SDM JOURNAL FOR...
FEBRUARY 27, 2008
The News media is the News media... They are going after the tragic shark diving event that happened this weekend with fever. I saw an interview today with Rob Stuart, direector of the movie Shark Water, and the news lady was trying to get Rob to say negative things towards sharks and shark diving, and he wouldn't. He kept saying good things about sharks... you gotta love a guy like that. She tried every angle, and he stood his ground, and never allowed her to steer the conversation in a negative way. I know that is her job to create sellable controversy to make her story news worthy, and I am sure she was kicking herself for putting Rob on the air, instead of keeping Neal Watson in the news.
Neal the president of the BDA (Bahamas Dive Association) has been trash talking about tiger shark and bull shark diving, and has been bad mouthing Jim Abernethy, (the shark operator who was inolved with this accident) on every news channel. Here are some facts about Neal. Neal has made a living selling Bahamas diving, including shark dives to tourists for many, many years. Of course now he claims to only sell the proper types of shark dives, which is Caribbean reef shark dives. Although for years he would sell the bull shark dives at Walkers Cay, unti that was closed down. I don't remember him ever bad mouthing those dives when he was making money off of them???
In fact a few years ago, I did an interview with Neal Watson, and he was bragging to me that he was the one who developed the bull shark dive. That info was not published because it was not true. Neal did not develop that dive, Gary Adkison (bull shark expert) did. He did not deserve the credit,and lets face it... Neal was never that cool.
FEBRUARY 26, 2008
Well by now I am sure most of you have heard the sad news. This past weekend our sport suffered its first tragic loss. An accident occured during the shark dive, and a fellow brother was bitten. He was emergency lifted and taken to a hospital, and later lost his life in the hospital. Markus Groh, 49, was an attorney from Austria. This was a tragic, tragic accident and a reminder of how precious life is.
Shark Diving is an extreme sport, and these animals that we love so much, do need to be respected. It is a reminder to all of us, "You can never forget where you are, or what you are doing!" My heart goes out to his family and friends who have suffered the biggest loss in all of this.
We as Shark Diver's have lost a kindred spirit... our brother is gone. He died doing what he loved... of that I am certain, and he will forever be remembered and cherished in our hearts!
On your next shark dive, please take a moment, and send out a silent prayer, and say good bye to our friend...
FEBRUARY 22, 2008
The mag is done and will be sent off to the printers early next week. This weekend I go through it with a fine tooth comb, to try and make sure I have not missed anything. Of course I am biased, but it is going to be another great one, with plenty to read. I try to cram as many stories as I possibly can because we are still only 48 pages long. I am hoping that will change in the near future, but for now... it is 48. Which is fine, I work hard with what I got, filling it up with stories and images, trying to keep it busy and fun for you all. And it works.
It is pretty wild when I think about the mag and where I am at. I have published 17 issues. Damn that is wild...17. Looking back at the road I have taken, and how I got here is really crazy. My friend Marilyn Kazmers once told me years ago that I should keep a journal about all the things that are happening to me. I wish I had listened to her and kept a better record of the path I have traveled. I have kept a journal through the years, but not as accurately as I should of kept. There are so many missing stories, and a lot of good ones.
The one story I really want to write out in detail is how it all began for me, with that first adventure... because it really changed my life. And it wasn't the sharks alone that set me on that new path, it was the people I met on the adventure that did it as well. At the time I was riding bulls, traveling the circuit, making moves to make my mark at the PRCA pro level, when I took some time off to go diving in the Bahamas. I wanted to go shark diving, so I went to Nassau Island to dive with Stuart Cove. Of course at the time I did not know Stuart, I was just a tourist diver... But that adventure was so special, so amazing, it changed me forever.
I was with my wife, and my best friend, Tommy, and we spent that trip hanging out with the local Bahamians. It was such a strong trip, that when I got home, and went to my next rodeo, I was not the same person anymore, I changed. I remember sitting there preparing mentally for my ride, and I could not concentrate, I couldn't focus. I was sitting behind a dusty, dirty chute, and I had baby blue water rolling through my mind, Kalik beer running through my vains, new memories of a foreign experience that thrilled me to my soul, and then there were the sharks! That was my first real shark dive, and it scared me and excited me, and I wanted more.
So I got on my bull that night, rode poorly, and I didn't care. Normally I would be behind the chutes, throwing my gear around, enraged at myself for riding badly... but I didn't care, I was cool. I remember packing up my gear, and saying to myself, "that's it, I am done. I am going shark diving!"
