Scuba IQ operates from Port Douglas, (north of Cairns) Queensland, Australia. Clearly, Port Douglas is a perfect destination to get out and explore the Great Barrier Reef and that’s exactly what Scuba IQ do.
Originally from New Zealand, Martin Connolly spent a few years in the navy and then saw the light, jumped into a wetsuit and spent the next 20 years as a multi-agency dive instructor working in various locations such as Tonga, Spain, Turkey and Thailand. Scuba IQ and Scuba IQ Expeditions are operated by Martin and his wife, Louise. Working closely with local operators they organise training packages as well as full boat charters, delivering attentive service to the guests who choose to join them.
Martin joins us on the show to provide an overview of how Scuba IQ became what it is today, where it is heading and what to expect from an adventure on the MV Argo and the future expeditions organised by Scuba IQ. Other topics discussed during the show include how Martin came to become a dive industry professional and our opinion on the best way forward for newcomers to the industry today.
Expeditions with available spaces:
23-28 June 2022 – 5 nights – Minke Whales
9-13 November 2022 – 4 nights – Coral Spawning
Matt Waters, Martin Connolly
Matt Waters 00:06
Okay, Scuba IQ. We’ve not had many people on from Cairns. And yet we’ve had Libby has been on Libby Sterling. But you guys are much more focused on the almost like a white glove experience, isn’t it?
Martin Connolly 00:26
Yeah, I guess, you know, existing in a world that, you know, for a number of decades now, up here has been very much about, you know, larger volume sort of operations. That, you know, it’s, I guess we’re trying to slot into that, that narrow little niche where, you know, you could have somebody who, you know, maybe wants to get a slightly more personalised experience out on the rave, you know, even though we do use, you know, some of the bigger boats anyway, you know, we use those space, comfort access to the reef, that sort of thing. But, you know, what they’re actually weighing on, you know, as, as an opportunity to draw on perhaps my experience, or, you know, that of the other instructors that I use from time to time as well. So, you know, we’re, you know, we’re not, you know, we’re not for everyone, you know, if you’re looking for sort of an overall kind of experience, you know, all of the operators up here, I think are quite good. But like I say, we’re just trying to, you know, take advantage of that very narrow band of, of the market.
Matt Waters 01:30
Yeah. So, more focused on people that want specific kinds of experiences. Yeah, yeah. Not large, not large boats with lots of divers. No. So what, where did it all start? I mean, sort of a bit of background on you, actually, Martin. We obviously go to the same hairdresser. But we’re doing originally, often.
Martin Connolly 01:55
Not very often. Well, I’m originally from New Zealand, like a lot of the dive instructors who find their way up here. But yeah, I grew up in New Zealand, British parents, actually British born but you know, moved to New Zealand when I was very, very young, I joined the military and the sort of towards the late 90s, the Navy. And not through being in the Navy, as such, but because of a friend that I made, who was also in the Navy with me, you know, I got introduced to Scuba diving as just sort of a recreation, a little hobby. And it was just a thing I did for fun. Normally just with him would go away for a weekend or whatever. And then after a few years of serving in the Navy, and I left took a bit of time off and was wondering about, you know, what I might like to do. And, you know, I thought well, you know, Scuba diving was something that maybe I’d, you know, considered to take up as a career. And so I became a dive instructor in the early 2000s. And worked in New Zealand for a time came up to the Great Barrier Reef in my early 20s spent some time working here and then left Australia and spent eight years working in the Mediterranean. Primarily, Spain’s, I lived in Spain for a total of about six and a half, nearly seven years. And, and then finally made the pilgrimage to Thailand, Southeast Asia. And that was, that was something that was, you know, was really different to the experience that I’ve had, while being Mediterranean. You know, it was, it was like a parallel Scuba diving universe. And so I ended up being there for a few years. You know, that was where I met met Lou. We stayed for a couple more years and then about now seven, seven and a half years ago. We ended up back here in final Queensland and and here we are.
Matt Waters 03:59
Yeah, so we’re abouts in, Whereabouts in Thailand.
Martin Connolly 04:02
We where over on the West Coast PB
Matt Waters 04:06
there. So I never I never worked on PP. I was basically okay, like when I was on the West Coast, just covering the summerlands and Suriname. It’s an amazing place and I love Thailand. I love the Thai people.
Martin Connolly 04:21
Yeah, it’s one of those ones, I guess, you know, there’s a an instructor that works with us here as well. And he was in Thailand on Kotel for quite a long time at Parkview who was sort of part of the team with you know, teaching the ADCs and, you know, we sort of, you know, often reminisce as you find most instructors have spent some time working in Thailand Do you know life is so simple there you know, it’s you got it, you gotta work you do some diving and then you go and socialise you know, and that’s, that’s pretty much it and almost everything you do on a daily basis is It’s just fun that there’s, there’s nothing that kind of bogs you down or anything like that, you know, the biggest nuisance at that time was having to make a visa and every three months, but that’s about the extent of it.
Matt Waters 05:12
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. And packed onto as many books.
Martin Connolly 05:16
Yeah, you know, it was a fantastic, fantastic period of my career.
Matt Waters 05:20
Yeah. There’s a lot of people, a lot of long term people in the industry that have worked in Thailand at some sort of point in their career. I think it’s a good thing. You know, we’ve all got that, that link through Scuba diving, but then to have the, the experience of Thailand as well as a bit of a link it’s, it’s a nice little added bonus.
Martin Connolly 05:41
Yeah, totally. And
Matt Waters 05:44
so you’re just gonna say, how did it compare to, to Spain?
Martin Connolly 05:50
Well, Mediterranean, you know, look, I was there for quite a long time. And, and that wasn’t just because I didn’t have any other any other choice. But, you know, I wanted to be there. And I guess, in a way, like Thailand, you know, you have a fantastic lifestyle out of the water. You know, having an appreciation that the diving is not going to be, you know, like you can have in Southeast Asia and Caribbean, many other parts of the world. But it was quite a conscious decision that took me to the Mediterranean in the first place. And most of that came out of the fact that, you know, when I became an instructor, you know, still fairly young, early 20s. And, at that time, on the on the panic website, on the job board, you know, a job would get advertised. And then you could see every single person that had replied, it would get pasted underneath, okay, and so you could get a bit of a heads up as to what you’re up against. And so you were looking at a lot of the good jobs around the world, you know, you’ve got, you know, some Italian guy who’s been an instructor for 10 years speaks four or five languages, you know, outboard, outboard licence, all that sort of thing. And so rather than getting disheartened, I thought, Okay, well, it looks like, you know, the big thing apart from experience, of course, is one languages. So I thought a good place to learn languages, especially European ones would be Europe. So, yeah, so, you know, I left the Great Barrier Reef, and got to Europe and thought, Okay, well, let’s focus on one to start with, and, and I was in London at the time visiting my sister. And I said, Well, I’m ready to leave the UK. I’ve been here long enough, it’s time to go back to diving. And I went on the Ryanair website, look for the cheapest flight, and it was to Valencia, lift the next morning at about six in the morning, about two pounds 99 special or something. And I bought that flight and ended up in Spain for for a number years. And so, you know, don’t my language skills. And that was, even though I’d been teaching in other places before that for a couple of years. You know, over time, I certainly realised that the time I spent in Mediterranean is where I really cut my teeth as an instructor and, and not just as an instructor, but you know, laid the foundation for me to have what I think so far is quite a lengthy dive career.
Matt Waters 08:25
Yeah. Good on. Yeah. It’s funny that you mentioned the, the dive jobs boards. I keep meaning to do a post about it. Because all I see in social media at the moment, is job after job after job after job. And there’s all the rare ones are coming out wakatobi Turks and Caicos like bloody hell, people. If you’re, you know, if you really want to get into the dive industry, now is the time to do it. Even if you’ve got no experience as a deep dive master or instructor, you can gain that experience. But you’re gonna gain that experience at a much higher level location than what was ever possible. And over the last 2025 years, you know, so many people have left the industry now that I’ve had the experience and I’ve been forced back into other industries. That it’s it’s such a wide open industry at the moment and he said, prime opportunity for for fresh blood to come through.
