Saturday, April 24, 2010

Tarpoon SCUBA Diving Center: The Oldest Dive Store in Florida

Commenter El Pollo Real in this post mentions his father's fondness for the scuba diving scenes in the James Bond movie, Thundeball; I responded with a brief memory about link between the movie and the shop where I took lessons and the shop's owner but, of course, my faulty memory couldn't dredge up the name of either. Thanks to brother John, I can now tell you the name of the shop - Tarpoon - and the owner - Mike Kevorkian. Thanks, John!

Here's the shop today, or at least on the day the Google Street View van came to town, thanks to the magic of Google Mappery:

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That's where I got my equipment, too, and back then, before environmentalism ruled the world, Tarpoon's where you'd go to get the best spearguns around. Our class met after shop hours. We sat in folding chairs with our books while listening to the instructor's lecture about what we need to know about scuba diving. I don't remember where our pool work was done but we'd have one night of classroom work, one night of pool work, for three weeks and then an open water dive. I took lessons with my best friend at the time, Kenny Diaz, and I don't remember why but I missed the scheduled open-water dive. Was I sick? I just remember that Dad took me on a cold and rainy January day and he waited for me in the truck while I went out with another class that I didn't know. The day was rough and the visibility limited and I had a nose-bleed from ruptured sinuses as I went deeper than I'd ever been before - 30 feet! - and the color of the blood in my mask - don't worry, it wasn't much - was green because of the absorption of the red portion of the color spectrum at that depth. (Ruptured sinuses? Maybe I had missed my scheduled open-water dive because I had been sick and my sinuses were still stopped up.) We went through the drills - the hand signals, the buddy breathing, I don't remember what else - and then were through and headed back through the waves to the dock. Dad was waiting there for me there. I was tired, cold, hungry, but glad and proud of my accomplishment, of being NAUI certified diver.


  1. Pete:
    So you're a NAUI man. I'm a PADI man (class of '75). Like the classic Oxford vs. Cambridge, we'll just have to disagree on certain things. :)

    I don't think the shop I learned from (Fontana Army Navy in Madison) exists anymore because a simple googling returns nada. I do know the name of my instructors, John Hutchison and Jeff Biedermann, thanks to my trusty log book.

    was green because of the absorption of the red portion of the color spectrum at that depth.

    At that depth, there is little visible red light to reflect off the blood and be perceived by your eye. Things appear the complimentary color.

    I've thought of taking up diving again because of (1) where I live and (2) my son has an interest. At this point I'll wait until he's a bit older. I would need to take a recertification/refresher course and of course he would need to get certified.

  2. Pete:
    Thanks for the linkage man. I'm pretty much done with the the Highway 61 series on my blog. I have an idea for another one that might interest you though: I'll call it the Revisting Highway 41 project. In 1968, our family took a station wagon vacation from Madison all the way down to Key West. Most of the trip was Route 41. My dad liked that route because he had driven it back and forth between Fort Campbell and Madison before the I-system was built.
    Of course the end goal was diving in Florida and there are many photos to go with.

  3. I think that'd be a great series! Our tentative Florida plans this summer may include a brief interlude on 41. I wonder how close the highway passes near our friend Jason?

    My brother has a PADI certification. I wonder what the difference is. Whatever they are, I'm sure we can find a way to find common ground.

    Thanks for stopping by. And the great comments.