Prologue: Our training as divers

by B N Sullivan

PADI Divemaster emblem I've always loved the water. I learned to swim at a young age, and -- as family legend has it -- when we went to the beach, I was always the first kid in the water, and the last one to come out.

When I was 10 years old, my father gave me a dive mask, a snorkel, and a pair of swim fins. It turned out to be a pivotal event in my life. From the moment I first put on that mask and looked below the surface of the water, that was it: I was destined to be a diver.

That first experience was not even in the ocean. It was in a lake in Pennsylvania, where I spent my childhood. There wasn't a whole lot to see: pebbles on the muddy bottom, a few sprigs of some kind of aquatic plant, legs and feet of people wading in the shallows -- but I was utterly fascinated with being able to see what people on the surface could not. My fate was sealed.

From that time forward I found it difficult to venture into any natural body of water -- lake, pond, river, sea -- without my mask and snorkel. I dreamed of learning to SCUBA dive, and finally found the opportunity to do so in the spring of 1970.  I was living in Greece at the time, and my first instructors were U.S. Navy divers who were stationed there. They started a dive club, offered their own training course to prospective members, and issued a club 'certification.' (More on this in posts to follow.)

About a year later, still in Greece, I completed a course sanctioned by the British Sub-Aqua Club (BSAC) and was duly certified as a SCUBA Diver by that agency. A number of years later I completed a PADI Advanced Open Water Diver certification course.

Enter Jerry...

When Jerry and I first met in the mid-1970s, one of the many things we discovered we had in common was a love of the ocean. He had grown up participating in ocean sports in Hawaii -- especially body-surfing, (board) surfing and snorkeling. He told me that he had often thought about taking a SCUBA course, but he didn't know anyone else who was really into that sport until he met me.

A year or so before we were married, Jerry became a certified Open Water Diver through a NAUI training program in Honolulu. Somewhat later he, too, acquired a PADI Advanced Open Water Diver certification. By then we had logged many hundreds of dives in each other's company.

Meanwhile, I had begun my underwater photography hobby, and we had begun to travel together to exotic locations around the globe to dive and take pictures underwater. At some point, we found it expedient to pursue additional dive training. We first trained together to become certified Rescue Divers. Finally, we qualified together as PADI Divemasters.

Prologue: How 'The Right Blue' project came about

We have photos -- many thousands of photos. We have boxes and boxes of photo prints and negatives. We have dozens of fat binders filled with slides in sleeves. Most of those images have not been looked at in years.

These days, who wants to set up a projector to look at slides? Who wants to pick through boxes of photos, even if they are sorted nicely in chronological order? (Never mind the ones we never got around to sorting and filing so nicely!) But what a shame to let them all just sit on shelves and in storage cabinets. How much better it would be to be able to review them easily -- to enjoy them.

So, we bought two scanners -- one for scanning slides and negatives, and another for scanning prints and memorabilia -- and we got busy. The idea was to digitize as many of our old photos as we could so that we could look at them easily whenever we wanted to on a computer or TV monitor. How long this will take remains to be seen: We have thousands of images, but we've only scanned a few hundred so far.

Each new batch of images we scan brings back a flood of memories -- not just of dives, but of people, places, experiences, past eras in our lives. We decided that we should not hoard the images and the memories they evoked; we should share them. We concluded that putting some of the more interesting images and stories on line would be the best way to do that.

That's how this project came about. We hope our readers enjoy our photos and the stories that go with them as much as we have enjoyed creating them.

About 'The Right Blue'

Jerry and BobbieThis is the story of our lifelong experience of the ocean. We have a strong affinity for the sea and everything in it and about it. Some might call this a passion or an obsession. We call it 'ocean devotion.'

Our most intimate association with the ocean has been as divers. We both have logged more than 2,000 dives -- and we reckon there were perhaps an additional hundred or so that were somehow left out of our logbooks over the years.

The Right Blue is, in part, a memoir of those thousands of dives -- with pictures! We'll recount some adventures we've had in the ocean, introduce you to many of the undersea creatures we've come to know, and we'll tell you some things we've learned about diving that are not taught in any certification course.

This blog is also part travelogue. We live in Hawaii, so more than half of our dives have been in our home waters. But in addition, we have traveled widely in order to sample the scenery beneath many of the tropical and semi-tropical seas around the globe. Everywhere we went, we kept notes and we took pictures. We'll share some of those here, too.

Finally, The Right Blue is a compendium of observations, quotations, facts and factoids about the ocean, and a repository for some diver memorabilia that we have collected over the years.

About the Title

'The Right Blue' refers to the goal of a lifelong pursuit. Sea water viewed from beneath the surface comes in many hues and shades. Surfers wait for the perfect wave; divers seek the right blue.

About the Authors

Our names are Bobbie and Jerry. We live on the Big Island of Hawaii. Most of the thousands of dives we have logged have been in each other's company.

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