This is DUIs 50th year in business and my 54th year in diving. I am 76 years old. For me this is a time for reflection and reviewing how I got here. What was my mission? Did I accomplish that mission? Now it is time to hand off that mission to others.
When I started diving there was no such thing as scuba classes so I have no C card. I attended the first NAUI instructor course in 1960. I am NAUI instructor number 49. I was at the right place at the right time and met Mr. Cousteau and had some incredible mentors like Surgeon General Sir John Rawlins of the Royal Navy, Master Chief Bob Sheets who was a survivor of the Bataan Death March and Walt Mazzone who ran Sea Lab II and III and there were many others. They were more than generous with a kid that had endless questions.
Life tells us each generation stands on the shoulders of the generation that came before them. And I stand on the shoulders of some true pioneers. They gave me the opportunity to participate and learn and experiment in a wide variety of fields from the offshore oil industry to military groups to the scientific divers in the Arctic and Antarctic as well as explorers going where no man has ever been. I and the team at DUI were able to develop equipment and procedures that enabled those pioneers to push that outer envelope.
But it has come at a cost. We build about 6,000 suits a year and those suits last on average 10 years each. That makes 60,000 suits out there at any one time. DUI drysuits are the choice of those who choose to push that outer envelope. As a result each year some of those suits come back in a body bag. That generates an awesome responsibility to see that absolutely everything is done to prevent that. The families do not care that the suit had nothing to do with their loved one not coming home. So we are dedicated to protecting the entire envelope the diver lives in.
We have been very effective at influencing positive change to make diving much safer than it once was. That was made possible because of our excellent staff and the continuous support and contribution to our cause by you; our customers and fellow divers. As a result every time someone explores a new area or sets a new record or makes a new discovery I feel we have a piece of that action. And because of your participation making all of this possible you also have a piece of that action. You should be proud of that.
I would like to take this opportunity to share with you my world view. I view our society as a huge clock that has brought us through centuries of progress. If you open the back of that clock you’ll see it is filled with thousands of tiny little gears that allow it to keep perfect time. But if you remove one of those gears it no longer keeps perfect time. DUI is one of those gears that make the clock run better. Each of us, including each of you are the teeth on that gear. Without all of the teeth the gear could not do its job. Therefore each of you is responsible for DUI making a difference in the world. It could not have been done without YOU.
Our diving industry is very good at attracting people into scuba classes. We graduate these students to become “people who dive”. They really never learn what diving is all about. It is our opportunity to convert these “people who dive” into “divers”.
Why is that so important? Let me explain to you my personal priorities. It is all about the ocean. The ocean controls everything on the earth and we all know the ocean is dying. “Diving” is an art form. It is the most intimate activity between mankind and the ocean. Divers are the humans that do all of the diving. We are in it, and it is in us and we become part of the ocean. The diving industry is merely the support system for all of the divers, nothing more.
Why is all of this so important? It is because divers love the ocean and they will protect what they love. Therefore our opportunity is to convert divers into “Evangelists for the Ocean”. It is well proven that true evangelists can overcome incredible odds and have changed the world. Let us create more “Ocean Evangelists!”
So as my time comes to a close I reflect on where I am in this quest. Your generation is smarter, better educated, has better tools and technology than mine. You are stronger then I or I did not do my job. The amazing people at DUI are standing on my shoulders. They are inviting all of you to come and stand on their shoulders. I am leaving DUI and its mission in good hands. All of you have strong smart hands. You have strong hearts and minds. I pass the baton in complete confidence that all of you, continuing to work together will do more than I could possibly have ever dreamed of.
I am very grateful for your support and I will enjoy watching you succeed.