Legends of Diving Articles


Dave Woodward
Notable Underwater Photographer and First Manager of UNEXSO

Dave Woodward

Dave Woodward has spent 54 years as a diver, scuba instructor, and underwater photographer with many of those years at the Underwater Explorers Society (UNEXSO), even as the opening manager of the resort in 1965. His most notoriety in diving is with U/W photography. In 1965 he won his first of 26 awards at the International U/W Film Festival. He was awarded the Platinum Pro 5000 Diver Award by Scuba Schools International and given the Paul Revere Bronze Spike Award by the Boston Underwater Club for service to diving.


Autobiography by Dave Woodward

My first involvement with diving occurred as a high school soph. in 1941. My father was director of Physical Education at Eastern Wash. Sate College, and a long-time figure in West Coast Phys. Ed. When Voit Rubber Co. made the first Owen Churchill Fins he was sent a comp. pair which he gave to me. So I had one of the first pair of swim fins ever made.

2 years later, after enlisting in the Marines, I spent the first 3 days of my Boot Leave in San Diego waiting for a seat on the bus to go home. This allowed me to spend some time at La Jolla. The 2nd day I saw a swimmer off the point doing something strange with a pole. Upon swimming out I found a man with swim goggles & a frog gig trying to spear fish. He let me try, and on the 2nd attempt I managed to spear a 4-ft moray in the middle (having no idea what I was spearing). As I surface he screamed at me to let it go for it was trying to get at me down the short pole. So I of course dropped the whole thing, and had to buy him a couple of beers to compensate for the loss.


Ben Rose, Al Tillman, Lloyd Bridges, Dave Woodward, Jack McKenney, and
Chuck Peterson. Dave Woodward Archive photo.


The 3 plus years I spent in the Marines were at various bases and schools around the country learning how to be & trying to be a Radio-Radar Tech - the highest priority in the Corps - never leaving the country. My only wounds were from football- how lucky - although I didn?t think so at the time. Only 29 out of 68 of my boot camp platoon were alive at the end of the war. During those 3 yrs I spent much time off the gulf and in North Carolina surfing, swimming, etc.

The next 5 years were spent in Champaign at the U. of Ill., getting a degree in Phys Ed with teaching minors in Biological Science and Speech & Dramatics. During this time I was selected to the Dolphin Swimming Honorary Fraternity - an organization dedicated to the furthermost of aquatic activities, co-producing their annual water show as a senior. The 5th year I had a fellowship teaching swimming & working on a masters.

During my freshman year one of the prereqs was a yearlong 11hr/wk course called Physiological Anatomy. One of the lab experiments involved hyperventilation and breath holding . I set the record for several years at 5" 37" after 2 min. of hyperventilation. Then another long-winded character made it over 6 1/2! The prof. informed me that it was a world record - but of course that may have been a lot of hot air also.

My next aquatic involvement came after 3 years of high school coaching in Northeast Oregon. I went to work for a sporting goods firm in Spokane - an old friend of my father's owned the store. On the retail floor where I started was a Healthway's Divair Regulator on a tank along with a dummy in a gum rubber suit. With my aquatic background and interest in the sea I couldn?t wait to try it out. A couple of weeks later my good friend Clyde Combs - the water safety director for the Red Cross - bought a set, and we drove out to a local lake to try it out. We put the equipment on and waded in - no practice or pool training - just out into that cold, muddy water. This was the summer of 1954. Of course the lake had only 2-3 ft visibility and was about 50 degrees. The dry suit had a front entry chute which I didn?t tie off properly. It proceeded to unravel, filling the suit with cold water and soaking my sweat suit besides changing my buoyancy! I had lost Clyde immediately in the murky water - about 8-ft deep with at least 2 ft of mud. On top of that my mask was half flooded. At least I didn?t panic - I waded back to shore to find Clyde frantically looking all over for me. Lucky we didn?t both drown! Needless to say, after a long rest and drying out, we practiced clearing everything in very shallow water, before venturing deeper.

