IT WAS SEPTEMBER 1993 AND TOGETHER WITH MY GIRLFRIEND I ARRIVED AT VILLAMENDHOO ISLAND IN THE MALDIVES.
I WAS EXCITEDLY LOOKING FORWARD TO SOME BIG GAME FISHING, BUT MY MOOD QUICKLY CHANGED WHEN UPON CHECKING IN AT RECEPTION THERE WAS A NOTICE SAYING BIG GAME FISHING WAS CANCELLED INDEFINETLY.
So after about a 20 hours trip here I was stuck with nothing to do. After a couple of nights whining and moaning our relationship was at breaking that’s when it happened.
My wife noticed people walking along the beach with snorkels, flippers, googles and what looked like mini televisions on their wrists, so upon following them she discovered the Island dive school. In her last ditch efforts to put a smile on my face and save the holiday from being a disaster she suggested we go down for a free try dive. By this time I felt guilty about my selfish black mood so thought to myself “What the heck” I’ve got nothing to do anyway so I’ll give it a go.
Next day we turned up and was geared up and we learned that it was fins and masks, and not flippers and goggles. So there we were all kitted out in dive school gear and walking into the Indian Ocean on a shore try dive.
Wow! As soon as I put my face underwater I was hooked, crystal clear water which stretched out into the ocean. Lots of colorful fish and reef life, that was it for me and my wife, we were captured by the delights of the underwater world. What followed was we enrolled in and qualified from a CMAS dive course which ended up with us both being allowed to go diving the house reef.
From then on in there was no stopping us. We bought all our own gear incl. those mini televisions we had seen = dive computers and we were planning our next DIVING holiday which took us to the Red sea.
After a couple more dive holidays my wife called it a day, but my initial reluctance to take up diving was taken over by an overwhelming desire to dive anywhere I could, of course in order to get the best opportunities to dive I had to join various originations here in Scotland it was Scotsac and in some countries they demanded PADI so I qualified with both. I’ve done a drysuit course which is needed when diving the cold waters in and around Scotland.
BECOMING A COMMERCIAL DIVER
Even at this point I had no intention of becoming or even knew what a commercial diver was. It was a few years after that when I met a guy at the local gym who had a company van with a dive helmet logo on it. He told me he had a marine contractor/diving business in Leith docks 10 minutes from my house. So when he invited me down to have a look at real divers, and get a try dive in the training tank. I simply couldn’t refuse.
Upon arriving the next morning I was instantly aware that this is not hobby diving this is real work, there were lorries loaded up with all kinds of equipment heading to jobs all over the UK. There were Decompression chambers, umbilical cables were neatly laid out all around, Kirby Morgan dive helmets were in wooden boxes, I was surprised at how heavy they were: 25kgs.
Welding and ultra-thermic burning cables lay ready to be loaded onto trucks and the place was buzzing with divers signing out for equipment and receiving job instructions, I really felt like I was getting in the way, but guess what:
Yes I went onto enroll on a commercial dive course and gain my tickets to a whole new world of underwater working for a living. My wife and I often reflect on what would have happened if I had got my Big game fishing on that trip to the Maldives all those years ago.