Keryn is the co-owner of RAID Southern Africa and owns Outdoor Focus Dive and Adventure Centre in Port Alfred. She is an avid cave diver and has dived caves in Florida USA, Mexico and has a love for Komati Springs here in South Africa where she learned to cave dive.
I was first introduced to Keryn when she organised the Thursday evening Zoom talks that kept us all from going completely mad during that first Covid lockdown. She is unfailingly positive and now that I have had the chance to meet her in person I can attest to her wicked sense of humour too. Her enthusiasm for seeing the dive industry grow and prosper in South Africa draws people in and
Keryn’s interest in diver rescue was piqued because of her affiliation with the NSRI, and she started to realise the potential risks of diving in a relatively isolated area like Port Alfred. By this time, she had become a training officer at Port Alfred Sea Rescue station, and practised various diving-related injuries and scenarios on a regular basis where she went on to become the first female NSRI Coxwain and eventually the first female station commander in South Africa. In addition, Keryn is a qualified SAMSA Surf Launch and dive boat skipper instructor and examiner.
What drew you to scuba diving initially?
Haha, my mother-in-law decided she wanted to do a Scuba Diving course and she insisted that I do it with her. I wasn’t keen on all the theory but after I took that first breath underwater I didn’t mind in the least.
What is it about Scuba diving that made you choose this as a profession?
Shortly after I completed my first dive on my first dive course I realised that I wanted to do a lot more diving and spent every available minute at the local Kowie Dive School learning and building a lot of valuable experience. At that point I just wanted to dive but slowly realised that I had a passion for sharing the underwater world with others and I changed my focus from getting experience to completing courses and saved every scrap of cash to put towards my next course or piece of diving equipment. It took a while but I achieved my goal and have honestly never looked back.
We know your love for cave diving – is that something you always wanted to try or did Cave diving become more intriguing as your scuba career progressed?
I never wanted to technical or cave dive; in fact I really thought people were “touched” to want to dive deep or, heaven forbid, in a cave. There was a slow dissolve of my very strong opinion on tech diving, driven 100% by Paul Toomer with his passion and love of rebreathers and deeper wreck dives. About 2 years after I qualified as a 60m rebreather diver my business partner and good friend Brett Louw decided we should do our cave course together. Well. Up until I put my head in that cave for the first time I was uncertain if I was going to like it or even manage on the course. It was the best experience of my diving career, the silence, stillness and all encompassing dark is the most peaceful and amazing place on this planet. The first time I turned my torch off in the cave at Komati Springs will stay with me forever, thank you PJ Prinsloo!
How are you managing the limitations and problems caused by COVID and the restriction on travelling?
Our business has been affected, as have many other dive centres. But from a personal point of view I have been very fortunate to still be able to dive in Port Alfred, dive on Sardine Run and keep my rebreather dives up in Port Alfred and Bass Lake. We have also spent some amazing time at Komati Springs with our rebreathers in the cave which is the next level of bliss.
Do you have a favourite dive memory/experience you can share with us?
Well, I have already. CAVE DIVING, but to add to that. Diving the amazing cave systems in Mexico, I just can’t get enough of that. I have a trip planned back there next year, COVID has really played havoc with all our international travel plans.
What advice would you give to newbie divers?
Find an instructor you trust and get on with. Spend time getting comfortable in the water, make sure that your first open water experience is going to be a great experience – then you will be a lifer.
What do you wish everyone knew about the ocean and/or scuba diving?
Everyone needs to be aware of the beauty and fragility of the oceans on our doorstep. This is the only way we may be able to stop people using the ocean as a big garbage dump and rapidly killing off the fragile marine life.
You can find Keryn at: