THERE’S A LITTLE KID in every diver. Come on, let’s not waste time by pretending there isn’t. Let’s not insult each other by saying that you’re all serious and grown up every time you do a dive.
Sure, you might look all “see how I do my checks, all calm and serene, pulse rate low and professionalism high”, but inside you’re bouncing around like a toddler who’s had a double espresso.
Just ask Dan Stevenson. Here we have a deepwater cameraman par excellence, one who has filmed coelacanths at 110m, crawled through the guts of the Britannic, and appears to have not a single nerve in his body.
But ask him what his favourite dive is, and he’ll probably say “the last one” because he gets so absurdly excited about the whole thing.
Mind you, depending on its proximity, he might say “the next one”, because he gets pretty worked up about that one too. It’s lovely to see, this boundless enthusiasm, even if occasionally he goes quite puce and has to be led away for a sit-down.
So, you can only begin to imagine what the little boy in me was doing as I talked to the nice people at Land Rover.
They had invited me up to visit a place called the ETO section – that’s short for Engineering To Order, in case you were wondering.

I’VE DIVED THE SUNLIT UPLANDS of the Great Barrier Reef, watched humpbacks twist and sing in sapphire waters next to jet-black volcanic reefs in Tonga, and yet I’ve realised that the Land Rover ETO section in Coventry might just be the most beautiful place on Earth.
It’s straight out of every Bond film you’ve ever seen – they really do have chaps in long coats, and they really do have clipboards, and they really do create the most wondrous variants on the Land Rover theme there.
And this was the reason I was there, shuffling from foot to foot and feeling very much as if I needed a wee, but not wanting to go in case I came back and found that they’d all realised I was actually only nine years old and probably wasn’t allowed to drive anyway.
Before us, foursquare and mighty, sat a standard Defender, and the chaps in the coats with the clipboards were looking at me expectantly, pens poised and eyebrows raised.
We were in the process of designing something called “The Marine Defender”, and my job was to tell them what might be required.
I somehow stifled the urge to say “machine-guns”, and instead said: “A platform for kitting- up at the back” – much scribbling on clipboards duly ensued – “an oxygen-cylinder protective case” – more scribbling – “a VHF, a pull-out awning, a snorkel, a camera- and kit-washing system, and a shelf for delicate kit so it’s strapped down out the way.”
By now smoke was rising gently from the clipboards, and there was feverish muttering from the assembled engineers, so it seemed not unreasonable to push my luck: “Oh, and an ejector seat and rockets.”
Four months later, the world’s very first Marine Defender was born, driven out of the building by me in a rather sweaty-palmed manner, studiously avoiding looking in my rear-view mirrors in case there was a chap in a fluorescent jacket chasing me, demanding that
I bring it back.
I’ve had it a couple of months, and it’s pretty much toured the country already – raising money for the Fisherman’s Mission, supporting an RNLI world-record attempt, and even supporting a dive or two.

AND THIS BRINGS ME TO THE FINALE, the denouement, the zenith of this article.
I need your help. The whole reason this vehicle exists is to support coastal conservation projects around the UK.
Need a base camp/mobile dive centre for surveying a seagrass bed Need a vehicle that
can get you and your survey kit to a remote site along our craggy coastline Well, you’re
speaking to the right man.
I’m very keen indeed – as is Land Rover – that the vehicle becomes a workhorse for conservation groups operating in some of the more remote regions of our coast.
As you may know, the Marine Defender is going to be at the Dive Show in Birmingham at the end of October so please, don’t be shy, come and talk to us if you think the vehicle will genuinely be of use to your project.
You may have to fight me for the keys, mind, but I promise that the small boy in me will eventually give way to the sensible scientist. I’ll even tell you where the rockets are…

Meet Monty and the Marine Defender at DIVE 2013 at the NEC on 26/27 October. If you can’t be there, contact him via