You may be a whiz with a chain saw, but have you ever wielded one under water, in the dark?
Welcome to the hard core world of commercial diving. We learned about this gritty aquatic industry from our friends at Filson. In each catalog they roll out, Filson wisely profiles real people who live the real Filson life. In their current catalog, we meet Britt Coates, a commercial diver from the Divers Institute in Seattle, Washington who has indeed wielded a chainsaw in the dark and underwater and has even dived into the depths of a nuclear reactor pool.
Between jobs, Coates was kind enough to speak to us about his career, the Divers Institute, and his favorite drinking spots in Seattle.
How did you get into commercial diving?
I got into commercial diving because I decided I needed a career change. I was a journeyman electrician here in Washington. The housing market fell out in 2008 and our builders quit building. I was a scuba diver and found out that I could combine construction with diving. I learned about Divers Institute and decided to get training for a new future.
How long have you been at the Divers Institute?
I have taught at DIT for about three and a half years total, but took a year off after my 2nd year at DIT to go do some more commercial diving in Miami. I have been in the diving industry since 2008, though.
What is an average day like for you?
I have a couple of days a month where I teach a powerpoint presentation about basic diving equipment and about rigging practices and equipment. The other days I check out dive gear to students and teach them how to get into the water and use the equipment from a entry-level comprehension level.
What is the wildest place you have had to dive?
I have had a few crazy dive locations. I’ve dived in the suppression pond wetwell of a nuclear reactor, I have been to Antarctica, and I have had to dive in an effluent pond at a pulp mill, which contains all their chemical byproducts.
For vacation will we see you diving a shipwreck in the BVI’s or do you go the other route and head for a hike?
On vacation I enjoy going to tropical places and doing some scuba diving and appreciating the amazing things underwater that I am too busy to look at while I’m working. I really enjoy taking cruises as well.
Give us some of your favorite spots in Seattle for beer and food.
I love Royal Grinders and Katsu Burger for food. When it comes to drinks, I prefer smaller places and friendly crowds over massive bars with huge crowds. One of my favorite places is Celtic Swell in Alki.
What are some of your favorite getaway places around Seattle?
My favorite getaway place is going to Discovery Bay on the peninsula in September. I stop at the same spot every year and pick chanterelle mushrooms and I dig clams and shuck oysters. After that I continue to Discovery Bay and go crabbing. I spend the weekend having an amazing seafood feast and enjoying the beach.
What is your favorite part of your job?
The industry has been very kind to me and I enjoy passing the trade to the next generation of divers and baptizing them into my career. As a diver I just love being underwater. The world goes quiet and I can make the impossible possible.
To learn more about commercial diving, check out the below video from Filson.
All images courtesy of Filson.