The International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame was founded to honour the men and women who’ve made contributions to the sport in a range of fields. Friday night (30 September) The ISDHOF inducted its 2016 class, which included two Caymanians whose work decades ago helped build the industry we know today.
Newly-minted hall of famers Wallace Rivers and Anthony Scott shared with Cayman 27 their reflections on the early days of scuba diving in Cayman.
“The reefs were just virgin, fish were abundant, you know, the corals weren’t broken or anything,” said Mr. Rivers.
“It was more abundant, more colorful, and so much more fish, turtles, sharks of course,” said Mr. Scott.
“When I started, my mother was definitely against it, that’s for the fish, she would say. She didn’t want me, nah, but after awhile she got used to me doing it,” said Mr. Rivers.
Mr. Rivers went against the advice of his mother to become one of the country’s first Caymanian dive instructors in the mid-70’s, working at Surfside Watersports.
“Bob Soto came over and I think that was in 1967, and gave me a resort course for about 4 hours and came back to Grand Cayman and I continued to study the dive manual he gave me,” said Mr. Scott of learning to dive.
Mr. Scott took what he learned from Bob Soto and helped start Cayman Brac’s first dive operator, Club Atlantis at Buccaneers Inn.
Back then, finding a dive buddy was not an easy task.
“First thing I had to do was to teach one of my coworkers to scuba so that I could have a dive buddy,” laughed Mr. Scottt.
“When Anthony started, he was one of the real pioneers in Cayman Brac,” said Deputy Premier and Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell, a lifelong friend of Mr. Scott.
“He could dive and hold his breath for so long, so he would frighten all the people that came down because they would say ‘where is he’ or ‘he doesn’t need a tank to dive with us,'” said Mr. Kirkconnell with a laugh, recalling Mr. Scott’s legendary breath holding ability.
Both inductees say they are humbled to be recognised by the hall of fame.
“It’s a great honour, you know, I’m still somewhat in shock and awe,” said Mr. Scott.
“I’ve met thousands of people, I’ve taught thousands of people to dive, and to be honored for this, is something great, it’s just perfect, it makes me feel really good,” said Mr. Scott.
2016 Local Inductees biographies:
Mr. Wallace was one for the first Caymanians to work in the dive industry as he became a divemaster in 1975. Mr. Wallace began his diving career working with Mr. Jim Daley at Surfside and following that he worked with many other well-known dive masters including Captain Butch at SeaSports, Clinton Ebanks at Scuba Cayman, and Arthie Evans at Quibbin Divers. Prior to starting his own company he worked with Peter Milburn throughout the 1980’s. He then started his own company, Rivers Sport Diver until an issue with his ear forced Mr. Wallace to concentrate on other endeavours.
Mr. Broadbelt has served to promote the dive industry as a past President of the Cayman Islands Tourism Association (CITA) as well as a long serving board member of the CITAWatersports Sector. He is the founder of the concept of the Dive 365 program, instrumental in many years promoting Grand Cayman diving through the Social media with both Private and Public Sectors. He is also a major contributor to the development and promotion of diving on the East End of Grand Cayman. Mr. Broadbelt has lived in the Cayman Islands since 1992 and logged over 3000 dives, just on Grand Cayman’s East End! Stephen has spearheaded the Mooring Buoy Installation program for the East End of Grand Cayman and The Shark Awareness Project.
Gerry, as he was known, was an early pioneer in the diving field having arrived in the Cayman Islands around 1965 at which time he established a dive business opposite the old Seaview Hotel on South Church Street. In July 1969 with thirteen enthusiastic residents formed Cayman Islands Divers which was admitted as a branch of the British Sub Aqua Club. As the only BSA qualified diver on the island he automatically took over the role as Club Officer thereby being the only person to train other members until they too were properly qualified. He was instrumental in assisting with the construction a decompression chamber. Fund raising activities begun which culminated in $3000 being donated by a local bank on condition that the club surveyed the George Town harbour to increase safely for those yachts and ships using the facility. At a total cost of $8000 the chamber was imported and housed in a building at Doc Polson’s clinic on Crewe Road, such construction being supervised by Gerry, an engineer by qualification. He also with the late Bob Soto was a member of the Cayman Islands Conservative Group Committee representing the diving industry.
Anthony Scott grew up in Cayman Brac next to the water and has always loved all types of water sports – swimming, free diving, belly board surfing and of course fishing. In 1964 at the age of 17, he finished school and worked for a few months in Little Cayman at Southern Cross Club taking care of and repairing fishing reels, spear guns and taking guests on snorkelling trips. After this he went to work at Buccaneers Inn in Cayman Brac, also operating snorkelling trips for the guests. In 1968 he assisted with setting up a dive shop at Buccaneers Inn, the first and only dive shop in Cayman Brac at that time, and continued to manage the shop, as well as, service and repair all of the equipment. Anthony is extremely proud to have been the key person in setting up and operating the first dive shop operation Club Atlantis at the Buccaneers Inn Cayman Brac, which was the beginning of an era of the Scuba Diving and Water sports industry in Cayman Brac and Little Cayman.