Archive for category Scuba & Instruction
Here’s a mixture of pictures selected by PIX (a weekly picture-news magazine in Australia) editors. Once selected I’d be asked to tell a staff reporter like Syd King, Ben Mitchell or later, Jim Oram what it was all about. The magazine paid sufficiently. They were a good crew. Editor Bob Nelson especially. Meanwhile I was shooting 16mm film footage for my future project, a documentary that would enable travel as well as an income. It was a good plan but eventually there was home video which made cinema films expensive for families. (click to enlarge pages).
FATHOM magazine was compiled by divers. For the first time in Australia, dramatic pictures and stories kept accurate by the people who wrote and published the material. All original pages now online for students of the sea. A benchmark to help understand the slow but steady changes occurring in the marine world. From shark hunting of 1963 to the beautiful underwater photo images of today.
Kameruka Creek on the far South Coast of New South Wales is trickle more often than not. It flows to the Bega River which is tuns enters the sea at Tathra. My first underwater view with a face mask was in the fresh water river about 1952. A memorable experience. Every diver remembers the first time they looked underwater. Although babies watch marine films these days, long before entering deep water.
Vic Ley was filmed by me spearing this Black Cod in 1969 at Fish Rock, South West Rocks – now a sanctuary. The sequence appeared in my first film Aquarius – People and Wildlife of the Sea but was dropped from later editions. Today it should be of interest to environmentalists. Vic Ley remembers how prolific marine life use to be at this now famous scuba location. New South Wales mid north coast.
Brian Davies was a professional fisherman, surfer and free diver who lived is a cabin at Seal Rocks, New South Wales. His father was a local pioneer professional fisherman – a true man of the sea as was Brian. Brian took a job in Japan which involved working with toxic chemicals. A few years later, back in Australia his liver packed up and Brian passed away – just a short time after his father.
The young fellow takes a Rock Blackfish ashore for his father, Geoff ‘Boots’ Towner, our long term friend.
Conditions for ‘rock hopping’ are not ideal, as the picture illustrates. A strong NE sea breeze has made the water choppy.
Early morning’s are a better bet for calm conditions although during bthe summer, the NE breeze starts early too.
Seal Rocks (New South Wales) is an established grey nurse shark location. Since 1986 the sharks began returning in outstanding population numbers as compared with the previous two decades when they were very scarce.
So began a dive tour business that has flourished since. Not only here but elsewhere along the coast.
Boats run down from the twin towns Forster-Tuncurry, pick up the punters from the beach at Seal Rocks and head offshore to Big Seal or Little Seal Rock.
Latest information suggests sea lions (fur seals) have returned after an absence of more than thirty years.
Good news, yet still unconfirmed.
OK for the short distances and relatively calm conditions around Sydney and the New South Wales coast.
The \\Sandshoes\\ location originated from board riders who wore running shoes to avoid hundred of sea urchins and their spines.
Oak Park is at the entrance to Port Hacking, a southern Sydney suburb adjacent to the Royal National Park.
There is a spear fishing area ban beginning about 50 meters from where this picture was taken near the ocean baths. The red morwong (pronounced \\”mowie”\\) was considered large in those times.
Today it might be safe to call it huge.
Note the face mask. There is some hope that importers will consider returning to **wide view** masks again.
Only about 15% of the masks manufactured internationally are imported to Australia.
Any guaranteed non-fogging face mask has been neglected.
We should not have to scrub the inner mask, often without any much success, to prevent it fogging when new.
One local dive company soaks all new face masks in a detergent solution for three weeks before putting them out for use. This barrel of new masks is kept aboard their boat which guarantees movement.
It’s a huge mistake to sell new divers a face mask that may fog constantly. Mask cleaners don’t always work either.
Can you imagine any other sporting goods that would not perform as intended until months of use had elapsed? Not likely. We have been conned for decades.
The world’s first guaranteed **fog free** mask awaits an entrepreneur.
Why do face masks fog? It’s believed to be a preservative spray squirted on all dive masks. Some form of adhesive paper placed on the inner surface of the glass before the spraying would prevent this problem for divers. Too easy yet no one has bothered.
Equipment was purchased from the James Bond \\Thunderball\\ movie production company which included 35mm underwater camera housings. Ron Taylor makes an inspection here.
