrust-bearings and propeller-shafts. The shafts tail-ends wedge up into a rocky gully.
In 1966, Llanelly BSAC purchased the wreck, but I suspect that the propellers were salvaged long before this.
Between the propshafts is a huge steering quadrant and the top of the rudder shaft, the lower part broken off.
In addition to all the usual reef life, the wreck seems to be infested with spider-crabs. They are everywhere: on top of the boilers, in among broken plates, climbing over bearing blocks from the crankshafts and waving at me from a corner of the steering quadrant.
There are even some sections of wooden decking, partly covered by sand, and intact sections of railing. The Herefordshire is not in Whirlwinds league, but its a worthwhile second dive, and would make an entertaining first dive for those not qualified to go deeper.
The wrecks in Cardigan Bay dont stop with these three; there are more in sport-diving depths.
With luck, by the time I am next in the area, they will have a buoy on the Serula, a 1388-ton steamship torpedoed in 1918 and, according to Admiralty records, undived in 40m.

FACTFILE
GETTING THERE: Follow the M4 and A40 to Fishguard and on to Goodwick (where the ferry terminal is). Celtic Diving is next to the Ocean Lab and the tourist information centre on the waterfront.
DIVING & AIR: Celtic Diving, 01348 871938, www.celticdiving.co.uk.
ACCOMMODATION: There are four-bed bunk-rooms for up to 20 at Celtic Diving.
FURTHER INFORMATION: Admiralty Chart 1973, Cardigan Bay, Southern Part. Ordnance Survey Map 157, St Davids and Haverfordwest Area. Shipwrecks Around Wales Volume 1, Tom Bennett.