From a very early age in my life, as far back as I can remember. I have always wanted to be a diver. My father was a diver in the Navy, and later went on to become a commercial diver in the North Sea. My grandmother’s grandfather (Thomas Louttit) was a famous diver. He had all the Liverpool Docks and Mersey harbour board contracts. Tom’s exploits are well known throughout the diving world. My grandmother told me, that as a little girl. She used to play with his old diving helmets in the back yard, using them as a dolls houses.
In the seventies my father worked in the Norwegian sector of the North Sea. He was based in the Oil town of Stavanger. While still at school, during the summer holidays. I used to work for a Norwegian diving company called 3X. I would help maintain the diving equipment which involved painting anything which didn’t move. Or occasionally I would go out with some divers on various jobs as the tender. This involved dressing the divers in the big old copper diving helmets.
How I Became a Diver
I could not start commercial diving until the age of 18. So when I left school I started an apprenticeship as a fabricator/welder in a small factory in Gosport, Hampshire. In 1975 when I turned 18, I gave this up. 3X a Norwegian diving company took me on as a trainee diver. In those days you didn’t need to do a diving course first. You just needed to put your fins on, and have the bottle to get in there and do the job. Nowadays it can cost up to £20,000 to qualify as a commercial diver. After six months as a trainee, I got the opportunity to work offshore with a company called Scan-Dive. They sent me offshore and I started working as a Saturation diver.
Saturation diving is where you live in a decompression chamber for up to a month. We speak like Donald Duck the whole time because the helium vibrates on your vocal cords. Decompression then takes place at the end of the 28 days. or at the end of the job. This allows divers to work in deep waters over longer periods without increasing the risk of Decompression sickness. This is more commonly known as the bends. A documentary was made about this on TV called “Real men, Saturation diving” I took a copy home to show my partner Jo, so she now understands what I do.
Because of my welding background, most of the time I worked offshore I was a hyperbaric welder. Welding oil and gas pipelines together. I have traveled around the world, working in various oil fields. When I started as a diver I was one of the youngest divers in the North Sea. Now I am probably one of the oldest. There is no age limit for working as a diver in the UK. I have to pass a diving medical every year, and providing I can still do the job, I will get more work. Experienced divers are put with inexperienced divers to pass on their skills. Which is a good thing because they can help me on with my hot-water suit. My arms just don’t bend back as far as they used to.
Salvage of the Century
In 1986 I was involved in “The salvage of the century” . When 50 million pounds worth of Russian gold was recovered from the wreck of HMS Edinburgh. For those of you who don’t known. In April 1942 His Majesty’s Heavy Cruiser HMS Edinburgh was part of the Russian convoy QP11. They journeyed through the U-boat-infested Barents Sea. Carrying Russian gold to America in order to pay for arms in the Second World War. Edinburgh’s fate was sealed by two torpedoes from the German submarine U-456. Edinburgh and it’s precious cargo settled at the bottom of the ocean beneath 800 feet of water. It wasn’t until the 80s that modern diving technology allowed us to enter the bomb room where the gold was stored.
In 2000 I was involved with a diving school in Corfu. We took holiday makers on try dives in the crystal clear warm waters. I also became a BSAC advanced instructor, so that people could learn to dive and take their diving qualifications with us. I then became the owner of a very big motor sailing yacht, this story is in one of my first blogs. The rebuilding of Glaros was a big project which took me over 10 years.
We now have diving equipment on-board our yacht Glaros and we are able to take anyone interested, diving, from the complete beginner to the qualified diver. So if diving is your thing, we can take you diving. If you have never been diving but would like to try it, this will be a good opportunity. Book with us at Deep Blue Yachting.
I will be happy to answer any questions that you may have. I will also be pleased to hear any of your comments, so please feel free to leave them.