A hard hat pearl diver of the past, surfacing with suspected \\bends\\ would be re compressed in this steel chamber. The lid had been removed for safety. In the background is an air compressor that would have been hand-cranked by a couple of workers – for many hours of a working day.
Terry Morrison also known as “the frog”
A pioneer diver who even gets fan mail from former students.
Terry does not believe in the fast 4-day courses and reckons snorkel skills will save a life and therefore should be emphasized during scuba training.
Another tip. “Combine scuba talents with another skill such as outboard motor mechanics, first aid, etc and you have some hope of finding a decent job, perhaps, maybe, aboard a luxury private ship traveling the globe”.
That was a dream-comes-true example for one of Terry’s Australian students on the Gold Coast.
These top boating jobs require multi-skills beyond that of being just a “dive master”.
For example the captain of the private vessel in this story was also the ships’ doctor.
Terry has seen other talented students become scuba instructors, then get dragged over the coals in a coroners hearing when some diver ‘in their care’ got into trouble and bent. A double tragedy as the instructor’s promising career was also ruined. A good excuse is not enough in such matters.
With a background in conventional medicine Terry Morrison is well suited to write about the sport he loves.
His early underwater experiences were like that of many pioneers, a Sydney club spear fisherman, then a FAUI member and eventually NAUI.
When Terry Morrison gets his blog happening it will make very interesting technical reading.
**Casandra Styles** (left) and **Marlene Saunders** as they eventually appeared in a modeling assignment advertisement in \\**Fathom**\\.
Scuba product advertising has changed a lot since the \\Fathom\\ era when we did the photography in Australia with local models.
A 40 HP outboard on an aluminium boat was the standard choice during the sixties. It would carry four divers in sufficient comfort. City housing preferences have changed. Not many people have the space to store a small boat at home anymore. Dive shops fill the need of dropping people in the best known spots without people needing to own their own boat as in the old days.
Many people drop out of diving after a few years. Not owning a boat is one of the possible reasons
In the 1960′s Sydney divers would drop in on the wreck of the \\Dunbar\\ whenever the sea was calm enough.
It was not a ‘wreck’ – more a pile of rubble or a wreck site. Located beneath high cliffs there was always wave action bouncing back from the rocks.
**John Gillies** small dive boat was named \\Sovereign\\ and would regularly for years be seen anchored over the \\Dunbar\\ site. He was keen. If we knew what he was finding more of us would have dropped in.
Gillies kept his discoveries secret from the media during the sixties.
In 1971 he allowed me to take a few photographs for **fathom** magazine.
The dates on the coins is deliberately hidden to hide they are from the era. All were pre 1857 of course.
Holes drilled through coins indicate they were worn around the neck of the owner. On a ship the best safe place.
Perhaps these coins were from corpses? 121 of the 122 aboard were to perish within hours. A cold and very rough winter sea with plenty of sharks.
What a welcome to Australia for these migrants after their long boat voyage from England?
Wrecked upon arrival when the Captain sailed the ship into the rocks in the mistake they were about to enter Sydney Harbour. There is a gap in the cliff which tricked him, perhaps in foggy conditions.
Named \\The Gap\\ it is a regular Sydney suicide leap location onto rocks below.
Spirits of the departed could be in need of an explanation?
Ron Clissold on the unusual inflatable pontoon for diving.
Click picture to enlarge it.
VIC LEY DRIVING HIS BOAT
One of the best-looking boats of all in 1963. Adequately powered by a 45 HP motor it carried four friends from the White Water Wanderers (the Bondi club) on outing’s every weekend.
The one major difference between those days and now is - back then we got into our wet suits just before a dive. Suits might become too warm in summer.
This luxury not possible in the crowded dive shop owned boats of today. There would be chaos.
Vic Ley was to become an Australian spear fishing champion who represented us at the World Championships held in Cuba, 1967
After that he went professional abalone diving with his mates at Mallacoota, (Victoria) at a time when abalone laws were basic. With the catch steadily declining this forced many others to quit the business.
A short time later, near-free licenses were introduced for those that remained in the game. Today these same license are valued and sell for several million dollars each.
Heron Island 1962
All forms of fishing were being encouraged at Great Barrier Reef tourist resorts then. Note that an air fill was costing about $16 in today’s values. The ‘fill’ was to only 1800 psi (a law in Queensland), while 2400 psi in the other states.