Out of this experience grew the immediate realization that if we were to sell any scuba gear it was necessary to offer some kind of instruction. Unfortunately, no one knew what kind or how much. Our first class involved 60 plus students in the fall of 1954. We had splurged for 5 sets of equipment. We split the group in half with Clyde taking half in the pool for 1 1/2 hours, while I had the other half in lecture. Then we swapped. Each student got at least 5 minutes underwater with a unit! This resulted in 0 sales - obviously we had frightened everyone out of the water. 3 hours wasn?t nearly enough. So we halved the class size and doubled the time, and stopped saying "this is what will happen to you!"
Shortly after this I acquired a copy of Skin Diver Magazine and found out that Los Angeles County was starting to teach scuba instructors. Neither of us could of course afford to travel to L A for the course. A few months later the magazine reported that L A County was offering a mail-order certification for inst. write to Al Tillman. I did so, starting a long string of correspondence with Al, resulting in my selection along with E.R. Cross as one of the first 2 instructor-trainees. Also about this time Neal Hess started his formation of a National Diving Patrol in Skin Diver. Al had a number of delays in getting the certification going, and finally I guess decided that it was not feasible. However, he did organize the 1960 course at the Und. Soc. of America meeting in Houston. During this time we had refined our course many times to 24 hours and a student size limitation of 12 with much more equipment, and I had a new partner, Ron Pick.

During 1955 I bought a used Leica Camera and an aluminum housing and attempted my first U/W pictures. Unfortunately, the camera was not in good shape and I had many problems, but did get a few pictures in local lakes. About this same time I formed Spokane Skin Divers from the students that took our course - a club dedicated to the advancement of diving and safety. It was quite active until we left for the Bahamas in 1965. I was also active in spear fishing in the Pac. Northwest, and was appointed by the AAU as Commissioner for the Pacific Northwest area. The Spokane S.D's sponsored a number of tournaments over the years, and Ron & I also started a safety and body recovery unit.

Although neither Ron nor I could really afford the trip, we both decided that we must attend the Houston Certification. We loaded up our gear and boarded the train for Houston, carrying everything except tanks (including weights). When the porter bent over to pick up the small canvas bag full of weights, he nearly fell on his face - it contained 40 lbs of weights!

It was a fantastic week, meeting all the big shots we had read about in Skin Diver, and going through a bewildering set of exercises such as tank breathing and funnel breathing from a buddy's exhaust. I never used the funnel bit, but often the tank breathing, even doing a simple recovery job off a pier in 80 ft of water to recover a lady's purse in Lake Pend O?reille. Two Texas pan handle divers had to be rescued from the deep end of the pool - they had never been in clear water before and got vertigo in the Shamrock Hilton Pool - which was large enough to water ski in. I was certified #29 - W at the end of the alphabet!

In a long meeting after the course NAUI (National Association of Underwater Instructors) was formed. The next year two certifications were held Chicago & Seattle. Al asked me to be a team leader, and I have worked as Asst. course director, course director, and guest lecturer at such locations as San Diego, Asilomar, Puerto Rico, Grand Bahama, Ft Lauderdale, Etc., for a total of 14 times.

That same year I moved to the Spokane Valley as a partner in the scuba, skiing, weight training, and archery departments. Our original diving school was WOCO, for Woodward & Combs although Ron Pick replaced Clyde, as his Red Cross job would not allow him to participate in anything that charged money. In the spring of 1961 we built a 15-ft deep round training tank, 8 ft in diameter with a ladder to the top and a platform for the Sportsman's Show in the Coliseum. The night before the show one of the windows blew out, flooding the floor - not a real hit, but the following year we were, with exhibitions of eating & drinking, playing games, and general training. The tank was placed outside the store and used to test equipment, etc.

A year or so later I built an indoor Gunite pool 12 ft deep at the deep end with a steel building over it with dressing rooms, office, U/W sound, etc. Here we offered scuba classes and swimming lessons for both adults and children.

The year I moved to the Sports Creel the first Calypso Camera came on the market so I bought one with a flash unit and proceeded to take u/w pictures in earnest. This culminated in two gold medal pictures before we moved to the Bahamas - both taken on my exploratory trip with Al Tillman to Freeport in 1964. The first won in a Pac N.W. contest, and the second at the Int. U/W Film Festival a few months later.

