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The Andros Project May 2, 2009

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Diving Books and Films.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I just finished a book called Deep Into the Blue Holes, by Rob Palmer (Unwin Hyman, 1989), about diving the blue holes on Andros Island in the Bahamas from the sixties to the late eighties. It is in the Toronto Public Library collection at City Hall.

While I found the book an interesting read (lots of tight squeezes, hot and humid lugging of equipment through the bushes, a few deaths), I was struck mostly by the number of people mentioned in the book, many of whom I’d heard of before in relation to diving. So I thought it might be a good idea to enumerate these people for future reference. I’ll come back to this for further cross referencing and linking, as these people appear over and over again in books and articles about diving.

Earlier explorers and personalities

  • maple_leaf20Dr. George Benjamin: Diver/photographer (late 60’s). Designer of the Benjamin Crossover, which is now the accepted valve configuration for doubles in technical diving.
  • maple_leaf20George Benjamin Jr: Diver
  • maple_leaf20Archie Forfar: Cave diver. Died in 1971 along with his girlfriend attempting a air depth record on a wall dive at Stafford Creek at Andros.
  • Ivan Johnson: Guide and diver from Andros
  • Betty Singer: blue hole diver in early 60’s, set world record of 310 ft in 1961
  • maple_leaf20Dr. Joe McInnis: Medic and film maker
  • maple_leaf20Dick Birch & Roger Hutchins, Set world record to 462 ft in 1962
  • Doug Faulkner: Underwater photographer
  • Tom and Carol McCollum: cave divers
  • Jack Birch: cave diver
  • Ken Jones: Divemaster, Forfar field station
  • Martyn Farr: cave diver
  • Heinz Bolliger, cave diver
  • Jacques Cousteau: Made TV special on blue holes in 1970
  • Falco: Chief diver for Cousteau
  • Tom Mount: Cave diver from Miami (1970)
  • Dick Williams: Cave diver from Miami (1970)
  • Ike  Ikehara: Cave Diver
  • Frank Martz: Underwater engineer and cave diver, died September 4th, 1971 diving at Andros. NAUI, PADI and NACD instructor.
  • Philippe Cousteau: Calypso diver
  • Jim Lockwood: Florida cave diver
  • John Carcelle: Florida cave diver, died August 1971 diving at Andros.
  • “Zidi”: Cave diver
  • Stan Waterman: Underwater cinematographer
  • Sheck Exley: Cave diver and support diver for fatal air-diving record attempt by Archie Forfar
  • George Warner: Biologist
  • Rod Beaumont: Cave diver
  • Ken and Laurie Jones: Cave divers
  • Peter Scoones: Underwater camerman
  • Dr. Tony Boycott: Doctor and diver
  • John Blashford-Snell: Leader of Operation Raleigh, a large international round-the-word expedition
  • Roger Chapman: Team member in Operation Raleigh
  • Major Alan Westcobb: Team leader in Operation Raleigh
  • maple_leaf20Jenny Shaw: Diver and discover of blue hole Stargate
  • Gary Hardington: Cave diver
  • Peter Hatt: Cave diver
  • Bob Hartlebury: Cave diver
  • Julian Walker: Cave diver, 1982.
  • Jacques Mayol: Record-holding free diver (not at Andros)
  • Joachen Hasenmyer: Cave diver (not at Andros)
  • Maurice Cross: Director of the Diving Diseases Research Centre at Fort Bovisand
  • Jane Pimlock: Assistant to Maurice Corss
  • Stuart Clough: Managing Director of Carmellan Research, A U.K. rebreather manufacturer
  • Bill Hamilton: CEO of Hamilton Research

Andros Project Team (1987)

  • Rob Palmer: Director and deep diving team, died May 5th, 1997 in recreational diving accident in Egypt.
  • Ian Bishop: Deputy Director and logistics manager
  • Dr. Peter Smart: Geologist and hydrologist, diver
  • Dr. John Mylroie: Geologist
  • Dr. James Carew: Geologist
  • Dr. Bill Stone: Deep diving team
  • Dr. David Whiteside: Sedimentologist
  • Dr. Peter Glanvill: Medical office, cave diver
  • Rob Parker: Deep diving team
  • Richard Stevenson: Cave diver and electronics manager
  • Fiona Whittaker: Hydrologist and diver
  • Bernard Picton: Marine biologist, diver
  • Robert Trott: Marine biologist, diver
  • Brad Pecel: Cave diver
  • Pat Stone: Diving and base camp support
  • John Hutchinson: Terrestrial biologist
  • Chris Howes: Photographer, diver
  • Judith Calford: Diver, photographic assistant
  • Ian Kelly : Base camp manager
  • Stuart Clough: Carmellan Research, deep-diving team
  • Neil Cave: Carmellan Research, deep-diving team
  • Bill Hamilton: Carmellan Research
  • Sharon Yskamp: Carmellan Research

