Legends of Diving Articles


Bob Thompson
Charter Member of UNEXSO

I first started diving in the lakes of northern California in the mid "50s. Just snorkeling and trying to emulate my idol, Lloyd Bridges, in Sea Hunt. I took my

first SCUBA lesson at a YMCA in Jacksonville, Fl. in 1960 and started on a mission to dive every spring and cave in north Florida and soon found out that there are a lot of them. The club I belonged to would travel to a new dive spot every weekend, mostly cave diving, but some fresh water springs and rivers, but sometimes we would charter a boat and head out into the Atlantic for a taste of ocean diving. I soon found out that ocean diving was a lot different and a lot more fun than fresh water diving.

In 1964 I learned about Grand Bahama Island from a friend. It had just started building in a serious way, so, on a lark I quit my rather low paying job and set off to explore the island life and the underwater world surrounding it. The Lucayan Beach Hotel had just opened and

I got a job there in the maintenance department. The hotel supplied room and  board so I didn?t have many expenses and could afford to snorkel and dive the reefs just off the beaches.

About that time there was another project being built on the marina side of the Lucayan inlet. That was the first time I had heard of UNEXSO. I met Dave Woodward before the club even opened and that was the beginning of a friendship that has lasted to this day.

I became a charter member of UNEXSO and the club became a focal point of my life. Diving with the founding staff of Dave Woodward, Jack McKinney, Al Tillman, Chuck Peterson and others was an experience the I will remember all my life. As the years progressed I became friends with Ben Rose. His knowledge of marine life is well known, but he should be known for the fine person that he is.

After leaving the island I made the rounds of the Caribbean, living in Grand Cayman, St. Thomas and for a short time, Ambergris Caye in Belize. Around that same time I got a job that took me to Viet Nam. I spent 14 months there working for a construction company that was under contract to build an Air Force base. Upon returning to Grand Bahama and resuming my life there I had another interruption when Uncle Sam recalled me to active duty in the U. S. Army. I fulfilled my obligation and decided to return to school and chose Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara, Ca. Finishing that I once again headed back to Grand Bahama and the good life.

One of the highlights of my diving experience was when Dave offered me the chance to be a part of a 12 hr. saturation dive in the Perry Hydrolab. It was situated in about 50 feet of water off Grand Bahama. Needless to say it was a great diving trip! At the same time it produced the lowlight of my diving career. After we emerged from the Hydrolab and came back to the surface after decompression, I experienced symptoms of decompression sickness or better know as the "bends?. I was in the club recompression chamber for about 6 hours and still to this day have the ringing in my ears to prove it. (Never was entirely sure of that diagnosis).

These days I live in Richmond, TX just southwest of Houston. I run my manufacturing business and play as much golf as I can cram into a week. But, I sure miss the diving and the island life sometimes.

Autobiography by Bob Thompson

Portage Quarry Recreation Club, Inc.
12701 South Dixie
Bowling Green OH, 43402

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