Wally Muller was a friend of Bob Poulson, the resort owner in those days.
Already Wally had taken leading spear fishermen to The Swain Reefs aboard his \\Riversong\\ where dramatic underwater pictures and films were made of a large tiger shark, plus tests on anti-shark devices.
Heron Island was then the best destination for divers. The underwater convention in November each year was popular.
Some believe this annual convention was discontinued after one especially wild party night which included celebrity guests.
That seems hard to believe. Divers are usually in bed much earlier than others. Ownership of the island lease has since changed hands several times since the Poulson family parted with it.
A spear fishing champion and charter boat owner-captain, Ron Isbell launched \\**Sea Hunt**\\ in 1968 from his home base at Gladstone, Queensland. It was some years before he installed an air compressor for scuba diving as the early divers were interested in free diving spear fishing.
As the popularity of scuba exploded Ron catered for both scuba and spearing – managing to keep both groups happy by taking them to separate sections of reef. Only possibly when very few boats are working an area.
His favorite area was the Capricorn and Bunker Group offshore between Gladstone and Bundaberg. In the early days this was the Great Barrier Reef. Cairns had not got off the ground with an international airport so anyone wishing to avoid the long trip north was sent to the southern section of the Great Barrier Reef.
I’ve always doubted that this section was a part of the GBR. It depends what you call THE Great Barrier Reef. For a start it is not a reef, it is thousands of separate reefs, so the name is incorrect for a start.
The ‘Great Barrier Reefs’ leave the coast further north and extend well offshore, the southern section being The Swain Reefs – a vast area where few tourists venture.
Inshore is the Capricorn and Bunker Group, the most beautiful islands and reefs of all, especially above water. These seem separate from the chain of reefs commonly called the Great Barrier Reef.
They are true coral sand islands with surrounding coral reefs. The vegetation on the islands is as good as it gets.
Underwater the corals are not as “lush” as those in the far north. Smaller formations and no giant clams. Otherwise, it takes an expert to know the difference.
When Wally Muller and Ed Hancock launched \\TSMV Coralita\\ (a year after Ron Isbell launched his \\Sea Hunt\\) their plan was to run tourists on 5-day cruises through the Capricorn Group, with a stop at Heron Island.
Unfortunately the newly built \\Coralita\\ “rolled” a lot, even in a calm sea. She was a good ‘sea boat’ when moving, not very stable when at anchor. Dinner plates slid off tables and coffee cups could only be 2/3 filled to prevent spilling.
So the planned tourist trips failed with many seasick passengers. \\Coralita\\ then turned to the new sport of scuba diving. These proved perfect. The passengers were in the water all day when the boat was at anchor.
So \\Coralita\\ was not built for especially scuba diving, she took a chance and began catering for it.
It was probably fortunate for both parties that **Fathom** magazine began and was able to promote both the boat and diving expeditions. Then Dewey Bergman of \\Sea and Sea Travel\\, San Francisco came to Australia to investigate. \\Coralita\\ may have then become the world’s first scuba diving \\live-aboard\\.
Ron Isbell was already ahead in this department, minus the air compressor.
Big Seal Rock. Location: S 32.46 E 152.55
The GNS were rounding-up the school of newly arrived yellowtail into a spiral column for a feed.
This very large ship is now laying on her side in shallow water.
Depth to the top of the hull is about 12 meters, depth to ‘the sand’ only 23 meters from the surface.
When the prevailing strong current runs over the ship, the surface water \\boils\\.
An hour or so after this picture was taken there was small surf and a ‘roaring’ sound coming from a line of breaking waves 100 meters long – on an otherwise calm day.
Consequently the window for diving between the tides isn’t too flexible.
Special effects applied here. A section enlarged from an original 35mm film frame.
One of the ‘gutters’ on the leeward side of Great Detached Reef. Heavy surf breaks across the reef on the weather side. The surf and resulting strong currents forms gutters on the lagoon side of the reef where this picture was made.
The gutters eventually smooth away as water depth increases to about 8 meters, and a sandy lagoon floor begins.
Most tourist divers are shown spots in the sandy lagoons where coral colonies aka bommies are located.
Diving on the weather-side of reefs presents problems for dive guides with strong currents, deep water and difficult anchorages. Yet this is where all true adventures exists, plus the hazards.