Michael Lawrence's life has been a twisting, turning path of wildly divergent careers. He was "a musician for more than 25 years, playing jazz guitar, doing studio and orchestral work, stage shows, arranging and conducting and doing anything else I could to turn jazz pennies into real dollars."
In 1980, Michael did a gig on a cruise ship. Soon after, he learned to dive. "I knew as soon as I stuck my face in the water that it would change my life," he says. Now the camera is his instrument and dive travelers are his audience. He started writing for Skin Diver in 1990 and to date has written more than 150 articles for the magazine.
Michael is also the author of Lonely Planet Diving and Snorkeling Guide to Dominica and is currently working on a new Dive Guide to the Bahamas.
February 7, 2000...Nassau - Day 7
Our second day was a work day in the water. By this point I know you are thinking, "What? This is work? Get outta here!" Well, I have to admit I've always been selfish about my work. If I can't enjoy it, I don't do it. So, yes, it is work and as the song goes, "nice work if you can get it." In truth, I am very fortunate to have the opportunity to travel the world making a living doing what I love.
Our objective is to show off the DPVs in both reef settings and on wrecks. I leave the choice of sites to Pam Christman, manager of Fin Photo, photographer and model extraordinaire. She suggests a nice Orange Elephant Ear sponge off Runway Wall. We drop in and complete the shot in short order. From there we head over to a cluster of wrecks known as the Bond Wrecks. For decades, Nassau has served as Hollywood's favorite location for underwater shoots. Movies shot here include Jaws, Splash, Cocoon, Flipper, Never Say Never Again, For Your Eyes Only, Thunderball and numerous documentaries, commercials, etc. Because of this exposure and the efforts of local dive operators, Nassau/New Providence has become the wreck/artificial reef capital of the Bahamas.
The Tears of Allah, sunk for the film For Your Eyes Only sits next to the Vulcan Bomber, a mock-up airplane used in the Bond film Thunderball. I decide to concentrate on the Vulcan Bomber, as it is an extraordinary collection of invertebrate life. The thin skin that originally covered the framework has disintegrated leaving a structure appearing much like a jungle gym. It is draped in deepwater seafans, sponges, gorgonians and other invertebrate life. Angelfish, grunts and others swim lazily through the network of struts. I knock off the remainder of the roll and we return to the boat, telling tall tales in the sun before deciding to return to the Bomber. If there is one great advantage to this profession it is the opportunity to do it until you really get it right.
Two divers fly past an Orange Elephant Ear Sponge.
We arrive back at the dock and head into downtown Nassau to check out Stuart's new acquisitions-the two newest additions to Nassau's underwater fleet: a 160-foot tanker (still floating) and a good-sized freighter sitting on the bottom of the harbor with its deck awash. The tanker will make a great site. It is currently being prepped for sinking, which will probably take place within the next couple of weeks. Stay tuned for details.
Stuart explains how they will float, tow and sink the wreck.
Tomorrow will be the final day in this phase of David and Mike's Excellent Adventure, and it promises to be yet another exciting one. No, I can't tell you what we're going to do-that would spoil the fun!
Oh, by the way, we've got a line on the coolest spot for all those delectable conch dishes we've been talking about. Not just one restaurant or street stand, but an entire community of conch-knocking, salad-making and conch-frying local maniacs. I'll let you know tomorrow if it holds up to its reputation. See ya!
This wreck is going down in the next 3 weeks.
[Day 1 & 2] [Day 3] [Day 4] [Day 5]
[Day 6] [Day 7] [Day 8]