Martin Connolly 09:24
Yeah, I mean, it was quite interesting listening to some of the other conversations I’ve had over the past few months it was those his name Steve Crosby, guy who you spoke to mix Mexico. Yeah. You know, so, you know, him talking about what, you know, he’s, he’s been through there and how things are looking moving forward. And then no further back, there was Marcel Vandenberg and in Koh Tao who was talking about that this could be the real you know, the time to strike when it comes to getting into the industry. You know, it’s yeah, like you say, you know, it’s these These these rare jobs that never come up. And you have, I mean, when I first came and worked out of cans, you know, I’d been an instructor in New Zealand for a couple of years, you know, and taught ice diving, you know, this sort of felt fairly well equipped, and I got to cancer, the best that I could get was, was dive deck, you know, it was snorkel guiding and signing people, and now the water and they were like, You got to, you’ve got to prove yourself here first for a while before, we’re gonna let you take paying customers, you know, but you didn’t. I didn’t know you didn’t roll your eyes or anything. You just accepted that while there’s, you know, they found that this is something that works up here, and maybe they’ve been let down in the past, and you’re just gonna play that game.
Matt Waters 10:44
Yeah, yeah. I mean, I’m sure those routines will stay, because I couldn’t imagine employing anyone without, you know, giving them a probationary period and making sure that they don’t mind getting their hands dirty. However, you know, having the much wider spectrum of possibilities now is just immense. And I can’t see changing for another 234 years. I mean, there’s people crying out no experience. And sure enough, from the operators bless them. They’re going to have to make do with people that don’t have all that experience of four languages compressor, rebuild engineer, coxswain. 95 specialty instructor it’s going to have to reduce, but they’re going to be able to mould the future of diving, I think, yeah. So it’s a good thing. And I just hope that the kids that are out there listening and eager to get on board do actually, you know, take the jump, do it, they’re gonna be much better off here.
Martin Connolly 11:46
I think with that, you know, we, I mean, again, I mean, I guess, because it’s easier for me to compare to, you know, where I started out, that it was a lot more about, you know, having good experience, you know, and the fact that I’d been an engineer in the Navy, so I had, you know, the ability to, you know, repair outboard motors and, you know, various other mechanical things, you know, rebuild compressors. And so, you know, those things came in handy for me, but, you know, you, you certainly see now, probably over the last sort of five or six years, especially that, you know, a lot more employers will be looking for things like, Okay, well, you’re a dive instructor, but I see you’re also, you know, you’ve set up your own little business, doing social media marketing, and all you can build websites, and you know, all of these other things that will drive a business.
Matt Waters 12:37
Yeah, yeah. And that’s a that’s a huge one. I mean, I take my dad used to work in Papua New Guinea to few resort. And it’s a bit limited on connectivity while you’re there, and it’s a bit difficult to do the social media, but I see the managers at the moment are trying to post regularly, however, it’s a photo and a little bit of a comment. It’s not up to speed with what you see all singing, all dancing, that, you know, kids that know how to use a phone can do in 3540 seconds. It’s insane. So that’s a huge advantage, just being able to, you know, assist with the marketing, or leave the management to get on with the daily job. Yeah.
Martin Connolly 13:19
And I guess, you know, one of the things that stands out for me, is that, you know, was probably, three or four years ago, I had a young guy, probably early 30s. He was from France. And he sent through a CV, just cold calling. And, you know, he was relatively inexperienced, but it was like, he was really trying to sort of pad out his experience as an instructor. But if you look at the rest of his CV, you know, he’d worked at a marketing company in Paris for 10 years, get a master’s degree in marketing and advertising at an MBA. And I just messaged him back and said, Hey, look, there’s opportunities with us. But, hey, don’t sell yourself short here. You know, it’s great that you’re a dive instructor. But don’t be afraid to put, you know, more focus and attention on to these other things that you’ve done. You know, you’re, you know, you’re employed at one place for 10 years. That seems quite a lot. You’ve got these fantastic skills, you know, experience with you know, marketing advertising that highly desirable for a lot of companies out there. So, you know, maybe use that as your sort of Trojan horses such.
Matt Waters 14:25
Yeah, for sure. For sure, especially to help out people of our age and further down, then I’ve got no fucking clue about it. To be honest. I’ve got some comments and a bit of a hashtag and hope that it does the job. And then I’m happy if it’s got over 10 likes blue, blue thumbs up. Happy days.
Martin Connolly 14:42
and ya mum Comments on it?
Matt Waters 14:44
Yeah. It’s usually my dad actually. Hey, one thing I wanted to talk about is the minkeys. On the website, the Minkes come in. Are they there? Yeah.
Martin Connolly 15:05
Yeah. So about two weeks ago, there was one of the, the boats that were set up by Douglas, not one of the sort of scheduled tour operators, one of the super yachts, they were on a trip out. And, and they saw a few monkeys out there. So you’d probably say normally, you know, being two weeks ago, so was that sort of early to mid May, that that would be really early. Yeah. But I mean, whatever. Basically, they’re coming, or they’re here. So yeah, it’s, it’s looking good. I’m actually going to be going on, on a total of four Mickey trips this year, there’s, there’s one that’s my own, which is the one at the end of June. And then there’s, there are three other trips that have been done on the same boat that we’re using. There’s one that goes the week before mine, there’s another one that goes a few days later from when we get back. And then there’s another one in mid July as well. So yeah, hopefully, we get, we get some pretty solid monkey action. It’s, it’s such an amazing thing, you know, that and that they make you well, not just let you swim with them. But the fact that you know, you jump in the water and they come to yours,
Matt Waters 16:15
as it or worse come into you imagine people that are listening to this will not have a clue of how the operations work in Cairns, and what it involves jumping in the water with whales, what’s a, you know, a kind of routine that you go through.
Martin Connolly 16:32
So for, for what we’re doing, and you know, what some of the other operators who have actually changed their schedules through this time of year do is what the first thing is, you’ve got to have a permit, and to to be allowed to swim with them. And the linchpin is that the monkey bars are pretty predictable. And there’s a spot that’s up up towards Lizard Island, on the Ribbon raves, pretty much without fail year after year, on their migration, they go and hang out there for quite a while, you know, two, three weeks, you know, some interactions, it might just be two or three, and it might only last, you know, 510 minutes. But over the years, you know, you can have sort of 1820 Whales at once, and they stick with you for seven or eight hours. Bloody hell, you know, so you get up there. So we, on the trip we’re doing we leave in the evening, you know, it’s a 1516 hour cruise up to that spot. So you basically wake up on the ribbons, and you pull up at the spot, you throw a couple of ropes in, because that’s one of the conditions for being able to swim with them, there’s a, there’s a code of conduct in place for swimming with Mickey Mouse. Here, I gets in my circle fence holds on to the rope, and you just sit there and wait, and the monkeys come in and hang out.
Matt Waters 18:00
So that they actually come to you then you don’t have to go kind of looking for them.
Martin Connolly 18:05
You look, you can, you can certainly look for them. But there are, you know, there are conditions on that, that, you know, let’s say that, you know, there’s another boat that’s two miles away. Or let’s say, two miles behind you, you’ve gone past and they call you on the radio and say, Hey, we got monkeys back here. You’re not really allowed to turn the boat around and go back to them. Right? Yeah. So, you know, you’re not supposed to sort of alter your course as such, you know, to go and find them or, or anything else. So, you know, we’re sort of like we aim for these areas, you know, like I said, up on the northern end of the ribbon reefs, where we sort of expect that they’re going to be and you sort of pull up. And you know, you have to wait, sometimes you don’t have to wait, you know, if they’re not really showing much interest, or you haven’t found any, you know, we’ve got a lot of dive sites nearby. So we might say to everyone, hey, look, let’s take a couple of hours out. We have a bit of morning tea, we’ll cruise over to dive site x, we’ll go and do a dive over there. And we’ll take it from there, you know, so, you know, you’re still trying to maximise, you know, the time that you’re spending and that really amazing area, you know, but the primary focus being that you’re trying to some of these whales, and
Matt Waters 19:26
is it what’s the attraction? Are they just very, very curious.