1986 reconnaissance

  • Rob Palmer
  • Dr. Peter Smart
  • Mary Stafford Smith: Marine biologist (also on 1982 expedition)
  • Sue Wells
  • Fiona Whittaker


1. Brad Meyers - August 29, 2010

I am looking for more information on Archie Forfar. I’ve read caverns measureless to man by sheck exley and a few others. Any information would be helpful. Thanks, brad Meyers meyersbam2002@yahoo.com


Chris Sullivan - September 13, 2010

I don’t know any more than what I’ve written, but perhaps another reader could chime in.


2. Paul Burgoon - September 16, 2010

I was there the day Archie died. I was working at Small Hope Bay Lodge with Dick Birch at the time. I was just a 20 year old kid. The article above states that Archie was attempting the record while doing a wall dive… in fact Archie did the dive in blue water against Dick’s concerns that he should not do so. Vertigo and disorientation were Dick’s main reasons. We drove up to Archie’s place the day of the dive and waited for the dive boat to return… it returned empty. It was a sad day indeed.


Chris Sullivan - September 17, 2010

Thank you for your comment, Paul. The information I wrote came from the book. It’s not surprising there are different versions – it seems that it’s often the case with dive accidents. Like the discrepancies between the books “Shadow Divers” and “The Last Dive”.

It’s always sad when when someone dies diving, and so much of it preventable.


3. Brad Meyers - June 2, 2011

Hey Paul,

I did hear that Dick and some others were against him diving. Especially because that day it was overcast, wavy and the safety line they bought was too thick if what I read was correct. After digging up some more information, I heard that the real reason Archie went was because Anne, his girlfriend, wanted to break the depth record and Archie knew she would do it alone so he went.

I would love any more information you have about Archie, the day, the mood etc. My email is meyersbam@me.com.

Thanks, Brad


4. Chris Sullivan - May 19, 2012

I’ve been neglecting this blog lately but I should add that last Labour day weekend (Sept, 2011) I was diving with Patrick Forfar in the St. Lawrence River near Brockville, running him through the PADI wreck certification and some additional penetration dives (on the Daryaw).

Patrick has been to Small Hope Bay lodge and hopes to (safely) dive the the depth that his uncle Archie was attempting – although not on air, of course.

I ran into him again today at the local “season opener” for the dive club, although that dive was to a maximum depth of 29′.


5. Chris Sullivan - May 19, 2012

Started looking at youtube and found a short video on Patrick’s visit to Small Hope Bay lodge


6. R.A. Montaner-Fontaine - September 12, 2012

Jim Lockwood was a member of the Forfar/Gunderson team. Sheck Exley 22 at the time was a support diver. You can read Lockwood’s & Exley’s recollections of the event in Bret Gilliam‘s & Robert Von Maier‘s Deep Diving written in 1992.


7. Chris Sullivan - September 12, 2012

Thanks for your comment. I’ll check out the book. The hyperlink I added to the book title in your comments points to an excerpt on Google books, which fortunately had the comments by Patrick Wood to which you were referring. I realised right away that I’d seen it very recently, in the first edition of Tech Diving Mag, although the book has additional pictures. Interesting stuff and it makes me feel a little less crazy doing 185′ dives on air. My favourite quote from Dr. Dan Manion who said of his deep air record “I felt sad that I had worked so hard to get to this point and then couldn’t remember it.”


8. John E. Bockert - September 3, 2015

I met Archie in 1970 and 1971. Made several dives with him over the wall in the spring of 1971. He took me and two others thru the “hole at 185 ft. In fact, the day before, we were partners and he saved my life. My regulator locked up and he gave me his mouth piece and we ascend from 125ft. He was as I remember a very easy going and adventurous man, with a great sense of humor. If you would like to speak, contact me.


Chris Sullivan - October 26, 2015

Thanks John. I appreciate your comments. I mention this to Patrick if I see him, although so much has changed with the dive shop that the old crowd has mostly dispersed.



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