60 years diving, will you be diving when you are in your 80s?
Its not everyday we have someone come to Big Blue who can claim to have more years diving experience than most of our instructors put together, and started before most of us were born.
Ernest Smith AKA Smoothy is 81 years old and has been diving for 60 years.
Smoothy joined the Royal Navy back in 1956 when he was 15 years old by the time he was 21 he was a shallow water diver and a rebreather diver. Back then being a Ships Diver meant that you were tied to the ship via a rope and the signals were used by giving tugs on the rope to the support on the surface, following that he became a Free Swimmer which is more recognizable to us these days as it now meant being off an attached line and diving with a buddy. After another 15 years serving in the Royal Navy he left to join the Metropolitan Police.
During his time in the Police he drove the police boats on the Thames River for 2 years and then joined the Underwater Search Unit (USU). Being a HSC Diving Supervisor, he was responsible for the crews doing the searches, which often involved recovering weapons and a fair few number of bodies. During this time he began training the young Navy Cadets starting as young as 12 years old.
He even set up the first Diving Section with the Cadets and has gone on to open many of the Sea Cadet Training Centre’s in The UK. After ‘officially’ retiring from the police 30 years later he is still found in the pools helping with training sessions with the kids.
Nowadays his diving is more for fun and in warmer climates. Smoothy has been coming to Koh Tao now for 10 years to enjoy some clearer warm water diving. Smoothy did most of his diving with Master Divers diving from the MV Trident and then on it when the owners sank it. Over recent years he has been propping up the Big Blue Bar telling tales to wide eyed eager instructors, who would crowd round to listen.
Smoothy has become somewhat of a legend around here, and we were very sad to hear that this will be his last trip out to Thailand and is having to hang up his mask and regs (sadly due to reasons out of his control….his wife). Koh Tao itself has lost a few popular names over the years and it was a trip to say goodbye and it was an emotional one. I am one of the lucky ones who got to dive with you. Thank you Smoothy. From diving with my youngest diver Jake who is aged 9 and Smoothy who is 81 last week, was one I will never forget.