Martin Connolly 19:32
Yeah, I mean, I mean, realistically, they’re like big dolphins. So there’ll be very curious they can have, although display quite a lot of very behaviour, so they’re, they’re quite interactive in that way as well. They don’t just sort of swim around and around and around and around in circles, you know, they’ll they’ll come up and they’ll Spy Hop, you know, they have we look around on the surface. You know, they’ll they’ll grow your hair, they’ll roll over onto the Get back in though some around belly up at the surface. You know, they’ll come up, clap their mouth, you know, there’s, they’re all these different things that you might get a chance to see, and you never get bored of watching it because you kind of don’t know what they’re going to do next and, and you’ll sort of see how, you know, over time spent in the water, you’ll see them gradually come closer and closer. And I mean, they’ll, you know, they’ll sort of began to cruise past you, and then they’ll literally just slow down an eyeball, you just cruise right past in front of you. And, you know, other times I’ve come up in front of you, and you’ve you’ve sort of got swept back and out of the way to avoid them. It’s yeah, yeah, it’s, it’s spectacular.
Matt Waters 20:40
And it usually doesn’t matter, the kind of Age of them and kids, whether it’s the adults, I know, with humpbacks that the cars get quite curious more so than the mums. Yeah. Is it similar with the monkeys? Or? Not really? I think, yeah, look, you.
Martin Connolly 20:59
Yeah, it’s, you can never really know. I’d probably say, you know, I haven’t seen as many cars or haven’t had as many close interactions with cars over the years. Because, I mean, not just on these trips, but you know, as they come through these areas, you know, the reefs off of Port Douglas or Cannes, you know, they can’t be up there as well for a couple of days. So, you know, one of the day trips, you might get the chance to swim with them. When that happens, it is usually just the odd one or two. But But, but these trips, you know, that they get run up to the ribbon races for the really sort of, I guess, the more kind of dense, dense interactions with, you know, greater numbers and for longer periods of time. How big do they get? They reckon the beers at about eight or nine metres that they sort of top out about about a year they hear that they’re quite small for a while. Yeah, second small, second smallest species that baleen Whale. So
Matt Waters 21:58
it’s small for a while, but it’s still monstrous, isn’t it?
Martin Connolly 22:03
Yeah. But, but no, it’s awesome.
Matt Waters 22:07
And that’s that you say that’s what was the boat again? Is that the same boat that you use for the diving liveaboard?
Martin Connolly 22:18
Yeah, so MV Argo,
Matt Waters 22:20
let’s talk about Argo it looks very sexy.
Martin Connolly 22:24
Yeah, very cool boat. Look, algo was a boat that was it was here in Port Douglas for a while and then changed ownership. And and that’s now based just down the road and yorkeys knob, which is, you know, northern end of Cannes. Okay. So that lives down there. And the boat overall, yeah, but I think 2425 metres, something like that. But really nicely set up at the back, you know, where you where you gear up for diving. It’s, it’s right on the duckboard. So you gear up, stand up. And they’re basically do a 180 degree turn and then step off the back. Yeah. You know, so super easy in that regard. Inside, it’s really large, the cabins are nice. It’s a couple of ensuite rooms, all of the cabins are quite large, actually. And that’s, you know, of course, means that, you know, guess numbers are quite low. So, you know, we only take 12 people on these on these trips, you know, it’s, again, it’s still in keeping with, you know, with the ethos that we had with Scuba IQ, you know, we didn’t want to change our philosophy, you know, sacrifice what’s worked for us. So still small, it’s fully guided. You know, it’s Yeah, trying to be a bit more intimate and, and have that time with the guests as well out of the water. Yeah.
Matt Waters 23:47
Now, forgive me if I’m wrong. But is this the boat that Sylvia Earle used a few years back? Sylvia Earle? Did she not use it going up into some of the
Martin Connolly 23:57
AI? Or I’m not sure.
Matt Waters 24:00
I need a little Google thinking. My Sylvia
Martin Connolly 24:04
Earle might have been on a boat called beluga. I’m not sure. But
Matt Waters 24:12
the first thing that comes up is a cruise ship. Definitely not that one.
Martin Connolly 24:20
But, but it’s really cool because, you know, the boat. I mean, outside of what we do, it’s quite busy anyway, it does a lot of, you know, research expeditions, you know, support for marine biologists, you know, they do trips for the turtle nesting up at the very top at rain Island. You know, they go and help out at the weather station at Willis Island, you know, ferrying the the attendants back and forth when they change over. You know, they do all sorts of, you know, when we approached them about what we wanted to do, you know, there was, you know, it wasn’t really any territory that they hadn’t covered For, yeah, and the big one as well with that boat, which is really important, as you know, not just the permit to operate. But there’s another organisation up here that there are quite a few companies that are members and even some individuals and, you know, formed a number of years ago. And they basically, you know, set themselves up so that they could have this network of shared moorings, particularly on the ribbon reefs. And you know, you could become a member of that group. And then that meant that, you know, you would have access to these, you know, amazing dive sites like the cornhole and Steve’s Bommie. And many of these other dive sites and, and, you know, and without, you know, being a member of that group, or having that permit, you know, you can plan those trips, but then it becomes logistically a bit more complicated, you know, you’re going to be anchoring quite a lot, which you know, you don’t really want to be doing, or you could be on a dive site, and if another member of this organisation shows up, they can ask you to leave and you know, you’ve got no recourse. So, you know, it’s, it’s a really good organisation that’s in place to try and, you know, make sure that not only we have these amazing places to dive, but that they’re being looked after, and, you know, the right sort of vessels are using them, and we’re able to get people out to see these places.
Matt Waters 26:16
Yeah, yeah. Everything’s on what’s the word? How’s it all regulated up there, then? Do I know, I’m just thinking back to the simulans, that the captains would take talk to each other to make sure that they’re not on the same dive site? All the boats at once? And I’m assuming the similar kind of thing occurs there? Is it much more restricted than that?
Martin Connolly 26:41
So with with these sites, so specifically, these ones on the ribbon reefs, the organisation I mean, it’s not huge. I think it’s only got about 14 or 15. Members, I’m not entirely sure. But you’ve got basically two tiers. You’ve got, you know, a few of the long term players and the top tier, and, you know, they get first refusal, and then everything else kind of, you know, slots in wherever. Yeah, so it’s all, it’s all pretty easy. The captains, you know, the people involved, you know, they, they generally know each other. And so, for example, I mean, when we did our trip to the ribbon reefs, yeah, well, it’s about six weeks ago. Now. You know, we we got Steve’s Bommie. First thing in the morning, we’re planning to make two dives. The spirit of freedom were in the area. They saw Ron Steve’s Bommie. And they just radios and said, Hey, guys, just so you know. You know, we’ve booked Steve’s Bommie. From midday onwards, we’re like, Yeah, no worries, we’re going to do $2 More leave. And so, you know, from there, you then sort of you aren’t talking to each other as well, you might want to say, hey, look, we’re looking at using let’s say, you know, another dive site nearby temple of doom or Chinese joy. Hey, we’re looking at heading over this way. How does that fit in with what you guys are doing? Yeah, yeah, that’s, you know, you’ve you’ve just got to be grownups about it, you know, and, and just figure it out. Yeah.
Matt Waters 28:12
So watch the must have a favourite dive site.
