As ScubaLab’s regulator testing dates approached, DiveLab’s Mike Ward called to postpone the breathing machine tests, because he would be in Scotland. I actually breathed a sigh of relief. I planned to put the regs on the breathing machine at his facility in Panama City, Fla., and then drive 450 miles to Key West — literally the entire length of Florida, from the Panhandle to its southernmost point — to meet the dive boat Spree and ScubaLab’s test team for the in-water tests.
Of course, I didn’t consider that rescheduling the Panama City leg would put me in the heart of Spring Break territory during the heart of Spring Break … but that’s a story for another time. I was excited to start the testing with the team aboard the M/V Spree in Key West.
Captain Frank Wasson and his wife Melanie had offered the use of their 100-foot live-aboard vessel as the home to the first part of this year’s in-water regulator testing (later, ScubaLab would also test the regs in Blue Grotto Springs in Williston, Fla.). The Spree accommodates 24 guests plus crew, so the seven of us would have plenty of room.
Here’s a brief summary of the seven team members and their dive experience:
Samantha Whitcraft, PADI Instructor and frequent contributor to Scuba Diving, is Adjunct Faculty for Miami-Dade College and the Conservation Biologist for Shark Savers. Sam coordinated the data-crunching portion of the testing.
Mike Pizzio, PADI and IANTD Instructor, is an occasional crew member aboard the Spree. He is the former Leader of the Underwater Search and Evidence Response Team of the FBI’s Miami field office and a world-renowned diver and explorer. Mike will be featured in the upcoming “Pirate Shipwrecks of Madagascar” on the History Channel.
Mark Gordon is President of Tampa-based Odyssey Marine, and Mark’s company was featured on Discovery Channel’s Treasure Quest series, chronicling the deep-sea salvage of the Black Swan project, which yielded $600 million in seventeenth-century Spanish gold and silver.
John Golden is a Navy Master Diver and is now stationed at Jacksonville’s Naval Station Mayport. From 2006-2010, John was a member of the Navy Experimental Diving Unit (NEDU), based in Panama City.
Bobbi Cooper, aka Waterbug to the D2D Board, is a PADI Divemaster and highly experienced technical diver. A former Captain in the U.S. Army, Bobbi is a CRNA for the VA in West Palm Beach.
Ryan McLellan, PADI Divemaster and award-winning UW photographer and videographer. Ryan sells eco-friendly water sports apparel (check out Born of Water, www.bornofwater.com).
Next time: ScubaLab heads to Key West