Phil Saye was a happy man in the summer of 2004. He had a new dive shop, just five weeks old and a great home on Grenada. He was living the dream. But like many people in the Caribbean, there is life before Hurricane Ivan and life after. Ivan formed in early September, reached Category 5 strength on the Saffir-Simpson Scale, and became the 10th most intense Atlantic hurricane ever recorded. There was catastrophic damage on Grenada when it pummeled on shore as a strong Category 3. From there it devastated Cayman, western Cuba and even Alabama. But by that time, Phil Saye had nothing. His shop Dive Grenada was a shell and his home was destroyed. He was in shock. With nothing left, he only knew that others needed help too. Phil immediately volunteered for the Red Cross and assisted in every way he could. He comforted others and helped local people rebuild their lives. But just when things could not get worse, he fell and broke his hip. His first thought was that he would get back on his feet quickly, but soon learned that the entire head of the femur had snapped. He needed a hip replacement. Defeated and scared, he returned to England where medical care and rehabilitation was his only job. A remarkable women in his life, Helen stepped in and soon Phil was mobile and optimistic again. It was a love affair with his wife Helen and a love affair with Grenada that helped him rebuild and re-establish Dive Grenada as it is today.
So what has this got to do with diving? For me, everything. I dived with Phil on a Saturday, when his able staff could have easily given him a day off. Instead, he joined me on the boat for the sheer joy of diving. We went to the most trafficked site on the island, the Veronica L wreck and Happy Valley in the Marine Protection Area. I’m sure Phil has had more than hundreds of dives on these sites, but you could never wipe a grin off this man’s face. He loves his job. He loves his wife and he loves his team. That makes a day of diving something extraordinary.
Phil realizes that his customers are excited to dive with him. He says he can’t quite figure out why. After all, he has such a great staff. But for me, it is a special something. It’s his smile. It’s the fresh ginger cake and granola bars that he made for everyone on the boat. It’s a joie de vivre that Phil spills all over the boat. A day at Dive Grenada is transformational scuba. It doesn’t matter where you dive, you will come back new.