A friendly crew welcomed Christine Danaher and I aboard at Cairns, North Queensland. The Alcyone had just arrived in Australia from the north.
A week previously the ship had been low on food and appreciated some fish offered at Osprey Reef by Coralita’s owner-skipper Albie Ziebell.
Marc Blessington showed me the lights the team used for filming underwater. This was still the era of film cameras which meant a great deal of electrical power was needed underwater. Each lamp was 250 watts. The configuration designed and built by the Cousteau team.
These were not lights readily available to professionals. In fact using this system required two divers just to manage the underwater cables. Today the same effect would be tiny and fixed to a video camera, no cables necessary – the evolution of cinematography.
Ever wondered what is contained under the space-age plastic back packs? A pair of tanks.
The store bought scooters were tricked-up with an extra ‘tank’ on either side. I presume this was cosmetic and not functional?
Silver wet suits as used by Cousteau divers? The suits require sunscreen to help them last longer.
The world of film making is always different to reality.
Meanwhile downbelow Clay Wilcox was doubling as chef.
The guys had a library of Cousteau-made films and invited us to select a title for viewing.
We chose to view their work at the tip of South America. Our Canadian friend Jack McKenney had helped with the filming for that expedition.
So the Cousteau Foundation was opening up.
For the previous twenty years of TV film making it was a French-only group. Here on Alcyone they had a pair of English-speakers. Marc from southern England and Clay from New York.
A pleasurable and memorable meeting. Chief cameraman Michele Deloire (pictured above right) gave some of his precious time. There would be enough adventure material in this active cameraman’s career to fill many hours of verbal entertainment. In France he has worked as a cameraman with movie stars Catherine Deneuve and Brigitte Bardot.
Swimming with a large saltwater crocodile in the Jardine River of North Queensland being one outstanding episode.
Or the killer whale eating a hammerhead shark at Osprey Reef? The killer whale had swam to Michele with the three meter shark in it’s mouth as if to say “look what I’ve got”. That scene was recorded on 35mm motion picture film.
Amazing. What has become of the boat in recent years is another story.