How do you have a dive shop specializing in technical diving lights out in the Canadian Badlands? Here is the story of our little dive shop in the prairies.
Born and raised in South Africa, I had the privilege of being introduced to scuba diving at the age of 13, when I completed my NAUI Open Water 1 qualification in the tropical waters of Mozambique. I was hooked and held a PADI Rescue Diver certification by the time I finished high school.
My diving career took a turn when I started university and met Buks Potgieter, a CMAS cave diving instructor at the time, through a mutual friend at the local dive club. He invited me along on a few inland dives that tickled my interest and prompted my training in technical, cave and rebreather diving. He is my mentor and friend. He now runs a dive school, Xclusive Scuba, in South Africa. He is a CMAS, RAID and IANTD instructor and comes highly recommended.
South Africa might not be the cave diving capital of the world, but we do have a few dive sites that are worth mentioning.
I had the privilege of diving in Boesmansgat, also known as Bushman’s Hole. It is an intimidating dive site and much has been written about it. This high altitude sink-hole is the site where Sheck Exley made his historic dive in 1993. He was the first to reach the bottom of Boesmansgat. It is also where Nuno Gomes set his 1996 Guinness World Record of 283m. The author Philip Finch also wrote Diving Into Darkness: A True Story of Death and Survival, where he recounts the events that led to the death of legendary cave diver Dave Shaw while on a search and recovery mission in Boesmansgat with Don Shirley.
Don Shirley is another icon in the technical diving world that made his home in South Africa. He is an instructor that operates from Komati Springs. It is an abandoned mine that offers some of the best penetration diving that I have ever done.
In Sodwana, I joined the late Peter Timm on a dive to Jesser Canyon in search of coelacanths. He was credited with the discovery of this once thought extinct species. I was a mid-water backup diver for the exploration team that went down to 110m to find the dino fish. During our expedition, they found and recorded a few new coelacanths. We now know that Sodwana Bay has a healthy population of coelacanths.
In Durban and Umkomaas I dove with sharks and in wrecks. Near Mafikeng, I have a favorite dive spot called Wondergat. These places will always hold a special place in my heart, and I plan to visit them again when my travels take me back to my roots.
After finishing university, my professional career took me to Canada. Now that I am a short flight away from some of Central and North America’s best cave diving sites I am excited to be involved in the North American diving community.
With the launch of Cavelight, I am thrilled to offer a selection of affordable LED dive lights without corporatizing on quality. We now serve customers from all over the world.