The Sai Kung-based diving school, SplashHK, has acquired a new boat, Owner Darren Gilkison reports. Cee Bee has been ferrying students and instructors to diving spots in coastal waters for two months now.
Darren said he and two partners paid $700,000 for the 53ft junk, which will be operated as a separate business under the brand, Splash Boating. Cee Bee is available for hire from $8000 a day.
In good condition when purchased, Cee Bee needed little alteration to take on her diving boat role. New fittings include tank stands, tables with kit storage, compressor and equipment room.
Darren bought SplashHK from his friend and diving instructor, Damon Rose, eight years ago. He now runs it with Operations Manager Richard Hill as a partner.
Splash is a PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) five-star instructor development centre. Darren holds the qualification, Course Director. This means his operation can train diving instructors to international standards.
Since he took over, Splash diving school has trained about 3200 students and 24 instructors. No fatalities have occurred among Splash-trained people in that time. Darren said safety has to be the top priority.
(In one dreadful period for Hong Kong divers about 15 years ago nine lost their lives in 18 months. In one case a diver speared a big fish, which dragged him down. He surfaced too quickly and succumbed to the bends. In another, a diving student was left unattended on her own in deep water and she drowned.) None of these accidents had anything to do with Splash.
If you want to give diving a go, Splash runs a Discover Scuba Diving programme for $1600. Students are trained at first in “our awesome swimming pool” at Li Po Chun United World College, Ma On Shan, and then taken out to sea on Cee Bee. For safety, Darren said, instructors will then go into the water with just two students each.
The “Black Belt” of non-professional diving accomplishment is the Master Scuba Diver Rating. This will cost you about $20,000. You have to do open water courses, one at advanced level, resuscitation and first aid rescue diver and five speciality courses plus log 50 dives.
Splash provides kit — mask, snorkel, fins, boots, wetsuit, buoyancy control device, regulator and air tanks — at no charge for non-professional courses. Only Darren and Richard are full-time staff at Splash. The other 30 instructors are part-timers, about 10 of whom are women.