County was the fountain head of recreational diving in California, the US
and for the world.
It had the
most diving manufactures of any place in the world-- US Divers, Voit, Sea
Tec, Inflatable systems, JBL, Mares, Spearfisherman, Mark V, Newport divers,
Sea Quest, Del Mar, Sea Suits, Water Wear, Kettenhofen Wet suits, Sampson,
Sea Pro, Riffe International, Alexander Spearguns, and many more lessor
known and now forgotten manufactures.
Cove/Pick Nic Cove was selected as the location for the world's first
Competitive Spear fishing meet in 1950 and most every year to the early
1960s. Why isn't there a monument in Laguna Beach to this world renowned
spearfishing event" FYI the winners are still alive, but not well.
was NOT named as a result of recreational diving activity.
record fish were speared off Orange County's coast; the BSB & WSB. FYI one
of the largest "opal eyes" --13 + pounds was speared off OC - it was under 15
pounds therefore Ralph Davis would not accept it as a World Record.
did contain a variety of shell fish; Mussels, Oysters, Pismo Clams,
Scallops, & Lobsters. The mussels, oysters and Pismo clams have totally
disappeared from the OC waters.. Were did all they go?
It has a
train engine and its box cars, several airplanes, an ocean going barge and
several WW 11 landing craft sunk off its coast.
It has an
underwater canyon; aka the Newport Canyon.
It had and
has the second recreational diving ordinance in California. Two of the divers
who fought the "Battle of Laguna Beach" are still alive. That is a story
for another time and place.
It had one
of the first California game reserves at Heisler Park, named after Glen Vedder, the architect and driving force behind the Laguna beach diving
It has a
number of piers that are diveable and one that is now underwater but diveable. See the book "Great Piers of California" by Jean Fleming-
1984-who was an instructor at Orange Coast College.
office was in Orange County.
genesis of diving instruction Orange County had more LA County Certified
Underwater Instructors than LA County. Many were voted as the "Outstanding
LA County Underwater Instructor of the year."
and sons of Newport Beach was the fist OC dive shop and one of the first
dive shops in California. Following Hoskins was Laguna Divers supply,
Underwater Sports of Laguna, Aquatic Center & Laguna Sea sports.
residents were honored as "Fathers of Spearfishing" at the 2000 millennium
Free diving party.
was the pioneer diver of Orange County. He held the BSB record for a short
time in 1950s. He developed underwater movie camera housings for Hollywood
in the 1930s & 1940s. He also designed and developed the famous bullet proof
Samson 16 MM sport camera housing and the 35 MM professional housing . Three
Samson cameras were made with the very first Spear gun mounts in 1956-only
and marketed the famous Samson World Record Spear gun and the Samson 38
calibre power head in the early 1950s.
gun was acquired by the Aquatic Center in Newport Beach (Ron Merker) who
sold it to Sea Tec in Corona (Harry Ruscigno) where it drifted into
obscurity and is now a collectors item. Govern controls caused the demise of
the Samson power head in the early 1960s--It is now a much sought after
or Brownie" Brown invented the world famous Duck Feet fins and equally
famous Wide View mask which were produced in his Laguna Beach factory. His
assets were acquired by Pacific Molded Products (Ken Norris) who sold them
to Voit (Willard Voit) of Newport beach.
established Newport divers, Delmar wet suits and JBL. He made his first
spear gun in 1948 as a school project. He developed the JBL gun for Voit in
1967, who was acquired by Mares who in turn re sold the gun back to Joe.
Sadly Joe passed away a few years ago. JBL is now owned by Mr, Guy Skinner
who is manufacturing a much improved JBL near San Diego.
Joe was the
first to make a gold plated spear gun in 1981 to commemorate his 25 years in
the diving business. Only 81 guns were produced and ceremoniously presented
to spear fishing notables. See Discover diving, June 1994, The way it was
"The man with the golden gun."
also lived in Orange County. He invented the first "Dry Suit", aka "Aqula"
the Hammerhead muzzle and the pile driver aka pull out point. At an early
age he modified a CO2 fire extinguisher to make a spear gun which became the
standard of the spear fishing world in the 1940s & 1950s (See Discover
Diving Jan 1993, The way it was "The magnificent Gas gun") He also was the
author of about a dozen books on diving including "Spear fishing where and
how?" which was printed by Voit for their new Voit (JBL) gun.
Toggweiller owner of the "Maray" from 1950 to 1960, world's first charter
boat dedicated solely to diving. The world's first dive boat deck hand was a
teenage Ron Merker. Mort photographed Ron and his then girl friend Carol
Schunt, now Carol Merker to produce one of the fist commercial diving
instructional films. Sorry I have forgotten its title.
"Dive Rite" a company devoted to supplying components for underwater camera
housings in 1956, wrote a small "book" (72 pages) "How to build your own
UNDERWATER camera housings" in 1958. As a closing act in 1960 developed one
of the first one man sport submarines the "Submaray" which was used
extensively along the California coast by the emerging off-shore oil
industry. Mort is alive and well in an extended care home.
signaling was developed by Bob Ruethford "Sea
Sabres Signaling System" and Discover diving The way it was,
January 1992 "Sea Sabres Signaling System") - Also check out the Samson
Bob also was
president of the Sea Sabres which at that time was the largest dive club in
the US and possibly the world. He developed and promoted the Underwater
Christmas party which was photographed and appeared on national TV. He was a
contributor to the development of Para Scuba which is now in common usage by
the military. He was active in the LACD (aka GLACD) and was the
organization's third president.
with Joe McCabe established the Aquatic Center on the NW corner of
Brookhurst and Cerritos in Bob's garage, which was later moved to Newport
Beach and sold to Mr. Al Wood & Ron Merker.