Martin Connolly 28:17
Look, the easy pick up there is always going to be Steve’s Bommie. Have you been that have no
Matt Waters 28:25
- I’ve have my was it. Four and a half years in in Australia now have not once dived in Cairns, yet? The one time that we came up just before combat pandemic was when it was the wettest December recorded in history or something like that. We had nine days of just downpour is ridiculous. Yeah.
Martin Connolly 28:47
Yeah, so look, Steve’s Bommie it’s always an easy one. I mean, it’s just reliably good. And it’s sort of where those things are, you know, you can almost say that if something can be found on the Great Barrier Reef, you’ve got a good chance of finding it there. Okay. But I don’t know I’ve got a I’ve got a soft spot for another dive site. That’s that’s further up called pixies pinnacle. It is literally just a small tower. You know, the bottoms are particularly deep. And the top, you know, it’s fairly shallow, but you often get really clear water out there. And it’s just it’s just a really pretty dive site. Nuts. I don’t know. I just went in for the first time I thought how beautiful is this? And again, I just think it’s a fantastic dive. So we get
Matt Waters 29:39
Martin Connolly 29:44
look, not as much as Steve balmy. I’d say I mean, look, you still get a lot of cool stuff. A lot of nudie Bronx. When you’re sort of hanging out a bit deeper away from the pinnacle itself. You know, you’ll say you know, schools are Barracuda trouble. They, you know, you can see some big group are out there as well. But it’s when you really sort of tuck in and, and look at all the little nooks and crannies, you know, you can find lots of pretty cool stuff. You know, but the, the electric clams, you know, the the flame shells, that sort of thing. Yeah, it’s that it’s a beautiful spot.
Matt Waters 30:22
I’m just having a quick look on. Pixies, I’ll make another one.
Martin Connolly 30:30
And, yeah, the other cool thing as well, you know, when you do these trips, and pixies Pentacles A good example is that, you know, when you are in the facility, you know, of that dive site. You know, it’s not just that you’ve got this one site on its own, you know, you’ve, you’ve got half a dozen within within a mile of each other, you know, it’s there. So you you’ve got quite a lot of options when it comes to trying to pick the right dive site based on conditions and tides and that sort of thing.
Matt Waters 30:59
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. And right, what’s the, what’s the season is like, I mean, is there a particular time of you that here that you prefer for around your location?
Martin Connolly 31:14
I think if you ask most locals up here, about the best time of year, you’d probably find most people would say, October, November, okay. The weather’s usually fairly calm, you know, sunny days, you know, the waters, you know, warming up a little bit. It’s usually quite a lot of fish activity. So it just takes quite a few boxes. So that’s, yeah, that’s, that’s a bit of a highlight for us as well. I mean, shows how soft we are up here. But you know, with the, the winters that we have, you know, we we suffer through sort of the 20 to 23 degree waters. You know, we we get into October, November, and we can get back into our three Mills, you know, and
Matt Waters 32:07
I can’t remember the last time I dived in or three more wet so Sydney was bloody freezing at the moment. But we’re men. I think I mentioned the other day, Mrs. And I just like going across to Indonesia next month. Yeah. Got a couple of weeks diving over there. And not. I wouldn’t say it’s particularly much warmer because, like nature Parinita there’s three converging currents. Plenty of Mantis to see. And you never know might get lucky with the odd Mola Mola. Probably the wrong time of year for him, but fingers crossed
Martin Connolly 32:42
this thing and Galapagus what’s what’s happening there?
Matt Waters 32:45
Oh, yeah. Oh, that was. So I planned the Galapagus expedition for October 2020. And then, obviously, the pandemic, years, hit in, and we had to cancel and push back and push back and push back. And it’s just kept on rolling. And, you know, I hate the idea of, of stressing the dive industry out. But even more so customers. And I hate the idea of, you know, booking vouchers for different trips, and all that kind of stuff. So, Master Liveaboards, we’re really good. Work with them. I’ve got a good couple of mates that work for them. Big shout out to Alex. He’s the man. And we just kept it rolling. And my customers were patient. And now it’s rolled around so that we’ve got the booking for next year. But of course we’re to two and a half years on and a couple of people have had to drop out because of you know, life changes because of pandemic years, etc, etc. There might even be the pandemic baby boom or something I don’t know. So there’s a couple of spaces opened up. So we’re gonna go next year. It’s just gone online now. And it’s at a reduced price. It’s not this year’s pricing. It’s almost the same as it was in 2020. And the people that are already going on the boat, outstandingly good fun people and a great divers. So really looking forward to that. And you know, initially, jazz Mama says she wasn’t going to come on the trip in 2020. But having had two years of locked down and has not been able to go anywhere. She’s jumping on as well. So everyone who’s coming on the boat has got the bonus of having my missus on the boat who’s just absolutely outstanding lady. She’s, she’s lovely. So really looking forward to that. And yes,
Martin Connolly 34:36
what’s it going to be seven or eight days or?
Matt Waters 34:38
It’s seven days? Or seven nights? Sorry. So we’ll leave on the 24th of July and then back on the 31st and I know when you
Martin Connolly 34:46
originally planned it was Darwin’s arch still.
Matt Waters 34:50
Yeah, yeah. We’re gonna go and see Darwin’s pillars now. Unfortunately, yeah, that’s, that’s come down, but we were lucky enough. I have to, to see them back in 2018 when we were there. But it’s, I mean, it’s an exceptional, exceptional location in the world. And it’s, it’s bloody pricey. But yeah, I I’ve diver a lot of locations. And the Galapagos is just, it’s out there on its own. And it’s, you know, it’s stunning reefs and great visibility and all that kind of stuff. But the Antarctic waters that come up and the currents and the nutrients that are in there is, you see a Whaleshark. In Thailand, it’s two to four metres you see a Whaleshark and Galapagus. They start at 10 metres, you know that the huge Hammerhead shows 1000s upon 1000s, or hammerheads, or just sitting in the in the waters and getting a good clean and asleep sometimes as well didn’t know how ahead sleep on this side. In the current, you’ll see him listening over to one side and they closed down one side of the brain to go to sleep. And the other one stays awake to control.
Martin Connolly 36:03
Yeah, maybe hearing that. Yeah, the one I’m not sure if the dolphins Yeah, they they sleep one side of the brain at a time, but I didn’t know that about sharks and
Matt Waters 36:12
yeah, yeah. Yeah. No. If you die for collaborative,
Martin Connolly 36:17
no, it’s yeah, it’s still one of the many places that you know, had been on the list that I’ve never made it to. And there was a friend of mine that you actually spoke to him for awhile ago, Marcus Blake. Yeah, no, Marcus for quite a long time. Hey, Marcus. He, yeah, he went there. Where I think you met him and Komodo the couple that own that resort, as kind of like a minor, some sort of wedding anniversary, I think that they went to Galapagos, and they invited Marcus and his girlfriend to go with them. Yeah. I think they were there for a while. Overall, I think they were there for about two or three weeks, and did something like a seven or eight day trip. And, you know, he got some pretty good photos out there as well, just to kind of remind me that it’s a place that I want to get to and, you know, we’ll we’ll see, you know, life’s maybe looking at calming down a little bit now. Yeah. You know, so I guess, yeah, try and be optimistic and think that we can start to make plans like that, again,
Matt Waters 37:22
you’ve got to make I mean, it’s life is too short, you need to get everybody who’s into diving, that has some sort of experience needs to go to the Galapagos as simple as that. It’s, it’s phenomenal. I mean, there’s locations in the world where you do negative entry and get out of car and all that kind of stuff. But there, it’s just a completely different style of diving, you bumped down latch on with a with a hook, and it’s not a it’s a reef hook, but it’s not a reef per se, a lot of the structure down there is lava rock. So, you know, you latch on or nestled down behind boulders or natural topography, and just watch the show going off, you know, and you just sit there for as long as you can watch it. And it’s outstanding. It’s it’s beautiful. And then to do the, the hopping off the boat, you always jump off the boat a couple of times and head out onto one of the islands. And it’s like, it’s like walking in a different world. It’s, you know, you could almost say you’re on the moon, if it wasn’t for the blue sky and the oxygen you’re breathing, you know, it’s fantastic. Yeah, it is. It’s just nothing else compares to it. It really doesn’t. Yeah, I love the place. And I’m so stoked that we’re going back next year, I can’t wait, I really can’t like that.
