Yacht Haven Quay’s (YHQ) Dry stack marina in Plymouth is usually charged with the secure undercover storage of hundreds of boats. It is now the permanent home to a different kind of treasure, a Dive Museum, which houses a Davy Jones’ locker packed full of amazing artefacts and curios which have been thrown into the sea and shepherded back onto land over the last 50 years by former Royal Marine and Commercial diver Ray Ives.
Monty Hall, BBC TV presenter and marine biologist, will officially open “Ray’s Plaice” in its new central location within YHQ on Thursday, 22nd August 2013. Offering visitors a slice of nautical history through a salvaged collection of 19th Century bottles, propellers, coins, swords, musket guns, portholes, ammunition boxes, tools, bayonets, cannonballs, memorabilia and dive gear which chart and celebrate the adventurous life of Ray, who now lovingly curates and shares his diving lore.
“Everything here has a little bit of me in it but if people don’t get to see it, what’s the point?” says Ray. Although none of his collection is up for sale, Ray is happy to share. He recently lent his 1746 bronze canon to the grandchildren of a canon expert, enabling them to fire it at his funeral.
A very reluctant star, Ray is a 77 year old modern day pirate who describes himself as “an old codger who should have scales instead of skin”. Having dived since 1966, his career in the marines, as part of a salvage crew and as a diving instructor at Fort Bovisand has amassed a wealth of expertise and ‘many a tale to tell; from fighting oil fires in The Gulf of Mexico and avoiding the sexual advances of dolphins to swimming with penguins. Often seen diving off Plymouth in his hand pumped 1900s Siebe Gorman diving suit with copper helmet, Ray resembles an astronaut walking on the moon and compares the feeling of being on the seabed to what being in space must be like: “With no traffic, very little noise and no one down there to bother you, it’s like being in another world”.
Nowadays when he takes out Nymet, his fishing boat, it’s to dive for fun in his retirement and further expand his collection. He also enjoys fishing for his tea, collecting crabs for The National Marine Aquarium and taking his neighbour’s children out on the boat, having missed out on being a ‘hands-on’ dad, due to a career that kept him away for long stretches of time.
When asked what his favourite piece in his collection is, Ray says: “I still haven’t found it but I’m still looking. I suppose like every diver I wish to find a mermaid who will sit on my knee, with no sharks around.”
“Ray loves meeting new people and has a really good way of bringing his collection alive” says Dylan Kalis managing director of Yacht Havens Group, who first heard about the diving collection in 2005 when Ray was on the hunt for a new home for his salvaged treasures so that he could reclaim his shed. Amazed by what he saw, Dylan offered to buy a 40 ft container and stored it at YHQ. In return Ray shares his stories with interested customers. They then commissioned Amanda Bluglass to make a short film about Ray in 2011. “Ray: a life underwater” made him an international celebrity. Screened at the Sundance Film Festival it won numerous short film awards and notched up over 100,000 views in 92 countries when it was first launched on the internet. It is still available to view on You Tube and to purchase on DVD. Ray’s Dive Museum has now been permanently relocated to a central location at Yacht Haven Quay and is open to members of the public.
“There is no charge to wander in and meet Ray and his spoils, but with the opening hours a bit ad hoc, it’s best to phone the YHQ office on 01752 481 190 in advance if you’re planning to make a special visit” adds Dylan.
Ray Ive’s Dive Museum
Yacht Haven Quay
Tel: 01752 48 11 90
Opening time: by appointment contact YHQ 01752 481190