I quit riding just like that, which is not like me.
I had spent 6 solid years riding bulls, chasing that rodeo trail, working hard to one day make it the upper pro level of riding (The PBR circuit), with the ultimate dream of being a world champion. I trained hard for it too. I studied under the greatest bull rider that has ever lived (in my opinion) 2 time PRCA bullriding champion, Terry Don West. He was an amazing bull rider, and rode the craziest bulls (industry term). I have the deepest respect for his abilities. And during the clinic that he put on, he tore me apart, made me feel like shit, because I sucked so bad.
At that bull riding school, I fell off a lot of bulls. (15 bulls in 2 days) I did manage to ride a couple of them, but I tried hard to ride them all. Terry Don's last words to me before we parted ways were, "get off your ass, YOUR GOOD, but get off your ASS." Riding bulls while sitting on your ass is one of the reasons why a guy falls off. I was on cloud nine, I didn't have any natural ability, but I had a lot of TRY, and Terry Don could see that, (One of my proudest personal moments). After that school, I charged harder than I had ever charged before, and tried harder than I have ever tried before. My riding improved, and I started placing in shows, and I was ready for the move up. One of my goals after leaving the school was to one day meet him at a rodeo somewhere, and compete against him as an equal.
When I first started riding bulls, I was terrible, I fell off everything. I was just a crappy bull rider, and in everyones eyes I should just give up before I got myself killed. Well I didn't give up, in fact - that is my one solid unbreakable strength... my determination. I kept trying, and trying, till one day (or year, I think it took a year), I climbed on a bull, rode him, heard the whistle blow, and I was still on the bulls back! That was the sweetest sound I had ever heard. And I can still remember the feeling I had that day, it is embedded in my soul. It was cold and rainy, and I can still feel every move I had to make, every jump kick... Damn it felt good.
So anyway, sorry to get off track, but I told you all that story so that you could see how much I loved bullriding, and I gave up that dream to chase sharks. Bulls were my life, but something in that first adventure hit me hard, it changed me, and I have never looked back... ha, till now.
FEBRUARY 20, 2008
Yesterday my Oakley sunglasses arrived in the mail. They were sent to me by Oakley as part of a product sponsorship opportunity. I have always wanted to work with Oakley, to me they are the essence of cool. I have always purchased their sunglasses, so when they said they would sponsor me, I was thrilled. They are not ready to begin working with the magazine yet, but they were willing to sponsor me individually, which was fine with me.
My thoughts are that they probably think the diving industry is not cool enough for Oakley. I think they are classifying shark diving with scuba diving, as being one in the same. Of course I could be totally wrong in my opinions. However, if it is what they think, then they are right, scuba diving is a lame ass sport. Of course now it is going to be my job to show them we are not the same, and that the sport of shark diving is worthy of being part of the Oakley family. That is my dream, to be considered worthy of being there, right along side, surfing, skateboarding, mountain biking, and snowboarding. Hell just classifying us as part of the scuba diving industry makes me sick to my stomach.
I have had this discussion with so many people in the past, and there are some of you out there that still enjoy diving and swimming along a reef just to see whats going on, and that is great for you, I just couldn't do it. I just don't dive just for the sake of diving, it does nothing for me. I dive for the opportunity to see sharks, period. Of course if there is a chance that we might see a shark, then I might go on a regular reef dive, as long as I can sneak some chum in my BC. Which I have done many times.
FEBRUARY 18, 2008
The good news is all the articles for the new issue are done. The bad news is I had too many articles and had to push a few up into the next issue. Which is a good problem to have, too many articles. It is always bad when you do not have enough articles and your scratching your head trying to figure out where to get them. So mission accomplished the mag is almost done. Now all I have left is the details; ad stuff, SDM
stuff, which is not a problem, that is the easy part. So we are on schedule for our March print release.
So it is time to celebrate all my hard work with a dive somewhere! Of course that is the big question... where to go? Our staff shooter Paul Spielvogel keeps asking me to join him in th Flower Gardens, and normally I would but the thought of being stuck on a cattle boat filled with people who only want to see sharks from a far distance does not inspire me to take a 5 hour drive to Freeport, Texas. The last time I was out there, I had to listen to the boat captains talk about how if a tiger shark shows up, they would call off the dive. Not what I wanted to hear. And I know safety is a concern, especially for people who do not know what to do if they come across a big tiger, but damn.
