The Grey Nurse Charters Story
GNC started after Tony and Graham Lyall formed a great dive boat team working for another shop. In 2014 sick of just diving the same sites week after week we decided on a change to run our own business our way. First we searched for a suitable boat. Fast, stable, big enough to carry at least 10 but small enough to tow. Graham found a boat in Victoria, we went to look and the name Grey Nurse screamed out.
Nearly 12 months work mostly by Graham, a skilled welder and designer, we modified the ex-tactical response police boat to become a 2C survey dive boat. Unfortunately after 3 years with the fully operational business, due to the commitments of a growing family and career Graham left the business in 2018.
Doug Seinor bought Graham's share of the business and switched from being our #1 customer to a member of the team. Doug already was a coxswain and became a divemaster. Leading dives, entertaining customers with his knowledge of fish from years of local fishing. Doug was responsible for the roof over the driving area or the boat, rebuild of the trailer as well as being part of day to day operations.
After the business surviving the 2020/21 COVID era unscathed we looked forward getting on with business but then personal issues have caused Doug to step aside from the business leaving Tony as sole owner for the moment.
Tony learnt to dive in 1991, an event that changed his life forever. Always a Newcastle local he was keen to explore away from the popular sites. By 1994 he was a Divemaster and Marine Coxswain. Later that year starting Divercity a dive charter boat aiming to explore the reefs and wrecks out of Swansea and Newcastle; areas with minimal established dive sites but a rich maritime history.
The mid-90s was an unusual time for local diving with up to 11 dive shops operating between Swansea and Port Stephens at the same time. History hasn't been kind to the local dive industry with at least 27 dive businesses closing or changing owners from 1991 to the present. With a dysfunctional market due to cut-throat competition and a second child on the way Tony sold the boat to a game fishing company in 1997.
Thank you to ChangLe Dong for this photo of Tony at Beqa Fiji
Over the next decade Tony, whilst pursuing a career as a teacher continued to work as DM for a Swansea shop, occasionally worked on a local charter boat and gained Cave diving and Technical qualifications with CDAA and TDI. A serious leg injury in 2007 ended his teaching career, but eventually secured works as DM/Coxswain with a Nelson Bay dive shop. In 2012 he became a PADI instructor (MSDT) and later gained qualifications from SSI, SDI and TDI. While working in this location gained an extensive knowledge of divesite inside and outside Port Stephens including many sites not visited by the resident boats.
Having witnessed the poor record for dive businesses operating in Newcastle Tony developed a different model for a dive business. A core business of a dive boat with Tony's side business of training and dive gear. No expensive shop rental, the downfall of so many shops during winter especially after a poor summer; small inventory with reliable suppliers who could ensure quick delivery of ordered gear. Top quality hire and training gear not the usual "hire" grade gear used elsewhere - NOTE hire grade gear IS NOT unsafe, is is usually very durable but usually doesn't breath as comfortably at depths beyond 18 metres. This meant that divers could try good gear before they bought it at a reasonable price not expected to subsidise a shop. No "fad" or "gimmicky" gear that some suppliers often want to push.
The Grey Nurse
Graham and Tony fell for this boat as soon as they rode in it! We converted it from a police boat to a great dive boat.
The Grey Nurse is an 8.5 metre Gemini Waverider. Powered by two whispering Yamaha 225 HP engines the boat is a former Victorian Police tactical response boat.
Very very fast and with the stability and comfort only a RIB can provide there's no boat around that can match the Grey Nurse. Set up with state of the art Raymarine Sounder/GPS and Radar; 27 Meg and VHF radio the boat has all the electronics the police wanted.
Why spend your time bumping around on a boat when you could be already diving? Dive with us!
2C Survey for 10 passengers/2 crew survey number 24645 the Grey Nurse has passed stringent National AMSA criteria to achieve this survey. Even the NSW RMS surveyor we had on board said this was the "Best dive boat he'd ever been on".