It’s been a while since I posted anything so it’s time to catch up. We finally made the trip to Australia, and I made the dives on the Great Barrier Reef. We weren’t in the normal one-day tourist locations but were WAY OUT in the Coral Sea… normally eight hours from the mainland and were out there for five days. In addition to the reef, we toured the rain forest. The country is way too big to see in one adventure, so we stayed in Cairns, Queensland. The Great Barrier Reef was all I expected it to be. I’ve attached a few shark photos and reef pictures.Continue reading Hello to all the fans of this website!
Category Archives: Travel
Tales of adventure and photographs to prove it!
Wreck of the Hilma Hooker
The wreck of the Hilma Hooker is one of the best wreck dive sites in the Caribbean. The story of how the 235 foot long by 36 foot beam Colombian cargo ship was sunk is a good story and a nice piece of history.
Back when I started diving… 50+ years ago, my primary interest other than exploring the undersea world was hunting. Spearfishing, lobster, abalone and scallop hunting were my main focus. As years went by I had visions of becoming a great underwater photographer. I’ve won a few awards for underwater photography over the years but back then it was a very difficult skill to master, which I never really did. I started with a Kodak Instamatic camera in a plastic box before moving up to a Nikonos camera and then 35 mm SLR cameras with large bulky housings. Strobe lights attached to the cameras made using them difficult to do sometimes and a complete underwater camera setup was an expensive investment.Continue reading Underwater Photography
We were diving off a small, remote island called Mayaguana, the easternmost island in the district of the Bahamas. The diving there wasn’t that good. There’s about 30 local residents and not much in the way of services. They have medical folks who show up about once a month. I’m swimming along and there’s a good size Caribbean Spiny Lobster (Panulirus argus) walking across the sand so I grabbed him. He didn’t make it to the dinner table, I let him go.
Diving the Hermes
The wreck of the ‘Hermes‘ is also a popular Bermuda wreck site. There was a large Lion Fish waiting for me when I arrived. Shortly after that he was speared and later met me for lunch. Lion fish are delicious! The ‘Hermes’ was a U.S. Coast Guard WWII buoy tender that was sunk as an artificial reef in 1985.
Fore more information about Lion Fish in Bermuda, check out the Lion Fish Task Force.
Diving Mary Celestia
The island of Bermuda is a wreck dive paradise. The island is surrounded by ship wrecks of all types. The ‘Mary Celestia’ is one of the more famous wrecks. The ship was a steam powered side paddle boat and was sunk in 1864. This is a photo of Pam next to what’s left of one of the paddle wheels. The ship was running guns for the Confederacy during the Civil War. The Confederates would trade cotton with the English for guns and then run the blockade back to the south. She was a victim of the many reefs around the island.
You can interact with a 360º 3D model at Bermuda100.
Diving in Roatán
On a shark dive in Roatan I was in the water with about thirty sharks… mostly small in the 4-5 ft. range but there were a few like this one in the 6-8 ft. range. Lots of close up shots!
We encountered this large grouper near the ship wreck of El Aguila (The Eagle) in Roatán, at a depth of 100 ft. The ship is 210′ long but in 1998 when hurricane Mitch came through it broke into three pieces… even down 100 feet!
Rowell Ranch Rodeo
Mark and Rocky attended the Rowell Ranch Rodeo. We were there to sign copies of ‘Rocky the Rodeo Pony‘ and to make a donation to the ‘Tough Enough to Wear Pink‘ fight against breast cancer. Raffle tickets and book sales raised over $6000 that night!
Santa Catalina Island Golf
When Your Home Golf Course Is Catalina Island
Golf is often referred to as the game you love to hate. No matter how good you think you are, the “Golf Gods” are always ready and able to knock you down and return you back to earth. You might be able to string together a couple of good holes. You get a couple of pars, then you get that birdie and start feeling really good about your game… then that double or triple boogie comes along; the horrible sand trap; the deadly water hazard, and you quickly become mortal again. It’s the great equalizer in life and even happens to the great ones. How many of us smile just a little when you watch golf on TV and see a great pro player have that horrible hole just like the rest of us. Since I play for fun and don’t have to depend on my game to support myself (thank God!), I try not to take the game too seriously.
I have been fortunate to have played some of the most beautiful courses in the world, the Olympic Club, the Old Del Monte Course, The Presidio S.F., Cabo del Sol, just to name a few, but there is nothing like playing island golf. “Mainland” courses are pretty, but when you add golf to an island, the courses become truly beautiful.
I have played the Tryall Club Course in Jamaica, the Waikoloa King’s Course and Wailea Golf Club Hawaii, the Pearl in Morea, the Coronado and yes, I have even played at St. Andrews in Scotland. What they all have in common is that they are located on islands! What I consider to be my “home island course” is here on Catalina.
All the courses I have listed above have their own unique histories. Many have hosted major tournaments and as we all know, St. Andrews is the legendary home of golf. We here in Catalina have a great deal to be proud of with our course history as well. Our course was built by the Banning Brothers in 1892 and is the oldest operating course west of the Rock Mountains. Not only has the Catalina course been played by numerous movie stars, athletes and celebrities over the years but is was the home to the Bobby Jones Invitational from 1931-1955. The Catalina Island Junior Golf Tournament started in 1967. Future pro golfers, Corey Pavin, Craig Stadler and Tiger Woods played in the tournament.
If you visit Catalina, take a little time to enjoy golf here. And for those of us who play here on a regular basis, next time you play a round, take a moment to remember the history, enjoy the beauty and realize how fortunate we are to be in such a special place.
Reprinted from the Catalina Islander February 10, 2017
Seaplanes in Catalina
Sea Planes have been crossing from the California mainland to the Channel Islands for almost a century. The first service was operated by Charlie Chaplin’s half-brother Syd in 1919. Operating for a couple of years, other firms moved in to operate the service until 1931 when Wrigley stepped up.
Phillip K. Wrigley, began the Wilmington-Catalina Airline, Ltd. through his Santa Catalina Island Company, and took over the sea plane services. The airline’s fleet were mostly comprised of Douglas Dolphin’s designed by Donald Douglas.
In 1931, Wrigley helped design a unique airport at Hamilton Cove, the 2nd cove north of Avalon, to accommodate the Douglas Dolphin ‘Amphibion’ planes. The twin-engine Dolphins landed just offshore & would taxi up a ramp to a large turntable mechanism. The airplane would then be rotated until it was facing the water & ready for a trip back to the mainland. A small Spanish-style terminal building welcomed residents, business people & tourists to Catalina.” There was also a large hanger behind the terminal building.
According the Catalina Goose, Wilmington-Catalina Air Line was noted in the March 1941 issue of Flying & Popular Aviation as “the shortest airline in the world.” The article points out that not only was Wilmington-Catalina Air Line, serving 2 towns less than 30 miles apart, the shortest but also the safest airline, having flown the channel 38,000 times carrying over 200,000 passengers with no accidents or injuries between 1931-41.
Seaplane service was discontinued & replaced by a landplane base in the spring of 1941 and following the entry of the USA into WWII, civilian air traffic to Catalina Island was shut down and the Coast Guard took over the Hamilton Cove Seaplane Base.