Publish Date: Jan. 1993
Making The Grade:
Interview With Commercial Mixed gas Pioneer Lad Handelman
I first met Lad Handelman in 1991 when I was researching commercial mixed gas technology for my magazine aquaCORPS Journal. Lad was one of the founders and former CEO of Oceaneering Inc., the world’s largest commercial diving services firm. I figured that he had a lot of valuable information for then fledgling tech community and could offer us a perspective.
I called him at his home in Santa Barbara, CA introduced myself, and explained to him what “technical diving” was and what we were trying to accomplish with the use of mix, and then asked him what he thought. There was a long pause. “I think you guys are crazy and are going to kill yourselves,” he said.
But I was not one to shy from an opinion, particularly concerning diving. At the time of course, many people thought we were crazy. Lad and I continued to talk many times over the next few months and he eventually agreed to join the aquaCORPS board of directors. Interestingly, during his tenure at Oceaneering he banned the use of both (open circuit) SCUBA and closed circuit rebreathers, in the aftermath of accidents, and regarded them both as unsafe.
Lad was instrumental in facilitating discussions between the commercial and tech diving communities at aquaCORPS’ tek.Conferences. He was also a fierce safety advocate, and was instrumental in helping the tech community to adopt conservative oxygen use standards, and utilize proper operational support. He was also a strong advocate for employing onsite chambers.
It’s fair to say that Lad’s strong “safety first” philosophy helped influence the emerging tech community, and I think that tech readers will find his earlier experiences pioneering the use of mix technology to strike a common chord with early cave and tech divers who pioneered the adaption of the technology for their own uses. You may also find Lad’s views on risk refreshing and supportive to tech culture as well as his suggestions that ‘tech’ divers might create clubs (or membership organizations) to support their diving. The interview also provides an historical glimpse into commercial diving, which at the time was extremely male-dominated.
Lad remains a commercial diving icon to this day and has been inducted into both the Halls of fame for both the Offshore Energy Industry, and the Association of Diving Contractors as an Industry Pioneer. He serves as a board member to diving contractor AQUEOS, the Historical Diving Society, the Santa Barbara City College Marine Technology Advisory Committee and the United Boys and Girls Clubs.
Here is the original interview as it ran in aquaCORPS Journal #5 BENT JAN93
Making The Grade: Interview With Commercial Mixed gas Pioneer Lad Handelman
Growing up in Mt. Vernon, New York, under the shadow of Yankee Stadium, 16-year old Lad Handelman left a questionable future in the Bronx to move west and become a California abalone diver under the tutelage of his Uncle Jimmy. In five short years, as a hard working diver, Handelman made the ranks of California’s Black Fleet abalone divers, and in 1962, was invited to join General Offshore Divers, the first helium diving company in the U.S., organized by visionary Dan Wilson. Having pioneered commercial “oxy-helium” (heliox) diving techniques, the company was acquired by Union Carbide two years later, and renamed Ocean Systems.
In 1965, chafing under the thumb of a corporate parent, Handelman and a few of his abalone partners left to form Cal-Dive, at a time when “oilfield” diving was a glamour industry and some of America’s premiere corporations had moved in for a piece of the action. Why would a multinational oil company hire an upstart group of former abalone divers over the likes of Westinghouse, International Utilities or Brown and Root? As one of the principal divers, and Cal-Dive’s sole salesman, Handelman, and his partners asked that question a lot that first long year until Humble Oil gave them their shot. After that, they never missed a lick.
Offshore diving was becoming an expensive proposition in the “go-go” late sixties as bell diving and saturation techniques became the order of the day. Strapped to build bells, with annual sales mounting U.S.$600,000, and the heady lure of three corporate buyout offers on the table, cash-hungry Cal-Dive, took a leap of faith—or perhaps it was just plain tenacity—and on the advice of Can-Dive partner, Phil Nuytten, told its suitors to ”go fly a kite.”
Within sixty days, Cal-Dive changed its name to “Oceaneering International,” and with the help of Mat Simonds of Simonds Associates, now a leading oilfield financial services group, raised U.S. $350 thousand. With Handelman as its CEO, Oceaneering, soon joined by Mike Hughes and Worldwide Divers, eventually went public, growing to $52 million in sales in 1975, and operating worldwide in over 24 countries. More challenges.
