Making sweet music in the ocean


CELEBRITY FANS: Paul Brady: 63, Singer: ScubaDiving

How did you get into scuba diving?When I was a child I always loved swimming. I always felt at home in the water and I was always interested in any programmes that showed any diving and the underwater sea life as a teenager. I did a diving course in Dalkey, Dublin, in 1988.

After that I dived for a while in Ireland but I gradually became frustrated by the weather dependency of diving in Ireland.

You would have a weekend booked in, say, October for 10 people to go diving and on the Thursday a huge storm would come in; visibility would be down to nil and you’d spend the weekend in the pub rather than under the water.

Eventually I started going abroad, first to the Red Sea in the late 80s, early 90s.

Where have you dived?Hawaii, the Caribbean, Mexico, Cuba, Grand Cayman, Antigua, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, and in the Mediterranean many times, but it’s not great diving in the Mediterranean – there’s not a lot of life there.

Is the Great Barrier Reef like Scotland for golfers? It stretches for a couple of thousand miles. Obviously its a great place to dive, but often you don’t get to the best sites if you go with a commercial diving operator because there are too many people at them. I would prefer to go privately – two or three people on a boat to a place where you’re off the beaten track.

I was disappointed, frankly, in the Great Barrier Reef because it was too commercial and there were too many people there – too many Japanese tourists snorkelling.

And which spot was the best?The Cayman Islands or parts of the Red Sea.

Have you had any hair-raising experiences?One or two. Back in the 1990s when I was diving in the Red Sea around a place called Ras Mohammad, which is the tip of the Sinai Peninsula. It’s a high reef and I happened to get caught in a down draught, where two huge bodies of water met and one was slightly different temperature to the other, in which case the colder stream fell below the warmer water and that sets up a fast current downwards.

Did you realise what was happening?Yes – you’re looking at your instruments which tell you how much air is in your tank and what depth you’re at and at what speed you’re going. Because of your training you know that you’re descending faster than would be normal so you immediately recognise that you’re in a current. What you do then is just inflate your jacket, which makes you rise, but you have to be careful that you don’t rise too quickly because that can cause problems with bubbles in your blood system, which if it goes wrong you can get the bends.

Is that situation frightening?Not really. I’m not afraid in the water.

Whats frustrating about scuba diving?The places where I most like to dive are far away.

Is it a social sport?It is if you’re in a club – people all club together.

What’s the most unusual thing you’ve seen in the water?A manta ray, which is the biggest ray there is. It can have a wingspan of about 20 feet.

Why do you love diving?It’s like any of these sports like skydiving or paragliding; it’s a bit like floating in air. You can control it – and move direction – very simply with a flick of your fin or your hand. It’s a very pleasurable medium to be in, particularly if you have an instinctive love for it.