During this time Al was consulting with a group of Canadians about building a hotel on Grand Bahama Island for divers. In the late summer of "64 he asked me to fly down with him to take a look at the concept of UNEXSO (The Underwater Explorers Society) and the Grand Bahama Underwater Explorers Club. After meeting the investors behind the project I accepted Al's offer to become the first general manager. It was a fabulous idea - unfortunately way ahead of its time - and I couldn?t refuse. So, in the spring of 1965 Gay & I sold the house, bartered away the partnership in the store, left the pool in Ron's hands, loaded up a trailer full of things and drove to West Palm Beach with 3 young children to embark for Freeport, Grand Bahamas. In looking back it was a great mistake financially, but one we will never regret, for we were at the forefront of the development of diving. We lost the pool a year later as Ron could not run it alone - I just told the backer it was all his - about $45,000 worth.

The history of UNEXSO is well documented in their recent book, but it was at least 15 years before the diving industry caught up with it. It was under financed and under appreciated! We didn?t get the backing we thought we would get from Skin Diver, and we didn?t get the financial support we had been promised - we didn?t even get the exclusivity protection we had been promised from the Port Authority. However, we did struggle through 7 plus years of turmoil and two financial backing groups during which time we accomplished much despite the handicaps.

With the help of Jack McKenney & Chuck Peterson, Al & I developed a number of well-thought out courses, pioneering Resort Scuba Training, Night Diving, Deep Diving, and U/W Photography. We also sponsored a NAUI ITC each year. Along the way I was elected to NAUI's Board of Directors, but was unable to serve, as the Club really required my full-time attention. Several years later I was nominated again, but lost to Frank Scalli by 3 votes. During this time of hardship Al tried to keep his teaching job in California and oversee the Club. It didn?t work, so he took a leave of absence and moved to Freeport. This didn?t work either. We ended up at odds, and Al sold his interest and moved back to California. That left me in charge totally with very little money and finally a year later a new owner for 3 more years. During this time we lost Jack & Chuck to better paying jobs - Jack to Skin Diver and Chuck to the John Perry Foundation.

During these years we worked with many famous people and businesses, and we turned out many top NAUI Instructors such as Norine Rouse, John Englander, Butch Hendricks Jr, and at least 2 NAUI Brd Members.

We also became friends with John Perry, George Bond, Ed Tucker, Marlin Perkins, Buzz Aldrin and a number of other astronauts, Arthur Godfrey, Werner Von Braun, Ed Link, Coles Phinizy, Walter Cronkite, Lloyd Bridges, Peter Benchley, and many others. I personally taught both Walter's and Werner's children how to dive as well as Peter Benchley. I also worked with Wild Kingdom on two different shows, as well as taking pics and appearing in photos for National Geographic.

Our first year, 1965-66, Jacques Mayol came to us asking for helping setting his first Breath-hold depth record. He was sure with proper preparation he could reach at least 200 ft. During the weeks of his practice for the attempt I put together the first "octopus" regulator and so-named it. Jock dove without a mask to prevent having to waste air in pressurizing the mask. Since his vision was then blurred he was afraid of tangling between the anchor line and his recovery line for his drop weights on ascent, so I added the extra mouthpiece to prevent having to buddy-breathe. This proved so valuable that I immediately added it to all of our guide's regulators to assist out-of-air divers - and we had many in those early days without air gauges and with bad so-called reserve valves. In working with Jock both Jack McKenney and myself managed some deep breath-hold dives ourselves, penetrating to approx. 125 ft. Jock of course did much better, going to 150 ft at each practice time.

During these times we were all avid picture takers. One of our early disagreements was about that interest. Al & I agreed - when you serve as a guide for divers, no camera! We couldn?t afford to split our attention. Jack & Chuck were not happy with this, but it could not be a choice. Off duty time was made available for staff and cameras - even though it cost the club fuel and boat wear & tear. All of us did receive many awards for our photography. Jack went on to cinematic fame, and his son John, now carries on. Chuck we have lost contact with. My own situation has culminated in 25 international photographic awards over the years, and the honor of being selected as a founding member of the Undersea Photography Hall of Fame situated in Hawaii. Unfortunately, this lasted only a few years.
Many of my photos have been published in many countries around the world, along with covers of Science Digest, and several of the dive magazines. In 1966 I put together the first slide show telling a story, and the following year I was first to use 3 projectors for a slide show tying together slides, music, and personally written lyrics.

