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DiverHowie

New Member
May 12, 2020
3
6
1
81
Hi... nice to be here.
I've been diving for a LONG time.... started in my early teens back in 1963. I started as a freediver... scuba was pretty much in its infancy back then. It's amusing to think back on the kit we used (some it homemade). I had fallen in love with the ocean and was lucky to live in Southern California, which is where I still love to dive the most... even after diving quite a number of other locations around the world. I qualified for scuba in 1965 with LA County. Most divers back then were both freedivers and scuba divers, a combination that I would still highly recommend. When I started scuba I was much into hunting... spearfishing and taking abalone, scallops and lobster. But after about 10 years I grew to dislike taking game and stopped doing it. I tried underwater photography but I am a lousy photographer. Still, cameras have become more idiot-proof so I now carry one to take the occasional souvenir shot. Number of dives... must be near 5000 now and I stopped logging them a long time ago, tho I've done a sort of journal to recall some special experiences. I solodive mostly but wouldn't ever criticize buddy diving for the person who has a good buddy. We have a great sport, I just can't imagine any better one.
 

J Campbell

Well-Known Member
Sep 17, 2001
595
179
148
66
Looks like you might be an Electrical Engineer? Yep the sport is great. It's not real popular which is probably a good thing for us - except for finding a reliable buddy.
 
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Bill McIntyre

San Clemente, CA
Staff member
Forum Mentor
Jan 27, 2005
3,414
1,184
368
82
Welcome to the forum. Interesting the different perspective. I bought my first scuba gear in 1954 in Florida, and my impression is that freediving was rare. Most spearfishermen used scuba on the Florida West Coast.
 

foxfish

Silver Smoker
Dec 31, 2005
13,023
3,127
478
61
I trained for scuba in around 1978 it took one year to complete the BSAC qualification... tough course !
Unfortunately I found scuba very claustrophobic and never kept it up .
 

DiverHowie

New Member
May 12, 2020
3
6
1
81
Looks like you might be an Electrical Engineer? Yep the sport is great. It's not real popular which is probably a good thing for us - except for finding a reliable buddy.
Yep - Electronic Engineer. Which once made be a little too gadget oriented in my diving. Finding an optimal personal gear configuration though I still find an important (and enjoyable) challenge as diving gear and practise advances.
 

DRW

Vintage snorkeller
Jan 5, 2007
262
103
133
Welcome, DiverHowie! Good to meet another old-timer, now I'm in my early 70s. Qualifying in scuba with LA county in the 1960s must be the Ivy League of diver education! You must have encountered some of the legends of diving there and then.

I qualified in scuba in the late 1960s at my Yorkshire university branch of the British Sub Aqua Club. Scuba may have still been double-hose back then, but the gear was way better during the late 1960s than it was at the beginning of the 1950s or maybe even since!

I haven't done scuba since the 1960s, but I've snorkelled wherever I've travelled, including the lakes of East Berlin when the communist government was in power, in the Mediterranean and, when I was States-side, in the lakes of Minneapolis and at La Jolla Cove in Southern California, always using vintage full-foot fins, oval masks and traditional snorkels out of a personal dislike for today's composite fins, silicone-skirted goggles-style masks and overengineered snorkels. In my book, just because modern gear is new, doesn't always mean it's better, no matter what those young whippersnappers might say!

I'm hoping some time soon to start another thread about the equipment people used for breathhold diving "back in the day" and I hope you'll chip in when I do so with a few experiences of your own. :)
 

spoolin01

Well-Known Member
May 20, 2008
38
4
98
Hi... nice to be here.
I've been diving for a LONG time.... started in my early teens back in 1963. I started as a freediver... scuba was pretty much in its infancy back then. It's amusing to think back on the kit we used (some it homemade). I had fallen in love with the ocean and was lucky to live in Southern California, which is where I still love to dive the most... even after diving quite a number of other locations around the world. I qualified for scuba in 1965 with LA County. Most divers back then were both freedivers and scuba divers, a combination that I would still highly recommend. When I started scuba I was much into hunting... spearfishing and taking abalone, scallops and lobster. But after about 10 years I grew to dislike taking game and stopped doing it. I tried underwater photography but I am a lousy photographer. Still, cameras have become more idiot-proof so I now carry one to take the occasional souvenir shot. Number of dives... must be near 5000 now and I stopped logging them a long time ago, tho I've done a sort of journal to recall some special experiences. I solodive mostly but wouldn't ever criticize buddy diving for the person who has a good buddy. We have a great sport, I just can't imagine any better one.
Welcome! I'm only a few years behind you I'd guess, but didn't start scuba or freediving until I was 40. Started with breathhold abalone diving here in northern California. It's been the favorite of my various hobbies over the years. I still enjoy both, and still enjoy hunting, but no longer push the breathhold time the way I once did. I couldn't agree more about how great this sport is.
 