Martin Connolly 38:40
And it’s cool, you know, where you said that, you know, you could have a good bunch of people going as, I guess that was another thing that happened, you know, with, you know, when we started up, the idea of the dive expeditions is certainly on the first trip that we ran, you know, to the ribbons and the mica trip that’s coming up. And then also the corresponding trip that we’re doing in November. And already some of the other trips we’ve got in the pipeline that will be you know, sort of announcing probably in the next few weeks, is, it’s, you know, it’s more like, you know, Martin social club, you know, it’s basically, you know, and, and the way it worked out, it’s been quite interesting, too, because, you know, over the last two years during COVID It’s been, you know, sort of amazing how how Australians have have supported especially areas like like this one up here that are so vulnerable, because once tourism shut down, I mean, there was nothing else to fall back on. You know, same as you know, obviously other parts of Australia but, you know, we felt they’re pretty hard up here, but Australians, they still keep coming here supporting the area. And pre COVID A lot of my market was not really domestic, lots of Europeans, lots of Americans. And so now it kind of opened us or exposed us through this whole new market here and in Australia, and basically once I sort of started throwing out the idea to a lot of these people about these trips, they’re like, we will put us down for two spots. And we’ll do this one, we’ll do this one. And so, you know, I almost feel a little three of this year’s trips without any real effort. You know, it was, there was no no advertising for quite a long time. Just sort of quick phone call. Hey, look, we’re doing minkeys In journey you’re coming. Can I bring in five minutes? I’ll let you know. Yeah, there’s four of us. Yep. Cope done. Yeah. You know, and, and so it’s, yeah, it’s, it’s awesome. And then, you know, the thing that goes in with that is that, you know, even though I knew most of these people, were all of them in some cases that, you know, then of course, getting to meet each other. And, you know, that’s like our, you know, Martin’s doing a trip to Osprey next year. Hey, you’re gonna go on that one yet? We’re doing this one. Okay. We’ll see you then. And, you know, it’s, I guess it was, you know, one of the driving factors behind starting Scuba IQ is to become quite a sort of, I guess, can I put it maybe like, a functioning part of the dive industry? Again? Yeah, that, you know, you’re, you’re driving that social side, which is so important to, to this industry. And, you know, it can’t get lost a little bit up here. You know, with the bigger volumes, it’s just the nature of it. So I guess we’re trying to bring a bit more of that, that kind of Thailand style, you know, within reason. Yeah. You know, really, you know, you know, making friends with your divers. And, you know, I mean, a lot of them, by the time they’ve come back here for the second or third time, you know, they’re round hours for barbecues, and, you know, me none, at all sorts, you know, so it’s, it’s, it’s been really amazing. It doesn’t just feel like you have a business, you know, when when those things are going on?
Matt Waters 41:47
Yeah, yeah. And I think that’s the beauty of it. I mean, there’s, I see it, again, it’s social media, everyone’s got an armchair warrior, in whatever group you’re in. But I see people sometimes this in agents, and booking agents, etc. But there’s, there’s a real requirement for agents at times, because if you want a particular experience, you’re going to spend four or 567 $10,000 on it on a lifetime trip that you’re only going to do, maybe once in your life, you want it to be special, and you don’t want you don’t want that one decade on the boat that spoils it for every one. So if you’ve got an agent, who is actually creating not only a great dive experience, but an environment on the boat, or at the resort, that everybody is constantly enjoying, and getting on with one another without the hassle of having, you know, the armchair warrior on board, then it’s worth paying for, quite simply. You know, I’ve been in experiences and situations where there’s been one person on a boat that will just kill the vibe for 25 other guests. And it’s horrible. Yeah, horrible. So yeah, you’re right, you’re playing that hub of, of providing everything and creating not only a dive adventure, but a complete experience. And I think it’s invaluable. It really
Martin Connolly 43:11
- Yeah. And I mean, you know, what we did before this last trip was, you know, because we left early in the morning, everyone got to Cairns, you know, the day a day or two before. And so I threw it out there a week or two before the trip left that hey, look, it looks like everyone’s going to be in town. You know, how about we go and meet at Hemingway’s, which is, you know, a brewery down by the cruise line, the port? Yeah. And, you know, and, and I sort of me and one of the other guys that was coming along with me on that trip, you know, he was like, hey, Weren’t we supposed to be there at 530 in us about six o’clock, and I was like, it’s fine. Anyway, you know, we got there a bit late. And, you know, and I said it, so I made it. I was like, Well, that was an unintentional, you know, I didn’t want to be there. And then everyone just sort of wants to speak to me, you know, I’m going to be intentionally late, so that they don’t have a choice other than to interact with each other, you know, and yeah, you know, and so I got there, and they’ve all sort of started their own little conversations. And yeah, they’re away. So, you know, it’s not that you want to be the focal point of that group. You’re just kind of facilitating that, you know, that opportunity for them to meet each other and know each other.
Matt Waters 44:24
Yeah, yeah. And that’s, that’s how I kind of operate when I’m doing nomadic Scuba trips. And we’ll always aim to turn up at it at the very outside the night before we move on to the boat or the resort or whatever, just to have that little gathering at the start. Let people get rested and over a bit of jetlag, and it works on Windows. And the Galapagos trip is a great example because, you know, we’ll be rocking it two or three days before the boat leaves and having a couple of nights on San Cristobal so people can relax and have a chat get to know each other and possibly get a hang Over out the way before we go into the diving days.
Martin Connolly 45:05
Yeah, yeah, for sure.
Matt Waters 45:08
So where’s it? Where’s it going from here? Then you grow in the business. So you’re gonna maintain at the level you’re at now?
Martin Connolly 45:14
Well, Scuba IQ? I mean, that’s, you know, that is where it started. And that will, that will remain. Yeah, it’s still an important part of what we do. And, you know, like, a lot of other people that, you know, once COVID came along, and there was, you know, everyone’s favourite word became pivot. I mean, to be honest, you know, through the first few months, the biggest question was, you know, in three months, six months, 12 months time, will I still be a part of dive industry or not? You know, that was, that was actually the first question, it was not how can I change my business? It was, Do I need to leave this business. And, you know, not to hang on to it, you know, with any sort of false pride or, or anything like that, you know, just just be really be realistic about it. So, you know, the, the idea, you know, or the thing that a lot of people did it cause was, you know, started online shops. For a couple of reasons, that wasn’t really an option for us. And I guess, over time, it just became well, and I think I sort of said it to you, when we spoke briefly other day was what COVID really did for us was not sort of try and go, well, we need to diversify and, and cover lots of little bases and get little streams going all over the place. Let’s actually just focus on what’s good about what we do. And, and really focus on that work on that develop. What that is, or was because you also think that by the time you’ve been going three or four years, you’ve tried a few things, some of work, some haven’t. And, you know, because it’s a flurry, you know, you can forget some of the things you did when you started, but you’ve, you’ve, you know, you’ve diverted away from those and it’s a bit of a reset, I guess, I thought, Okay, well, that’s kind of getting all of our ducks in a row here. Now, what would be something that we could offer that that could be really cool. And that would be, you know, something of interest to the people that have already died with us, and maybe don’t just want to come back and, you know, do the day trip again, or, you know, they’re not necessarily interested now that they’re advanced, open water, they’re not, they’re not thinking about becoming rescue divers, they just want to do good diving. And so, you know, the idea of the of the expeditions became, you know, it was, I guess, a fairly natural choice. And having having the relationship with the boat, making that a fairly easy discussion, were a good fit. And, and I guess, just applying that same philosophy that we have with Scuba IKEA, that it’s going to be quite focused and specific. So we’re not going to be doing weekly trips to the Reverend raves, it’s going to be this one here. It’s going to be something with monkeys. It’s going to be corresponding in November, and you know, get the ball rolling with those. And then next year, the can’t say too much at the moment next year is going to be pretty amazing, I think. Because we’re going to start going further afield. And yes, you know, we’re not we’re not trying to be all things to all people. It’s like, well, these are what our divers are kind of saying that they want to do or would like to do. So. Let’s let’s do that.
