Perhaps I have gypsy blood? I know that when I’m in one place for too long that I start feeling an itch to go! I’ve been fortunate to have visited 29 countries (so far). I’ve spent almost 6 years in the Middle East. I lived in Japan for 3 years. Between October 2015 and July 2017 I spent roughly 14 months in the Philippines and completed around a 190 dives in spite of missing almost 4 months due to a heart attack. I suffered the heart attack in November 2016 at the airport in Singapore just before boarding my flight to Manila. I was on my way back to the Philippines after a 2 month break in the US. (You can read about the whole process as I made my way back to diving here on my blog).
I was cleared to dive in March 2017 and picked up where I left off. In Just 3 months I dived Puerto Galera, Subic Bay, Malapascua Island, Moalboal, Panglao Island, Dumaguete/Dauin/Apo Island, Anilao, and El Nido. I also traveled to Micronesia and dived Chuuk Lagoon. Since returning to the US in July I’ve dived the Texas Clipper off South Padre Island in Texas, The USS Oriskany off Pensacola, Florida, and the USS Spiegel Grove near Key Largo, Florida. I also dived for fossils off Venice, Florida and made dives with sharks and goliath groupers off Palm Beach County, Florida. Life continues and I’m always searching for my next adventure!
It’s a big world out there and the reality is I would need a dozen lifetimes to see and experience the things I’ve thought about! We only get one life though. I intend to make the best of mine!
I was born and raised in Texas. Even though I grew up far from the ocean, I became interested in scuba diving as a boy. I remember every day when I was in elementary school, I would come straight home from school to watch Sea Hunt re-runs on television starring Lloyd Bridges as the fictional Mike Nelson.
This led me to the local library where I began to devour every book I could find on diving and the ocean world. One of the first books I read was “Silent World” by Jacques-Yves Cousteau the co-inventor of SCUBA. (I was surprised to discover recently that is no longer taught in the Open Water scuba course!). The world I read about seemed like a magical place to me! Later I would sit with rapt attention watching the real life adventures of the Calypso and her crew on television.
I joined the US Navy in December 1976 when I was 18. After finishing boot camp and apprenticeship training I was assigned to the USS Nimitz CVN-68 homeported in Norfolk, Virginia. One day while riding a bus to Virginia Beach with a couple of my buddies, I spied a dive shop out the window. I made them get off there so I could go in and I immediately signed up for lessons.
That was in July 1977. I finished the classroom and pool sessions, but unfortunately due to my ships underway schedule, I failed to complete all my open water dives before leaving for a 9 month deployment. When we returned the dive shop was out of business! It would be January 1982 before I would finally receive my Open Water certification card from Jim Hollis’s Scuba World while stationed in Orlando, Florida.
Being stationed in Florida I took advantage of the many great diving opportunities I had there over the 21 months until I returned to sea duty. By the time I returned to sea duty, I had probably 40-50 dives. There were many places I could dive in Florida that didn’t require a boat and I took advantage!
When I left the Navy in 1986 I moved back to Florida. I earned my Advanced Open Water and Cavern Diver specialty that first year with Donna Askew at Northwest Divers and I continued diving all around the state. Gradually though my career and other pursuits got in the way and by the mid 90’s (with over 200 dives at that point) I had stopped diving all together. I suspect there are others who can “relate” to this!
I returned to active duty in November 2001. I was initially stationed in Virginia. I was there until 2004 when I transferred to Bahrain. After that I went to Japan and was stationed there from 2007-2010.
It was while stationed in Japan that finally, after a VERY long break, I started diving again. In May 2007 I made my first trip to the Philippines. I did only a handful of dives, but I remember saying to myself, “Hey! I remember I use to really enjoy doing this”!
I returned to Japan, ordered dive gear online, and joined the dive club on base. I was very active with the dive club and over the next 2 1/2 years I would complete nearly a 100 dives in Japan alone.
I made trips to Okinawa and Guam as well as 4 more trips to the Philippines before I transferred to San Diego back in the US in early 2010. I earned my Rescue Diver certification during my second trip to the Philippines along with Enriched Air and Wreck Diver specialties. Diving in the winter in Japan is dry suit diving or 7mm wetsuit. Learning to dive in a dry suit came in handy when I got to San Diego!
I became a PADI Divemaster in October 2009. My friend Greg Andreoni who I met through the dive club is a PADI IDC Staff Instructor. I was initially not that interested as I just wanted to dive, but he convinced me the knowledge and experience I would gain through completion of the program would be a good thing. It was a great experience and I’ve never regretted following his advice. I really enjoyed working with students during my Divemaster training and although I’m retired now, I’ve not ruled out becoming an instructor.
Given the great scuba diving in the Philippines, it’s probably no surprise to people who know me well, that I ended up there for an extended period. I used to joke that when I retired, I was going to move to the Philippines and be a “professional dive bum”! The Philippines have some of the best scuba diving in the world and that played a large part in my choosing to spend so much time there. After spending some time at home, I’m expecting to finally do my IDC and become an instructor later this year. After that I’m planning to live in Guam for at least a year. Guam I believe will make an excellent base to dive all of Micronesia. It’s also a fairly short flight to the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia. I’m excited about the opportunities that await!
Life I’ve discovered really is an adventure and I’ve been very fortunate. I’m looking forward to further adventures here on our blue planet!