In 1978, after a severe downturn in the oil industry and fall in Oceaneering’s profits, Handelman had a falling out with his Board of Directors who wanted to cash out the company. Though he lost his battle; he won the war and Oceaneering International, the world’s largest diving company, has remained an independent to this day. However, in the resulting shoot-out, Handelman was forced to leave the company. Others left voluntarily.
Less than a year later, Handelman and several of his ex-Oceaneering diving executives, resurrected Cal-Dive, building it to U.S.$16 million in sales before selling it to Diversified Energies Inc. in 1983 on an “earn out” basis. Two years later, Handelman, broke his neck in a skiing accident. Confined to a wheelchair since, Handelman, father of three, has been a prime mover in a number of diving business and charitable ventures from his base in Santa Barbara, California. To this day however, he remains mystified why his youngest son Jimmy, 22, decided to leave Yale last year to start his own urchin diving business.
You got your start in abalone diving back in the early sixties when you were only 16 years old. It must have been hard work?
The top divers in those days could pick their day’s catch in about maybe five, six hours in the water. A good boat might pick a hundred dozen a day. That was the limit.
My first set-up was a 16 foot skiff with a 10 horsepower outboard motor, a garden hose, a bronze Widoff mask, a rubber suit, boots with iron plates bolted on to galoshes, and about a two-pound machete to cut the kelp and pry off abalone. As a beginning diver, I would spend 8 to 10 hours under water, and probably would pick anywhere from 15-20 dozen. It wasn’t that easy for me to figure out what it was all about, but that’s where just plain hours in the water pay off.
How long did you work as a diver?
I spent about five years as an abalone diver and eventually made the grade in the major leagues, so to speak, and became a member of the Black Fleet. The Black Fleet was the premier group of divers in California in those days, the scourge of the industry. Interestingly, the most successful commercial abalone divers were eventually to make up the ranks of most of the large major offshore diving contractors in years to come—people like Danny Wilson, Murray Black, Whitey Stefens, Jerry Todd, Bob Kirby, Bev Morgan—to name a few.
Offshore was pretty competitive.
Yeah. It sorted out the real serious competitive divers from the would-be divers.
How did you get started offshore?
Because of the reputation I had made for myself as a hard-working abalone diver Danny Wilson asked me to join him in the first helium diving company, along with Whitey Stefens. The company was named General Offshore Divers. Even though I had no mechanical knowledge or experience at all in the oil patch, he reckoned anybody that could pick more abalone than him couldn’t be all bad. He had thought he was the greatest.
Dan had the vision and imagination to apply the use of oxy-helium (heliox) to making money in the oil patch. He was the very first one who seized on the idea.
What was the motivation to start working with helium mixes?
Two things. First of all, a company called Associated Divers; the “King Kongs” of oil field diving, were getting 100% of all the deep-water work. Nobody else could get in the business. They had a monopoly and were capable of diving air to 250 feet (75 meters). They were all incredibly competitive and efficient divers and could handle air at those depths.
In those days, no one was taking newcomers. So to be able to leave the abalone industry and progress career and achievement-wise, and be competitive again with the group I admired, using a new fangled idea, seemed pretty special. No one else was offering oxy-helium, in fact, Associated prided themselves on diving on air, but the oil companies’ goals couldn’t be met.
For deeper work?
There was work at deeper depths and a need for more effective work at depths in the range of 180 feet (54 meters) and beyond. The top guys were pretty limited on air. They could only put in about 22 minutes bottom time at 250 feet (76 meters), and even though they got the work done, it took a lot of dives to do a job. In comparison, in a one hour of oxy-helium dive, (an hour bottom time) we probably achieved more work than three other divers. Far more. Not only did we have three times the bottom time, but also we could work doubly hard from a ventilation perspective without the adverse effects of narcosis and CO2 level build-up. We didn’t need to be better divers; we had the helium advantage.
Were you using standard breathing equipment?
One of Danny’s key inventions was to put a demand regulator system inside the hardhat. It was the first of its kind. That’s what he brought to the table. It was the only way to afford the gas. Without a demand regulator, it would have taken four to five times as much gas to do a dive, which would have meant we’d use up a whole shipload to get a job done.
What about tables?
The only information available at the time was the U.S. Navy Diving Manual. We learned straightaway that the U.S. Navy Tables weren’t sufficient for commercial work; we had a lot of worries about the in-water oxygen and got various levels of bends after every dive.
Ouch. Were you operating with a chamber?
Yeah. We had a full double-place chamber and a five-man crew backed by standby divers and so forth. I’d say we got bent two dives out of three.
So how did you actually work out your tables?
