ARCHIVES

~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 

Nov. 12, 2009

Hello Divers,

We are getting into the holiday season at SSDS and we have a lot of gear and trips on sale that you might want to give a diver for Christmas. Before we tell you about that, we need to let you in on a few other things that have happened lately.

We were blessed with good weather and diving conditions all season until about 4 weeks ago. Then it turned bad and you have probably noticed that most of our weekend trips to Florida and South Carolina have been postponed. This happens sometimes unfortunately but the weather always dictates our diving. It is much better to cancel a trip than to travel all that way and have a miserable time. We have a couple of trips over the next few weekends and then we will start over in Jan of 2010 with our regular weekend travel.

Southern Skin Divers Supply has just returned from the annual dive industry trade show (DEMA) in Orlando. Every year we attend to meet face to face with various equipment, travel destination, and agency representatives to try and get the best quality product for our members. This year SCUBA Schools International invited SSDS to their social. There were several hundred industry representatives in attendance to witness six instructors from across the country earn the highest honor a recreational SCUBA instructor can attain. Our very own Spencer Phillips, has now been recognized as an SSI Platinum Pro 5000 Instructor. Those of you that know Spencer, or that read this newsletter, know that he dives several weekends a month and has since he was a little boy. When you have been diving that frequently for so long, the dives add up once you are in your early 30's like Spencer. The Platinum Pro 5000 Instructor award cannot be purchased. A candidate must be nominated by multiple members of the Foundation as well having a documented training log of thousands of dives and thousands of courses taught. Spencer is also one of the youngest instructors ever to receive this honor. We were all very proud to be there for his award.

Upon returning from Orlando, SSDS received a call from the Sheriff's Department about a recovery dive. Southern Skin Divers Supply is the headquarters for the Jefferson County Sheriff's Dive Team. A thief had burglarized a home and stolen valuable property belonging to the owner. While running from the local law enforcement, the thief desperately tried to swim off with the loot. He had to ditch everything in order to prevent his drowning. Once he was apprehended, we were called in to try to recover all of the victims belongings. Our team worked very well together using our new OTS communications equipment, as well as having some good help from the local Police Department. It was very satisfying to recover all of the items stolen (guns, gold watches, cash, jewelry, coin collection and other valuables) and return them to their owner on site.

 

                    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas Specials

SSDS has a large inventory right now and we have specials on most gear in time for your Christmas shopping. Our most popular buoyancy compensator for the past 4 years, the Aqua-Lung Pro QD, has a $100 Christmas discount from now until the end of the year. This is a great BC and with this sale price even better. Every wrist Suunto computer as well as the Cobra air integrated hose mount computer is $150 off and if you purchase a BC, regulator and computer you will get an Air Source 3 second stage/power inflator combo. You can even try any and all of this equipment here in our pool before you buy.

 

Not only is SSDS the local distributor for Ocean Rhino Spearguns, but we can also offer training, options and even a pool to practice in. All of the guns in stock now are 10% to 15% off until the end of the year.

We are also your underwater photography headquarters featuring Ikelite and Sealife products. SSDS is a full line dealer for both of these companies and that enables us to provide an excellent warranty and knowledge of most of their products. Right now we have stocked multiple high quality point and shoot camera packages from both companies as well as some high end DSLR systems and a couple of High Definition video packages that would make great gifts for the diver that already has almost everything.

Flip Ultra & UltraHD (2nd Gen) Video Cameras

Dive into underwater videography with this incredibly compact and simple to use combination. The Compact Video housing is high quality, built to last, and backed by Ikelite's long-standing reputation for excellence. A full line of accessories allows you to really get creative with your underwater video.
All camera controls are fully functional through the housing and depth rated to 200ft (60m). Easy open latch and drop in camera loading make set-up a breeze.
Includes a 1cc tube of silicone lubricant, vinyl lanyard and removable UR/Pro color correcting filter for tropical blue water settings.

 

      Where we going next??

January 15-17 Spear fishing in Panama City, FL
We will primarily be hunting Grouper this time of year. The water is still going to be cool so they are in from deep water for now. Also it is usually clearer this time of year. Panama City has a lot of Red and Gag grouper in the 10 to 20 lbs range in 60 to 100 ft of water. As usual we will also try to get some Mangrove Snappers, Triggerfish and Amberjacks. One of the nicest and spear friendly vessels in the panhandle will be our private charter for this winter weekend adventure.

February 12-15 Manatee, Crystal River, FL Trip
The water is a constant 72 degrees here year round. This means that in the winter it is considerably warmer than the ocean, so there will be a larger congregation of Manatee in this area. We have chosen a holiday weekend to enable kids to participate in this encounter with these giant mammals. This should give us plenty of time to have two long days of snorkeling and diving in Crystal River as well as some of the nearby springs.

April 21st - May 2nd, 2010 Truk Lagoon, Micronesia
Truk Lagoon is without a doubt, the undisputed shipwreck diving capitol of the world. This will be Steve's sixth trip to Truk and in that time he has logged hundreds of dives there. Together he and Forrest are taking a group privately chartering one of the largest liveaboards in the world. About half of the spaces on this trip are taken so let us know soon if you are interested. Countless coral and fish surround the Japanese shipwrecks of World War II that lie in broad ranges of diving depths comfortably satisfying novice to experienced divers. Some divers usually manage 30-35 dives per week. The diving will be from one of the multiple dive tenders with experienced guides taking 4 or 5 divers to alternate sections of each site. This will insure that diver congestion will not impede the photographic opportunities. These Japanese war ruins consist of many conceivable war tools of that era. Tanks, cars, trucks, guns, cannons, airplanes, torpedoes, depth charges, tugboats and barges are all found and many intact. For more info about this incredible, once in a lifetime adventure, give us a call.

Forrest Phillips
Southern Skin Divers Supply
4515 5th Ave South
Birmingham, AL 35222
205-595-3052
~~~~~~~~~~~~~  

Oct. 30, 2009

Hello Divers,

We are about to close out our April 21-May 2/2010 trip to Truk Lagoon. We do still have a few spaces left on this once in a lifetime trip to Micronesia. In the next few days we are going to let go the airplane tickets that we have reserved that are not spoken for. More than likely, the price for the airfare will rise after that so now is the time to tell us if you ever want to see Truk. You will also get enough frequent flyer miles on this trip for a free airplane ticket anywhere in the continental US. Once we depart in 2010 on this trip, five years will have passed since our last time there so this is not a trip that we do every year or so. Don't miss it.


Thousands of miles from the frantic pace of big cities, Truk Lagoon offers an unparalleled variety of dive experiences. Once a stronghold for the Japanese Imperial Navy, now captures forever the destruction of a very powerful military force. In their stillness these wrecks are covered in a kaleidoscope of colorful tropical fish and corals. Beyond these ghostly wrecks lie the reefs and atolls of Micronesia. The underwater beauty is breathtakingly exquisite and unimaginably prolific. Huge soft corals and sea fans with vibrant colors and schools of Pacific tropical fish create constant movement in an ever changing marine environment.

 Here are some of Mark Tant's pictures from the last trip to Truk.

Truk Lagoon is without a doubt, the undisputed shipwreck diving capitol of the world. This will be Steve's sixth trip to Truk and in that time he has logged hundreds of dives there. Together he and Forrest are taking a group privately chartering one of the largest liveaboards in the world. Countless coral and fish surround the Japanese shipwrecks of World War II that lie in broad ranges of diving depths comfortably satisfying novice to experienced divers. Some divers usually manage 30-35 dives per week. The diving will be from one of the multiple dive tenders with experienced guides taking 4 or 5 divers to alternate sections of each site. This will insure that diver congestion will not impede the photographic opportunities. These Japanese war ruins consist of many conceivable war tools of that era. Tanks, cars, trucks, guns, cannons, airplanes, torpedoes, depth charges, tugboats and barges are all found and many intact. For more info about this incredible, once in a lifetime adventure, give us a call.

Southern Skin Divers Supply
4515 5th Avenue South
Birmingham, AL. 35222
205-595-3052

~~~~~~~~~~~~~  

Oct. 7, 2009

Hello Divers,

Since our last newsletter we have been busy         teaching open water students and this coming up weekend, Spencer and Mark will be certifying them in Panama City, FL. Our upcoming wreck trip, the Flounder trip and the Bonaire trip that the two of them are taking are already sold out but we do have some other trips with availability. Mark and I will be offering some continuing education later on this month and in November. And speaking of Mark, he has been employed with the City of Hoover's Police Department as a Crime Scene Investigator. After 25 years of service with Hoover, Mark has retired. I know what you are thinking, and yes he is that old. Now that he is retired, he will be teaching at SSDS even more with me and Spence and taking divers on our weekend trips often. He is the proud owner of a new Canon DSLR camera with an Ikelite housing and strobe and now with the time, I could see him taking some more magazine cover quality shots soon.

Here is a picture from Mark's retirement with Chief Derzis.

Upcoming Trips


October 16th-18th Orange Beach, AL Spearfishing
This will be the last trip of the season for spearfishing off the Alabama Gulf Coast. We have been able to dive with a lot of you doing this type of diving this year. Our spearfishing team, The Tourists, just finished competing in the four week Orange Beach Spearfishing tournament and came in second place in the team award as well as winning several individual awards and even a little money. This weekend we will be diving in the same area where these fish were taken. We have a house rented as well as a privately chartered vessel. The water is still warm and conditions are good so let's go one more time before it gets too cold.

Joe and Forrest with tournament winning fish

November 13th -15th South Carolina River Trip
This 3 day dive adventure is the fossilized shark teeth/artifact diving that we did just last weekend. It was one of our most productive trips here in a long time and we are going to try and do it again. Along with shark's teeth, usually we find Dugong and Whale bones and even land animals like Mammoth and Mastodon bones (just like the ones we have on display at The SCUBA School). These historic rivers also contain other isolated finds like pottery and bottles and even the occasional Native American Indian artifact. Divers usually get 7 to 9 long dives in 20 to 40 ft of water on this three day trip. We are going to try and have a couple of boats and dive in two different rivers this time. This trip includes transportation from near Birmingham, all diving, tank rentals and air fills, hotel accommodations and food and beverages on the boat.

                       

April 21st - May 2nd, 2010 Truk Lagoon, Micronesia
Truk Lagoon is without a doubt, the undisputed shipwreck diving capitol of the world. This will be Steve's sixth trip to Truk and in that time he has logged hundreds of dives there. Together he and Forrest are taking a group privately chartering one of the largest liveaboards in the world. About half of the spaces on this trip are taken so let us know soon if you are interested. Countless coral and fish surround the Japanese shipwrecks of World War II that lie in broad ranges of diving depths comfortably satisfying novice to experienced divers. Some divers usually manage 30-35 dives per week. The diving will be from one of the multiple dive tenders with experienced guides taking 4 or 5 divers to alternate sections of each site. This will insure that diver congestion will not impede the photographic opportunities. These Japanese war ruins consist of many conceivable war tools of that era. Tanks, cars, trucks, guns, cannons, airplanes, torpedoes, depth charges, tugboats and barges are all found and many intact. For more info about this incredible, once in a lifetime adventure, give us a call.
Continuing Education

Oct 31st 9am Enriched Air Nitrox at The SCUBA School

Have you ever dreamed of having longer no-decompression limits to take pictures or explore a wreck? Did you ever want to be safer while diving concerning the potential risk of decompression sickness?

Nitrox is the key. Due to the reduced fraction of nitrogen in your breathing gas, your body will have less work and the de saturation times will be reduced.

In your ENRICHED AIR NITROX program you will learn all the necessary rules for planning dives with Nitrox and using Nitrox in a safe way. An important key point in the entire program is analyzing your own tank prior to any Nitrox dive.


Oct 28th, Nov 7th, Nov 14th Stress and Rescue Course
Stress is a major contributor to rescue situations and diving accidents. Through this course you will learn accident prevention, as well as how to handle problem situations if they occur.

The program is about avoiding, recognizing and solving problems on the surface and under water. The course runs two and a half days in which you will participate in academic and in-water sessions in the pool and in the open water. As a prerequisite for certification you will also earn CPR & First Aid certificate during this course.

DIVER STRESS & RESCUE SPECIALTY COURSE Content:                   

* What Is Stress?
* Stress In Diving:Causes And Prevention

* Detecting And Dealing With Stress
* Accident Management
* Skills Needed To Deal With Panic And Rescues
* Conditions That Complicate Rescues

New Equipment and Specials
We are currently having a sale at SSDS on all Cobra, D4, D6 and D9 computers. It is an in store rebate taken at the counter so if you are wanting to upgrade or need a backup computer, now is a good time. Also we have started selling the new Ikelite underwater housing for the Flip Ultra HD camera. Both of these would make great Christmas gifts for many divers.

Flip Ultra & UltraHD (2nd Gen) Video Cameras

Dive into underwater videography with this incredibly compact and simple to use combination. The Compact Video housing is high quality, built to last, and backed by Ikelite's long-standing reputation for excellence. A full line of accessories allows you to really get creative with your underwater video.
All camera controls are fully functional through the housing and depth rated to 200ft (60m). Easy open latch and drop in camera loading make set-up a breeze.
Includes a 1cc tube of silicone lubricant, vinyl lanyard and removable UR/Pro color correcting filter for tropical blue water settings.

 


Southern Skin Divers Supply
4515 5th Avenue South
Birmingham, AL. 35222
205-595-3052
~~~~~~~~~~~~~  

Sept. 10, 2009

Hello Divers,
We have a lot of trips to let you know about in this newsletter but before we do that we should tell you about some of the recent happenings. As most of you know, we continue to have trips every weekend year round with weather permitting and this year we have been fortunate to have good weather mostly. A couple of weeks ago one of our group trips were diving out of Orange Beach, Alabama and a Whale Shark with about 50 Cobia swam between some of our divers. Frequently, Whale Sharks are still being seen throughout the Panhandle so get down there if you can. One of the trips that you could see these magnificent creatures on is the shallow water wreck trip like Mark has been taking divers on every month. Here are some shots from previous ones.

 

 

Spencer and Steve just returned from another Bering Sea gold diving trip near Nome, Alaska. They had a great time in Nome this summer and are looking forward to next year. Following his return from Alaska, Spencer was off to Panama City, Florida with a group of new divers continuing the over 56 year tradition that Southern Skin Divers Supply started, certifying our divers in the Florida Panhandle.

 

 

 

Meanwhile,
Forrest has been taking spearfishers competing in the Orange Beach Spearfishing Tournament that is currently underway until Sept. 19.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now for what's coming up.

October 23rd - 25th Shallow Water Wreck Diving, Panama City
Mark will be leading a group to dive some of the shallow water wrecks off Panama City, Florida. This is the next step for all of you newly certified divers that are ready to experience boat diving in the Gulf of Mexico. The Gulf is as clear now as it has been in a long time and if it stays that way Mark will get some great photos of everybody. We might even be fortunate enough to see some of the Whale Sharks that have been hanging around. Also, you junior open water certified divers will be able to participate since we are limiting the depth on all of the dives both days. This is one of the nicest dive boats in the Florida Panhandle and we have it chartered privately for this weekend.

November 13th -15th South Carolina River Trip
This 3 day dive adventure is the fossilized shark teeth/artifact diving that we do every couple of months. Along with shark's teeth, usually we find Dugong and Whale bones and even land animals like Mammoth and Mastodon bones (just like the ones we have on display at The SCUBA School). These historic rivers also contain other isolated finds like pottery and bottles and even the occasional Native American Indian artifact. Divers usually get 7 to 9 long dives in 20 to 40 ft of water on this three day trip. This trip includes transportation from near Birmingham, all diving, tank rentals and air fills, hotel accommodations and food and beverages on the boat.

November 20th - 22nd Panama City, FL Flounder trip
We have privately chartered one of the newest dive boats in the area for our annual Flounder trip. Once we were able to take 180 fish in two days and although that was the best, we still usually do very well. This is the best time of year for Flounder. The Flounder are usually in the 30 to 50 ft range in the sand around structures. This is a great trip to learn to spear fish. A speargun is not necessary, a pole spear and bag work best. We will take what we catch on Saturday to the Captain's Table restaurant for them to prepare it for us. We should all have plenty to carry home on Sunday.

December 27th, 2009 - January 3rd, 2010 Bonaire
The Island of Bonaire has perhaps the best shore diving in the Caribbean. No cattle boat diving here, in fact it is not necessary to even set foot on a boat unless you want to. The shore dives are clearly marked and with the unlimited diving package that we have, you may dive as frequently as you wish. Included in this package is round trip airfare on a direct flight from Atlanta to Bonaire, oceanfront condo accommodations, truck rental, breakfast daily, unlimited air diving and Nitrox diving if you are Nitrox certified. Spencer and Mark will be running this trip so give us a call at The SCUBA School for more details.

April 21st - May 2nd, 2010 Truk Lagoon, Micronesia
Truk Lagoon is without a doubt, the undisputed shipwreck diving capitol of the world. This will be Steve's sixth trip to Truk and in that time he has logged hundreds of dives there. Together he and Forrest are taking a group privately chartering one of the largest liveaboards in the world. Countless coral and fish surround the Japanese shipwrecks of World War II that lie in broad ranges of diving depths comfortably satisfying novice to experienced divers. Some divers usually manage 30-35 dives per week. The diving will be from one of the multiple dive tenders with experienced guides taking 4 or 5 divers to alternate sections of each site. This will insure that diver congestion will not impede the photographic opportunities. These Japanese war ruins consist of many conceivable war tools of that era. Tanks, cars, trucks, guns, cannons, airplanes, torpedoes, depth charges, tugboats and barges are all found and many intact. For more info about this incredible, once in a lifetime adventure, give us a call. Here is a link to some of Mark's photos from our last trip to Truk ==> TRUK

Southern Skin Divers Supply

~~~~~~~~~~~~~  

Aug. 13, 2009

Hello Divers,

Before we let you know about all of the new things happening at The SCUBA School we want to tell you about a great opportunity to dive the Gulf Coast right now. Every day we get calls from friends in Panama City, Orange Beach and other places along the panhandle about Whale Sharks! They are showing up daily all over the panhandle so now is the time if you have ever wanted to see a whale shark. We have had a great season so far with mostly calm seas and very clear water and now with the frequent whale shark experiences, it is hard to beat the Gulf Coast diving right now. This weekend, Mark Tant, is taking 15 divers on a private wreck charter in Panama City for two days hoping to see one of these "largest fish species in the sea". Nobody really knows why they are here now or for how long they will hang around the area so whether you go with us or not, take your camera and go diving.

 

 

Spencer and Steve have a few more weeks left before they return home from Alaska. As most of you know, the two of them have been diving 17 years in a row near Nome, Alaska in search for gold.

 

 

 

 

Upcoming Trips

August 21st -23rd Spearfishing, Orange Beach, AL
We have another spearfishing trip, this time to Orange Beach, Alabama. We will be shooting fish on some of the many artificial reefs in the area. It includes the usual two days of offshore spearfishing off a private charter as well as two nights in a hotel. Also included in this trip are the entrance fees to the Orange Beach Spearfishing Tournament and a t-shirt. This is a monetary awarded tournament which means you might win money in addition to the fresh fish you will come home with. Check out alabamaspearfishing.com for more information about this tournament.

September 11th - 13th Shallow Water Wreck Diving, Panama City
Mark will be leading a group to dive some of the shallow water wrecks off Panama City, Florida. This is the next step for all of you newly certified divers that are ready to experience boat diving in the Gulf of Mexico. The Gulf is as clear now as it has been in a long time and if it stays that way Mark will get some great photos of everybody. We might even be fortunate enough to see some of the Whale Sharks that have been hanging around. Also, you junior open water certified divers will be able to participate since we are limiting the depth on all of the dives both days. If you sign up for this trip and give us some notice, you can come to a class on the particular boating procedures of diving off this vessel. This is one of the nicest dive boats in the Florida Panhandle and we have it chartered privately for this weekend.

October 2nd - 4th South Carolina River Trip
This 3 day dive adventure is the fossilized shark teeth/artifact diving that we do every couple of months. Along with shark's teeth, usually we find Dugong and Whale bones and even land animals like Mammoth and Mastodon bones (just like the ones we have on display at The SCUBA School). These historic rivers also contain other isolated finds like pottery and bottles and even the occasional Native American Indian artifact. Divers usually get 7 to 9 long dives in 20 to 40 ft of water on this three day trip. This trip includes transportation from near Birmingham, all diving, tank rentals and air fills, hotel accommodations and food and beverages on the boat.

December 27th, 2009 - January 3rd, 2010 Bonaire
Just yesterday, we purchased air plane tickets as well as condominium accommodations and rental trucks for a group after Christmas to Bonaire. The Island of Bonaire has perhaps the best shore diving in the Caribbean. No cattle boat diving here, in fact it is not necessary to even set foot on a boat unless you want to. The shore dives are clearly marked and with the unlimited diving package that we have, you may dive as frequently as you wish. Included in this package is round trip airfare on a direct flight from Atlanta to Bonaire, oceanfront condo accommodations, truck rental, breakfast daily, unlimited air diving and Nitrox diving if you are Nitrox certified. Spencer and Mark will be running this trip so give us a call at The SCUBA School for more details.

 

Continuing Education

Sept. 5th 9am Enriched air Nitrox at The SCUBA School


Have you ever dreamed of having longer no-decompression limits to take pictures or explore a wreck? Did you ever want to be safer while diving concerning the potential risk of decompression sickness?

Nitrox is the key. Due to the reduced fraction of nitrogen in your breathing gas, your body will have less work and the de saturation times will be reduced.

In your ENRICHED AIR NITROX program you will learn all the necessary rules for planning dives with Nitrox and using Nitrox in a safe way. An important key point in the entire program is analyzing your own tank prior to any Nitrox dive.

September 23rd, 26th and October 3rd - Stress and Rescue Course

Stress is a major contributor to rescue situations and diving accidents. Through this course you will learn accident prevention, as well as how to handle problem situations if they occur.

The program is about avoiding, recognizing and solving problems on the surface and under water. The course runs three days in which you will participate in academic and in-water sessions in the pool and in the open water. As a prerequisite for certification you will also earn CPR & First Aid certificates during this course.

DIVER STRESS & RESCUE SPECIALTY COURSE Content:

* What Is Stress?
* Stress In Diving: Causes And Prevention
* Detecting And Dealing With Stress
* Accident Management
* Skills Needed To Deal With Panic And Rescues
* Conditions That Complicate Rescues

 

 

Spearfishing Equipment
Our divers that travel with us know that I teach and take people spearfishing a couple of weekends a month year round. Recently SSDS has started selling a couple of pieces of equipment that will enhance a spear fishers ability to get fish. The first piece is a custom made camouflage 3mm wetsuit for spearfishing. This is the warmest 3mm suit I have ever worn, as warm as any 5mm I have ever owned. It has glued and blind stitched seams with reinforced stress areas. This means that it is a true closed cell suit. You can even test it by holding it closed on one end and blowing it up like a balloon. If the air can't get in and out, neither can water. Your body will warm the water and since there will be almost no exchange in water, it will insulate you keeping you warm dive after dive. It also has tire flex knee pads and a cocking pad to keep bruising to a minimum when loading your gun. We also are dealers for the brand new Ocean Rhino Spearguns below.



Ocean Rhino RX Series Spearguns
These are very durable guns suitable for hunting around the artificial reefs of our area. The Rhino liner protects the gun when bumping against the structure you are on and being a wood gun makes for a quieter shot. It also comes with a commercial muzzle that keeps the shaft straight and makes it more accurate when fired. There are also many upgrades that can be added later on down the road to truly customize this gun for changing conditions. Come see me at The SCUBA School so I can show you these exciting pieces of spearfishing equipment.

Southern Skin Divers Supply
4515 5th Avenue South
Birmingham, AL. 35222
205-595-3052
www.ssdsupply.com

~~~~~~~~~~~~~  

July 12, 2009

Hello Divers,
Since our last newsletter a lot of training has taken place at The SCUBA School.


Also, we have just returned from several group dive trips. Spencer and seventeen of our divers spent a week on a private chartered Live A Board in Belize. It was a wonderful trip with great diving, excellent food and a great time had by all. Here are some photos from the trip that were taken by Brandi Baugher.

       

Mark took a group wreck diving in Panama City, FL and was one of the first groups to dive the newest wreck "The Red Sea" in P.C. While down there, the group saw multiple Goliath Groupers, some in the 300 to 400 lbs. range. Here are some of Mark's shots from the trip.

   

 Steve is busy spending his 17th summer dredging for gold in Nome, Alaska. I am sure he will have some great stories and hopefully a lot of gold when he comes home in September.   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Forrest has been busy taking divers every other weekend spearfishing off the Alabama gulf coast. Speaking of diving off the Alabama gulf coast, now we have a tool to help us predict sea conditions for some of the diving in this area. For years we have had to rely on a weather buoy anchored 68 miles south of Dauphin Island in almost 800 feet of water.

The conditions oftentimes are different closer to shore where the bulk of diving and fishing is done. We are now using the data from a new buoy 12 miles south of Perdido Pass, so the next time you are planning a trip to be on the water off the Alabama gulf coast go to www.wunderground.com/MAR/buoy/42012.html to see the data from that buoy.

 

 

All of us at Southern would like to wish Bill Tant a happy 80th birthday which he recently celebrated with a lot of the divers from Southern's early days. Bill started Southern Skin Divers in 1953 and is a pioneer in scuba diving and a living legend. He is the one in the middle.

 

 

 

Upcoming Trips

July 17th -19th South Carolina River Trip
This 3 day dive adventure is the fossilized shark teeth/artifact diving that we do every couple of months. Along with shark's teeth, usually we find Dugong and Whale bones and even land animals like Mammoth and Mastodon bones (just like the ones we have on display at The SCUBA School). These historic rivers also contain other isolated finds like pottery and bottles and even the occasional Native American Indian artifact. Divers usually get 7 to 9 long dives in 20 to 40 ft of water on this three day trip. This trip includes transportation from near Birmingham, all diving, tank rentals and air fills, hotel accommodations and food and beverages on the boat.

August 14th -16th Shallow Water Wreck Diving, Panama City
Mark will be leading a group to dive some of the shallow water wrecks off Panama City, Florida. This is the next step for all of you newly certified divers that are ready to experience boat diving in the Gulf of Mexico. The Gulf is as clear now as it has been in a long time and if it stays that way Mark will get some great photos of everybody. Also, you junior open water certified divers will be able to participate since we are limiting the depth on all of the dives both days. If you sign up for this trip and give us some notice, you can come to a slide show of the particular boating procedures of diving off this vessel. This is one of the nicest dive boats in the Florida Panhandle that we have chartered privately for this weekend.

August 21st -23rd Spearfishing, Orange Beach, AL
We have another spearfishing trip, this time to Orange Beach, Alabama. We will be shooting on some of the many artificial reefs in the area. It includes the usual two days of offshore spearfishing off a private charter as well as two nights in a hotel. Also included in this trip are the entrance fees in the Orange Beach Spearfishing Tournament and a t-shirt. This is a monetary awarded tournament which means you might win money in addition to the fresh fish you will come home with.

Training


July 23, 4PM Enriched Air Nitrox, at The SCUBA School

Have you ever dreamed of having longer no-decompression limits to take pictures or explore a wreck? Did you ever want to be safer while diving concerning the potential risk of decompression sickness?

Nitrox is the key. Due to the reduced fraction of nitrogen in your breathing gas, your body will have less work and the de saturation times will be reduced.

In your ENRICHED AIR NITROX program you will learn all the necessary rules for planning dives with Nitrox and using Nitrox in a safe way. An important key point in the entire program is analyzing your own tank prior to any Nitrox dive.

Give us a call.

Southern Skin Divers Supply
4515 5th Ave South
Birmingham, AL 35222
205-595-3052
www.ssdsupply.com

~~~~~~~~~~~~~  

June 11, 2009

Hello Divers,

The past few weeks we have been training divers 5 days a week here at The SCUBA School. As most of you know, every weekend we offer at least one group trip somewhere for divers to go on once they are certified. Just last weekend, Spencer was certifying a group of students at the St. Andrews State Park Jetties and they had a special treat; they had about 50 Cow Nose Rays swimming with them in the shallow water on Sunday.

A week earlier Spencer took a group on our South Carolina river trip and one of our friends found a beautiful Native American spear point while another one of our other divers found an incredible clay smoking pipe with a females likeness carved on it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meanwhile, Forrest has been taking multiple groups competing in Alabama's longest spearfishing tournament to date. To read more about spearfishing go to these links: www.tomh2o.com & www.alabamaspearfishing.com
 

 

This upcoming weekend Spencer is taking a group of 18 divers to Belize to do a week's worth of live-aboard diving while Forrest has another group spearing off the Alabama Gulf Coast. What we are saying is there is a lot of diving going on right now so let us know if you want to go.

 

 

 

 

 

Trips


June 26-28 Shallow Water Wreck Diving, Panama City
This weekend trip Mark will be taking a group diving some of the shallow water wrecks off Panama City, FL. This is the next step for all of you newly certified divers that are ready to experience boat diving in the Gulf of Mexico. The Gulf is as clear now as it has been in a long time and if it stays that way I think Mark will take one of his nice cameras and get some great shots of everybody. Also, you junior open water certified divers will be able to participate since we are limiting the depth on all of the dives both days. If you sign up for this trip and give us some notice, you can come to a slide show of the particular boating procedures of diving off this vessel. This is one of the nicest dive boats in the Florida Panhandle that we have chartered privately for this weekend.


July 10-12 Spearfishing in Panama City, FL
Panama City has a lot of Red and Gag grouper as well as Red Snapper, Black Snapper, Triggerfish, Cobia and Amberjacks. Mark will also have a group of divers at the Springs and Jetties so we will try to all meet up at the Captain's Table restaurant in St Andrews for some of our fresh catch. We have a good selection of the newest Ocean Rhino Spearguns available at The SCUBA School right now so if you need a new gun come see what we have. We also have some high quality gun bands and spear tips for your guns that you already have and have a new heavy duty polespear capable of handling big fish as well.
 

July 17-19 South Carolina River Trip
This 3 day dive adventure is the fossilized shark teeth/artifact diving that we do every couple of months. Along with shark's teeth, usually we find Dugong and Whale bones and even land animals like Mammoth and Mastodons (Just like the ones we have on display at The SCUBA School). These historic rivers also contain other isolated finds like pottery and bottles and even the occasional Native American Indian artifact. Divers usually get 7 to 9 long dives in 20 to 40 ft of water on this three day trip. This trip includes transportation from near Birmingham, all diving, tank rentals and air fills, hotel accommodations and food and beverages on the boat.

 

Training
July 23, 4PM Enriched Air Nitrox, at The SCUBA School

Have you ever dreamed of having longer no-decompression limits to take pictures or explore a wreck? Did you ever want to be safer while diving concerning the potential risk of decompression sickness?

Nitrox is the key. Due to the reduced fraction of nitrogen in your breathing gas, your body will have less work and the de saturation times will be reduced.

In your ENRICHED AIR NITROX program you will learn all the necessary rules for planning dives with Nitrox and using Nitrox in a safe way. An important key point in the entire program is analyzing your own tank prior to any Nitrox dive.

July 22, 25 and Aug 1st Stress and Rescue Course
Stress is a major contributor to rescue situations and diving accidents. Through this course you will learn accident prevention, as well as how to handle problem situations if they occur.

The program is about avoiding, recognizing and solving problems on the surface and under water. The course runs two - four days in which you will participate in academic and in-water sessions in the pool and in the open water. As a prerequisite for certification you will also earn CPR & First Aid certificate during this course.

DIVER STRESS & RESCUE SPECIALTY COURSE Content:

* What Is Stress?
* Stress In Diving:Causes And Prevention
* Detecting And Dealing With Stress
* Accident Management
* Skills Needed To Deal With Panic And Rescues
* Conditions That Complicate Rescues

Let's go diving!


Forrest Phillips
Southern Skin Divers Supply
4515 5th Ave South
Birmingham, AL 35222
205-595-3052
www.ssdsupply.com

~~~~~~~~~~~~~  

May 7, 2009

Hello Divers,

We have been very busy at the Scuba School with lots of open water classes and continuing education. We also have 2 sold out international trips coming up, one to Cozumel and the other to Belize. We are also planning our super trip for next April to Truk Lagoon in Micronesia. On this trip we have our own private liveaboard and crew. This trip has some of the best diving around and is the best wreck diving in the world. Forrest and Spencer's dad Steve is leading this trip and is an expert on this area. He has been there 6 times and is very familiar with the area. We will have more information on this trip in upcoming emails. Here is a link to some of Mark Tant's photos from one of our previous trips.  ==>>  Truk



The Jefferson County Sheriff's Department dive team has also have been training at the Scuba School with their new full face masks with underwater communications which enables the divers to talk with each other and with the surface crew. This will be a very helpful tool for the blackwater conditions that the dive team usually experiences. The Jefferson County Sheriff's Department dive team is the first in the country to have the OTS Guardian mask and Southern Skin Divers Supply can order these for other dive teams out there.

 

 

 

 

OTS Guardian full face masks with underwater communications

 

Trips
May 22-24 South Carolina River Trip
This 3 day dive adventure is the fossilized shark teeth/artifact diving that we do every couple of months. Along with shark's teeth, usually we find Dugong and Whale bones and even land animals like Mammoth and Mastodons (Just like the ones we have on display at The SCUBA School). These historic rivers also contain other isolated finds like pottery and bottles and even the occasional Native American Indian artifact. Divers usually get 7 to 9 long dives in 20 to 40 ft of water on this three day trip. This trip includes transportation from near Birmingham, all diving, tank rentals and air fills, hotel accommodations and food and beverages on the boat.

 

 

                                                                                                                                                    Perfect old beer bottle

           Sandwich time between dives

May 29-31, Orange Beach Spearfishing
We have another spearfishing trip, this time to Orange Beach Alabama shooting off some of the many artificial reefs in the area. It includes the usual two days of offshore spearfishing off a private charter as well as two nights in a hotel. Also, during this time the Alabama Spearfishing Association is holding their 5th annual Red Neck Riviera Spearfishing Tournament. If anyone diving with us wants to participate they will be able to. Spearfishers that are diving from their own boat are also encouraged to sign up. Just go to www.alabamaspearfishing.com and print an application for this tournament. This is a monetary awarded tournament which means you might win money in addition to the fresh fish you will come home with. There will also be lots of prizes given away to participants at the awards ceremony on June 27. This is a six week contest from May 15 until June 27 and now is the time to enter.                                             Orange Beach Spearfishing

June 26-28 Shallow Water Wreck Diving, Panama City
This weekend trip we will be diving some of the shallow water wrecks off Panama City, FL. This is the next step for all of you newly certified divers that are ready to experience boat diving in the Gulf of Mexico. Also, you junior open water certified divers will be able to participate since we are limiting the depth on all of the dives both days. If you sign up for this trip and give us some notice, you can come to a CD slide show of the particular boating procedures of diving off this vessel.

 

 

 

                      Morrison Springs

Training

May 13th, 4PM Enriched Air Nitrox, at The SCUBA School

Have you ever dreamed of having longer no-decompression limits to take pictures or explore a wreck? Did you ever want to be safer while diving concerning the potential risk of decompression sickness?

Nitrox is the key. Due to the reduced fraction of nitrogen in your breathing gas, your body will have less work and the de saturation times will be reduced.

In your ENRICHED AIR NITROX program you will learn all the necessary rules for planning dives with Nitrox and using Nitrox in a safe way. An important key point in the entire program is analyzing your own tank prior to any Nitrox dive.

June 10,13 and 14th Stress and Rescue Course
Stress is a major contributor to rescue situations and diving accidents. Through this course you will learn accident prevention, as well as how to handle problem situations if they occur.

The program is about avoiding, recognizing and solving problems on the surface and under water. The course runs two - four days in which you will participate in academic and in-water sessions in the pool and in the open water. As a prerequisite for certification you will also earn CPR & First Aid certificate during this course.

DIVER STRESS & RESCUE SPECIALTY COURSE Content:

* What Is Stress?
* Stress In Diving:Causes And Prevention
* Detecting And Dealing With Stress
* Accident Management
* Skills Needed To Deal With Panic And Rescues
* Conditions That Complicate Rescues

Give us a call

Spencer Phillips
Southern Skin Divers Supply
4515 5th Avenue South
Birmingham, Al. 35222
205-595-3052
www.ssdsupply.com

~~~~~~~~~~~~~  

April 2, 2009

Hello Divers,

Well things at The SCUBA School are off to a fast start for spring having already certified a lot of divers. We are currently teaching five days a week getting ready to complete another group in the next three weeks. We have several group trips in the near future to let you know about and on a couple of them, we need to know right away if you are interested. Before we get into that, we need to give you an update on the Spring Break Cayman Islands Liveaboard that we just returned from. Every Spring Break, Southern Skin Divers Supply, takes a group trip somewhere in the Caribbean for a fun week of family diving. Spring Break is one of the few times of year that the entire family can dive together, especially if you have kids that like to go on dive trips with other kids. This trip ended up being the best Spring Break trip we have ever done.

 

After a 2 hour and 35 minute direct flight from Atlanta we were met at the airport in Grand Cayman by aOur Home representative of the Liveaboard that we were diving with to assist us with luggage and to transfer the group to the vessel. Once on board the group was introduced to the crew that would be taking care of us for the week followed shortly by some of the best barbeque I have ever had. This week we were blessed with excellent weather and diving conditions, enabling us to dive up to 5 dives per day on Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and over 15 dives on the world famous Bloody Bay Wall section of Little Cayman. The visibility was often 150 feet and with most of the dives starting in around 20 feet of water, it made for an easy week of stress free diving. The crew treated us spectacular taking care of every possible need instantly. All of the meals were superior and plentiful and even between dives there were freshly made snacks just to hold every one over until the next big meal. I can't say enough good things about the overall quality of this dive trip so instead I'll just let you know that we are already planning to do another one almost exactly like this one, next Spring Break, March 13-20/2010. If you are interested, please contact us for more details.

Here are some additional pictures from the trip.

Upcoming Trips -    (details on the Trips & Travel link)

April 17-19 South Carolina River Trip
This 3 day dive adventure is the fossilized shark teeth/artifact diving that we do every couple of months. Along with shark's teeth, usually we find Dugong and Whale bones and even land animals like Mammoth and Mastodons (Just like the ones we have on display at The SCUBA School). These historic rivers also contain other isolated finds like pottery and bottles and even the occasional Native American Indian artifact. Divers usually get 7 to 9 long dives in 20 to 40 ft of water on this three day trip. This trip includes transportation from near Birmingham, all diving, tank rentals and air fills, hotel accommodations and food and beverages on the boat.

April 24-26 Spearfishing in Panama City, FL
Grouper season just reopened on April 1st. The water is still going to be a little cool so they are in from deep water for now. Also it is usually clearer this time of year. Panama City has a lot of Red and Gag grouper in the 10 to 20 lbs range in 60 to 100 ft of water. As usual we will also try to get some Black Snappers, Triggerfish and Amberjacks. Spencer will also have a group of divers at the Springs and Jetties so we will try to all meet up at the Captain's Table restaurant in St Andrews for some of our fresh catch. There is a good selection of spearguns at The SCUBA School right now so if you need a new gun come see what we have. We also have some high quality gun bands and spear tips for your guns that you already have and have a new heavy duty polespear capable of handling big fish as well.

May 30-June 6, Cozumel Mexico
We have just set this trip up and have limited availability. If you have never experienced drift diving, you need to give Cozumel a try. Upon descent divers follow a guide along the reef allowing the current to carry you along effortlessly. The boat you dive from either follows the group's bubbles or the guides surface marker device attached to a reel. Upon surfacing the boat is there waiting on you so there is no long swim back to the boat. This trip includes RT airfare from Birmingham to Cozumel, oceanfront hotel accommodations (double occ), breakfast daily, taxes and airport transfers, and 5 days of 2 tank boat diving. The cost is $1275 per diver. We also have different prices for non divers, children 12 and under, and triple occupancy as well. This trip is soon so please give us a call if you want to go.