Matt Waters 48:36
Are you gonna do them? Like full boat charters?
Martin Connolly 48:40
That these are all full boat charters. Nice. Yeah. So so we say to the boat. Hey, look, corresponding ideal dates because of the full moon would be here to here. Are you available? And they go? Yes. Go right. Okay. Well, yeah. So we, we, we arranged a charter. And then we sell the tickets. Yeah. Yeah. So that so the boat at the boat is ours? Yeah. They said,
Matt Waters 49:09
Do you remember your first one one of the first time you actually booked an entire boat? It’s quite frightening when you see that invoice come through, isn’t it?
Martin Connolly 49:23
Yeah, it was. I mean, the one we did in April was the first one we’ve done, you know, with these dive expeditions. When I was in Spain, though, I had like a little kind of offshoot, because where I was I spent a lot of time around sort of Ibiza New Yorker menorrhagia. Now there’s a lot of super yachts that go through there. Yeah. And so, you know, some of them would be contacting your dive centre to say, hey, our boss or our guests would love to go for a day of diving. Can we come in and pick up one of your instructors and then they take is our diving for the day. So you were getting, you know, quite a lot of work being subcontracted by the superyacht industry. And after a while, as well, there’s a couple of yachts here that are pretty cool. They weren’t set up for diving, I’m going to speak to them. And, yeah, I mean, I was, you know, sort of in my mid 20s. And, you know, at that time, barely scraping by on English, in Ireland. You know, it was, yeah, like you say, you get that invoice. And there it is, you know, the 10s of 1000s of euros for a day. And, you know, so it’s, but it’s, you know, and that’s why I guess, before you then do those things, you know, you’ve got to think that you’ve got a very, very good chance of pulling it off. You know, that can’t just be caution to the wind. And, you know, and to hell with it. Hope for the best. No, no. So, no, yeah, just dive instructors at the end of the day. Yeah.
Matt Waters 51:00
Yeah. That’s it, we now need to find those youngsters that can do all the all the good stuff and promote it properly.
Martin Connolly 51:07
So apart from Galapagus, what’s, what’s the plan? You got some other trips coming up? Or?
Matt Waters 51:15
I keep I keep having people ask me that. At the moment, what we’re doing, or what I’m doing is, much like you’re hinted at earlier on, when when COVID hit? How the hell do you keep hold of being in the dive industry and nomadic Scuba, my booking agency just literally had nothing coming through. So I think I took the right option in putting a curtain over the website, so that there was no bookings coming through wouldn’t have to deal with, you know, reservations and deposits that were then getting held by the operators, because half of them were going out of business, or god knows what else. So that’s been closed off for over two years now. And in that time period, I picked up a day job, so I was working, proper, proper stuff, rather than dreaming about diving. And six weeks ago, I took the plunge jumped away from that job and back into the Manage Scuba 100% of the time. So at the moment and working from home, we’re having to update the website, because albeit it was all singing and all dancing ready to go. Two years later, it’s a bit outdated. So I’m struggling through WordPress and all that other crap that you need to do to get it up to speed. And then we’ll raise the curtain and get back to booking people’s holidays and creating expeditions. I’ve got several mates of mine that have been working in the diver industry that are super keen to grow and start leading expeditions themselves as well. So we’ll, we’ll get that ball rolling. A couple of them were this podcast, and you know, a little cheeky little trip to Indonesia to possibly possibly buy a dive centre. So quite a lot going on right now. That’s awesome. Yeah, the guy might have a little home in Indonesia at some point. Well, we’ll see.
Martin Connolly 53:11
Yes. I mean, that was. And that was why I first got in touch was because I think through the podcast, you mentioned about the travel agency, no, Medic, Scuba. And I thought, Okay, well, might be interested in what we’re doing. Yeah. Well, that’s Yeah. You know, as you know, like when, when you’re small, I guess it’s one of the advantages we have is that we can be quite agile. Yeah. But you’ve got to allow yourself to be agile. You know, you know, pick, pick carefully, who you would like to work with.
Matt Waters 53:48
You’re like, I don’t want to start it. Sorry to interject there. But the thing I shot I did, as soon as I decided, I’m going for it. I believe in Papua New Guinea. I’d already thought about doing the medic, Scuba, and then jumped back into Thailand for a season. I thought, right, we’re going for this, I need to see the locations that I’m advertising. The last thing I want to do is advertise a location for someone who spend a lot of money on and then come back to me very disappointed that would just it would eat me alive. So I spent a lot of money and it was it was a good, Jolly. I spent a lot of money travelling to different locations and just dive in at resorts and Liveaboards, all that kind of stuff just so I could experience it myself and talk with experience to potential customers. And now I’m you know, comfortably in that position where I can select who I’m going to advertise. And those that I don’t know. I’ll aim to go and see. And it sounds like all I’m doing is building a little Empire so I can go travelling and go diving. Well effectively I am but moreover, my little booster is Being able to get customers to operate as doors, yourself, for example, I’d be super keen to advertise your expeditions and get money rolling through your door and keep the industry alive and do it in a any community feel way rather than just a corporate way? If that makes sense? No, yeah. Yeah, the kickback is, you know, I have to take some sort of wage out of it so I can live and survive. But you know, that’s that’s business. Yeah. But if I can, if I can make people happy and put back into the dive industry was given to me. All for it. 100%.
Martin Connolly 55:41
Yeah. That’s awesome. That’s awesome.
Matt Waters 55:45
So yeah, not dive care. And yet, so I might be coming up to you for a little trip on envy. Algo.
Martin Connolly 55:52
Yeah. Let me know. Yeah. If it’s not this year, you know, it was no, but we’re trying to be pretty careful this year, just the three trips. But, yeah, as you said, there’s invoices. I didn’t want one of those. rolling into my inbox every couple of weeks. Yeah, yeah. So yeah, played it safe. But yeah, next year is next year is looking like it could be. Yeah, pretty cool.
Matt Waters 56:21
Yeah. JFDI may just fucking do it. Yeah, you’re in one of the best locations in the world for diving. Everybody wants to go the the Great Barrier Reef doors are opening up again. Do it, do it?
Martin Connolly 56:36
Yes, I think one of the things that, I guess gave me even a bit more optimism was a good friend of mine in San Diego. He was saying that, you know, a lot of his friends who had you know, XYZ travel plans before COVID that they weren’t able to get away. You know, they’d been planning to go that various parts of the world, various exotic locations, but now a lot of them are changed their turn, and they’re like, Well, we’re still going to go away. But we’re gonna go to New Zealand or Australia now. Because if they’re things, you know, things go to gravy again. And we have and we get stuck somewhere. Let’s get stuck in Australia. You say? Something that’s relatively civilised? And, you know, we’ll look after our so yeah. Yeah, so that was quite interesting to hear that as well. But I guess just the way that people’s approach or mentality around her and travels, gonna be different for quite a while, I’d say,
Matt Waters 57:39
yeah, for sure. For sure. I mean, I’ve recently come back from Thailand. And that was the first trip since the pandemic hit. And just jumping through the hoops to get into the country and get back was, it was quite smooth now. And you can see I was just getting better and better. But it was a bit of a pain in the ass to figure out and organise. And the main thing there is the the insurance side of things, no countries can impose their own restrictions. And like Thailand did it said, you have to provide proof of 20,000 US dollars, cover just for any COVID infection that’s beyond anything else. So on you travel, and you dive insurance, etc. So it’s going to be a pain in the ass. And there’s going to be reluctance for people to take the risk. But at the same side of the coin, those those locations that haven’t been dye for so many years, and now primed because it’s not had the common regular disruption of many divers in the water. And I know we mentioned Koh Tao earlier on, I did pop back to go down for a few days and did a couple of times when we make and I was actually suitably impressed in the volume of fish in comparison to what I remember. So I can only imagine that, you know, the barrier reef itself is probably going to be, you know, much the same. And a little bit of time to regenerate and recoup.
