* Photo by James Whittaker. Water babe: Triangle Diving’s crew and customers launch new craft Phoenix last week.
* Photo by James Whittaker. Water babe: Triangle Diving’s crew and customers launch new craft Phoenix last week.
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One of Bermuda's best-loved dive shops is back in action after a freak fire threatened to destroy the business.

When Triangle Diving boss Graham Maddocks saw his boat go up in flames in February, he feared his livelihood would also be reduced to ashes.

A little over two months later, the dive school, which brings thousands of tourists to the island each year, is back.

The business's original boat, Tenacity - a former drug runner which was sold at auction, rebuilt and re-fitted as a dive boat to become a much loved "character" on the local diving scene - is a burnt-out shell.

The fire, believed to be the result of an electrical fault, burnt through aluminum tanks and charred the boat down to the waterline.

But with the help of insurance cash and the support of the community, the dive club was able to relaunch with a new boat, the Phoenix, in time for the start of the season.

"We decided to name the boat Phoenix because we've risen from the ashes," Mr. Maddocks said yesterday.

He admitted the thought of shutting up shop had crossed his mind after the February 11 blaze.

But the support and encouragement of divers in Bermuda and all over the world convinced him to continue. He said: "We had so much support from the general public.

"The amount of calls that came in from people all over the world was really amazing - people who we had taught to dive, people who come here every year on holiday and, of course, our club members and local divers.

"You don't realise how big a part of the community you are.

"It had crossed my mind to pack it in. There are only so many times you can take a beating and get back up. But it was the well-wishers that made me think I have an obligation to reopen."

The club had its first trip of the season last week and was filled to capacity at the weekend.

But it hasn't been plain sailing. The new boat required six weeks of solid work to convert it for a dive operation.

The new boat is smaller than Tenacity but is faster, said Mr. Maddocks.

He added: "We've gone from having the slowest boat in Bermuda to the fastest.

"We will miss Tenacity because she was such a legend of local diving. We had put years of work into that boat and she was part of the club.

"But there are opportunities with the new boat too. It is quicker, so that opens up a bunch of new dive sites for us to visit."

For Mr. Maddocks, it is good to be back where he belongs - behind the wheel of a dive boat regaling tourists with tales of Bermuda's shipwrecks and offering scores of divers their first glimpse of the island's underwater world.

"It feels great. This is what I love to do," he said.

He added the comeback would not have been possible without the support of St. George's Boatyard, Bermuda Rentals, BF&M insurance, Works & Engineering and Charlie Loder.

Mr. Maddocks said: "Everybody pulled out all the stops to help us and we're very grateful."