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Kathryn Ryans

Here are some of my cherished memories …

My first dive trip with HHUC in the summer of 1976. 

My good friend Trudy Hall and I camped at a local provincial park, and met the HHUC divers at the Toby dock on Saturday morning watching two guys running towards each other, yelling “Sandy” “Andy” “Sandy” “Andy” “Sandy” “Andy” and hugging. I knew I had found the right place for me. We partied Saturday night and got to know our new friends. Sunday a small group decided not to dive off the boat in rough seas, but to do a shore dive in Dunk’s Bay instead – Sandy, Jim Elliott, Suzanne (Adams) McCrimmon, Andy Garay and Ruth Rutherford, Trudy and I. And we all became good friends then and there, friendships to last a lifetime.

My first southern dive trip with HHUC was 1976 to Grand Cayman Island. 

Bob Belcher watched surreptitiously throughout the week as this ACUC diver, who trained at Queens’ University 1971, participated in all the diving activities. What was an ACUC diver doing on a NAUI trip? (And what is ACUC anyway? Association of Canadian Underwater Councils.) At the end of the week, Bob presented me with a NAUI Sport Diver certification as a crossover to NAUI, and I never looked back.

Who can forget celebrating New Year's Eve underwater 

Even if you weren't there, you've probably heard about it! We were dressed up in shirts and ties, long skirts, tiaras and party whistles at Grand Cayman Island as we marched through the bar on Dec. 31, 1976 towards the dock. The guy at the bar certainly couldn't forget us as he exclaimed, “Looks like a Felini movie.” We formed a circle underwater and counted down to do ‘silent cheers’ at the stroke of midnight. And, of course, exchanged kisses and hugs underwater.

Remember "black magic"? 

That great, gluey, impossible-to-get-off-your-fingers, lifesaving material that we used to repair the seams on our wet suits. Remember the times it leaked into your dive bag?

Helmut Brosz’s cottage on a wintery weekend

This ice dive was one of the memorable events of my early diving. We cut a triangular hole in the thick ice and shovelled rays outward from the hole as visible guidelines to lead us safely home (as well as the safety lines held by our friends at the surface). It was such a thrill to be ice diving, we ignored how our bodies froze in our thin, poorly made wet suits. We walked upside down on the underside of the ice and patted sleeping fish before emerging from the cold and running to the sauna.

Red section or White section? 

It was the same confusion every year, but Walter Graham kept us straight on where to sit -- and not sit -- on his famous dive boat/1950s Chevy contraption that got us to and from our dive sites at Honey Harbour.  

Experts in low vis

The most excellent training for poor visibility diving in Ontario lakes was the Hart House pool in the mid 1970s. Underwater hockey was quite a challenge with 5 ft. visibility in Hart House pool. But we trained superb divers for low visibility conditions!

Hope Island Tea (if you remember it, you weren't there)

Hope Island had good visibility and wrecks, except for the day we had rain overnight, and the Sunday diving was canceled. Instead, we all pooled our left-over booze and dumped it into the largest vessel we could find, and stirred. We christened it “Hope Island Tea”. A great treat for a rainy morning, but we don't actually remember the rain.

Ice Floe

Many people can recount the stories of elaborate costumes and decorations, contributing immensely to our expertise in pushing a gigantic slab of ice down the Otonabee River. I experienced it over and over again, but it was still hard to believe. And don’t worry if the ice had already melted by the designated “Ice Floe Race” day – We used inner tubes instead! Then warm drinks supplied by Victor Dimitroff from the back of his ingeniously designed station wagon.

So many fish. So many rubber boots.

From the sublime to the ridiculous: There we were, diving on a pristine coral reef one month. Then in a rubber-boot-filled quarry the next. St. Mary’s Quarry and Elora Quarry were just as much fun as a coral reef in the sunshine because we were together.

Children and dogs welcome  

Sort of … Mosad peed on our gear, and then we almost lost all our gear overboard from Francis Fowler's tippy barge on the way to the Waome. At least it would have been rinsed. Sandy and Andrew, next time warn us when you both switch sides at once!

Reckless at Recollet 

French River was great diving. But after the day’s outing, we hiked up Recollet Falls to body surf (feet first) down the river in our wetsuits, bouncing off rocks and laughing our heads off. "Do it again. Do it again." Then Thanksgiving dinner: It was always elaborate and scrumptious, but we drew the line at dumping maple syrup over peoples' heads (or did we?)

Thanks Larry!

And a final heartfelt thank you to Larry Lundy for creating the "hot pants" awards to celebrate 5 years continuous diving with the Club, and for editing the HHUC Newsletter for decades. Great reading – Great memories!


Kathryn Ryans Cullen, NAUI #7446


1st dive weekend with HHUC, Dunk's Bay shore dive, July 1976

Grand Cayman, 1976 with Victor Dimitroff, Don MacKenzie, Sandy Brown

My first wet suit, 1971 from Lloyd Shales in Kingston -- Seen a lot of Black Magic

With Jim Elliott, one of my first HHUC buddies, at Kamaniskeg, 1976

Baby's first dive. Kyla 1982

Baby's first French River. Alexander 1985
He grew up to become an HHUC scuba diver!

These are a few of my favourite friends, Cozumel 1977
Gerry Mintz, John Todd, Edite Marovskis Sammons, 
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