Martin Connolly 59:16
Yes, yeah, Thailand is definitely on our on our list. You know, we’re trying to get there in the next couple of years. If we can, it’s
Matt Waters 59:24
just to to go back and have a look at changes.
Martin Connolly 59:29
Well, I don’t know. Well, to be honest, one of the big ones up there. Hopefully in a couple of years, my daughter will be old enough to get certified. And, you know, we’d love to take it to the summerlands
Matt Waters 59:44
Ya know, Alicia, tell you what, seriously, if you want to go to the simulans and you want to you could even plan in your own little Scuba IQ expedition. I’ll hook you up. Yeah, very good mate of mine, Steve vessel. Crazy. judgement. He’s the owner of the junk, which was on the James Bond movies, and the fantasy. And his time on the junk and affinity are just outstanding individuals of a lot of them. So as I’m when she’s old enough and ready to dive, you can take her there and planning an expedition, I’ll hook you guys up, and you can, you can have a drink and those boats, which is really, really good
Martin Connolly 1:00:23
there, because that’s actually been one of the locations where, you know, once I’ve been over there and got to see what it was like for myself, especially the incoming here, and you know, a lot of people that make it to Cannes or the Great Barrier Reef early in their career, they, a lot of them tend to stay here. And they, and they punch out quite lengthy careers, you know, because it’s one of the locations in the world as a dive instructor, you’re, you’re paid well, generally, you’ve got good job security, as long as there are no pandemics. And, you know, so people are really building their lives here off the back of being a dive instructor, you know, buying houses, and, you know, and all of these sorts of things that normal people get to do that when you’re an instructor in Thailand. I mean, that’s the furthest thing from your mind. And I sort of say to a lot of them, especially the younger ones, like, Hey, I mean, you can always come back here, you know, you’re an Aussie, you’re a kiwi, you can always come and work here. Go to Cal lac, go and work for six months season on the simulans by just go and see another side of this industry, have fun, you’ll save a bit of money because you’re on a liveaboard and, you know, get a bit of experience teaching courses, you know, get some variety in what you’re doing, you know, because, you know, as you know, people burn out. Yeah, they get, you know, you get jaded, and I guess, you know, that was, I mean, I, I had that when I was in the Mediterranean, I might burnt out, you know, after my first couple of years, and took a year off. And just, I left my dive gear at my sister’s house in England and said, If I, if I come back and want my dive gear, or I call you and want you to send it to me, I don’t I don’t want to see my dive gear for a couple of years. I just need to go and think about this. And, you know, it took some time out and thought okay, I think I’m ready to give it another go. And, uh, you know, and then look back since you know, I haven’t had a break since then that was, you know, 2002 1008 was after I took a year off. So, you know, it’s yeah, you know, it’s I guess it’s one of the running jokes as well up here over the years as our you know, Thailand instructors, but, I mean, I would honestly say that some of the best instructors I’ve ever known or worked with, have been in Thailand. Yeah. Yeah. You know, without without a doubt.
Matt Waters 1:03:00
I mean, it’s, like I say, I mean, it’s, it’s one of those things that gets pointed out Thailand and Honduras where, you know, a lot of people when they’re young to do their initial Scuba diving training, because it’s cheap. It’s 30 degree water, there’s beer on tap, there’s chicks in bikinis, there’s parties. You know, it’s got all the attraction of tourism and excitement. So yes, there are a lot of people that go and dive in those locations. And a lot of people can say that their factories. I would kind of agree with that. However, you can’t dish an instructor for being good enough to teach six people proficiently, and arguably better than people that have had a career where they’ve taught one on one for the last 10 years. You need your wits about you if you’re going to teach six people open water and Do it confidently, competently and safely. So I would, like you said, I would urge young dive pros, use Thailand, use Honduras use these locations that have cheap diving, and go and go and experience it for yourselves have fun, and gain the experience that you get from someone who can really teach their groups Yeah. at such a low level. It’s it’s it just makes the rest of your dive career relatively simple. It’s it’s a big tick in my box. I’d never put someone away that came looking for a job if they’d been working in Thailand or Honduras in these mega industries. It’s you can multitask if you can do that underwater. It’s fantastic.
Martin Connolly 1:04:40
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. And I mean, it’s like you know, the, the guy you’re talking to last week it said that, you know, being a dive instructor you basically become very good at organising a lot of things at the last minute. And, you know, but again, somewhere like Thailand, that is where you get that you know, As you might go into the shop in the morning, it’s like, hey, the guys are in the classroom. They’re watching video one. They’ve done the paperwork, but they’re yours. Okay. Yep. No worries. But once you’ve been there for a long enough, you know, getting told that first thing in the morning, it’s, it’s not like, Oh, what do I do? It’s Oh, this will be awesome.
Matt Waters 1:05:18
Yeah. Yeah. Because it can nature. It really does. Yeah, you know, and you get up in the morning, excited to go to work because you know, you’ve got work, and you know that it’s going to be good fun. Yeah. I loved it. I loved every minute. I was in Thailand. And I love every minute I go back to Thailand. Yeah, that’s my second home for sure.
Martin Connolly 1:05:38
And yeah, it was cool that, you know, we’re seeing that you won’t listen to you talking to other people that I know like Libby. You know, Marcus is coming, because you’ve spoken to each one of them. But I think it’s been about four or five people on here before that, that I know some of them quite well, especially Marcus. From Thailand, he he was doing his divemaster with an instructor I’ve worked with that was what 2002 1011 I think Marcus did his divemaster. And then I think he had a couple of years out before he he moved back to Thailand, sort of 2014 or 2015, something like that.
Matt Waters 1:06:21
Yeah. Yeah. carried on. Well, I met him. 2018 Yeah, I think 2018 2019 2019 I think I took an expedition to Komodo diver as our commander resort and Data Dive club. And he was the guy of ops manager with flow. And we had a fantastic time. And he’s now doing quite alright for himself. He’s picked up a job with Yeah. Was it snorkel venture? And he’s just just come off a boat in French Polynesia, Jami burger. That’s not
Martin Connolly 1:06:57
ice. He’s he’s had a rough ride, but
Matt Waters 1:07:02
rough ride, he’s gone and played with his motorbikes and and picked up a nice job. He’s done. All right.
Martin Connolly 1:07:09
But then I get on. And that’s, you know, and that’s what the dive industry is, you know, yeah. There are a lot of opportunities that, that you don’t realise I’ve been in front of you or, you know, opportunities you’ve turned down. And, you know, and I guess that’s one of the things that I would say, you know, over the years when I’ve taught divemaster courses or assistant on IDCs, is that, you know, almost our biggest problem is that we have too many options. Yeah. You know, but it’s, it takes some work to be able to, you know, take advantage of some of them. But, you know, it’s, yeah, there’s so many things you can do with your career and the dive industry.
Matt Waters 1:07:49
Yeah. Yeah. And then you can work your way up to dizzying heights of organising expeditions in Great Barrier Reef.
