By: Joseph Heinerth
2003-another life changing time, I was driving my girlfriend home one night when my dad called…I will never forget this…he simply said “Hey son, do youâ€¨want to go to Africa?” …………….what? WHAT? Yes! YES! WHEN DOâ€¨WE LEAVE?? Â Maybe 2 weeks laterÂ we took a 16 hour flight to Jo-Berg,â€¨South Africa.Â The reason for this trip was to be the first divers toâ€¨reach a wreck..the Greek ocean-liner OCEANOS (forgive the spelling).â€¨This wreck sank in ’91 off the Transkei Â ( wild coast) of Southâ€¨Africa. Â There had been several attempts to reach her, but she sits inâ€¨almost 300 Ft of strong currents, horrible conditions…but theâ€¨expedition was successful and my father took the first underwaterâ€¨footage of the wreck.
That’s just a video that shows the boat sinking, ( I can’t find theâ€¨underwater footage). It was an amazing accomplishment for theirâ€¨ Country, my father and I were the only Americans. It was solely a â€¨South-African expedition. Â I was only 19 but while I was there I wasâ€¨ transformed into a man who lived many lifetimes, at least that’s how Iâ€¨ felt, a spiritual path opened for me in Africa. Listening to Pinkâ€¨Floyd while going for a run around sunset on the beaches of the Villaâ€¨we stayed at, experiencing a whole other world. Â Seeing horrible â€¨poverty, but happy children who were fascinated by my big ear rings.â€¨ My stay on that beautiful continent lasted 33 days, since I was noâ€¨where near qualified to dive this wreck, while the team was training,â€¨ I was learning so much more than I did from classrooms or professors.â€¨ Seven of those wonderful 33 days were spent on safari in Botswana. Â Iâ€¨ saw lions, elephants, a leopard, gazelles…when I finally came home, â€¨just like when I was 11 and did my first cave dive, the town I lived â€¨in seemed so insignificant and small, nobody understood me and myâ€¨thought process. Â How could they?? Â After everything I experienced andâ€¨ saw, wild sage blowing in the wind, seeing the Southern Cross in theâ€¨ African night sky, I had changed, down to my very core. All of â€¨this because of one dive that I didn’t even go on. Â It was from that â€¨point on that I realized that all scuba divers, like you, like me, weâ€¨ all share a certain passion for nature and raw incredible visions. Â Aâ€¨ mind set that a lot of people just don’t get. I’ve seen my friendsâ€¨ faces underwater light up when they first hit 100 ft, or when someone â€¨looks up towards the surface and sees raindrops from underwater.
2004 was an INCREDIBLE year for me…my mother, father and stepmother wereâ€¨all hired to film the underwater scenes in the blockbuster Sci-fiâ€¨ horror/action-adventure feature film “The Cave”. Â Some of you may haveâ€¨ seen it in theaters, it was by no means an award winning film but â€¨it’s entertaining. Â Rent it,if for no other reason than to see aâ€¨ glimpse of some of the beautiful caves in Mexico, where I first â€¨traveled as a boy. Â So while they were working for the 2 months downâ€¨there, I was on the Nekton Pilot, but we had to come in early becauseâ€¨ that was the year of the hurricanes. A very bothersome entity when â€¨one is trying to have a nice vacation on a live-a-board. Â So, I was â€¨forced to come back to Ft. Lauderdale, but then I had a most â€¨interesting phone call. Â I was invited to go back to Mexico andâ€¨ actually help out the crew. Â I Couldn’t believe it!! I was caveâ€¨diving, working for Hollywood?? Does this stuff even happen in real â€¨life?? Â Although my personal impact on the film is ZERO, I was happy â€¨just to give the divers water and food, help cooking Â with my mom, â€¨carry gear, etc. Â One night, at a bar near our hotel, my step-mother â€¨introduced me to a man named Anthony. Â Anthony lived in NYC and ownedâ€¨a production company, Air Sea Land productions. Â So I met him, we â€¨chatted for a bit with a couple of beautiful Italian women who justâ€¨ happened to be there. The next day he invites me to go up to Newâ€¨ York and work with him. Â So in 3 weeks, I was diving veryâ€¨near Cuba, as close as we could get anyway, flying to Mexico, caveâ€¨diving there and then 1 week after Anthony’s job offer I was on aâ€¨plane to NYC. Â All of this made possible because of Scuba Diving. Â Iâ€¨lived in NY for almost 9 months. Â I loved my job…I was an assistantâ€¨ camera man. Â I filmed the ball drop on New Years in Times Square, â€¨filmed Donald Trump, Kelly Clarkson, Tommy Hilifiger, Cameronâ€¨Diaz., and many I don’t remember. As I worked and lived in New York, I â€¨started missing trees, nature, water, diving…the toll of theâ€¨ weather, being alone in a city of millions, and all of this at the ageâ€¨of 19 and 20. I just missed everything I had come to know back inâ€¨ Florida, so I went home.
Since then I’ve been Â spear-fishing, I doveâ€¨ the beautiful springs of north Florida, Devils Eye, Ginnieâ€¨Springs, Beuford Sink, Little River, those are just a few, and letâ€¨ me clear up a common misconception about Florida. Â Everyone thinks theâ€¨ beaches or a short boat ride will give you the most fulfillment for aâ€¨ dive, but it’s the fresh water springs that will really take your â€¨breath away. Â Of course, that’s just my opinion, seeing rays of sunâ€¨that penetrate 80 ft of crystal clear water, its just something thatâ€¨you cannot ignore. The power of nature and the places you can goâ€¨because of SCUBA are immeasurable. Â There are more springs in Florida â€¨than any other state. I’ve dove a fair share of them, but there are â€¨many, many more which I would love get to. Â As for me, I’m a massage â€¨therapist, a struggling musician, and a die-hard scuba lover. Â I â€¨enjoyed writing this, it really took me back into my memories, whichâ€¨is something I’ve neglected lately. Â So thank you for reading this, I â€¨hope Â you enjoyed it as much as I did writing it…any questions orâ€¨ comments, positive or negative, all are welcome…thank you for â€¨letting me re-live that feeling I got when was 11 and first exploredâ€¨the heavenly underwater caves of Mexico.