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Bob tells the story:

Bob Halstead

My grandfather spent his lifetime in the Royal Navy, but I never met him. No one else in my family was remotely connected to the sea so I have to assume that my own passion must have been inherited from him. Having been brought up in London my own early experiences were limited to the annual one week family holidays spent at Hastings on the south coast of England. Memories are still strong of the excitement of the first glimpse of the sea, and of the fascinating fishes that were displayed for sale, some still flapping and wriggling, as the fishing fleet unloaded.

In an attempt to get on the water I joined a canoe club where I diligently practiced the art of the Eskimo roll. As this entailed spending a lot of time upside down in a capsized canoe, I became quite good at holding my breath and became familiar with wearing a mask to protect my eyes.

I eventually joined the club members on an expedition to canoe down a wild Welsh river. It was November, and, since none of us had any money, we pooled cars and were camping. After proceeding a short distance down the cursed river I hit a rock, smashed my canoe, and sank. The water was icy cold, but shallow, so I managed to drag myself to shore. Because of the car pool I could not go home. We camped, my air bed leaked, it was freezing. I spent the night huddled around the remains of a bonfire, dreaming of life in a tropical paradise.

The next summer, in 1968, I sailed for the Bahamas. The liner Oriana anchored off the harbour and I was taken ashore in a launch over the clear blue water. That afternoon I walked along one of the sparkling white beaches and planted my feet in the tropical sea. The water was hot and transparent, and dozens of colourful fishes darted about my toes. The warm humid air charged my body with energy. A week later a new friend introduced me to Scuba diving. He explained the various skills, and I performed them easily. Slipping beneath the surface, I had found a new home.

Bob, Bahamas 1969, note bulb flash on Nikonos.

 

In 1973, after qualifying as a Scuba Instructor, I moved to Papua New Guinea. Here I set out to systematically explore its incredible underwater paradise, and to learn what I could about the amazing marine life that surrounded me on every dive. It was a marvellous adventure which I was lucky to share with Dinah, a wonderfully talented natural diver. Many of the reefs we explored were not even charted let alone dived, and on all of them we were challenged to understand, photograph and identifying our marine life discoveries. Some were new to science.

In the early 1980′s we built a 20 metre live-aboard dive boat, the Telita, to enable diving adventurers from around the world to join us. We were able to cruise to the most remote of Papua New Guinea’s islands and reefs. Our guests, who included some of the world’s most famous divers, always surfaced full of excitement and wonder at what they had seen.

Bob with Dr Eugenie Clark on one of our many adventures together studying fishes.

In 1996 we sold our PNG diving company, including MV Telita, and concentrated on publishing books on diving in PNG and identification of Coral Sea marine life. In 2008 I was inducted into the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame at Grand Cayman Island. Now, from my base in Cairns, I lead adventure dive tours to PNG and the Coral Sea in association with friends Craig de Wit on board MV Golden Dawn, and Alan Raabe on FeBrina. I also offer guiding services to private Super Yachts. I am looking forward to many future years of diving adventures in PNG with diving friends, new and old.

I hope you enjoy my web site – there are 75+ stories to read about diving, a sample of my photos, and news of my diving adventures. I’ll be adding links and photos over the coming months. Many thanks to Xanthe Rivett who set the site up and shown me how to work on it.

bob@halsteaddiving.com

 

 

 

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