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My Uncle Lester and Scuba Diving in the Sixties October 10, 2008

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Equipment.
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My mother’s brother was a bit of an adventurer. He was also a heavy smoker and drinker, picking up the latter habit during his service at Darwin during World War II. During the sixties he built a boat, a motor sailer the Tropic Star, in my grandparents back year next door to where we lived, and learned to dive. I didn’t hear much about his exploits as a diver, although I’ll try to probe the surviving family elders about it some more. He had a compressed air powered spear gun, which apparently aren’t much use, but I don’t recall seeing any other diving equipment. I’m sure it was primitive with a single-stage double-hose regulator, a weight belt, a tank with a J-valve, and not much else.

My mother told me one story about him finding a shipwreck on Lord Howe Island. It’s cargo was hard liquor. My uncle recovered a good amount of it but rather than profiting from the venture found himself in the unfortunate position of both paying excise taxes and having most of his haul consumed by the local population.

He took up skydiving in the seventies and sent us a picture of himself that he taken on his way down. One day he landed in a tree and decided to give it up.

The last time I saw him was in 1981 in Port Macquarie, NSW on my first trip back to my homeland of Australia. He took me, my mother and father, and my Grandfather out on the Tropic Star, and took particular delight in encouraging me to join in him beer after beer (“’ave another screw-top, Chris”), I think because he hadn’t seen me since I was 11 years old.

Lester was the first of my mother’s siblings to pass away. A lifetime of drinking and smoking caught up with him, I guess, but he had that adventurous streak that pops up in the family from time to time, infecting me and my brothers to varying degrees.

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