About 1967 Bates Littlehales at National Geographic asked me to teach several of their photographers how to dive. I helped Bates teach them U/W photography and certified them as NAUI divers. This gave Nat. Geo. A corps of U/W photogs to use in emergencies for their work. Two of the names escape me, but Jim Stanfield and Bruce Dale were the other two. Both since have been National Magazine Photographer of the Year. During this time I taught several hundred divers the rudiments of U/W Photography long before it was being taught by any of the current teachers.

Also during that time I helped found the Undersea Medical Society and became a member. I was also asked to serve as an advisor to the Conference on National Aquatics-ANSI for development of standards for scuba instruction. I also served for a brief time on Healthways Instructor Advisory Board in the early 70's along with Lee Somers and Glen Engstrom.

During my final 3 years at UNEXSO the Hydrolab was put in place at a 50-ft depth just off shore. When it wasn?t used scientifically we had the use of it for an U/W hotel room. I?m not sure exactly how many I took out for the evening, but it had to be close to 100 including Peter Benchley, who wrote an article about it for the Dinner's Club Magazine, Signature. I also led the first recreational (and possibly the only one up to now) saturation dive in the Hydrolab. Three of us spent 24 hours at pressure, and then took 13 1/2 hrs decompressing - the last 7 on O2.

During the 7 plus yrs at UNEXSO we often served as support for a number of commercials for TV & films, as well as a number of experimental trials for submersibles of all types. One was a two-man sub made in Fla. We were told it had 200 ft capability, but Chuck Hepp and myself had the ballast implode at 100 ft off the wall and had a real struggle getting it to the surface when the tow rope broke. The U.S. Navy brought NEMO down, Ed Link brought a SPID, as well as forerunners of the Johnson Sealink, John Perry brought not only the Hydrolab but also various models of his Cubmarine, and his U/W hotrod. Grumman brought the Ben Franklin over for testing and I shot pub. pics for them. They also took us on a 340-meter dive off the wall.

There are many other events that are not documented but that took place during these 7 plus years at UNEXSO. Chuck, Jack, & I made a number of deep bounce dives off the wall, exploring - some over 300 ft. Crazy is the word that comes to mind now, but we were all indestructible (we thot). These were basically down and back with decompression on a single tank with hanging decomp tanks, looking for significant features on the wall - done in the late 60s before Jack & Chuck left. Our deepest was about 340 ft - I say about for even though we could see the numbers and the needle on the depth gauges we could not comprehend their meaning - obviously N2 Nark! This was before we started our Deep Dive Program so it had to be 1966-67. We dove without incident - knock on wood - at least 50 dives over 200 ft, using the SOS "so-called" Decomp. Meter as well as dive tables. From this we interpolated what appeared to be a reasonably save method of using the meter for repetitive no-decompression dives. We felt that it was not safe on Decomp. dives and should have been called a "No-Decompression Meter?.

I used this method for many years, always carrying 2 meters and when they disagreed, sending them back for recalibration. Starting the 1st dive w/o getting into the red zone, and on subsequent dives going back one letter. My only cases of bends were caused by too rapid a rate of ascent. On Mayol's first attempt at a breath-hold record I was inflating the lifting bag on his drop wt. My extra mouthpiece got caught in the shroud lines of the lifting bag, and I was off on a hurricane ascent - 200 ft in less then a minute, trapping Chuck Hepp along with me. We had to decompress out to sea a couple of miles in several thousand feet of water, finishing off in a one-man hyperbaric chamber in the hospital made out of plexiglas. We took turns - one in the deep tank and one in the chamber. The other two incidents occurred when we had a full size chamber, and involved loss of peripheral vision rather then the full paralysis of the former case.

In 1968 I got Arthur Godfrey interested in buying the club. I flew up to NY for a final meeting on it - also appeared on 3 of his radio programs - but he decided against it. However he did offer to finance a personal operation for me separate from the club. I still was in love with the UNEXSO idea and thought it was worth saving, so I declined and although we still stayed friends until his death, we were not quite as close as before.

During this time in Freeport I produced and performed at many U/W film shows, both at the club as well as at various locations around the country. The final 2 years I toured the Eastern U.S. with a special show advertising the club. We didn?t charge a fee for the show or my expenses, merely asked the sponsoring group to cover the other expenses such as the hall. etc. I played over 50 different locations in such diverse places as the basement of an old church in Erie, Pa, and the seashore off of Cape Ann for Fred Calhoun, to the very large auditorium in Rochester for Kodak.

