Legends of Diving Articles

 

Peter Hughes
Father and Legend of Live-Aboard of Diving

moorings wherever the Captain told him to. Stewart found this approach agreeable and thus began an excellent working relationship, as the two dive operators installed and maintained an increasing number of permanent moorings in Bonaire, long before the Bonaire National Marine Park ever came into existence.

Peter credits Capt Don as the first dive operator to install permanent moorings on dive sites, and himself as the proud second. From that day forward, Hughes has spent untold effort and money installing and maintaining permanent
2011 Dema's Reaching Out Award 2011--party with wife, Alice and other recipients
moorings all over the world, wherever he operated. A moving example of how a once acrimonious rivalry between dive operators resulted in a lasting partnership to protect the precious underwater environment they both so loved.

It was in the early 80's that the Flamingo Beach Club was sold by the owners to Divi Resorts and the Hughes eventually sold Dive Bonaire to Divi Resorts in 1985. Also at this time, the couple expanded their operations—Underwater Curacao, Underwater Barbados, Divi Winds(a wind surfing center in Aruba), Dive Tiara on Cayman Brac, Dive St Croix(destroyed by Hurricane Hugo just a year after it opened), Dive South Ocean(now Stuart Cove's Dive Bahamas), and the launching of the M/V Sea Dancer in 1986 in Turks and Caicos Islands(now the M/V Caribbean Explorer II).

It was the M/V Sea Dancer that started the live-aboard revolution, according to Hughes. This state of the art boat put an end to the decidedly primitive conditions found on all live-aboards up until that time. Gone were the rather cramped quarters, relegating 18 guests and the crew to share one toilet and one shower at the end of the hallway. No longer would guests find themselves in double and quad cabins with tiny dark rooms and no outside light.

During the years off 1980-1985 Hughes had invested, along with four Honduran partners, in the purchase of Anthony's Key Resort after Paul Adams, the owner, had died and his estate had no interest in the resort. The resort had fallen into gross disrepair by the time the group acquired it, but they were able to rebuild it and upgrade all the dive facilities with great success. However, when Peter went to work for the public company, Divi Resorts, in 1985 they saw his interest in a competitive dive resort as a conflict of interest and Hughes regretfully sold back his 20% interest to his partners.

Hughes served as Vice President of Marine Sports Division of Divi Resorts from 1985 through 1990 when he resigned amicably and reopened Peter Hughes Diving, Inc. He acquired the M/V Sea Dancer from Divi Resorts in 1991, at which time he threw himself into the live-aboard business in earnest. In 1992 his company launched the M/V Wave Dancer in Belize which would forever change the live-aboard industry, setting the luxury standard for all who would follow. Standard bunk beds were replaced with side by side twin beds that could be pushed together to make a king sized bed and all cabins were now suites, containing large picture windows or port lights for natural light in the less expensive lower suites. Boats were launched in Palau, Roatan, and New Guinea, as well. Tragically, the Wave Dancer was lost when Hurricane Iris struck Belize in 2011.

During this same time period, the company would enter into Management and Marketing contracts with several other individually owned live-aboard owners located in Galapagos, Indonesia, Venezuela, Grenada and the Grenadines, as well as Fiji...truly setting the standard in live-aboards the world over.

In June of 2005, Hughes was approached by environmentally concerned friends in Asia, who were appalled that Hong Kong Disney Theme Park continued to serve shark fin soup as “an important part of Chinese culture and tradition.” Using his electronic newsletter, DivEmail, Peter mounted a campaign to convince Disney officials of the error of their ways. At great cost to himself ($3,000), he express-shipped a graphic presentation of the shark fin industry to

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