Bill McIntyre

San Clemente, CA
Staff member
Forum Mentor
Jan 27, 2005
3,414
1,184
368
82
I’m 81 and I know old farts are supposed to say gear was better in the old days but I’m going to disagree with DRW. Gear is far better these days. When I started Freedive Spearfishing in the early 50s we used those dinky Churchill duckfeet. Can’t imagine trying to dive to any depth now if I had to use them. Later I graduated to giant UDT duckfeet. Stuff as boards and you really needed legs to push them. The foot pockets would tear your feet up unless you wore thick booties. Modern carbon fiber fins are so much more comfortable and efficient. When I got my first scuba gear in 1954 the two hose regulator didn’t even have check valves on each side of the mouthpiece so the entire hose would fill with water if you spit the mouthpiece out. Later they introduced the check valves and they were a big improvement. Of course when I went through US Navy diving school at Pearl Harbor in 1963 they removed those check valves just to make it harder on us but that was special. In any case, single hose regulators are far superior to those early two-hose.
Modern low volume masks are far superior to those big masks I started with. As long as all you do is snorkel then I guess it doesn’t matter, but even for the modest Freedive depths that I still attain the new masks are better.

Modern spearguns are far superior to those available just 10 years ago, much less guns of the 50s and 60s. Even band material has improved in the last few years.

I know it’s fashionable for old farts to say how much better things were in the good old days but it’s just not true for diving gear.

My automobiles are so much more efficient now, safer, and last much longer than the 1939 Plymouth coup that was my first car. Not everything was better in the old days.
 
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Reactions: J Campbell

DRW

Vintage snorkeller
Jan 5, 2007
262
103
133
Well, I'm going to stick with my deeply unfashionable fins, masks and snorkels because they're not only my choice of gear but also the choice of others on the three vintage diving online forums I post on. I'm a "live and let live" kind of guy, however, and all I expect from others is the same deference when it comes to personal choice.:)

One definition of a historian is a prophet who looks back into the past. As a diving equipment historian (retirement hobby), I can only understand why modern diving equipment is the way it is by comparing it with the gear that preceded it and tracing the different stages of its evolution to the present. Each generation of diving equipment manufacturers contributed to gear progression in their own way.
 

Bill McIntyre

San Clemente, CA
Staff member
Forum Mentor
Jan 27, 2005
3,414
1,184
368
82
You're certainly entitled to your choices and if participating in vintage gear forums is your thing then I can see why you choose what you do. I just told you why I like current gear better, and I hope you'll respect my choices too. Just as have a new F-150 instead of a 1960 F-150, I have new gear because its better. Its a struggle at my age but I'm still trying to be a player rather than a reminiscer.

As a diving equipment historian (retirement hobby), I can only understand why modern diving equipment is the way it is by comparing it with the gear that preceded it and tracing the different stages of its evolution to the present. Each generation of diving equipment manufacturers contributed to gear progression in their own way.

I agree. I even mentioned a few steps. Each generation contributed and now as a result gear is much better.
 

spoolin01

Well-Known Member
May 20, 2008
38
4
98
When it comes to most of the gear, it would be hard to persuade me that modern design, materials, and fabrication are not better than before. Low volume, wide field of view masks are an improvement. Silicone is more durable than rubber, as are other synthetics. Dive computers are superior. Fins are lighter yet stiffer. Wetsuit fabrication is superior. Bouyancy device bladders are better made. The one exception I would offer is the scuba regulator. There I find the modern versions to be only slightly better than those of 40 or 50 years ago, if at all. Oh and lastly, I think snorkel design has gone backwards over the years - I hate the flexible tubing.
 
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