We left Freeport and the club in the summer of 1972. It was running out of money from its 2nd ownership, and I finally decided it was futile to ride a dead horse. Although I had been given 10% of the club when Frank Read and the Boston AV Company bought out the Canadians, Frank told me when I left that 10% of nothing was nothing. So, we had spent over 7 tough years trying to make it work. A UNEXSO member, Dr Al Alexander, approached me about running a boat in the Caribbean for treasure diving. That is, to take guests out to look for treasure on a weekly basis. I convinced him that this was a bad idea - too many govts. had very restrictive laws about removing anything from the bottom. So we formed Scubaventures , a company devoted to taking divers to out-of-the-way places using his 57ft Chriscraft. It was a glorious adventure that lasted a bit over a year when he had a sudden medical problem and decided to pull out, leaving us high and dry with a business that was just starting to go. The boat was a terrible one to use for this purpose, having been designed to operate on an Inland Sea without any wind. However, we took it thru 15-20 ft seas and some hair-raising experiences. I had to, of course, acquire a captain's license to run the boat, and hired a friend to be first mate and cook. We had some great diving experiences in the lower Bahamas, including burning 5 tanks in a night dive with Jack McKenney at Conception Island. Again we were ahead of our time by several years, and we had an unstable boat and owner.

I installed a color processing lab on board for E4, using filtered seawater for washes - Kodak had experimented with saltwater & found as long as the salts were different from the chemicals that it worked more efficiently then pure water. This was changed a year or two later to E6 type processing at a higher temperature, but by extending times I managed to also do E6 successfully on other boat trips. I carried this on to my so-called retirement trips from Steamboat, using a portable kit that I put together to carry aboard boats and do E6 processing to help in teaching U/W Photography. This was before dive boats had E6 labs.

the loss of the boat Alexa, left us in Ft Lauderdale without a job, so I worked for the Recreation Dept. of the City of Oakland Park for about 18 months, while looking for a dive job. There I installed a full color lab, experimenting with the first Cibachrome printing.

Several jobs were offered during this down-time, including the top PADI job. I flew out to LA and talked to John Cronin, but decided that his control was too complete - thanks, but no thanks! I also spent 3 months working for Wild Kingdom, diving and recording sounds of humpbacks off the Virgins and the Caicos Islands. This was a wonderful experience, about 1975, working with Ralph Nelson and Marlin Perkins. I had worked with them before at the Club. We were the first to successfully get close to the whales. Cousteau had spent 2 months the year before off the Virgins and managed to get only a minute and a half of footage. We came back with enough for 2 half-hour programs, and I had over a hundred shots as close as 8 ft. Unfortunately, it took me 18 years to get back to try again and to give Gay a chance to dive with them.

Shortly after the whale trip, Bob Soto called from Grand Cayman asking us to move to Cayman and take over the operation of his East End Lodge. His terms sounded fine and he agreed to up-grade the facility - little did I know that his idea of up-grade was a new coat of paint! What a challenge! The Lodge consisted of 22 rooms in 2 buildings, isolated in a small village 22 miles away from civilization at the Eastern end of the island - no phone, just a short-wave radio to his house that worked some of the time. His idea of maintenance was to fix it when it broke - including the compressor. Gay ran the kitchen and the hotel help, drove to town for supplies and occasionally had to pick up ice and guests - no icemaker the first year. The boat was a single engine put-put. The 2nd year we did get a new boat and an icemaker - but still only one engine on the boat. Some day we may try to write about this "Don?t stop the Carnival" experience. I made a Fiberglas tank and installed an E6 line, and attempted to run photo classes as well as everything else - some fun and games!

After 2 yrs of this merry-go-round, Lock McTavish, owner & operator of Spanish Bay Reef on the NW tip of the Island, asked us to come and run his photo operation. However, since Bob's wife, Elita, had an uncle on the work permit board, Lock asked that we not say anything to the Sotos. This went against my principles and better judgment, but I complied. The entire idea was pie in the sky. There was no way that the Sotos were going to let me go any place on the island but their place. Lock thought he could slide a permit by - no chance. We were persona non-grata!

