Our professional team is made up of outstanding people from around the world. We have a wide variety of work, life and dive experiences represented at Dive BVI. Speaking multiple languages, understanding many cultures, and enjoying every dive – our team looks forward to spending time with you in our beautiful islands.
Jeff McNutt - A proud Texan, Jeff moved to Virgin Gorda in early 2003 after a BVI sailing trip for his birthday in 2002. Jeff started diving back in Texas in 1996 and became an Scuba Instructor in 2000. He was awarded the prestigious SSI Instructor Trainer rating (meaning he can now train new Instructors!) in 2010. He started out as manager of our former Marina Cay location for two years before moving into the General Manager position. Jeff enjoys teaching divers about Nitrox and how we make it here in the BVI. Always on the water, he loves saltwater sport fishing and cruising for new dive sites on our DPVs. After getting his first taste of Rebreather diving, he’s very excited to start teaching our guests how to use the new Poseidon MK VI CCR this year. Jeff also maintains the website, dabbles at Freediving, enjoys Texas country music, peforms his own stunts and watching the Dallas Cowboys. Recently named the Area Office (Eastern Caribbean) Coordinator for SSI, Jeff looks forward to bringing the SSI standard to the BVI and the rest of the Caribbean.
Casey McNutt - Arriving with Jeff, Casey has made herself at home here. In charge of Retail Operations/Human Resources, she is responsible for ordering all of the latest dive gear and resort wear for our four locations. While shopping for new styles is fun, she still enjoys getting out and leading dives at some of her favorite sites which include Ginger Steps and the Chikuzen. Casey has been lucky enough to dive with a hammerhead and a tiger shark in the last few years. In her spare time, Casey exercises regularly, climbs Gorda Peak, and is an active member of the VG Ladies Book Club. She is the proud “momma” to Dixie, her Olde English Bulldogge. She recently completed her 2nd marathon!
Yacht Harbour Team Members
Rudy Woodley - Originally from St Vincent, Rudy (”Doc”) is the only West Indian PADI Divemaster working in the BVI. He’s been with Dive BVI for as long as we can remember and is an excellent captain. You’ll often see Rudy at the helm of Sea Lion, our big power catamaran, heading out for our famous Anegada Day Trip or Island Hopper Day Trip. Rudy would love to show you the marine world he grew up in when you visit! You’ll also see him out on the cricket and soccer fields of Virgin Gorda and Tortola.
Vivian Toro - Vivian was born and raised in Puerto Rico. She completed a BA in Social Sciences, with minors in Psychology and Sociology. By the time she turned 30, she was tired of staring at computer screens and measuring people’s homes, and got out of the real estate industry (good timing too!), turning her hobby into a career. Vivian did her IDC at ProDive in Fort Lauderdale on 2003 and was hired, fresh from graduation, to work for them. She quickly moved from being a divemaster on the boat to the training department. Promptly became a PADI Master Instructor, and worked doing upper level training until 2007. That’s when she bought a sailboat, sold everything she had and sailed away…all the way to the Bahamas. She worked for Stuart Cove’s Dive Bahamas until 2009 as a senior instructor, a shark feeder (got cools scars to prove it!), and as a safety diver for underwater productions. Certified about 12 years ago, she had the opportunity to dive Florida’s east coast, including the Florida Keys and Fort Lauderdale, in addition to Bahamas, Jamaica, St. Thomas, Puerto Rico and the British Virgin Islands. Vivian is 5′1″, but don’t let her small size fool you, many of her friends describe her as a stick of dynamite; you won’t be able to fall asleep around her. On her time off, you’ll find her reading a good book, cooking a new recipe, or watching a movie with her boyfriend. Vivian’s energy and attention to guests needs, will make your diving day unforgettably fun.
