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by Aron Arngrimsson and Steve Jones
Photos courtesy of Dirty Dozen Expeditions and Steve Jones
It is with a sense of great sadness, shock, and a heavy heart that we announced the untimely passing of a beloved partner, father, and the co-founder of DDE, Captain Martin Cridge. He passed away on Friday 18 June 2021 in Majuro, Marshall Islands. This news was very unexpected, leaving friends, family, and all the people across the globe that care about him shocked to the core.
Martin made an immense impact on the diving industry over his long and iconic career and his memory shall live on in our hearts. As we all take time to soak up the news, we have been commemorating our great friend, colleague, and diver, Captain Martin Cridge. Loved by many, join us as we dive deep into the kind and moving words shared by people all over the globe.
Master Liveaboards wrote: “There are very few people that knew more or were more passionate about the wrecks and the diving in Chuuk and Bikini. Anyone who dived with him will have felt his infectious enthusiasm. Everyone who dealt directly with him at Master Liveaboards and The Dirty Dozen felt it too. Martin was pivotal in us developing Bikini Atoll as a destination for Master Liveaboards as well as building the reputation of Truk Master as a highly respected technical diving operation. Not only this but he was instrumental in the set-up and success of The Dirty Dozen Expeditions in Truk and Bikini.”
The news also brought a flood of tributes from luminaries of the scuba diving world, expressing their appreciation for the good times shared and his great wealth of knowledge.
Aron Arngrimsson (Owner, Dirty Dozen Expeditions)
The diving industry has lost one of its brightest and his family and friends have lost a father, partner, son, and a friend. Martin changed my life and career drastically for the better by being instrumental in coming up with the Dirty Dozen Expeditions. He thought of the name while sharing a cold beer on deck after a hard week on the boat, and he was involved until his last day. During the years we spent together on the Truk Master, on countless expeditions in Truk Lagoon, Bikini Atoll, and beyond, he was never shy about sharing and passing along his vast knowledge about wreck-diving, wreck photography, history, and all the things that made a difference between a customer having a good trip, to having an unforgettable trip.
Some of the most memorable dives of my career were when Martin and I sneaked off the boat together exploring on long rebreather dives. Martin’s strong personality was a force to be reckoned with on deck, which commanded his crew’s respect, but deep inside they knew him to be a good and kind soul. After I left the boat and started Dirty Dozen full time, we stayed in touch nearly every single day and further grew our friendship. We shared many more breathtaking adventures through Dirty Dozen which were an outlet for both of us to share our passion to the limit. Martin was a great skipper, outstanding trip leader, incredible wreck photographer, and a dear friend which we lost way too soon, and he will be more than missed. Let us all remember his dry sense of humor, his resolve, and his kindness. He will be with me on every dive in Truk and Bikini in spirit and is forever a part of Dirty Dozen’s legacy.
Until next time, skipper.
Earlier this year, when I was reminiscing with Martin about his favourite Truk Lagoon wrecks, I couldn’t imagine that within months I’d be penning words of remembrance about him. Martin’s untimely passing is particularly poignant because he leaves behind his young son Tyke and his partner Elaine, a devastating loss for them. There was simply so much life left for him to live and so much life that he was a part of.
Martin was an instantly likeable character whose knowledge and enthusiasm rubbed off on those around him. He was in his element underwater and was a talented photographer in his own right, therefore his input and guidance were invaluable to me as we navigated through the labyrinths inside the wrecks of Truk. I spent some of the most enjoyable hours of my diving career here with him. In deep water and far inside wrecks that I was unfamiliar with, it was the implicit trust I had in him that enabled the creation of each image—a team effort like no other.
What I’ll always remember most about him, though, is his warmth, that sense of humour, and above everything else, just what a genuinely nice guy he was.
Anyone that met Martin might call him a guru. He was a wealth of knowledge with raw diving talent. He had the heart of a generous humanitarian, and whether he was guiding divers or delivering supplies to a remote community, his home was the sea.
I always enjoyed catching up with Martin. We would meet up at the Sunset bar at Blue Lagoon In Truk and get caught up over a few beers or winesies. He could never understand why I asked the guys to put my bottle of wine in the fridge. We would joke and complain about the world and just enjoy spending some time together. He was a good soul, pure of heart, and he genuinely cared about people. Whenever I am at the Sunset bar, I will look over to the place where you used to sit and raise my (chilled) glass of red wine in your memory. You are what we call a GB (a Good Bast*rd). The world is a smaller place without you mate.
