SCUBA ... Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus. Want to be like a fish ... give this a try.
I do not have alot of underwater pictures as most of my diving takes place in lakes where visibility is not all that great. Most of my diving in MO has been small salvage diving: boats, motors, propellers, glasses, watches, tin roofing material, etc... Anything that gets dropped, kicked or blown in I usually go after. I may not have any pics but I do have some great short dive stories if you care to read on ....
LONG, LOST PORCELAIN BOWL
One of the best treasure hunts is under the big community docks like a condo complexes. It is absolutely amazing what you can find under there! A buddy and me dove on an old community dock at what was known as Pier 31 Harbor at Lake of the Ozarks which is where we worked during the summer. We found an old porcelain bowl with a light scum on it and decided to go up to see which boat it came from. Turned out to be one of the oldest dockers at the Pier ... the James' were their names ... they had a beautiful old wood Chris Craft Cruiser. We knocked on the side of the boat ... we are still in the water mind you ... and Mrs. James came to the "door". We told her to look down. After she was done laughing, we asked her if she lost this bowl. She had ... 18 YEARS AGO!!! We gave it back to her since she still had the original set ... the set was complete once again!
CREATURE BETWEEN MY LEGS!
My buddy from above and myself were told of a job by a MO State Water Patrolman who did not have time for it. Seems a gentleman he knew lost a motor and knew exactly where it was ... "darn near had a rope on it" was the words he used. We drove up to the site ... the lay of the land was great .. gently sloping ... figured it could not be more than 12 feet deep at the dock ... this was gonna be cake. Introductions were made then we asked the man to indicate where the motor was at. He said, "no problem, see that jug out there in the lake?" (pointing out to the middle of the bloody lake) "Well it is about 50 yards, no 75, well maybe 100 yards to the left of that! If that wasn't bad enough ... we asked how long it had been down ... he said "last fall" ... it was July the next year! I looked at my buddy and just muttered "I'm sorry Dave!" But we were already there so what the heck. We donned our equipment and hung on to the side of the fishing boat as we putted out to the "site". Turns out the previous days rain had muddied the water up. In fact, it was soooo muddy, you could plow it. I went down about 4 feet and put my dive light up to the side of my mask and could barely see a dim glow ... conclusion ... dive light was worthless. We went down to the bottom about 35 feet in pitch blackness. The bottom turned out to be 9-12 inches of pure silt! All we could do was take a kick and settle down into the mud .. take another kick and settle into the mud ... hoping to land on the stupid thing. Well yours truly landed on something but it was not the motor! My best guess is about a 30 lb catfish or turtle. All I knew was he was between my legs and I was not a happy camper! Problem was when I moved one way he went the other so we could not get untangled. I wish I could have seen a replay cause I was doing somersaults, corkscrews, twists, turns ... anything I could do to part company with my new found friend. Well we finally managed to escape each other ... and I went topside. Dave looked at my eyes which were apparently the size of silver dollars and asked "what happened?" Well, I think he is still laughing to this day!
FAIR WEATHER / WATER DIVER
My father, buddy Jim and myself were replacing the planks on the dock walkway ... an all day job. Jim and I were gonna go into town that evening for some fun. A little background on Jim is needed ... he is an army brat who learned to dive in Panama! If the water ain't 100+ foot visibility and bathwater warm ... he wants nothing to do with it! Anyway, during the day he had stumbled and caught himself on one of the poles. Little did we know that his nice dive watch came off and in the lake it had gone. We deduced this later that day when I asked him what time it was. He looked at his wrist and said "welp ... don't rightfully know ... my watch is gone!" It was getting late so we decided to don our equipment and look for it immediately. We knew exactly where it would have went in so away we went. We dropped an anchor to follow the rope down ... it was only about 15 feet deep. After about three minutes I noticed he was no where around so I went up. He was floatin' on top talking to my mother. I said "what's wrong, why did you come up?" He said, "I can't see anything down there so I have got no business being down there." Now visibility was about a foot which means you have to put your face right up to the bottom to see anything but you could see! After calling him a pansy or some other derogatory term ... I said well I will go back down. Went down and found it within five minutes ... brought it back up ... he thought it was amazing. We were in the shadow of the dock so I convinced him to dive the point which was still in the sun .. after all, we were already wet! He agreed, so off we went. Once there we began our decent, he was off my right shoulder and slightly above me. Another few feet down, I turned and he was still there. Went a little further and looked over again, he was headed up! I went on up and asked him what was wrong now! He replied, "I still can't see anything!" I called him a "wuss" ... then we bagged it! It was then he explained he was a fair weather / water diver .... so I remind him how nice his watch looks every time I see it!!! ha ha
There is a floating house a few coves up the Linn Creek Arm from Pier 31 Harbor ... owned by an orthodontist in town .. Dr. Heiser was his name. During a storm, the house shifted off its moorings and messed up a few things. Dr. Heiser asked Ed Schollian, a mechanic at the Pier as well as a Dive Master who got me interested in diving in the first place (see Ed and his wife on the Bahamas page). He asked me if I wanted to help so I naturally jumped at the chance. Our job was to make sure the water lines and other non-electric utilities were still in tact. It was amazing, this house had more steel under the waterline than above it. We dove it twice and all was OK. No exciting stories but it was just really neat to dive the floating house!
