He’s the “face” behind one of the largest communities in the scuba diving world, ScubaBoard.com. Yet most people know Pete Murray by his screen name, “NetDoc”. With such a high profile in the industry, some people have wondered if this entrepreneur and internet visionary actually scuba dives himself. The answer is a resounding YES!
Murray, who grew up in Orlando, took his first breath underwater under the watchful eye of a Navy Master Chief and family friend in 1969. Just 12 years old at the time, that encounter basically changed his life. Since that time, he’s logged around 3,000 dives and remains very active living in Key Largo, Florida with his favorite dive buddy Elena.
But, in those early days, Murray recalls having to attach a tank to his back by tying with a rope around his waist and diving in. Those first dives were in Lake Underhill just outside Orlando. Using an old Navy regulator and borrowing some aged equipment, he was hooked! Murray has long since been certified and has explored some of the most popular places in the world.
Frustrated by what he considered a gap in the quality of scuba instruction, Murray became an instructor himself in 2001. He enjoys introducing people to scuba and the joys of the underwater world. “Scuba diving is the great equalizer. You’re basically weightless under the water.” A man of “larger stature”, Murray is often teased about his weight, but doesn’t mind the occasional comparison to some of Florida’s manatee population.
The growth of the internet and online communities was intriguing to Murray, who worked as a network consultant in the late 1990s and early 2000. He signed up for a small site called “Scubaboard” and became the owner in 2002. At that time, there were less than 3,000 members but the site has consistently grown and today, there are more than 200,000 registered members on ScubaBoard.
“It’s a universal resource for divers,” Murray explains. “Back in 2001, there was no way for divers from around the world to get together and exchange ideas. The internet and technology changed all that. Today, divers in Florida can immediately interact with divers in California, Hawaii or even Australia can instantly exchange ideas, information and opinions.”
And scuba divers certainly have their share of opinions. Murray estimates that there are more than 1000 entries posted on the ScubaBoard site on any given day. “A key element of diving is having a buddy. We’ve created ScubaBoard as a way for divers to have thousands of virtual dive buddies in almost every area of the world.”
Recently certified as a rebreather diver, Murray enjoys testing new ideas and equipment and frequently receives “care packages” from friends in the industry looking for his opinions as a “beta tester.” “Being in the Keys allows Elena and I to dive frequently. I’m blessed to be able to work in an industry that I enjoy.”
Murray said ScubaBoard’s mission statement says it all about the “why” of ScubaBoard. What’s next? Murray isn’t quite ready to say, but with today’s ever-changing technology and the industry’s hunger for “more”, stay tuned!