A great loss of a kind soul and expert wreck diver. My heart goes out to the loved ones left behind.
Martin was one of the nicest guys you could meet and a fantastic skipper.
There were so many fond memories from our trip with Martin to Bikini Atoll, but one that springs to mind was from an encounter with one of the region’s apex predators. Over a couple of days, we had started to be watched by first one and then up to three Tiger sharks. The largest of these came in closer and closer until on one dive it was getting VERY close. I was next to Martin on the Deco bar, he looked at my computer which said c40 minutes of stops to go and then he showed me his, which had a similar amount. Not a comfortable situation to be in! He paused momentarily and then calmly unclipped his bailout bottle as if getting it ready to use against said shark should things get dicey. When we got out, he calmly joked, “I wonder how that shark would get on with no teeth”, such was his sense of humour after an undeniably intense and unforgettable encounter.
From the moment you stepped onboard, Martin’s passion and knowledge of these wrecks rubbed off on you. His smart banter and ability to walk through a whole section or room of a wreck from memory was awe inspiring. With a massive love for the location and of course the people, experiencing the Pacific the way Martin did can only be spoken by sailor’s wishes and diver’s dreams.
2017 was the first time I met Martin, 8000 miles from my home back in the UK. Turns out Martin hailed from over the hill in Huddersfield. Over the years we stayed in touch, swapping updates on family, diving trips and Huddersfield United (football club). Martin threatened to rush back to the UK if they got back into the premiership, but it wasn’t to be.
Martin, thanks for the fantastic trips, the help and advice… you will be missed.
A diving superstar – an amazing man in so many ways who saved me from the dentist room in the silted out Saratoga then looked after me with the bends on the same Bikini trip
A truly amazing human a great loss
REST IN PEACE Martin
So tragic to lose such a pioneer and good man, and our hearts go out to his wife and family and those in his team who will miss him so much. RIP Martin
Martin was an incredible man. Such a generous man with both his time and knowledge. He will be greatly missed in our industry.
He’ll be sorely missed, not only by family and friends, but by the wider diving community who encountered his experience and knowledge of Truk Lagoon! Not to mention the photography! May He Rest in Eternal Peace!!
Vale Martin Cridge, thank you for all you have done in the diving world and beyond. You will indeed be missed.
RIP Martin, a great guy, diver, photographer, skipper, and family man. He will be missed. Thoughts with his family
Terrible news, great skipper, learnt his craft in the Royal Navy & a true professional… My thoughts with his family & friends, he’ll be sorely missed.. RIP Shipmate…
Terrible news. Martin was a competent skipper, a larger-than-life personality, and he will be missed during our future visits to Micronesia
Such a shock. A truly brilliant and knowledgeable skipper, he will be missed.
What an absolute tragedy! So sad to hear that. He was a great guy. What a loss for his family, and all us that knew him.
Nobody can say “Aikoku” like Martin. RIP captain.
I will miss you, Martin. We have lost a friend and a great wreck diver. I will also miss your inspiring stories and common dives beneath the Pacific waves. Rest in peace, my friend.
Didier B. Follain-Grisell
Indeed, shocking news! Martin was such a good guy! Quiet, extremely knowledgeable, great photographer, and of course Captain. He will be missed by all that knew him.
Joel Cprs DT
I’ll remember Martin in many positive ways—with a big smile and a great sense of humor, always great with a story. My condolences to your wonderful family. Rest in Peace Captain!
So sad to hear this about Martin.
I was lucky enough to be on the inaugural dirty dozen trip, and Martin was a huge part of making that special. Not just as skipper, but also he dived with us, took some awesome pictures, and showed us parts of the wreck only someone with his time in Truk could have got us to.
I was lucky enough to get to know Martin when I was Truk, and I really enjoyed getting to do several CCR dives with him. We had some surreal moments in engine rooms and I’ll never forget our one dive at dusk on our rebreathers as sharks swam around us feeding. It was amazing. And he knew soooo much about the wrecks. He was so much fun to talk to. He will be sorely missed.
