Tracey Berry and Ray Legg
Tracey Berry was 19 and Ray Legg was 22 when the two of them took their honeymoon to the Bahamas. Legg, a Navy veteran and scuba diver, had teased Berry ahead of the trip that if she wanted to see him on their honeymoon, she needed to learn to dive.
So Berry did. The dives were fun, but then it was time to go back home and start life. The next 27 years brought a law career for Legg, along with service in the Missouri National Guard; a journalism and public relations career for Berry; two sons; mortgages and all the other usual responsibilities of adulthood.
Then in 2010, Legg was deployed to Afghanistan for a year. He and Berry took a trip to Florida before he left, to see the St. Louis Cardinals in spring training, and on that trip, Legg decided to go scuba diving. It was the first time he’d gone since his and Berry’s honeymoon, and Legg discovered he still had a passion for the sport.
Berry didn’t join her husband on that trip because she felt she needed more training. But after Legg returned from Afghanistan, she went to a Columbia dive shop, Captain Nemo’s, to be recertified. There her instructor turned out to be the same instructor she’d had back when she was 19, the shop’s owner, Dwain Gardner.
Finally, 28 years after their first dive together, Berry and Legg were all set to go diving again. Their first trip was to Key Largo, and Berry, too, fell back in love with the sport. Next came several dives in the Florida Keys, as well as freshwater lake dives in northern Arkansas.
Then it was 2013, and Berry and Legg began talking about how they wanted to celebrate their 30th anniversary. There was one trip Legg had dreamed of taking ever since he started diving back in 1981, and he and Berry decided it would be the perfect trip to mark their upcoming milestone.
So, it was off to the Cayman Islands to dive the renowned Bloody Bay Wall.
It was the first time either of them had dived a coral reef wall.
“Because the area is a marine sanctuary, the reef is very healthy with a good diversity of marine life, from reef fish, sponges, corals and macro-life,” Legg says. “We left the inn each morning excited to experience another two to three dives that day.”
Legg and Berry took a total of 14 dives while in Little Cayman and two while in Grand Cayman.
“The most memorable dive for me was on Valentine’s Day,” Berry says. “We came across a turtle rubbing itself on a coral head. It was very friendly and swam over to greet us. I swear it was posing as Ray shot photos.”
Other memorable moments included seeing multiple reef sharks on a single dive and finding a small cleaner shrimp hiding under a small rock on a sandy bottom.
It was the dream trip both of them had hoped it would be, and now that it’s over, Legg and Berry have started planning for their next diving adventure.
“Our next bucket list experience is to spend a week on a ‘liveaboard’ dive boat, where the motto is, ‘Eat, sleep, dive,’ ” Berry says.