Representing underwater achievers everywhere is James Hicks of Aqua Dive Services in Ballard. Hicks is a seventh-generation Washingtonian...
Opening Day weekend. Time to hit the water, both salt and fresh. But let us take a moment to meet those whose lives and livelihoods are beneath the surface. Representing underwater achievers everywhere is James Hicks of Aqua Dive Services in Ballard. Hicks is a seventh-generation Washingtonian who’s been taking care of business down below on Lake Union since 1998 and diving in general for the past 19 years.
Q: What’s a typical day like in the dive business?
A: We usually go across the street and get a cup of coffee, and then we mosey on down to the lake. We do salvage work, sewer repair, but we do quite a bit of work on floating homes. Say you buy a floating home and move your grand piano in the corner; we’re the ones who rebalance the house, among other things. We also inspect the floating homes for bank loans: They’re not real estate, they’re personal property. The floating-home community is fairly eccentric, but we have a steady clientele and we know all our clients. Q: If I dropped my sunglasses or my keys into the drink, what would it cost to fish them out?
A: It would cost around $100 (at $100 per tank of air).
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Q: So what’s an unusual day in the dive business?
A: We’ve been called to retrieve everything. We’re not cheap: What we do is not that complicated, but it does require skill to come home safely every night. We got called to find a wedding ring one time. It was in silt. I spent 45 minutes on it, and after I was almost out of air I saw a glint. The ring was sitting on the nub of a log, just like it was on a finger.
Q: Is it a small world down there for the underwater professional?
A: There are only 2,000 working divers in the world. I pretty much know everybody because I see the same people at the conventions every year. I know who the legends are — all the guys who have done stuff, like the Titanic. Q: Do you ever go diving on vacation?
A: I do more free diving. I don’t strap on the gear. I’ve pretty much dove all over the world — I’ve got that T-shirt. My wife is an amateur diver, and I promised to take her someplace once a year. Usually someplace warm, but sometimes right around here, which is some of the best diving, in my opinion. On vacation I like mask, fins and me.