Unbelievable news, sorry to hear this. Thoughts go out to the family and God speed on returning you home to your loved ones. Thank you for your time with us in Cyprus
Kate & Matt Robinson
Terribly saddened that this has happened to such a genuinely nice guy. We enjoyed our time with him in Truk. His knowledge and passion for expedition diving was infectious. Our thoughts go out to his family and friends.
Martin was part of the Master Liveaboards family. His knowledge and passion for wreck diving and WWII were contagious, and he will be missed. I will always remember a visit in the Philippines where we stumbled onto a small WWII museum and the stories and history of the US military presence in the Philippines and role in SEA he recounted. Thank you Martin.
Deep Dive Dubai—The Deepest Pool In The World Is Not A Pool
Deep Dive Dubai announced the opening of its 60 meter deep diving pool—the deepest in the world. Here Deep Dive’s marketing manager and GUE Tech instructor Jesper Kjoller takes us for a guided deco dive through this unique aquatic facility. Get out your Wet Notes!
By Jesper Kjoller
Header and other images by with additional images by Naim Chidiac
Deep pools are not a new idea. There are a few of them in Europe already and they offer divers an opportunity to train or to enjoy deeper dives in a controlled and safe environment. Exciting as these spots are, they are still essentially swimming pools with chlorinated water and white square tiles. The recent launch of Deep Dive Dubai completely changes the landscape. Never has an indoor diving facility provided so many compelling reasons to visit.
Dubai has a tradition for creating attractions and facilities that result from out-of-the-box thinking. As an example, the desert-bound Emirate obviously does not have any alpine skiing opportunities. So, Ski Dubai—an indoor ski slope—was developed. There were no safe road cycling opportunities, so over 200 kilometers of dedicated cycling tracks were built. Dubai also boasts an opera house and a Ferris-wheel larger than London Eye, not to mention the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa. Dubai also has one of the most impressive and popular skydiving facilities globally and the world’s longest urban zipline. The examples of these “only in Dubai” wonders are endless, and they keep coming.
The Persian Gulf is a sandy and shallow basin and does not offer the most exciting diving, so in order to provide divers with reliable training opportunities, a 60 meter/196 ft pool was proposed as a new addition to the list of Dubai wonders. But, true to the Emirates’ inclination for extraordinary endeavors, the creators of Deep Dive Dubai decided to develop the idea a little further and give this project a unique Dubai spin.
An Underwater Metropolis
A 60 meter pool could have quickly become a somewhat dull and sterile environment unless a more creative approach were adopted. Numerous international design teams and professional theming companies explored ideas for something that would be unique and marvelous. The development team was expanded to include world-record-setting explorer and aquatic pioneer, Jarrod Jablonski, founder and president of Global Underwater Explorers (GUE). The design team wanted something that could engage a sense of fun, intrigue, and fantasy while recognizing the important role diving has played in the history of the UAE.
Recalling the importance of pearl diving in the development of both the region and international trade, Deep Dive Dubai was designed in the shape of an oyster. The pearl diving profession was once an essential trade for Dubai until Japan introduced industrial pearls some hundred years ago and strangled the pearling industry. Many Emirati families can trace their ancestry to a time when they were involved in the pearl trade. The design team finally landed on the idea of a sunken city, providing a surreal diving environment and nearly endless opportunities to develop unique and interactive spaces with the ability to change parts of the facility to keep the environment fresh and engaging.
Deep Dive Dubai is themed as a submerged metropolis intact with seminal city furniture such as lampposts, shopping carts, bicycles, billboards, ATMs, trash cans, phone booths, fire escape ladders, among other everyday objects from a modern metropolis. You get the picture. But you will not only be diving amongst urban artifacts. After an unknown post-apocalyptic incident eroded the city’s walls, you can explore a fully furnished apartment. The different rooms in the apartment are decorated with classic artwork on the walls, furniture, and toys. There is also a workshop with cars, motorbikes, arcade games, and much more.
It is anybody’s guess what happened here. Did the entire city sink? Did a natural disaster cause it to be flooded? An earthquake, perhaps? Or is it possibly a model of a human city in a parallel universe? An enormous tree with roots that stretch deep down almost from the surface adds to the mystery and implies a nature take-over.
