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The Last Dive Trip

24 August 2017 - Diver Magazine - August 2017

Underwater photo-journalist and DIVER's Technical Editor Nigel Wade enjoyed a week on a liveaboard in the southern Maldives shortly before his untimely death earlier this year. The trip proved outstanding in terms of friendship, laughs and the images it produced. BRUCE MILANI-GALLIENI steps in to write the review - the photos are of course by NIGEL WADE 

NIGEL AND I HAD MET SEVERAL years ago, in Egypt. At first, I didn’t quite know what to make of this little guy and his never-ending, albeit hilarious, accounts of his exploits as a fireman. His laughter was infectious and our like-minded sense of humour and shared interests acted as a catalyst to form a very special friendship. 
He was a genius photographer and always happy to share his knowledge and offer tips. Nigel and I shared a passion for photography, though I was nowhere near his level, and he would never tire of giving me helpful guidance and advice. 
On this trip, once again, my photography took a dramatic step forward thanks to his patience and ability to explain the finer points. 
It’s rare to meet someone and “click” in such a profound way. Our friendship just kept getting stronger, and I can honestly say that I have never met anyone like him and, sadly, never will again.
OUR LAST TRIP TOGETHER started when another great buddy and travel agent John Spencer Ades, called me about a trip to the southernmost atoll in the Maldives. Suvadiva is the second largest atoll in the world, about 1° north of the Equator.
It was a little-known itinerary and promised to be something special. Sharks, whale sharks, untouched reefs, luxury liveaboard – oh, and Nigel Wade would be on the trip too. I didn’t take much convincing.
I asked John not to tell Nigel I was coming, as I wanted to surprise him at the airport. The look on Nigel’s face when I barged in front of him with my dive-gear-laden trolley was priceless. His mouth resembled that of a fish, opening and closing yet emitting no sounds – a rarity. 
Finally, a huge WTF!, followed by a bear-hug. The plan had worked to perfection and the trip was underway.
The long flights passed quickly and soon the three of us were aboard the Duke of York, the luxury liveaboard that would be our home for the next week. This 36m, three-deck super-yacht was well-equipped to cosset its guests. 
Recognising our zombie-like demeanour, the crew quickly showed us to our respective cabins so that we could freshen up and possibly push up a few Zs. I was pleasantly surprised by my cabin’s size and décor. It was beautifully appointed, with plenty of space to spread out. The en suite bathroom would not have looked out of place in a small flat.
I have been on many diving liveaboards, but this one was in a class of its own. It is Italian-owned and managed, and in typical fashion you are immediately made to feel welcome – an experience rather like visiting your favourite Italian restaurant.
In his inimitable way Nigel made sure he made himself known to all the crew, but in particular to the chef. 
Being a fussy eater, he needed an ally in the galley. Sure enough, at every meal “Nige’s dish” would be served.
It is not uncommon to have non-diving guests aboard the Duke of York, and the crew are only too happy to arrange a variety of activities for them, such as snorkelling or kayaking, or even DR0P them off on a secluded island for that Robinson Crusoe experience. 
Later, the tender will whisk them back to the yacht in time for cocktails and another lavish meal. 
For those who need to de-stress and unwind, a treatment room is at their disposal. Enrique the resident yoga instructor and wellbeing therapist has a number of different treatments and massages on offer. 
I often get a bit of a stiff back after diving, so what better than a massage with an ocean view as your mind drifts away? Enrique also runs yoga sessions for both beginners and the more experienced on the vast upper deck, a tranquil haven for sun-worshippers.


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