- Jan 5, 2007
As a family activity, snorkelling has a long history. Back in the early 1950s, it was not undertaken wearing wetsuits, diving skins or rash vests for cold water protection but clad in the kind of drysuits illustrated in the picture above. Father of the family Bill Barada was an early American pioneer of what was then called "skin diving" and he designed a chest-entry drysuit to combat low water temperatures, supplying his wife and children with this garment to share his aquatic passion with them. Then named "Bel-Aqua" and based in Los Angeles, the company manufacturing his suit design is now called Aquala and operates in Louisiana.
In February 1961, the Santa Cruz Sentinel published the above article about the "Golden Tiger" drysuit made in Loveland, Ohio, by the So Lo Marx Rubber Company. This "Skooba-"totes" drysuit proved its worth as an exposure suit for a snorkeller diving the Pacific Ocean in search of shellfish for the table.
The "Golden Tiger" drysuit above is from my diving history collection and I have used it while snorkelling in the North Sea off the coast of North East England. This apparel had the virtue of simplicity, its thin material worn over warm underclothing not only reducing body heat loss but also raising fewer obstacles to swimming movements.