June 13-20/2009, Belize Liveaboard
The Belize Live-Aboard that we have booked for June 2009 is almost sold out. There are only two spaces still available. This is a very luxurious vessel almost exactly like the one we just returned from in the Caymans and we have booked the whole thing. We expect the same high quality vessel, diving crew and food and I am sure those of you that go, will not be disappointed. For those of you that haven't traveled on one of our Live-Aboard trips before, it includes: Up to five dives per day, deluxe suite accommodations with private bathrooms, food, snacks, beverages and local alcoholic drinks for adults, tanks, air fills and weights for diving.

June 26-28 Shallow Water Wreck Diving, Panama City.
This weekend trip we will be diving some of the shallow water wrecks off Panama City, FL. This is the next step for all of you newly certified divers that are ready to experience boat diving in the Gulf of Mexico. Also, you junior open water certified divers will be able to participate since we are limiting the depth on all of the dives both days. If you sign up for this trip and give us some notice, you can come to a CD slide show of the particular boating procedures of diving off this vessel.

April 8th, 4PM Enriched Air Nitrox, at The SCUBA School

Have you ever dreamed of having longer no-decompression limits to take pictures or explore a wreck? Did you ever want to be safer while diving concerning the potential risk of decompression sickness?

Nitrox is the key. Due to the reduced fraction of nitrogen in your breathing gas, your body will have less work and the de saturation times will be reduced.

In your ENRICHED AIR NITROX program you will learn all the necessary rules for planning dives with Nitrox and using Nitrox in a safe way. An important key point in the entire program is analyzing your own tank prior to any Nitrox dive.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~  

March 5, 2009
 

Hello Divers,

We have some good news to tell you about first thing in this newsletter. Morrison Springs near Ponce de Leon, Florida is now open for diving again. Southern Skin Divers took a group of almost two dozen divers to dive this opening weekend of the springs. This was the first big group of divers to dive there since the grand opening and Forrest and Spence were met at the gate by our original founder Bill "Cap'n SCUBA" Tant. Bill wanted to see the divers like so many thousands and thousands of divers he brought from Birmingham to dive Morrison Springs since he found it in the 1950's.

Bill was on hand for the ribbon cutting ceremony on Thursday Feb 26 signing autographs and doing interviews for television and newspapers. Diving conditions are pretty much the same once you are in the water. Changes topside include outside rinse station for gear and showers, restrooms, the covered pavilion has new picnic tables with charcoal grills, two floating platforms with ladders and a long wooden walkway extending into the water. No longer do divers and boaters have to squabble over the same area to enter the water. A boat launch has been built down river keeping boaters from launching and idling over divers heads.

 

March 11, 2009 Enriched Air Nitrox, at The SCUBA School

Have you ever dreamed of having longer no-decompression limits to take pictures or explore a wreck? Did you ever want to be safer while diving concerning the potential risk of decompression sickness?

Nitrox is the key. Due to the reduced fraction of nitrogen in your breathing gas, your body will have less work and the de saturation times will be reduced.

In your ENRICHED AIR NITROX program you will learn all the necessary rules for planning dives with Nitrox and using Nitrox in a safe way. An important key point in the entire program is analyzing your own tank prior to any Nitrox dive.

Upcoming Trips

March 21-22 shore and entry level boat diving, Panama City
Spencer will be taking another group on some shore diving and boat diving. This is a good trip for newer divers wanting more experience. We will be diving some of the shallow water inshore wrecks in Panama City. Also, if it has been a few months since you have been in the water or if you just have cabin fever, come go with us.

April 3-5 Spearfishing in Panama City, FL
Grouper season will open on April 1st so we are going the first weekend in April. The water is still going to be cool so they are in from deep water for now. Also it is usually clearer this time of year. Panama City has a lot of Red and Gag grouper in the 10 to 20 lbs range in 60 to 100 ft of water. As usual we will also try to get some Black Snappers, Triggerfish and Amberjacks. There is a good selection of spearguns at The SCUBA School right now so if you need a new gun come see what we have.

April 17-19 South Carolina River Trip
This 3 day dive adventure is the fossilized shark teeth/artifact diving that we do every couple of months. Along with shark's teeth, usually we find Dugong and Whale bones and even land animals like Mammoth and Mastodons (Just like the ones we have on display at The SCUBA School). These historic rivers also contain other isolated finds like pottery and bottles and even the occasional Native American Indian artifact. Divers usually get 7 to 9 long dives in 20 to 40 ft of water on this three day trip. This trip includes transportation from near Birmingham, all diving, tank rentals and air fills, hotel accommodations and food and beverages on the boat.


April 24-27, Oriskany, Orange Beach, AL

Southern Skin Divers Supply will be diving soon from one of the largest and fastest dive boats in the Panhandle area. We have chartered this boat along with its crew for the entire weekend. Saturday there will be two dives made on the USS Oriskany, the largest wreck ever sunk as an artificial reef in the world. On Sunday morning we will dive with the same group on two other dives in the area. This trip will be in the Gulf Shores/Orange Beach area. There are limited spaces available on this trip so call us for more details.

The Oriskany is the largest vessel ever sunk as an artificial reef in the world. She was put down in May 2006 and now rests in 212 ft of water approximately 23 miles offshore. The top of the tower starts at 68 ft and there is plenty to see above 100 ft, perfect for recreational diving. There are a couple of requirements that need to be met prior to this wreck dive so call us for more info. Passport diver price is $525 for wreck diver certification and processing fees, two nights in a hotel and two days of offshore wreck diving including one day on the Oriskany. If you don't want the certification, it is $450 for both days of diving and two nights in a hotel.

June 13-20/2009, Belize Liveaboard

The Belize Live-Aboard that we have booked for June 2009 is almost sold out. There are only two spaces still available. This is a very luxurious vessel and we have booked the whole thing. For those of you that haven't traveled on one of our Live-Aboard trips before, it includes: Up to five dives per day, deluxe suite accommodations with private bathrooms, food, snacks, beverages and local alcoholic drinks for adults, tanks, air fills and weights for diving.

Mark Tant is Officer of the Year

Mark Tant has grown up in the SCUBA business. He has been an instructor at one of the original SCUBA Schools in the country (Southern Skin Divers Supply, Birmingham, AL) and in over 29 years of teaching, has certified over 2000 divers. In 2008 Mark was recognized at DEMA as a Platinum Pro 5000 Instructor. And although Mark is a very accomplished diver and instructor, his full time career for the past 23 years has been a Police Officer with the City of Hoover, Alabama. Detective Tant is a Crime Scene Investigator and is the departments primary latent examiner and a member of the Police Department's Special Response Dive Team. For a few months he has been working with a new fingerprint technology that allows an examiner to do a fingerprint search in minutes that would have previously taken months or even years. Because of this, many cases have been solved recently for the City of Hoover as well as other surrounding areas. On February 19, 2009 Detective Mark Tant was recognized as the City of Hoover's Police Officer of the Year. Congratulations Mark!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~  

February 4, 2009

Hello Divers,

Before we let you know about some of the upcoming news here at The SCUBA School we want to thank the volunteers that helped us at the Birmingham Boat Show last week. Every year Southern Skin Divers Supply has a booth at the show and many volunteers have helped us get the word out about diving to future divers. While at the show this year we saw hundreds of former students proving that the Boat Show has been a valuable recruiting tool and we appreciate everyone that has helped us there.

And speaking of a recruiting tool, Southern Skin Divers Supply has had forty people this week participate in a free SCUBA Experience. Having instructors that work here five days a week, a pool on site and all of the required equipment, enables us to offer this service to people that want to try it first with no financial obligation. This is a great time of year to do this before we start training most of the day and have trips every weekend. If you know someone that is on the fence about diving, send them our way to try a free SCUBA Experience.

Upcoming Trips


April 24-26 - Oriskany Wreck Trip, Pensacola / Orange Beach

Southern Skin Divers Supply will be diving soon from one of the largest and fastest dive boats in the Panhandle area. We have chartered this boat along with its crew for the entire weekend. Saturday there will be two dives made on the USS Oriskany, the largest wreck ever sunk as an artificial reef in the world. On Sunday morning we will dive with the same group on two other dives in the area. This trip will be in the Gulf Shores/Orange Beach area. There are limited spaces available on this trip so call us for more details.

 

 

 

 


The Oriskany is the largest vessel ever sunk as an artificial reef in the world. She was put down in May 2006 and now rests in 212 ft of water approximately 23 miles offshore. The top of the tower starts at 68 ft and there is plenty to see above 100 ft, perfect for recreational diving. There are a couple of requirements that need to be met prior to this wreck dive so call us for more info. Passport diver price is $525 for wreck diver certification and processing fees, two nights in a hotel and two days of offshore wreck diving including one day on the Oriskany. If you don't want the certification, it is $450 for both days of diving and two nights in a hotel.

June 13th -20th 2009 - Belize Live-Aboard

We are down to four spaces left on the Belize Live-Aboard we are taking this Summer. This is a very luxurious vessel and we have booked the whole thing. For those of you that haven't traveled on one of our Live-Aboard trips before, it includes: Up to five dives per day, deluxe suite accommodations with private bathrooms, food, snacks, beverages and local alcoholic drinks for adults, tanks, air fills and weights for diving.

 

In late January, Forrest and Spencer took a group of divers spearfishing out of Panama City, FL. The seas were calm, it was warm outside and visibility was good to great on all dives. We were able to fill the cooler with Red Grouper, Gag Grouper, Black Snapper, Triggerfish and Lobsters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the sites we went to was a real shipwreck and a famous one at that, The Tarpon. I say real because most of the wrecks that people dive on in the Gulf are actually artificial reefs that were stripped and placed there for fishing and diving. The Tarpon went down in a storm in 1937 and since has been named a State of Florida Underwater Archeological Preserve, so no artifact collecting here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Southern Skin Divers Supply were the original divers to start the diving on The Tarpon in the 1950's with Bill Tant and to this day, the anchor is on display for all to see in St Andrews.

 

 

 

 

We are also doing an open water certification trip the last weekend of February to Panama City. Any of our members are welcome to tag along if you want to do some diving. The first day will be to the freshwater springs and on Sunday we will dive the jetties at St. Andrews park.

Come see us!

Southern Skin Divers Supply

~~~~~~~~~~~~~  

December 24, 2008

Hello Divers,

What a year 2008 has been. While skimming through my logbook and reading previous newsletters on our website, I am reflecting back to some of the adventures we at Southern Skin Divers Supply were able to experience with many hundreds of you. Some of you completed your first wreck dives in the Gulf Coast while others have been diving these same sites with us for many years. Many of you found some great relics, fossils, artifacts and gold and these vivid memories will last a lifetime. We did a lot of spearfishing this year, enjoying the best Red Snapper in the world right off our Gulf Coast. It was good to see so many familiar faces during the spearfishing tournaments and although we didn't always win the award, Southern Skin Divers never lose at having a good time.


We will hit the ground running in January with our first Gulf Coast trip of the year. After that we have already booked two liveaboards, one to the Cayman Islands and the other to Belize. We will more than likely have another land based trip to Bonaire or Hawaii in 2009 and are currently working on our super trip to Truk Lagoon to dive the greatest shipwrecks in the world in Spring 2010. Also, we will continue to offer trips three weekends a month to the Alabama Gulf Coast and the Florida Panhandle as well as our river trips in the South. We look forward to diving with you on these adventures again, but until then, all of us at Southern Skin Divers Supply wish you and your families a Merry Christmas and Happy 2009!

Southern Skin Divers Supply

~~~~~~~~~~~~~  

November 6, 2008

Hello Divers,

We have several specials going on at The SCUBA School on some new equipment as well as some trips to let you know about but first we need to let you know about the latest spearfishing tournament and news from the SCUBA trade show that we just returned from.

October Shootout Results

As many of you know several of our local spearfishermen participated on the October Shootout Spearfishing tournament. This 31 day contest was based out of Orange Beach, AL primarily diving on the Artificial Reef System. Of the 3000 miles of coastline in the Gulf, about 32 miles are in Alabama. It only takes a divers eyes to see why the best spearfishing and fishing (especially for Snapper) is here in our waters. We are proud to let you know that Rick Wyatt, a diver that we trained here 12 years ago, won first place in the Sheepshead division with one that weighed in at 10.55 lbs. Also, in the aggregate totals, Forrest Phillips of SSDS won sixth place.    

 

 

 

SCUBA Trade Show Awards
While at this years Diving Equipment and Marketing Association trade show (DEMA), in Las Vegas, members of Southern Skin Divers Supply were guests of honor, accepting awards for two of the highest honors in the Diving industry for education and contributions to diving.


Platinum Pro 5000 Instructor
The highest rating for a recreational SCUBA instructor is the SSI Platinum Pro 5000 Instructor. Of the four recipients of this years Instructor award in the United States, two of them work here at Southern Skin Divers Supply. Both Forrest Phillips and Mark Tant have been certified as high as Instructor Trainers with at least four worldwide recognized certification agencies. They have been teaching here at The SCUBA School for a combined 39 years, completing almost 6000 dives and certifying over 3000 students in that time. They also are both members of different local law enforcement dive teams.


Platinum Pro 5000 Diver
Oftentimes the divers are overshadowed by the instructors in the Dive Industry but this year it was a diver that was recognized for his contribution. Originally certified in 1965 on Oahu, Hawaii and lived and dived there 200 times in the next two years. After that, moved back to his hometown of Birmingham, AL and completed over 4000 dives in the next 40 years ranging locations from the rivers of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Virginia, the Gulf Coast of Florida and Alabama, many more dives off the Big Island of Hawaii, Truk Lagoon, Roatan, Cozumel, Belize, the U.S. and British Virgin Islands and the Florida Keys. For the past 16 years he has lived three months of the year camping outside Nome, Alaska. In this time he has completed over 1800 dives in the Bering Sea and various rivers searching for gold. Stephen D. Phillips is one of the owners of Southern Skin Divers Supply, one of the original and oldest SCUBA businesses in the United States. In the past 43 years of diving, Mr. Phillips, has recovered preserved and documented hundreds of thousands of artifacts, fossils and relics. He has unloaded and preserved over 2000 Civil War Cannonballs for museums such as the Atlanta History Center, Tannehill Historic Ironworks St Park and various individuals. His documentation and preservation has been used in over 20 Civil War Relic books. Steve has been the featured diver on multiple programs on The Outdoor Channel, mainly Prospecting America and Gold Fever, diving in Alaska for gold and South Carolina for fossils and artifacts. His most lasting contribution happened from 2003-2006 when Mr. Phillips fought an anti SCUBA diving law in the public waterways of Alabama. Because of his relentless determination, and the support of many divers, several Legislators and representatives, and the Governor himself, to this date there is no permit required for recreational diving in the public waterways of Alabama.

Equipment Specials
While at this years trade show we made a few deals on gear that is available at SSDS right now. We are very excited about a custom made dive light that we just received today. For years we have been using HID headlights for our darkwater artifact hunting. The only problem is they are very sensitive and break easily. Well now we have a brand new LED headlight. It is brighter, more durable, has a smaller and lighter battery, a longer burn time and quicker recharge time. Basically, just a better light. Come and get a darkwater diver one for Christmas.

We are having a special on the Suunto D4 dive computer. In addition to being a great air, Nitrox and freedive computer and also the size of a sport watch, now until Dec 31 it comes with a free download kit and logbook.

 

 

 

 

We are also selling the SeaLife DC 800 Pro camera kit that includes an 8 mp camera, a digital pro flash, flash link and soft travel case. There is a $100 discount on this package until the end of year.

Sooner or later, divers realize that adding an external flash produces the brightest, sharpest, most colorful underwater pictures. The DC800 Pro includes the camera and Digital Pro Flash in a soft travel case. Set the camera to Ext Flash Auto mode for automatic exposure control with the Digital Pro Flash, resulting in vibrant colors and reduced backscatter. The Ext Flash Manual mode offers advanced UW photographers manual aperture and shutter speed controls. Quick shutter response for fast action photography. Long lasting lithium battery for all day of diving. Automatic focus from 2" to infinity. Large format continuous video recording with sound. Depth tested to 200ft. Fully rubber armored for shock protection. 1-year warranty covers the underwater camera and flash accessory.

Upcoming Trips
Flounder Trip, Panama City - Nov 14-16, 2008
We have privately chartered one of the newest dive boats in the area for our annual Flounder trip. Last year we were able to take 180 fish in two days. This is the best time of year for Flounder. The Flounder are usually in the 30 to 50 ft range in the sand around structures. This is a great trip to learn to spear fish on. A speargun is not necessary, a pole spear and bag work best. We will take what we catch on Saturday to the Captain's Table restaurant for them to prepare it for us. We should all have plenty to carry home on Sunday. This trip is filling up fast.

South Carolina River trip - Nov. 21st - 23rd
This 3 day dive adventure is the fossilized shark teeth/artifact diving that we do every couple of months. Along with shark's teeth, usually we find Dugong and Whale bones and even land animals like Mammoth and Mastodons (Just like the ones we have on display at The SCUBA School). These historic rivers also contain other isolated finds like pottery and bottles and even the occasional Native American Indian artifact. Divers usually get 7 to 9 long dives in 20 to 40 ft of water on this three day trip. This trip includes transportation from near Birmingham, all diving, tank rentals and air fills, hotel accommodations and food and beverages on the boat.

Belize Live-Aboard - June 13th -20th 2009
The Belize Live-Aboard that we have booked for June 2009 is selling fast. There are currently 5 spaces still available. This is a very luxurious vessel and we have booked the whole thing. For those of you that haven't traveled on one of our Live-Aboard trips before, it includes: Up to five dives per day, deluxe suite accommodations with private bathrooms, food, snacks, beverages and local alcoholic drinks for adults, tanks, air fills and weights for diving.

Divers Down Flag Rules
Lately, we have heard of some confusion among folks on the requirements of a divers down flag. The size of a flag that is displayed on a vessel must be at least 20 by 24 inches. Dive flags carried on floats may be 12 by 12 inches. When displayed from a vessel, it must be raised above the highest point so the visibility is not obstructed in any direction. A diver must make a reasonable effort to remain within 300 feet of a flag in open water and 100 feet within rivers, inlets and navigation channels. Boat operators must make an effort to stay at least 300 feet away in open water and 100 feet in rivers, inlets and navigation channels. Boats that approach within these distances must slow to idle speed.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~  

October 13, 2008

Added some pics & note from Steve where he recently cleaned an artillery shell for the Alabama Historical Commission.    See it over HERE 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~  

October 9, 2008


Since the last newsletter we sent you in September a lot of diving related news has happened that we need to let you know about. Instructors Spencer Phillips and Mark Tant certified over two dozen Open Water divers during the month of September. These students spent four to six weeks training here at The SCUBA School with Spencer and Mark and then once their training was completed, they participated in a couple of weekend trips to Panama City, FL for their checkout dives. These Open Water divers are now prepared for some of the shallow water wreck and entry level boat diving that we are offering later in October and November.


We have also taken a few trips diving in the rivers in South Carolina for Fossils and Artifacts and still have at least one more to go. Many good items have been found by some of the newer dark water divers recently. For all of you that like to dive over there you will be happy to know that the State of South Carolina had it's first public alligator hunt in decades starting last month. Hunting for them had been banned in South Carolina since 1964 and now there are over 100,000 in South Carolina. Perhaps we will not see so many as big as the boat we are diving from in the near future.

Many of you know that the Headquarters for The Jefferson County Sheriff's Department Dive Team is here at Southern Skin Divers Supply. The Sheriff's Dive Team was asked to search for a missing boater in Lake Purdy in late September. Our team along with other Law Enforcement and volunteer dive teams searched a large area of the lake where a fisherman on shore believed the boater fell in. After nearly two days of searching, the body was recovered.

Also, The Alabama Spearfishing Association held the Orange Beach Spearfishing Tournament in September. As usual, the spearfishing team that Forrest and Spencer are members of, The Tourists, participated. The seas were rough both days making it very difficult to go out, limiting our diving to inshore sites. This turned out to favor The Tourists. Forrest took his largest Flounder ever winning 1st place and the Jackpot. Tourist member Joe Quattlebaum shot the 3rd place Snapper and since the top two contestants did not enter the Jackpot, he won that as well. It ended up paying him $188 per pound for Snapper, must be some kind of record. To read more about the Tourists spearfishing team go to www.tomh2o.com and to read and participate in the Spearfishing tournaments go to www.alabamaspearfishing.com

Here is a picture of Ivy Phillips with her daddy's tournament winning flounder.

Spearfishing, Orange Beach, AL Oct. 17-19, 2008
We have another spearfishing trip, this time to Orange Beach Alabama shooting off some of the many artificial reefs in the area. It includes the usual two days of offshore spearfishing off a private charter as well as two nights in a hotel. Also included is entrance fees in the October Shootout Spearfishing Tournament and a t-shirt. This is a monetary awarded tournament which means you might win money in addition to the fresh fish you will come home with. This is a 31 day contest and it is not too late to enter.

Panama City Shallow Water Wreck Diving, October24-26, 2008
This weekend trip we will be diving some of the shallow water wrecks off Panama City, FL. This is the next step for all of you newly certified divers that are ready to experience boat diving in the Gulf of Mexico. Also, you junior open water certified divers will be able to participate since we are limiting the depth on all of the dives both days. If you sign up for this trip and give us some notice, you can come to a CD slide show of the particular boating procedures of diving off this vessel.

Flounder Trip, Panama City Nov 14-16, 2008
We have privately chartered one of the newest dive boats in the area for our annual Flounder trip. Last year we were able to take 180 fish in two days. This is the best time of year for Flounder. The Flounder are usually in the 30 to 50 ft range in the sand around structures. This is a great trip to learn to spear fish on. A speargun is not necessary, a pole spear and bag work best. We will take what we catch on Saturday to the Captain's Table restaurant for them to prepare it for us. We should all have plenty to carry home on Sunday. This trip is filling up fast.

June 13th -20th 2009 - Belize Live-Aboard
The Belize Live-Aboard that we have booked for June 2009 is selling fast. There are currently 6 spaces still available. This is a very luxurious vessel and we have booked the whole thing. For those of you that haven't traveled on one of our Live-Aboard trips before, it includes: Up to five dives per day, deluxe suite accommodations with private bathrooms, food, snacks, beverages and local alcoholic drinks for adults, tanks, air fills and weights for diving.

We hope to see you on one of these upcoming trips.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~  

September 4, 2008

Hello Divers,

Since last month's newsletter the hurricanes have started to make their way through the Gulf, changing some of our plans for current diving. Hurricanes Gustav, combined with the threat of Hannah and now Ike have made us postpone the wreck trip we had for this weekend. Hopefully things will settle down and we can take advantage of good diving conditions in the Gulf during October and November. Until then, to keep us busy, we are working on training over thirty students for their Openwater Certification dives before the end of September.

Sad News
We have a sad update in this newsletter. Longtime Birmingham diver, Arnold (Arnie) Ripp passed away last month. Arnie learned to dive here at Southern Skin Divers Supply over 40 years ago and went on to own and operate Ripp Tide Dive Center for over 20 years. During that time he taught thousands of people in this area how to SCUBA Dive. Up until his death Arnie had a well earned reputation for being one of the best commercial divers anywhere and was also a superb spearfisherman. Arnie was also one of the few Alabama divers to be a recipient of the SCUBA Schools International Platinum Pro 5000 Diver Award. Arnie usually came by The SCUBA School a couple of times a month for the past 10 years and we always looked forward to seeing him. We will miss Arnie Ripp, a great diver and a great guy.

Morrison Springs Update

Bill Tant at Morrison Spring back in the day

Many of you have probably noticed that we haven't been diving at Morrison Springs in almost two years. That is because shortly after the State of Florida purchased the property, it was closed for construction and improvements. We hope that in the next few days we will be able to tell you that the Spring is again open and better than ever. For the time being all we can say is Morrison Springs is supposed to open again sometime in September. Southern Skin Divers Supply started the diving at Morrison Springs over 50 years ago and we have certainly missed it this past couple of years. I was on the phone with Bill Tant earlier today and he was telling me about how it was in the 50's and how Southern Skin Divers provided the first air compressor that pumped the first scuba tanks there in 1958 when J. A. Graves owned Morrison. Much more convenient than having to drive all the way to Panama City for an air fill.

 Mark Tant 11 years old inside the cavern

 

 

 

You can see some pictures of how Morrison Springs looks  today at this Walton County Florida site  <<==
 

 

 

 

September 10, 2008, at The SCUBA School - Enriched Air Nitrox
Have you ever dreamed of having longer no-decompression limits to take pictures or explore a wreck? Did you ever want to be safer while diving concerning the potential risk of decompression sickness?

Nitrox is the key. Due to the reduced fraction of nitrogen in your breathing gas, your body will have less work and the desaturation times will be reduced.

In your ENRICHED AIR NITROX program you will learn all the necessary rules for planning dives with Nitrox and using Nitrox in a safe way. An important key point in the entire program is analyzing your own tank prior to any Nitrox dive.


Spearfishing, Orange Beach, AL Oct. 3-5, 2008
We have another spearfishing trip, this time to Orange Beach Alabama shooting off some of the many artificial reefs in the area. It includes the usual two days of offshore spearfishing off a private charter as well as two nights in a hotel. Also included is entrance fees in the October Shootout Spearfishing Tournament and a t-shirt. This is a monetary awarded tournament which means you might win money in addition to the fresh fish you will come home with.

Panama City Shallow Water Wreck Diving, October24-26, 2008
This weekend trip we will be diving some of the shallow water wrecks off Panama City, FL. This is the next step for all of you newly certified divers that are ready to experience boat diving in the Gulf of Mexico. Also, you junior open water certified divers will be able to participate since we are limiting the depth on all of the dives both days. If you sign up for this trip and give us some notice, you can come to a CD slide show of the particular boating procedures of diving off this vessel.

June 13th -20th 2009 - Belize Live-Aboard
The Belize Live-Aboard that we have booked for June 2009 is selling fast. There are currently 6 spaces still available. This is a very luxurious vessel and we have booked the whole thing. For those of you that haven't traveled on one of our Live-Aboard trips before, it includes: Up to five dives per day, deluxe suite accommodations with private bathrooms, food, snacks, beverages and local alcoholic drinks for adults, tanks, air fills and weights for diving.


Forrest Phillips
Southern Skin Divers Supply

~~~~~~~~~~~~~    
July 24, 2008

Hello Divers,

It has been business as usual at The SCUBA School so far this summer with lots of training as well as trips almost every weekend. In the past year SSDS has taken over 70 divers to the shore diving Island of Bonaire in the southern Caribbean. In June, Mark and Spencer had twenty divers with them on this last trip. Follow this link to see some of Mark Tant's photos from Bonaire as well as some video footage from Rick Dennis.

Also in June, Forrest took a group on a private charter to dive the Oriskany. The Oriskany is the largest wreck in the world ever sunk as an artificial reef. Our group enjoyed diving off one of the largest and fastest dive boats in the Alabama and Florida Panhandle Gulf Coast. On that trip we also were able to dive a couple of other wrecks in the area. 

The Alabama Gulf Coast along with the Pensacola area has an abundance of sites to explore other than just a headliner site like The Oriskany. If you are into spearfishing, there is probably nowhere better to do it due to the abundance of artificial reefs put down. Some of these aren't the prettiest sites to dive on but they are great for underwater hunting. If you would prefer to see some of the wrecks, there are plenty in 80 to 100 ft of water, rather than having to go way offshore to do something deep like the Mighty "O". In July Forrest had a group spearfishing off the Alabama Gulf Coast enjoying ideal topside conditions. Many people do not believe that the Gulf is sometimes as flat as glass. Those of you that were with us last Sunday know that sometimes it can be. Also, most of you that have been spearing with Forrest believe he can only get Flounder. Occasionally he gets something else like this =====================>

Recently, SSDS returned from another shark tooth river diving trip. The shark's teeth are the reason divers go there but you can also find other fossils as well as man made artifacts. As usual, plenty of fossilized shark's teeth were recovered, but also some other items including a clay smoking pipe, Native American Indian arrowheads and spear points but the best find was part of a prehistoric Mastodon Tusk. It is the most desirable part of the tusk, including the tip.


Upcoming trips and Programs

September 5th -7th - Orange Beach, AL Wreck Diving
SSDS will once again have a private wreck diving charter on this 46 ft. custom Newton Dive Special. There will be plenty of room on this large diving vessel with us carrying only about half the amount of passengers it is rated for. This is not a spearfishing trip. If you want to take pictures or just do some recreational wreck diving in The Gulf, give us a call and sign up.

June 13th -20th 2009 - Belize Live-Aboard
I know it is early but the Belize Live-Aboard that we have booked for June 2009 is selling fast. This is a very luxurious vessel and we have booked the whole thing. For those of you that haven't traveled on one of our Live-Aboard trips before, it includes: Up to five dives per day, deluxe suite accommodations with private bathrooms, food, snacks, beverages and local alcoholic drinks for adults, tanks, air fills and weights for diving.

August 20th 2008, at The SCUBA School - Enriched Air Nitrox
Have you ever dreamed of having longer no-decompression limits to take pictures or explore a wreck? Did you ever want to be safer while diving concerning the potential risk of decompression sickness?

Nitrox is the key. Due to the reduced fraction of nitrogen in your breathing gas, your body will have less work and the desaturation times will be reduced.

In your ENRICHED AIR NITROX program you will learn all the necessary rules for planning dives with Nitrox and using Nitrox in a safe way. An important key point in the entire program is analyzing your own tank prior to any Nitrox dive.

The Cobra Computer Discount ends July 31/2008
$200 Instant Rebate on Cobra Computers

Keep up with the latest technology. Bring in your current dive computer to Southern Skin Divers Supply, your authorized Aqua Lung Retailer, whether it works or not, and receive an instant $200 rebate on a new Cobra computer. You can also sign up for an open water or specialty class including Enriched Air Nitrox and qualify to receive an instant $200 rebate.

Specific models eligible for $200 rebate are:
Cobra
Cobra w/ SK7 Compass
Cobra Pro Pack (incl. quick disconnect and compass)

*Offer valid from 5/1/08 through 7/31/08 at Southern Skin Divers Supply.

Cannot be combined with any other offer.

Come see us
Southern Skin Divers Supply

~~~~~~~~~~~~~    

June 16, 2008




 

 

 

 

 

 

Hello Divers,

If you have been by The SCUBA School lately then you know we have been training multiple classes daily for the past few months. Lots of students means lots of trips and many of our divers have already completed several dives this year with SSDS. Just last week another group of ours returned from Bonaire. In less than a year we have taken over 70 divers to this shore diving Island. Here are a few pictures from the last Bonaire trip, with many more HERE.





We have been taking groups on their checkout dives to the Florida Panhandle every four weeks as well as several shallow water wreck trips to Panama City, FL. Steve is currently camping on the coast of Nome, Alaska where he is every Summer. He will more than likely acquire another couple of hundred dives or so in the Bering Sea in his quest for gold. In the next few weeks we have three different types of dive trips you might want to participate in.
 


6/27-6/29 Oriskany Wreck Trip, Orange Beach
Southern Skin Divers Supply will be diving this weekend from one of the largest and fastest dive boats in the Panhandle area. We have chartered this boat along with its crew for the entire weekend privately. This is not a spearfishing trip! Leave your guns at home. Bring your camera instead. Saturday there will be two dives made on the USS Oriskany, the largest wreck ever sunk as an artificial reef in the world. It is getting more sea life on it every day. This wreck lies about 23 miles off the coast of Pensacola, FL. On Sunday morning we will dive with the same group on two other dives in the area. This trip will be in the Gulf Shores/Orange Beach area. There are limited spaces available on this trip so call us for more details.


7/11-7/13 South Carolina River trip

This 3 day dive adventure is the fossilized shark teeth/artifact diving that we do every couple of months. Along with shark's teeth, usually we find Dugong and Whale bones and even land animals like Mammoth and Mastodons (Just like the ones we have on display at The SCUBA School). These historic rivers also contain other isolated finds like pottery and bottles and even the occasional Native American Indian artifact. Divers usually get 7 to 9 long dives in 20 to 40 ft of water on this three day trip. This trip includes transportation from near Birmingham, all diving, tank rentals and air fills, hotel accommodations and food and beverages on the boat.

7/18-7/20 Orange Beach Spearfishing
Due to the thousands of sites along the Alabama Gulf Coast in the Artificial Reef Program, Orange Beach has some of the best Spearfishing anywhere. This time of year we will be hunting Grouper, Snapper, Flounder, Amberjack, Triggerfish and Cobia. Those of you spearfishermen that are considering a new gun should come by SSDS and check out some we have that have custom upgrades for Gulf Coast spearing. You are welcome to try them out in our onsite pool. For this trip we have chartered a 30 ft boat that is very fast and seaworthy. It works perfectly for spearfishing. It uses twin 4 stroke engines that don't have much exhaust. It is very quiet and gets us to the big fish in a hurry. This trip includes two nights hotel accommodations and two days of private charter spearfishing on some of our favorite sites.

Lets go diving

Forrest Phillips
Southern Skin Divers Supply

~~~~~~~~~~~~~  

April 21, 2008

Hello Divers,

We want to thank all of you divers that have been traveling with us recently. The best thing about the dive business is the people that we get to meet and know because of it. Over fifty divers have earned their certification with SSDS already this year. Twenty-six people traveled with us to the shore diving Island of Bonaire in March and another twenty will be there with us the first week of June. We have been to South Carolina once and will be there again with some of you at the end of this week. Multiple trips have been made to Panama City including last weekends group of thirty-two that participated in some shallow water wreck diving as well as diving at the Jetties and Springs. Each trip that we take usually caters to a particular type of diving. Some are for shallow water wrecks, some deeper water, others are spearfishing, photography, artifact hunting, tropical or some other unique objective. One thing that isn't unique is that all of you divers make it a pleasure for us at SSDS to go with you. People think we have the best job because we get to dive for a living. Not exactly. We have the best job because we get to dive with you for a living. Now that I have buttered you up, let me tell you about some of the upcoming adventures.

4/25-4/27 South Carolina River trip
This 3 day dive adventure is the fossilized shark teeth/artifact diving that we do every couple of months. Divers usually get 7 to 9 long dives in 20 to 40 ft of water on this three day trip. This trip includes transportation from near Birmingham, all diving, tank rentals and air fills, hotel accommodations and food and beverages on the boat.

5/2-5/4 Orange Beach Spearfishing
We will be spearfishing for two days on some of the same sites that we dive on in the Spearfishing tournaments we compete in. In years past we mainly did this in Panama City, FL but it seems like we are getting bigger and more fish off the Alabama Gulf Coast. This time of year we will be hunting Grouper, Cobia, Flounder, Black and Mangrove Snapper, Triggerfish and Amberjack. For this trip we have chartered a 30 ft boat that is very fast and seaworthy. It works perfectly for spearfishing. It uses twin 4 stroke engines that don't have much exhaust. It is very quiet and gets us to the big fish in a hurry. This trip includes two days of offshore spearfishing and two nights of hotel accommodations.

5/16-5/18 Panama City Shallow Water Wreck Diving
This weekend trip we will be diving some of the shallow water wrecks off Panama City, FL just like we did last weekend. Some of the group did see a huge sleeping Sea Turtle as well as a 300 lbs. Goliath Grouper. This is the next step for all of you newly certified divers that are ready to experience boat diving in the Gulf of Mexico. Also, you junior open water certified divers will be able to participate since we are limiting the depth on all of the dives both days. If you sign up for this trip and give us some notice, you can come to a CD slide show of the particular boating procedures of diving off this vessel.

6/27-6/29 Oriskany Wreck Trip, Orange Beach
Southern Skin Divers Supply will be diving this weekend from one of the largest and fastest dive boats in the Panhandle area. We have chartered this boat along with its crew for the entire weekend. Saturday there will be two dives made on the USS Oriskany, the largest wreck ever sunk as an artificial reef in the world. This wreck lies about 23 miles off the coast of Pensacola, FL. On Sunday morning we will dive with the same group on two other dives in the area. This trip will be in the Gulf Shores/Orange Beach area. There are limited spaces available on this trip so call us for more details.

Forrest Phillips
Southern Skin Divers Supply

~~~~~~~~~~~~~  

April 12, 2008
                                                                         Jefferson County Sheriff's Dive Team

Sheriff Mike Hale asked the dive team to make every effort to find the man who drowned this week on the Warrior River at Alliance near Birmingport. Spence and I dived about 12 hours total and were unsuccessful. We asked for and were offered much help from other area dive teams. Hoover sent their team to patrol the river and look for the body. The Smith Lake Task Force came from Walker County. The Smith Lake Team is wonderful. They have excellent equipment and are mostly volunteers who are ex-police and military.

Tommy Cagle with the Alabama Department of Conservation is the head of the Smith Lake team and rounds up the divers when needed and operates one of the boats. Tommy has been involved in over 300 drowning body recoveries. Two of their team volunteer divers have found over 70 bodies. I was able to learn from these people and I'm sure the Hoover Team did too.


They had a new piece of equipment that impressed me for this type of use. Side Scan Sonar. Three members of the Smith Lake Team searched together and found the body in about 1 hour. These are excellent divers and Sheriff Hale and the Jefferson County Dive Team thanks them for coming to our aid. I hope to be able to coordinate future cooperative efforts of area dive teams to help all of us be better.

Southern Skin Divers Supply is the headquarters for the Jefferson County Sheriff's Dive Team and we want more volunteers to help when needed. We need divers with much experience diving in black water and strong currents such as South Carolina fossil hunting divers. See Steve, Spence or Forrest to offer your aid to our area.


