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About Jim Willoughby  (1929 - 2015)

Jim Willoughby Excerpt from: ‘Man‐Fish Gives Thumbs Up to IronMan’

“In the summer of 1986, Jacques Yves Cousteau was in Vancouver, BC, accompanied by his son and producer, Jean-­‐Michel. They were in the city to take part in Expo ’86, an international exposition that was attended by hundreds of thousands of visitors from all parts of the globe.

 

‘Jeek’ and Jean-­‐Michel were just as gracious as they could be, signing autographs, pumping eager paws and showing up at the special diving shows held several times daily at a multi-­‐swillion gallon exhibition tank provided by Can-­‐Dive Services Ltd. [I forget the exact gallonage. One of the major curses of aging is the loss of short-­‐term memory – and, also, the loss of short-­‐term memory. – P.N.]

Veteran Vancouver diver Jim Willoughby was the ringmaster for the diving shows, which included an underwater wedding, a whole submarine (big tank!) and a host of oddball activities. Jim was very pleased with his two famous guests and the enormous crowd that they attracted.[.....]”

About Jim Willoughby  (1929 - 2015)

Jim Willoughby Excerpt from: ‘Man‐Fish Gives Thumbs Up to IronMan’

“In the summer of 1986, Jacques Yves Cousteau was in Vancouver, BC, accompanied by his son and producer, Jean-­‐Michel. They were in the city to take part in Expo ’86, an international exposition that was attended by hundreds of thousands of visitors from all parts of the globe.

 

‘Jeek’ and Jean-­‐Michel were just as gracious as they could be, signing autographs, pumping eager paws and showing up at the special diving shows held several times daily at a multi-­‐swillion gallon exhibition tank provided by Can-­‐Dive Services Ltd. [I forget the exact gallonage. One of the major curses of aging is the loss of short-­‐term memory – and, also, the loss of short-­‐term memory. – P.N.]

Veteran Vancouver diver Jim Willoughby was the ringmaster for the diving shows, which included an underwater wedding, a whole submarine (big tank!) and a host of oddball activities. Jim was very pleased with his two famous guests and the enormous crowd that they attracted.[.....]”

Jim Willoughby Page 2

 Excerpt from: ‘O.W.S.I. – A Tribute (My Scuba Instructor -­‐ 1978) written 2005’

“The room fell silent when Jim Willoughby walked in. His skin was taut and coppertone, like well-­‐weathered leather. His straight, sun-­‐bleached, blonde hair was as unkempt as his wiry beard. He was tall and lean with broad, purposeful shoulders and the powerful straight back of a marine. But there was no dull, dumb, military glaze in Jim Willoughby’s eyes. No, his eyes flickered with firefly lights that hinted of fun, adventure and even a bit of mischief. When he smiled, every female in the room (and several of the males) let out an involuntary sigh. Some people wanted to worship him; some wanted to have his baby. Me, I wanted to be just like him. [....]”

Excerpt from: 'Close encounters with super suckers’

“TEN FRIGID MINUTES"

SCUBA INSTRUCTOR EXTRAORDINAIRE Jim Willoughby taught thousands to dive in BC and eventually retired near Powell River. He has had plenty of photographic encounters with octopuses,but one in particular stands out. As Jim recalled: "I once received a call from National Enquirer about using one of my giant Pacific octopus photos. They wanted a photo of a lady diver holding an octopus, so I agreed to send them several slides, providing they promised not to make the octopus out as a slimy denizen of the deep that sinks ships and eats the crews. "In about a week I received another call, complaining that the girl in the photos was wearing a wetsuit. They informed me that she must be wearing a bikini. After collecting myself, I calmly advised them of the water temperature in BC. In a few words, it's very cold! "That didn't seem to bother them, as they still wanted to know if I could meet their request. When I hung up the phone, I wondered which insane asylum to check into. "After an extensive search, I finally found a gutsy young lady named Miriam March willing to do this. I had previously done some underwater photography at the Undersea Gardens in Victoria Harbour and explained the situation to them. The curator thought it would be great publicity and readily agreed to host us. "The Undersea Gardens is a building that floats in the harbour with the underwater viewing areas enclosed -­‐ it is much like an aquarium but is actually part of the ocean. "As my diving buddy David March and I submerged, the sight was breathtaking. We were in an enclosed area about 4m deep containing colourful rockfishes, anemones, wolf eels and much more. But our mission was not about any of these creatures -­‐ we were looking for the elusive giant octopus. "David's job was to find the octopus and bring it to Miriam. My job was to take as many pictures as I could of her holding it for the short time she could endure the frigid water."It was a cold, bleak November day, and a brisk wind blew rain in sheets across Victoria Harbour. Miriam waited patiently, clad only in a tiny green bikini and her diving gear. She was covered with a huge blanket to keep her warm. "When I gave her the signal, she jumped in with grim determination and sheer guts, knowing she was about to accomplish something no one had ever attempted. "David handed her the octopus. The next few minutes were filled with clouds of ink, sucker discs, excitement and an occasional glimpse of Miriam, who almost lost her tank once and her mask twice. Amid this chaos it was my job to frame this thrashing mass of arms and Miriam and fire the shutter.

"After an amazing 10 minutes immersed in the icy waters wrestling with this huge creature, Miriam had finally had enough!
"From the cold waters of the Undersea Gardens emerged a tired, shaken but very brave lady.