The outside of the building—inspired by a giant oyster shell—and the diving environment resembling a sunken city are linked together by the décor inside the impressive three-story facility surrounding the 60 meter/196 ft shaft. The interior design of the dry areas is reminiscent of a spaceship from a 1970s science-fiction movie with flowing organic lines forged in the 3D printed walls, clean white interiors, and open spaces. Imagine a flying saucer shaped like a giant oyster shell landed on top of a block of Manhattan after a natural disaster flooded the neighborhood. Oystershell. Spaceship. Metropolis. The metaphors are mixed, but the mystery will definitely spark your imagination. Divers exploring the underwater environment in Deep Dive Dubai will marvel at the enigma, and it is impossible not to speculate what really happened here.
Adding to the mood and atmosphere, the diving facility’s curtains can cover the gigantic window panels and the skylights in the roof, insulating the complex from the sunlight. This will allow the advanced light system to create different settings or even simulate a night dive experience in broad daylight. Multiple hydrophones connected to an advanced sound system allow for playback of music, soundscapes, or verbal diver recall in an emergency. The possibilities for creating underwater sensory experiences with light and sound are endless.
Spectator Sports Anyone?
Divers who always wished they could share their diving experience with a non-diving friend or loved one have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to do just that. From the surface down to 12 meters/39 ft, viewers can watch divers traverse the first two floors of their adventure below the dive deck. Visiting divers, friends and family can also enjoy a delicious meal or fine refreshments in the spacious restaurant while they relax and enjoy the view inside the pool through vast glass windows. Deep Dive Dubai will have managed to turn diving into a spectator sport. The pool is also covered by 56 cameras serving a threefold purpose: the video feed can be shared on large monitors that are situated throughout. This feed is also projected to the dive control station where the dive supervisor monitors all areas inside the pool for safety. A video capturing the visitor experience can be edited and shared with the guests after their visit.
A Research Facility
While on the subject of safety, conservative ratios between guides/instructors and guests/students and the cameras covering all angles of the huge body of water ensure a safe experience. Deep Dive Dubai also provides ideal diving gases to optimize safety: nitrox for shallow dives and trimix for deeper dives. A multinational team of handpicked dive professionals, including instructor trainers from PADI and GUE as well as record-holding freedivers and technical divers, are on staff.
The controlled and predictable environment delivers the optimal setting for people of all experience levels —from first-time scuba divers and freedivers to those seeking one of the world’s most unique diving experiences. Even high-end technical divers and freediving athletes will find the experience rewarding. From fun-filled dives to focused training, there is something here for everyone.
Divers can even enter underwater habitats at 21 and six meters (70 and 20 ft) while talking to one another and looking out large windows into the pool. They can use the habitats for fun, training, or decompression. These habitats resemble commercial diving bells and can be supplied with different gases from the surface as needed. Display monitors and surface communication devices enhance the unique experience, offering diving support or to provide even greater safety.
Deep Dive Dubai also houses the largest hyperbaric chamber in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Most decompression chambers are small and uncomfortable tubes that only allow for one or two patients and a tender to be inside during the recompression therapy. The centerpiece in the hyperbaric facility in Deep Dive Dubai is a modern, fully automated 10-person multi-station chamber with comfortable chairs, an entertainment system, and even a full-size bathroom cabin.
Divers Alert Network (DAN) Europe conducted a thorough review of the facility’s functionality, intrinsic safety, operating procedures and the level of staff training through its Recompression Chamber Risk Assessment (RCAPP) program. They are also providing Deep Dive Dubai and their diving staff with medical assistance services, access to an emergency hotline, as well as accident and liability insurance coverage.
Having easy access to a modern and advanced hyperbaric facility provides another level of safety and opens interesting scientific research possibilities. The unique combination of a hyperbaric chamber and a 60-meter dive facility under the same roof will provide the perfect platform for medical research in diving physiology and related areas of interest. Deep Dive Dubai will liaise with international universities, diving physiologists, and DAN Europe while exploring unique research projects in diving medicine.
There are classrooms for teaching dive courses with windows facing the pool, meeting rooms, and a comfortable 50-seat conference area with a large screen for presentations, seminars, and product launch events. Deep Dive Dubai will offer many exciting possibilities for movie production as one of the largest underwater studios in the world.