Steve Phillips
Southern Skin Divers Supply

~~~~~~~~~~~~~  

March 18, 2008

Hello Divers,

At The SCUBA School we have been teaching multiple classes daily as well as having a trip almost every weekend. As you read this, Forrest has 26 people with him doing some Caribbean shore diving on the Island of Bonaire. Just last weekend while on the South Carolina river trip we had some snow here in Birmingham. Forrest's six year old daughter, Emily (known for her sense of humor), left him a voice mail saying "Daddy, Daddy you're missing the snow. Mommy said she is going to get a husband that doesn't work every day. I love you. Bye." What a funny girl. This is one of the reasons that Southern Skin Divers Supply is now going to be closed on Mondays. The regular business hours are 9am until 6pm Tuesday through Friday and 9am until 4pm on Saturday. The SCUBA School will still offer some training after hours by appointment.

April 18-20, Panama City FL

This weekend trip we will be diving some of the shallow water wrecks off Panama City, FL. This is the next step for all of you newly certified divers that are ready to experience boat diving in the Gulf of Mexico. Also, you junior open water certified divers will be able to participate since we are limiting the depth on all of the dives both days. If you sign up for this trip and give us some notice, you can come to a CD slide show of the particular boating procedures of diving off this vessel.

Hoover Police Dept. SRT Dive Team


A couple of weeks ago, the City of Hoover's Dive Team was asked to locate and recover an automobile that was accidentally driven into a lake off of Hwy 280. The Dive Team located the car and marked it with a buoy in the evening. The plan was to raise the vehicle on Monday morning.

 

 

Over the weekend, another automobile was driven into the very same lake, so on Monday they had two vehicles to recover.

 No problem.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~  

Feb. 12, 2008

Hello Divers,

In January, training at The SCUBA School has been going very well. Almost every day we have one to three classes and a lot of previous students have been coming by practicing and checking their gear in the pool. It is a good idea to do that now before we kick into high gear with all of the trips that are coming up. Before we tell you about these trips we want to thank some of the volunteers that helped us in the boat show last week. Many of you know that every year Southern Skin Divers Supply has a booth at The Birmingham Boat Show recruiting business for The SCUBA School. Some of our divers volunteered their time helping promote SCUBA to potential students and even helped break down and load up the display booth during the Super Bowl. We appreciate the help of Austin Alexander, Chad and Brandi Baugher, and Barry and Theresa Bates.

Upcoming Trips

Feb 22-24, Panama City FL

So far we have a good group of divers ready to get wet on this first trip of the year. This weekend part of the group will be doing some shallow water boat diving while the rest of us are at the St. Andrews State Park for shore diving. If the weather allows, everyone will get to participate in dives at both sites. Several spaces on the boat portion of this trip are already spoken for so call or e-mail us if you want to go.

March 7-9 South Carolina River Diving

OK guys. Charge up your HID headlights and try to squeeze into that 8mm semi dry suit for this three day adventure once again. As usual, the main objective of the dives in this location, is to find fossils. Most of the ones found will be some type of prehistoric shark's teeth. Along with those, usually we find Dugong and Whale bones and even land animals like Mammoth and Mastadon (Just like the ones we have on display at The SCUBA School). These historic rivers also contain other isolated finds like pottery and bottles and even the occasional Native American Indian artifact. This trip includes transportation from near Birmingham, tank rentals and air fills, hotel accommodations, three days of diving from our boat and food and beverages on the boat.

April 4-6 Orange Beach Spearfishing

Due to the thousands of sites along the Alabama Gulf Coast in the Artificial Reef Program, Orange Beach has some of the best Spearfishing anywhere. This time of year we will be hunting Grouper, Black and Mangrove Snapper, Flounder, Amberjack, Triggerfish and Cobia. Those of you spearfishermen that are considering a new gun should come by SSDS and check out some we have that have custom upgrades for Gulf Coast spearing. This trip includes two nights hotel accommodations and two days of private charter spearfishing on some of our favorite sites.

 

 

May 31-June 7, Bonaire

We have 26 people traveling with us on the March trip to Bonaire and as of now there are 20 going on this one. Next week we will be closing it out so if you want to go, give us a call. The Island of Bonaire has perhaps the best shore diving in the Caribbean. No cattle boat diving here, in fact it is not necessary to even set foot on a boat unless you want to. The shore dives are clearly marked and with the unlimited diving package that we have, you may dive as frequently as you wish. Included in this package is round trip airfare on a direct flight from Atlanta to Bonaire, oceanfront condo accommodations, truck rental, breakfast daily, unlimited air diving and Nitrox diving if you are Nitrox certified.

Enriched Air Nitrox Classes

We are now offering the EAN classes again. A lot of you are signed up for trips where Nitrox will be advantageous. Some places it is not practical due to depth restrictions or cost. But, on the Bonaire packages that we sell at SSDS, unlimited Nitrox diving is included in the price of the trip. You might as well complete this certification before you go and take advantage of more diving and the other benefits of diving with Nitrox. Once you have earned this certification you will understand the benefits as well as the dangers of Nitrox.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~  

December 16, 2007

Christmas Specials


Hello Divers,

Many of you have been sending loved ones here recently for their SCUBA training. Also some of you are purchasing certification classes as Christmas gifts for others. We are very fortunate to be receiving this word of mouth business from our former students. Thank you all for referring friends and family members to us for their training!


Recently we have had a couple of trips to let you know   about. In late November, Forrest took a group of divers to some of the shallow water structure in Panama City, Florida. This was a spearfishing trip and is the best time of year for Flounder. Every year around this time we always carry a group of divers that are new to spearfishing on this trip so they can learn how to shoot fish. It couldn't have worked out any better. We were blessed with flat seas and clear water and most important, plenty of fish. In all, 140 fish were taken in the two days of diving. It really is fresh when you eat fish the evening that you catch it and it seems to taste better when you know you got it yourself.

 

 

We also just returned from another artifact and fossil trip diving off our boat in the Cooper River in South Carolina. Once again, we had excellent conditions as well. Even having good conditions it is important to have the right equipment and training. On these trips we are diving in strong currents with little or no visibility for one to two hours per tank. A thick hooded wetsuit and a HID headlight are a must. Also a handy screwdriver or rockhammer will help you to hold on and maneuver yourself. We did three days of diving and managed to find two very large gravel beds that produced plenty of fossilized shark's teeth. The highlight of the trip had to be when Spencer recovered an old ship's anchor.    

We are having a big sale at The SCUBA School right now until the end of the year. Every wetsuit in the building is 10% to 50% off including the new Aquaflex wetsuits by Aqua-Lung and the semi dry quad density suits by Xcel. If you or a loved one have been wanting one of these high performance suits, now is a good time to get one. For all of you relic hunters, every metal detector purchase comes with a free set of headphones and the Fisher CZ-70 Pro is also 30% off. This is a deep-seeking, target ID machine that is backed by Fisher's Lifetime Warranty. Spare Air kits are $30 off and Niterider HID headlights are 15% off as well.

Mark Tant is teaching a new Digital Underwater Photography course at SSDS. This course covers anything a new underwater photographer needs to know to take successful digital photos. It comes with a full color manual that covers, the effects of light underwater, photo equipment, photo basics, image composition and image processing. The information applies to all types and configurations of underwater photo equipment and also provides distinct information about the Sealife DC 600 elite system that we use at The SCUBA School. He also teaches a section on how to edit photos like the professionals do. Here is a link to some of the great pictures that Mark has taken.

Anyone wanting to go to Bonaire with us next year needs to let us know ASAP. There is one space available for the Spring Break trip (March 15-22/2008) and eight spaces available for the Summer trip (May 31-June 7/2008). Both of these trips include round trip airfare from Atlanta to Bonaire on a non stop flight, ocean front condo accommodations, breakfast daily, truck rental, and unlimited air and Nitrox diving. Details can be found on our trips link.


We wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your families.

Thank you again for your business this year.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~  

November 13, 2007


Hello Divers,

Before we let you know about some of the previous and upcoming trips and new equipment, we need to tell you all about the air compressor issue we have had recently. As some of you already know, for the past two weeks the compressor has not been operational. We apologize for this inconvenience. Several time consuming upgrades had to be performed on the compressor. Also we have now installed several safety features to the system to make it safer for those pumping air. In addition to that we have acquired several large storage banks that will enable us to pump even more air for when we are busier than normal. All of these updates were made easier by some good friends that have helped us during this time. They are: Greg Dill, Jimmy Eckroth, Bobby Denny, David Johnson, Clay Maddox, John Trott, Steve Parker and George Perez. Without these people we would still be working on our compressor. Thank you guys, we appreciate all of your help!

Spearfishing Panama City, FL. November 16-18/ 2007

This trip is mainly a Flounder trip. We may get a few Grouper and Triggerfish but primarily Flounder are in abundance right now. The diving this weekend will be on shallow water artificial reefs (barges and bridge rubble). Bring your fillet knives and fish cleaning gloves, last year we were able to get eighty in two days on this one. On Saturday evening we will take our fresh catch to The Captain's Table Restaurant in St. Andrews and have them prepare our fresh catch.

About 4 weeks ago members of our spearfishing team, The Tourists, participated in the Orange Beach Spearfishing Tournament. We were able to get in one good day of diving in the event. Several good sized Flounder and Red Snapper were taken including one that was 22.45 lbs. by Forrest. It was good enough for 2nd place in the tournament and since the guy that won 1st place didn't enter himself in the jackpot, Forrest claimed that as well. To read more about The Tourists spearfishing team go to www.tomh2o.com
Forrest Phillips, Joe Quattlebaum and Tommy Williams with some great fish.


South Carolina River diving November 30-December 2/2007

On our October trip here we started diving on a large and newly discovered (to us) fossil bed. Many fossilized shark's teeth were found as well as other fossils, bottles and other artifacts. We are heading back to dive on the same location. This will be our final trip of the year so if you have been thinking of going this will be your final opportunity until April 2008. This is a 3 day trip that includes transportation from near Birmingham, tank rentals and air fills, hotel accommodations, food and beverages on the boat and use of a personal locator device. Here are some pics from the last trip.
 

   




Tyler Willcutt and a great arrowhead and colonial pewter spoon. Spencer Phillips with a big Megalodon tooth and a 200-300 year old clay smoking pipe.
 

 

 

 

 

 

Rick Bearden and Julian Brook with a Colonial age spoon and some nice fossils.

Bonaire May 31- June 7/ 2008
We know that the Spring Break trip to Bonaire sold out faster than was anticipated so we have purchased another 20 spots for an early summer trip. The most popular package for this trip includes: Round trip airfare on a direct flight from Atlanta to Bonaire, truck rental with unlimited mileage, oceanfront condo accommodations, breakfast daily, unlimited air and Nitrox shore diving. Boat diving is available as well for those that want it. This package is $1695 each to the first 20 that sign up.

New Equipment
Southern Skin Divers Supply has a large selection of equipment in stock now for the upcoming holiday season. You winter time divers might be interested in a new Xcel semi dry wetsuit. These are the same wetsuits that you see Spencer and Steve wear when they dive for gold in the Bering Sea every summer in Nome Alaska. The water doesn't get that cold here but it does get into the low 60's and high 50's some. Also we have several boat coats in stock. A boat coat is a hooded fleece lined long coat that is wind and water proof. It is designed to wear on top of your wetsuit during your surface interval so you don't get cold and tired. Also we are now carrying Reactor Sport Watches. They are a heavy duty well built good looking dive watch. You really need to see these watches in person to see how nice they are.
 

Aqualung has come out with several new products that we have right now.

Take a quick look here:

                                                Fins    BCD's    Regulators

Come by The SCUBA School and let one of us show you some of this new gear.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~  

October 4, 2007

Hello Divers,
 
With the kids back in school and being in the middle of College Football season, things have slowed down considerably at The SCUBA School.  We are still teaching most days during the week as well as Saturdays being the most popular. 

The City of Hoover's Police Department Dive Team has been continuing their training and is now doing recovery work for other Police Departments in the area. Here are some pictures from one of their recent recoveries of a street sweeper in the Oxford area.

    

Here are the results from a recent spearfishing trip..............

Some of the best diving of the year can be right now until the end of November.  The Gulf is still warm but it is not too hot outside and the restaurants are not crowded anymore.  We have several trips over the next few weeks to let you know about, and you can read all about it here!

Southern Skin Divers Supply

~~~~~~~~~~~~~  

September 22, 2007

We've posted up some new Alaska pictures from Steve's latest trip here, and a new Recent Finds page showcasing all of the stuff we've rescued recently.

Keep watching!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~  

July 22,2007

Hello Divers,

Things have been full speed around the SCUBA School for the past few months. We have been doing lots of checkout dives, spearfishing trips and wreck dives off the Gulf Coast. Usually there is one or two Openwater classes every day at SSDS. We just wanted to let everyone know about some of the upcoming trips and the free alternate Air Source program that is about to expire.

Breathe Free Program
For all of you that are in the market for a new Regulator or Buoyancy Compensator, now is the time to get one. From now until July 31, 2007 if you purchase any regulator from SSDS you get a free Alternate Air Source. If you purchase a Buoyancy Compensator it comes with a free Air Source integrated in the power inflator. Both of these air sources come with a lifetime parts warranty when purchased from SSDS. If you are not sure which Regulator or Buoyancy Compensator that you want, you can have us put one together for you and you can try it in the pool at The SCUBA School to see if you like it. The Breathe Free Program does expire on July 31 so come see us soon to take advantage of this offer.

Spearfishing trip, July 27-29 Orange Beach, AL.
There are two spaces available for the spearfishing trip this upcoming weekend. This trip includes two days of offshore spearfishing and two nights in a hotel. We will be diving on many of the sites that The Tourists spearfishing team dives on when competing in the tournaments through the Alabama Spearfishing Association. These sites usually produce good Red Snapper, Flounder, Amberjack and Grouper. On Saturday we will take some of our fresh catch to a local restaurant and have them prepare it for us. If you are considering a new speargun, come by SSDS and check out the new ones that we are having customized for Gulf Coast conditions. There are several features that we have added to these and like everything else that we sell, you can try several in our pool before you purchase it.

Wreck Diving, August 17-19 Panama City, FL.
We have chartered a brand new 36 ft Newton dive boat along with the crew for an easy entry level wreck diving trip. Many Junior Openwater divers have recently been certified at SSDS and this will be a great trip for them to participate in. Junior Openwater divers have depth limit requirements and some times dive boats don't take you to a lot of shallow sites so it makes it difficult for kids to come along. This trip we will be diving at least four sites from 40 to 70 ft deep. If any of you adults want to dive with your kids in the Gulf, this is the trip to do it on. Space is limited so give us a call if you are interested.

Southern Skin Divers Supply
~~~~~~~~~~~~~  

June 17, 2007

Hello Divers,

We have had a very busy and exciting first half of the year at Southern Skin Divers Supply. Currently we are teaching multiple classes a day, six days a week at The SCUBA School. For the past few weeks we have had at least one trip every weekend. It is good to see so many of you out there diving. Just last weekend Spencer and 20 of our divers returned from a week long dive trip to the Island of Bonaire, in the southern Caribbean. It was a wonderful trip with a fantastic group of people. Over the next two months we have several other trips to let you know about.

July 6-8 Oriskany Wreck trip
Southern Skin Divers Supply will be diving this weekend from one of the largest and fastest dive boats in the Panhandle area. We have chartered this boat along with its crew for the entire weekend. Saturday there will be two dives made on the USS Oriskany, the largest wreck ever sunk as an artificial reef in the world. This wreck lies about 23 miles off the coast of Pensacola, FL. On Sunday morning we will dive with the same group on two other dives in the area. This trip will be in the Gulf Shores/Orange Beach area. There are limited spaces available on this trip so call us for more details.

July 12-14 South Carolina river trip
This 3 day dive adventure is the fossilized shark teeth/artifact diving that we do every couple of months. Divers usually get 7 to 9 long dives in 20 to 40 ft of water on this three day trip. This trip includes transportation from near Birmingham, all diving, tank rentals and air fills, hotel accommodations and food and beverages on the boat. To see pictures of what can be recovered on this trip click here: South Carolina

July 27-29 Spearfishing, Orange Beach, Alabama
We will be spearfishing for two days on some of the same sites that we dive on in the Spearfishing tournaments we compete in. In years past we mainly did this in Panama City, FL but it seems like we are getting bigger and more fish off the Alabama Gulf Coast. For this trip we have chartered a 30 ft boat that is very fast and seaworthy. It works perfectly for spearfishing. It uses twin 4 stroke engines that don't have much exhaust. It is very quiet and gets us to the big fish in a hurry. This trip includes two days of offshore spearfishing and two nights of hotel accommodations.

July 28-August 4, Cozumel, Mexico
One last vacation before the end of Summer. Most of the area schools start after the 4th of August so if you are wanting to take your kids diving this will be a good one to do it on. We have reserved round trip air from Atlanta to Cozumel on a nonstop flight! Also we will be staying at a nice oceanfront resort that we have stayed at many times and are diving with our old friends at Pepe SCUBA. Pepe's has three of the quickest boats on the Island and can get you to the best sites before the cattle boats arrive. I know this is a last minute notice but if you are interested in this trip we need to know as soon as you can let us.


Update - Redneck Riviera Spearfishing Tournament

As most of you know several members of Southern Skin Divers Supply compete in the Alabama Spearfishing Association's tournaments throughout the year. These tournaments are held along the Alabama Gulf Coast.The boat that we dive from is the Ashley Marie which is owned by our good friend Tommy Williams. Our team is named The Tourists and we are based out of Birmingham. This is a fitting name since the other teams are mainly from the Mobile, Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, and Pensacola areas. We can hold our own and compete but overall the local boys usually do a little better than we do.

On May 18-19 The Tourists competed in the Redneck Riviera Spearfishing Tournament. The seas were rough both days but we didn't let a little seasickness keep us from giving our best effort. The first day produced not much at all. A few fish were taken but nothing that was going to win anything at the awards ceremony. The good news for us was none of the other teams did very well the first day either, so it was still anybody's to win.

On the second day, from the beginning it was different. Early in the day, Joe Quattlebaum, had shot a good Red Snapper and was at the surface after his safety stop. We noticed he was holding his Snapper out of the water and waving us on the boat to come over. Then we saw a large predator circling Joe several times coming within 5 feet of him. At first we thought it was a Bull Shark trying to get his fish but it actually was a large Blue Marlin. No one on the boat had ever seen one while diving before. It is very uncommon for these fish to be so close to shore. We were so close to shore that we still had reception on our cell phones. Joe used his Cullman County Kung Fu and was able to make it onboard with his fish.

Every dive throughout the day, we were putting fish in the cooler, good fish. What a difference a day makes. Once we made it back to the weigh station, it felt good to actually have some contenders to weigh. While Joe was weighing some of his fish a couple of nice young guys with one of the local teams was poking fun at our expense. I think they had enjoyed a good day on the water and a good afternoon with a lot of cold beverages. They were reading the back of his Dive Team shirt with Birmingham, AL on it. Laughing, getting loud and having fun they said "what do y'all shoot in Birmingham? Bass?" and then "what kind of dive team y'all have in Birmingham?". I leaned over and said the kind that is about to pick up all of these trophies. Shortly after we were awarded 4 trophies along with monetary awards as well.

The best any of the other competing teams did was 2 trophies. Not bad for a bunch of Tourists.

                                            

 

Forrest Phillips

Southern Skin Divers Supply

~~~~~~~~~~~~~  

May 26th, 2007

Divers and friends,


The water is warm now and I've been wanting to go dive with my sons. We had to cancel the latest fossil hunting trip to Carolina because of storms. Spencer and I decided to do a little practicing on our metal locating skills for the Law Enforcement Dive Team. I figured that since we would be finding metal why not try to find some older metal mixed in with the standard garbage that covers the bottom of our rivers and streams. The inbred low-life people continue to pollute and trash our waters. Alabama has the best rivers in America but we also have some people who don't deserve to live here. They should live in a garbage dump or land fill. I take offense at litterers and consider their actions to be a form of assault to the beautiful Earth that we are lucky enough to be on. Enough of that. My boys get mad at me for getting on my high horse and saying what I think. Let me be clear that I speak for my self and if we have any inbred low-life litterers that are customers of Southern Skin Diver Supply will you please continue to come in our store and spend your money. There, that should keep the boys off of me.

Anyway, Spence and I picked up lots of new garbage and cans and were lucky or good enough to find a few relics from the War To Prevent Southern Independence. We found eight bullets and about twenty canister and case shot balls. We found a ramrod guide for an early musket and a Girardey fuse. The Girardey fuse was a great Confederate invention that was very simple and never was equaled by the Yankees during the war. If you want to read more about the Girardey fuse or anything about Civil War dug relics you can refer to the many books that have been written by the actual diggers in the field who have allowed authors to write down the knowledge that the diggers have learned and preserved. The diggers are the actual authors and the authors are the compilers of the information. The actual relic hunters or diggers rarely get credit for all they have done to save our lost history. Don't get me wrong some of the authors are the very best relic hunters and diggers.


The late Tom Dickey was the best relic hunter author I ever knew and I was fortunate enough to have him as my mentor learning about Artillery Projectile hunting and collecting. He was a high class old Southern Gentry gentleman who absolutely loved to relic hunt for the bombshells. His books are the standards used by all scholars, schools, museums, relic hunters or collectors who are interested in artillery projectiles or fuses from our War. Realize when I say Southern Gentry I am only talking to Southerners as people from other places don't have a clue as to what I am talking about. They don't get it and they never will. Too bad, their loss.

 

I will leave in a few days for my 15th annual summer adventure mining gold underwater in Alaska. I will be living in my tent and smelling the salt water spray for three months this year. My dear friends will meet up with me again and we will live the life that most will only dream about. I will miss my family very much but I will go anyway. If you want adventure in your life you must be willing to go when adventure calls. Spence will come for a couple weeks and my wife will come for about a week. It has taken me 15 years to get her to come up. The hard life and the outhouse are not her cup of tea. Maybe she will like it. I love the life.
 

What can I say except see you folks in the fall.
Steve Phillips
Southern Skin Divers Supply

~~~~~~~~~~~~~  

April 12, 2007

Hello Divers,

The first three months of 2007 at The SCUBA School have been extremely active. Over forty people have completed or are enrolled in classes at SSDS. We have already taken three group trips with our divers and have one almost every weekend for the next few months. Both of the law enforcement teams, The Hoover SRT Dive Team and the Jefferson County Sheriff's Dive Team, have training dives at least once a month. And we have some of the latest Aqua-Lung equipment in stock now at The SCUBA School.


A couple of weeks ago, Forrest and sixteen other divers were on a week long dive vacation to the Island of St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The people on this trip were several different families that travel and dive together with us one or two times a year. This was a great trip for these families. St. Croix is a fairly quiet island but great for this group. Since it is still in the United States, everyone you are in contact with speaks English, there is no language barrier or drastic cultural differences. Everything is priced at the U.S. dollar of course so for us, there is no currency conversion. It is one of the few places left where U.S. citizens are not required to have a passport to travel to. If you get used to driving on the left side of the road you will hardly notice any difference except you are in the Caribbean. Our group stayed at a very secluded condominium resort along the North Shore beach near Salt River where Christopher Columbus landed in 1493. Along the North Shore is some of the best diving and since the boat that we chartered for the entire week is there as well, the rides were usually 5 to 15 minutes to the dive sites. All of the restaurants that we went to treated our group very well, and as long as we let them know we were coming ahead of time, our entire group usually ate together. This isn't always easy in smaller local restaurants where only 2 or 3 people are working. The food everywhere was very good, especially at one of the smaller local restaurants. Our group had breakfast there every day and several lunches and dinners. It was located next door to the dive operator and the boat we used.

 

On the final day of our trip our group met for breakfast as usual. There was no diving for us since we were to be on a plane in a few hours. We could see another group as big as ours getting ready to board the dive boat and start listening to the dive briefing. One of the divemasters that had been with us all week saw us and came over to thank us for diving with them. He said "We are really going to miss you guys". We all told him thanks and that they did a great job and we appreciated everything. He then told us that the group boarding was the local Nature Conservancy group and that they were horrible in the water. When asked why he said that they are cheap and do not own their own equipment. They either rent or borrow a bunch of mixed brand poorly maintained life support. Not one of them wears a full length wetsuit, some of them have no suit at all. He said look at them, some of them are trembling and making themselves sick, and they should be. They don't know what they are doing. They insisted on an accelerated SCUBA course. A few of the agencies promote a real fast course to certify divers as cheap and quick as possible. These are primarily done through resort areas where the diving is easy and the instructor holds your hand the entire time, or by independent instructors with low standards and nothing to lose anyway. The divemaster again thanked Forrest for the way the kids were trained. He said he had never seen so many good little divers putting their life support together themselves, checking to make sure that their tanks wouldn't slip from their BC's. Usually he has to redo the assembly for the kids because the are used to having their parents doing it for them. All of those kids in addition to having a six week SCUBA course here also had a class on their specific computer they dive with and it shows, they know how to use them. The protocol for getting in the water, a giant stride off the boat while holding their mask and primary in place immediately surfacing and once making eye contact with the divemaster giving the overhead OK sign, was exactly what they had been trained to do during their program.

If you are interested in SCUBA for yourself or a loved one call around and ask questions. This is not a course you should take over the Internet or have a CD sent to you in the mail. If some low time instructor tells you that they will certify you in your pool in your backyard in two days, you will be certified but not a real diver. There is a difference. Take your SCUBA education serious and take it from a real SCUBA School, preferably ours. But if not from us, find out about the course. It should take at least four weeks. Ask if they have full time instructors. Do they sell top quality equipment and have in house certified technicians that can support this equipment? Do they have a reputation of not getting their customers hurt on checkout dives and group trips? Do you just want to get certified or do you want to be a real diver?

Breathe Free Program
From now until July 31 2007, anyone that purchases an Aqua-Lung regulator from SSDS not only gets a lifetime warranty on that regulator but a free Octopus with a lifetime warranty as well. If you purchase a Sea Quest BC also, you may choose to upgrade to an Air Source II Octopus on your power inflator. The season is just beginning and this program makes it a great time to upgrade your life support equipment.


New Equipment
SSDS is well stocked right now with the latest in SCUBA gear including the Sea Quest Pro QD I3 buoyancy compensator. It looks and feels similar to the Pro QD but the inflation system has changed. Instead of a standard power inflator hose, it has been replaced with a lever on the lower left side pocket. Lifting upward on the lever inflates the bc while pressing down opens all of the dump valves at the same time. No more having to decide which valve to reach for based on your orientation in the water.
Aqua-Lung's Kronos and Kronos Supreme regulators are available at SSDS right now. Both of these feature a side exhaust system that keeps your bubbles away from your face and out of your field of view. It also has a dual cam adjustment that has the venturi control and breathing resistance knob integrated into one controller simplifying adjusting the air flow for the diver. On the first stage an Auto Closure Device is standard keeping water and debris out of the first stage once it is removed from the cylinder. As with all of the regulators that we sell, it is compatible with Enriched Air Nitrox 40 or less right out of the box.
There is a very good selection of Spearfishing equipment in right now. In addition to JBL, SSDS also carries Ocean Rhino spearguns. We have had some upgrades done to these to improve accuracy and performance. To really see what we are talking about, you need to come by the SCUBA School and see for yourself. Our first spearfishing trip of the season is in about 3 weeks so come by and get your gun bands, spear tips, pole spears or any other accessories you will need.


Panama City Spearfishing May 4-6
It's now Snapper season. Let's all get our spearfishing licenses and head down to the coast for some good hunting and great food. This trip includes two days of offshore spearfishing and two nights in a hotel. The Captain's Table restaurant in St. Andrews always does a great job for our groups but they do an extra special job when they prepare the fish that we bring from our spearfishing excursions. Space is limited so call us if you want to participate in this adventure.

Southern Skin Divers Supply

~~~~~~~~~~~~~  

March 4, 2007

Hello Divers,

Things have been very busy the first couple of months of 2007 at The SCUBA School.  Two weeks ago we had our first Nitrox class of the year at SSDS.  This weekend Instructor Trainer, Mark Tant, is certifying a group of Open water students in the Panhandle of Florida.  In two weeks, seventeen of us are taking a trip to the Island of St Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands and our first Bonaire trip (June 2-9) is sold out. 

Monthly, we are taking groups of students on their checkout dives.  If any of our former students would like to tag along, you will be welcomed.  This is a great way to stay current and to meet new divers.  In addition to these, there are a couple of trips to tell you about.

 March 29-31 South Carolina River Trip.

This is a very diving intensive, fossil, shark teeth and artifact trip.  It is becoming very popular with some of our most experienced former students.  We will be exploring at least two rivers in South Carolina on this adventure.  The trip includes transportation from near Birmingham, hotel accommodations, three days of diving, food and beverages on the boat, tank rentals and air fills.  Call us if you are interested in going. 

 

 

 

Here is Spencer with some finds from our last South Carolina trip

April 20-22 Wreck Diver Certification and Trip, Pensacola

We will be offering a wreck diving class and certification.  Classroom training will be at The SCUBA School and at least four offshore wreck dives will be out of Pensacola.  Included in this trip will be two dives on the U.S.S. Oriskany aircraft carrier.  The Oriskany is the largest vessel ever sunk as an artificial reef in the world.  She was put down in May 2006 and now rests in 212 ft of water approximately 23 miles offshore. The top of the tower starts at 68 ft and there is plenty to see above 100 ft, perfect for recreational diving.  There are a couple of requirements that need to be met prior to this wreck dive so call us for more info.  Passport diver price is $525 for wreck diver certification and processing fees, two nights in a hotel and two days of offshore wreck diving including one day on the Oriskany.

I don't know about you guys, but baby Ivy said she is going scuba diving right after her nap.

Forrest Phillips
Southern Skin Divers Supply

~~~~~~~~~~~~~  

March 6, 2007

Important

Last week, Forrest and I were at the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources in a meeting about divers and divers rights in Alabama. While we were there we were given a new Alabama Marine information calendar and another publication that shows Alabama's artificial reefs with GPS coordinates. The calendar has a great deal of information that each of you can use. It includes license info, tide charts for the whole year, inshore fishing reefs, boat launch areas and pictures of fish with size and creel limits. What interests me most was the information about trash located under our state waters. The Conservation Department is thankfully very interested in stopping garbage and litter from being put in our state waters. Each lake now has organized public cleanups to pick up trash along the shores. What these people don't see is how bad the garbage is on the bottom. The only people who can see and clean up this mess is divers. We should all pick up as much trash as we can on each of our dives. The trash doesn't belong on the bottom and is dangerous to fish. Let's all do something for Alabama that only we can do. Each of you should get one of these great calendars and make sure the Alabama Department of Conservation knows that you exist. Some people that I have talked to lately say they never hear from divers. Divers need to be visible and let the Conservation Department know that you are a diver. To get a calendar call Robin at 334-242-3486 and ask her to send you a calendar. Make sure she knows that you are a diver or are a friend of divers. It is important that you do this now. We want to keep the friendly dive relations in Alabama that we now have and that were so hard to get. Please call and tell them who you are. I hope all the dive stores and instructors of Alabama will pass this request to all of Alabama's Diving Public.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~  

Feb 9th, 2007

Steve Phillips Visit to Archives

As most of you know that read our emails know, I am retired now and just hang around my farm and get bored. Forrest and Spence run the Scuba School now and do a great job. They do let me come in a couple times each week and buy my lunch. Thursday I couldn't get any of my relic hunting buddies to take off work and go relic hunting so I decided to go to Montgomery instead. I went to the Alabama Department of Archives and History. My reason for going was to research some potential relic hunting sites. Our Archives is a really nice and friendly facility. We have the oldest Archives in the U. S. This is a great place to research and learn about your families history. I will probably be spending a good bit of time there while the water is too cold to go diving. While I was using one of the computers at the Archives I searched for documents with the name Deason in them. My mothers maiden name was Deason. What popped up was some info on my Grandfather. I never knew my Grandfather since he died of TB 35 years before I was born. I do know much about him because my mother adored him and always talked about her daddy who died when she was about 5 or 6 years old. He was a gentle and religious man and a wonderful father. He was an able and ambitious man who started with nothing and by the time that his sickness started when he was about 37 he owned a large farm, a country store and a small newspaper. They lived in a small community located between Centerville and Tuscaloosa. This place is called Eoline and is even smaller now than it was 100 years ago.

My Grandfather was a small man in size but big in dreams. He was about the same size as my son Forrest and looked much like Forrest. He doted on his children much like Forrest dotes on his. My mother told me that each morning she would get up and while wearing her long nightgown she would walk into the store and get an apple out of the apple barrel. The store and house were together. After my Grandfather died life became much harder for my mother and for all of her family for most of her life, but that is another story and not the one to tell today.

Back at the Archives what popped up was a June 17, 1910 copy of the Eoline Messenger. This little newspaper has been in the Archives since 1913 but I had never seen it. It must be the only existing copy of my Granddaddy's newspaper. You can read this whole paper if you want to by going to this link.

What I found really interesting is the editorial that my Granddaddy wrote about how people need to buy locally. Even though this was written almost 100 years ago it is still timely and applies very much to our business. My sons always want me to write emails for our business. If I were to write about the problems caused by mail order or internet sales and how much these sale hurt local dive stores I would say just about what my Granddad did.

Please read these words written by Marion Huey Deason in the Eoline Messenger June 17th 1910.

Is It Profitable For The Consumer To Send Their Trade Away From Home?

It has become a very common practice with a great many of our people to send a large share of their trade off to some of those gigantic corporations, termed as Mail Order Houses. This we think is a sad mistake. The catalogue houses are certainly not in their business for their health; and they must cut in quality when they make prices that every dealer knows are too low for profit. The express agents, the railroad freight agents, and the post office department assert that many thousands of dollars are sent out of Bibb County every year to pay for all kinds of merchandise, bought from Chicago and other large cities, which are gradually but surely sucking the financial life blood out of the smaller towns of our home country.

Mail-order buying builds up the large cities at the expense of the smaller towns. Every dollar used in this way by a resident of this community takes a dollar out of circulation at home and puts it into circulation many miles distant. The dollar spent with your home grocer, dry goods dealer, hardware merchant, druggist or other businessman, up builds the community in which you live. These pay taxes to support the town, repair the streets, maintains the schools, build and sustain the churches.

Do the mail order houses ever subscribe to the building fund whenever a new church is to be built; or any public improvements to be made? If you were active in any good work for betterment of this community, who would you go to for financial aid, the local businessman or the mail order houses in distant cities? It is not the loss of the small profit that the local dealer should make on the dollars worth of goods that you buy from a catalogue house that hurts your community in which you live. It is the loss of the dollar to the community. No mail order house has ever helped to build a school house in your district. No mail order house has ever took you by the hand when you were in distress, and told you to let that little account go until harvest next year.

No mail order house has ever sold you a vehicle and spent every cent of its profits right in the community where you and your neighbors could get it all back again. No mail order house ever shoved its patent leather shoes under your table and rejoiced with you when you were glad, nor spoke encouraging words in affliction, nor stood with uncovered head beside the graves when your children died. When you send your money away you get nothing but the goods; spend it at home and it will come back to you in better towns, better stores, better schools, better churches and better social advantages.

True citizenship is not all in rally around the "star spangled banner" of our country and singing "Hail Columbia" The spirit of true patriotism is shown by the man who patronizes home industry first, last and all the time.

Marion Huey Deason

Thanks for reading my grandfather's words and for supporting your local Scuba Schools wherever you may live.

Steve Phillips
Southern Skin Divers Supply

~~~~~~~~~~~~~  

Jan 18th, 2007

Trips and New Classes

Hello Divers,

Happy New Year! We are sorry for the long delay between emails, but we have had a tremendous amount of activity at the Scuba School the past few weeks. Currently we have 18 open water candidates enrolled in scuba classes. We have also recently installed the Nitrox filling station at the Scuba School and are pumping Enriched Air Nitrox 32. There are also several new updates to the continuing education opportunities at SSDS. Many new teaching materials are now available at the Scuba School, including Stress and Rescue, Nitrox, Wreck diving and Boat diving. Our classroom has also been updated for comfort and quality of learning with these new products. If you are interested in one of these classes, give us a call.

SSDS is now teaching Enriched Air Nitrox. In this certification program, students will learn the benefits of Nitrox with either increased bottom time or the decreased risk of Decompression sickness when using recreational air dive tables. Students will also learn how to use their oxygen analyzers with Nitrox cylinders and use of Nitrox computers. Call SSDS for more details of this continuing education class.

Our new 80 cubic foot scuba tanks are on sale for the rest of the month. They are filled and ready to go for $170. There are only a few left so come and get them while you can.

Trips

The Spring Break trip to St. Croix, USVI is sold out but we still have spaces available for the June 2nd - 9th trip to Bonaire. It is selling fast so let us know if you are interested. This trip includes Roundtrip airfare from Atlanta to Bonaire, oceanfront condo accommodations with full kitchen and large living room, unlimited diving, four door pickup truck rental and breakfast everyday. The condos are walking distance to several restaurants, a grocery store, internet cafe and an ice cream parlor. Passport members get all of this for $1595. Non-diver price is $1455. Price above reflects cash, check or debit card payment. If paid with Visa or MasterCard please add 2%.

We are planning many trips for the upcoming dive season and hope to see you on some of these trips.

Forrest Phillips
Southern Skin Divers Supply

~~~~~~~~~~~~~  

Nov. 19th, 2006

Trip Update

 

Hello Divers,

 We have just returned from a very successful spearfishing trip out of Panama City, FL. In all 80 fish, mostly flounder were taken. This time of year can be a great time to catch flounder and grouper. Take a look at these pictures to see some of the fish.

 

 

 

 

Dec. 8-10 Spearfishing Panama City, FL. 

We are looking forward to one more spearfishing trip before it gets too cold. For $395 Passport Members get 2 days of offshore spearfishing and 2 nights in a hotel. Come by the Scuba School and look at the new wetsuits, semi-dry suits and boat coats that we have in inventory. These wetsuits keep you comfortable in cooler water and the boat coats are waterproof and keep the wind off of you and keep you warm between dives.

We've also got a couple of trips coming up later this month to the Oriskany and South Carolina relic diving. See the details below, and come with us!

If Jonathan had only read the sign.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~  

Oct. 30th, 2006

Hello Divers,

We have been on several trips the past few weeks and we have a few upcoming ones to let you know about.  Recently members of Southern Skin Divers Supply have been competing in spearfishing tournaments out of Orange Beach, AL.  On the most recent one, Forrest won third place in the Flounder category. 

The night prior to the previous tournament, two members of the spearfishing team, Tommy Williams and Joe Quattlebaum, bumped into two other divers that work as deckhands on fishing boats.  These two divers were going to be unable to compete in the tournament because they were going to work as deckhands the next day.  Then they went into this story about this big Red Snapper and they were the only ones that knew where he was.  After Joe and Tommy bought a couple of rounds of their drinks, the divers wrote down the GPS numbers on a cocktail napkin.  They felt that since they were unable to compete in the tournament, at least someone should get a shot at the Snapper.  They did however, suggest going to a hardware store and purchasing a shovel for this dive.  The two said you would need one to dig a hole under the structure to get to the fish.  A shovel was purchased and the dive was made. 

 

 

Just as they had said, the big Snapper was right where they said it would be and a shovel was necessary to get to the Snapper and get him out.  It took a shovel, two paralyzer pole spears, two spearguns, and Tommy and Joe but they did return from the shovel dive with the Snapper.  What a fun time!   

        

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

November 3-5 Spearfishing Panama City, FL.

This is the last spearfishing trip of the year.  It  also happens to be the best time of year to get Flounder.  For $395 Passport Members get two days of offshore spearfishing and two nights in a hotel.  We always look forward to taking our fresh catch to the Captain's Table restaurant in St. Andrews.  They have excellent homemade crab cakes that make great stuffing for fresh Flounder.

 November 24-26 Oriskany Aircraft Carrier Pensacola, FL.

The U.S.S. Oriskany was put down 24 miles offshore on May 17, 2006.  The Mighty O sank perfectly and is sitting upright on the sea floor.  This weekend package includes two nights of oceanfront condo accommodations and two days of offshore wreck diving including two dives on the Mighty O.  This will probably be our last opportunity of the year to do this trip so call the SCUBA School if you are interested. 

 November 24-26 Artifact and Fossil river trip, South Carolina

Primarily on this trip we are searching for fossilized Megalodon shark's teeth but we also find other fossils, Native American Indian artifacts, old bottles and pottery.  For $700 Passport Members get roundtrip transportation from near Birmingham to the rivers in South Carolina, three days of diving on the boat, use of a personal locator device, food and beverages on the boat, tank rentals and air fills, and hotel accommodations.  This is a dark and swift water type of diving.  Give us a call at the SCUBA School for more details.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~  

Oct. 11, 2006

Southern Skin Divers Supply is now the official Dive Team for the largest law enforcement agency in Alabama.  Sheriff Mike Hale of Jefferson County is our friend and we are proud to be volunteers and be able to help law enforcement agencies that can use our skills.  Southern will be purchasing additional equipment to help us locate metal objects such as automobiles that have washed away in strong current.  The Sheriff's Dive Team will be training in rivers throughout Alabama.  As new volunteers are needed, Southern will evaluate and train black water divers for the Sheriff's Dive Team.  The four primary divers on the Sheriff's Dive Team have well over 10,000 total dives and have been certified for over 100 years total time.  Forrest and Spencer Phillips are both Instructor Trainers.  Allen Scott is the main diver to look for bodies.  Steve Phillips has more experience in finding metal underwater than anyone in Alabama.  We will keep our divers posted on what the Sheriff's Dive Team is doing.

Here's a copy of the letter we received from Sheriff Hale. ==> Dive Team

Watch for our new Sheriff's Dive Team web page coming soon........

~~~~~~~~~~~~~  

Oct. 5, 2006

Southern Skin Divers has been very active this summer.  In addition to the many trips to the Gulf Coast, we are  diving in our rivers throughout the South.  As most of you divers know, Forrest, Spencer and Steve are always trying to find something underwater.  Fossils, gold, artifacts or relics will make our day.  A couple of weeks ago I found a real small whiskey jug while diving for Civil War relics.  The jug is not broken and is about 150 years old.  It is the first unbroken whiskey jug I have found.

