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I knew in 1961, when I was 6 years old, that I wanted to be a SCUBA diver.
Like many people of my generation, I was fascinated by the series Sea Hunt, starring Lloyd Bridges. Little did I know I would become a professional diver, and one day meet my hero, who played “Mike Nelson”.
After college, I moved to Hawaii to “take a year off and have some fun”. When I learned, I could go diving every day and get paid for it, I could not believe it. Eventually I realized that a year of fun in Hawaii would not be enough. For me, diving just never gets old. Now, after being underwater for about 2 years of my life, I still see new things all the time. I get to meet and work with great people. What could be better? Would I have been as happy had I gone with my initial career choice? Not a chance.
As a Russian language major, with a degree in translating, I interviewed with the National Security Agency (NSA). A trusted advisor told me “I know you, Jeff. I don’t think you’re going to enjoy working in a room with no windows, trying to “crack the code”. Best advice I ever got.
The best dives of my career.
The best dive I have ever had: I got paid $10 to take my future wife, business partner, and soulmate (Teri) on an intro dive. Unforgettable and certainly life-changing.
A close second was our last dive on a trip to Papua New Guinea. An amazing site named “Lawadi.” Very shallow, so we could last maybe 100 minutes on one tank. The weather had turned bad while we were down.
The boat had come untied, and the poor crew was having a rough time. Complete squall. But underwater, it was still amazing. We could hear the diver recall, and knew we really needed to end the dive. Thunder, lightning, and sideways rain topside, but complete bliss underwater. What an incredible feeling. We finally “did the right thing” and surfaced.
Advice for the next generation of professional divers
If any of you are looking to become a scuba diving professional, get ready for the ride of your life. Enjoy the ride, but know that time will pass very quickly. Before you know it, you will be a grayhead like me. Oh – and log your dives.