Marc Taggart – Marc grew up on a little island in the middle of the Irish sea called Isle of Man. (Just to clear any misconceptions about the name, yes, there are women there) He went to university for retail management and computers and was working as a manager for Marks & Spencer department stores when the adventure bug creeped in after watching “Thunderball” one evening. Tired of wearing suits and helping women with bra fittings, he decided it was time for a career change. He did his IDC at ProDive in Fort Lauderdale on the summer of 2006 and went to Nassau to work at Stuart Cove’s Dive Bahamas until 2009. Aside from learning the traditional work of a dive instructor, Marc had the opportunity to become one of the senior shark feeder’s trainers, and did shark wrangling for underwater productions for the BBC, Discovery Channel and others. Places that he had the opportunity to go diving have been Spain (where he did his Discover Scuba dive), Florida Keys, Isle of Man (cold, but you get to swim with sea lions), Bahamas, Puerto Rico and the British Virgin Islands. On his time off, you can find Marc playing XBox 360, watching movies, and trying to learn some Spanish (by osmosis) from his girlfriend Vivian. Marc’s attention to detail and British sense of humor, will make your diving day very entertaining. If you remember, ask him about sun tanning tips. Marc is also one of our SSI Rebreather Instructors and looks forward to showing you around on the Poseidon MK VI CCR unit.
Lance Hiesinger – Originally from Alberta, Canada, Lance has spent the last 4 years traveling around the globe looking for the next great dive adventure. Having experienced countless unique dive environments ranging from 6*C to 31*C, hurricane tossed waters to 200 ft visibility, Lance has a plethora of diving stories and you will often hear him telling them on the dive boat. Lance’s greatest passion is extreme deep and wreck diving – no force on Earth can hold him back from a deep wreck dive! With his years behind him as a financial advisor, it is safe to say that he has happily traded the business suit for a wetsuit and has never looked back. Outside of diving, you’ll find Lance planning his next adventures: whether that be which video game to play, mountain to snowboard on, or country to visit. He looks forward to being part of your next adventure here at Dive BVI.
Laura Hiesinger – Due to a lifelong passion for animals, conservation and the environment, Laura opted to study for a Bachelor of Science degree in Zoology and Marine Biology at the University of Manchester, not too far away from her hometown of Liverpool, England. During her time at university, she managed to gain hands-on experience in research projects around the world; from documenting intertidal species in the cold waters of Scotland, social patterns of savannah animals in southern Africa to wildlife rescue in Thailand. After graduation, Laura spent a year assisting children with special education needs and got a real thrill from teaching, however, before committing to that path she took some time to travel in Asia where she fell in love with diving. Needless to say, she jumped at the chance to combine her two passions of teaching and the environment and 4 years, 30 countries, a Canadian husband (Lance), she’s still loving every second! In her spare time, she’s a keen photographer and is obviously addicted to travel, meeting new people, taking on new challenges and experiencing new cultures!
Ruby Daniel (”Finey”) - Called Finey because, as a baby, everyone in her St. Kitts’ neighborhood said she looked so fine. Finey has been with Dive BVI for over eleven years! As our friendly retail clerk, Finey is so helpful with our divers and shoppers that they often find more than they were looking for! She is the source of all island information so stop by and let her fill you in.
Connilia Williams - also known as Connie, born and raised on the beautiful Island of Virgin Gorda. Moving up the chain from being Red Cross and VISAR certified; she has now become a certified diver working her way to being an instructor. Until then you will find her greeting you at the door of our Little Dix Bay shop, or joining you on your dives.
Leverick Bay Team Members
Caitlin Kennedy Nichols – Caitlin was bitten by the water bug as an infant and then grew up with her face plastered against the aquarium glass at the National Aquarium in Baltimore, MD. At age six, she wanted to be a “marine mammologist” – even if no one else knew what that was! Over time, her tastes have shifted towards fishes and fish behavior, having completed a Bachelors of Science from Rutgers University in Marine Science and Conservation Ecology. She got certified 10 years ago in the cold waters of a Pennsylvania quarry and has never looked back (especially not at the cold water!). After spending time working for research stations in New Jersey, she changed tracks to spend a bit more time out in the sun and on the water and less time sorting sea grass in a lab. Caitlin has been working in the dive industry for 3 years now, in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Caribbean! On the boats, ask her to explain why that fish was acting strange, but be prepared for a lengthy response- she’ll want to tell you everything she knows. She and her partner, Jeff Nichols, are enjoying the BVIs immensely, looking forward to a beach wedding on Virgin Gorda in October 2012. On her time off, Caitlin loves cooking and watching Jeff’s baby balcony garden grow. Caitlin officially hails from the northeast US; her family lives outside of Philadelphia, PA, but she will always root for the Steelers and Penguins.