Spencer could not stand to not find something better than me so last week he found a giant jug.  We think that this jug is about 300 years old and was used by slaves. 

 

 

We are trying to find out exactly what this jug is.  Whatever it is, we are thrilled to have it at the SCUBA School. If anyone knows any history on this jug we would love to hear it.

 
 We are now selling a new model underwater metal detector.  It is a deluxe model Tesoro Sand Shark that is custom modified for our heavy duty use in black water.  I am experienced with the quality of this machine and I really like the lifetime warranty.  Come by the SCUBA School and we will show you how it works. 
 
    

Most of you reading this know about the trouble that I had at Selma, Alabama.  Well, now that we have changed the dive regulations in Alabama so people can dive and find relics, the attitude of some of the Selma people has changed.  This week I went to the St. James Hotel in Selma to speak to the Kiwanis Club.  They had asked me to come and talk about Selma's Civil War history and the problems that the Alabama Historical Commission had caused SCUBA divers in Alabama.  I carried several display cases of relics that I have found in the Alabama River at Selma.  I also carried a large stack of reference books that these and other relics were used to make the books.  All of the people at the luncheon were friendly and eager to learn more about Selma and their history.  I enjoyed the opportunity to speak and show some of the good that relic hunters and divers have done for Selma.  I hope other groups in Selma will ask me to come and speak to them and show my relics.  I am trying to get several sections added to our web page that will show fossils, relics and artifacts that we and other divers and relic hunters find.  Our web page is the primary way for people to see what is going on at Southern Skin Divers Supply.  The web page has been incredibly important in our ability to contact people.  We now receive almost 200,000 hits per month on the web page.  That's really good for a site that is not trying to sell anything mail-order or over the Internet.  Most people go to our site to see the great underwater photos or to find out about diving rules.  Please set up our web page as one of your favorites and check it often.  www.ssdsupply.com

 
 Steve Phillips
Southern Skin Divers Supply
4515 5th Ave South
Birmingham, AL   35222
205-595-3052
www.ssdsupply.com

~~~~~~~~~~~~~  
September 5, 2006
Summer Diving Adventures of Steve and Spence

In years past I would put my dive journal from Alaska in our newsletter but I quit doing this a year or so ago. Now I write my journal for my granddaughter Emily and when she is an old lady she can make my journals available to new miners who want to know about Alaska dredging. I am enclosing a few pages of the journal for you to read if you find it of interest. I was in Alaska for 2 months this summer and Spence came up for 2 weeks. The weather was bad this year and I was only able to get in the water 16 days. Usually I can get in about half the days.
Here is a link to some of the pages from my journal and some of this years Alaska pictures ==>> LINK

 

 


Since coming home Spence and I went diving for relics from the War Between the States and have had some good luck. Spence found a real nice Yankee eagle breast plate and some bullets.


Last week I had a good dive day and found two artillery shells. These are the first shells I have found in 3 years. Now that we have friendly regulations many of the relic hunting divers are getting back in our state waters and saving some of the relics before they rust away. I hope you divers who read this are having good dives and that you are having many good adventures. We are going to be diving as much as possible for the next few months and finding relics, artifacts and fossils.

Trip Update

Sept. 8-10 USS Oriskany Pensacola, FL.
The Aircraft carrier USS Oriskany was put down on May 17, 2006 and SSDS is now diving the Mighty O. The Oriskany sank perfectly and is sitting upright on the sea floor. This weekend package includes 2 nights of oceanfront condo accommodations and 2 days of offshore wreck diving, including 2 dives on the Mighty O. This is definitely an advanced dive so call us at the Scuba School if you are interested in going.

Sept. 22-24 Fossil River trip, South Carolina.
This 3 day trip includes transportation from near Birmingham, hotel accommodations, tank rentals and air fills, food and beverages on the boat, use of a personal locator device and guides putting divers right on the spots where we think the teeth are. We do not guarantee that everyone will find fossils but we have been finding a lot of good fossils lately. The Passport Diver price is $700. Give us a call if you are interested.

Oct. 6-8 Advanced Class and Wreck Diving Trip Panama City, FL.
All of you recent students that are ready to do an advanced trip, this is it. The classroom session will be at the Scuba School. The topics covered will be boat diving, wreck diving, deep diving, underwater navigation, night diving and using a lift bag. The Passport Diver price is $495. This includes classroom training, 2 days of offshore wreck diving and 2 nights in a hotel and processing fees with a certification agency.

Oct. 27-29 Spearfishing Trip Panama City, FL.
This time of year the bigger fish come in closer and it is also the best time of the year to get flounder and it is still snapper season. We currently have a good selection of JBL spearguns and pole spears at the Scuba School. The Passport Diver price of $395 includes 2 days of offshore spearfishing and 2 nights in a hotel. As usual we will take our catch to the Captain's Table Restaurant in St. Andrews on Saturday night.

Let's go diving,
Spencer Phillips

~~~~~~~~~~~~~  

July 22, 2006

Trip Update

Hello Divers,

If you are in the market for a new regulator, there is still one week left on the free octopus promotion. >From now until July 31st if you purchase an Aqua-Lung regulator from Southern Skin Divers Supply you not only get a lifetime parts warranty but you also get a free octopus with a lifetime parts warranty. This is a great program but it is over as of Monday, July 31st so come by the SCUBA School soon if you need a new regulator.

Due to having three trips on the same day, SSDS will be closed on Saturday, July 29th. We hate to be closed on a Saturday in the middle of Summer but we will be open again on Monday, July 31st at 9:00am. Sorry for the inconvenience.

July 28-30 Spearfishing in Panama City, FL. There are two spaces available for next weekends spearfishing trip. The Passport Member price of $395 includes two days of offshore spearfishing and two nights of hotel accommodations. As usual, we will take our fresh catch to the Captain's Table restaurant in St. Andrews and have them prepare it for us. If you do not already own a speargun, you can come by SSDS and try the latest JBL spearguns in our pool as long as no one else is in the water.

October 28-November 6 Big Island Hawaii trip. By the end of July we are closing this trip out. If you are interested in this Hawaii trip, we need to hear from you now. The Big Island has it all. This 10 day trip includes round trip airfare from Birmingham to Kona, accommodations in a spacious condo, shore diving and boat diving including the World famous Manta Ray night dive, and a car with unlimited mileage. There is plenty for divers and non-divers to do alike. The Kona side, where we will be staying, has the best conditions for boat and shore diving. You can also drive to Volcano National Park and watch the lava flow into the ocean at night. A little further on is the town of Hilo. This is where the rainforests and waterfalls are. If you want to try something different, you can drive up to one of the 14,000 ft tall snow covered mountains. Once we close out this trip, we will be unable to get any other spaces. Passport Diver price is $2400.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~  

June 26, 2006

Hello Divers,

We have been busy at the Scuba School lately and have been on a lot of great trips. I had the opportunity to participate in the 31st Anniversary Alabama Open Spearfishing Rodeo. We had a great time and all of us got some pretty nice fish. The boat that we went out on was our good friend Tommy William's boat the Ashley Marie. Dan Plank who was one of the members of our team got a spectacular 112 pound Amberjack, which won that category and was the largest fish anyone speared for the entire tournament. Here is a pic of that monster.

 

Go here to see the rest of the pictures from this trip.
http://www.tomh2o.com/web/index.htm

We also recently did another one of our fossil hunting trips to South Carolina. This was another successful trip and everyone on the boat ended up with some great teeth. Here is a picture of some of the teeth that we got. The largest one is 5 and a half inches long. This would have come from a 55 - 60 foot prehistoric shark.

July 28-30th Spearfishing, Panama City, FL
We are going on another two day offshore spearfishing trip. This trip includes two nights in a hotel and two days of offshore spearfishing. The water is warm now and we have been seeing a lot of big fish. Lately the visibility has been incredible. We currently have a good selection of the latest JBL spearguns on the market at the SCUBA School. Passport member price is $395.

Here is a link to some pictures from this past weekend that shows the incredible visibility this time of year. www.johndwatson.com/PCDiveTrip/


August 4-6th South Carolina river adventure
There is still a spot available for the next fossil diving trip to South Carolina. We are finding a good bit of large prehistoric Megalodon teeth like in the photo's above. The water is very dark and the current is very strong but the fossils are a high quality and we are finding good spots lately. The passport member price of $700 includes transportation from near Birmingham, tank rentals and air fills, 3 days of diving, the use of a personal diver locator system, hotel accommodations and food and beverages on the boat.

Late October, Early November The Big Island, Hawaii
The Big Island has it all. This 9 day trip includes round trip airfare from Birmingham to Kona, accommodations in a spacious condo, shore diving and boat diving including the world famous Manta Ray night dive, and a car with unlimited mileage. There is plenty for divers and non divers to do alike. The Kona side, where we will be staying, has the best conditions for boat and shore diving. You also can drive to Volcano National Park and watch the lava flow into the ocean at night. A little further on is the town of Hilo. It is here where the rain forests and waterfalls are. If you want to try something different, you can drive up to one of the 14,000 ft tall snow covered mountains. We are currently taking deposits on this trip. The Passport member price is approximately $2400.

Spring 2007 Truk Lagoon, Micronesia
In Spring of 2007 we are taking a group to dive the greatest shipwrecks in the world. Look at our website at http://www.ssdsupply.com/images/Tant/index.html for photos from the last trip. We are going to do a 2 day extension to either Guam or Pohnapei on this adventure. This is a great opportunity to get over 30 dives on this live aboard trip. Now is the time to sign up for this 12 day trip.


Spencer Phillips
Southern Skin Divers Supply
4515 5th Ave. South
Birmingham, AL. 35222
205-595-3052

~~~~~~~~~~~~~  

May 21, 2006

Trip Update and New Products

Hello Divers,

We just wanted to let you know about some of the new equipment, programs and trips that we have at the Scuba School now and for the next few weeks.

New Equipment. We currently have in stock many Aqua-Lung Legend ACD regulators. The Legend ACD is a high performance regulator with an auto closure device. This device protects the first stage from water entry, preserves the regulator performance and allows you to rinse the regulator without a dust cap. Come by and check out these new regulators.

New Programs. Free Octopus Promotion. If you are in the market for a new Legend Regulator or any other Aqua-Lung Regulator, now is the time to get one. From now until July 31st if you purchase an Aqua-Lung Regulator from SSDS you not only get a lifetime parts warranty but you also get a free octopus!

New Trips.

June 15-17. South Carolina Trip.

Passport club members only. This is high risk diving. Do not consider this dive trip to be a routine recreational dive trip. This trip is only for the divers who want to be on the edge and want to find relics and fossils. We have heard of  at least two very experienced divers that have been killed in the last 3 years in the areas in which we dive. Hazards include no visibility, really strong currents, boats that ignore dive flags, shrimp boats pulling nets along the bottom, alligator and shark breeding grounds. These are only some of the hazards that we know of and there are more that we don't know about. This trip is only for a few experienced divers who want to be exposed to this type of high risk. The danger is similar to hang gliding, cave diving, sky diving or rock climbing. We don't want to encourage anyone to go on this trip but we also don't want to deny our club members the freedom to go where others have not been before. Passport Member price $700.

 

Julian, Jason and Forrest

June 23-25, Wreck Diving trip. Panama City, FL.

This trip includes 2 days of offshore wreck diving and 2 nights in a hotel.

Passport Member price $395. Passport Member price with Advanced certification $495. 

July 22-29, Cozumel, Mexico.

Southern is taking another week long dive trip to Cozumel. Cozumel is home to some of the best drift diving in the world. The Passport Member price of $1650 includes round trip airfare from Birmingham to Cozumel. Seven days of ocean front resort accommodations, 4 days of boat diving, shore diving, breakfast daily and roundtrip airport/hotel transfers. We need to know if you want to go on this trip as soon as possible.

October or November, Hawaii, The Big Island.

This trip will be similar to our last trip to Hawaii, which was 9 days and included roundtrip airfare from Birmingham to Kona, 4 days of two tank boat dives, unlimited shore diving, rental car with unlimited mileage and condo accommodations

Call us and let us know if you want to go on this trip.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~  

May 2, 2006

Dothan Indian Artifact Show

Steve and Spencer Phillips were asked to go to the Tri State Archaeological Society Artifact Show last Saturday in Dothan to explain the new underwater regulations in Alabama.  The show had many great displays and was very educational for the public.  Many of the collectors and divers had questions about what we can and cannot do in Alabama and we were happy to be of service to them.  It was nice to see how these people cherish and share their collections.  Several of these people have written excellent books about Indian artifacts.  These books are used by collectors, archaeologists, and museums to identify what an artifact is, how it was used, how old it is, and the area in which it was found.  Without the collectors and amateur archaeologists who do their work at no expense to the public, very little would be known about our ancestors.  Alabama has millions of these artifacts and we should be grateful to these people for saving some of our history before sites are lost to development.  Now that we have good regulations for divers in Alabama we hope our 100,000 Alabama divers will start exploring our waterways more.  Please keep us posted about what you are seeing and finding.  I hope that some diver will someday find the location where Desoto's forces fought Chief Tuskaloosa's people at the Battle of Mauvilla, also known as Maubila.  All the experts have had their opinions none of which are the same place.  Opinions are just opinions and mean nothing until some diver or relic hunter finds proof. 

           

                Tom Nutter, Steve and Spencer Phillips

Steve and SSDS were presented a lifetime membership into the Tri State Archaeological Society for our efforts in regaining our collecting and diving rights in Alabama. Steve will be going to Nome, Alaska June 1st for about three months diving for and mining gold in the Bering Sea. 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~  

April 13, 2006 - Press Release
  

 

 

Today Lee Sentell, who is the state tourism director for Alabama, came to Southern Skin Divers Supply in Birmingham to hold a press release about our new dive regulations. Senator Jack Biddle and Representative Jim McClendon who have been so helpful to divers and collectors also came to the press release. Fox 6 news in Birmingham interviewed all of us about the new regulations. Try to watch Fox 6 tonight to see it.

 

 

 

Left to right. Forrest Phillips, Senator Jack Biddle, Representative Jim McClendon, Spencer Phillips and Steve Phillips.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~  

April 12, 2006

Things are in full swing at the Scuba School. We are teaching several classes every day and we have already taken three group trips this year. Just last week one of the groups returned from the Big Island of Hawaii. Here are some pictures from the trip.

Can you see the frogfish? 

We are getting ready to close out several of the upcoming trips so if you are interested in some of these, call us and let us know.
 
April 21 - 23 Panama City, FL.
There are three spaces available on this wreck diving adventure. It includes two days of offshore wreck diving and two nights in a hotel. This is not the typical cattleboat diving. Everyone on the boat will be with our group. We buy the entire boat for both days so nobody is rushing the divers or trying to pack too many divers on the boat. The Passport Member price is $350.
 
May 19 - 21 Spear fishing. Panama City, FL.
This trip includes two days of offshore spear fishing and two nights in a hotel for $395 to Passport Members. This is a very enjoyable trip, especially if you like to eat fresh fish. On Saturday evening we will take some of our catch to the Captain's Table Restaurant in St. Andrews and have them prepare our catch. There is nothing like fresh seafood and the Captain's Table does a great job. We just received a shipment of the latest spear gun models available. Come by the Scuba School and check them out. You just might be interested in this type of diving.
                                                                                                            Waterfall at Waipio Valley  

~~~~~~~~~~~~~  

March 15, 2006

Steve says......

We don’t send newsletters as much by mail as we did in the past. Now that we have an excellent web page and can also send out emails, we find this to be much better and less expensive. This will probably be the only mailed newsletter that we will send out this year. Please let us know your email address, so that you can get timely notices of trips outings and Scuba School functions by Emailing us here ssdsupply@aol.com


My nephew, Barry Hocutt is our webmaster and totally maintains our web page and all the great pictures and info on the web page. Barry is a great relic hunter on land and water. He started relic hunting with me when he was 13. That was over 30 years ago. He is also an excellent diver with thousands of dives in clear water and black water. Barry’s wife Jana and sons Reade and Trace are good divers also. Most of our divers now have their family involved in diving. Things have changed a lot during my 40+ years of diving. It’s not so much a macho sport anymore. Diving can offer so many different places and types of diving now. Of course we still have the macho diving such as spearfishing or relic and artifact hunting in blackwater. These types of diving are some that we at the SCUBA School love to do. Now that we have new dive regulations in Alabama, we hope to train many more blackwater divers.

Speaking of training, Spencer has now joined Mark and Forrest as an instructor trainer. An instructor trainer is an instructor who can train and certify new dive instructors. The Scuba School is fortunate to have them as owners especially since, these instructors all have many thousands of dives in all types of waters and conditions. Our instructors are just like the children from Lake Woebegone that the guy from Prairie Home Companion talks about. They are above average.

Its too cold to go diving in Alabama now, so I am going relic hunting on land a couple times each week now. This is my way of trying to get in shape for my annual Alaska gold diving adventure. This will be my 14th summer in Nome,
Alaska. My trip this year will be for two and a half months or more, if I’m finding enough gold. I just turned 60 and my family bought me a birthday present. They actually like me and want me to be able to protect myself from Grizzly Bears in an emergency. My gift was a Smith and Wesson 50 caliber revolver. This is a hand cannon and is the most powerful handgun made. I don’t hunt anything, but gold in Alaska, but I do like to have the ability to protect myself if some bad bear wants to eat me or just chew me up for awhile. I will be dredging in the Bering Sea but I also have 4 inland claims now that I can go to when the seas are too rough to go out. I’m taking one of my Tesoro metal detectors to Alaska with me this year to find relics and gold nuggets. Southern also sells Tesoro and Fisher metal detectors. We can sell you one of these and teach you how to use it. We have low prices on our detectors and can offer as low of prices that can be found anywhere, including the internet. We train and support while the internet does neither.

My research assistant Ben and I have been studying the Topo maps to decide where to go relic hunting. Ben doesn’t use a metal detector but he is a good digger.   

New at the SCUBA School

Nitrox Certification Available Southern Skin Divers Supply is now offering Nitrox certification at the SCUBA School. Nitrox is a manipulated gas mixture where the Oxygen to Nitrogen ratio is altered. With the right training and equipment, a diver can enjoy increased bottom time and less surface interval time. Most of the regulators and computers that we sell at SSDS are already Nitrox ready so it is usually not necessary to purchase a second set of life support equipment. If you are interested in earning your Nitrox certification, call or e-mail us for more information.

Sealife DC 500 Digital Camera This 5.0 megapixel camera is the latest and greatest thing in underwater cameras. It was awarded one of the most amazing inventions of 2005 by Time Magazine. The camera will focus as close as 2.3 inches, eliminating the need for close-up or macro lenses. The package that we sell includes the camera and housing, a wide angle lens with lens dock, a digital strobe and a travel case to carry it in. The special sale price is $900 on this package. This is the lowest price available on this anywhere, and we will also include an underwater photography class with Mark Tant at no extra charge!

Other Brands Equipment Service Many of you have probably noticed that some of the other dive stores in the area have recently gone out of business. We know you have an investment in your life support equipment and will need support. We want to make sure that divers in our area are supported whether they bought equipment from us or not. At SSDS we have decided to offer repair service on most other brands of SCUBA life support equipment.

Passport Club Equipment Service If you are a Passport Club Member, now is a good time to have your life support equipment serviced, before we get too busy. Having your equipment serviced annually is how you maintain your lifetime parts warranty on your life support equipment. Your Passport Membership also gives you lifetime free use of the pool and discounted prices on trips that we offer.

Trips
Our first two group trips of the dive season, (Bonaire-March 18-25) and (Hawaii-March 26-April 4), are sold out. We do have several others with spaces available.

April 21-23 Panama City, FL. This wreck diving trip is $350 to Passport Members. It includes two days of offshore wreck diving and two nights in a hotel. (double occ.) SSDS will also be offering Advanced class and certification for those of you that haven’t yet taken this class. Topics include offshore wreck diving, night diving and underwater navigation. The total cost is $450 for everything including the advanced class and certification.

May 11-13 South Carolina River Trip. On the last trip to this area, one of the divers found the largest Fossilized Megalodon Tooth that any of us have ever found. We would love for that to happen again. This trip includes transportation from near Birmingham, boat, guide, three days of diving with food and beverages on the boat, two or three nights in a hotel and tank rentals and airfills for the dives. Passport Members get all of this for $650. Here is a picture from one of our last trips.
 

May 26-28 Panama City, FL. Spearfishing. The Passport Member price of $395 includes two days of offshore spearfishing and two nights in a hotel (double occ.). On Saturday we will take our fresh catch to the Captain’s Table Restaurant in St. Andrews. They always do a great job with the usual grouper, snapper, flounder and amberjack that we bring. Come by the SCUBA School and check out the JBL spearguns and pole spears that we have available.


October 2006 Hawaii, The Big Island. We are planning another trip to the big island of Hawaii for late October or early November. Hawaii has something to offer for everyone with the beautiful water, great diving with turtles, manta rays, sea shells, eels, rare fish some of which are only found in Hawaii. We even swam with a whale shark there once. There are also no hurricanes, no passports needed, no stomach problems, no bugs, two 14,000 ft. mountains, and an active volcano with lava flowing into the sea. Here is a link to some Hawaii pictures from previous trips: http://www.ssdsupply.com/hawaii.htm. This 10 day trip to the Kona coast includes RT airfare from Birmingham to Kona, 2 bedroom 2 bath condos, rental car or SUV with unlimited mileage, boat diving, including the famous Manta Ray night dive and unlimited shore diving.


March 2007 Truk Lagoon, Micronesia. Are you ready for the adventure of a lifetime? If so, in March 2007 you should take a trip with us to Truk Lagoon, Micronesia. Truk Lagoon is a tropical paradise located in the South Pacific, where in World War II the U.S. sank 68 Japanese ships and over 300 planes. This trip will be about 11 or 12 days with about 9 days of diving and includes roundtrip airfare from Birmingham to Truk, a stay on the best liveaboard in Truk and all the diving you could ever want. You can easily get 5 dives everyday you dive. This trip offers the best wreck diving in the world. Take a look at our past Truk trip photos on our web site. We have many years experience escorting divers to the worlds best shipwreck diving in Truk. Here is a picture from our last trip to Truk.

 


USS Oriskany update: The Environmental Protection Agency has cleared the Navy to sink the aircraft carrier USS Oriskany off Pensacola in May. This is the final hurdle needed before returning the famed Korean and Vietnam War carrier from a shipyard in Beaumont, Texas to Pensacola. The final resting place for the 888 ft. carrier will be 22.5 miles south of Pensacola. Shortly after being sunk, this will become a major diving attraction and SSDS will be taking many trips there. Once it is down, the Oriskany will be the largest ship ever sunk on purpose for an artificial reef.

Tannehill State Park near McCalla has redone their museum and it is really nice and interesting. We suggest that you take your family and visit this park and museum. They have 1,500 acres with many sights to see. Their new restaurant is now open with good food. Many of our relics from The War Between The States are on display in their museum. We think Tannehill is the best park and museum in Alabama at this time. Check out their webpage: http://www.tannehill.org/museum.html

~~~~~~~~~~~~~  

February 11, 2006

Trip Update and New Equipment

Hello Divers,

Here at the Scuba School we are getting ready for the upcoming dive season. Both of our March trips to the Big island of Hawaii and Bonaire are sold out. We have another group trip to Bonaire this June 10th -17th. The Passport member price of $2100 includes a Nitrox class and certification at the Scuba School, roundtrip airfare from Atlanta to Bonaire, oceanfront condo accommodations, breakfast daily, truck rental and unlimited Nitrox diving.

For those of you interested, Nitrox is a manipulated gas mixture where the normal nitrogen to oxygen ratio is altered. With the right training, equipment, and air consumption divers can enjoy prolonged dives, less decompression time and shorter surface intervals. Most of the life support equipment that we sell is already Nitrox compatible so there is no need to purchase a second set of life support equipment to enjoy the benefits of Nitrox.

We have many new products at the store that you should come by and see. Here are a few of them:

Suunto Gekko Dive Computer This is an affordable air/nitrox dive computer that features a phosphorescent display for low light conditions. It also has a user replaceable battery, audible alarms and a user friendly simplified menu.

Aqualung Malibu BC Aqualung has updated this BC (buoyancy compensator) to make it more travel friendly. It now has an integrated mesh bag for easy storage and packing. It also features grommet holes for mounting a knife and metal D-rings.

Aqua-flex Wetsuits These new wetsuits are made of 250% four-way stretch neoprene. They also have pre-bent legs making the Aqua-flex wetsuit the most comfortable full suit on the market today.

Aqualung Destination Deluxe Wheeled Bag This bag is for all of you families that dive together. It will hold 2 complete sets of Scuba equipment for airline travel. This bag comes with the manufacturers lifetime warranty.

Sealife DC500 Digital Camera This 5.0 megapixel camera will focus to 2.3 inches, eliminating the need for close up or macro lenses. This camera was voted one of the 20 best inventions of 2005 by Time magazine.

Come by the Scuba School and check out these new products.

Forrest Phillips
Southern Skin Divers Supply
4515 5th Ave. South
Birmingham, AL. 35222
205-595-3052

~~~~~~~~~~~~~  

February 1, 2006

We have a group trip to Bonaire this March 18 - 25th. This is Spring Break for most of the area school systems, so if any of you want to take your family, this is the trip. The Passport Diver price of $2100 includes roundtrip airfare from Atlanta to Bonaire, 7 nights accommodations (quad occ.) in a waterfront 2 bedroom / 2 bathroom condo, Breakfast daily, rental vehicle for 7 days and unlimited shore diving (weights, belts and tanks included).

Each condo features a comfortable living area with cable tv, fully equipped kitchen with breakfast bar and dining area, air-conditioned bedrooms with private bathrooms. There are very few spots available and they are going fast. Call us at the Scuba School if you want to go.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~  

January 30, 2006

New History found by Relic Hunters.

There you go.  For a change lets give credit where credit is due.  I've been trying to go relic hunting on land a couple of times each week so I'll get enough exercise and not be in bad shape when I go to Alaska this Summer to mine gold.  Friday, my old friend Robert McDaniel and I went relic hunting in Mississippi.  We have been looking for some unknown sites in that area.  We were given permission to look on some land that hasn't been built on or otherwise lost.  Many of the places where we found relics 30 years ago are now subdivisions or shopping centers.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not opposed to developing property.  I just know that we should find relics and record all the history that we can before a place is gone.  I notice now when I find iron relics that they are in much worse condition than the same type relics were when I started relic hunting.  Brass and lead also deteriorate due to chemicals and fertilizer in the soil and water but iron is rusting away fast.  Many items that could be found and saved now will not be anything but rust colored ground in another 30 years. The tens of thousands of relic hunters, artifact hunters and collectors are the primary people who save and care for the physical remains from these lost historical places.  We pay for our own gas, expenses and equipment.  We don't ask for any government grants.  We don't get paid wages to pursue our worthy hobby.  We are the people who write the reference books used by schools, museums, collectors and the public.  We are the folks who gave or lent almost all of the historical relics that are in museums.  We are the guys and gals that go to the schools and talk and display history to your kids.  We don't get paid for our efforts and that is just fine with us.  The research and thrill of the hunt is what we like.  Just like with a bass fisherman, it's not about the fish.  It's about catching the fish.  With us, it's about finding the relics and the history.  We are the good guys.  Recorded history benefits from our efforts.

Now on with my story.  Robert and I are just plain old relic hunters.  Old is the key word.  We are amateur relic hunters and amateur archaeologists.  What amateur means is that we don't get paid.  It means we do what we do for love, not money.  Between the two of us, we have seventy years of experience in finding, saving and preserving relics from the War Between the States. 

We found a small area that had the routine busted iron pieces that probably came from stoves and cooking pans.  Robert kept hunting in the junkie area and found a 24 lb. solid cannonball.  Robert is one of the best relic hunters anywhere but he has only found two whole cannonballs.  He looks for lead and brass.  I look for cannonballs and have found about 500 on land and underwater.  I have only found 20 belt buckles while Robert has found over 100.  Robert has found about 50 Confederate belt buckles.  He also finds lots of buttons while I rarely find any buttons. 

We hunted this area and I found a 24 lb. canister plate.  These two items for the same cannon pretty much means there was a 24 lb. cannon there.  Robert found an adjuster buckle from a Confederate sword belt.  He also found a broken piece of a CS Tongue and Wreath buckle.  We found three entrenching tools and an ax.  Robert says the ax was a US issue, so we can assume that it was confiscated from the invaders.  This was a Confederate place, no Yankees allowed.  We found several more items before we tired out.  Hopefully we will find more relics and be able to learn more about the soldiers that were there.  This is not a very big area and not terribly important to the grand scheme of things.  It is a place that had not been written about and no other relic hunters have been there before us.  We found it.  We have found many great places over the years and each time we do we add to the known history of the War Between the States.  We are the good guys just like almost all of the relic hunters and collectors are.  We are not looters, scavengers, plunderers or any other derogatory word that the jealous professionals like to call us.  We are the good guys.

Wednesday, Feb 1st the quarterly meeting of the Alabama Historical Commission will be in the auditorium of our State Capitol.  The public meeting starts at 1:30 pm.  Several interesting subjects will be discussed and voted on by the AHC directors.  You can't vote but you can say what you think.  Some of the directors will probably get up and walk out before the first public citizen is allowed to speak.  Others will stay and at least listen.  Possibly we can influence what happens at the AHC.  Not all of the directors are bad, some are very good but they are outnumbered by directors with conflicting interests, politically correct agendas and those who just couldn't care less.  I am very worried about the new regulations concerning the Alabama Underwater Cultural Resources Act.  At the November meeting, new regulations that are much more friendly worded were proposed to the public by the AHC.  Public comments were accepted until Dec. 9th.  Many excellent comments were received in overwhelming support of public access to our waters by divers and relic hunters.  We approved of the new regulations.  Now I am being told that there may be further delays on the new regulations.  I fear any further delay can be a disaster such as the constant delays concerning the Wheeler House.  Alabama’s dive industry and divers have been trying since 1999 to fix these terrible regulations that we now have.  During the last few months at least three more scuba training businesses have been forced to go out of business in Alabama.  Southeastern Divers in Florence had been in business about thirty years at that location.  The Dive Site in Hoover had been in business about twenty-five years and had been the largest dive store in Alabama.  I'm not saying that the AHC regulations put the businesses out of business but they helped.  We now have the worst diving regulations in the country.  If other dive stores continue to close down, where will divers go to fill their scuba tanks?  Where will our citizens learn to scuba dive?  Are Alabama citizens going to be held back from what the rest of the world can do?  The AHC can give us the new regulations that they proposed, NOW.  We can't wait.  Please come to this meeting next Wednesday. 

Steve Phillips

Southern Skin Divers Supply

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~  

January 25, 2006

Alabama Historical Commission Quarterly Meeting

Next Wednesday, February 1st, the Alabama Historical Commission (AHC) will be having a very important meeting. At this meeting one of the subjects will be the new regulations concerning diving and collecting in Alabama waters. Last November the AHC proposed new diving regulations and I told them that I can support the new regulations. Some of the professional archaeologists of Alabama are opposing the new regulations. What the new regulations will do if accepted is allow diving in our waters without a permit and allow regular people to find and keep finds that are not part of a cultural resource. In short the regulations will allow the law to do what the legislators wanted it to do in the first place. Permits will be required to find relics that are on or part of a cultural resource as defined by the law. What I am worried about is the professional archaeologists who have financial interests in preventing the public from diving in our rivers. I think some of these people will be at the meeting in Montgomery next week.

The divers, collectors, authors and historians also need to attend this meeting and make sure the public is represented. I also hope that some of our legislators will come to the meeting. They are in Montgomery now and should come and see for themselves what happens at one of these meetings. I ask that divers throughout our state try to be at this meeting. The meeting will be in the State Capitol Auditorium, 600 Dexter Avenue in Montgomery. They are having committee meetings February 1st at 8:30 AM and the full committee meeting will begin at 1:30 PM. The afternoon meeting is the one that the public is supposed to be allowed to speak. I hope to see you at this important meeting.

Steve Phillips

Southern Skin Divers Supply

~~~~~~~~~~~~~  

January 17, 2006

Well, its too cold here to go diving and I've been trying to get some exercise before I go to Alaska again this summer to find Gold in Nome. Instead of diving I've been doing a lot of Civil War relic hunting on land. I have been using a new metal detector that we sell at the Scuba School. The new metal detectors are much lighter and go deeper than the old ones so you can go to sites that were hunted out years ago and still find good relics. This week I went with my old digging partner, Bud Richards, to a Nathan Bedford Forrest site on private property that I haven't been to in 30 years. We found 7 bullets, 4 horseshoes, an ax head and what I thought was a Civil War coin dated 1863. I looked at the coin 5 times and kept reading 1863, but when I let Bud see it he said it was a 1908 nickel, I wish he hadn't changed the date on it. Come by the Scuba School and we'll give you a demo of some of these new detectors.

 

Spence and I also went arrowhead hunting this week on one of our favorite land sites and found a few things. We found a few arrowheads, a broken gorget and a fossil of a chambered nautilus. Here are the pictures of the stuff we found.

This week we also have a meeting in Montgomery with the Alabama Historical Commission, AHC, concerning the proposed new regulations for scuba diving in Alabama. Hopefully the new regulations will be something we can live with and that they will be in effect by the time it warms up enough to go diving.

Our Hawaii trip for this March is sold out. We have 17 people going on this wonderful trip to the Big Island.

We are currently planning our trips for the next year and we want your input. If there is some place you have in mind that you want to go just let us know and maybe we can set up a group trip there.

Things are a little slower this time of year at the Scuba School so it is a great time to have your required annual Passport service on your BC and Regulator. Your annual service maintains your Passport Club membership which gives you discounts on trips, free use of our pool and your lifetime parts warranty on your life support equipment.

Come by the store and see the new 5.0 megapixel digital camera that we sell. This camera was voted one of the 20 best inventions of 2005 in Time Magazine. The package that we have includes a digital external strobe, wide angle lens and a soft carrying case. We have this package on sale at the lowest price available anywhere and we include support and training at no additional cost. Come check it out.

Our divers who haven't been diving in a while should come get in our pool to stay current with their dive gear. We want you to use your pool. Air tanks are free just bring your gear.

Lets go diving,

Steve Phillips

Southern Skin Divers Supply

~~~~~~~~~~~~~  

December 9, 2005

Steve Phillips Trial Victory and Loss

December 9, 2005

I want to try and explain what went on in Selma, Alabama this week. My trial was finally held and we received mixed results. First I want to thank all of the hundreds if not thousands of people throughout our country who have written, called, donated or otherwise supported me and the divers, collectors, historians and relic hunters of Alabama. When I have felt weak and tired of this fight to regain public access to our lands and waters the knowledge that all of you exist has made it possible for me to stay the course. We have been trying to solve some of the problems concerning the Alabama Underwater Cultural Resources Law since it was passed in 1999. I want to thank the Legislators and Governor Riley for doing as much as they have so far and ask them to continue to support the rights and freedoms of Alabama citizens. I am blessed with the best family in the world and my friends are in my mind the best and most supportive that anyone could hope for and far better than I deserve.

Now I want to talk about my trial. I asked for and received a jury trial. Judge Wiggins was assigned to my case this week and he was fair and nice. He appears to be a fine man and I like him. The jurors were good and paid attention to all of the witnesses and gave their honest and fair verdict in their opinion. I am very pleased with the jury and I value their willingness to perform their duties as jurors. I consider myself fortunate to live in a country where I can be tried by a jury of my peers. Win, lose or draw, I got a fair trial.

My lawyer is my friend and dive buddy, Erskine Mathis. He is on of the best defense trial lawyers in Alabama. He did a great job in Selma and totally destroyed the prosecution of me under the Alabama Cultural Resources Law. We won all aspects of the two charges against me under the law. I was found not guilty. The Historical Commission had two semi-knowledgeable witnesses that said the relic weapon that I found was worth thousands of dollars when actually it was worth less than two hundred dollars. We had two of the most respected Civil War antique experts in the country who Erskine called to evaluate the relic. Jack Melton is a well known author of Civil War books and the top photographer for North South Traders Civil War magazine. John Sexton is the number one Civil War antique appraiser in the world. They both came to my trial at their own expense because of their interest in the public having access to our public lands and waters. They traveled hundreds of miles and I appreciate their support. There are too many people that I want to thank for their help but one stands out as solid as a rock. John Trott was at my trial each day and he has traveled with me to Montgomery many times over the last two years. John is not a historian or relic hunter but he is a good and faithful friend who wants the people of our state to be treated better than we are. The Historical Commission tried to show that the river at Selma was an archeological site that was covered by the AUCRA law. Erskine tried for days to get them to show any list anywhere that any sites are listed where we should not dive. They never produced any list. One archaeologist from Moundville said that he had a list but that commoners can't have access to the list because they may be looters. This list is only to be seen by other professional archaeologists. According to this man we can't see any list but we can be arrested if we go to any of his Super Secret Sites. This of course makes no sense except to these dysfunctional bureaucrats. The jury didn't buy any of the Historical Commissions malarkey. All aspects of the Historical Commission and the professional archaeologists were ruled against by the jury's verdict. The AHC lost.

So now let me explain where we lost. I was also charged with an old law that is a land law and has nothing to do with water. A few months ago when the District Attorney saw that the AUCRA law was no good, I was charged with stealing property from the state. This is the law that the jury convicted me of, a misdemeanor. The reason that the jury ruled against me was to send a message to the people of Alabama. The jury found me innocent of a felony. The Dallas County District Attorney in the closing arguments asked the jury to find me guilty to send a message to the people of Alabama to not come to Selma, Alabama. I got the message. I won't be coming to Selma until we win our appeal. I won't be spending any money in restaurants, hotels, gas stations, or any other stores or businesses in Selma. We won't be bringing any groups to Selma or Aruba until the people of Alabama are treated better in both places. The DA was clear in his request that we stay away. People from outside of Selma are not welcome. This is their right and I respect their wishes. I do ask that the legislators from the rest of Alabama remember that Selma doesn't want us and I hope that our tax monies will be used in places that we are welcome. I hope to someday be able to continue my work of documenting the work that was done at Selma during the Civil War. History is the loser. Below I have included my lawyer Erskine Mathis's response on the outcome of the trial. We will put the transcript of the trial on our web site when we get it.

Steve Phillips
Save Our Lost History
 

##


Dear Steve,
I read the article in the Times Journal. I could not disagree more. This is a resounding defeat for the Underwater Cultural Resources Act. They lost on the misdemeanor count as well as the felony count.

You were convicted of Theft of Property 3rd degree. That is the same as shoplifting. I do not believe it will stand after appeal, because I do not believe it is possible to steal from someone (the State of Alabama) who does not know the property even exists.


The law in Alabama is that if you find abandoned property on someone else's land, and that property is on top of the ground, finders keepers rules except to the actual owner. However, if you find abandoned property on someone else's land and it is embedded in the soil, the property belongs to the owner of the land.


The State of Alabama, by case law going back at least to the 19th Century, owns the bottoms of the rivers. In our case, the state claimed that the rifle Steve recovered was embedded in the bottom of the river and therefore it belonged to the State, and if Steve took it without their permission he committed theft.


I believe this is a tremendous stretch for our theft statute. In the first place, the case law the State relied on in this case was civil law. It might well rule, if someone were sued to recover the property, but I do not think it should carry the day in a criminal trial. If this is the law of Alabama, anyone walking down the highway who finds and recovers something half buried on the side of the road, something thrown out by a passing motorist, that person has technically committee theft because they took property of the State of Alabama without permission.


I believe I can overturn this conviction on appeal.

