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Dive Dry with Dr. Bill

#710: Dreams Can Come True, Part I

As the Loan Arranger... er, Lone Ranger... used to say "return with me to those thrilling days of yesteryear." For my more mature readers, you may wish to take Peabody's Wayback Machine from the era of Rocky & Bullwinkle. Younger readers may prefer the time capsule in "Timeless." Don't worry... we won't go back very far, just three decades.

Hmmm. Maybe I should go back another decade to present the background to this story. Back in 1976 I was honored to be part of Jean-Michel Cousteau's Project Ocean Search (POS) programs down at Toyon Bay where I taught marine biology. Others involved icluded Dr. Richard "Murph" Murphy, JMC's science and education guy; Dr. Sylvia Earle ("Her Deepness"); Dr. Milton Love and Pam Stacey, later editor of several Cousteau Society publications.

That year I was not diving because I had seen "Jaws" the year before, and was introduced to a surfer who had his torso mangled by a great white north of Pt. Conception, so I handled the topside natural history for the program. Two years later, while working on POS, Jean-Michel saw me emerge from the water in a wetsuit and was puzzled. He asked what got me back in the water after seeing "Jaws." I responded that I had recently seen "Jaws II" and he laughed.

My last day on POS was in June of 1979. Jean-Michel was being interviewed for a Los Angeles Times story on food from the sea. When I got back to my office in Avalon, I heard the news that his brother Philippe had died in a plane crash in Portugal. That sad event eventually led to JMC rejoining his famous father, Jacques-Yves, at The Cousteau Society.

I joined Jean-Michel, Murph and Cousteau teams several times after POS, both here on the island, in Chicago, on Hilton Head Island (SC) and at his office on Santa Monica Blvd. I especially remember a Christmas party at his office where JMC, Murph and I sat watching hundreds of slides from their recent expedition to the Amazon. One slide showed Murph's arm turned to hamburger by biting insects. I decided the Amazon was not for me.

Since my youth I had a dream... to be involved in a Cousteau expedition filming one of their documentaries. In the spring of 1986 I watched a documentary that was an episode of Cousteau's "Rediscovery of the World" series on TBS. I wondered which of my friends might be on board, and wished I was there with them. Not long after that I received a postcard from Murph down in the Sea of Cortez telling me that he and JMC would be in Los Angeles soon. A few weeks later I got a call from the Society's West coast office asking if I'd help them with an episode on the islands off the west coast! My dream was about to come true.

Initially I did research on sport and commercial fishing and the Tuna Club. Then I was asked by Margery Spielman if I'd do some script consultation and coordination for the team. We were to film initially in Avalon, but needed a permit... and the filing deadline was that very day! I wrote a quick request and submitted it. The permit was granted by the city council and crews came out to film the annual Art Festival, the start of the Gold Cup fishing tournament and John Gabriel Beckman talking about his murals and artwork in the Casino.

Perhaps the most humorous was when Jean-Michel met John Gabriel Beckman. We were to interview him in front of the Casino, but John had seen Packy Offield at the heliport and asked if we could go up to his house to film the 1/4 scale mermaid panel in their master bathroom. With Packy's permission we filmed the interview right there.

After we were done with the initial filming, I took a break and drove up Highway One to film sea otters near Monterey. Margery was going to leave a message on my answering machine if there were any changes in schedule. I was unable to retrieve it because there were only rotary phones where I was staying. When I got down to San Pedro, I saw a unique sailing vessel berthed next to the Catalina terminal. It was The Cousteau Society's windship Alcyone and I was soon to board this amazing ship and fulfill my dream. Continued next week.

© 2016 Dr. Bill Bushing. Watch the "Dive Dry with Dr. Bill" underwater videos on Catalina Cable TV channel 29, 10:00 AM weekdays and on Charter Communications Cable channel 33 at 7:30 PM on Tuesdays in the Riverside/Norco area. You can also watch these episodes in iPod format on YouTube through my channel there (drbillbushing). Please help me climb out of self-imposed poverty... buy my DVD's (see this link). Yes, take Dr. Bill home with you... we'll both be glad you did!

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Project Ocean Search t-shirt and Alcyone logo; Alcyone arriving in Avalon Bay
for open house and Jean-Michel and I on board ready to receive guests.

This document maintained by Dr. Bill Bushing.
Material and images © 2017 Star Thrower Educational Multimedia