By Eric Vienneau
“I once found an unopened bottle of very expensive scotch during [a scuba dive],” says Serge Leclerc, Principal Diver of Vancouver Diving Services. “Made my day and was a nice bonus!”
This amazing find is merely a cherry on top for him. Leclerc dedicated his life to diving for all sorts of other reasons first, such as: cleaning boats which stay in the water 24/7, propeller maintenance, dock repairing, marine biological research, and helping people find lost items. But the main reason, is because he fell in love with it.
Leclerc has always been a water person. He swam competitively at a young age and would watch famous diver Jacques Cousteau’s diving adventures with the Calypso on TV.
“I dreamed of being just like him,” Leclerc said. “Soon, I was given a set of masks and fins for my birthday. I was so young and small that I could swim in a bathtub.”
In his late twenties, Leclerc got diving certified in Nanaimo BC. Around 2011, he considered selling his scuba gear. He was looking through postings of sports gear for sale on Craigslist to figure out how much to sell for when he came across an advertisement for someone looking for a diver.
“He needed dock repairs in downtown Vancouver,” Leclerc said, “I had never thought about working underwater before, but the work he needed matched my skill set as I was self-employed at the time doing home renovations and was an experienced journeyman (carpenter who also did electrical and plumbing work).”
He took the gig and found out there were a wealth of opportunities to do work on docks and boats. It was not long after he started Vancouver Diving Services.
Vancouver Diving Services
Leclerc dives for a variety of services. Boaters know all too well the importance of boat maintenance, and Leclerc makes this tedious process easier.
Especially in Vancouver BC, boats which are kept in the water 24/7 in saltwater need to be maintained properly. Lifting a boat out of the water is expensive and very time consuming. On top of this, the boat can be put under a lot of stress when being removed if it is a boat that is designed to float on its bottom, not to be lifted by slings with all its weight resting on straps while the rest hangs in mid-air.
Leclerc, instead, dives in the water so the boat does not have to be moved at all. He regularly removes algae, mussels, and barnacle from hull props, and through hulls, which saves fuel and protects the engine from overheating.
So customers are aware of what kind of maintenance they need done, Leclerc does underwater photography and videography so they can see for themselves.
Check out a one of Leclerc’s underwater videos on his Vimeo below.
Leclerc has also had a hand in marine biology research. He was involved in research done to solve issues relating to the invasion of Eurasian Milfoil in local lakes and rivers.
“This helped us to find ways to get rid of it, and in turn assist in helping salmon spawn,” Leclerc said. “This helps restore a balanced ecosystem in our oceans, lakes, and rivers.”
Living the dream
“Working underwater is unique in that it is a hostile environment,” Leclerc said. “I have to deal with the currents of the tides, other boats nearby, and of course, sea life in general.”
Leclerc had a frightening stand-out run-in with some sea life at one point in his career. He was working on a big 100’ yacht in Coal Harbour in Vancouver. He was working under the boat like any other day, when he began to hear a loud frantic banging on the hull.
“I knew something weird was going on,” Leclerc explained. “I always tell boat owners to tap on the hull if they need me for any reason. When I surfaced, I could see a pod of killer whales at the front of the boat… I don’t think I ever got out of the water that fast, neither before nor after this!”
These dangerous encounters are not deterring Leclerc though. He says some of his greatest accomplishments in his career have been the pride he feels through helping people.
“I was once called to search for a wedding ring for a guy whose wife had passed away just a few months prior to this. It was under a dock and about 20’ deep in a muddy bottom,” said Leclerc. “All his friends were telling him that there was no chance this wedding ring could be found in the ocean and tried to talk him out of wasting his money. That guy hired me to “at least try” as he didn’t want to just give up without trying. He had two young children in tow. I could tell how important finding the ring was to them all.”
Leclerc went to work. Wading through the mud and searching thoroughly while the man stood hoping for the best.
“When I surfaced with the wedding ring in my hand, the smile on his face and the jumping for joy from the 2 kids was priceless,” said Leclerc
Similarly, Leclerc found a family heirloom ring for a lady on vacation in Vancouver. The ring was lost in False Creek, which is where a ton of debris from the early years of Vancouver’s development had been dumped. Old mattresses, roof tops, junk and plenty of mud made this a daunting job. The woman was prepared to pay for 4 hours of search in 60’ of water.
“She was so pleased when I found it after an hour that she insisted on paying me for the 4 hours,” Leclerc said. “The tears of joy in her face were worth way more than the money.”
Check out Serge Leclerc’s video of him finding the lost wedding ring below.
Diving doesn’t feel like work for Leclerc, so he doesn’t intend on slowing down anytime soon. Business is booming and he continues getting more and more clients who appreciate his work.
“The reality is, I just turned 60 years old. At some point I will in all probability have to hire a few younger divers to do the work while I will do the management,” said Leclerc.
He explained how underwater work on boats and docks is nothing like recreational diving. The risks involved are not for everyone. He has the right ingredients to thrive because he is very experienced and disciplined.
“Like any work that involves a risk of any sort, your worst enemy is complacency,” he said. “To succeed and stay alive in this business you must be sharp mentally and well rested every day. In the end, besides taking care of yourself, looking after our clients and providing that ‘little extra’ is what keeps the phone ringing, and business going.”
There are many diving services across Canada, and Leclerc represents the love and dedication to diving many have. His message to everyone: “be inspired, and an inspiration to others.”
For more information: https://www.vancouverdivingservices.com