Erskine

~~~~~~~~~~~~  

December 5, 2005

Steve Phillips' trial started today in Selma, Alabama. We changed judges today and now have a new judge, we picked a jury, and we were in trial for about 3 hours. We didn't tell you earlier that the trial was starting today because it has been continued so many times that we didn't want people to show up for nothing.

Everyone that wants to see what happens in an issue that affects us all should come to Selma......that's the Dallas County Courthouse in Judge Wiggins courtroom tomorrow, December 6, at 9:00 AM. We expect the trial to last until Wednesday.

Hope to see you there, 

Spencer Phillips

Southern Skin Divers Supply

~~~~~~~~~~~~~  

November 3, 2005

Meetings About New Regulations for Alabama Underwater Cultural Resources 

Much has been happening concerning Alabama's dive law. The Alabama Historical Commission is proposing new regulations that will control where and how divers can dive in Alabama. Two meetings have been set up to allow divers to comment on proposed regulations. One meeting is next week in Selma and the other is the following week in Mobile. This is the only opportunity that divers, collectors and gold prospectors will have to express their wishes. We have had no input up to this time and we need to show up in Selma and Mobile. To get this far along has been a struggle since 1999 when the current regulations were written. Selma is not a diving town. They have no dive store and don't teach scuba diving there. Selma is not where the meeting should have been held. It should have been Birmingham. The Birmingham area has one-third of the state's population yet we have been excluded from having the public meetings here or anywhere in North Alabama.

In Selma and Mobile we will have much opposition from people who do not dive and do not understand what we are about. We need all dive stores to contact their divers and ask them to attend this meeting. I think we can work out acceptable regulations if we have a good turn out at the meetings. This war in Alabama has dragged on for many years and both sides have been bruised and bloodied. I want the fighting to end and I'm sure the staff and directors of the Historical Commission want the pain to end. Remember that the original law was passed to control salvage of historical shipwrecks. I think we can get the new regulations to do what the legislators wanted the law to do.

The suggested regulations can work but need a couple sentences added to clarify the definition of Cultural Resources. I suggest that we add the following: Isolated finds that are not listed on or determined eligible for the National Register of Historic Places are not covered by the definition of cultural resources in the law. Recreational gold prospectors are not affected by these regulations unless the gold dust that they might find is a part of or associated with a cultural resource.

Many divers, collectors and historians have worked very hard to get back our freedoms to dive and find relics in Alabama. Now we need all of us to take part and not just watch what happens. Everyone also needs to write a letter or email to Elizabeth Brown at the AHC and send copies to all of the directors of the AHC. Also send a letter to Governor Riley.

The proposed new regulations from the AHC are here ======>> New Regs

Here is there contact information:

Elizabeth Brown

468 South Perry Street

Montgomery, AL. 36130-0900

ebrown@preserveala.org

1. Mrs. Janice Hawkins (res.) 110 McKinley Dr Troy, AL. 36081
office 
Troy State University 110 McCartha Hall, Troy, AL.  36082
home phone 334-670-3475     office phone 334-353-5889 or 334-670-3370
e-mail:
janhawk@trojan.troyst.edu

Chair: 2. Mr. William Drinkard
Drinkard Development, Inc. 1301
Welti Rd SE Cullman, AL.   35055
Drinkard Development
PO Box 996 Cullman, AL.   35056-0996
home phone 256-775-0200  office phone 256-738-1815
e-mail:
wdrinkard@aol.com

Secretary:  3.  Mr. Kippy Tate
State Building Commission
770 Washington Ave Ste. 444
Montgomery, AL. 36130-1150
office phone 334-242-4082
e-mail: 
ktate@bc.state.al.us

Treasurer:  4. Mr. Bobby M. Junkins, Etowah County Probate Judge
PO Box 187
Gadsden, AL. 35902
phone 205-932-4519
e-mail:
bmjunkins@yahoo.com

5.  Dr. James "Ike" Adams Jr.
The
University of Alabama
Dean
, School of Social Work
Tuscaloosa, AL. 35487
phone 205-348-3924
e-mail: 
jadams@sw.ua.edu

6.  Honorable
Lucy Baxley
Alabama State House, Ste. 725
11
South Union St.
Montgomery, AL. 36130
phone 334-242-7900
e-mail: 
info@ltgov.state.al.us

7.  Dr.
Edwin Bridges, Alabama Department of Archives and History
PO Box 300100
Montgomery, AL.   36130-0100
Phone 334-242-4435 or 334-242-4441
e-mail:
ed.bridges@archives.alabama.gov

8.  Mr. Nicholas Cobbs Jr, Attorney
1110 Main St.
Greensboro, AL. 36744
phone 334-624-4202

9. Honorable Seth Hammett, Speaker of the House of Representatives
PO Box 1776
Andalusia, AL. 36420
or
Room 519-A,
11 South Union Street
Montgomery, AL. 36130
Home phone 334-222-4469
office phone 334-242-7668
e-mail:
seth.hammett@alhouse.org

10.  Mr. Barnett Lawley
Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
64 N. Union St.
Montgomery, AL. 36104
phone 334-242-3486
e-mail:
commissioner@dcnr.state.al.us

11. Mr. Danny Cooper
Alabama Association of Realtors
PO Box 4070
Montgomery, AL. 36103-4070
phone 334-262-3808
danny@alabamarealtors.com

12. Mr. Guy Spencer
PO Box 45

Huntsville, AL. 35804

gjsjr724@aol.com


13.  Mr. Stephen Martin
Alabama
Education Association
PO Box 4177
Montgomery, AL. 36103-4177
phone 334-834-9790
e-mail: 
stephenm@alaedu.org

14.  Dr. Geri Moulton
University of South Alabama
307 University Boulevard
Mobile, AL. 36685
phone 251-460-6111

15.  Mrs. Vivian Paul
148 S Jackson St.
Grove Hill, AL. 36451
home phone 251-275-3949
office phone 251-275-4131

16.  Honorable Bob Riley, Governor
Alabama State Capital
600 Dexter Ave
Montgomery, AL. 36130

17.  Mr. Lee Sentell
Alabama Bureau of Tourism and Travel
PO Box 4927
Montgomery, AL. 36104-4927

18.  Mr. Steve Sharp
702 Piedmont Lake Rd.
Pine Mountain GA. 31822
home phone 706-663-8776
cell phone 706-289-4714

19.  Dr. Craig Sheldon
AUM, Department of Anthropology
7300 University Drive
Montgomery, AL. 36117-3596
home phone 334-567-8942
office phone 334-244-3765

20.  Dr. Robert Jakeman
Auburn University History Department
310 Thach Hall
Auburn, AL. 36849
phone 334-844-6634
e-mail:
jakemrj@auburn.edu

21.  Dr. Dan Bennett
Auburn University, Dean, School of Architecture
202 Dudley Hall
Auburn University, AL. 36849
phone 334-844-4285
e-mail:
dbennett@auburn.edu 

Governor Riley has been a supporter of divers and we need to keep asking for his help. Please send a copy of what you write to us at Southern Skin Divers Supply. We know that it is difficult and time consuming to write letters and to attend these meetings but it is what has to be done and we appreciate all of those that have contributed.

