PJ started his diving career as a commercial diver in the cold western shores of Southern Africa. After he was exposed to the recreational diving lifestyle, he decided to become a scuba Instructor in 1996.

PJ began working full time in the industry, eventually owning dive stores in South Africa.

In 2006, he started exploring technical diving and in time, became a TDI Instructor Trainer and Examiner. In the following years, he focused most of his time training technical divers, including cave, deep trimix and rebreather diving.

PJ has been involved in a number of deep wreck expeditions in South Africa, Egypt and Malta. He has done many dives in the deep canyons off South Africa’s east coast in search of the elusive Coelacanth.

PJ was the regional manager for TDI Southern Africa for a period of 8 years. In 2016, he was the first Divesoft Liberty Rebreather Instructor Trainer in the region.

In March 2017, PJ joined RAID and took on the position of Technical Diving Director for Southern Africa. Since joining RAID, he has begun working with the international office and has written a number of courses for the agency, including the RAID Liberty CCR courses for both backmount and sidemount versions. With the support of 2 other Divesoft ambassadors, Jill Heinerth and Paul Vincent Toomer, in March 2020, PJ was nominated as a member of The Explorers Club.

Interview with PJ

What (or who) persuaded you to become a professional diver?

In high school, I met the owner of a diamond mining business that operated in Nambia and he convinced me to become a commercial diver and work on his concession. But I have always been drawn to teaching, so I naturally gravitated to scuba instruction.

Which diving achievement are you most proud of?

I’m proud that I have been able to contribute to diver safety by writing the RAID Performance Diver course. I’m also proud of being a member of the team that is working on the Phoenician wreck in Gozo, the deepest archaeological excavation done by divers.

What was your first diving experience like?

My first diving experience as a commercial diver was not that memorable. It was dark, cold and we couldn’t see much. But I’ll never forget my first recreational dive at Aliwal Shoal in South Africa. It was the first time I was underwater just for the fun of being underwater and the first time I was diving without a tool or a responsibility. The visibility was amazing and the abundant marine life had me mesmerized. It wasn’t long after that, that I stopped commercial diving.

Why do you prefer rebreather?

Doing long cave penetrations or deep ocean dives requires a large amount of gas- gas that I would have to carry with me. I’m often doing dives that require 2-4 hours of decompression, and a rebreather is the most efficient way of managing gas. There is also something special about being in a deep inside cave with no bubbles and all you can hear is your own breathing. It’s probably the closest I’ll get to feeling like I’m in space.

What's your favorite diving gear?

My favorite piece of dive gear is definitely my Liberty Sidemount rebreather. I love the flexibility and compactness of the unit.

What's your favorite diving spot?

That is a really difficult question. I guess the one spot where I have had some of my most memorable dives is “Pinnacles”, a spot in Ponta do Ouro, Mozambique. It’s the kind of dive where you could see nothing or everything. On one particular dive, we saw 4 different shark species at 35 meters, a few different rays, sailfish, a school of barracuda and to end it off, a wall of hammerhead sharks swam right in front of us during deco.


22. 7. 2020 THE SCUBA NEWS

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