Aqua Cat has been rated #1 by the readers of Scuba Diving magazine for BEST CREW! We have found few other recreational activities where the general public relies so heavily on the professionals in charge for their enjoyment and safety. For this reason, we have assembled a top notch team to meet your every need on board!
We have the most dynamic team of talented individuals on board and their goal is to be sure your trip is one that you will never forget! Their gracious ways and outgoing attitudes make guests on board feel like family in no time. Each brings something unique to the team. Check out this team bio to find out more about all of our crazy awesome team members!
Captain Ron McCaslin -
21 years and counting! Captain Ron has been captain aboard The Aqua Cat since she was commissioned in 2001 and with us at Blackbeard’s Cruises since 1992. Hot Texas summers led to lifeguarding and later a Scuba Instructor in 1981 while finishing a Chemistry degree at Texas A&M University. Ron holds a 1600 ton license from the US Coast Guard and when not aboard is trying to escape his “honey do list” in Tallahassee, FL, by riding motorcycles, hunting, or woodworking.
Captain Des Greyling -
Des is from Port Elizabeth, South Africa where he grew up loving the ocean. He began his career on the Aqua Cat in 2005 as a dive instructor. Previous to working on the Aqua Cat, Des was an instructor in South Africa and Thailand. On the Aqua Cat he worked his way up to first mate before becoming the captain on the Cat Ppalu in 2010. He was promoted captain on the Aqua Cat in 2012. After working in the real world and aging behind a computer, he decided to set sail and search for the eternal fountain of youth. His travels took many years and many miles but he finally found the fountain of youth here in the Bahamas and ever since has been getting younger.
First Mate Jason Ward -
Jason hails from the state of Texas and graduated from the Lincoln School for Welding. He made his way to the Keys one summer to get his open water scuba diver certification and had the opportunity to stay and go all the way to instructor so he did! From there, he went on to captains’ school. He enjoys diving, hiking, archery, spearfishing and anything outdoors. You would never guess it, but he came in second place in a wreck racing league.
Anders Møller Vestergård -
Anders is from Denmark and has been traveling the world for scuba diving! He received his instructor’s certification in Vietnam and has worked in Malta, Indonesia, Thailand and now in the Bahamas with the Aqua Cat! Before that he was a ski guide in the French Alps and British Columbia. He’s also been a land guide in Calvi, Corsica. He enjoys anything outdoors and happy people!
Diego Cortiza -
Diego Cortiza is from Sao Paulo, Brazil and has a degree in International Business. His first diving experience was recommended to him for medical reasons as a stress reliever! He is a Master Scuba Diver Trainer with 14 years as an active DI with many specialty courses to offer! He loves diving and sharing his passion for diving more than anything else. When not diving, he enjoys traveling, beach volleyball and soccer.
Instructor Michelle Blais -
is a former dive shop manager from Vancouver Canada and has been an Instructor for 3 years in Australia, Thailand, and Honduras. She has logged additional dives in South Africa, Mexico, and the Bahamas, sharks are her passion. Just ask her about sharky business and expect to chat for hours.
Instructor Julien Thomas -
is from France but grew up in Africa. Julien has travelled extensively and has been diving since 1993 and professionally since 2006. Julien has been an Instructor and dive shop manager in Asia, Maldives, and Egypt prior to joining Aqua Cat last December.
Engineer Randy Burris -
resides in Melbourne, FL when not aboard the Aqua Cat He is began his marine career at Blackbeard’s Cruises in 1993 and has worked as engineer and as Captain. Randy has been aboard since March of 2012.
Engineer Chuck Herman -
wandered our way back in 1987 from Buffalo NY. He fell in love with the life as a passenger and was soon back as a deckhand. He eventually worked his way to become the fill in Master on the Blackbeard’s Cruises Fleet and even ran the Cat Ppalu for a bit. When he wasn’t captaining the boats from Miami he was out west skiing and white water rafting. After working here on and off for 24 years there is very little he has not seen. If these waves could talk! He doesn’t do much skiing or white water rafting these days but likes to ride his motor cycle with no particular destination in mind, kind of like sailing where the wind blows him.
Jim McCullough -
Jim grew up in Rappahannock County VA, and studied Theatre at Virginia Commonwealth University. Go RAMS!! Jim has been working as a chef for 20 years, eight of them on the water. I started cooking at sea with Cruise West in Alaska and Mexico and then switched to the Aqua Cat in 2003 for three years before leaving to open my own restaurant in Washington VA, The Blue Rock Inn. After five years of landlocked life, Jim decided to come back to the Bahamas and worked as chef on the little sister vessel, Cat Ppalu for a year and a half before returning to the Aqua Cat in Sept of 2014. Little known fact; Jim was the starting tight end for the 1989 VGFL football Champions in Melbourne Australia.
Sous Chef Sarah Dauphinee -
is from Cape Cod and loves scuba, cooking, and being in the ocean. She has been working on yachts and liveaboards for 5 years and loves every second of it.
Ashling Schiffelbian -
Ashley is from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. She has been on the water for the past three years, traveling from the Caribbean to the Pacific Ocean working on private yachts. She is interested in photography, long boarding, painting, skiing, traveling, and oh yeah, diving!