Thank you, 

Steve Phillips

Southern Skin Divers Supply

~~~~~~~~~~~~~  

November 2, 2005

Hello Divers,

We at Southern Skin Divers Supply want to thank all of you that attended the cookout at the SCUBA School this past Saturday.  We enjoyed seeing many of our previous students and divers that had been on trips with us in the past.  I hope that everybody enjoyed the food and fellowship with each other.  Many of you brought friends and family and some of them were able to have a SCUBA experience in the pool with Spencer.  Also, some of you bought some new merchandise that was on sale. 

All of the Passport Members that attended the cookout were entered in a drawing for a chance to win a week long live-aboard dive trip to the Bahamas.  Dan Salters won the grand prize.  Also, Lynda Helton, Niki Stewart and Trent Godwin won dive gear as well.

Thanks again. 

Trip Update 

November 11-13 - South Carolina fossil diving trip

Let's go looking for Megalodon teeth before the water gets too cold.  We have been very fortunate this year on all of these river diving trips.  Last time, one of our divers found the largest complete Megalodon tooth that any of us have ever found and it was his first trip.  The Passport member price of $640 includes transportation from near Birmingham, tank rentals and air fills, hotel accommodations, 3 days of diving and food and beverages on the boat.

 November 25-27 - Panama City, FL. Spearfishing trip

This trip is scheduled for the best time of year to get Flounder.  It is common to see several touching each other from late November until early December.  Whatever we catch, we will take to the Captain's Table restaurant in St. Andrews and have them prepare it for the group.  The Passport member price of $395 includes 2 days of offshore spearfishing and 2 nights in a hotel (double occ.).

 March 25- April 2, 2006 - The Big Island of Hawaii

This family type trip is great for divers and non-divers alike.  There are snow covered mountains, an active volcano, rain forests and waterfalls and the world famous Manta Ray Night Dive.  Included in the price is round trip airfare from Birmingham to Kona, accommodations in 2 bed and 2 bath ocean front condos, diving and a rental car or SUV.  We are about to close out this trip so call us if you are interested.  The Passport Diver price is $2100 and the non diver price is $1900.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~  

October 13, 2005

Dive Store Cookout and Free Bahamas Live-Aboard Trip Giveaway

On Saturday, October 29th, we are having a cookout at the Scuba School and all of the Passport club members that attend can enter the drawing for a free week long Live-aboard trip in the Bahamas. If you know anyone that wants to try scuba diving, bring them with you and they can enjoy a free Scuba experience in our 14ft. deep pool with one of our instructors, just bring your bathing suit and a towel. We will be cooking hamburgers and hot-dogs and we will also provide soft drinks.

As an added bonus to our Passport club members, Spencer will be teaching a power point computer class to anyone that has purchased a computer from Southern in the past 4 years. This is a great chance for you to get a refresher class on how to use your computer. There is normally a $50 dollar charge for this class but Passport club members will get it for free. Passport club members are those that purchased their life support equipment from Southern and have had annual service on it every year. If you have a current model Suunto computer and are a Passport club member, bring your computer with you and sit in on the class, it's free. I will walk you through real dives with your computer and what to do if you get into decompression all from the comfort of our classroom. If you don’t own your own dive computer it's time that you did, most dive boats will not let you on the boat without one. We will have several Suunto dive computers on sale. We will also be having a huge discount on all film cameras, accessories and most wetsuits in stock. This is a great time to take advantage of these rock bottom prices!

We are also giving away a free week long Live-aboard trip in the Bahamas at the cookout, yes I said free. All Passport club members that attend the cookout will be able to enter for a chance to win a free week long Live-Aboard trip in the Bahamas. Live-aboards are where you live on the boat you are diving from and you can log a lot of dives, usually 5 a day.  Mark your calendar and make plans to come by on Saturday, October 29th sometime between 10:30 and 3:30. Please give us a call at the Scuba School if you plan on attending.

Thanks,

Forrest Phillips

Southern Skin Divers Supply

~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 

October 12, 2005

The lawsuit that our group filed to test the constitutionality of the Alabama Underwater Cultural Resources Law was thrown out of court.  We had won in court all the motions that were filed.  The AHC appealed to the State Supreme Court and the court ruled that our diver, Dennis King, did not have standing.  They did not look at the law itself.  Our lawyer is Erskine Mathis and we want advice from our friends who are lawyers. Erskine's email address is erskinelaw@aol.com 

Will you please read the ruling and give us your opinion of how we should re-file to get this law tested in court. Here is a link to the Supreme Court opinion     Ex Parte Bridges

  
 
Thanks,
Steve Phillips
Save Our Lost History
Southern Skin Divers Supply
4515 5th Ave South
Birmingham, AL   35222
205-595-3052

~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 

October 9, 2005

Here's a link to the Belize trip pictures ==> Belize

~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 

October 6, 2005

Here's a link to the opinion from the Alabama Supreme Court on Dennis King's case v.

Edwin Bridges and The Alabama Historical Commission      Ex Parte Bridges

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

October 2, 2005

Read this Pensacola News Article on the USS Oriskany     ==> LINK

~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 

September 24, 2005 

Dive Trip Update  

Wreck Diving Trip Panama City, Florida, Oct. 7 - 9 

There are a couple of spots available for this wreck diving adventure. The Passport member price of $350 includes 2 days of offshore wreck diving and 2 nights in a hotel. Those of you that want to earn your advanced certification may do so on this trip. The total cost including advanced processing is $450. 

Fossil Trip. South Carolina. Oct. 13 - 15 

This river diving expedition is to find prehistoric shark's teeth along with other fossils. On our last fossil trip one of our divers found the largest complete Megalodon tooth that any of us have ever found. The Passport member price of $640 includes transportation from Birmingham, all diving, tank rentals and air fills, food and beverages on the boat, guides putting you right on the spots plus hotel accommodations.

Flounder Tournament. Panama City, Florida. October 28 - 30 

Every diver on the boat on this 2 day spearfishing trip will be entered in the Panama City Flounder Tournament. Last year a diver from Birmingham won it and we would love for that to happen again. The Passport member price of $450 includes 2 days of offshore spearfishing, 2 nights in a hotel and entrance fees to the flounder tournament. Space is limited so call us if you are interested.

Hawaii, The Big Island. March 24 - April 2nd 2006 

This is a great trip for divers and non-divers alike. This island offers a lot to see and do, including snow covered mountains, active volcanoes, waterfalls and rain forests. We stay in 2 bed 2 bath condos on the Kona Coast. This 9 day trip includes round trip air from Birmingham to Kona, Condo accommodations, rental car with unlimited mileage, boat diving including the famous Manta Ray night dive and unlimited shore diving. The Passport diver price is $2100. 

Thanks, 

Forrest Phillips

~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 

September 20, 2005

On September 29th the Sunset Review Committee will determine their recommendations to correct problems or abolish the Alabama Historical Commission. All divers, collectors and historians need to write to Senator Larry Dixon this week and give your suggestions concerning the AHC. A written letter is best but an email is better than nothing. Here is his email address ldixon@albme.org. The important thing is to do this now before the meeting. Please take time today to write your letter or email. Senator Dixon is the Chairman of the Sunset Committee and will share your letters with the other members.

This is a copy of the letter I have sent. 

September 20, 2005 

Senator Larry Dixon

820 East Fairview Avenue

Montgomery, AL. 36106 

Dear Senator Dixon,

I am writing to you about the Sunset review of the Alabama Historical Commission. The AHC has proved itself to be totally incompetent in performing its mission and serving the people of Alabama. I appreciate the Legislators becoming involved and hopefully fixing the problems within this rogue agency. 

 My suggestions for the AHC are: 

1. All directors who have been directors for more than two years should be asked to resign. They failed to exercise their responsibilities to control the staff of the AHC. The Governor should appoint new directors who are interested in Alabama History but not with a hidden agenda of funneling business to the Schools who they work for. The schools and colleges should not be appointing the directors and we don't need the AHC to be an archaeology department. The AHC should be about history not archaeology referrals for colleges.

2. The department heads of the AHC and the acting Executive Director should be fired or allowed to resign. They are and have been the main problem with the attitude of the AHC in serving the public.

3. A state of emergency should be declared at the AHC and Jim Bennett should be hired to clean up and repair the AHC. Jim Bennett is the only person that I know of who is familiar with the problems and capable of correcting them. He has done a great job in making Tannehill Park the great success that it is. Tannehill gets as many visitors each year as all of the AHC properties combined and does not require any monies from the state to operate.

4. The other solution would be to put the AHC back under the Dept. of Archives and History. The properties could be under the control and management of the Dept. of Conservation. Both of these agencies are good and capable with excellent management and leadership.

5. Whatever recommendations are made I hope the Sunset Commission will monitor the AHC in the future. The people of Alabama can't allow the incompetence to continue at the AHC.

Thank you for your help. 

Sincerely,

Steve Phillips

~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 

Trip Update

August 24, 2005

Hello Divers,

We just returned from another successful diving trip to the rivers of South Carolina. This was a very exciting trip, the current was strong and the visibility was low. All of our divers found nice fossils including whale teeth, vertebrae and ear bones and several different types of shark teeth. On this trip the largest complete Megalodon tooth that one of our groups have ever recovered was found by Rick Bearden. The best thing about his 6 inch tooth is that he found it on his first trip. We are ready to go back.

 

 

 

 

               

 

 

 

Rick Bearden and his 6 inch tooth.   

                        

                           Dennis King and Spencer Phillips

 South Carolina Fossil Trip. Sept. 2 - 4.

This trip is over Labor Day weekend. The Passport member price of $640 includes transportation from near Birmingham, tank rentals, air fills, 2 nights in a hotel, food and beverages on the boat and all the diving with our guides putting you right on the spot.

Panama City, Florida. Spear fishing trip. Sept. 16 - 18.

There is nothing quite like fresh seafood and we will take our catch on Saturday evening to the Captain's Table restaurant and have them prepare our meal. We also have several spear guns and pole spears in stock right now. The Passport member price of $395 includes 2 days of offshore spear fishing and 2 nights in a hotel.

Panama City, Florida. Advanced certification trip. Sept. 23 - 25.

Those of you wanting to earn your Advanced diver certification can do it on this trip. The Passport diver price of $450 includes 1 classroom session at the Scuba School, 2 days of offshore wreck diving with an instructor, and certification processing with a worldwide recognized agency and 2 nights in a hotel (double occ.).

Give us a call if you want to go diving,

 Forrest Phillips

~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 

Public Hearing on Sunset Review of Alabama Historical Commission
 
August 17, 2005
 
I've been in Alaska for the past two and a half months and I want to write about the trip but now is not the time.  We have an important hearing in the Alabama State Legislature next week.  Due to the corruption, abuse and negligence that has occurred over the past several years, the Legislature has ordered the Alabama Historical Commission (AHC) investigated by the Sunset Review Committee.  The investigators have worked for the last several months preparing a report on the AHC.  The report will show even more of the corruption of the employees of the AHC.  This report will be given at a public hearing next week on Thursday August 25th at 9:00 am in the Star Wars room on the eighth floor of the State House in Montgomery.  All interested parties should attend this meeting.  The Sunset Review Committee can recommend that the AHC cease to exist as a separate agency and put their duties back under the Department of Archives and History and the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.  They will do a better job for Alabama's history and citizens.  Please make plans to attend this meeting.  Our legislators have done  good work in making this happen and I appreciate their efforts.  Representative Jim McClendon of St. Clair County is the main person for us to thank for this review.  We need to keep him as our Representative.  Let us now show our support by being at this meeting 
 
Thanks,
 
Steve Phillips
Save Our Lost History
Southern Skin Divers Supply
4515 5th Ave. South
Birmingham, AL. 35222
205-595-3052

~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 

August 1, 2005 

 
Hello Divers,
 
We just wanted to let you know about some of the upcoming trips that Southern is running later on this year.  Currently, we have sent a group of twenty divers with Mark Tant on the Belize live-aboard trip for a week.  Southern has also had two group trips to Cozumel and our big wreck adventure to Truk Lagoon.  In addition to all of those, we have also been to the Florida Panhandle and South Carolina a dozen times so far this year.  Even though we have been busy on trips, there is still a lot of good diving left to do this year.  We hope to see you on some of these.
 
AUGUST 18-20   SOUTH CAROLINA.
This is the low visibility river diving trip that we have been doing every month.  We do not make any promises on what you will find but the last two times we have gone, every diver found at least one prehistoric Megalodon tooth.  The Passport member price of $640 includes transportation from near Birmingham, tank rentals, air fills, food and beverages on the boat and hotel accommodations.  There are still a couple of spaces available, so call the SCUBA School if you are interested in going.
 
AUGUST 26-28  SPEARFISHING PANAMA CITY, FL. 
This is another exciting type of diving that we have been doing monthly.  There are several spaces available for this trip.  We have a good selection of spear guns and pole spears at the SCUBA School for those that are interested.  On Saturday, after the first day of diving, we will take our catch to the Captain's Table restaurant and have them prepare our meal.  The Passport member price of $395 includes two nights in a hotel and two days of offshore spear fishing. 
 
SEPTEMBER 23-25 ADVANCED CERTIFICATION AND DIVES PANAMA CITY, FL.    
Join Southern for 2 days of offshore wreck diving. If you would like to earn your Advanced certification the Passport diver price is $450. This includes classroom training, 2 nights in the hotel, 2 days of offshore wreck diving and certification processing fees with a worldwide recognized agency.
 
We are also currently working on two other trips for this Fall and Winter.  In late October or early November we will be going back to the Big Island of Hawaii.  Also, either the week before or right after Christmas Southern will be taking another group to Cozumel, Mexico.  All Passport Members that are interested in one of these trips should e-mail or call the SCUBA School to give us an idea who wants to go.
 
 
Thanks,
 
Forrest Phillips
Southern Skin Divers Supply
4515 5th Ave South
Birmingham, AL   35222
205-595-3052

  ~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 

July 2, 2005
Trip Update
 
Over the past few weeks we have enjoyed several group trips that we need to let you know about. Southern also has four upcoming trips that you might be interested in.
 
 July 9th & 10th Panama City, FL.
 
Southern is taking a group of students on their certification dive trip. These students will do one day of diving in the Springs north of Panama City and then dive the gulf on Sunday morning. This is a great way for Passport members to get more diving under their belt. Call us if you are interested in going.
 
July 22-24 Panama City, FL.
 
Offshore wreck diving in this area is a lot of fun. We have taken several trips this season already. Just last week one of our groups enjoyed 70 feet of visibility on two of the dives. We also saw 2 Goliath Groupers between 100 and 200 pounds. Passport members can also earn their advanced diver certification on this trip for $415. This price includes 2 nights in a hotel (double occ.), classroom training at the Scuba School, 2 days of offshore boat diving and advanced diver certification with a worldwide recognized agency.
 
 

 

August 18-20 South Carolina Fossil trip.

 
The previous two trips to this location have produced an abundance of great fossilized sharks teeth. The Passport member price of $640 includes transportation from near Birmingham, tank rentals and air fills, at least 2 nights in a hotel, 3 days of diving, food and beverages on the boat. This is a very exciting type of diving. It usually is in low visibility but most people that try it consider it their favorite type of diving.
  

 

 

 

 Big tooth Don strikes again.

August 26-28 Spear fishing Trip, Panama City, FL.

 
Southern just returned from another successful spear fishing trip. Our divers were able to bring back flounder, amberjack, snapper, triggerfish and several lobster. My favorite part is taking our catch to the Captain's Table Restaurant in St. Andrews and having them prepare our meal. They really outdid themselves this time. We had the seafood prepared about 6 different ways and they served it to us on platters. The meal was absolutely amazing just like it always is. We are going back and the Passport Member price of $395 includes 2 days of offshore spear fishing and 2 nights in a hotel (double occ.).
                                                                                                                                                                                      Fish and lobster from one dive.

 

 

Jay and his amberjack

Thanks,

 
Forrest Phillips
Southern Skin Divers Supply
4515 5th Ave South
Birmingham, AL. 35222
205-595-3052
 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 

June 20, 2005

 
Trip Update
  
Spearfishing trip, June 24 - 26 Panama City, Fl.
 
There are 2 more spots available for the Spearfishing trip this weekend. The passport diver price of $395 includes 2 days of offshore Spearfishing and 2 nights in a hotel. As usual, on Saturday evening we will take our fish to the Captain's Table restaurant in St. Andrews and have them prepare our meal. Call us at the Scuba School if you want to go.
  
Advanced Wreck Diving Trip, July 22 - 24 Panama City, Fl.
This two day wreck diving trip has been rescheduled due to Tropical Strom Arlene. Those of you that are interested can earn your Advanced Certification on this trip. We will do at least 4 offshore boat dives in 2 days on some of the wrecks. In the advanced class session at the scuba school we go over deep diving, underwater navigation, wreck diving, and night diving. We also cover the boating procedures necessary for this trip. The Passport diver price is $415 and includes 2 nights in a hotel, 2 days of boat diving, and an advanced certification with a world recognized agency.
 
Fossil Trip Update
We just returned from South Carolina on another Fossil diving trip. It was great. The water was warm and the conditions were good, but best of all we all found large Megalodon teeth. Everybody on the boat recovered lots of fossils. On Friday, Forrest was on the boat watching for the divers bubbles. While doing that he noticed that there was an animal swimming in and around one of the divers bubbles. The animal would descend for a couple of minutes  and then return to the surface. As the bubbles and the animal got closer to the boat, Forrest realized it was a Sea turtle. When the diver, Steve Corvin, surfaced he had a strong current pushing him towards the port side of the boat. Forrest told him to swim hard. Steve started swimming on his back occasionally using the backstroke. Right then the turtle surfaced next to Steve. The turtle rolled over on to his back and started backstroking towards the bow of the boat, mimicking Steve. When Steve made it to the boat he told Forrest that something would climb on his back on the bottom and then release him and then do it over again.

 

Give us a call if you are interested in one of our trips.
  
Forrest Phillips
Southern Skin Divers Supply
4515 5th Ave South
Birmingham, AL. 35222
205-595-3052

~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 

May 25, 2005

Trip Update
 
 
Southern just returned from a 2 day offshore Spearfishing trip to Panama City, Florida. We enjoyed good weather, good visibility, good company and some good eating. One Amberjack that Rick shot fed seven people. Our divers also took other amberjack, flounder, snapper, grouper and sheepshead. We even were able to enjoy a couple of lobsters that we took to the Captain's Table Restaurant in St. Andrews. Here's a couple of pics:

       

 

 
Upcoming Trips
 
 
We have trips every weekend in June, Passport members are invited to participate in these.
 
 
June 4th and 5th
Basic Checkout Trip
 
Mark is taking a group to dive one day in the Springs and one day in the Gulf. If you want to go give us a call.
 
 June 10 -12
Wreck Diving Trip
Panama City, Florida
 
Join Southern for 2 days of offshore wreck diving. This trip includes 2 days of diving and 2 nights in a hotel (double occ). If you would like to earn your Advanced Diver certification, this is an excellent trip to do it on.
Passport Diver price $375
with Advanced class $415
 
 June 16 - 18
South Carolina Fossil Diving
 
We will be diving various rivers in South Carolina looking for fossils just like we did last month. We are all pretty excited about this trip due to the success we had last time. The Passport member price of $640 includes 3 days of diving, transportation from Birmingham, tank rentals and airfills, food and beverages on the boat and hotel room (double occ).
 
 June 24 - 26
Spearfishing Trip
Panama City, Florida
 
This is the same type of trip that we just returned from. Passport member price includes 2 days of offshore Spearfishing and 2 nights in a hotel. As usual, we will take whatever we get the first day and get the restaurant to prepare it for us.
Passport Diver price $395
 
 July 9 - 16
Cozumel, Mexico
 
We are taking another group trip to Cozumel. This trip is very similar to the Spring Break trip we did 2 months ago. The Passport diver price of $1,550 includes a week in a beachfront resort (double occ). roundtrip airfare from Birmingham to Cozumel, unlimited diving, breakfast daily, airport transfers and taxes. This trip will be available for the next few days so call the Scuba School if you are interested.
 
 
Southern Skin Divers Supply
4515 5th Avenue South
Birmingham, AL. 35222
205-595-3052
http://www.ssdsupply.com/
 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 

May 18, 2005 - Passport Club Old Fossils Find Fossils

 
 
Two old Marines, one Army and one Air Force all pushing 60 years old escorted by Forrest went on a great fossil dive trip in early May. We found the most big sharks teeth we have ever found. We also found a couple tusks, several vertebrae and whale teeth.
 
We went to a secure spot and had about 1 foot of visibility. The exceptional visibility accounted for our being able to find as much as we did. I don't know if any of you young whipper-snappers can keep up with us old guys but we are willing to give you a chance next time. Check out this picture.

 

 
 
Steve Phillips
Southern Skin Divers Supply
4515 5th Ave. South
Birmingham, AL. 35222
205-595-3052
http://www.ssdsupply.com/
 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 

May 8, 2005

We've added pics & logs from the recent Truk trip here, added a new newsletter, & updated some other stuff with more coming soon.

Look around a bit :)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 

April 17, 2005

To Everyone Interested,

 

The following is an email that I received and my response. This is a typical email that I have been receiving from collectors, hobbyists and historians from all over the country.

 

Steve;

I read your remarkable story on the SSDS web site about being arrested for pleasure diving in 2003.  The archaeological community has become increasingly aggressive in its bid to control everything in the world more than 100 years old that is on or under ground or water.  They are not only attacking pleasure divers, they also are waging a fierce war against civil war artifact collectors and against coin collectors and collectors of antiquities from all lands.  They have become very effective at convincing naive legislators to introduce and support bills that assail the liberties and property rights of ordinary law abiding citizens.  Of course, you know a great deal about this through your experience with the AUCRA.

I am a collector of ancient coins.  The Archaeological Institute of America has gone on record as being committed to the elimination of the collector market because they argue that without a market there would be no place for looters to sell their wares and this would put an end to archaeological site looting.  One would think that an idiot could see the folly in that position, but apparently some legislators do not.

  Last Fall, an obscure provision was attached to HR 1047 which was a massive trade bill that was destined for passage.  The provision affecting us was couched in terms of protection of antiquities from Iraq.  It had appeal to lawmakers who felt obligated to respond to the sensationalized reports of museum looting in Baghdad, which we now know were wildly exaggerated.  Unfortunately, the bill was so vaguely written and so misguided in its aims that it threatens to restrict the importation of antiquities, including coins, that never were in Iraq at any time in history.

Last summer, I founded a national organization of Ancient Coin Collectors for the purpose of opposing this sort of legislation and to develop a strategy for opposing the archaeological community's arrogant and elitist views.  We have had some success, but we fall short on the influence scale because we simply cannot muster enough constituents or money to be heard in Washington.  We are beginning to realize that we need to find common cause with others whose rights are threatened by the archaeological community, and you seem to be a prime candidate.

I have not had time to research your situation and find out where it stands today from a legal perspective.  I hope that common sense prevailed and the case was thrown out.  I hope also that your recommended replacement bill was passed by the Alabama legislature.   I would be very interested to know whether you have found any chinks in the armor of our common enemy.  You have been fighting this longer than we have and your advice and insights would be valuable to us.  I sincerely hope that your efforts have been fruitful.

With best regards,

Wayne

-----------------------------------
Wayne G. Sayles
Executive Director,
Ancient Coin Collectors Guild
P.O. Box 911, Gainesville, MO 65655
wsayles@accg.us
http://accg.us
417-679-2142

 

Wayne,

 

 

I just read your email and have been thinking this morning about the people who are opposing the public interest in access to public lands. I now know much more about the people who have spoken against us than I did two years ago, and most of these people have a financial interest in restricting divers and relic hunters from being involved in their hobbies. I have also been thinking about the people who have been my digging buddies for the last thirty-two years. My three digging buddies all have college degrees in history, and one was a college history professor in Tennessee. Any one of us knows more about Civil War relics and history than any of the people who speak and act against us, yet we are considered the bad guys.

 

We are not in the business of selling relics or getting paid for issuing permits, we simply love history and learning more about our ancestors. We like to spend our time walking the woods or diving in the rivers while trying to find and save lost relics. Of course we pay our own expenses and we are not trying to make money at what we do for fun. When someone else decides to write a book on relics telling how they were made, where used, who used them, or anything else about the relics, they come to us. By us I don't mean just our small group, but instead the thousands of relic hunters and divers who pursue such hobbies. We are the people who save the history before the relics rust away or are destroyed by development or nature, and we are not looking for any type of government financial aid or help. We want nothing more than to be left alone and not harassed by the academic and government elitist types who seem to have a burning jealousy of us, and a financial interest in having exclusive rights to our history. I don't know why they are so against the citizens who actually find and preserve the relics, as we are also the same people who have filled the museums of the world with the relics that all see and enjoy. We lend or give our relics to the museums and other displays, and often speak to schools, civic organizations and historical groups about history and our hobby. We are the good guys, yet we are portrayed as villains and called looters, pot hunters, scavengers and depicted as destroyers of history. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

 

In Alabama, we are battling against The Alabama Historical Commission (AHC). The people who have spoken against us to the legislators, or written to the papers, are almost without exception people with a vested interest in denying access to public lands and waters to the citizens of our country. They are insiders who are granted special permission or can actually sell permits to the public for access to our lands. Under the current laws and regulations, only a professional archaeologist can issue a permit for someone such as me, or any other citizen, to look for any relic or artifact over fifty years old in the waters of Alabama. There are twelve pages of professional archaeologist's names and addresses listed on the AHC webpage who are not divers or historians, but they are the only people who can get these permits. This law was written for one purpose only, and that purpose is to financially benefit professional archaeologists.

 

The AHC was recently audited by the state Examiners of Accounts, and shown to be missing just a few million dollars of state monies. They also were shown to have lied to the auditors, and were exposed in the hiring of an employee that had no duties, but whose total compensation was over $100,000.00 dollars per year. Gross neglect of the properties in the care of the AHC was also itemized in this audit. One property alone has had over two million dollars spent on it, with no sign of where any of the money went. At this same property, $88,000 dollars has been spent to hire an archaeologist to use ground penetrating radar to look for graves. While this money was wasted paying an archaeologist, several state parks have been forced to close that could have remained open for as little as $25,000.00 dollars per year. The shameful thing here is, this property is all about, and only about, preserving the relics of one great man, and he is buried in Washington, DC. The family heirlooms and relics are still in the house where the heating, cooling and climate controls of the house have been turned off since 1999. While this property has been closed to the public since then, the AHC still has four full-time employees at this site. No one can seem to account for the waste or theft of the two million dollars.

 

Another contract issued by the AHC to a professional archaeologist was at The Teague House, their own headquarters and main office in Montgomery. Built in the 1830's, this house is one of the South's finest examples of late Greek revival architecture where  $55,000 dollars was paid to do an archaeological excavation in the yard of this house, yet the front door won't open, and the roof has leaked for years with no money spent on repairs. Archaeologists don't fix roofs or doors.

 

One of our opponents, who is just one example of many, is MacDonald Brooms who works full time for Troy University. He has written to the newspapers and attended the public hearings in order to oppose our proposed legislation. He worked for the AHC in the past and is another of the professional archaeologists who is referred business from the AHC. In 1981 he wrote a letter to the Alabama Gun Collectors Association saying that no dug relic should be displayed at any shows or displays, and told collectors that the state could confiscate collections. He also claimed that all Indian relics are the property of the state.

 

The big money that is controlled by the AHC is not reflected in any of the records of the AHC. What I am referring to, is the job referral services performed by the AHC in sending business to the twelve pages of professional archaeologists listed on the AHC webpage. It is wrong, and should be illegal, for a state agency to refer business to anyone, especially to handpicked insiders. These contracts are offered to archaeologists to gain their support in opposing our proposed legislation. Furthermore, at least one of the directors of the AHC benefits from referrals from the webpage. Craig Sheldon, who teaches archaeology for Auburn University in Montgomery and also does work affiliated with the AHC, is an active director of the AHC. In addition, his wife Elizabeth is listed on the twelve page list and receives business in this manner also. I don't think he should be allowed to be a director.

 

Bill Drinkard is the chairperson of the Board of Directors of the AHC and is heavily involved in the formation of the Foundation of the AHC that was discussed in the audit. The Foundation is used to hide money and is not thought to be legal under state law. Mr. Drinkard has said that the audit is just a witch hunt and tells people to just wait till the smoke clears and things at the AHC will get back to normal. Mr. Drinkard, as chairperson, is the overall leader of the AHC, yet Mr. Drinkard is a convicted felon having been found guilty of stealing $15,000 dollars of state funds, and has since been pardoned by the Pardons and Parole Board of Alabama.

 

Elizabeth Brown is the acting executive director of the AHC, currently filling the job that was previously held by the now-fired Dr. Lee Warner. Ms. Brown was the acting director before Dr. Warner was hired, and she was in charge of all daily operations when the current law that outlaws diving in Alabama was passed in 1999. No divers were aware of proposed legislation before that law was slipped through.

 

Tom Maher is the state archaeologist of Alabama. Mr. Maher is not from Alabama, and has no background in Alabama history. When Mr. Maher spoke at one of the public hearings that we had concerning the current diving laws, he lied and said that he had never had anyone arrested. In fact, he signed my arrest warrant. He and Ms. Brown were the AHC people who had me and Perry Massie arrested in Selma for relic hunting in the river. Ms. Brown identified and charged me with finding a Confederate ammo container on my arrest warrant, but actually the container is a Prince Albert tobacco can. She also knows nothing about Civil War relics and very little about Alabama history. In 1999 and 2000, Tom Maher told me, and several other divers, that the law that was passed was all about shipwrecks, and would not affect relic hunters who were not diving on shipwrecks. He specifically told me that Diving and finding relics in the river at Selma is permitted. When I was arrested at Selma and reminded him of this, he then asked "do you have it in writing?"

 

The real reason Perry and I were arrested was an effort to confiscate my Civil War collection, a collection that I have built over the last thirty-two years. While I have found a great deal of this collection personally, about half of my collection is "bought" relics and most of those relics were bought by me from state museums. I had intended to lend my entire collection to the state museums anyway, but they could not sell any of my relics. I was charged with a felony and my boat and equipment were impounded. Since I was arrested, the authorities in Dallas County have been trying to get me to plead guilty to a misdemeanor. They offered to drop all charges and give back my boat and equipment if I would just plead guilty, and allow them to save face for arresting me when they should not have. I can't do this because that action on my part would validate this bad law.

 

I want my day in court, but so far I can't seem to get there. I have filled a motion for a speedy trial but my case has been continued yet again, this time until August 1st , almost 2 years since I was arrested in Oct. of 2003. The DA in Selma now says that they have not had time to prepare for my trial, all the while continuing to use the law to persecute and harass me.

 

They harassed Perry Massie until he agreed to pay a fine for a 'violation', which is not a crime in Alabama. He did not plead guilty to violating the law that we were charged under. His legal expenses were about $60,000.00 dollars, he found no relics, and it was the first and only time he ever dived in Alabama. He had come to Alabama to film a TV show to be broadcast on his show on The Outdoor Channel. The AHC should not be allowed to continue to use their agency to harass and persecute the citizens.

 

The AHC staff has been found guilty in the audit of lying, gross negligence, misappropriation of state funds and illegal operations. Now they are supposed to be hiring an Executive Director to come in and try to fix things in this corrupt agency. In the last week I have been told by several people that the folks in charge at the AHC don't want to hire anyone, that there is not enough money to pay an Executive Director, and they want to just leave the people in charge who are in charge now. …….They want us to leave the crooks in charge. Are we dumb enough to let this happen? Is the Attorney General of Alabama going to allow the AHC staff to get away with the crimes they have committed against Alabama?

 

In Montgomery this week I found out that our bills, HB125 and SB128 will probably not come up for a floor vote this session. The legislators have been filibustering over other issues, and even though our bills have come out of committee, they probably will die where they are. The colleges of the state oppose us due to their vested interest in contracts to their archaeology departments, and in teaching archaeology students who want government jobs and contracts referred from the AHC. These colleges have much influence with the legislators since they provide offices, secretaries and paychecks for a large portion of the legislators.

 

Our next action will be in court if we can get there.

 

Steve Phillips

Save Our Lost History

www.ssdsupply.com

4515 5th Av. So.

Birmingham, Al 35222

205-595-3052

 

Steve;

Thank you for sharing the distressing details of your experience.  I can assure you that there are many who understand your plight all too well.  We are struggling to find a way to expose archaeology for what it is.  Several months ago, I posted an article on our ACCG web site that speaks to the same issue that your story of AHC corruption does.  It is entitled "Archaeology: a wolf in sheep's clothing."  You will find it at

http://accg.us/issues/editorials/pro/wolf

The examples in my article relate to antiquities, but the methodology of classical archaeologists and American archaeologists is identical and is a reflection of their globalist views and fanatical support of the UNESCO convention of 1970.  I think the AIA and The AHC are simply two heads of the same monster and they both are part of a massive conspiracy that is only a stone's throw from National Socialism or Totalitarianism.  They are so far out on the fringe that it is hard to tell if they are the extreme left or the extreme right.  Indeed, I think they defy categorization.

It is not just access to public lands that they want to control, they also want control of private property.  Archaeologists Jon L. Gibson and Joe Sanders, in the Society for American Archaeology Bulletin, wrote: "We suggest that just because sites happen to be on private property should not make them privately owned. We also maintain that archaeologists must challenge one of American's most precious rights - the right to do as you please to your own land - if we are going to have any chance of preserving our diminishing heritage....First, we must press for legislation that places an archaeological lien on private property with significant archaeological sites. Second, archaeologists must be the ones to choose which sites are to be protected. We can not entrust this selection to a governmental board or legislated process, which would give land owners the final word on whether a site will be protected.....Archaeologists must be more than just stewards of the past. They must serve as the public conscience. They must act on society's behalf even when society is insensitive or objects."

This audacious proposal was published in a peer reviewed journal of the archaeological community.  It pretty clearly reflects the extent to which they covet power and control over anything historical.  The same ideology is responsible for the Silverado Canyon issue and countless similar episodes:

http://www.canyonlife.com/Tibor.folder/Archeology.html

I hope that you get your day in court soon, and I hope that you can show the AHC to be part of a nation wide conspiracy that is trampling all over our constitutional rights to further their own parochial interests.  I am not in any way an expert on diving, underwater salvage, or Alabama law,  but if you need a witness at your trial that will testify to the scope of the archaeological conspiracy, either by deposition or in person, I will happily do so at my own expense.

Regards,

Wayne

-----------------------------------
Wayne G. Sayles
Executive Director,
Ancient Coin Collectors Guild
P.O. Box 911, Gainesville, MO 65655
wsayles@accg.us
http://accg.us
417-679-2142

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

April 7, 2005

Status of HB125 & SB128                                   
  
Our bills are sitting in the legislature now waiting to come up for a vote. The legislators are filibustering about other issues and we can only hope that our bills get a chance to be voted on. The corrupt employees of the Alabama Historical Commission continue to give false info to the media and legislators. Today I found out that an email supposedly from me was shown to the Governor. I have not seen this email but it slams our Governor. Of course I have been out of the country diving in Micronesia for two weeks and did not send such an email. I support Governor Riley and appreciate what he has done for historians and the state of Alabama. I hope that he is able to help the divers fix the terrible law that we have now. I think the Governor is our friend and supporter. We really need to do something about these conniving little snakes that get paid by the AHC. I think we should all contact the Alabama Attorney General's office and demand that the thieves be prosecuted criminally for their actions that have been revealed by the Audit of the AHC. We can't just let this audit be forgotten and the guilty get off without being punished. They have abused their positions and have stolen from the public.

Please let your voice be heard. Today a very good letter to the editor of the Mobile Register was published here is the link: http://www.al.com/opinion/mobileregister/index.ssf?/base/opinion/1112865564176050.xml 

I hope more of you will be writing to our papers and talking on the radio.

Here is a link to the Alabama Historical Commission Audit==>    LINK

  
Steve Phillips
Save our Lost History

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

March 21, 2005

Alabama Historical Commission Audit 3-21-05
The long awaited audit of the Alabama Historical Commission came out last Friday. The audit reveals much of the corruption of the AHC that I have been talking about. I'm happy that the citizens of Alabama can now see for themselves what has been going on. I know some people have believed that the AHC couldn't be as bad as we have said. The audit speaks for itself.

Please read the audit. Here is the Associated Press newspaper article about the audit. http://www.montgomeryadvertiser.com/NEWSV5/storyV5HISTORICAL0319W.htm 

 

Here is a link to the complete audit==>    LINK

I hope Governor Riley will take action to bring this power hungry rogue agency under control.
 
My Trial
Erskine and I went to Selma last Friday to find out if my trial was going to begin today. The District Attorney asked for and received another continuance on my trial. We tried to prevent a continuance but were unsuccessful. My trial is now scheduled for August 1st so I will have to cut my Alaska trip short or come home and then go back. I think the court wants to wait and see if we change the law but I wanted to go ahead and have a trial. We are in a good position to change the law now after the scandal of this audit. Please keep asking the legislators to support SB128 and HB125. The floor vote should come up within the next three weeks.
 
Bob Cox
Bob Cox from Gulf Coast Divers wrote a news article for the Mobile Press Register. Bob is very familiar with the problems and has been working to fix the bad law since 1999. Click here to read his article in the Mobile Press Register. http://www.al.com/search/index.ssf?/base/opinion/1111314327221780.xml?mobileregister?oinsight
 
Spence, Mark and I will be escorting our group of 22 divers to Truk Lagoon this Saturday. We will be diving hard on the best shipwrecks in the world. Wish you could all go with us but maybe you could go next time.
 
Steve Phillips
Save Our Lost History
4515 5th Avenue South
Birmingham, AL. 35222
205-595-3052

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

March 16, 2005

Divers Meeting With Governor Riley

 
Forrest and I, from Southern Skin Divers Supply, along with Bob Cox, from Gulf Coast Divers, had a meeting with Governor Riley and Ken Wallis. Mr. Wallis is the Chief Legal Advisor for the Governor. I asked for this meeting so we could make the Governor aware of the divers and collectors in Alabama. We told the Governor about our bills in the legislature and what we want to happen. We want access to our public waters and to be able to find and save isolated relics and artifacts. We also told the Governor about the problems that the public has with the Alabama Historical Commission staff. We told about how we need an oversight committee to control issuing of permits for shipwreck salvage. We don't want the staff of the AHC to continue to only issue permits to their associates and insiders. We discussed how most of the historical groups of Alabama have problems dealing with the AHC staff. We stressed that in order for the AHC to exist they must have better leadership than they have had in the past.
 
I personally felt honored that our Governor would take time for a private meeting to talk with divers about diving. The Governor is a diver himself and he told me that he hasn't been able to go diving for about four years. I think he has been busy. Divers should be heard from just as hunters and fisherman are heard from. We have not asserted ourselves as divers in the past but we should continue now that we have started. We must make our elected officials know we exist and want to be considered. The Governor was very nice and patient listening to a loud mouthed old diver on a mission. The Governor said that he agreed with divers, collectors and historians about saving items in the waterways before they are destroyed by nature or other ways. I think he will support us in any way that he can. He has been a supporter of Alabama history in the past and I appreciate what he has done. I hope that Forrest, Bob and I were able to fairly represent the diving businesses and divers in general in our state. Meeting the Governor was interesting and important but what happened after lunch was even more interesting.
 
Dr. Bridges
Forrest and I went to see Dr. Ed Bridges who is the Director of Alabama's Department of Archives and History. I've been working with him a good deal lately concerning the diving laws. We were discussing the parts of the proposed law that will affect the Department of Archives and History. I mentioned to him that I am going to be out of the country for a couple weeks diving in Micronesia. Dr. Bridges said that his uncle and namesake was killed during World War II in Micronesia. He said he was killed in Truk Lagoon. I told him that this will be my fifth trip to Truk Lagoon and that his uncle must have been in the Navy since we never invaded Truk, we only bombed it. He then told me that his uncle was a pilot and that he bombed an ammunition ship that blew up and the explosion was so large that it destroyed his uncle's airplane. This is all that Dr. Bridges knew about how his uncle died. When he told me this I felt my face go pale and I knew the ship that his uncle sank. I have a VCR tape showing the attack and explosion of the Aikoku Maru. Dr. Bridges uncle was Lieutenant Edwin Bridges who attacked the ship. This ship was the most significant ship sank at Truk. Over 70 ships were sank but the Aikoku was not just an ammunition ship. It was a troop carrier. When the ship blew up between 1,000 and 2,000 Japanese soldiers were killed in the blast. Lt. Bridges action resulted in the death of these soldiers and the saving of many American soldiers lives. The sinking of the Aikoku alone was equivalent to a large land battle victory. The US forces at the time did not know the significance of this bombing until the war was over. Lt. Bridges put his plane right on top of the Aikoku to drop his bombs. He was a great warrior and a hero. I am very excited about being able to help Dr. Bridges find out about his uncle and how he died. Dr. Bridges was born a year and a half after his uncle died and he was named after him. I knew about the explosion that blew up his airplane and I have twice dived on the Aikoku Maru. It is a spooky dive at great depths. In fact, two years ago Terry Banks, Don Sublett and I had a bad scare while diving inside the ship. We were about 170 feet deep and were not sure we were going to find our way out. Luckily we did. I don't want to dive this ship again but I do want to find out all I can about the remains of Lt. Bridges airplane. Possibly next week I can learn more about this and help Dr. Bridges and his family find out more about his hero uncle. I love history and especially being involved in helping to answer questions for the family.

 Other News

  
Tannehill
Last week I lent some more of my relics from the War Between the States to Tannehill State Park. They have an excellent museum at the park and I suggest that you visit when you can. It is the Iron and Steel Museum that traces production of Alabama's iron ore all the way to finished products during the war years. Please go visit this park and I'm sure you will enjoy all that Tannehill has to offer.
  
My Trial
Everyone calls to ask about my trial. Right now my trial is scheduled to be March 21 but the District Attorney in Selma has asked for another continuance. They continue to jerk me around. I want a trial and I want one ASAP. They don't have a case against me and they should go ahead and try me if they think that they do. I want my boat back and I want my gun I found back and I refuse to grovel to the people who arrested me. Thanks for all the support you have given to me and to the public in general. We don't know if we will be able to get a better law passed in this session. The attention and success that we have had are due primarily to the letters and phone calls that you have made to our legislators. Keep writing and calling them to support our getting access to our Public Lands and Waters.
 
Steve Phillips
Save Our Lost History
4515 5th Avenue South
Birmingham, AL. 35222
205-595-3052

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

March 13, 2005

Hello Divers,
 
Trip Update
It is starting to get busy at the SCUBA School just like it does every year around this time, Thank God. As you already know, the Spring Cozumel, Truk Lagoon, and the Belize Live Aboard trips are already sold out, but we have a few other trips with spaces available. We hope you can go with us.
 
April 15-17 Wreck Diving Trip, Panama City, FL
Several Divers are earning their Advanced Certification on this trip. The classroom session will be during the evening the week of the trip. This is an ocean diving course, all of the dives will be off shore on some of the wrecks. The subjects covered will be boat dives, wreck dives, deep dives, and underwater navigation. The Passport diver price includes classroom training at the SCUBA school, two days of offshore boat diving, two nights in a hotel (double occ.), and Advanced SCUBA certification from a worldwide recognized agency.
 Passport diver student price $415.
 Non-member student price $515.
Passport diver already Adv. Certified $345.
 
May 9-12 Morgan/Cooper River South Carolina, Artifact Trip
This is a very exciting adventure. We will be diving in 15 to 35 feet of water in these rivers. All divers on this trip need to be Advanced certified and have 25 logged dives. The divers on this trip usually recover a good selection of bottles, fossils, clay pipes, pottery, and Indian artifacts. The Passport diver price includes transportation from just outside Birmingham, 3 days of boat diving with food and beverages on the boat, 3 nights in a hotel (double occ.), tank rentals, airfills, and the boat guide. This is a small group with lots of diving.
Passport diver price $615
Non-member price $650
 
June 19-26 Bonaire
Some of the families that Southern has trained are going on this Southern Caribbean shore diving destination. There are still several spots available. The Passport diver price includes roundtrip airfare from Atlanta to Bonaire, accommodations in a beachfront condo, daily breakfast, a truck rental with unlimited mileage, and six days of unlimited shore diving with tanks and weights. Call the SCUBA School for more details.
Passport diver price in 2 bedroom 2 bathroom Condo $1895 per person/quad occ.
 
Lets go diving. Dive early, Dive often, Have Fun. Support your local dive store. That's us.
 
Thanks to our Passport Members
Last week Southern Skin Divers Supply was invited to attend the Aqua-Lung "First to Dive Tour." This consisted of SCUBA schools and dive stores from parts of Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, South Carolina, and Alabama. Aqua-Lung awarded Southern Skin Divers Supply 1st place in regional sales. We want to thank all of our Passport Members for making Southern Skin Divers Supply the number one Aqua-Lung dealer in the Southeastern Region. Thank You!
 
Thanks,
 
Forrest Phillips
Southern Skin Divers Supply
4515 5th Avenue South
Birmingham, AL. 35222
205-595-3052

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

March 9, 2005
 
HB125 Passed Out of Committee.
 
Bob Cox, Spencer and I were in Montgomery yesterday for the committee meeting on HB125. Our bill was passed forward by unanimous vote and now will be sent to the entire House of Representatives to be voted on. This should happen in the next few weeks. We had to compromise some with the Alabama Historical Commission(AHC) but we can fully support the bill as long as no more changes are made. This bill will allow divers to dive all of Alabama without a permit and to find isolated finds. It will have an Oversight Committee that will control issuing permits to salvage shipwrecks. The Oversight Committee is very important and should treat everyone the same and not just allow insiders to get a permit if one is needed. The insiders affiliated with the AHC have been issuing themselves permits while actual divers, collectors and historians have been excluded. HB125 and SB128 will encourage diving and tourism in Alabama. People will come to Alabama to dive instead of being afraid of being arrested. We will be able to save some of the isolated bottles and relics in our rivers before they are destroyed by dredging of channels and nature.
 
 If we can get the new law passed it will put some common sense back into our diving laws. All we want is access to our public lands and waters for the public. No special treatment for insiders. Representative Cam Ward is our sponsor in the House and Senator Jack Biddle is our sponsor in the Senate. These men have been a great help working for the public. Lets remember to support them in their efforts when they need us. I also want to thank Representative Billy Beasley for spending much time with me while I explained what the bill will do and what the amateur historians and collectors are really about.
  
We now need to contact all of the legislators to ask them to support our bills and to get them on the calendar for a vote. It has taken 6 years of hard work to get this far. There is still opposition from the special interest insiders. They are contacting the legislators and opposing our bills for their own benefit. Please make a total effort to let the legislators know what the public wants. Many of the special interest insiders are in the Mobile and Baldwin County area. The legislators from these areas especially need to hear from us so that divers will be able to dive in Mobile Bay and the Gulf. Please contact as many as possible and get your family and friends to do the same. Here is a link to the legislators contact information:
 
House Members http://www.legislature.state.al.us/house/representatives/houseroster_alpha.html
 
Senate Members: http://www.legislature.state.al.us/senate/senators/senateroster_alpha.html
 
 
Steve Phillips
Save Our Lost History
4515 5th Avenue South
Birmingham, AL. 35222
205-595-3052

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

March 5, 2005

Here's a link to our proposal for a working law to replace the current AUCRAp.  See it =====>HERE

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

March 3, 2005

Update on Alabama Diving

I wanted to keep you up to date on the struggle in Alabama between the Public and the power grabbing bureaucrats of the Alabama Historical Commission (AHC).

John Trott and I have been going to Montgomery each week to help keep our proposed laws on track. The House subcommittee appointed 4 people to represent the AHC, the Department of Conservation, the Department of Archives and History and the Public. I represent the public. This group has been instructed to work out wording that will be acceptable to the involved parties about diving and finding relics and artifacts in Alabama waters.

The Department of Conservation and the Department of Archives and History and the Public are pretty much in agreement on fixing Alabama's bad diving law. The AHC is not in agreement with the other parties. The AHC has submitted new wording that is worse for the public than our existing law. I don't think the AHC will work with the Public. They are power grabbers and only want the insiders to be able to find and keep isolated finds. I want our history that is lost in rivers to be saved by anyone who can.

Last year I told you about some retired men from Mobile who were arrested for looking on International Paper Company land about 2 miles from Blakeley park near Mobile. They were not violating any law but were arrested and harrassed anyway. There was some park ranger from Blakeley Park that told the Conservation officer to arrest them. The prosecutors tried to get these 2 men to plead guilty to a misdemeanor. They refused to plead guilty and hired a lawyer instead. On February 17th their case came up before judge Pitman in Bay Minette. He threw the case out immediately and said they had done nothing wrong. George Davis and Jimmy Alonzo are the names of the two men who were harassed and unfairly charged with a crime. I hope the Department of Conservation and other law enforcement officers will read the laws that they are wrongly enforcing and will stop allowing themselves to be used by the socialist bureaucrats who work for these government agencies like Blakeley Park and the AHC. I am attaching the proposed new wording that our Save Our Lost History group has written that is being considered in our legislature now. It is a well thought out piece of legislation that will be good for the public as well as the state if we can get this passed. The state employees of the AHC never plan to save any relics from the waters of our state. The only people who are given permission to find anything over 50 years old are insiders. There is currently no Oversight Committee to oversee the employees of the AHC as far as permitting goes. Our proposed law will have a good Oversight Committee that will control any salvage of historic shipwrecks. No permits will be necessary to find isolated finds or to do recreational diving. Please keep calling and contacting the legislators so we can get these freedoms back.

Sincerely,

Steve Phillips
Save Our Lost History
4515 5th Avenue South
Birmingham, AL. 35222
205-595-3052

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

February 19, 2005
  
Treasure in Alabama Waters
 
Over my last 32 years of relic hunting and 41 years of scuba diving I have been asked hundreds of times about the lost Confederate gold and cannon barrels laying on the bottom of rivers and creeks. To these people I must say it is time for you to get real. You are reading too much fiction and should start reading history. The Confederates had cotton not gold. Confederate money was paper and practically worthless. To put it in terms I understand, they were dirt poor. If there ever was any Confederate gold that was buried don't you think the buriers would have gone back and dug it up to keep their families from starving? They would not have advertised the fact that they had dug it up. As for as cannon barrels go, I hope to find one someday. My 5000 plus dives so far have produced none except for tourist type dives in the Caribbean. If I am ever able to find a cannon barrel I will spend the many thousands of dollars that it will cost to raise the barrel and then I will put it on display at a deserving museum or city. I won't give it to them because of the high risk of them either selling or neglecting the relic. The first and most important thing to do is find something that is lost. This past week in Montgomery I heard the great Senator Jack Biddle make one of the most accurate statements I have ever heard. He said that "An artifact ain't nothing till somebody pulls it out of the mud." This is what we learn from.
 
The Professional Archaeologists and government staffers can write all the plans, grants, contracts and schemes that they charge us millions of dollars to write, but nothing really happens until some amateur gets his hands dirty, spends his own money and really finds something. The Professional Archaeologists who collaborate with the Alabama Historical Commission love to call us looters and plunderers. What we really are is the public. We are the people. We also are the people who have found almost all of the artifacts that are on display in all of the museums, libraries, public buildings and public displays throughout the world and we write the books that people read. I for one am tired of these greedy, self-serving, arrogant parasites on our government. They call us names so I call them names. They refer to themselves as academic, scientific trained colleagues. When in reality they are conspirators against the public. They write pamphlets at great government expense to share with their fellow collaborators. They get little or no results and they do not serve the public. You may notice that I use the word public alot. I do this because so many people now don't understand what public is. I talked to a legislator in Montgomery who told me that the public and state are the same thing. That is wrong. The state and government was created by the public. The government exists to serve and at the will of the public.
 
My words today are plain and blunt as I write to you. When I am in Montgomery I am much more proper and I freely admit to being cowed down by our legislators. I am very respectful of the men and women and I like almost all of them. I should and do respect these people because they were elected by and represent the public. They work for and serve the public. The staff of the AHC seems to believe that they are independent of any supervision. For many years now they have run rough shod over the public. Now they are being brought down. In the past 2 years we have fired their leader and we cut their annual budget from 12 million to 7 million dollars. This is a good start
 
Alabama's State Archaeologist in the meeting Wednesday afternoon with the State Representatives said he would do whatever they wanted. Several times he looked at the Representatives and assured them that he would do whatever they wanted. Never once did he look across the room at the public and tell us that he would do what we want. He was instructed to work with me and Bob Cox from Gulf Coast Divers in Mobile to work on HB125. After the meeting I told the State Archaeologist that we want to get together ASAP and see if he has any suggestions to improve the proposed law. I have not heard from the AHC since and I will be surprised if I do. What our proposed law will do is set up a 15 member oversight committee to control salvage of shipwrecks. The members will be elected legislators or their appointees, there will be dive school, historians, collectors and archaeologists on the oversight committee. Under the current law the AHC has no oversight committee and all diving on and salvage of shipwrecks is controlled by Professional Archaeologists who are paid by anyone trying to get a permit to dive. Under current law we are prohibited from finding isolated finds. The new law will permit isolated finds. The new law also reads that all Indian mounds are off limits to diving. This is good and we can try to stop the Professional Archaeologists from robbing these graves. I started this letter talking about treasure in Alabama waters so lets get back to it.
 

Treasure for a scuba business is training new divers and selling them equipment so they can explore the majority of our planet. We train and open the door to the underwater world. The current Alabama law closes that door and prevents our citizens from using our public lands and waters.

 
Treasure for the state of Alabama and its businesses is the potential tourism and other revenue generated by encouraging people to use and visit our waters. This is big dollars for our state businesses and could help some of our cities to be more like Charleston or Savannah. Treasure for historians and collectors is the wealth of knowledge that we divers can provide to the world. Alabama has 77,000 miles of waterways. We have 7 times more than Florida. Florida has a great diving industry and Alabama wastes our great underwater potential.
 
Treasure for a Civil War relic hunter like myself is to be able to track iron ore from the Jefferson County area in the form of pig iron ingots to Selma. Where they were changed to tools of war, and track these items on to cities and battles. This is how historians learn more. It will take thousands of divers who are amateur archaeologists, historians and artifact hunters to even start to explore the muddy bottoms of our blackwater rivers. There is no visibility in most of our rivers so the only way people can see anything is for a diver to use metal detectors and grope through the logs and mud and recover items that have been thrown away in our rivers and streams. We should appreciate and encourage these adventurers. The state of Alabama could never afford the tremendous expense of even searching 1/10 of 1% of our vast waterways. We must use the wealth of our individual citizen divers to explore. They have the money to spend and are willing to pursue their hobbies if allowed access to the public waters. Fishermen are allowed to fish, hunters are allowed to hunt, boaters go boating so why can't divers explore? Our young people especially need this door opened.
 
Under the current law its illegal for a person to walk along a creek or river and pick up a bottle over 50 years old or an arrowhead. Our law will allow these people to find isolated items without being arrested. Divers are not the only people affected by the current law. At 8:00 AM last Wednesday morning about 100 people were at a hearing for SB128 in Montgomery. Four people were allowed to speak for the bill and three against it. Archie Phillips, Charles Harris, Bob Cox and myself spoke for the bill and the public. I think you were well represented. About half the people in the room were for SB128 and half were opposed. The difference is that the supporters are individual citizens and were taking a day off of work and coming at their own expense. As far as I can tell by researching the opponent names, almost all of them either work for or have strong ties to the AHC or they are Professional Archaeologists with a vested interest in continuing to be the only people who can get a permit to find anything underwater in Alabama. Most if not all of these people who oppose SB128 are not divers and will never look for or find anything. They will sell their signature on a permit for a diver to explore.
 
Archie Phillips has been a diver longer than I have and he is extremely well known for his Taxidermy business and his TV show. We are not related. He is also an amateur archaeologist and relic hunter. He spoke well for us and he asked the Professional Archaeologists if they think they have a monopoly on brains. The Senators passed our bill out of committee but we need to keep writing, calling and emailing our legislators now more than ever to keep our bills moving. Our opponents are not letting up in their efforts to keep the public out of public waters.
 
I want to thank all of the people who have contacted the legislators in support of SB128 and HB125. Please keep it up and contact all Senators and Representatives. You do make a difference. I also want to thank the wonderful people who took off work and came to Montgomery to support. You are priceless.
 
Sincerely,
 
Steve Phillips
Save Our Lost History
4515 5th Avenue South
Birmingham, AL. 35222
205-595-3052

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

February 12, 2005

Support SB128

You can read Alabama State Bill 128 in its' entirety by clicking HERE (requires the free Acrobat Reader which can be installed from here if you need it)

Alabama Public Hearing on SB128.
 
 
Our proposed new laws are now being considered in the Alabama legislature. HB125 is in subcommittee now in the House of Representatives the committee members are:
 
Representative John Robinson, Vice Chair                                      Representative Tommy Carter
3479 County Rd. #33                                                                        18216 Upper Ft. Hampton Rd. 
Scottsboro, AL. 35769                                                                       Elkmont, AL. 35620

256-259-6190                                                                                    Limestone County 
256-259-2434                                                                                   
house3@alhouse.org
Jackson County 
house3@alhouse.org
 
Representative Mickey Hammon                                                    Representative Billy Beasley
1344 East Upper River Rd.                                                             56 North Midway St.
Decatur, AL. 35603                                                                         Clayton, AL. 36016
256-350-4261                                                                                 334-775-3442
256-350-0375
                                                                                 334-775-3291
Limestone and Morgan Counties                                                   Barbour and Henry Counties
house3@alhouse.org                                                                     
house3@alhouse.org

 
Representative Cam Ward
201 1st Street N
Alabaster, AL. 35007
205-664-6848
205-684-6841
camjulward@aol.com
 
 
We need you to continue to contact these representatives and ask them to support HB125.
  
In the State Senate our bill SB128 is going to have a public hearing Wednesday, February 16th at 8:00 AM in the Starwars Chamber of the State House Building. Click HERE to read SB128. The full time lobbyist of the Alabama Historical Commission and the State Archaeologist asked for this hearing in an effort to kill our bill. It is very strange for a public hearing to be set at such an early hour and I know it will be hard for our people to get to Montgomery for this hearing. It is extremely important that you go to this meeting. We have worked for 6 years to try and fix the bad law that Alabama has now and we have the opportunity to change the law now. In 1999 the AHC passed the Alabama Underwater Cultural Resources Act. This law was passed by the legislators to control salvage of shipwrecks in Mobile Bay. The staff of the AHC lied to the legislators about what the law would apply to. We now have the bad law that requires a permit for a sport diver to dive in Alabama waters and just look around. We are also forbidden to find any item over 50 years old in the waters of Alabama. This is not what the legislators wanted but it is what we now have. The only people who can apply for a permit to find anything in Alabama are Professional Archaeologists. In Alabama there is a club named the Alabama Association of Professional Archaeologists, AAPA. This club has about 40 members. The members are either employees of or have strong ties to the AHC. Some of the members are commissioners of the AHC or their spouses. The 40 members of the club are not divers or historians but they are granted very special treatment by the law as it exists now. They want money to get permits for divers to dive and look for relics. Its all about money with these Professional Archaeologists. They were already getting grants and contracts either through or arranged by the AHC for land construction projects. This was not enough for the greedy archaeologists and they wanted to make money from divers. Remember these archaeologists don't dive and are not historians.
 
The AHC never intends to recover artifacts from our rivers. This statement is from a letter written by Thomas Maher the State Archaeologist of Alabama. I quote,"It is not our goal to find, remove, and conserve every possible artifact from Alabama's rich history and prehistory. We believe that excavations of Archaeological Sites should be the last, not first, option. We hope our descendants will have historic and prehistoric places to visit and study. In short we believe that preservation in place should be our first choice."
I don't think Mr. Maher understands that iron relics will rust away and nothing will be left to preserve.
 
These people are opposing SB128 and HB125. They are now contacting the University of Alabama, Auburn, Troy State and Jacksonville State colleges archaeology departments and students to come to Montgomery next Wednesday to oppose the citizens of Alabama. They do not want the citizens to have access to the public lands and waters of Alabama. Public is a word some people don't understand. Yesterday in Montgomery one of the representatives told me that the public and state are the same thing. He is wrong. Public is about people while state is a place or government.
 
The Professional Archaeologists with their vested interests will be coming from Alabama and Georgia to claim the public lands. We need to show up in large numbers to represent the people of Alabama. Please do your part by coming to the public hearing. I know its hard to get off work and get to Montgomery but if you don't we will continue to lose our freedoms. Our rights and freedoms are worth the efforts required to preserve them.
 
Below we are listing the names and addresses of the Senate Committee members that will determine the fate of SB128. Please contact these Senators and urge them to support SB128. Time is critical so don't put this off.
 
Thanks for helping,
 
Steve Phillips
Save Our Lost History
4515 5th Avenue South
Birmingham, AL. 35222
205-595-3052
 
Please forward this email to any webpage that would be interested and send it to your friends.

We need all the support that we can get.

  

Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee

 

Zeb Little - Cullman and parts of Lawrence and Winston Counties

State House:

Room 736
11 S. Union Street
Montgomery, AL 36130
(334) 242-7855

Business:

P.O. Box 930
Cullman, AL 35056
Phone: (256) 734-0456
Fax: (256) 734-0466

Home:

221 Fairway Drive
Cullman, AL 35057
(256) 734-6348

Email:

zeblittle@earthlink.net

 

 

Jack Biddle - Parts of Jefferson, Blount and St. Clair Counties                      

State House:

Room 722
11 S. Union Street,

Montgomery, AL 36130
(334) 242-7846

Business:

530 Beacon Parkway W.
Birmingham 35209
Phone: (205) 945-6551
Fax: (205) 945-6557

Home:

2256 Pinehurst Drive
Gardendale 35071
(205) 631-4591

 

 

 

 

Tom Butler - Parts of Limestone and Madison Counties

State House:

Room 733
11 S. Union Street
Montgomery, AL 36130
(334) 242-7854

Business:

136 Hartington Dr.
Madison, AL 35758
Phone: (256) 837-8374
Fax: (256) 837-4355

Home:

136 Hartington Dr.
Madison, AL 35758
(256) 837-8374

Email:

senbutler@aol.com

 

Bobby Denton - Lauderdale and part of Colbert County

State House:

Room 719
11 S. Union Street
Montgomery, AL 36130
(334) 242-7888

Business:

P.O. Box 2545
Muscle Shoals, AL 35662
Phone: (256) 331-5312
Fax: (256) 386-0653

Home:

2206 Lisa Avenue
Muscle Shoals, AL 35661
(256) 381-7449
Fax: (256) 386-0592

Email:

Website:

bobby@bobbydenton.com

www.bobbydenton.com

 

Jimmy Holley - Coffee, Covington, and parts of Dale and Houston Counties

State House:

Room 722
11 S. Union Street
Montgomery, AL 36130
(334) 242-7845

Business:

Route 2, Box 254-E
Elba, AL 36323
(334) 670-3765

Home:

4212 County Road 364
Elba, Alabama 36323
(334) 897-5181

 

 

 

Henry E. “Hank” Erwin, Jr. - Chilton and parts of Bibb, Shelby, and Jefferson Counties

State House:

Room 738
11 S. Union Street
Montgomery, AL 36130
(334) 242-7873

Business:

106-B South First Street
Alabaster, AL 35007
(205) 663-1831
Fax: (205) 663-1831

Home:

32 Oakdale Drive
Montevallo, AL 35051
(205) 620-0116

E-Mail:

Website:

senatorerwin@aol.com

senatorerwin.com

 

Ted Little - Tallapoosa and parts of Lee and Russell Counties

State House:

Room 740
11 S. Union Street
Montgomery, AL 36130
(334) 242-7865

Business:

P.O. Box 2366

Auburn, AL 36831-2366

334-887-3472

Fax: 334-826-7700

Home:

410 South Dean Road
Auburn, AL 36830
(334) 887-6552

E-Mail:

 

tedlittle@mindspring.com

 

Hinton Mitchem - Marshall and part of southern Madison and north Blount Counties

State House:

Room 733
11 S. Union Street
Montgomery, AL 36130
(334) 242-7876

Business:

P.O. Box 297
Albertville, AL 35950
Phone: (256) 878-1631
Fax: (256) 878-2521

Home:

P.O. Box 297
Albertville, AL 35950
(256) 878-1534

Email:

legislator@mclo.org

 

Myron Penn - Barbour, Bullock, Macon, Henry and parts of Lee and Russell Counties      

State House:

Room 731
11 S. Union Street
Montgomery, AL 36130
(334) 242-7868

Business:

5 Court Square
P.O. Box 688
Clayton, AL 36016
(334) 775-9778
Fax: (334) 775-9779

Home:

302 Chunnenuggee Ave.
Union Springs, AL 36089
(334) 738-4486

E-Mail:

myronpenn28@hotmail.com

 

Bobby Singleton - Bibb, Choctaw, Greene, Hale, Marengo, Perry, Sumter, Tuscaloosa Counties                        

State House:

Room 734
11 S. Union Street
Montgomery, AL 36130
Phone: (334) 242-7935
Fax: (334) 242-2210

Business:

P.O. Box 548
Greensboro, AL 36744
(334) 624-3021

Home:

105 Cobb Street
Greensboro, AL 36744
(334) 624-5619

E-mail:

BSingle164@yahoo.com

 

Gary Tanner - Southern Mobile County

State House:

Room 733
11 S. Union Street
Montgomery, AL 36130
(334) 242-7894

Business:

P.O. Box 190368
Mobile, AL 36619
(251) 663-9043
Fax: (251) 653-9043

Home:

5750 McDonald Road
Theodore, AL 36582
(251) 661-4741

 

 

 

H. E. “Hap” Myers - Western part of Mobile County

State House:

Room 735
11 S. Union Street
Montgomery, AL 36130
(334) 242-7886

Business:

P.O. Box 160034
Mobile, AL 36616
Phone: (251) 471-6549
Fax: (251) 471-5811

Home:

3904 Yester Place
Mobile, AL 36608
(251) 343-1635

 

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

February 1, 2005

Support HB125

We now have the opportunity to replace the bad law that prohibits recreational diving and finding isolated finds in Alabama. It has been a year since the last legislative session. Last year we failed in our efforts to replace the law. Our bill passed in the State Senate but died in the Agriculture committee of the House. Many of the divers, historians, collectors and legislators have been working hard to gain support so we can pass our new bill in this session.

Representative Cam Ward has introduced the new bill this week. It is HB125. Senator Jack Biddle will also introduce this new bill in the Senate. I don't know the senate number yet. Where we must concentrate our efforts now is to the members of the Agriculture Committee in the House. We need the support of all the members of this committee. What the new law will do if passed is set up an oversight committee to regulate issuing permits for salvage of shipwrecks in the Mobile Bay area. The law will allow people to find any isolated finds not associated with a shipwreck. Of course all burial grounds such as Indian Mounds are already protected under State and Federal laws and our bill will not effect those laws. This bill is to allow individuals to save relics and artifacts that are scattered throughout our 77,000 miles of waterways before they rust away or are destroyed. We want to encourage a friendly relationship between the State and the citizens who are interested in saving our history. We also want to be able to pursue our hobbies without an overpowering agency getting involved unnecessarily in our lives. We don't want to have any permits issued for recreational divers. We don't want to create an agency that would be about creating jobs for professional archaeologists and employees of our state. They should be involved in sites that will be covered by the new bill. These sites are shipwrecks only.

Please contact or write each of the committee members as soon as you can and ask for their support for HB125. If any of the representatives are from your counties please tell them where you are from. Time is critical now. Don't just watch what happens. Do your part and we can actually change a bad law into a good law. We are listing the addresses and other information that you need to contact the representatives. There are only 30 work days in the legislative session so we must work fast now.

Here is their contact information and the counties they represent:

Representative Thomas Jackson, Chair                            Representative John Robinson, Vice Chair
PO Box
656                                                                              3479 County Rd. #33
Thomasville, AL. 36784                                                        Scottsboro, AL. 35769
334-636-9642 ext. 676                                                       256-259-6190
334-636-0094                                                                        256-259-2434
Choctaw, Clarke, Conecuh, Marengo &  Monroe Co.     Jackson County
house3@alhouse.org                                                             house3@alhouse.org

 
Representative Greg Albritton                                            Representative Joe Carothers
PO Box 392                                                                              2916 Taylor Rd.
Excel, AL. 36439                                                                    Dothan, AL. 36301
251-578-6900                                                                        334-792-3060
251-765-2021                                                                        Houston County
Clarke, Baldwin, Conecuh, Escambia & Monroe Co.       house3@alhouse.org
house3@alhouse.org

Representative Tommy Carter                                            Representative Spencer "Jack" Collier
18216 Upper Ft. Hampton Rd.                                             11615 Shannon Drive East
Elkmont, AL. 35620                                                                Irvington, AL. 36544
Limestone County                                                                   251-824-3798
house3@alhouse.org                                                             Mobile County   altrooper@yahoo.com

Representative Rusty Glover                                              Representative Mickey Hammon
PO Box
49                                                                                 1344 East Upper River Rd.
Semmes, AL. 36575                                                               Decatur, AL. 35603
251-649-7380                                                                        256-350-4261
Mobile County                                                                          256-350-0375
house3@alhouse.org                                                             Limestone and Morgan Co.   house3@alhouse.org

Representative Allen Layson                                               Representative Yusuf Salaam
PO Box
910                                                                              230 Franklin St.
Reform, AL. 35481                                                                
Selma, AL. 36703
205-375-2630                                                                        334-872-7571
205-375- 2630                                                                       Dallas County
Pickens and Tuscaloosa Co.                                                 house3@alhouse.org
house3@alhouse.org

Representative Bobby Singleton                                        Representative Lucius Black
PO Box 548                                                                              PO Box 284
Greensboro, AL. 36744                                                         York, AL. 36925
334-507-1218                                                                        205-392-5713
334-624-3021                                                                        205-392-7140
Hale, Marengo, Perry and Bibb Co.                                    Greene, Marengo & Sumter Co.
house3@alhouse.org                                                             lblack284@aol.com

Representative Warren Beck                                              Representative Billy Beasley
2220
Enterprise Rd.                                                              56 North Midway St.
Geneva, AL. 36340                                                                Clayton, AL. 36016
334-684-9549                                                                        334-775-3442
334-684-3011                                                                        334-775-3291
Geneva and Dale Co.                                                              Barbour and Henry Co.
house3@alhouse.org                                                             house3@alhouse.org

Representative Cam Ward
201 1st Street N
Alabaster, AL. 35007
205-664-6848
205-684-6841
camjulward@aol.com

We will be spending a lot of time in Montgomery during the next several weeks talking with the legislators. Please send me a copy of correspondence that you write and any responses that you receive so we can show the legislators how much interest we have in passing HB125. Please help and also post this letter to interested web pages and contact your friends.

Thank you for all your work and efforts in the past and for helping again this time.

Steve Phillips
Save Our Lost History
4515 5th Ave. South
Birmingham, AL. 35222
205-595-3052

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

January 25, 2005

Dear Divers:

We just wanted to let you know about some of the trips that are coming up. Both of the Spring 2005 trips are sold out. The first one is a 5 day trip to Cozumel to do some drift diving over Spring Break. The day we return we have another group making the journey to Truk Lagoon in Micronesia to participate in the greatest wreck diving in the world. After that we have 2 other exciting trips that do have spaces available.

June 19-26/2005 Bonaire

We set this trip up for families. This group will be staying in condos at a beachfront resort. It will roundtrip airfare from Atlanta to Bonaire, breakfast daily, a truck with unlimited mileage, unlimited shore diving, tanks, weights and belts. Your options are 2 bedroom 2 bath condos or 1 bedroom 1 bath, depending on the size of your family.

Passport Diver in 2 bed/2 bath: $1895pp/quad occ.
Passport Diver in 1 bed/1 bath: $2045pp/double occ.
Youth Diver 12 or younger in condo above: $1045
Youth Non-Diver 12 or younger in condo above; $895
Adult Non-Diver: $1750

July 30-August 6/2005 Belize

There is 1 spot available for the Belize live aboard trip. This will be a great way to do alot of diving in a week (4 or 5 dives per day). The Passport diver price includes accommodations on the ship, all food and drinks while on the ship, port fees and taxes. This is a luxurious vessel, each cabin has its own private bathroom. Call the Scuba School for details.

We will also start our wreck diving adventures to the Gulf and the South Carolina artifact trips in April.

Forrest Phillips
Southern Skin Divers Supply

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

January 12, 2004

 
 Update on Alabama Diving Law
 
The next couple months will be very important to divers, relic hunters and Alabama history. I have been talking with several of our state legislators. The leaders of the House and Senate have told me that they will support changing the law to be friendlier and not as confusing. We appreciate all of the legislators that have supported us and especially Senator Jack Biddle and Representative Cam Ward, they will be sponsoring our bill in the next legislative session. The new law that we are submitting will only involve salvage of shipwrecks and nothing else. All isolated finds will not be under any law so we will be able to save these relics. People who want to salvage shipwrecks will work with the state.
 
Senator Shelby has taken an interest in the problems caused by the staff at the AHC. He wrote to them and told them to address our needs. The acting executive director wrote me and said that the current law affects diving on state land that was listed in or eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. This is what I have been saying all along. The problem is that Elizabeth Brown wrote the letter and she was one of the staff who went to Selma and had Perry and me arrested. All along the staff has been telling divers that the law was about shipwrecks but the fact that we were arrested for diving in Selma speaks for itself. There are no shipwrecks at Selma. No river in the United States is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Ms. Brown is now under the gun from the irate citizens of Alabama. She is being told to work with divers now but that is a real problem for us. We can't believe what the staff tells us. I want the law fixed in the legislature or by the courts. I don't want the staff at the AHC to be able to change regulations at their will. They don't get to make law. I think we are in good shape to pass a new law in the upcoming session. We also have the lawsuit that was filed to throw out the bad law. This lawsuit is proceeding through the courts.
 
Perry and my trial is scheduled for March 7th. I am not worried about this trial. I know several of you are worried for me and Perry. We are in good shape and our lawyers are great. Don't worry, I look forward to this trial. If we don't change the law anywhere else then our trial can possibly fix the law. I have a meeting set up with Governor Riley to discuss problems about diving in Alabama. Governor Riley is a diver and he will help us if he can.
 
The most important thing for us to work on is getting a new executive director at the AHC. Jim Bennett is the best man for this job. He can straighten out the staff at the AHC. If we don't get Jim then we could get another person who knows nothing about Alabama history and is a part of the archaeologist group that wants to rewrite our history. This is the problem we must try to avoid. Please write to Governor Riley and to Janice Hawkins, chairperson of the AHC, and request Jim Bennett to be appointed executive director of the AHC.
 
Here is their contact info:   
 
Governor Bob Riley
Alabama State Capitol
600 Dexter Avenue
Montgomery, AL. 36130
334-242-7100
334-242-7116
 
Mrs. Janice Hawkins
Troy State University
110 McCartha Hall
Troy, AL. 36082
334-353-5889
334-670-3475
janhawk@trojan.troyst.edu
 
 
The Governor's secretary is counting letters now that recommend Jim Bennett. I have known Jim for many years and I trust him and know he loves our history. His results at Tannehill State Park are outstanding. Tannehill is what it is today because of Jim's efforts. He really gets results not just reports.
 
Thanks for all your help.
 
Sincerely,
 
Steve Phillips
Southern Skin Divers Supply
4515 5th Avenue South
Birmingham, AL. 35222
205-595-3052
 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~

December 21, 2004

The USS Oriskany

This is going to be a great dive spot in the future and we will start running trips there next summer. The USS Oriskany will be the largest ship (888 ft.) sunk in US waters and an incredible dive.

Steve Mraz

@PensacolaNewsJournal.com

As the Monday sun set, the decommissioned aircraft carrier Oriskany and four tug boats inched through Pensacola Pass silhouetted by crimson skies.

The heavily weathered and rusted ship, which is set to be an artificial reef in the Gulf of Mexico about 25 miles south of Pensacola, entered the pass five hours behind schedule at 5 p.m.

Photo by Tony Giberson@PensacolaNewsJournal.com

Former Navy warship the USS Oriskany (CV-34) sits in the waters off Pensacola on Monday afternoon after its trip from Corpus Christi, Texas. The carrier will be tied up at the Port of Pensacola until it is sunk in the Gulf under the artificial reefs program.

It was just a small setback compared to the numerous delays that have kept the Oriskany from reaching Pensacola. The ship was supposed to be scuttled in August, but several environmental issues prolonged the event and kept the ship docked in Corpus Christi, Texas, while the Pensacola Bay Area braced for and then recovered from Hurricane Ivan. When the Oriskany left Corpus Christi on Dec. 15, a tow cable attached to the ship snapped, causing another delay.

After making its way through Pensacola Bay in the dark, the "Mighty O" was docked at the Port of Pensacola about 7:30 p.m. Monday.

Finally.

Among the several dozen spectators who watched the Oriskany being docked was Mike Martinez and his 2-year-old grandson, Aidan Wright. Martinez, whose father served on an aircraft carrier, wanted his grandson to see the ship because Wright's father is a Navy pilot.

"I was taken around the world as a Navy brat," said Martinez, 53. "The reason I'm here is to acknowledge my dad. I'm here for the nostalgia."

The carrier will stay moored at the port, undergoing preparations for sinking while Navy and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials review risk-assessment documents. It is the first decommissioned Navy vessel to be used in a new program to turn old ships into artificial reefs. The Oriskany eventually will become the largest ship intentionally sunk as an artificial reef off the United States coast.

"It's going to be an awesome dive," said Eilene Beard, co-owner of the Scuba Shack and "Wet Dream" charter boat. "It's the best Christmas present I've ever had. This community still doesn't realize the economic value this is going to have."

A study by Florida State University showed the annual benefits of artificial reefs to Escambia County could be as high as $92 million. Beard, who personally donated $25,000 in the initial effort to lure the Oriskany to Pensacola, has fielded calls of interest about the ship from Thailand, Japan, Germany and Sweden.

The Oriskany was scheduled to be in the pass at noon, but at that time, the ship was a mere speck on the Gulf of Mexico horizon.

By 1:30 p.m., tugs hauling the Oriskany had stopped roughly 10 miles south of Pensacola Pass. Crews fiddled with tow lines, while the 888-foot, rust-streaked vessel sat ominously in the water like a ghost ship.

Two local dive boats, the "Wet Dream" and the "Y Knot?" Monday afternoon rode out to view the Oriskany.

"It made it this far," said Gene Ferguson, co-owner of the Scuba Shack and "Wet Dream."

"If it sinks now, that'd be wonderful," he said.

Some confusion arose late in the afternoon as to where the Oriskany would be docked. With daylight fading and the ship still about six miles away from the pass, crews radioed the lead tug boat that they would dock the Oriskany at Pensacola Naval Air Station.

Ten minutes later, another radio transmission informed the flotilla that the Navy would not allow it to dock there. Then, the group was informed that it could dock at the air station, but by 5:10 p.m., crews decided to take the Oriskany to its original destination, the Port of Pensacola.

After final preparations, the Oriskany should be sunk sometime before summer.

"They really want to get it down by June," Beard said. "We don't want to get into hurricane season."
©The Pensacola News Journal - December 21, 2004
~~~~~~~~~~~~~

