Rest In Peace, Al!
Last week we became new friends on the Belize Aggressor IV! We met the Friday before getting on the boat because he saw me and my wife with my Nauticam rig, sitting at the Radisson restaurant table.
Al was a talkative and happy fellow! I learned he began diving in 1981. He was an avid and enthusiastic underwater photographer. I knew instantly that Al and I would become friends that week and would share some stories and photos together in the late evenings after our last dives each day. That indeed became a reality. On Thanksgiving day, I did an underwater portrait of Al. That photo would be the last ever taken of Al.
After our week ending cocktail/awards party, we all headed back to the restaurant I first met Al. Al joined us late. By the time he arrived, he was very pale, sweating and breathing heavily. Paramedics came only to release him because his vitals had stabilized. He brought along his laptop and I sat with him to view his wealth of underwater photos. He had them neatly categorized by species type. His work was really good and I commended him! After dinner, I walked Al back to the boat on the long dock that separated the restaurant from the yacht. He again started sweating profusely with heavy breathing. I asked him to stop and take a break but he insisted he was OK. We made it back to the boat but Al collapsed in the hallway leading to his cabin. He died 20 minutes later.
I am still in shock and disbelief. He was only 68 years old. A man full of life, vigor, happiness. The sea and his camera was his happy place. I remember him telling the Captain he didn’t want to go home. Captain Dennis told him he didn’t have to, he could stay on the boat as long as he wanted. Al got his wish! I’ll come back to visit you Al! I’ll sit on the lounge sofa we shared and sip on cognac, reminiscing about our short friendship….a friendship I’ll never forget.