A Life and Love of Diving
It all began in the 1950s when such shows as "Sea Hunt" and "The Aquanauts" told the tales of "skin divers" and "frogmen" in underwater adventures. I had the opportunity of spending my summers on Catalina Island with my mother and step-father, while spending the winters in school and living with my father in Oklahoma. It was the summers I looked forward to, and the clear waters of Catalina that were filled with Marine life and the occasional wreck to explore.
I became a certified diver in 1962 under the Los Angeles County Certified Scuba program. My instructor, Frank Rutherford, owned Catalina Divers Supply on the pier in Avalon, and I was able to work part time for free air fills and a few bucks on the side. It was during this time that our equipment consisted of neoprene wet suits that you had to sprinkle talcum powder or corn starch into so you could pull them on, and double hose regulators just like Mike Nelson, (Lloyd Bridges) of the television series "Sea Hunt" used. Our gear then was much simpler than it is today, and much easier to use--but not as comfortable or easy to breath. Still, it was a grand adventure and got me started on a life-long love of Scuba diving and underwater recovery exploring and salvage and recovery operations. Today I am the team leader of the Mayes County Underwater Recovery Team (under Mayes County, Oklahoma, Emergency Management)
Craig Roberts the day of Los Angeles County SCUBA certification with single steel 72 cu. ft. tank, Dacor double hose regulator and Squale fins (left--1962, age 16). Roberts with twin 40 cu in tanks, same regulator, and "Duck Feet" fins (1963). Both photos were taken on South Beach, Avalon, Catalina Island.
Lake Tenkiller, Oklahoma, August 2002, with Ocean Reef Neptune II full face mask and Scubapro BC and regulator/octopus.
Roberts and friend exploring a cove at Beaver Lake, Arkansas, Summer of 2002.
Just up from training dive at Lake Tenkiller with Mayes County Dive Team dive boat. Gear now includes Divator AGA full face masks and Ocean Reef Neptune II full face masks with surface communications. (2004)
Vintage Gear Diving with 1960s Dacor Double Hose regulator and single 72 cf tank in 2004. No BC or other fancy hi-tech stuff here! Just like the old days: tank, reg, mask, fins and weight belt. Life was so much simpler in the days of Sea Hunt and The Aquanauts.
Winter diving calls for a full insulated dry suit. This photo, taken at Beaver Lake, Arkansas, shows Roberts and assistant team leader Bill Aycock, geared up with DUI (Divers Underwater International) Public Service Divers dry suits, full face masks and gloves. Aycock is also an old California diver and was certified in Los Angeles County about the same time as Roberts.
Members of the dive team at a quarry in southwestern Missouri called "Lake Oronogo." It is steep, deep and fairly clear. Roberts is second from left in green and black dry suit. (8/2005)
Roberts prepares to enter water during winter dive in search of a lost propeller at a marina at Grand Lake, Oklahoma, on a monthly dive training day. Assistant team leader Bill Aycock in water, Assistant Team Leader and Training Officer Ron Stokes in blue jacket observes. (March 2006)
Mayes County's dive boat. This is a converted 24' Livesay cabin cruiser originally built in San Diego in 1962. The team gutted it, salvaged the hull, built a flat deck and center console, and mounted a 115 hp Mercury outboard on the boat. It makes a good all weather dive boat. (Roberts on bottom left in yellow shirt). For photos showing the conversion process and more about the team, see www.okdiveteam.net