Jeff Nichols - Jeff watched too much Discovery Channel when he was a kid, because of this he asked to get certified for his high school graduation present. Immediately afterwards he enrolled at the University of Mississippi, where he “dove” (get it?) into his studies with reckless abandonment. It took him a mere 5 years to earn a B.A. with a 2.0 GPA in Political Science. With his Poli Sci degree the possibilities for future employment were endless, but he was able to narrow them down to 2, Scuba Instructor or Construction worker. Being an educated man, Jeff knew that there was no money in diving, so he became a construction worker. Good timing too because a hurricane named Katrina decided to run him and his home state over just a few days before his decision was made. Jeff was a natural at construction but has, and still has, an aversion to making money, so he quit his profitable trim carpentry/painting business and became the construction supervisor for a charity on the Mississippi gulf coast. After a year and a half of rebuilding homes for the poor, Jeff didn’t want to live in the real world anymore. He sold everything he owned and bought a one way ticket to Thailand to become a scuba instructor. Since then he has worked in 10 different countries (almost half of them legally!) doing everything from teaching for the British Army to captaining 100 ton vessels. Jeff loves the BVIs and likes to spend his free time pretending to pay attention to Caitlin, seeing how rad of a sunglass tan he can get, watching the Ole Miss Rebels lose (I don’t want them to lose they just do) and hoping the New Orleans Saints win.
Rupert Raven - Rupert is originally from England. Back in 2005, he decided that after 18 years as an administrator, he needed a complete break and sold his goods to travel the world. While on his travels, he fell in love with diving and the amazing experiences you can have. Back at home, he realized that he didn’t want to spend his days in an office anymore and took his Instructor course in Florida in 2007. From there, he went to the Bahamas where he worked with Marc and Vivian as an Instructor and Shark Feeder. Rupert’s other passions are sports and storm chasing. Yes! That does mean chasing tornadoes. He’s experienced 7 tornadoes up close so far and yearns to see more. During his spare time, you’ll find Rupert underwater with his camera looking for something magical to photograph.
Soren Kofoed - has been working over 10 years in the dive industry, starting out in Thailand and after 3 years moved to Cyprus where he was ground crew on a Bungy jump site. He spent a little over 3 years in Barbados, worked in Shanghai-China at a big Aquarium taking people on shark dives and last worked in Greece before joining Dive BVI. He loves soccer/football and thinks Man United is the best team in the world. He likes to explore dive sites a little further than our normal routes and that’s how he found the stingray cleaning station on Ledges.
Meryem Tekin – Born in a small fishing village on the Southwest coast of Turkey, Mem got her passion for the sea and marine life. Snorkeling before she could walk, scuba was the next step. Growing up in the UK (even the murky lakes didn’t deter her), she began taking her Instructor Course in 2000. After 6 years of teaching summers in Turkey and winters in England (talk about extreme temperature changes!) , Mem decided Marine Biology was the next step. Mem graduated with a Bachelors in Marine Biology and combined her loves – teaching scuba diving and working on Biological surveys and Marine rescue and rehabilitation. Turtles are one of her biggest loves – she’s always got an eye out for them and loves telling you things you never knew about turtles.
Theresa Bascombe - Hailing from Grenada, Theresa has lived on Virgin Gorda for ages. She has been a store clerk for Dive BVI for over fourteen years. Theresa continued her family here and is raising two brilliant children, Akin and Tahira, along with her husband, Glen.