December 17, 2004

Alabama Historical Commission

On November 30th, Forrest and I attended an executive meeting of the AHC at their headquarters in Montgomery.  This is the third AHC meeting I have attended in the last few months.  They have all been pretty similar.  There are twenty-one commissioners but generally only about six or seven show up at the meetings.  Most of the commissioners that routinely attend are employed by state colleges and several teach Archeology or Architecture.  Ten commissioners came to this meeting.  Several of the commissioners are concerned with ongoing problems with the staff at the AHC.  The meeting went like this:


1.  There still has been no audit of the AHC but someday in the future there should be one. 


2.  A young man was at the meeting who works for the Alabama Preservation Alliance.  The APA is affiliated with the AHC.  The young man had a look of concern and seemed to be troubled.  Most of us commoners were not allowed to speak but since he is affiliated he was allowed to talk.  His problem became evident when he told us about the Conecuh County Courthouse.  It seems that Conecuh County, like the other counties in Alabama, has elected officials who are voted into office by the citizens of Conecuh County.  I assume that this means they are the representatives of the citizens and speak for them.  The way I understood what was said is that Conecuh County has an old courthouse that is about to fall in and the people of Conecuh County wanted to get them a new one.  Federal money was available to help with the construction.  The old courthouse was to be replaced with a new one.  When the APA found out about the new courthouse the young man who works for the APA contacted Bill Little at the AHC.  Mr. Little is a lawyer who is paid by the Attorney Generals office but who works full time for the AHC.  Mr. Little told the APA man that they could sue Conecuh County to stop they from replacing their courthouse.  He said that he would help with the suit since the Attorney Generals office pays him and he doesn't cost the AHC anything.  He told the APA man that he also needed to hire another law firm to go to court in Conecuh County.  The APA man talked to Lee Warner who was the Director of the AHC, and told Dr. Warner that the APA didn't have enough money to hire a law firm.  Dr. Warner told the APA man not to worry because the AHC would pay for the fees necessary to sue the citizens of Conecuh County.  None of this was mentioned to the commissioners of the AHC.  The suit was filed and prosecuted in court.  After due time in court the ruling was that Conecuh County can replace their courthouse when they want to.  The APA and the AHC lost.  Conecuh County spent lots of money and won the right to do what the citizens wanted.  All this legal action was done and now is in the past but there is a problem.  There is an unpaid legal fee to the firm that represented the APA.  $175,000. is due to be paid for APA legal fees.  When this was said my mouth dropped open as I watched the nervous young man speak.  I then looked at the commissioners who were looking at the young man.  None of the commissioners said a word as they stared with their mouths open.  I think that this was the first that any of the commissioners had heard of this legal action against Conecuh County.  What I'm trying to say is that the staff at the AHC does whatever it wants to.  The commissioners are supposed to be in charge but in reality the staff is in charge.  They look on the commissioners as only advisers.  There is no leadership at the AHC. 


3.  During the meeting the AHC staff also talked about spending up to $600,000. to go into the ferry business at Fort Morgan.  I have no idea why the staff at the AHC thinks they could run a ferry business and anyway, what does any of this have to do with history?


4.  The staff is suffering from a lack of leadership.  They need someone to take charge and run things.  Dr. Bridges was appointed temporary Director after Dr. Warner was removed.  Dr. Bridges does not want to continue at the AHC.  He is going to go back to his real job at the Department of Archives and History.  He has not been able to get the staff at the AHC to serve the wishes of the Alabama Citizens.  The commissioners at the AHC are starting to look for a new director.  At the speed that the AHC works this search could take forever.  We need a leader with a proven record and Alabama ties to take over and fix the AHC.  The only other option would be to cut all funds to the AHC and let it die on the vine.  The staff at the AHC is unable to keep the properties that have been given to them from falling apart.  Around one hundred and ten employees are still being paid by the AHC with our money.  The results of this expense are bad.  They do not serve the citizens.  Instead they sue or arrest the citizens who actually can do things to preserve our history. 


5.  One of the best commissioners is Dr. Angelo Mancuso from Decatur.  He was at the meeting and continues to try to get the staff to do something to preserve the Joe Wheeler House and contents.  The staff has been unable to even make a list of the items in the Wheeler house.  The property was given to the AHC in 1994 and has four full time employees.  It is totally closed to the public.  Millions of dollars have been spent on wages to archaeologists and other friends of the AHC staff.  No results have been made on fixing the house or preserving the contents.  The heating and cooling have been turned off for five years.  The treasures of General Wheeler have been in this house with no climate control for five years.  The AHC is not result oriented.  They are not hands on type people who can get things done.  They must have a leader that can make things happen now.  Dr. Mancuso said that the AHC can't take care of the properties that are under their control and should give them back to the local groups of volunteers who will take care of our treasures.  The Wheeler House and possessions should be given to the Friends of General Joe Wheeler Foundation.  This is a group headed by Lucy LeGrand Walser who is the Generals great great granddaughter. 

To give another example of the inability of the AHC staff.  When I was leaving the meeting at the AHC headquarters, I looked at the carpet on the floor and saw a six foot stain.  The three chairs above the stain had buckets sitting in them to catch the rainwater coming through the roof. This is not a new leak, it has been leaking for a long time.  This house is an Antebellum home and is on Perry Street in Montgomery.  The staff works there everyday and yet not one of them would call a roofer to fix the roof.  They don't want to spend any money unless the money goes to their wages or their friends grants or wages.  There is no one who will be responsible working as staff at the AHC headquarters. 

There is a solution. 
We have a great historian in our state who has an impeccable record of getting things done.  He is Jim Bennett.  Mr. Bennett is currently the commissioner in charge of the Alabama Department of Labor.  In the past he was Alabama's Secretary of State.  If you want to see results done by Jim Bennett you need look no farther than Tannehill Park near Bessemer.  Tannehill is not affiliated with the AHC.  Tannehill has a really good museum and fifteen hundred acres of land with dozens of cabins and other historic sites.  Tannehill gets about four hundred thousand visitors a year and is self supporting.  The park does not cost the state money.  Tannehill is the best historical park in Alabama and it is due to the efforts of Jim Bennett.  Jim has made Tannehill what it is today.  He is result oriented and not just planning to do something someday.  The state of Alabama needs to get Jim Bennett to take over and fix the AHC.  We all need to contact the commissioners of the AHC as well as our legislators and express our interests in the ongoing problems with the head staff members.  I will be asking them to appoint Jim Bennett as Executive Director and I hope you will also.  I don't want them to hire another director from out of state with no ties to Alabama or our history.  Please tell the commissioners about our diving laws that prevent us from diving in our own state.  The chairperson is Janice Hawkins.  She is a very nice lady and is familiar with the staff problems.  Be sure to contact her, but be kind, she is overwhelmed with the many problems at the AHC.  Remember, the squeaking wheel gets the grease.  Let's squeak.
Please send me copies of what you send and any responses.  We will need these when we go to the legislators to change the law.
Please do your part.



Steve Phillips
Save Our Lost History
4515 5th Ave South
Birmingham, AL. 35222
205-595-3052


Alabama Historical Commission Board of Directors
As of August 25, 2004


Chair:  1. Mrs. Janice Hawkins (res.) 110 McKinley Dr Troy, AL. 36081
office  Troy State University 110 McCartha Hall, Troy, AL.  36082
home phone 334-670-3475     office phone 334-353-5889 or 334-670-3370
e-mail: janhawk@trojan.troyst.edu

Vice Chair: 2. Mr. William Drinkard
Drinkard Development, Inc. 1301 Welti Rd SE Cullman, AL.   35055
Drinkard Development PO Box 996 Cullman, AL.   35056-0996
home phone 256-775-0200  office phone 256-738-1815
e-mail: wdrinkard@aol.com

Secretary:  3.  Mr. Kippy Tate
State Building Commission
770 Washington Ave Ste. 444
Montgomery, AL. 36130-1150
office phone 334-242-4082
e-mail:  ktate@bc.state.al.us

Treasurer:  4. Mr. Bobby M. Junkins, Etowah County Probate Judge
PO Box 187
Gadsden, AL. 35902
phone 205-932-4519
e-mail: bmjunkins@yahoo.com

5.  Dr. James "Ike" Adams Jr.
The University of Alabama
Dean, School of Social Work
Tuscaloosa, AL. 35487
phone 205-348-3924
e-mail:  jadams@sw.ua.edu

6.  Honorable Lucy Baxley
Alabama State House, Ste. 725
11 South Union St.
Montgomery, AL. 36130
phone 334-242-7900
e-mail:  info@ltgov.state.al.us

7.  Dr. Edwin Bridges, Alabama Department of Archives and History
PO Box 300100
Montgomery, AL.   36130-0100
Phone 334-242-4435 or 334-242-4441
e-mail: ed.bridges@archives.alabama.gov

8.  Mr. Nicholas Cobbs Jr, Attorney
1110 Main St.
Greensboro, AL. 36744
phone 334-624-4202

9. Honorable Seth Hammett, Speaker of the House of Representatives
PO Box 1776
Andalusia, AL. 36420
or
Room 519-A, 11 South Union Street
Montgomery, AL. 36130
Home phone 334-222-4469
office phone 334-242-7668
e-mail: seth.hammett@alhouse.org

10.  Mr. Barnett Lawley
Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
64 N. Union St.
Montgomery, AL. 36104
phone 334-242-3486
e-mail: commissioner@dcnr.state.al.us

11. Mr. Danny Cooper
Alabama Association of Realtors
PO Box 4070
Montgomery, AL. 36103-4070
phone 334-262-3808
danny@alabamarealtors.com

12. Dr. Angelo Mancuso
2828 Hwy 31 South Ste. 103
Decatur, AL. 35603
phone 256-351-9996

13.  Mr. Stephen Martin
Alabama Education Association
PO Box 4177
Montgomery, AL. 36103-4177
phone 334-834-9790
e-mail:  stephenm@alaedu.org

14.  Dr. Geri Moulton
University of South Alabama
307 University Boulevard
Mobile, AL. 36685
phone 251-460-6111

15.  Mrs. Vivian Paul
148 S Jackson St.
Grove Hill, AL. 36451
home phone 251-275-3949
office phone 251-275-4131

16.  Honorable Bob Riley, Governor
Alabama State Capital
600 Dexter Ave
Montgomery, AL. 36130

17.  Mr. Lee Sentell
Alabama Bureau of Tourism and Travel
PO Box 4927
Montgomery, AL. 36104-4927

18.  Mr. Steve Sharp
702 Piedmont Lake Rd.
Pine Mountain GA. 31822
home phone 706-663-8776
cell phone 706-289-4714

19.  Dr. Craig Sheldon
AUM, Department of Anthropology
7300 University Drive
Montgomery, AL. 36117-3596
home phone 334-567-8942
office phone 334-244-3765

20.  Dr. Robert Jakeman
Auburn University History Department
310 Thach Hall
Auburn, AL. 36849
phone 334-844-6634
e-mail: jakemrj@auburn.edu

21.  Dr. Dan Bennett
Auburn University, Dean, School of Architecture
202 Dudley Hall
Auburn University, AL. 36849
phone 334-844-4285
e-mail: dbennett@auburn.edu 

  
~~~~~~~~~~~~~

December 9, 2004
 
 
Spearfishing 

 

Last weekend Spencer and Forrest took a small group of Southern's divers on a 2 day spearfishing trip to Panama City, Fl. Flounder are one of the easier types of fish to shoot or get with a pole spear and in late November and December they are around the wrecks in abundance. This was Derrick Winnett's second spearfishing trip to P. C. and it was the first one for the father son team of John and Jay Watson. Derrick uses a competition sawed off magnum that is very easy to reload. John and Jay took turns alternating between a sawed off woody magnum and a pole spear. We could tell it was going to be a good trip from the beginning when John got 2 flounder with his first shot. One was over 20 inches long. A flounder this size will feed 2 or 3 normal people, or Jay Watson. Saturday we shot 17 fish and we carried some of those fish to the Captain's Table Restaurant that night and they cooked them up for us. The original owner of Southern Skin Divers, Bill Tant, along with his wife Eloise joined us for stuffed flounder. As usual the Captain's Table did a great job on the food. They even stuffed a 22 inch flounder for Jay Watson. On Sunday the conditions were not as good. It was cooler overcast and a little rough. Everybody did great and the dives produced as many fish as the previous day.

 

Sale Items

 
Ever wonder what to get a diver for Christmas that already has all of their equipment? How about a bag to carry it in. SSDS currently has a large selection of boat bags, regulator bags, travel bags (some with wheels) and dry boxes. For the month of December all of these that are in stock come with a 10% discount. We still have some 5, 6 and 7 mm wetsuits that are 25% off and all masks, fins, snorkels and boots are 20% off until 2005.
 
 
Come see us,
 
Forrest Phillips
Southern Skin Divers Supply
4515 5th Ave South
Birmingham, Al. 35222

                                                                                                                                                         John & Jay Watson and the 22 inch flounder.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

12/2/04

December 2, 2004   
  
Steve Phillips with Southern Skin Divers Supply in Birmingham today found a pistol that is associated with a quadruple murder. The murders were committed in December of 2003. The weapon had already been searched for by the Sheriff's Department divers with no success. The site where the pistol was thrown in is between Tarrant City and Center Point. The site is a small lake. Water temperature today was 50 degrees and absolutely no visibility.

Steve used search techniques that he has learned over his 40 years and 5000+ dives. This is the third murder weapon that Steve has found for the police departments. Steve does not charge a fee for this type of work. He just likes to find stuff. Steve was one of the divers who was arrested in October 2003 for finding a broken Civil War musket in the Alabama River at Selma. Reporters were on the scene today. Birmingham TV channel 6 sent Jeh Jeh Pruitt and channel 33/40 sent a reporter also. Mike Bolton came from the Birmingham News. There should be reports tonight on the TV channels and tomorrow you can go to www.al.com and see the Mike Bolton article in the Birmingham News.

(That article is here==> News)

Steve enjoyed being able to help without being arrested.

 
Thanks,
 
Spencer Phillips
Southern Skin Divers Supply
4515 5th Avenue South
Birmingham, AL. 35222
205-595-3052

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

11/29/04

Christmas is a few weeks away and we hope some of you are wanting dive stuff for yourselves or family. All of our in stock fins, snorkels, masks and booties are on sale for 20% off of normal price during December. We have a large inventory so you should be able to get whatever you need.
 

We also have a special sale on our Suunto Stinger stainless steel pro-pack. It includes the Stinger dive computer watch, download kit to download to your PC, an extra watch band and a nice metal carrying case. This package normally sells for $1090 but during December we are selling this for $900. If you want to make your spouse or significant other really happy this is what they want.

 

Our Scuba Camp program is the best way to get your kids involved in diving and Christmas is the time to do it. You are going to be spending money at Christmas anyway so why not get a dive buddy in the deal. We also have gift certificates so the divers can pick out what they need.

 

Winter is here now but if you want to just get wet and check out your gear, come and get in our pool. The pool and air tank are free to use for all our club members.

 
 
Spearfishing Trip 12/3 - 12/5
Panama City, Florida
 
There are 2 spots available for the spearfishing trip this weekend. The flounder were coming in last time and there will probably be more this time. On Saturday we will take the fish that we shoot to the Captain's Table restaurant on Beck Avenue in St. Andrews. It is a real treat to eat fresh fish that you shot yourself just a couple of hours earlier. Most people use a speargun but due to the abundance of flounder this time of year, a pole spear will do just fine. The trip includes 2 days of offshore diving and 2 nights in a hotel (double occ.). $345
 
Southern Skin Divers Supply
4515 5th Avenue South
Birmingham, Al. 35222
205-595-3052

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

11/19/04

Fossil Trip
 
Spencer, Dennis and I took my small boat and went to South Carolina Wednesday and Thursday to dive for fossils. Business is slow at the Scuba School this time of year so Spence said lets go so we went. The water temp. is 60 degrees now and we had pretty weather. Days are short now so we only made 2 dives each per day. The spot we were in produces big teeth. We found seven teeth over 4 inches. Spence found the largest tooth. It is 5 3/4 inch. He also found the most teeth. I found a nice vertebrae that is about 6 inches wide.

We will have to do a little research to find out what kind of animal it came from. Dolphins were in the water where we were diving and they bumped into us several times. The visibility was from 0 to 10 inches max. The first day we had trouble reading our gauges on the dive computer. The current on the first day was very strong and I couldn't get back to the boat or the trailing line. Spence raised the anchor and came and got me. This is a difficult dive but the big teeth are there so there we go. We are planning to go again and take a small group leaving the day after Thanksgiving. We still have a couple spaces available. 

 
Lawsuit Against Alabama Historical Commission
 

Early this year our Save Our Lost History fund financed a lawsuit that one of our divers filed to get his diving rights back in Alabama. After the suit was filed in Jefferson County it was going to be transferred to Montgomery. Our lawyer Erskine Mathis did not want the case sent to Montgomery so he dropped the suit temporarily to see if the case could be kept in Jefferson County. He was not able to keep the suit in Jefferson County so he now has refiled the suit in Montgomery. Also during this period of time Dr. Warner was fired from the AHC and different names were needed on the new suit. It has now been refiled. I'll keep everyone posted on what is happening on this action against the AHC.

 
 
Letters
 
 Many divers have emailed or written Dr. Bridges to express their desire to get our diving laws rewritten for Alabama. I appreciate all of the people who have contacted Dr. Bridges. The more people who contact him, the better chance we will have to change the law. We must put pressure on the AHC or they will never do anything to fix the law. I think Dr. Bridges will try to help the divers if he knows how many people are interested in changing the law. If you have not contacted him, please write him or call as soon as you can. Here is his contact information.
 
Dr. Edwin Bridges
Alabama Department of Archives and History
P. O. Box 300100
Montgomery, AL. 36130-0100
334-242-4435
ed.bridges@archives.alabama.gov
 
Please send me copies of any letter you send and his reply. When we start working with the legislators in the spring we will show them our files of all the concerned people to help get their attention on our ongoing problem. What we want is the right to dive in Alabama waters without having to hire an archaeologist to get us a permit. We also want to be able to find isolated finds not associated with a shipwreck. The problem with the law and regulations are the archaeologists who wrote the law and regs are keeping the public from having access to our public lands and waters. Please remember that these lands and waters are public, they are not government lands and waters. We are the public and these are our lands and waters. Divers and relic hunters are also the only people who can find and preserve our lost history that is in our waterways.
 
 
Thanks,
 
Steve Phillips
Southern Skin Divers Supply
4515 5th Avenue South
Birmingham, AL. 35222
205-595-3052

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

11/15/04

Hello All,
 
 
Perry and my trial has been continued. It is now set for March 7th 2005. I wanted to go ahead and have the trial now but Perry's lawyer asked for the continuance because of an eye operation that he had scheduled. I have been talking with Dr. Bridges at the AHC about not opposing divers when we try to change the law. He is very nice and I think he wants to try to fix the law. He told me that the staff of the AHC is admitting now that the regulations are bad. All divers should be contacting Dr. Bridges to express the need to have the law not pertain to isolated finds or scuba diving in general. Dr. Bridges told me that only about 15 divers had contacted him. All of us need to talk to him so he knows that we care about our diving in Alabama.
 
Contact Dr. Bridges at:
Alabama Department of Archives and History
P. O. Box 300100
Montgomery, AL. 36130-0100
Phone: 334-242-4441
email: ebridges@archives.state.al.us
 
 
Please forward any responses that you receive to us.
 
 
Thanks,
 
Steve Phillips
Southern Skin Divers Supply
4515 5th Avenue South
Birmingham, AL. 35222
205-595-3052
~~~~~~~~~~~~~

9/20/04

Update on Alabama Diving Laws and Alabama Historical Commission

 

 

On September 9th Erskine Mathis and I went to Selma for the property hearing to try and get back my boat and other equipment that has been impounded since last October. The DA and judge took this opportunity to once again try to get me to plead guilty to a misdemeanor. They told us that I could get my boat and equipment back and that I would not be fined and all felony charges would be dropped if I would just plead guilty to a misdemeanor so they could get rid of this arrest case. I said no. The judge then said that he thought the whole thing was ridiculous and that I should just let him hear the case and wave my right to a jury. I said no. The judge then told me that I could get jail time if I didn’t do what he and the DA wanted. I told them no. My concern is not just about Perry and me. I want this bad law changed so divers and collectors can’t be threatened by bureaucrats in the Alabama Historical Commission. If I were to plead guilty to a misdemeanor, that action would validate this law and others could be arrested and harassed. Perry and I are not guilty of any crime and have not violated a law. Our court date for trial is November 29th and I look forward to this trial. I hope the divers and collectors will show up at the Courthouse in Selma to help support us in this fight. By the way the judge didn’t rule anything about my boat and equipment, which is what the hearing was about.

            On September 13th I went to Montgomery to attend an executive meeting of the AHC. This is the first time that I have attended one of their meetings but it won’t be the last. Three other members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans were also there to monitor the actions of the commissioners. The SCV and other historical groups do a good job trying to keep the AHC accountable to the stockholders of the state. The stockholders are us, the citizens. We stockholders need to make sure that we are considered and that our employees are not running our company (The State of Alabama) and that we the people are running this state. I was hoping that at this meeting they would discuss more about the bad things that have been going on at the AHC. Instead of discussing how the AHC could start doing a better job for the people, they spent most of the time talking about money and how to get more of it. They did not discuss the reasons that Dr. Lee Warner had to be fired by Governor Riley. Governor Riley has shown a strong interest in fixing the AHC. He appointed Ed Bridges to be temporary director of the AHC. Mr. Bridges regular job is the Director of the Alabama Department of Archives and History. I talked with him after the meeting and I think that he will try to get the AHC fixed. Most of the employees and commissioners seemed to want everything to settle down and get back to business as usual, shafting the people of Alabama. I asked some of the commissioners if they ever read the proposal laws or regulations of the diving laws that the AHC pushed through the legislature. They had not read the law and they said that the employees of the AHC knew about the law. Lets see if I understand this right. Most of the State Legislators did not read the law they put on us. The commissioners of the AHC did not read the law or regulations that they sent to the legislators. No divers or collectors in Alabama were made aware of the proposed law before it was passed. We all just let the employees of the AHC do whatever they wanted to. The Registered Professional Archaeologists (RPA)’s who are the employees and some of the commissioners were able to pass a law that makes them more equal than the stockholders of our state. Remember these employees don’t dive, display, write history or artifact books or collect (except their checks). When Dr. Warner was fired we cut the head off the snake, but I don’t think this snake is dead yet. I spoke to Commissioner Sheldon after the meeting. He is a RPA at Auburn University in Montgomery and is very much opposed to the people of Alabama having access to our lands and waters. He told another commissioner that I was talking with that he didn’t think we should loot the shipwrecks. I told him that that is the same thing they told the legislators and that is not what the law is about. These RPA’s and employees say the law is about shipwrecks but the law reads that it is about everything that is over 50 years old and in the water. This same commissioner has a conflict of interest. He has received grants through the state and schools that are affected by these laws controlling access to public lands and waters. Also Commissioner Sheldon’s wife was listed on the 12 pages of archaeologists on the AHC web page. This is a list telling people who to hire to get a permit before construction or diving can be done. I have been writing and complaining about the 12 pages of archaeologists and today the list is gone from the web page. Good. We must stop letting the foxes guard the hen house. Divers and collectors want to be able to find isolated finds in our state. This is not about shipwrecks or burial grounds. We want to be able to find lost items and old garbage like bottles and bullets. This is our hobby not theirs and I want them to Get out of my life.

           

I have two meetings scheduled for next week with commissioners of the AHC. I will go and talk to all of the commissioners if I’m allowed so they will understand what this is about. Please continue to do your part by calling and writing your legislators and these AHC commissioners until we get our diving and collecting freedoms back.

 

 

 

 

Steve Phillips

Save Our Lost History

4515 5th Avenue South

Birmingham, AL. 35222

www.ssdsupply.com

205-595-3052

 

 

 

Remember a lone amateur built the Ark.

A large group of professionals built the Titanic.

 

 

There is nothing wrong with an amateur archaeologist or historian.

 

 

Trip Update

 

We have had a couple of great trips recently that we need to tell you about and a few that are coming up. 

 

Panama City, FL.

 

            About a month ago, Forrest took a group to dive some of the offshore wrecks of Panama City, FL.  It was well worth it!  We enjoyed about 50 feet of visibility on every dive.  We could even see one of the wrecks from the surface.  The very first dive had a large (300 to 400 lbs). Goliath Grouper in the Wheelhouse.  We are going again.  The next wreck diving adventure is scheduled for Sept. 24-26/2004.  The Passport diver price of $395 includes 2 nights in the hotel (double occ). and 2 days of offshore wreck diving.  Call The SCUBA School if you are interested.

 

South Carolina, River Diving

 

            Last week Southern took a group to South Carolina for an artifact and fossil diving trip.  Once you have about 50 dives this might be something that you want to consider, especially if you love history and finding things.  It is not for everyone, the visibility rarely is more than 4 feet and is usually less.  The currents are also very strong and unpredictable.  Alligators are plentiful and this tends to deter divers.  But once you try it, this may become your favorite place to dive.  We often have a couple of regulars on this trip like the world famous “Big Tooth” Don, gold dredger of Nome Alaska and wreck diver of Truk Lagoon.  “Big Tooth” Don got his name because he usually finds the biggest teeth.  He is a former student of Southern and has completed over 300 dives in about 3 years all over the world.  On any given dive trip he is the first one in the water and the last one up.  Many times I have seen “Big Tooth” Don scare an alligator right out of the water.  We are awfully proud of “Big Tooth” Don at Southern

            On this trip, “Mild” Mary from The SCUBA School joined us.  She is also a former student of Southern’s and has been diving throughout the Keys, northern Florida, the Caribbean and Hawaii.  “Mild” Mary quickly became “Mean” Mary informing us that she was not afraid of the currents, low visibility, the Monster of Morgan River or the abundance of alligators in the Cooper.  This is always a great trip.  This time 4 fossilized Megalodon teeth were found that were over 5 inches long.  Even Forrest found a 5 ½ inch lower Megalodon tooth with all of the serrations. “Mister” Spencer had the best finds with 2 different 5 ½ inch long by 5 ½ inch wide Meg teeth.  The biggest tooth honor of the trip did not go to “Big Tooth” Don, it went to “Lucky” Dennis with a 5 ¾ inch tooth.  Way to go Dennis!

            As usual, once someone dives here, they want to go back.  The first thing “Mighty” Mary did when she got back to Southern was purchase a new B.C. that is more suitable for this type of diving.  We are going back.  Oct. 7-10/2004.  The passport diver price of $615 includes transportation from near Birmingham, 8 dives, tank rentals, air fills, a guide putting you on the spots, food and beverages on the boat, and 3 nights in a hotel (double occ).  A Southern staff member will help you and dive with you until you are comfortable.  Call The SCUBA School and speak with Forrest or Steve if you are interested. 

 

 

Hawaii – The Big Island

 

Oct. 27-Nov. 4/2004

 

            Don’t forget about our Fall trip to Hawaii.  This trip is perfect for family members that are divers or non-divers.  There is a lot to see and do for everyone.  Volcanoes, rainforests, waterfalls, snow covered mountains and diving.  The Passport diver price of $2095 includes round trip airfare from Birmingham to Kona, 9 days in a beachfront condo, a car with unlimited mileage for every 2 people, and 4 days of boat diving and unlimited shore diving including the famous Manta Ray Night Dive.  The non-diver price is $1695.  Call The SCUBA School and speak with Steve about this trip if you have questions.

 

 

 

 

Forrest Phillips

Southern Skin Divers Supply

4515 5th Avenue South

Birmingham, AL. 35222

205-595-3052

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

8/23/04

Good News Warner is Fired.

 

            I've been in Alaska for 10 weeks this summer dredging and diving for gold. I was in the water 27 days because of the good weather. Some of you like to read my journal and some don’t care what I did this summer. Click here if you want to read about finding gold in Alaska. http://www.ssdsupply.com/alaska_2004.htm

 

The good news for divers and the people of Alabama is Governor Riley fired Dr. Lee Warner this week. Dr. Warner was the Executive Director of the Alabama Historical Commission. He is the main reason we now have this law named Alabama Underwater Cultural Resources Act. Dr. Warner is not from Alabama and had no background in Alabama history, yet he was appointed to be in charge of Alabama history and waterways by Governor Siegelman.  Many historical groups and individuals including divers and relic hunters have been plagued with the power hungry attitude of Dr. Warner and some of his cohorts at the AHC. Hundreds if not thousands of letters have been written to Governor Riley asking him to fix the problems with the AHC and fire Dr. Warner. Governor Riley is a diver and has been friendly to the divers of Alabama. He has supported us by firing Dr. Warner and now he deserves our support. I will be writing him this week to thank him for his actions and to ask him to make sure the next head of the AHC is from Alabama and truly loves Alabama history. We don’t need anymore interpreting of our history or anyone wanting to rewrite our history. History is simply facts, the good, the bad, and the ugly. We honor early Alabamians by remembering what they did and why they did it. The AHC needs to be more interested in serving the people of Alabama and stop trying to financially fleece the state. They need less employees and more volunteers. They need to quit thinking about getting more grants and who gets state contracts, and spend what money we give them to display and save our history.

 

 Did the divers, collectors, and relic hunters get Dr. Warner fired? The answer is yes we did. We weren't the only group that made this happen, but we were a big part. We used other groups to help us and the other groups used us to help them. Our objective is the same. We want our government to answer to and serve the citizens, not for the citizens to answer to and serve the government. We still must fix the bad law that prohibits divers or arrowhead collectors from being able to find isolated finds in this state. I think we will now be able to fix this law. We have much work to do. Spence and I are meeting with legislators next week to start work on repealing or changing the law. We may need to hire a lobbying firm to help express our needs. We are also proceeding with legal actions to have the law changed. Many people ask me what is happening with the arrest and charges against Perry Massie and myself. I found out today they have set a Return of Property Hearing on September 9th in Selma and the trial is set on November 29th. I still don’t have my boat or property back and I want the state to give my things back now. We did not violate the law. Dr. Warner told me and several other divers that this law was written to control the salvage of ships in Mobile Bay and that it did not affect recreational divers or isolated finds. He lied. Those of you who went to Montgomery for the public hearing were able to hear the state archaeologist of Alabama lie when he said he never had anyone arrested. He is the one who had Perry and me arrested and signed my arrest papers. We will continue to have opposition from the “Registered Professional Archaeologists”. These people are the people who make a living from grants and contracts that are given to them. They do not dive or display artifacts. They don’t write books for the public or help authors write their books as we collectors do. There is nothing wrong with being an archaeologist. We collectors, diggers, and divers are archaeologists. We are rescue archaeologists and save our history from destruction. What separates us from the “Registered Professional Archaeologists” is that we are not in their club and we are not trying to make a living with our hobby. Remember when this law was passed back in 1999 the legislators were told by the AHC that the law was to the control salvage of shipwrecks in Mobile Bay and that is all it was supposed to do. That is not what the AHC wrote into the law and regulations. The legislators know the truth and they should fix this law if we continue to ask them to fix it or repeal it. You can now see the power of your calls and letters to the legislators. They were the people who talked to the Governor and caused him to take action. I want to thank all of you who wrote and called your legislators. I also thank those of you who contributed money to our Save Our Lost History fund. This money is used only to pay lawyers and lobbyist. No money goes for any other purpose and none is used to defend Perry or myself. We pay our own expenses. The funds were used to pay a constitutional lawyer and to file a suit for another diver who is suing the state to overturn the law. Please send more money so we can hire a lobbyist firm.

 

Save Our Lost History

4515 5th Ave. South

Birmingham, AL 35222

205-595-3052

 

The legislators who have helped us the most so far are Jack Biddle, Cam Ward, Jabo Waggoner, Jim McClendon, and others who I will list later. Please support the people who support us and thank them for their help. Please write the Governor and thank him.

 

Sincerely,

 

Steve Phillip 

Please send this email to all interested people or sites. 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

9/20/04

Update on Alabama Diving Laws and Alabama Historical Commission

 

 

On September 9th Erskine Mathis and I went to Selma for the property hearing to try and get back my boat and other equipment that has been impounded since last October. The DA and judge took this opportunity to once again try to get me to plead guilty to a misdemeanor. They told us that I could get my boat and equipment back and that I would not be fined and all felony charges would be dropped if I would just plead guilty to a misdemeanor so they could get rid of this arrest case. I said no. The judge then said that he thought the whole thing was ridiculous and that I should just let him hear the case and wave my right to a jury. I said no. The judge then told me that I could get jail time if I didn’t do what he and the DA wanted. I told them no. My concern is not just about Perry and me. I want this bad law changed so divers and collectors can’t be threatened by bureaucrats in the Alabama Historical Commission. If I were to plead guilty to a misdemeanor, that action would validate this law and others could be arrested and harassed. Perry and I are not guilty of any crime and have not violated a law. Our court date for trial is November 29th and I look forward to this trial. I hope the divers and collectors will show up at the Courthouse in Selma to help support us in this fight. By the way the judge didn’t rule anything about my boat and equipment, which is what the hearing was about.