I’m a little ashamed to have to explain that for this particular article, because the point I wanted to make is to be conservative, and warn people what not to do. So having said that, it’s hard to talk out of the other side of my mouth and say, we made ourselves guinea pigs.
We had a chamber hooked up in our dive shop and whenever we had the chance in between jobs, we tried different ideas, different mixes—the whole works—in the shop chamber. Then we’d go on the job and try it. We experienced all sorts of interesting incidents in the process, but eventually worked out what we considered to be a far safer, far more reliable way of using oxy-helium than the Navy Tables. We never could have made it with the Navy Tables and procedures.
In those days, you couldn’t just ring up a “decompression guru” and have them cut you a set of tables?
Exactly. But keep in mind; we weren’t a bunch of wild-ass divers doing this just for the hell of it. We were very serious about our work and very concerned about our safety. We felt the approach we took was as safe as possible under the circumstances. There were a lot of operational issues to deal with.
Cold for one. The problem was that with water temperatures in the low to mid 50’s (10-12° C), we were cold after an hour’s bottom time and we still had another two-and-half-hours to spend in the water [Note that the early hardhat systems did not utilize a neck dam, consequently the breathing gas, in this case heliox, was pumped directly into the suit, creating significant thermal chilling-m2.] And then there was the oxygen. Originally, we would stay on gas until 40 feet (12 meters) as called for on the USN tables and then go on oxygen. By that time you were frozen to death, your mouth was numb on the regulator and you had to worry if you were going to get oxygen poisoning or blow yourself up. The challenge was to work out an appropriate set of procedures; gas switches, decompression, and thermal wear that would work.
After the first half year of freezing in the water, we learned to switch to air at our first or second decompression stop; then we could go on full ventilation, get off the regulator, lean back and relax and thaw out. It was like taking a hot tub after being on oxy-helium. It was very comfortable; that different. Eventually, we eliminated oxygen in the water altogether for fear of grease in the hoses, and contamination from oil-pumped air. We happily lengthened our decompression tables so that we could stay on air the entire time. Later on, we refined our procedures to be able to use nitrox mixes as intermediate gases. Understand that this was still in the early days before bell diving and deck decompression became standard practice. Eventually the industry moved to saturation diving for deep work but it takes a massive amount of equipment—50 tons on deck —to make one saturation dive.
It sounds like it was a ‘risky business’ in those days.
It was. But the reason we originally took the risks we did was because there was no other choice. There was no book to go to other than the Navy manual, and no expert to provide us with a way to get the work done other than own trial and error. Of course, having said and done that, you should understand it was not a continuing policy. A commercial diving company can’t have that kind of policy if it is going to offer the people that come along a safe place to work. And that goes for the type of equipment, type of procedures, type of work they take on— the whole works. Insurance becomes the major concern if you want to stay in business. You have to have insurance. That drives companies.
You must have faced a real insurance problem you started diving helium? Would anyone insure you? How about liability issues?
In the very early days, we worked as self-contractors. We all were partners in the company, and we didn’t have the insurance coverage that would be standard today. We were not only pioneering diving techniques, we were pioneering how to be in the diving business. Nowadays that wouldn’t fly. In those days there wasn’t anything else around. Companies like ours were the only girl in town and the oil companies had to live with whatever they got. Eventually, our company, General Offshore Divers, was able to virtually knock Associated Divers out of the box.
Later, when we started Cal Dive in 1965, it was the same thing. The principals in the company were the divers and as principals we didn’t have to be covered by company insurance. We took our own risks and were exposed individually. Eventually we built up a sufficient record to where we could obtain insurance. Then, once we got to be a little larger company and the work had to be undertaken by non-principals, we had to obtain insurance to cover those people. Of course by then, the conglomerates were in the picture with unlimited resources and insurance and Cal-Dive was at a real disadvantage.
Let’s talk about the differences between commercial and sport diving. What is commercial diving all about?
I’ll define my sense of commercial diving. You’re down there to do a job for pay. You involve other individuals with your project including company support-divers and crews. You work for a client who’s got plant and equipment, whether it is an oil platform or a dam. He’s has got his assets at stake. You don’t have the liberty or freedom to exercise much in the way of personal desire or personal risk-taking for the sake of your own sense of achievement because you’re responsible for too many things aside from your own individual desires and purposes. You’re part of an overall commercial picture. One mishap on your part can bring the farm down. They’re not paying you to do that; they’re not paying you to go out there and be a hero, take any chances, or try to prove anything. They simply want a job done in the most risk-free, efficient way possible. That’s what it’s about. If you don’t like that, then you shouldn’t get involved in the business.