The great thing is, it is scalloped hammerhead season out there, and the chances of snorkeling with schools of scalloped hammers does get me fired up. Maybe a quick trip out there is really what I should do? I'll keep you posted.
FEBRUARY 15, 2008
I am getting behind on my blogs again. The mag is going good. More pages are done, and the pressure to finish is on. I am feeling the days creep up on me as I try to get it ready for you all. I have all my stories now, and the bulk of them are done and ready for print, but there are still a few left to be done.
I still have to finish my cover for issue 17. I have the image picked out and the headline ideas for the cover, but I don't have it done yet. Normally that is the first thing I do when working on a new issue. Prep the cover, because it gets me fired up to get the rest done. But on this one I took my time -no real reason why. However, after looking at whats left to do, I will be done with all the story layouts for the mag this weekend. So I can concentrate on the final stages of the mag. Which is ad work, SDM ad spots, and my editorial. That is always the last thing I do for each issue.
I sometimes feel like I drag my feet a bit when it comes to writing my editorial, but the reality is. That is all part of the process. I try not to think about it till the new issue is totally done, and ready for print. That way I know what the new mag is about and how it is going to look and feel. I want to be inspired by it, and inspiration is important to me when writing. I know it sounds funny, that I want to be inspired by my own magazine, but it is true. And that is how I judge if my mag is ready for print. I want to look at my finished mag and get all fired up about it.
I love being part of the creative process of the magazine, it is fun. Of course I sometimes wish I was at the other end of the mail box. Waiting for that brown envelope to show up with the new issue in it. That is the only thing I dislike about my job, is the element of surpise when seeing the mag for the first time. All the images and the stories that get published in there. But the trade off is by being part of the creative process, I see all these images and stories before the rest of the world does. And the reason they make the final cut is because they have already got me all fired up.
Oh yea in the spirit of my last blog here is a sweet look at life...
Have a good weekend everyone.
FEBRUARY 11, 2008
It is funny, or I think a better word is sad how many people go through life doing nothing. They wake up everyday and go to work, come home, feed the kids (maybe, if you have any), walk a dog, eat, then go to bed. Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with doing all that, I do that. But if this is your whole life, then there is a huge problem.
Now some people think this is ok, raising kids, and living out a basic routine, with no twists or turns in it. I knew a guy who was fifty five years old, lived in my home town his whole life, but was terrified to drive 40 miles to get to a job site, outside of town. I thought that was crazy, and I have trouble understanding that. But hey! If this is how YOU want to spend your life, then fine, good for you. You know what you want... and that is the important thing, knowing what you want, and living the life you want to live. But if your reading my blog, then you probably want something more, because that is what I write about... Travel, adventure, the magical underworld, filled with sharks, and the total unexpected.
I wonder how many people live out their lives wishing they were doing something else? Or somewhere else? Or with someone else? I am going to be bold and say, 90-95% of us do... So it leaves me thinking??? Why are we slaves to routine, why are we afraid to step out of our doors, without looking back? Why are we all afraid to do something new, or totally out of character? I know this is deep for a Monday morning blog, but I was thinking about this over the weekend, and I realize that people need a wake up call sometimes.
Here is something that sounds weird coming from me... I live in fear of everything! But the kind of fear I hold close to me, is a different kind of fear. It does not grip me, it motivates me. I am afraid not to do new things, or try new things. I am always pushing myself to keep moving forward, so I don't get stuck coasting through life.
Here is a harsh truth... Life does not wait for anyone's "one day, I am gonna." so if your one of those people out there, wishing and day dreaming your way through life... you need to wake up, before life passes you by.
FEBRUARY 7, 2008
I am in full force, editing stories and getting this next issue ready for print. The articles are going to be awesome! I know I say that every time, but I do mean it. Maybe I am biased because this is my mag, but opinions aside, if you love sharks, these stories are going to be great. My goal is and will always be to inspire people to read, write and travel. I sound like a school teacher, but truly, that is my job... I love my job!
I was trying to get this mag ready for print this month, but with my crazy schedule, it was impossible. I remeber talking to shark Photographer, Paul Spielvogel about it. Telling him how my deadline has changed dates. He said,"so what is different from any of the other mags youv'e put out?" And he is right, in the past all my mag dates change. I am fighting to one day have a solid release date schedule, and this year, after releasing this one, we will be on a tight schedule.
