Legends of Diving Articles

 

Curt Chapman
Youngest NAUI Instructor and Dive Guide

Curt Chapman will be the first to tell you he was a "lucky man" working alongside Ben Rose, Dave Woodward and other legends.

"I was just a lucky young man to be in the right place at the right time," he said for this biography.

In 1966 he was certified as a diver by the YMCA in Chicago, IL, his father was certified in 1959. Soon they began diving together in local quarries and places like Door County, Michigan.

So, at the age of 16 in 1967 he visited the "Club" with his father to do some diving. Pursuant to that visit Al Tillman suggested he return to work there the


Curt Chapman

following summer in 1968. At the end of that summer Dave Woodward extended another invite. Curt returned again in June of 1969 and ultimately attended the 9/69 NAUI Instructor IQC in San Juan (#1720) with Frank Reed, the new Club owner. At the age of 18 he became the youngest qualified NAUI instructor.  NAUI closed the 18 loophole the next year making 21 the minimum age.

 

Prior to 9/69 he had been making $40 a week. But when he returned Dave Woodward gave him a raise to $110 as the Club's junior instructor! In 1970 he was accepted to the Florida Institute of Technology.

During school breaks he would fly over to the Club to work. He stopped working at the club after Christmas break of 1972.

During all those years he met or worked with Jack McKenney, Dave Woodward, Al Tillman, Ben Rose, Chuck and Lucinda Hepp, Dick Clarke, Chuck Burns, Dr. John Clement, John Englander, Hugh Sprunt, Gary Howland, Orv Holden, Woos, Bob Farrelly, Bob Wicklund, Bob Thompson, Frank Reed, and many others.


His log reflects that he accumulated over 2000 hours underwater to 250" during those days guiding reef trips. He worked six days a week and on day off would take his girlfriend free diving for Conch in 90" of water.

It was during this time Dave Woodward invented the Octopus regulator and started a unique deep diving program down the "Ledge?. Underwater photography was unique in its infancy. Curt studied photography and film development from Dave Woodward and Dick Clarke.

Curt Chapman was assigned many interesting duties. As a young pilot he flew the crew of Cosmopolitan magazine and the Sesame Street TV show to Bimini for photo opportunities. They had contracted with the Club to use the facilities. Later he took part in some movies playing a bad guy in a black wetsuit with Bob Farrelly. He remembers diving as a guide with Werner Von Braun, Kim Novak, Hugh O'Brien and Arthur Godfrey.

He spent a lot of time servicing Perry's Hydro-lab and was an assistant to Dave Woodward photographing dive technology such as the US Navy's NEMO bathyscaphe.

"I had the time of my life. It sent the tone and made me the person I am today," he finished by saying.

Portage Quarry Recreation Club, Inc.
12701 South Dixie
Bowling Green OH, 43402
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