What about the divers themselves? What motivates a commercial diver?
Very often people become a commercial diver because they simply don’t fit in the regular working world. They don’t aspire to be involved in corporations or organizations; they don’t want to conform. They like the idea of working in a capacity where they can be more individualistic like the commercial abalone or sea urchin diver who’s got his own boat. To some extent, the top oil field and construction divers share that. Their reputation let’s them call their own shots to a large degree.
What about love? Is it the love of diving? Is there something about the environment that draws them, or is it just a job that pays good money?
I don’t think it’s love of diving per say. It’s the love of not being strapped to a nine-to-five office job. It’s a love for independence. Challenge. A freelance diver is a very independent animal. If he’s really good, he can find work around the world, make a lot of money in a short time and then do what he wants. It’s a lifestyle that appeals to that kind of individual. You see exotic places, meet exotic women; you have more than your share of fun and adventure.
Are there many women involved in commercial diving?
No, not on the jobs. But you find yourself in places like the North Sea or working out of Singapore or Thailand and you make your time count when you’re on the beach. That’s the type of lifestyle that attracts young fellas to want to be in commercial diving. Of course, the top divers also have an opportunity to get their own companies going or become a partner in a company.
In the sixties, mix and saturation techniques represented the leading edge of commercial diving, what are the hot areas of development today?
With the development of saturation diving, I think it’s been fairly well sorted out as to how to best go about achieving work at depths to 600, even to a 1000 feet (184-306 meters) [Note that 350 meters working dives represent the deepest commercial working dives being conducted today—m2]. We’ve thrashed out most of the procedures and have evolved a system that’s insurable, acceptable to our clients, and consistently works as far as our divers and people go. There’s not a lot that can be gained for a company to try to revolutionize it. Of course, there’s going to be refinements made, but I don’t see any revolution on the horizon at these depths. Even if the potential was there, most companies would do better expending their energies, not in revolutionizing, but in doing a better job and reducing costs.
The hot area, if you will, is the continuing development of unmanned diving systems like remotely controlled vehicles (ROV), one atmosphere suits, and other engineering approaches to accomplishing the work.
Will machines eventually replace divers for deep work and other tasks?
As time goes on, it seems that machines keep improving in their ability to perform the work more reliably even if not as quickly, even if not as extensively. In the future it’s likely that machines will do more and more work because no one wants to see an individuals’ health and safety risked. In fact, it’s happening now.
You’ve mentioned the word “safe” a number of times. What is “safe” in commercial diving? Obviously being down at 600 feet (184 meters) or working with heavy equipment is a “high-risk job.” What is acceptable risk in commercial diving?
That’s impossible to define. I could say that beginning in 1965, Cal Dive went five years straight without a single fatality or injury, and we had an outstanding record at Oceaneering as well. We tackled many, many types of jobs and many types of extreme conditions. So I think you can say that it’s possible even in a very hazardous industry to adopt a very conservative approach. That comes from turning down certain kinds of work or refusing to work under certain conditions, not being bullied by the customer into doing things that to where your risk level is beyond your reasonable control. Successful companies analyze a job and the inherent risk of it and then find a way to break that job up into safe pieces. With the right equipment and qualified individuals and procedures, the work is done successfully.
If the work appears to require things beyond the reasonable control of the diving crew, then it’s the duty of the diving superintendent to refuse to do that job. A diving company’s policy, set by the CEO, the executives and the board of directors, is to recruit qualified superintendents and provide them with guidelines that dictate in broad terms how they should handle onsite operational decisions. It’s his job to reject any work, if need be, before risk levels get out of control and that means never exposing a diver to unreasonable risk.
Safety is becoming the primary concern in the technical diving community. What are your feelings about safety in self-contained diving?
I guess I’d go back to your earlier question; what’s the difference between sport divers and commercial divers? I’d say a very fundamental difference is one that most sport divers would take exception to. Years ago, as Oceaneering’s CEO and President, I issued a mandate outlawing scuba diving. We simply wouldn’t do any scuba diving anywhere under any circumstances.
You outlawed scuba? Why was that?
Our experience was that we had fatalities and injuries when scuba was used, even under seemingly good conditions, compared to the thousands of hours on a hose with no incidents. As CEO, I simply couldn’t justify even one fatality that could have been avoided.