We flew back to Ft Lauderdale, asking Lock to box up and ship everything to us in Ft L. Then Teach Tour approached me a few days later asking about us taking over their dive operation in Bonaire from Peter Hughes, so that Peter could move to Miami and oversee several more operations. At the same time Joe Stehlin called about setting up a dive op. on Andros. I flew to Andros, didn?t like what I saw, and said yes to Teach Tour. Only after moving to Bonaire did we find out that Teach T. was broke and trying to borrow dirty money from the drug cartel. After 2 months of no paychecks, Peter flew in and said that we were caput. He would stay and try to salvage something. I had no idea that he had taken out all the licenses in his name and signed all the agreements with the hotel - lucky and smart Mr. Hughes.

So, we were high and dry again - little in the bank - and still on Bonaire. Our boxed goods from Cayman still had not arrived. It had been routed from Cayman-Ft L-Bonaire, and arrived 2 weeks after we left. It took 2 months to get it from Bonaire, and in the meantime the box was entirely soaked, infested and ruined.

Joe Stehlin found out some how that we were back, and called. He and a partner had purchased the hotel and facilities on Norman's Cay in the Bahamas, and wanted to get a better dive op going. The young white Bahamian running the business had little experience. Since we had nothing else in mind, and this sounded like a real chance to set up a high quality, personal business, we said yes. We set up a plan, bought a boat, compressor, tank bank, equipment, developed a brochure and some SD adds, and moved to Norman's Cay in early fall, 1977.
Of course the young Bahamian did not want to leave, so although we got the temp. work permit ok, the local commissioner flew in the day after to make sure that I indeed did have the permit. He also was on the dot at the end of the 30 days, to make sure that I did have the permanent one. In fact the permit was due to arrive that morning, and he would not let me open the dive shack to start work until the permit did arrive!

The hotel had only 12 rooms and 3 cottages, so money was tight, and maintenance was a problem. The well water was brackish and cisterns were used for drinking. The compressor had to be installed 100 yds from the dock because of both shelter and power. Some fun hauling tanks. Promises were made and not kept, and although we were starting to do quite well, the hotel was obviously having trouble staying afloat. Joe's partner decided he did not want to invest any more money, and they looked for additional investors -- none appeared that didn?t want controlling interest.

Shortly after we opened on the Cay, a young Columbian flew in with a pilot and a bodyguard and rented a cottage. He was very congenial, and we took them diving a number of times. Then he flew away, but his plane returned and two men stayed, occasionally flying in a girl or two.

The first two weeks we were on the island we lived in a hotel room. Then we moved to one of the cottages. Then just after the Columbian grp. moved in we rented one of the island homes. After 2 months some one flew in with a suitcase full of money and bought the home out from under us. We rented another and after 6 wks the same thing happened. A month later it again happened, so again we had to rent another home. Just before we landed on the island a family from North Fla. finished and occupied a lovely home on the island. His story was that he owned a marina in Jacksonville. He flew in and out constantly. They seemed quite nice and we certified the family as divers and took them out quite often.

The plot thickens. Planes started landing and taking off after sunset and before sunrise occasionally. The field did not have lights, and was not sanctioned for anything but daylight operation. The excuses always seemed plausible - at least at the time. As we were about to give up on the operation the "marina owner" sat down with us and offered to invest in our dive operation since Joe & Phil were trying to sell. His offer was very tempting and involved a first class photo lab, etc. But about the same time Dick Batchelder flew in from San Salvador with an offer that seemed much more feasible - running the Riding Rock Dive Op. and Marina, which already had Paul Tzimoulis" Photo Lab. So, almost a year to the date, we flew over to San Sal in the early fall of 1978. We found out that a few months later the Columbians had bought out Norman's Cay and moved in. It turned out to be Carlos Lederer and the Columbian Drug Cartel, and the "nice marina owner" was his Launderer, flying money to Turks & Caicos weekly. Carlos was paying high up in the Bahamian Govt - even to the top I believe. How else could the PM pay for his million dollar mansion in Nassau!

In any event, the Norman's Cay stay allowed us to explore and dive many spots in the Exumas as did the Grand Bahama stay with UNEXSO allow us to see a great deal of the Northern Bahamas. The Scubaventures year meant exploring the Southern Bahamas and the Turks & Caicos area - many dive spots that few have ever seen up to now.

