Through my hobby I had gotten some fuzzy career guidance information on professional diving, and over time I convinced myself that I didn’t really like my job in shipping (even though I actually did) and that I should spend thousands of pounds and seven months, remodeling myself from white collar worker to rough and tough commercial diver mixed gas diver. I’d still get to see all the wonders of the deep ocean and professional divers are really well paid…….I heard.
So I did the training at Pro dive Ltd Falmouth in Cornwall and launched myself on a cruelly disinterested offshore oil and gas industry. So much for my dreams of being paid a fortune to do what I loved doing.
My first professional diver job was cleaning the inside of the dam gates in Poulaphouca reservoir, black boggy water and not a fish in sight.
That was for Pro Diver (no relation to Pro Dive) Engineering from Hanover Quay in Dublin’s docklands. Ironically in the same building that I worked summers while in school for Irish Raleigh, the bicycle manufacturers when they operated their assembly there.
In those days the dock lands was a busy bustling place dealing in shipping Customs and Excise and bicycle manufacturing.
By the time I went back there to Pro Diver Engineering the dock lands was dying. Most of the units left over from the busy days were empty and falling into decay.
However; Frank Rafter an amazing person, and one of the first Irish men to have made a lot of money from ‘Deep Sea Diving overseas, came back to Ireland, and tried to create a professional diving company , one that operated professionally and safely.
Heretofore diving in the docks, for the ESB on their and hydroelectric dams, or bottom scraping and fouled propeller clearing in the fishing ports, was performed by scuba divers without radio to the surface or standby divers or any kind of professional equipment at all.
It was only after a scuba diver was killed whilst working in a semi-state installation, and the subsequently scathing fire department report, that those semi-states, whom might seek the services of divers began to look for a more professional solution to their diving requirements.
Frank and Pro Diver Engineering tried to provide that answer. He brought helmets, proper professional suits, a recompression chamber and all the ancillary parts and backup equipment. He spent all his hard earned professional diver money on setting up the company.
Us divers worked for 50 pounds a day in the pitch dark bog water on the dams, of the river Liffey and the just about zero visibility (vis) in Dublin Port, not exactly what I envisaged when I embarked on the very expensive training.
Frank could never have hoped to cover his overheads with the odd days we got here and there, and we drank a great deal. I worked for him for about a year and a half and no matter how difficult his financial situation was, he always made sure that we were paid. He died shortly after I left to go abroad.