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The name Peter Hughes has become synonymous with luxury live-aboard dive travel and for good reason. For over 25 years, Hughes ran the most recognized live-aboard company in the world and his name still stands for excellence in dive travel. However, his influence on the dive community extends far beyond that, including the successful operation of 8 land-based dive resorts, 13 live-aboards, as well as his ongoing efforts in environmental preservation.
His journey has taken him the world over, but it all began in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1947 where he was born to two school teachers. His young life took a colorful turn in 1951 when his parents took jobs with the British oil giant, Regent Oil, which owned one of the world’s largest oil refineries in Trinidad. Peter celebrated his 4th birthday on the oil tanker that carried his family
to their new life in a distant, tropical land. He learned to swim aboard the tanker in a salt water pool the crew had constructed, and still remembers that time as “great fun.” After arriving in Trinidad, his parents both taught at the private school the company provided for the children of their senior staff. Peter and his three siblings attended this school, as well.
In 1954 the Hughes family made their first trip to Speyside, Tobago where they met Bill and Anne Petry , a couple from Atlanta, Ga. The Petry's operated Camp Crusoe, a summer camp for teenagers desiring to learn scuba and other water activities. This visit included Peter’s first encounter with “snorkeling,” consisting of goggles(no face mask), a nose clip(which resembled a padded cloths pin), and a very long aluminum s-shaped snorkel, with a ping pong ball in a cage at the end to keep the water out. Despite his rustic gear, Hughes fell in love with the sea and was hooked from that moment on. Every school vacation was spent by the family in Tobago, except for those years where the company would pay for them to return to Scotland.
At the tender age of 10( lower than the required age of 13 to attend Camp Crusoe), Bill Petry decided that he would teach young Peter to scuba dive, which he did right off the beach at Batteaux Bay. Peter acknowledges that the primitive equipment at that time made it much more difficult than it is today, but nevertheless, took to the sport immediately. When he turned 13, he was able to attend Camp Crusoe every other year(the years his family didn’t return to Scotland), and became addicted to free diving and spear fishing, as well as scuba diving. Another powerful influence on young Hughes at this time was a book his father gave him, Jacques Cousteau’s “The Silent World.” There was no doubt in Peter’s mind that he would build his life around the sea.
After leaving school in 1964, Hughes went to work as an apprentice commercial diver in Port of Spain, Trinidad, working for a marine construction and salvage company, SAMOS, Ltd(South American Marine Construction & Salvage). Peter found their work in the Caribbean of salvaging
small ships that had wrecked on various islands and reefs to be great fun, as well as valuable experience. Sadly, the stint was short-lived, as the company experienced hard times and he was one of the first to be laid off. By this time, Texaco had bought Regent Oil in Trinidad and had, fortunately, kept his parents on, even promoting his father to principal and his mother to head of the math department. Forced to return home, Peter began working for Texaco for the next
3 ½ years. He enjoyed both his work on drilling and production over the rigs in the “forests” of Trinidad and attended night school at the San Fernando Technical Institute at the same time.
Peter could no longer ignore the call of the sea and so returned to Tobago, where he worked in the summer at Camp Crusoe and at the Batteaux Bay Club in the winter through the spring. He also had his hand in Tobago Aqua Sports, where his job included recruiting and teaching as many as he could interest in scuba diving. For the six months