VIC LEY DRIVING HIS BOAT
One of the best-looking boats of all in 1963. Adequately powered by a 45 HP motor it carried four friends from the White Water Wanderers (the Bondi club) on outing’s every weekend.
The one major difference between those days and now is – back then we got into our wet suits just before a dive. Suits might become too warm in summer.
This luxury not possible in the crowded dive shop owned boats of today. There would be chaos.
Vic Ley was to become an Australian spear fishing champion who represented us at the World Championships held in Cuba, 1967
After that he went professional abalone diving with his mates at Mallacoota, (Victoria) at a time when abalone laws were basic. With the catch steadily declining this forced many others to quit the business.
A short time later, near-free licenses were introduced for those that remained in the game. Today these same license are valued and sell for several million dollars each.
Vic and I quit our jobs and were heading north for three months of diving with a rented timber boat, a tent and a 45 HP outboard motor. At Woolgoolga we picked up the 7 kg crayfish, (now known as rock lobster). It wasn’t eaten. We sold it to the original porpoise pool at Tweed Heads (NSW) to help pay for travel costs.
By this stage we had another couple with us, Ron Taylor and his girlfriend Valerie. It was to be an amazing adventure.
I ‘blacked-out’ and almost drowned during a deep free dive, we speared fish, photographed sharks and sea snakes and camped on Nor’ West Island where I developed ‘coral poisoning’ in my knee and could not walk or even stand up.
I was saved by the early return of “Riversong” and the later to be legend, Captain Wally G Muller of ‘Coralita’ charter boat fame in the Coral Sea.
For each of us it was an amazing adventure at a time with fewer people, less boats, more fish, more sharks. We became life-long friends too.
I did not return to ordinary work either. This was the beginning of a professional association with the new world of underwater photo journalism and documentary films.