The 4 years at San Salvador were rewarding in experience as well as the pocket. Some of the best diving in the Carib. is on or near San Sal. A few months after we moved there to run the marina and the diving, we decided with Dick that we would rather spend our time just with photography. So, we drew up a partnership agreement with Island Divers that would allow us to concentrate on running the Paul Tzimoulis College of U/W Photography. Paul & Geri would put on 3-6 wks a year of his program, and we would run year round. It was an excellent meld of people and ideas. Although we shared the same space there was certainly room for all except perhaps classroom space, and they were really on the island only about 3 weeks a year. To the best of my knowledge I was the first Resident Professional in U/W Photography. Now of course that is commonplace at good diving resorts and on board the good dive boats.

We set up the lab with a fully operational E6 line, processing up to 36 rolls per run, and occasionally having to do up to 2 or 3 runs a day when the HUB groups were there. Our prices were very competitive with stateside considering our logistics. We also had a complete set of rentals including a 15mm lens. I developed a 1 & 2 day course, and in the 4 years we were there put over 500 students through the 2-day course. We also offered professional photog. services, took pictures of people, and set up a Cibachrome Line. With early orders we would print up to 16X20 on the spot or mail out later. We were busy people, working 12 to 16 hours a day, 6 & 7 days a week. But it was lucrative. I wish we could have worked thru at least another 4 years. During this time I put on 2 film shows each week, offering weekly pics of the staff and myself, as well as several of the library of movies that we had from Jack McKenney, and others. Usually, we closed with one of my lyrical slide presentations.

IN 1980 we had a change in ownership with a new infusion of money but it didn?t last. The hotel and its prices were based on real estate sales and the market tapered off in 1981-82 to the extent that belts had to be tightened. We could see the hand writing on the wall, so when Dick couldn?t guarantee us a basic income, we left. It was the fall of "82, and as we predicted, the resort closed a year later.

Since 1980 we had been spending 10 days to 2 weeks in Aspen, Skiing, and in the trip in early "82 we had looked for a house to buy and a place to retire. Prices were too high in Aspen, so we flew up to Steamboat Springs and found an affordable house. In Dec of "82 we loaded all of our things into a rental truck and took off for Colorado.

It was a timely move and we did enjoy the mountains and the easy access to skiing. However, I was only 57 and still felt a need to accomplish more before sitting in that easy chair. We thought that with over 1000 divers on our personal mailing list that we could run 5 or 6 trips a year, and also that NAUI would have use of my experience and training. Both, it turned out, were false assumptions. NAUI kept stalling, and none of my suggestions met with favor. Now NAUI is an also-ran. We also discovered that a mailing list of 1000 was not adequate - great problems getting 10 people to agree on a time or place for diving. We needed 5 or 6 thousand. This meant spending $25,000 a yr on ads, and running full time. After several years of 3 & 4 trips a yr we gave up - too much work. These Photo Seafaris were great fun involving informal photo coaching, and processing E6 on board to see the results. We chartered The Sea Dragon with Dan & Sue Doyle, and made a number of trips to unexplored territory in the Central and Southern Bahamas.

Also at this time I installed a complete color lab in the basement of our home in Steamboat and did Cibachrome prints for people all over the US. We got so busy that we would have had to expand to take care of it - again more work then we wanted to do at this stage in our lives, so when we moved to Parker we dropped the business. We also did film shows around the area, but Steamboat was too isolated - in the winter there were times we could not get over Rabbit Ears Pass! Both of us worked for the Ski Corp. in the winter, Gay in the Kindergarten, & me in the ticket office of the ski school. This allowed us free skiing with a few bucks on the side.

In the fall of 1990 it was necessary for me to have a radical prostatectomy, and for the critical snow months Gay had to shovel the snow. That was a bit much, so that spring we decided to move to the dryer climate of Denver. In the spring of "91 we bought our home in Parker, 25 miles S.E. of the center of Denver. Now, with a metro population of 2 million, we had a ready source for film shows. We formed Ocean Below and that first year gave over 40 free shows. Free, we found out, was not such a good idea - it cost us too much money. Equipment, projector bulbs, gasoline, etc. was more the we could afford. We also found out that a small charge made the program seem to be more valuable. Unfortunately, schools no longer have ready sources of money, so it has taken us a bit longer to get established, but I think we are well on our way.