Martin Connolly 1:07:59
Yeah, heavy lies the ground.
Matt Waters 1:08:01
Hey, usually, I noticed. We’re not even touched on it. But do are you still doing the dive courses? Or is the liveaboard starting to take her main front row seat?
Martin Connolly 1:08:12
No, no. So we, we still teach courses? Were dual agency. So predominantly, Patti. We also teach SDI TDI. So that’s sort of coming through more and more. Scuba IQ has been built really on teaching courses. And it was one of the things if not the thing that, you know, when I was starting the business that, you know, I wanted to get away from, you know, just guiding and doing intros, you know, which is the main thing done on the boats here.
Martin Connolly 1:08:49
You know, get back to teaching again. Yeah. So a lot of open water courses. You know, and all the others as well, over the first few years,
Martin Connolly 1:09:03
you know, there were some, you know, sort of younger locals that were coming through, and, you know, with the divemaster courses, that sort of thing. So, the courses are still a really important part. You know, it’s one of the things that I like to do the most. So that’s not going anywhere. Yeah. And so, yeah, so that’s, yeah, that that keeps going. And the expeditions are now sort of a, I guess, in some regards to separate though.
Matt Waters 1:09:29
Do you want to do you want to Would you like another string to bow to want to do right as well?
Martin Connolly 1:09:39
Well, it came up I mean, I’ve you know, I’m an instructor for a few different agencies, although activity only for for SDI, TDI and Patti. There was I haven’t seen it for a while. There’s a guy up here. It was a great representative. I don’t know if he does all of Australia Steve Bates good. I think he’s because he’s got a especially got another very successful business down in Cannes a printing agency. So they do like logbooks and mass Tamers and all the other bits and pieces for us uniforms. So yeah, it did. It did come up a few years ago. And you know, it’s it’s bouncing around in there.
Matt Waters 1:10:31
I would do it. I would do it. It’s an ALA back way back season one I think it was we had Paul Toomer on President erode. Yeah. Good, my mind. But there now, as long as you say, five, five people here, whatever level, then there’s, there’s no pro fees. There’s no dive centre fees, nothing. So you can actually deliver. And it’s all online as well. It’s all digital. So and I’m a big advocate for raid, and when I’m PADI and SSI as well, but I think the way that raid teachers and when it’s done well, it’s fantastic. Teaching really is. But yeah, well, if you know, Steve, I would, I would urge you to get back in touch with him and have a little chat about worth, I guess it
Martin Connolly 1:11:15
sort of the idea of, you know, reemerged when you spoke to Ryan do chatel A while ago, yeah. Then, I mean, probably to do with with raid, but also I’d say, you know, their own sort of core values and principles when it comes to teaching, but you know, they like to teach the smaller numbers and, and that sort of thing. So very similar to what we do here, you know, as, so, for example, I know what, of course, the most that I’ll take on my own now will be three. And if we have estates, a family of five, I bring another instructor and yeah, you know, so just to try and break it down even a bit more. You know, so, you know, it was quite interesting listening to them. And it’s kind of, well, it kind of sounds a little bit like what we are or what we do as well. So, you know, it’s Yeah. But like I say that, you know, there might even be, you know, part of that, you know, turn to what rates sort of principles and philosophies are behind behind good teaching. Yeah. You know, because that’s, you know, it’s one thing I’ve said, a number of times over the years, especially on IDCs was that, you know, even though when you first become an instructor, never we’ll do it, because we don’t have any other way really at that stage. But when you teach a course, it’s, it’s quite mechanical. Yeah. You know, it’s, you know, you go through the slates, you’re checking everything off. You know, you sort of get to the point is, what I said to these candidates on a number of times, was that the aim isn’t just to teach a course it’s to train divers, you know, and so that, be sort of to indoctrinated or don’t be so caught up in, in the, in the detail. Just think about what it is you’re really trying to achieve by doing this. And, you know, don’t get too carried away with trying to show how much you know, or, you know, these, you’re just trying to give this person the skills that they can go away and die without you, they’re telling them what to do. You know, and, you know, it’s yes, but more about, about the function of it, you know, rather than, you know, the form,
Matt Waters 1:13:26
exactly. It’s one of the things that I get asked so often is, you know, should I use paddy SSI right now, we see myself as a YMCA, whatever, who do I Who do I train under, and generally, it comes from, you know, newbies, inquisitive people. And we’ve got to point out that, you know, people come in new into the industry that unknowing, they don’t know, so they’re looking for that advice. And my advice would always be, it doesn’t matter which agency you’re teaching, all learning under, what is important is the person that’s delivering that information, because that person can be the most experienced diver in the world. If they can’t deliver information so that it retains it retained, then it’s a pointless task. It’s, it’d be a shit course. So your first value is the instructor that’s delivering the information and whether it’s information you can retain. Beyond that. I think the the agencies are all much the same, they’re delivering not instruction, but recommendations on how to teach these basic skills to you know, to the recipient. And I think the the bond between the agencies and the instructor, is where the differences come in when you’re looking at the different agencies. And and what I mean by that is that I might be able to tell Each in a raid format better than I do a paddy format. And you might be able to teach vice versa. So depending on what our student wants to learn will depend on which instructor will be able to deliver that in the fashion that they retain the information. That was a very long winded way of saying it doesn’t really matter about agencies. It’s more about the person that’s watching. Yeah. But then, but going on from that. The only other time that I would recommend people to start really looking at which agency they’re using to learn under is when they’re looking to become a dive professional dive master and above. Do they want to be working in America? In which case, the obvious thing would be that they’d be better off being paddy because there’s more PADI dive centres over that? They were
Martin Connolly 1:15:51
not nearly enough present. There’s a now instructor because of that, because now we had a bit more presence in New Zealand the early 2000s.
Matt Waters 1:15:57
Yeah, yeah. A perfect example. Yeah.
Martin Connolly 1:16:01
So I totally cut you off there. That’s alright.
Matt Waters 1:16:03
That’s alright. You need to sometimes just keep on, keep on going. But yeah, jump on the road bank bandwagon might as well worth it. Yeah.
Martin Connolly 1:16:11
Yeah. It’s I mean, it’s, you know, you end up in some situations. I mean, not just in courses. But, you know, let’s say you’ve, you’ve got some divers for the day. And they might ask you a question. And, I mean, you try not to sound dismissive, or like being blase, but they might ask you about something, and there might be like, their buddy checks. And, you know, it’s almost to the point that you say, Well, look, if if you consider the fact that each of the organisations, you know, they don’t agree on the sequence that should be used, but they do agree on what should be done. Yes. So, so it’s not like I can impose, you know, any sort of particular, you know, idea on to you, all I care about is that they’re done. You know, I don’t, it doesn’t matter to me how you do them, but find a way that that you prefer, or that is easy to remember it, just do it that way every time.
Matt Waters 1:17:04
Have you got emails coming through or something that keeps pinging
Martin Connolly 1:17:08
aside, there’s something going on? I’m not sure what it is. Do you
Matt Waters 1:17:12
remember what I said the other day? That’s a crate of beer, my man.
Martin Connolly 1:17:20
But like I say, it’s a good point, you know, find the right instructor rather than look for the agency. Yeah,
Matt Waters 1:17:25
yeah. And that’s the thing. I mean, it’s, if you rock up somewhere, and you’re not really liking the person that stood in front of you, for whatever reason, I’ll just feel a little bit uncomfortable, then it’s probably not the right place to be. Find someone that you’re comfortable with. And then go from there. Yeah. All right. Well, it’s been an absolute pleasure having you on the show. Thank you for coming on.
Martin Connolly 1:17:46
Yeah, thanks for having me.
Matt Waters 1:17:47
No worries. And everyone that’s listening out there. Get in touch with Scuba IQ if you wanna hit the Great Barrier Reef and get on board and have a lot of fun. Thanks for listening now. Bye, everybody.