Over the past 30 years I have been involved in the Transport, Travel, Tourism and Entertainment Industries in various capacities including: Coach Driver, Boat Skipper, Road Manager, Logistics Co-ordinator, and Scuba Instructor.
At the start of this I met Ralf for the first time, when we were both becoming Scuba Instructors and became firm friends, little did we know at this stage how closely we would become involved both on a personal and professional basis.
During this time I was earning a reputation as being one of the best repairers and service technicians of Scuba Equipment in Brisbane. The dive shop I was working for as an instructor had its own boat, so most of the time when teaching the open water sessions I would also skipper the boat having obtained my boating qualifications years earlier.
Upon reflection the early to late 1980’s was a very volatile time for dive shop operators and this proved to be the case with the shop I was working for, luckily I was starting to see the writing on the wall, due to under capitalizing over expansion, and decided to look around for another position in other words get out before everything went under.
I had started hearing rumours of this small outfit down the road that were going to be doing some radical things within the dive industry, this went along with my way of thinking, so I decided to go see them first.
I walked into what was an old car yard, you know the sort of set up: plenty of open space at the front on the main road with a little office at the back. I remember thinking that there’s no way this could be a dive operation, or if it was it would have to be a dodgy one, and I almost walked off, but just as I was going to walk away, someone came out of the office and asked if they could help me. Well in for a penny in for a pound, I asked if the boss was around, the reply was that he would back in a tick and I could come in and wait if I wished, so I did.
The first room was full of dive posters and had a set of dive gear assembled on an air tank, in a corner, while I was looking at this, the door slid open and heard a voice say: “just can’t keep the riff raff out of here can you guys!” I looked up to see my mate Ralf standing there, and he was the person I was waiting for, so after initial intros all around, Ralf and I went outside to talk. I filled him in on what I was doing, and he told me all about the operation, and asked me how long I would require to give notice, and come and work with him, and so, two weeks later we started working together for the first of many times.
The idea for this operation WAS quite radical, and I am proud of what we did achieve in the time that we had, my only regret is that the timing was not in our favour, due to a major downturn in the tourist industry, because of the pilot strike, that had repercussions all over the world, during that time, and like so many other businesses in the tourist trade, our investors pulled the proverbial pin, and so the business didn’t survive to become what was originally planned, to be one of the most innovative dive operations in Australia.
After getting over the shell shock of its demise, we went our separate ways for a while and then in the early ’90’s after I had returned from managing a dive operation in P.N.G.
We were both recruited to oversee the refurbishment of a 120ft boat that was going to be used for dive cruise holidays in the Northern Barrier Reef. After nearly three years of work we both ended up quitting our contracts, when we were told that the owners had changed their minds as to regard to the use of the vessel.
So finding ourselves land locked for a while, we got hooked into the latest craze at the time and we founded Southern Cross Line Dancing which grew beyond our wildest expectations and yes, beyond our ability to keep within manageable parameters , after some deep and meaningful discussions between us, the decision was made to sell it off during the late 90’s.
After doing our own thing for a while, we then got together again in 2001 to build our own boat, and of course being the businessmen that we are, we wanted to cover ourselves, and for taxation purposes, we decided to give it a company name. Now the hard part was finding a unique name , it isn’t as easy as it seems , until one day after I had lost my cool during a discussion over lunch, I apologised to Ralf and he then came up with that classic line: “don’t worry about it …shit happens”, with that we both looked at each other and said in unison: “YES!, that’s it”, both the company name and the boat name.
So after a bit of anger we had come up with both names a bit like killing two birds with one stone …oh, if you haven’t guessed it already the name became: “Ship Happens” …………..which leads us to the next page, see you there……….