The turning point for us was when we acquired Divecon and had several scuba fatalities in a single twelve-month period. Like most of the companies in those days, Divecon used scuba gear for a lot of their shallow projects and organized their jobs around it. In each case, the investigation revealed that if surface supply had been used we wouldn’t have had a problem.
I’m not saying that for the most part, good scuba divers can’t do jobs safely. But the inherent nature of scuba invites problems; incidents where the chain of events gets out of control and result in a fatality. The ingredients of a limited gas supply, no communications and no tether on a complex job site are like mixing nitro and glycerin.
I remember one incident; we had a diver in 10 feet (3 meters) of water who got hung up on a fish net during a pipeline job. Some fishermen had left a net and topside didn’t know about it. The result was he ran out of air and drowned.
No communications to be able to say, “I’m in trouble here; I’m tangled”.
It was a major event. It happened in the Escravos River out of Warri, Nigeria. I personally went up there and investigated the incident. It took two-and-a-half days. Later, I explained all this to his family. That was painful. Similar incidents happened a number of times.
After a few of those investigations, and having the job of explaining what happened to the families, and having to attend funerals, has a personal impact. You get more hard-nosed and say, “No more scuba. Period”. The benefits of using scuba on the rare job when it could be used safely were outweighed by its inherent risks and our inability to exercise control as to when it would be used. So we pulled it.
Today as you know, technical divers are greatly expanding their diving ranges using mix and other technologies. What would you say the major risks are?
Of course the obvious risk is running out of gas before you can get up, or finding yourself in a situation where you don’t have enough supply to take your proper decompression before you have to surface. So the risks range from bends, being paralyzed, to drowning, being killed— all of the above. Those are just the obvious basic risks. And I guess when I think about that, I ask, “what is justification for taking such risks?” That’s number one. Number two is, “what is being done to mitigate these risks?” And number three, if one finds a way to justify and mitigate those risks, you have to ask, “how well can you go about it, without in good conscience, knowing that you might influence someone else coming along right behind you, who doesn’t have the same appreciation you do for the whole situation, who will attempt the same dive and get killed.” That’s where I see the problem coming in.
Not that there aren’t exceptional individuals who understand all this, prepare themselves accordingly, and can do it in a manner equal to any professional commercial diver. I got to believe there are many individuals who are easily up to that challenge. My concern is not the exceptional individuals, but others around them, who see that and automatically think, “Well if he can do it, I can do it, too.” And then go out on their own, try to duplicate it and get killed.
Some time ago, I had an opportunity to speak to Dr. Carolyn Fife, who had run a major scientific archeology diving project in Turkey. Her group had logged about 10,000 air dives in the 160-180 feet (49-55 meters) range, with 20-25 minute bottom times using O2 decompression. When I asked her about the project she told me, “Sport divers shouldn’t do these kind of dives.” And I said, “Why not? Your people do.” “That’s different,” she said, “We’re doing it for science.”
At one point when we were talking today, you said,“ That’s different because it’s their job.” What about the dedicated technical diver, who’s not doing it for “science,” or “money,” but rather for their own personal reasons; exploration, the challenge, the love of diving. Does that make it any less valid in your eyes?
I think that an individual has a whole different opportunity because he is involving only himself. He’s not part of a large commercial structure. If he chooses to take certain risks or get killed in the process, that’s his individual choice. If that same person were put in the job of being responsible for the lives of many divers, I’m sure he would look at things differently. As an individual, I might elect to do things very differently than I might as part of a commercial organization. It’s not whether it’s right or wrong, it’s what’s surrounding the choices.
I think there’s probably ways you could apply the conservative and overly prudent commercial attitude to scientific or sport diving, and end up with a compromise. It may be more time-consuming; you may have to have more reserve supplies of extra bottles staged along the way, for example in cave or wreck diving. Maybe you’d have standby divers. Maybe the first part of the mission would be to stockpile reserve supplies along the divers planned routes. I’m not sure exactly what should be done, but you probably wouldn’t just venture out without having pre-thought all the consequences and taken as many steps as you could to avoid unreasonable risks.
Do you think sport and commercial divers could learn from each other?
I think it’s a shame that there isn’t more appreciation of each other’s skills and attitudes. For example, I’m enamored and in awe of the dive clubs like the Neptune Dive Club here in Southern California, and individuals like my friend, Lucky Brown, a free diver who can go down without any air at all, holding his breath, and do many things that a fully-suited commercial diver would have to struggle with. I don’t know if that’s considered sport diving, but it’s an extreme test of personal conviction, perseverance, experience and willingness to go into the environment in a pretty naked way and get some things done. Their level of expertise and capability in that world is equal to or surpasses the level of expertise that commercial people achieve, but in a different sense. Having been out there with those groups I found myself feeling totally inadequate. A big-time commercial dive man couldn’t hold a candle to those guys.