A friend of mine in the fraternity house, Jerry, and I went to a Dive Fest at Table Rock. He was from Branson so we stayed at his parent's house. The Dive Fest consisted of three events: Underwater Horseshoes, Underwater Bicycle Race and a Treasure Hunt! This was the first year for the Dive Fest so the rules were kind of made up as we went. The horseshoes turned out to just be playing 'shoes in about four foot of water which was difficult. The treasure hunt was OK but nothing spectacular! The most fun was the bicycle race! The rules were ... you enter the water on the bike and you leave the water with the bike! You could not wear fins and you had to petal some ... so you simply weighted yourself down and walked across the bottom of the cove. It was about a 200-300 foot wide cove so it was quite a hike! The first group who went across had crystal clear water! However, everyone else had absolutely stirred up conditions! A compass was a must ... if you did not have one you were SOL! Jerry had one with him so I was to follow him across the bottom. We entered the water and went under .. got off the bikes, put 'em under our arm and started trucking across the bottom. I felt something on my shoulder and turned to see what it was ... it was the safety diver whose fin had grazed my shoulder as he was treading water. I turned back to keep going and there was no Jerry ... he was no where in sight! I turned 360 degrees looking for a clue of which way he went and which way for me to go. I finally chose a direction and started trucking off. About 5 minutes later, I feel someone tapping me on the shoulder .. it was a safety diver ... who indicated I was headed up the cove instead of across it! I decided I would go topside to see how far off I was! I was nearly 100 feet up the cove. Needless to say, I bagged that heat and went back to the start line! I got to watch the next heat and it was absolutely hilarious watching from topside. You could follow everyone's bubbles and sure enough ... someone in each group would veer off down lake or up the cove! If anything it was very entertaining! After the event we went out on the town and kicked up our heels on the dance floor for awhile with some lovely tourist gals! Jerry's father thought it was really funny to take pics of us about 7am the next morning as we were still trying to sleep off the night's events!
WHO'S IN THE POOL
Dave's parents were members of the country club in Camdenton which had a decent little pool. On occasion Dave invited me to go to the pool and we would take our dive gear. Typically what I always did when playing in a pool was hook up a regulator on a tank and toss it in the deep end of the pool. That way you could swim down deep, mess around, take a breath and stay down for longer periods of time without a mask or anything. During one of these times, Dave had gotten out of the pool and went somewhere so I went to the bottom of the pool and sat for several minutes. No one else was in the pool or even sitting by it. While I was underwater, a lady came up and got in the pool, swam a couple laps and got out. The water had settled down and got quiet as she was laying in a lounge chair next to the pool. Well I was ready to come up! I surfaced (gear still at the bottom) and she just about came out her bathing suit! She had an absolutely priceless look on her face. She did not know what to say except "where did you come from?" I told her I had been in the pool the whole time .. she just must not have seen me swimming around! Needless to say ... it was rather funny. We talked for a few minutes then I said well ... time to get back in! I dove in, went to the bottom and sat. She came to the edge of the pool and looked down ... I just waived! She left!
Well, if you got this far ... I am impressed. I have a few more stories but these were the best! SCUBA is great sport. I take my gear every year on the House Boat trips to Bull Shoals Lake where the water is about 60+ foot visibility. I take it just in case someone wants to give it a try or a ring or something is dropped. No one has dropped anything yet and we are so busy with skiing and other activities I do not have time to breathe some bubbles myself! Hopefully one of these days, I will make it down there solely for a dive trip ... or over to Norfork Lake which is just east of BSL! It is also great diving.
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