Scrub Island Team Members
Brian Higgins - hails from a small town on the west coast of Ireland, so he is used to the friendly relaxed pace of the BVI’s. After studying Computer Science in University and staring at a computer screen for over 5 years, he realized that life inside a 2 foot cubicle was not for him. He spent several years teaching in South Korea giving Korean kids a great Irish accent as well as traveling and diving throughout Central Asia, South East Asia and the Middle East. After working in Thailand as a Divemaster he hung up his fins to settle back in Ireland as a Special Needs Assistant working with teenagers with Autism and Down Syndrome. Diving on the West coast of Ireland is great but 7mm full suits and 5mm on top of that with hoods and gloves and all that WEIGHT wasn’t. Thankfully, the economy in Ireland decided to hibernate for a few years giving Brian the chance to move to the Caribbean to be Dive Instructor for the last three years, diving all over, from Saint Marten, Saba, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and all over the West Indies, to Honduras, Mexico and over a year and a half on Grand Cayman. While not diving you’ll usually fine Brian enjoying the beaches and working on that elusive tan where he will happily tell you a story about pretty much anything after kissing the blarney story a few too many times. Just don’t ask him to tell a joke!
Sarah Van Name - Sarah was raised in Virginia beach body surfing next to wild dolphins and collecting sea shells and other neat things on the beach. After a lifetime of living next to the water, she finally started diving under it as an act of sibling rivalry. After those first few moments the underwater world became her new home. Those first dives ended with an anguished internet search of “dive for free” that led to an amazing volunteer opportunity researching coral in the Caribbean. That kind of work rarely pays and her B.S. in Psychology had only gotten her a job working on standardized tests for the government so a career change was in order. She chose English teaching spending a few years teaching Mexican police officers to shout “Stop” before shooting and teaching Thai children about her varied interest including the life cycle of frogs. Eventually, she decided to combine her two loves: Diving and Teaching. Working in Thailand she was in charge of the Eco program at her school organizing ocean clean-ups, training DMT’s in the eco program and caring for the coral nursery. She’s a big coral geek and will talk to you about it for hours if you let her. Lots of self study and google has given her extensive knowledge of the underwater world. She enjoys sharing Coral and Fish identification knowledge with divers and helping students to fine tune their skills. Now she is an SSI Advanced Open Water Instructor and PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer. Hi Mom.
Scott Butz - Scott left the states when it started to sink in that, in order for his already very expensive liberal arts education to be of any value, it would have to be supplemented with even more costly degrees and an untold number of harsh northern winters. Plus, he would probably eventually have to get an indoor job. They would probably make him wear shoes and he might not be able to see the ocean from his desk. This was clearly unacceptable. So- being blessed with more time than money, it was easy to let a short job contracting overseas turn into a few years in Europe, then a few more in Asia and the Middle East, until somehow over a decade had passed. In that time he worked for the US DoD and Dept of State, studied and taught in the Far East, and banked enough geography to make Marco Polo look over his shoulder and step up the pace. Somewhere along the way he discovered that the only thing better than diving was being paid for diving. He wisely shifted his efforts in that direction, getting certified to teach and also meeting Sarah (see above) around the same time. Together they’ve spent several years as instructors in Thailand- but she probably already told you all about that… Wait, what? She didn’t mention me? Really? Not at all? wow.
Tara Murphy - Tara was born and raised in the busy capital city of London, UK. She studied and worked as a graphic designer in London for a few years but with the economic decline that was happening, work was quiet and she decided it was time for a change, so she bought a one-way ticket to Australia for an adventure! There she not only worked in a variety of jobs and travelled a large area of Australia, she completed her Open Water Diver course, fell in love with the underwater world and she worked her way up to be a Diving Instructor. After a year in Oz and a trip to New Zealand, she then went to Fiji for two years working as a Dive Instructor. Whilst in Fiji she worked on a variety of locations including small islands, large five star resorts and a cruise ship! After a short visit back home to the (cold) UK, she wanted to get back in the warmer waters and sunny weather so started her new diving adventure by joining Dive BVI in the Caribbean and continues to enjoy every minute here!!!
Clayvorne Pope - Clayvorne is a native of St.Vincent. She moved to the British Virgin Islands in early 1995. Clayvorne first met Jeff and Casey when they were managing the Dive BVI -Marina Cay operation. Clayvorne was the administrative assistant of the island. She is a “people person”, happily dealing with customers daily and always had a smile on her face. She is also super excited about becoming a certified diver in this new adventure.