I have to have solid release dates now, because we are back in the book stores. Barnes and Nobles will begin carrying our mag on their racks, starting with issue 17, so the release dates have to be on time. If not, they will not order our mags. So the pressure is on, dates are set. And I will meet my deadlines.
I remember reading a book by the founder/creator of the clothing company, Patagonia. He started out selling climbing gear, and quality climbing gear at that. The problem was, he was a climber first, company man, second. So during the peak climbing season, his catalogs stated in bold letters... "expect late shipment during the months of July-September." You got to love a guy like that!
FEBRUARY 4, 2008
I am home for a while. It is a much needed break for both me and my family. As they are the ones who suffer for my wander lusting ways. An adventurer is born to travel and explore the world... period. A Shark Diver
must dive, just like a painter must paint, or a musician must play. They support me and this dream totally, but they need me here also. Anyway, I have been home for a week now, and it is good to be home. But I am already getting the itch to get back out there... It is time to travel. Of course I have no where to go just yet, but the seas and the road are calling...
It is scalloped hammerhead season at the Flower Gardens, and we have a boat that is willing to chum for them... that is a possibility? And of course the new ship that was sunk off my coast line, South Padre Island, Texas. It is also in need of investigating, the sharks should of moved in by now. So many possibilities... where to start? Can't decide, I'll make some calls later.
So until then, I will keep putting the magazine together. Issue 17 is going good. I am adding a cool feature that I really think you all will love, and hopefully get really involved with. This is for shooters, both new and seasoned. It is going to be a lot of fun. As always I do not like to reveal too much about each issue, but some teaser news never hurt anyone. I just got Andy Murch's article yesterday, another great one by our staff shooter.
FEBRUARY 4, 2008
I can't believe January is gone. Damn the time goes fast. There are so many things happening here at SDM right now, I don't know where to begin, or what I can tell you. The reader trips
are filling up fast so if your thinking of joining us for one of them this year, you really need to decide where you want to go and what you want to do, because you will miss the boat (no pun intended).
The new issue is moving along at a clip. We are introducing new species in this issue, some great adventures, many that you will wish you were on, and more TV industry articles for you all. As always I try to keep the magazine looking fresh and fun... leaving you all wanting more. That is always the goal. The responses I have gotten for issue 16 were great, thanks to all of you who wrote in and commented on it.
I look forward to every issue we create, but I can't wait to bring you all issue 19. That one will be written entirely by our readers while out on the shark trips. Heres the plan; during our Summer of the Sharks run, every night, after each dive I will have our readers write out a quick story or summary of their day in the water. Along with the days images, which we will upload as well. By the end of the trip, the article will be laid out. Then we move on to the next adventure and again do the same. By the time all our trips are finished, issue 19 will be ready for print. I have never tried it before, and this will be a first in magazine publishing history... I can't think of anyone insane enough to do it this way. Either way I don't care, it is going to be fun!
Our film project is still moving forward. I know I have been promising it out for a while, but things have changed for us. As we move deeper into the TV world, and have gotten involved with more productions, both behind the camera, and in front of it, we realized we need to do a few things differently. So we went back to the begining and started reediting our show. So right now we are scheduled for an August 08, release. More on this later...
You know while I was out on the National Geographic shoot, I learned a few things. The first is humbleness. I felt like I have done so much in my life, until I stood there listening to cameraman, Andy Mitchell, and our producer Rob Kerr talking about their travels, and their travel wounds. They were trading stories about almost getting killed by elephants, living in an old jeep for 2 months filming lions, to motorcycle adventures across Tazmania. I just stood their listening... never saying a word. Thinking damn, I need to do more with my life. I need to travel more and see more.
Producer and all around cool guy, Rob Kerr.
extreme cameraman, Andy Mitchell. - image by Jimmy Peterson
Sharks are cool, and the adventures I am living out are so much fun. But there are so many other things out there that I want to do and see; I want to see a rhino in Africa, I want to visit a longhouse in Borneo, see the pyramids, photograph a playtipus in Australia. So many things I would like to do. But before I do, sharks need my help, and I will keep pushing forward to tell the sharks story, hopefully saving some sharks, and I need to accomplish my goal of seeing 100 different species of sharks. Then maybe one day, I'll set off on those other adventures, and one day... one day, I too will hold court, and be that cool.
Livin' the Dream!