Red Sea dive guide and guru and regular columnist for DIVE magazine
Crowley's Blog - Destined to Dive - a Reply to Abu Hadida
Crowley's Blog - Destined to Dive
So in the spirit of getting the ball rolling and all that, I thought I'd respond to Abu Hadida’s blog with my own story as to how I was destined to be a dive guide in Sharm. I do not believe in fate or destiny, generally speaking, however my existence here does rather appear to support the argument for predetermination.
I mentioned in my introduction that a day trip to the wreck of the SS Thistlegorm in 2004 (and then getting very drunk with my former instructor afterwards) was instrumental in my decision to become a dive professional; there will be plenty of blogs to follow about the Thistlegorm because it is the absolute love of my life when it comes to diving – but this story is part of the reason why.
Back in the good old days, before too many dive boats crashed into reefs at night-time, the departure for Thistlegorm trips was 4am or earlier. I was on holiday, had not had much sleep the night before, and so I put a small dent in Egypt’s coffee supply and being unable to sleep thereafter, sat myself down on the wooden prow for a night-time voyage.
Seriously, Mills and Boon could not have printed anything cheesier, even if it was a story about a group of liberated adults and an industrial fondue accident….
… dolphins playfully rode the bow-wake for a few magical moments in time before disappearing into the inky blackness of the forbidding ocean; the unpolluted sky was brightened by Orion’s large and shining sword and Crowley felt the whispered caress of her fingers as she knelt and analysed his nitrox…
Actually, most of that really happened, apart from the whispery nitrox thing – because you should always insist on analyzing your tank personally…!
The dives on the wreck were perfect – glorious visibility and no current which (as I found out some years later!) happens about 3 or 4 days every year, and not always on Thursdays, which is when most of our trips happen, and also I didn’t have to “tie the lines” – MUCH more of which will follow, I assure you – and well, yeah, it was a perfect day.
On the voyage out to Thistlegorm that day in 2004, I took this picture of a dive boat following us with the rising sun behind it. For the next six months, it was spread across my workstation monitor and more, became my frame of reference during the thoroughly unpleasant process of starting a new life. Every time I doubted, I stared at that picture, and I believed.
Fast forward a bit: I went to Thailand – became an instructor – taught a lot of people. I went to Australia, mooched around for a bit while my ex did all the hard work, then off to the Caribbean where, sadly, it didn’t work out. I had to leave in a hurry, and because I didn’t (and still don’t) have Facebook, my ex - Fi - put out a shout on my behalf.
The only flight I could take out of Curaçao was to Amsterdam, but the big problem was, I had nowhere to go after that. Fi wrote to me to let me know that by sheer coincidence, an instructor I taught in Thailand – Patrick – would be arriving there on a week’s vacation from Sharm the day before I landed. I didn’t even know he worked in Sharm! We met up; he offered me a place to stay and maybe some work.
After arriving, I did that whole long walk of shame up and down the beach front with my CV and my telephone and an “I’ll do anything – for free, if I have to" – attitude. Anyway, I actually had an interview at Sinai Divers and obviously made an impression (the Course Director, Ingrid, wrote “seems nice” on the top of my CV, as I was to find out later) and, I got a few days’ work because of it.
And then I get a phone call from Ingrid asking me if I’d like to work again for Sinai Divers, because I know one of their staff, Mike – another former intern at my dive centre in Thailand, whose rescue and DM classes I instructed, and a bloody good bloke – and he had put in a good word on my behalf. Mike’s recommendation sealed the deal and three year’s later, I’m one of their most “senior” staff.
One of the first things I did here was assist on an IDC, unpaid, just because it was something to do, but I got quite involved and at the IE party, in the old Camel Bar (may she Rust In Pieces), I was looking through all the photos on the wall and I said to Ingrid – oh hey, that’s my Instructor. Ingrid said to me – “really? Ulrike? I taught her!” How cool! (Small world, actually)
The first Thistlegorm trip I guided was on a boat-share with only three divers so it was an easy introduction but I only had a vague idea of where I was going and the day was kind of a blur, but a very successful one. My second trip, however, was with quite a large group, so I was sent along for the learning experience (learning curve like an upside-down Everest!) and the evening before, I looked at the picture of the dive boat that I’d taken at sunrise on my first trip as a paying customer… and realized that the boat in the picture…
…was the boat I was taking to Thistlegorm the next day.
Ingrid trained Ulrike, Ulrike trained me, got me drunk and put the spark in my head. I trained Patrick and Mike. Patrik brings me to Sharm and Mike helps gets me the job at Sinai Divers, where I now work for Ingrid, who trained Ulrike, my instructor. The photo of the boat I took on my first trip to Thistlegorm – the day that it all started for me – is the boat I am taking there tomorrow.
Fate? Destiny? Who knows... but life certainly came "full circle". After all, I learned to dive on the same reefs I ply my trade....
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