I began diving in earnest in October 1991 when I moved to the British Virgin Islands. I was fortunate to be surrounded by truly passionate, professional divers.
First among them was Jim & Odile Scheiner of Rainbow Visions Photography; Jim's PADI instructor card was numbered in the first 100 issued. Jim's love of diving and skill as an underwater photographer is unparalleled.
I went from having 20 dives previously in my whole diving career to diving 3 times a day, 6 days a week. I would go on to dive almost every day for the next 7 years.
I racked up 1,200 dives on the RMS Rhone in my first two years and would often spend my days off diving so I could see other dive sites. I was in heaven; it didn't matter to me that I was diving the same site every day over and over. It allowed me to hone both my diving and underwater video skills.
I joined the live aboard dive vessel "Cuan Law" (ocean mountain in Scottish) as a dive instructor in 1993 and spent the next 4-1/2 years adventure diving around the BVI and several weeks a year "down island" as far as Grenada. The highlight of every one of these trips was getting to Saba which has some of the best diving in the entire Caribbean. "Cuan Law" was one of only two operations outside Saba that were authorized to dive there independently of local dive operations (the other being the "Caribbean Explorer").
As one of the most spacious, luxurious live aboard dive vessels in the business, "Cuan Law" was almost always booked to capacity with 20 divers per week and over 40 weeks per year. Our safety record during that period was unblemished.
From 2003 through 2008, my wife Charlotte and I would spend our winters back in the BVI teaching diving and guiding dives with "Blue Water Divers" out of Nanny Cay. Another 1,200 or so dives guiding divers of all ages and experience levels.
A special shout out to Alan and Eva Baskin of "Baskin in the Sun", Sue Thompson, Randy Kiel, Derrylyn Churchwell, Barry & Nikki Abrams, Tina Fox, Mickey Gopigian, and Mike and Keith Royle and the "Blue Water Divers" gang whose infectious enthusiasm and dedication set an example from day one.
A very special thank you to Duncan and Annie Muirhead of the Trimarine Boat Co. who taught so many of us so much and gave me four of the best years of my life.