Divers Institute of Technology

Established 1968 – Veteran Owned & Operated

A Diver In Haiti: DIT Grad Tyler Sanders’ Great Adventure In the Caribbean

Monday, May 1, 2017

Tyler Sanders’ first commercial diving job wasn’t in Caribbean waters. But after years of hard work, he’s landed a coveted position in one of the most beautiful places in the world.

Tyler coming out of the water on a Duamish River cleanup job in Seattle, WA.

Tyler coming out of the water on a Duamish River cleanup job in Seattle, WA.

A Divers Institute of Technology graduate, Tyler’s journey to this amazing job was an adventure, just like the job itself.

“It’s clear when students get out to the industry if they came from DIT or somewhere else.  Nobody teaches commercial diving to the standard and proficiency as DIT.”

Choosing the Right Current: Getting in The Flow of Commercial Diving With A Top-Notch Education

Tyler was ready for an exciting job after getting out of the Navy in 2004. He found DIT online and toured their facilities. “I chose DIT over the other dive schools because of the level of training provided and the experience and expertise of the instructors who worked there,” he says.

With over a decade in the diving world, he’s seen the advantage of that choice. According to Tyler, DIT graduates stand out from other divers.

“It’s clear when students get out to the industry if they came from DIT or somewhere else.  Nobody teaches commercial diving to the standard and proficiency as DIT.”

The difference between commercial diving schools is the foundation, he explains. “There’s no way to teach every scenario or prepare you for every situation you’ll encounter in the industry.  But [the DIT staff] teach the sound fundamentals that you need as a base to build your career.”

After graduating from DIT, he got a job with Cal Dive International. At the time, they were the biggest dive company in the Gulf of Mexico.

Back deck of the Sun River (Gulf of Mexico) underway to the next job location.

Back deck of the Sun River (Gulf of Mexico) underway to the next job location.

He began with realistic expectations. “I knew it would be challenging and difficult, but also doable.”

Although, the company is no longer operational, they gave Tyler the start he needed. “That was my first foot in the door…they ran things the exact same way,” he says, in terms of the high standards he was taught at DIT.

“I busted my butt on any and every job I could. I tended and learned to keep my mouth shut and work hard.”

Tyler on a lift boat job for Global diving and Salvage in the Gulf of Mexico.

Working Through Spills and Layoffs

In 2010, a major oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico put the diving industry in a tight spot. Oil drilling was temporarily put on hold and so were a lot of diving jobs. So Tyler took his experience to Global Salvage and Diving, where he began doing inshore and offshore work. His hard-work paid off, and he started to get more opportunities.

Haiti: The Diving Experience of a Lifetime

With various jobs, Tyler dove all over the US. He’s been all over the Gulf of Mexico from Texas to Florida, doing offshore oil and gas work. He’s also had jobs in Mexico, Alaska, Hawaii, California, Oregon, Washington, Boston, Minnesota, Kentucky, Illinois, and Wisconsin.

Tyler in Superior, WI practicing for his weld certification

Tyler in Superior, WI practicing for his weld certification

But his most recent job has taken him somewhere a little more unusual.

Expanding Experience: Building a Shipping Port as Diver and Supervisor

Tyler moved from Global Diving and Salvage to Nordic Underwater Services, where he currently works. When Tyler was offered the opportunity to help out with a job in Haiti, he jumped on it.

Tyler jumping off the seawall in Haiti to go weld.

Tyler jumping off the seawall in Haiti to go weld.

Tyler’s company obtained the project of building a shipping port in Haiti after a previous company failed to carry out the task. “We came in, surveyed what they had, and developed and engineered a plan to strengthen and fit it.” Then, they began working on the project.

The first phase of the project was emergency seawall repairs. The workers had to fix a water-retaining wall made of steel sheet pile by welding on patches. That was followed by phase two, which Tyler explains as “the dirt work.” This is when the team completes the construction of the port. Finally, the workers install ship bumpers and anodes.

Tyler floats between supervising and working as a lead diver. “I fill whatever vacancy needs to be filled.” But, he says, he prefers diving.

Tyler getting ready to make a dive off the American Triumph for Cal Dive.

Tyler getting ready to make a dive off the American Triumph for Cal Dive.

“It’s less stress. You can zone out and just do your thing.  Supervising is a bit more challenging because there’s a lot more variables and things to consider.”  Either way, he’s getting invaluable experience and has the opportunity to see diving jobs from different perspectives.

“I enjoy bouncing back and forth, and doing so helps me think of ways to do things better and more efficiently.”

Working Internationally: New Challenges and New Experiences

In addition to varying job responsibilities, Tyler has found that working in a foreign country is an exciting experience. It gives a new perspective to diving and lends its fair share of challenges.

“Obviously, the language barrier is big,” he says. “You can’t communicate as effectively or as efficiently as you can in the states.”

Obtaining tools and equipment needed for the job can be difficult. The team has to try and explain what they need to someone who doesn’t speak English, or doesn’t speak it well. Sometimes they get what they need, others times they just have to do without.

“A lot more time and effort must go into your planning. None of it is impossible, just more difficult than the States.” The challenges are building Tyler’s skills day by day and helping him become a better diver.

Wading Through Difficult Waters

Unpredictable schedules and undependable equipment are examples of challenges divers can face in the industry. “Different jobs are challenging for different reasons and in different ways,” says Tyler. “The hardest parts about jobs isn’t the actual work. That tends to be fairly straight forward.”

Seahorse platform that Tyler was part of rigging up during a platform decommissioning job.

Seahorse platform that Tyler was part of rigging up during a platform decommissioning job.

One of the biggest keys to working through challenges, he explains, is collaboration with your team. “You can be awesome at everything, but if nobody wants to work with you, you’ll starve.”

The other key, he says, to working through diving frustrations is to learn all you can.  “Diversify yourself.  Make yourself valuable to the industry.”

A diver with a variety of skills will get more job offers and can be more choosy in the jobs he takes. For Tyler, that’s more time doing offshore work.

The Upside of Working Offshore

With offshore jobs, Tyler is able to to do what he loves. He loves being in the water. And he loves always having new exciting, opportunities at his fingertips.

Two lift boats parked on a well killing job at Sunset.

Two lift boats parked on a well killing job at Sunset.

“There’s something about rocking to sleep in a boat from the waves, waking up in the morning because it’s your turn to dive, getting a fresh cup of coffee and heading up to the bow to take some time in the water. There’s no other place like it.”

And for someone who loves the water and loves adventure, commercial diving may just be a dream come true. Tyler has learned to manage the challenges of the job, and embraces the joys that commercial diving brings.

Tyler Sanders in the Gulf before jumping in.

Tyler Sanders in the Gulf before jumping in.

“I think if you’re in diving long enough, it’s inevitable that you’ll end up in some pretty cool places.  But at the end of the day, water is water. It might be black, might be clear.  Might be frozen or super hot, I like it all.”

Written by Beth Smith, Creative Strategist at Water Welders

Share Button
Upcoming Class Starts
November 14Learn More