She had probably set a record -­‐10 minutes in the frigid water with only a green bikini and a giant octopus to keep her warm. "The National Enquirer was very excited about the pictures. But their readers would never know how hard it is to get an underwater photo of a girl in a bikini holding a giant Pacific octopus!"

Jim Willoughby Page 3

 Excerpt from: ‘Northwest Diving History Association’

Jim Willoughby and Prince Phillip

 

THANKS to Jim Willoughby (NWDHA Member # 26 C) of Powell River, BC Canada for his extensive recollections of his diving career that began in Carmel, California in 1949. Jim’s diving adventures took him to Canada in the late 1950s where he became a major contributor to the diving industry in the North Pacific region.

The photo is of Jim Willoughby with Prince Phillip at the Jericho School for the deaf in Vancouver BC. Jim is explaining to Prince Phillip how he teaches deaf students to Scuba dive.[...]

 

Excerpt from: "Andy Lamb – King of Fish ID! "[....]

Q: 'When were you certified?"

A: "I was certified in 1966 at the CYO pool in Vancouver by Jim Willoughby, a very special instructor and one of the reasons I have stayed involved in the Marine World [...]”

Excerpt from: “Canadian Diving History”

“ [...] Mannen's replacement was an irrepressible instructor who had served
on staff in 1971 & 1972. The late Thomas Tumilty was determined to make the Divemaster a NAUI certification despite widely divergent views about what the appropriate certification level should be. Notwithstanding, a year later on October 10, 1975, the first Divemaster cards were issued by Steve Kozak at 10 Monet Avenue in Etobicoke (Toronto).

In 1977, Tumilty unveiled the program at a diving conference in Miami. Dozens of American instructors embraced the idea, but some dive operators in the Florida Keys undermined the program objectives by shifting the focus to a dive guiding application. As a result, the US diving agencies adopted a commercialized training concept that was inappropriate for Canada. Within the next decade, however, US divemaster standards were being imposed on Canadian divers. [...]” 

Jim Willoughby Page 4

Excerpt from: ' Fast Pace doesn’t Let Up '

“ [...] Keeping up with Willoughby isn't easy either on the ground or under water.

As a professional diver he has been an underwater photographer, taught scuba diving and gone exploring. "I've worked with the Cousteaus," he said. "I'm fairly good friends with Jean-­‐Michel Cousteau, the youngest son of Jacques Cousteau."

Not every diving experience can be described as fun. But Willoughby has never shied away from whatever challenge has come along. He worked as a recovery diver for the California Highway Patrol and later for the RCMP. "They used to say 'Oh call Jim. He's used to it.' How can you ever get used to recovering bodies? You don't get used to it. But nothing was more frightening than diving into a submarine full of skeletons."

That happened when Willoughby went with the American Navy into Japan's Truk Lagoon. "Now that was scary," he said.

Truk Lagoon, also known as Chuuk, is a protected anchorage in Micronesia, just north of New Guinea. It was a base for ships in the Japanese Navy during the Second World War. In February of 1944 the Americans launched a massive air attack on the Japanese Imperial fleet that was sheltered in Truk Lagoon. This attack has been described as 15 times more powerful than the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour. When it was over, 15 Japanese naval ships, six tankers, 17 cargo ships, 250 Japanese planes and 25 American planes were on the bottom of the lagoon. More attacks at a later time brought the total of destroyed vessels to 60. Willoughby has been inside one of the sunken Japanese subs.

"I was shooting film for a company in Vancouver," he said. "The submarine was 145 feet deep. It was 357 feet long. At the time it was sunk it was the longest submarine in the world." Willoughby and the other divers went in through the conning tower, taking a rope with them so they could find their way out. "The visibility outside the submarine was 200 feet. But inside it was black," he said. "If you ever let go of that rope you were dead because you'd never find the conning tower again."

After travelling through the submarine, past the skeletons and through the eerie murk, the divers turned around to go back. "We got a shock," said Willoughby. "Our fins had stirred up all the silt and it was pitch black. Not even our lights could help us. So we followed the rope out and didn't dare let go. But I was bumping into skeletons I couldn't see." He paused for a moment, remembering. "Now that was scary”

Still, Willoughby considers the dive in the Truk Lagoon one of the greatest adventures he ever had.

After operating a network of dive shops in Vancouver and hosting two television shows, Willoughby made a vain attempt to slow down. Not possible, really, for a man who travels so fast. "I had a chance to be the dive director at the Beach Gardens in Powell River," he said. "It was a fabulous job." His attempt at a quieter life ended up being a springboard to world travel in lecturing and promoting diving, as well as working to make Powell River a premiere dive destination.

"I don't dive any more," he said. "I hurt my ear very badly when I was doing a TV commercial in Okeover Inlet." The energy he devoted to diving has been redirected into making driftwood furniture, crafting and keeping a remarkable garden. "I can walk around this yard any day, any time, and find something to do," he said. Willoughby's garden is a showplace of walkways, sculptures and thriving greenery. "People ask about my garden when they see it," he said. "They say 'how do you keep it so neat?'" He laughed. "Well, I don't wave my hand and it's done. I actually bend over once in a while and pull a weed."

When he hit retirement, Willoughby thought he'd be taking things easy. "My older brothers told me that when I retired I'd be working harder than I ever had in my life. I laughed at them," he said. "It's true. But I have fun with everything I do. I don't do anything that I don't enjoy." For Willoughby, there are still many adventures left. "Enthusiasm?" he said. "I've got a bucketful."

 

 

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Cort Mackenzie

 

Don Hughes

 

Jim Willoughby

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