Bruce, American-born diving professional has spent much of his 39 year-professional career in Thailand and the Philippines discovering and documenting shipwrecks. He has led primary wreck exploration on many Japanese/US war wrecks in the Gulf of Thailand and was involved in exploring remote cave systems in the Philippines jungle. For him, Thailand offers much to be explored in terms of caves and wrecks which is what’s kept him in the region for so long.
And while he personally loves exploring Asia (and has a list of wrecks he’d still like to dive there), he recognizes that every diver has his or her own paradise. Whether in Asia or elsewhere, for Bruce, the hunt is half the fun and adventure..
What (or who) persuaded you to become a professional diver?
My first dives were back in 1981 when I was in the Marine Corp stationed in Okinawa, Japan. I started diving with my friends on the weekends as a break from the base. Around 1991, I was feeling frustrated with my job so I hopped on a plane to Thailand. When I was there, I saw some foreigners walking out to a dive boat with all of their dive gear. I had always wanted to live in Asia and in that moment, I put 2 and 2 together. I saw there was a way to live in Asia and do something I love doing. It took two more trips to Thailand and on the third trip, I became an instructor and have been instructing ever since.
Describe your biggest challenge when diving.
It is hard to look at something as a challenge when you enjoy what you are doing. Like they say, if you enjoy what you are doing, you will never work a day in your life. I haven’t worked in 25 years and to this day, still enjoy every minute of it.
Which diving achievement are you most proud of?
I would have to say when I did my PADI Open Water Instructor course. This was a very big step for me. I sold everything I owned to become an instructor and move to Asia. It was a major change in my life and a change I have never regretted. I had the choice of making a lot of money with all the comforts or being happy. I chose happiness.
What was your first diving experience like?
My first experience was awesome out diving with my friends in Okinawa, Japan. However, when I look back at that experience, I also learned how important proper training is.
Why do you prefer rebreather?
I prefer to dive a rebreather for many reasons. The rebreather is very silent underwater and you can hear yourself think. There are so many additional safety factors of using a rebreather. I do enjoy the extra prep time that’s required when using a CCR. To me, it’s more than just the dive but everything that goes along with it. (Preparation, planning, logistics, etc.)
What's your favorite diving gear?
I would have to refer to the previous question and say my rebreather. To date, I have owned about 9 different units. A rebreather always gives me a fresh challenge and something new to learn. A CCR helps keep the excitement in diving for me. Right now, I am leaning towards doing more sidemount CCR diving. After my rebreather, my favorite toy is the DPV.
What's your favorite diving spot?
I would have to say my favorite diving spot would be in the Philippines. There are so many unexplored caves and wrecks that draw me back all the time. I am presently working on a project to locate a missing US submarine in the southern parts of the PI. Even after many years of traveling and exploring caves and wrecks, the list of places to explore there is still long.
15. 9. 2020 THE SCUBA NEWSLearn more >
Tech, War Wrecks and Cave Mapping. Course Writing with Bruce Konefe.