We are thrilled to share a guest post by maritime author Vickie Jensen. 

How I Came to Write Deep, Dark and DangerousThe Story of British Columbia’s World-class Undersea Tech Industry Book cover for Deep, Dark and Dangerous

Misbehaving kids often get asked “Why did you do that?” by a stern parent or teacher. Writers are regularly are asked a similar question: “How did you come to write such a book?” That’s a particularly apt question for Deep, Dark and Dangerous, considering that I grew up in the cornfields of Iowa.

For me, the answer goes back to my childhood. In our family, “work” was a 4-letter word—but a very positive one. Both my parents worked full-time jobs to keep the family boat afloat. As a teenager, I regularly put on high heels and helped out in my mom’s jewelry store. Or I pulled on gumboots and followed my dad as he ran his big equipment draining farm fields to increase their productivity. I picked and sold sweetcorn door to door. Then, for two summers I worked on a dude ranch in Texas. Over the years I became fascinated with the work people do, whether it was carving totem poles, wrangling cattle or selling diamond rings.

My fascination with worked inspired me  to interview women working on coastal workboats for my book Saltwater Women at Work. I asked each of them, “How did you get started?” The answer was almost always, “Well, I met this guy…”

So, how did I get started writing about B.C. trailblazers who work two miles deep underwater? My answer would definitely be “Well, I met these guys…”

The first of these guys was Al Trice of International Hydrodynamics Corporation (HYCO0. He, along with Don Sorte and Mack Thomson, built the first Pisces submersibles in North Vancouver, subs that quickly gained global fame.”

Another inspiring guy was Phil Nuytten, acknowledged as one of Canada’s greatest explorers. He’s done everything underwater from deep diving in ultra-cold Arctic waters to inventing the Newtsuit atmospheric diving suit and the DeepWorker submersible.

Al Robinson was a noted inventor of subsea ROVs, manipulator arms. He even designed miniature mechanical spiders for a sci-fi movie.

Mark Atherton was a commercial diver who worked with sonar pioneer Helmut Lanziner and with Willy Wilhelmsen’s sonar inventions.

These are only a few of the guys I met while working on Deep, Dark and Dangerous: The Story of British Columbia’s World-class Undersea Tech Industry (Harbour Publishing). In all, I interviewed over 45 subsea pioneers. These people shunned normal desk jobs, opting instead for watery work that was almost always deep, dark and dangerous.

For a deep dive into these stories, join me on October 28 at the book launch at the Vancouver Maritime Museum. You can also visit my website.

-Vickie Jensen

The image at the top of the page is the Pisces I launch with Don Sorte, Mack Thomson and Al Trice.