Taking The Plunge
We walk down the slope leading into the pool and don our fins on the ramp while clarifying the last details of the dive plan. We are diving open circuit trimix, and we carry 50% nitrox to accelerate our deco. The view when we glide out in the middle and look down is breathtaking. I do not have any fear of heights, but I can’t help but feel a slight tinge of vertigo when I look all the way down to the bottom of the shaft. Sixty meters is gloriously deep! We descend all the way down while enjoying the view of the cityscape surrounding us. It is a surreal experience to see all these convincing objects of everyday life in an underwater environment. We arrive at the bottom, and when we look up, we are met with another Deep Dive Dubai signature sight – the circular shaft towering above us with the super bright light in the ceiling of the facility resembling the sun catching our bubbles.
We leave the bottom and enjoy the view of the brick walls in the shaft decorated with strange graffiti—the artists were obviously narked when they created the weird creatures covering the sides. Arriving at 40 meters/130 ft, we swim into the circular donut-shaped garage, where cars, motorbikes, and arcade games are scattered. There is even a full-sized Star Wars Stormtrooper and a pool table. We complete the 62 meter/203 ft circuit and ascend the monumental staircase leading to another donut at 30 meters/100 ft, where we arrive at the apartment. The occupants apparently had to abandon their living space in a hurry, leaving magazines and a box of popcorn at the coffee table. The TV is still on, and the living room is decorated with posters of iconic movie stars. In the apartment donut, we also pass the music room with the grand piano, the kitchen, the dining room, the bedroom, and the art room. There are so many details to take in, and I realize that it will take many dives to fully explore everything.
The variety of wayfinding lights illuminate many areas while further mood enhancements allow softly lit areas or even areas one can enjoy in total darkness. An entirely new kind of cave diving! We ascend from the apartment through a library shaft with walls covered by bookshelves filled with timeless literature. We do our gas switch at 21 meters/70 ft inside the shaft and begin the decompression portion of the dive while studying the book titles. Shakespeare, James Joyce, Jules Verne – all the classics are there. We complete our decompression while exploring the shallower part of the pool and we wave at the passing spectators outside the windows. Never have 45 minutes of deco stops been less boring!
A Guinness World Record
Deep Dive Dubai is, without a doubt, the most impressive diving facility in the world. After your first visit, you will probably struggle to decide the most remarkable part of the experience. Is it the friendly and professional staff? The luxurious surroundings? Or maybe the cutting-edge technology? Perhaps it is the never-ending row of wonderful surprises and details in the theming.
When you get the chance to improve your diving skills in a controlled and exciting environment with tips and tricks offered by world class diving instructors, you will probably find that even if Deep Dive Dubai is the deepest pool in the world, the record depth—officially verified by Guinness World Records—is maybe the least interesting feature.
FACT FILE – DEEP DIVE DUBAI FILTER SYSTEM
The water in the pool is treated in one of the largest and fastest filter systems in the region, with a capacity to circulate all 14 million liters/3.7 mil gallons of water every six hours.
First, it is passed through a perlite filter which consists of a naturally occurring siliceous volcanic rock. Here larger particles such as dust, debris, and organic matter are removed. Perlite is a naturally occurring volcanic glass that is super-efficient—it only produces 10% of the amount of backwash compared to a sand filter.
The second step is ozone ionization to control bacteria. NASA developed this process for drinking water production in the Apollo spaceships in the 1960s. The ozone treatment significantly reduces chlorine usage by 80%, and chemical byproducts such as bromide are greatly eliminated.
The third step involves two huge UV reactors that disinfect the water terminating all the bacteria. UV is commonly used in hospitals to sterilize operating room instruments.
After that treatment, the temperature is adjusted, and the water is pumped back into the pool. It is unnecessary to replenish with water from the outside except to compensate for a slight loss of volume due to evaporation.
How does Deep Dive Dubai compare with other deep pools? See InDepth: Size, err Depth, Matters: Why Do Pools Keep Breaking Records?
Originally a professional musician, Jesper fell in love with diving almost 30 years ago. He made a career change and became instructor in 1994 and PADI Course Director in 1999 when he was offered the editor chair of the Scandinavian Diving Magazine DYK. Jesper became a GUE instructor in 2011, and in 2015 he moved to Dubai to apply his skills in underwater storytelling and imagery as Marketing Manager of Deep Dive Dubai. From Dubai he travels the world to teach and report for international dive magazines and to participate in dive projects like the yearly Mars field studies in the Baltic Sea or deep wreck explorations in Egypt. In 2021 he began as Editor-in-Chief of Quest, the GUE Member Journal.
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