Scuba diving pioneer Bob Soto led an interesting and varied life, with a large percentage of it spent under the waves. Although he passed away in March at the age of 88, his wife Suzy has continued the process of gathering his stories, in his words, to publish as a book.
The dream of “Extraordinary Adventures” is now finally realized, with an official launch date of Dec. 15, and a book signing at Book Nook in Galleria Plaza on Dec. 18 at 7-9 p.m.
It is filled with tales from the man himself, along with tributes and accolades from his peers, and is the perfect gift for anyone who loves diving or recognizes what a contribution Bob Soto made to the industry
Prologue – reprinted with kind permission from Suzy Soto
Bob used to tell me the most incredible stories. At first, I listened with disbelief, thinking he must be exaggerating because no one could do all this “stuff!” I soon learned that these crazy things were true! One day I told him, “Your life has been so amazing, so extraordinary and unbelievable, it has to be recorded and put into a book.” So we started from the very beginning.
This has been such an honor to record his story in his own words and for us to relive his life together. Our 34-year marriage was blessed; it is my promise to him to complete this book, as he wished, and to carry on his passions and to ensure our family, Caymanians, and all those who love the sea, adventure and life, know and remember this unique and extraordinary man! His story is a testament to “believing and living your dream and never giving up.”
Cayman was known as “The islands that time forgot.” However, Bob Soto woke it up when he started the world’s first scuba diving company in 1957. He brought it to great success with his talent for marketing. Bob produced Cayman’s first promotional film, to advertize the island’s sun, sea, sand and amazing underwater beauty. With his permission, the Department of Tourism used the movie as their main advertising tool for many years.
It was not long before the Cayman Islands became the top scuba diving destination in the world and Bob Soto’s Diving became internationally renowned alongside it. Bob provided the only sea search-and-rescue operation from the time he returned to Cayman. Many times day and night Bob was called out to assist in searching for people and boats. He was always available to help anyone. His experience with the U.S. Navy carried over well into his operations here.
Bob also championed conservation issues, lobbying the government to designate the first protected marine park for his beloved sea creatures and the coral reefs. Bob stopped divers and snorkelers from taking coral long before there was an actual conservation movement or any law established to protect the marine environment, thus preserving his island’s “treasures.” His uncanny problem-solving ability enabled him to invent and build his own scuba equipment, attracting increasing numbers of tourists to experience Cayman’s magnificent underwater world with Bob Soto’s Diving.
He was always working on the “next” adventure, leading to his incredible tales of treasure hunting and pioneering live-aboard diving. As the business grew, Bob eventually built a dive lodge in East End.
Bob was a Christian man. He was kind, gentle, and loving, always with a smile, but not to be crossed! He had a passion to honor others, as evidenced by his work on “Tradition,” the memorial to seamen, which has become a favorite statue in Heroes Square in George Town, where thousands have taken photos alongside the father and son steering a ship into the “abyss.”
In November 2014, he had the Home Guard veterans honored with all their names etched on the cenotaph in front of the Elmslie Memorial Church. When you visit Cayman, do not miss it!
Come along on Bob Soto’s “extraordinary adventures” of scuba diving; treasure hunting; sailing; rafting; and tasting life in Cayman when there were no planes, just ships, donkeys and catboats for transportation. Journey with Bob from the “Islands that time forgot” to modern-day Cayman.
This is Bob’s story. He tells it straight from the heart and it will warm your soul. – Suzy Soto