There is always the problem that some people will try to do things that really aren’t safe by virtue of their training or experience or the technology that they are using. How do we address that issue as a community? What do you think the answer is?
I think there are some major forces at work here that just can’t be managed very well at all. The biggest one, as you said, is the nature of the beast. You’re not going to get individuals who do have the ability, to hold back because of the possible effect on those around them who can’t. They’re going to do it, period. There’s no stopping that. And others will try to duplicate or follow and they may be hurt. They may not have the experience and wherewithal to realize how many steps are involved in making an otherwise pretty high-risk deal safe. So you’re going to have accidents.
At some point if there are enough accidents, what will probably happen is that some regulatory body will attempt to get involved. But there are alternatives. Maybe through trial and error, the individuals involved will agree to a self-imposed type of regulation. Maybe special dive clubs [Like GUE?-m2]can be formed to undertake these kinds of dives, and maybe these clubs will develop and self-impose their own set of policies and procedures, and share them with others. Responsible people will want to have that benefit. At least that’s I hope what would happen.
How about input from the commercial community?
Who knows? Maybe some of these clubs will invite commercial people to share information and advise them, and out of that will come a compromise or solutions on how to improve the safety on some of these dives, that might not be available otherwise. Not necessarily using commercial methods, but at least a balanced approach. Maybe in that process, the macho conservative commercial people will gain a better appreciation of sport divers and realize that they are formidable individuals as well. There might even be some cross learning. I’d be surprised if that wouldn’t evolve.
As a closing question let me ask you, what advice would you offer technical divers who are involved in pioneering this new class of diving?
Looking at my own situation here, after I broke my neck, I went out in the kelp beds using my old abalone gear. It felt good to do it, to be able to hit the end of my hose, and make it back in one piece. At first glance, that sounded great. I mean, here I was out of the hospital, back in my old environment, boy was it great. Pretty hot. I want to do more of that, right? Wrong.
My advice is for each individual who wants to do these dives to visualize a scenario where their own interest results in them getting wiped out. In my case, because I can’t use my fingers at all, and can’t grab a knife or open up a weight belt very quickly—whom am I kidding? There will be a time when I get out there and get my hose tangled without the main resource I’ve always had— the ability to recover. A diver’s life depends on his ability to react quickly to very frequent emergency situations that come up. That’s your long suit, your ability to react and recover. When you can’t do that, you get killed.
When you think through that scenario, a scenario that results in you getting killed…. in my own case, I thought about one of my sons up there trying to help me, or my good friends on board the boat, and how they would feel when they dragged me in, and had to live with what occurred. I’d be OK ‘cause I’d be out of it then, but they would have to live with it. Going through that kind of thinking process caused me to decide to live with not doing it. I’m not going to dive a hose anymore as much as it is a part of me.
Ironically, I’ve decided to learn to scuba dive. It’s kind of a reverse process. Instead of that hose being my greatest friend, when you can’t get free of it, it can become your worst enemy. I’ll probably be able to do just fine on limited scuba dives, free from any wrecks or entanglements, and enjoy it. A complete reversal. Ironic isn’t it? It’s ironic.
I think if each person who entertains going down to a certain level of risk sees a scenario where he or she doesn’t make it back, and then be forced to ask what led up to it, why did it happen, and what will be the effect on those who love and depend on them, they’ll probably modify their own risk profile a lot. And it’s their responsibility to do that; to assume the worst case, analyze it and then adjust their adventure accordingly. If they do that, they’ll probably be OK. If they don’t, then they’re irresponsibly selfish in my book.
Are you aware of the organization called the Association for Handicapped Scuba (HSA) that was formed a number of years ago to teach and promote scuba diving for people with disabilities? They’re quite active.
They’re in Newport Beach I think. One of their leading members is woman named Julie Mora.
You know her? Good.
I’m trying to make it in her community but she’s way ahead of me in all respects. She’s a gal who does wheelchair racing, rugby, sets records in swimming, and now scuba diving. I don’t know if she’s even aware of any of the things I’ve done in commercial diving and I don’t want to tell her about it. I never talk about those things. With this crowd, you have to make it on your own.