In the late 1970s. I was approached by a man named Mike Jones, representing a boat offering diving to the remote islands of the Philippines. When I did an exploratory out there the boat was not up to the standard our clients required, but the diving was sensational. I was very disappointed, but the flaws in the boat were simply too great.
Two years later, Mike came to me representing a much larger and more comfortable boat. It was 120 feet long, a double-decker with cabins for sixteen eager divers. For the next eight years we sent groups of divers out to Manila for diving to Apo Island, and out of Palawan to Tubbataha and Jesse Beazley Reefs.
It was a favorite place—the water was very warm, the marine life insanely colorful and the clarity of the water made photographs intense and beautiful. We graduated from that large, older boat to a large, more modern boat. It was a golden time, but dynamite fishermen and other destructive fishing techniques gradually forced us to abandon these cruises. Still, at the time these were on any given day among the very best diving in the world. A story and YouTube video.