During this time I have been awarded a celebrity page in the State's publication, "YES MATCH" (Youth Educational Services), a source for student programs of all kinds. SSI has given me their Platinum Pro 5000 Award, and "Swimming With Whales with Dave Woodward" has premiered in North Carolina PBS. Bill Lovin and crew during a special trip shot the whale bit in 1994. In 1999 I was awarded the Paul Revere Spike Award by the Underwater Club of Boston.

We still take dive trips - about every 2 or 3 years. The last one was back to San Sal with some old friends. We would like to dive more often, but, after all, we do live in Ski Country. Much of our discretionary income is devoted to visiting Kathi & family near Boston, and Tanny & family near Atlanta, or flying them to Parker for a Colorado visit.

It has been a great privilege and a fantastic experience to be allowed to help pioneer recreational scuba diving. I have credited myself with a lot of "firsts" - not because I am so smart - just because I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time. We shall continue to be involved in our educational endeavors about the sea as long as we can talk and walk.

Addendum: Our last dive trip was 8 days in Belize, Mar. 2004, visiting our old friend and student O.J. Holden. The diving was ok - bad vis except for the Elbow, and it was drift diving - not conducive to U/W photography. But still enjoyable. Cousteau's Blue Hole had about 25 ft vis. We saw one shark and one stalactite at 135 ft.

Final Addendum: We now live in Pueblo, a smaller and slower paced community, perfect for retirement. We still ski and may still dive more but after 8-10 thousand dives the urge is no longer as strong, and we spend much time and money with our 6 grand children who live near Atlanta and Boston. I?m staying busy writing for future publication.

Autobiography by Dave Woodward

  • 1943-46 Staff Sergeant in the U S Marine Corps

  • 1946-50 U. of Illinois College of Physical Education, graduating with teaching minors in Biological Science, and Speech and Dramatics

  • 1950-51 Teaching Fellowship at the U. of Ill in Swimming while working on a Masters Degree

  • 1952-54 High School Coach and Teacher in Northeast Oregon

  • 1954-65 Sporting Goods sales in Spokane & Opportunity, WA.

  • 1954 Started Scuba Diving, and within 2 months started teaching scuba

  • 1955 First Underwater pictures taken, 54 years as a diver, scuba instructor, and U/W photographer

  • 1960 Helped found the National Association of U/W Instructors as one of 29 Certified

  • 1965 First Gold Medal in U/W Photography at the International U/W Film Festival, followed by 25 additional awards over the ensuing years

  • 1965-82 Moved with family to Freeport, Bahamas, to open and manage the Underwater Explorers Society - 18 years of living, working and photographing in the Caribbean

  • 1970 Founding Member of the Undersea Medical Society

  • 1971 Elected as a Founding Member of the Hall of Fame Undersea Photography

  • 1965-82 Scuba Instructor to Peter Benchley, Walter Cronkite Family, Werner Von Braun Family, Arthur Godfrey, and many others

  • 1965-90 Photographed under contract for National Geographic, Science Digest, New York Times, International Wildlife, Signature Magazine, and many other books and publications

  • 1990 Three photographs selected by the American Museum of Natural History for their 1991 Wildlife Calendar

  • 1991 Moved to Parker, Colorado, to form OCEAN BELOW, a company specializing in Pictorial Presentations in Marine Biology, Oceanography, and Underwater Photography

  • 1993 Presented the Platinum Pro 5000 Diver Award by Scuba Schools International for 5,000 or more logged dives, and distinguished service to the Scuba Community

  • 1995 Awarded a Celebrity Page in the State of Colorado's YOUTH EDUCATIONAL SERVICES (YES MATCH) Directory

  • 1995 Premiering of "Swimming with Whales with Dave Woodward" on North Carolina PBS - a tribute to the Humpback whales of Silver Bank

  • 1999 Given the Paul Revere Bronze Spike Award by the Boston Underwater Club for service to diving

  • 2003 One Man Show, The Wildlife Experience Museum in the Community Gallery, 22 Color Prints, 8/16-11/9/2003, Parker, CO.

  • 2003 Bio Listing: PIONEERS IN DIVING, by Edward C. Cargile, Pub. on CD

  • 2005 Moved to Pueblo to retire and write.

Portage Quarry Recreation Club, Inc.
12701 South Dixie
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