Our Community - Paul and Nathalee Steel

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 14, No. 41            November 25, 2004

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Belize is proud to be nestled on the crystal clear waters of the Caribbean Sea. This location offers a perfect vacation destination for sea lovers everywhere. It is important to cater to these individuals and make their stay at sea the best adventure vacation possible. This week's personalities provide tourists with beautiful boats and wonderful packages for a delightful time spent on the water, Nathalee and Paul Steel owners of TMM Yacht Charters.

     Named after her mother, Nathalee was born and raised in Denmark until she was ten. Her parents then decided to head back to mother Nathalee Tatum's roots in Oakridge, Roatan. The eldest in a family of five children, her family was always traveling, since her father worked offshore. They quickly built a restaurant on Grand Dad's property, a tiny caye of coral right on the reef crest. After two years in Roatan, they moved to the mainland, La Ceiba for better education. Nathalee's parents wanted her to learn more English and offered her a choice of boarding schools in either England where she could visit home every summer or Belize, where she could come home more often. Nathalee chose the latter and lived with the Musa family and she traveled with friends to San Pedro for weekends. As fate would have it, one of these trips her boat ran out of fuel on Caye Caulker and this was how she met Paul.

     Paul is the youngest son of Don and Louise Steel from Windsor, Ontario, Canada. He grew up with his sister, Janis and brother, Bill, enjoying an aquatic childhood on the shores of Lake St. Clair.

     At a young age of 12, Paul bought an original US Divers scuba tank & double hose regulator and taught himself the art of scuba diving. Luckily, the lake is no deeper than 15 ft. so decompression sickness was not an issue. Using the family skiff, Paul picked up odd jobs at the marina retrieving lost articles and changing props. Without knowing it at the time, this became the beginning of Paul's diving career.

     He acquired scuba certification during high school and graduated from Belle River High in 1974. After a year of miserable and boring work in a Chrysler automotive plant, Paul decided it was time for real adventure and decided to head west. With a backpack and motorcycle, he headed for Alaska. Everyone knew this was the true land of adventure and big money for an 18-year-old! Stopping at an old friend's home in Northern Alberta, Paul found a summer job with the Department of Highway. It was on a mobile camp keeping the grass cut on the sides of the highways.

     It was this job that allowed Paul to save enough money to attend his dream school, the College of Oceaneering in Los Angeles, California where he would study commercial diving. Leaving Alberta and its snow covered roads behind, Paul now headed south on his motorcycle through the beautiful Rocky Mountains and to warmer climates to start a new chapter in his life.

     In the summer of 1976, Paul graduated from The College of Oceaneering and could not wait for the next leg of his journey, the oil fields in the North Sea. It was well known at school that job opportunities were abundant there and within a week searching the various companies, Paul landed a job with Sub Sea International out of Aberdeen, Scotland. There he worked as a saturation diver in depths up to 630feet, building oil platforms and joining oil pipelines together.

     Paul learned about Belize through his brother, who was driving through Mexico and Central America. Bill loved Belize and wrote Paul that this was a "must see" country. Paul drove to Belize in 1978 and bought land in Caye Caulker the same year. It was a vacation that lasted for six months and although Paul had to get back to work in the North Sea, he could not stop thinking about his new found paradise.

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