            On September 13th I went to Montgomery to attend an executive meeting of the AHC. This is the first time that I have attended one of their meetings but it won’t be the last. Three other members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans were also there to monitor the actions of the commissioners. The SCV and other historical groups do a good job trying to keep the AHC accountable to the stockholders of the state. The stockholders are us, the citizens. We stockholders need to make sure that we are considered and that our employees are not running our company (The State of Alabama) and that we the people are running this state. I was hoping that at this meeting they would discuss more about the bad things that have been going on at the AHC. Instead of discussing how the AHC could start doing a better job for the people, they spent most of the time talking about money and how to get more of it. They did not discuss the reasons that Dr. Lee Warner had to be fired by Governor Riley. Governor Riley has shown a strong interest in fixing the AHC. He appointed Ed Bridges to be temporary director of the AHC. Mr. Bridges regular job is the Director of the Alabama Department of Archives and History. I talked with him after the meeting and I think that he will try to get the AHC fixed. Most of the employees and commissioners seemed to want everything to settle down and get back to business as usual, shafting the people of Alabama. I asked some of the commissioners if they ever read the proposal laws or regulations of the diving laws that the AHC pushed through the legislature. They had not read the law and they said that the employees of the AHC knew about the law. Lets see if I understand this right. Most of the State Legislators did not read the law they put on us. The commissioners of the AHC did not read the law or regulations that they sent to the legislators. No divers or collectors in Alabama were made aware of the proposed law before it was passed. We all just let the employees of the AHC do whatever they wanted to. The Registered Professional Archaeologists (RPA)’s who are the employees and some of the commissioners were able to pass a law that makes them more equal than the stockholders of our state. Remember these employees don’t dive, display, write history or artifact books or collect (except their checks). When Dr. Warner was fired we cut the head off the snake, but I don’t think this snake is dead yet. I spoke to Commissioner Sheldon after the meeting. He is a RPA at Auburn University in Montgomery and is very much opposed to the people of Alabama having access to our lands and waters. He told another commissioner that I was talking with that he didn’t think we should loot the shipwrecks. I told him that that is the same thing they told the legislators and that is not what the law is about. These RPA’s and employees say the law is about shipwrecks but the law reads that it is about everything that is over 50 years old and in the water. This same commissioner has a conflict of interest. He has received grants through the state and schools that are affected by these laws controlling access to public lands and waters. Also Commissioner Sheldon’s wife was listed on the 12 pages of archaeologists on the AHC web page. This is a list telling people who to hire to get a permit before construction or diving can be done. I have been writing and complaining about the 12 pages of archaeologists and today the list is gone from the web page. Good. We must stop letting the foxes guard the hen house. Divers and collectors want to be able to find isolated finds in our state. This is not about shipwrecks or burial grounds. We want to be able to find lost items and old garbage like bottles and bullets. This is our hobby not theirs and I want them to Get out of my life.

           

I have two meetings scheduled for next week with commissioners of the AHC. I will go and talk to all of the commissioners if I’m allowed so they will understand what this is about. Please continue to do your part by calling and writing your legislators and these AHC commissioners until we get our diving and collecting freedoms back.

 

 

 

 

Steve Phillips

Save Our Lost History

4515 5th Avenue South

Birmingham, AL. 35222

www.ssdsupply.com

205-595-3052

 

 

 

Remember a lone amateur built the Ark.

A large group of professionals built the Titanic.

 

 

There is nothing wrong with an amateur archaeologist or historian.

 

 

Trip Update

 

We have had a couple of great trips recently that we need to tell you about and a few that are coming up. 

 

Panama City, FL.

 

            About a month ago, Forrest took a group to dive some of the offshore wrecks of Panama City, FL.  It was well worth it!  We enjoyed about 50 feet of visibility on every dive.  We could even see one of the wrecks from the surface.  The very first dive had a large (300 to 400 lbs). Goliath Grouper in the Wheelhouse.  We are going again.  The next wreck diving adventure is scheduled for Sept. 24-26/2004.  The Passport diver price of $395 includes 2 nights in the hotel (double occ). and 2 days of offshore wreck diving.  Call The SCUBA School if you are interested.

 

South Carolina, River Diving

 

            Last week Southern took a group to South Carolina for an artifact and fossil diving trip.  Once you have about 50 dives this might be something that you want to consider, especially if you love history and finding things.  It is not for everyone, the visibility rarely is more than 4 feet and is usually less.  The currents are also very strong and unpredictable.  Alligators are plentiful and this tends to deter divers.  But once you try it, this may become your favorite place to dive.  We often have a couple of regulars on this trip like the world famous “Big Tooth” Don, gold dredger of Nome Alaska and wreck diver of Truk Lagoon.  “Big Tooth” Don got his name because he usually finds the biggest teeth.  He is a former student of Southern and has completed over 300 dives in about 3 years all over the world.  On any given dive trip he is the first one in the water and the last one up.  Many times I have seen “Big Tooth” Don scare an alligator right out of the water.  We are awfully proud of “Big Tooth” Don at Southern

            On this trip, “Mild” Mary from The SCUBA School joined us.  She is also a former student of Southern’s and has been diving throughout the Keys, northern Florida, the Caribbean and Hawaii.  “Mild” Mary quickly became “Mean” Mary informing us that she was not afraid of the currents, low visibility, the Monster of Morgan River or the abundance of alligators in the Cooper.  This is always a great trip.  This time 4 fossilized Megalodon teeth were found that were over 5 inches long.  Even Forrest found a 5 ½ inch lower Megalodon tooth with all of the serrations. “Mister” Spencer had the best finds with 2 different 5 ½ inch long by 5 ½ inch wide Meg teeth.  The biggest tooth honor of the trip did not go to “Big Tooth” Don, it went to “Lucky” Dennis with a 5 ¾ inch tooth.  Way to go Dennis!

            As usual, once someone dives here, they want to go back.  The first thing “Mighty” Mary did when she got back to Southern was purchase a new B.C. that is more suitable for this type of diving.  We are going back.  Oct. 7-10/2004.  The passport diver price of $615 includes transportation from near Birmingham, 8 dives, tank rentals, air fills, a guide putting you on the spots, food and beverages on the boat, and 3 nights in a hotel (double occ).  A Southern staff member will help you and dive with you until you are comfortable.  Call The SCUBA School and speak with Forrest or Steve if you are interested. 

 

 

Hawaii – The Big Island

 

Oct. 27-Nov. 4/2004

 

            Don’t forget about our Fall trip to Hawaii.  This trip is perfect for family members that are divers or non-divers.  There is a lot to see and do for everyone.  Volcanoes, rainforests, waterfalls, snow covered mountains and diving.  The Passport diver price of $2095 includes round trip airfare from Birmingham to Kona, 9 days in a beachfront condo, a car with unlimited mileage for every 2 people, and 4 days of boat diving and unlimited shore diving including the famous Manta Ray Night Dive.  The non-diver price is $1695.  Call The SCUBA School and speak with Steve about this trip if you have questions.

 

 

 

 

Forrest Phillips

Southern Skin Divers Supply

4515 5th Avenue South

Birmingham, AL. 35222

205-595-3052

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

8/23/04

Good News Warner is Fired.

 

            I've been in Alaska for 10 weeks this summer dredging and diving for gold. I was in the water 27 days because of the good weather. Some of you like to read my journal and some don’t care what I did this summer. Click here if you want to read about finding gold in Alaska. http://www.ssdsupply.com/alaska_2004.htm

 

The good news for divers and the people of Alabama is Governor Riley fired Dr. Lee Warner this week. Dr. Warner was the Executive Director of the Alabama Historical Commission. He is the main reason we now have this law named Alabama Underwater Cultural Resources Act. Dr. Warner is not from Alabama and had no background in Alabama history, yet he was appointed to be in charge of Alabama history and waterways by Governor Siegelman.  Many historical groups and individuals including divers and relic hunters have been plagued with the power hungry attitude of Dr. Warner and some of his cohorts at the AHC. Hundreds if not thousands of letters have been written to Governor Riley asking him to fix the problems with the AHC and fire Dr. Warner. Governor Riley is a diver and has been friendly to the divers of Alabama. He has supported us by firing Dr. Warner and now he deserves our support. I will be writing him this week to thank him for his actions and to ask him to make sure the next head of the AHC is from Alabama and truly loves Alabama history. We don’t need anymore interpreting of our history or anyone wanting to rewrite our history. History is simply facts, the good, the bad, and the ugly. We honor early Alabamians by remembering what they did and why they did it. The AHC needs to be more interested in serving the people of Alabama and stop trying to financially fleece the state. They need less employees and more volunteers. They need to quit thinking about getting more grants and who gets state contracts, and spend what money we give them to display and save our history.

 

 Did the divers, collectors, and relic hunters get Dr. Warner fired? The answer is yes we did. We weren't the only group that made this happen, but we were a big part. We used other groups to help us and the other groups used us to help them. Our objective is the same. We want our government to answer to and serve the citizens, not for the citizens to answer to and serve the government. We still must fix the bad law that prohibits divers or arrowhead collectors from being able to find isolated finds in this state. I think we will now be able to fix this law. We have much work to do. Spence and I are meeting with legislators next week to start work on repealing or changing the law. We may need to hire a lobbying firm to help express our needs. We are also proceeding with legal actions to have the law changed. Many people ask me what is happening with the arrest and charges against Perry Massie and myself. I found out today they have set a Return of Property Hearing on September 9th in Selma and the trial is set on November 29th. I still don’t have my boat or property back and I want the state to give my things back now. We did not violate the law. Dr. Warner told me and several other divers that this law was written to control the salvage of ships in Mobile Bay and that it did not affect recreational divers or isolated finds. He lied. Those of you who went to Montgomery for the public hearing were able to hear the state archaeologist of Alabama lie when he said he never had anyone arrested. He is the one who had Perry and me arrested and signed my arrest papers. We will continue to have opposition from the “Registered Professional Archaeologists”. These people are the people who make a living from grants and contracts that are given to them. They do not dive or display artifacts. They don’t write books for the public or help authors write their books as we collectors do. There is nothing wrong with being an archaeologist. We collectors, diggers, and divers are archaeologists. We are rescue archaeologists and save our history from destruction. What separates us from the “Registered Professional Archaeologists” is that we are not in their club and we are not trying to make a living with our hobby. Remember when this law was passed back in 1999 the legislators were told by the AHC that the law was to the control salvage of shipwrecks in Mobile Bay and that is all it was supposed to do. That is not what the AHC wrote into the law and regulations. The legislators know the truth and they should fix this law if we continue to ask them to fix it or repeal it. You can now see the power of your calls and letters to the legislators. They were the people who talked to the Governor and caused him to take action. I want to thank all of you who wrote and called your legislators. I also thank those of you who contributed money to our Save Our Lost History fund. This money is used only to pay lawyers and lobbyist. No money goes for any other purpose and none is used to defend Perry or myself. We pay our own expenses. The funds were used to pay a constitutional lawyer and to file a suit for another diver who is suing the state to overturn the law. Please send more money so we can hire a lobbyist firm.

 

Save Our Lost History

4515 5th Ave. South

Birmingham, AL 35222

205-595-3052

 

The legislators who have helped us the most so far are Jack Biddle, Cam Ward, Jabo Waggoner, Jim McClendon, and others who I will list later. Please support the people who support us and thank them for their help. Please write the Governor and thank him.

 

Sincerely,

 

Steve Phillip 

Please send this email to all interested people or sites. 

~~~~~~~~~~~~

8/19/04

Steve has returned from Alaska & his diary of that adventure can be seen here ==> Alaska

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

6/29/04

Hello Divers,

Here at the Scuba School we are right in the middle of the dive season and we need to let you know about some of the things that are going on and coming up. We are still taking groups of certification classes one weekend every month for their checkout dives. This time of year we usually dive one day in the springs and one day in the ocean. Last weekend, Spencer, took a group down and some of them were lucky enough to see a Spotted Eagle Ray on their checkout dives. That doesn't always happen but lately the visibility has been very good and we have been seeing some different things. We are taking another group down July 10 and 11. This is a great way for already certified divers to enjoy some fun inexpensive diving and meet new divers. You are welcome to join us.

For those of you who read Scuba Diving Magazine checkout page 104 of the July 2004 issue. Mark has a featured photo of a cleaner Shrimp and a Graysby fish he took in Bonaire.

TRIPS
We already had several great trips this year but there are plenty of opportunities for you to do some fun diving. Already we have taken several groups to Florida, South Carolina, Mexico, and Grand Cayman. Spencer is taking a sold out trip to Nassau, Bahamas July 28 for 5 days. Some of the upcoming trips are:

July 23-24 2004 Panama City, FL Wreck Diving Adventure

We will be diving some of the offshore (at least 10 miles out) wrecks. These sites are not dove as often as the inshore stuff that people usually dive. The fish are usually bigger and the visibility is usually better. The passport diver price includes two nights in a hotel (double occ). and two days of offshore boat diving. Call the Scuba School to sign up.

Passport Diver Price $395        Non -Member Price $495        Advanced Class Add-on $100

August 19-22 2004 Cooper River, South Carolina Relic and Shark Tooth Guided Adventure

This is a very historic area that produces lots of great finds. Pottery and Indian artifacts, coins, bottles, clay pipes, and many kinds of fossils including large Megalodon teeth are found here. This is a dark and swift moving water trip, so some experience is required. Please call us for information about the requirements. The passport diver price includes transportation from near Birmingham, boat, guide, 3 days of diving (8 dives) with food and beverage on the boat, 3 nights in a hotel (double occ)., tanks for the dives, and air fills.

Passport Diver Price $615        Non -Member Price $640        Solo Diver Certification Add-on $125

October 9-16 2004 Cozumel, Mexico 8 days, 7 nights

All of you parents looking to take your kids on a great dive trip this year during fall break should look at this one. This is Shelby County schools Fall Break and some of Jefferson County's. Cozumel offers some of the easiest and clearest diving in the world. We had a great group here in March and I am sure this one will be just as good. The Passport diver price includes round trip airfare from Birmingham, AL to Cozumel, Mexico, accommodations in a beachfront resort (double occ). 4 days of 2 tank boat diving, unlimited shore diving, and breakfast daily.

Passport Diver Price $1675         Nonmember Price $1745        Non-Diver Price $1425

October 27 – November 4, 2004 Hawaii- The Big Island

This trip is great for our divers and non-divers alike because there is so much to see and do. The diving is great and we do plenty of it including the World famous Manta Ray night dive, along with 3 days of 2 tank boat dives plus weights and tanks for unlimited shore diving. The lava is flowing again so you can drive out to the volcano and watch the Lava flow into the ocean at night. Also there are beautiful waterfalls in the rainforest. There are two snow-covered mountains Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea that approach 14,000 feet above sea level. The Passport Diver price includes roundtrip airfare from Birmingham to Kona, Hawaii, accommodations in beachfront condos, diving, and a car for every 2 people with unlimited mileage. Go here to see our previous Hawaii trip pictures http://www.ssdsupply.com/hawaii.htm

Passport Diver Price $2095        Nonmember Price $2145        Non-Divers $1695

CAYMAN
Our Dive Group just got back from Cayman. We had a nice week of diving, Most everyone had a chance to get some good photos and videos of the walls and reefs of the North and west side of the island. We would like to thank the following divers: Allan and Kim Jackson, Barry West, Brent Miles, Mike and Lisa Headley, Richard Dennis, Barry Hocutt, Amy VanEmst, Curtis “Action” Jackson, and the Scofield family: Mark, Vicki, Will, Andrew, and Sting Ray Robbie.

Mark Tant
 

EQUIPMENT SERVICE
Bring in your equipment for annual service to maintain your Passport membership. Come and get in the pool after your equipment is serviced. The pool is for our members to use before they go on trips, or just to come in and get wet. Free use of pool and air for all members.
 

Come see us,
Spencer Phillips
Southern Skin Divers Supply
4515 5th Avenue South
Birmingham, AL. 35222
205-595-3052

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

5/27/04
 
 Friends of Save Our Lost History,
 
Another lawsuit has been filed by an Alabama diver that wants to go diving in this state to gain access to public waters. He is suing the Alabama Historical Commission. Our Save Our Lost History (SOLH) funds are being used to pay the legal fees for this suit.
 

We also are notifying the divers, relic hunters, collectors and people interested in history about the politicians who have been helpful in our efforts for the citizens to regain access to our public lands and waters. Next week in the election please support these people who are running for office or to be a delegate to the Republican Convention. They are: Senator Jack Biddle, Representative Cam Ward, Senator Jabo Waggoner, Jim Bennet, John Amari and Ted Crockett.

In the future we are going to make available names of all politicians who are helping us.
 
Please continue to send donations to our fund. The money is used strictly to pay lawyers and lobbyists.
 
Save Our Lost History
4515 5th Avenue South
Birmingham, Al. 35222
205-595-3052
www.ssdsupply.com

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

5/18/2004

 

Update on Alabama Diving Law

 

What I don't want to do is put up a good fight and lose, but that is what has happened thus far. We made a great effort to pass SB243 in order to fix the worst diving law in the country. The State Senate passed our bill 27 votes to 0. Then the bill went to the House of Representatives. In the House we were scheduled to have a public hearing but the representatives did not want to take sides on this issue and several of them chose to hide out in the building and not come to the hearing. We only had seven representatives in attendance and 8 were required in order to proceed with the hearing. Some of the legislators then managed to get us a special hearing the next week. About a thousand divers called and faxed messages to the legislators asking them to show up the next time. We had a real good turn out of supporters and we want to thank everyone for their support. The first hearing we had about 40 supporters and 60 opponents. The second hearing we had about 60 supporters and about 30 opponents. The difference in these groups are that the supporters were taking off of work to be there. Our opponents were ninety-five percent government employees or archaeologists, who get contracts from the Alabama Historical Commission (AHC). They are not divers and they are not historians. Our supporters were historians and divers. We received much support from the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Sons of Confederate Veterans. These people are not divers or collectors, but they support us because we save lost artifacts and display them to the public. Also they support us because they know how terrible the leadership of the AHC is. Our opponents showed up at the hearing because of threats and promises from the AHC. I had one archaeologist tell me that they were offered payment to come to Montgomery and speak against SB243. I asked how they were to be paid. I was told that this person was offered a state contract if they would come and speak. We have a real problem with archaeologists in this state. They are trying to create rules that apply to any construction or access to public lands or water. They want you to buy their permission before you can build anything. They want divers to buy their permission before we can find anything over fifty years old in the water. I am not talking about salvaging a shipwreck. I am saying they want to require us to have a professional archeologist to give us a permit before we can build anything or go diving. You can read their regulations on our website, and they read that only a professional archaeologist can apply for a permit to recover anything over fifty years old in our waters. They also have similar regulations that apply to all lands in our state, including private lands. All of this is of course insane, but it is what is happening now.

   

 

Thanks to Edna Ward for drawing this cartoon.

 

 

I do not have any problem with amateur archaeologists. I think that it is a good hobby, as is diving. The problem came about when these people were told they could make a living as an archaeologist. They have watched too much ‘Indiana Jones’ at the movies. There simply is not enough work for all of these professional archaeologists to be needed. The people of our state did not con them into this profession and we cannot afford to support them. They need a real job and to pursue the hobby of archeology. If anything they should blame the schools for conning them about jobs that do not exist. At our scuba school we teach divers and tell them that diving is a great hobby. We never tell anyone that they can make a living as a diver. Please check out the AHC website and observe the twelve pages of archaeologists that are listed there, www.preserveala.org/archaeologistlisting.pdf . What other state owned website do you know of that acts as a job referral service? Click here to read the 1981 letter from the AHC to the Alabama Gun Collectors Association so you can understand their agenda. http://www.ssdsupply.com/aucraP/AGCA.pdf

   

I have talked enough about these people, so I will talk now about the events at the second public hearing. The same as the first hearing; only seven representatives attended. The rest hid in the hallways. Our legislators should be ashamed. We pay our legislators extremely well to work only 30 legislative days, and they hide. They allowed our bill to die. They created this problem in 1999, when they passed this poorly written law that was supposed to only apply to shipwrecks. No divers were told anything about the law until it was passed. Now we are stuck with it until we get our legislators to fix what they have done. Our friends in Montgomery who have worked very hard to pass SB243 are: Senator Jack Biddle; Senator Jabo Waggoner; Representative Cam Ward; Representative Jim McClendon; and Representative Arthur Payne. Please support these people in their future needs as they have helped us. We have many other friends of history and divers in Montgomery, but they did not get a chance to support SB243.

 

So what happens now? Well in two weeks I go to Alaska to dredge for gold for two months. It has been seven months since Perry and I were arrested for diving in Selma and I need a long break. We are waiting on a ruling on a motion to dismiss on unconstitutional grounds on our case. If this is done, it would overturn the existing bad law. We also are pursuing several other legal remedies for the law. If none of this works then we are going to hire a lobbyist firm in Montgomery to help pass legislation in the next session which will be next year. We will need more money to do these things.

 

Please send bucks to: 

Save Our Lost History

4515 5th Avenue South

Birmingham, Alabama 35222

www.ssdsupply.com

 

Remember we do not want any special privileges for Alabama. We just desire to have the same freedoms that other states like Florida and South Carolina already possess. We want to be able to find “isolated finds,” not shipwrecks or Indian mounds. There are laws, already, both federal and state that protect Indian mounds and all other grave sites. Divers will dive and find items regardless, but the history of the items will not be written about and preserved if we cannot fix this terrible law. The archaeologists and the AHC do not dive and they do not have any plans to ever recover Alabama's lost history. In order to be able to find anything you must be granted an excavation permit. The law even reads that a professional archaeologist is required to be the principal investigator in order to qualify for this permit, click to read full document. www.ssdsupply.com/aucraP/c%20-%20Alabama%20Underwater%20Cultural%20Resources%20Act%20Regulations/page6.pdf

 

Our head State Archaeologist is Thomas Maher, who spoke to the Representatives in Montgomery. He lied to one-hundred people and the seven Representatives that attended. He actually had the nerve to say that he had never had anyone arrested. He is the person who was there at Selma and forced the Conservation Department and the District Attorney to arrest me and Perry Massie. He even signed our arrest warrant! Click here to see http://www.ssdsupply.com/aucraP/w%20-%20Arrest%20Records/list%20of%20artifacts%20found%20and%20then%20stolen%20by%20tom%20mayer.pdf. He also said that he was not familiar with all the regulations associated with this law. He wrote the law along with Greg Rhinehart. If he does not know what it covers, how are the hundred thousand divers of Alabama supposed to understand this law?  

 

We want back our individual rights for access and use of our public lands and waters. Public does not mean government. Public means you and me. This fight could be about fishing or hunting on our public lands and waters but right now it is about diving or collecting. It is the same fight and we are the same people. Some people look at this problem in Alabama and think that they don't dive or they don't collect so they shouldn't be concerned. They should be concerned. We should all be concerned about all individual rights and freedoms. We are all individuals and we must never willingly give up any of our freedoms to an oversized government. The continuous fights that we have are the same that Thomas Jefferson had against the Federalists in his time. He said "The government that governs best is the government that governs least." We can't let the Socialists, Federalists or Communists take any of the rights and freedoms from us. Washington and Jefferson did not help give us our rights and freedoms so we would later give them up one by one. We Dare Defend Our Rights. That is the state motto of Alabama and those are not just words. They are a responsibility that we all must continue to defend. Alabama is just one of 50 states and I guess that some would think that we could just dive and collect in the other 49. We can't afford to give up our rights in Alabama anymore than we can give up any of our rights anywhere else. The people who would take away our rights and freedoms don't consider themselves to be Federalists, Socialists or Communists but they are.

 

 

Steve Phillips

 

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~

May 13, 2004

Here are some upcoming dive trips that we have planned

Wreck Diving Trip May 21-23 2004
Join Southern as we dive some of the offshore wrecks of Panama City. This is a trip set up special for our divers. These wrecks are not seen that often due to their distance from the shore, they are all at least 10 miles out. These ships include the Tarpon, the Grierson, the Akokeek, and the Chippewa. Generally the visibility is better and the fish are bigger! The passport price includes 2 nights in a hotel (double occupancy) and two days of offshore boat diving. Space is limited so call the Scuba School to sign up.
Passport diver price $395
Nonmember price $495

Grand Cayman trip June 19th-26th sold out

Bahamas Trip July 28th-August 1st is filling up fast. Sign up now!
Passport diver price $950

Fall Break in Cozumel October 10th-17th
Shelby County and some Jefferson County schools now have a fall break so we set up a great trip. Round trip airfare from Birmingham to Cozumel. No driving to Atlanta the night before the trip. No layovers in Cancun on the way down and back. The passport diver price includes round trip airfare, accommodations in a beautiful beach front resort, breakfast daily, 4 days of 2 tank boat diving with unlimited shore dives, and round trip airport transfers.
Passport diver price $1675
Nonmember price $1745
Non- diver price $1425

Truk Lagoon March 2005 is filled but we are taking alternates. This is the trip of a lifetime.

Spencer and Steve went diving in the Suwanee River in central Florida and found several fossils. We dived in Troy Springs and the river. Saw a few alligators, learned about new spots and had a good trip. Call the Scuba school and we can tell you some good spots to dive in North Central Florida.

Birmingham lost one of the true diving pioneers. Martin (Mac) McWhorter,74, of Emerald Valley Lake, died Monday, April 26, 2004. Mr. McWhorter was born in Birmingham on September 20, 1929, to Hobart Amory McWhorter, Sr., and Marjorie Westgate McWhorter. He graduated in 1947 from the Battle Ground Academy, a boarding school in Franklin, Tennessee, and attended Birmingham-Southern College, where his mother was later a professor. He was an Eagle Scout and a past member of the Independent Presbyterian Church, the Society of Mayflower Descendants, and Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity. After serving in the US Marine Corps from 1950 to 1952, Mr. McWhorter moved to Cherokee County and started the McWhorter Engineering Company, which manufactured high-pressure air compressors for the SCUBA industry. He relocated to Birmingham in 1958 and remained in business until the onset of his recent health problems. Known to friends as Mac, Mr. McWhorter was an expert SCUBA diver and champion spear fisherman, a lover of opera, an avid dominoes player, and an adventurer and explorer. He published articles in Skin Diver and True magazines. He invented a device for cutting steel under water and a gun for shooting underwater prey. We'll miss you Mac.


Thank You,

Spencer Phillips
Southern Skin Divers Supply
4515 5th Ave. South
Birmingham, AL. 35222
205-595-3052

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

April 30, 2004

URGENT UPDATE - SB243 STILL ALIVE!

We thought out Bill SB243 was dead after Wednesday, but we are still alive. We had about 40 divers and others interested in saving
our history show up in Montgomery Wednesday for the public hearing. The opposition had more people than we did. Our supporters took
off work to come down there. Our opposition got paid to be there. They are the employees of the Alabama Historical Commission and
archaeologists from Georgia. They were paid by us to be there and oppose the wishes of Alabama citizens. The employees of the AHC
and other archaeologists were basically threatened with loss of their jobs if they didn’t show up at the hearing. I was told that
an Email was sent by Tom Maher, our state archaeologist, which said their jobs were in danger if they didn’t come and oppose SB243.
I don’t think our employees should oppose the citizens who are this state.

Rep. Cam Ward is the representative that is supporting SB243 and he is the one we need to follow in this bill now.

What happened at the hearing is a bad thing. Only 7 representatives came in to the chamber and we needed 8 to have a quorum. The
chairman, Thomas Jackson, said “there is not a quorum so this meeting is adjourned.” That was it, the meeting was over. We were
then told that SB243 was dead for this year because there would not be time for a later hearing and a vote. To make a long story
short, many people went to work in our legislature to get a special hearing. This effort was led by Sen. Biddle and the historical
groups such as The Sons Of Confederate Veterans. They are huge supporters of saving our lost history. I thought we were doomed to
failure this year, but we are not.

We have been granted a special public hearing next Tuesday, May 4th at 11:00 am on the 8th floor of the State House Building in
Montgomery. We have one last chance to get back our access to public waters in Alabama. We currently have the unfriendliest diving
laws in the country. This law was supposed to protect shipwrecks in Mobile Bay, but that is not what we ended up with. Currently
anything in any waters that is over 50 years old is illegal to find and remove. A single Coke bottle or arrowhead could get a
citizen arrested. We want to protect the shipwrecks, but we want to be able to find and save isolated finds as is allowed in other
states like Florida and South Carolina. Our archaeologists are not divers and have no plans for saving our history. One of our
divers, Don Sublett, had a conversation with one of our opponents while we there Wednesday. Don asked if it would not be better for
a diver to save a rusting gun barrel and preserve this piece of history, than to let it disintegrate and be lost forever. They
other person said they would rather the relic be lost forever than to be in private hands. This is their mentality and makes no
sense at all.

We cannot reason with these archaeologists. Since they are not divers or relic hunters, they want no one to be. I guess since they
can’t go to the moon, they must feel that we should not have astronauts who can. If they can’t find and save relics, then no one
can. DUH. The relic hunters and divers are the people who find the items that are on display in all museums. All books on relics
and artifacts are written by, or with the help of, collectors and relic hunters. I carried 9 books with me to Montgomery to show
how my relics have been written about and pictured in books. The arrowhead collectors also brought many books that they have
published to increase the knowledge about the early Americans. The archaeologists publish nothing, display nothing, and don’t want
anyone else to either. They just want to get paid and get more grants for doing nothing. We can’t allow this any more. Here is an
example of their true agenda in their letter written to the Alabama Gun Collectors Association. Click here.

What we must do now is call the committee clerk, Theresa Evans, at 334-353-9450 and tell her that you support SB243 and to follow
Cam Ward’s lead. Also fax her at 334-242-4759 and tell her who you are and that you support SB243. Also everyone needs to call and
Email committee members and ask them to be at the public hearing Tuesday. We don’t want a repeat of last Wednesday’s action. Ask
the representatives to support SB243 and follow Cam Ward’s lead. Those of you who can take off work should come to Montgomery
Tuesday. We need you desperately. We can win this Tuesday if we show up to support SB243.

Steve Phillips
Save Our Lost History
4515 5th Avenue South
Birmingham, Al. 35222
205-595-3052
205-672-9310 (home)

Here is a list of the committee members to be contacted:

Representative Thomas Jackson PO Box 656 Thomasville, AL. 36784 334-636-9642 ext. 676 334-636-0094

Representative John Robinson 3479 County Rd. #33 Scottsboro, AL. 35769 256-259-6190 256-259-2434

Representative Greg Albritton PO Box 392 Excel, AL. 36439 251-578-6900 251-765-2021

Representative Joe Carothers 2916 Taylor Rd. Dothan, AL. 36301 334-792-3060

Representative Tommy Carter 18216 Upper Ft. Hampton Rd. Elkmont, AL. 35620

Representative Spencer "Jack" Collier 11615 Shannon Drive East Irvington, AL. 36544 251-824-3798 altrooper@yahoo.com

Representative Rusty Glover PO Box 49 Semmes, AL. 36575 251-649-7380

Representative Mickey Hammon 1344 East Upper River Rd. Decatur, AL. 35603 256-350-4261 256-350-0375

Representative Allen Layson PO Box 910 Reform, AL. 35481 205-375-2630 205-375- 2630

Representative Yusuf Salaam 230 Franklin St. Selma, AL. 36703 334-872-7571

Representative Bobby Singleton PO Box 548 Greensboro, AL. 36744 334-507-1218 334-624-3021

Representative Lucius Black PO Box 284 York, AL. 36925 205-392-5713 205-392-7140 lblack284@aol.com

Representative Warren Beck 2220 Enterprise Rd. Geneva, AL. 36340 334-684-9549 334-684-3011

Representative Billy Beasley 56 North Midway St. Clayton, AL. 36016 334-775-3442 334-775-3291

Representative Cam Ward 201 1st Street N Alabaster, AL. 35007 205-664-6848 205-684-6841 camjulward@aol.com

After the Bill is introduced into the House of Representatives the next person that you need to contact or call is Representative
Jack Venable.

Representative Jack Venable PO Box 780730 Tallassee, AL.36078-0730 334-283-6568 ttrib@elmor

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

April 24, 2004
 
Please support SB243
 
Spence and I went to Montgomery last Wednesday and met with several members of Alabama's House of Representatives. We are moving along on passing SB243. Next Wednesday, April 28th at 1:30 there will be a public hearing on the bill. We are correcting the wording on the bill to allow finding of isolated finds throughout the state without any state agency being involved. Salvage of shipwrecks in Mobile Bay will be controlled by permits issued by the Department of Archives and History. I feel we can pass this good law but we only have a few days left in this session. The public hearing is our big day for divers, collectors, gold prospectors and people interested in history to go to Montgomery. If you can get off for a few hours you need to be there. I want to see our supporters there.
 

What happens at the meeting will determine whether Alabama citizens can ever find a bottle, coin, arrowhead or anything in any of the state rivers or creeks. Think of your children and go down to protect their freedoms. This is the way laws are made and we have made great progress in very little time. Now the legislators need to see your face and know that you support SB243. We will have opposition from the government bureaucrats in the Alabama Historical Commission. They want to keep their power over the people of Alabama concerning our diving laws. Remember that they don't dive or have historians. They just get paid by you to give the people a hard time. The Historical Commission has said that they don't intend to recover our lost history and they will do nothing unless they get a money grant to do it. They are only in it for the money and they don't care about saving our history.

 

Go to room 603 in the State House building. This building is located directly behind the Capitol. You can park about a block away next to the Crampton Bowl football field. Please come to this hearing.

  
Thank you,
  
Steve Phillips
Save Our Lost History
4515 5th Avenue South
Birmingham, Al. 35222
205-595-3052

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

April 11, 2004


Urgent update on our ongoing efforts to regain access to our public lands and waters

We have some good news, but not all good news. SB243 has passed in the Senate but it was gutted and the wording was changed. The Senate has done everything they could and now SB243 goes to the House. The legislators in the Senate voted 27 Yea in favor of SB243 and 8 voted present. No Senators voted no. This is great except they changed some of the most critical parts of the bill and it is not acceptable. The biggest problem is with the definition of cultural resources. The law that we can accept will cover shipwrecks only. Permits will be required for salvage not for diving. We don't have any problem with controlling salvage of shipwrecks. What we do want is for no permits to be required for recreational divers to find isolated artifacts anywhere in the state. There is no point in preventing the recreational divers from finding lost artifacts, fossils, bottles, jewelry and other relics that are randomly scattered throughout the state. These isolated finds have absolutely no archaeological significance. Anything found in the water can only preserve lost history and create interest in history. Most of the rivers in the state grant permits to gravel dredging companies to suck everything off the bottom so whatever we can save is good. We must get rid of the wording in cultural resources that is vague and arbitrary. The wording as they have it now includes the words are eligible for or listed in the National Register of Historic Places or the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage. We don't have any problem with what is listed in the National Register of Historic Places but the eligible for part we can't have and the part about the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage is not acceptable because the criteria is unclear and the register is under the control of the Alabama Historical Commission who have proven themselves bad.


The Alabama Historical Commission headed by Lee Warner is in charge of the Alabama Register. This man is not trustworthy nor are his employees. Divers need no dealings with this department. We must insist that the definition of SUBMERGED HISTORICAL CULTURAL RESOURCES be: All abandoned shipwrecks or remains of those abandoned shipwrecks unclaimed for more than 100 years in Mobile Bay and the Gulf of Mexico which are listed in the National Register of Historic Places and belonging to the state of Alabama.


As it is written the bill is claiming items whether or not associated with any shipwreck and this is certainly not acceptable. We cannot compromise on the definition of SUBMERGED HISTORICAL CULTURAL RESOURCES. When you contact your Representatives you need to tell them that you want the definition to be as it was written above. SB243 is supposed to enter the House of Representatives through the Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Committee. Here is the contact information for the members of the legislators in that committee. Please contact your Representative's now.


Representative Thomas Jackson                                     
PO Box 656                                             
Thomasville, AL. 36784                         
334-636-9642 ext. 676                         
334-636-0094                                         

Representative John Robinson 
3479 County Rd. #33 
Scottsboro, AL. 35769 
256-259-6190 
256-259-2434 

Representative Greg Albritton 
PO Box 392 
Excel, AL. 36439 
251-578-6900 
251-765-2021 

Representative Joe Carothers 
2916 Taylor Rd. 
Dothan, AL. 36301 
334-792-3060 

Representative Tommy Carter
18216 Upper Ft. Hampton Rd. 
Elkmont, AL. 35620 

Representative Spencer "Jack" Collier 
11615 Shannon Drive East
Irvington, AL. 36544
251-824-3798
altrooper@yahoo.com

Representative Rusty Glover
PO Box 49
Semmes, AL. 36575
251-649-7380

Representative Mickey Hammon
1344 East Upper River Rd.
Decatur, AL. 35603
256-350-4261
256-350-0375

Representative Allen Layson 
PO Box 910
Reform, AL. 35481
205-375-2630
205-375- 2630

Representative Yusuf Salaam
230 Franklin St.
Selma, AL. 36703
334-872-7571

Representative Bobby Singleton 
PO Box 548
Greensboro, AL. 36744
334-507-1218
334-624-3021

Representative Lucius Black
PO Box 284
York, AL. 36925
205-392-5713
205-392-7140
lblack284@aol.com

Representative Warren Beck
2220 Enterprise Rd.
Geneva, AL. 36340
334-684-9549
334-684-3011

Representative Billy Beasley
56 North Midway St.
Clayton, AL. 36016
334-775-3442
334-775-3291

Representative Cam Ward
201 1st Street N
Alabaster, AL. 35007
205-664-6848
205-684-6841
camjulward@aol.com


After the Bill is introduced into the House of Representatives the next person that you need to contact or call is Representative Jack Venable. 

Representative Jack Venable
PO Box 780730
Tallassee, AL.36078-0730
334-283-6568
ttrib@elmore.rr.com

Jack Venable is a State Representative who is also the editor and publisher of the Tallassee Tribune. Representative Venable is also head of the Rules Committee which will control when AUCRA bill comes out of the House. We all need to contact him and ask that the AUCRA be placed on the Special Order calendar after it goes through committee. Representative Venable is the most important individual right now concerning this law and the 100,000 divers in this state need his support. Please write call and email all of the other House members as well and ask everyone you know to do the same. We don't need to contact the Senate members anymore their part is over for now.

If we don't get this then we have nothing and all of our efforts in changing the law will have failed. We can be willing to allow some of the changes that have been made in our bill but we cannot allow the bill to go through as it is. If we lose then we will have to be back in Montgomery when the next legislative session begins. The Legislators don't want 100,000 divers and collectors down there and we shouldn't have to be there.
Of course if this law is not fixed we will immediately file suit against the law as being unconstitutional. Our Save Our Lost History organization has some great lawyers and we are prepared to go forward.

Below is a link to SB243 as it has been passed in the Senate. It still needs improvement in the House of Representatives

http://www.legislature.state.al.us/SearchableInstruments/2004RS/Bills/SB243.htm 


Here is a link for the version that we gave to the Senate, it is much better and diver friendly.

DIVER FRIENDLY VERSION

Please forward this information to as many individuals and web pages as you think may be interested. 

Thank you,

Steve Phillips
Save Our Lost History
4515 5th Avenue South
Birmingham, Al. 35222
205-595-3052
ssdsupply@aol.com 

~~~~~~~~~~~~

April 6, 2004


Hello Everyone,

It is getting warm outside and we are getting busy at SSDS. We are teaching classes almost every day now. Bring in a friend and get them involved in scuba diving. We offer a free scuba experience in our 14 ft. pool. If you know anyone who wants to try scuba diving we will let them. Our first Advanced class of the season will be diving next weekend on the wrecks in Panama City. We are currently teaching a Stress & Rescue class and the first South Carolina shark tooth diving trip this year is April 29 - May 2nd. There is still a spot available for this trip if you want to go.


We have a trip to Nassau in the Bahamas from July 28th - August 1st. The trip includes round trip airfare from Ft. Lauderdale to Nassau, accommodations at a beach front dive resort with a full breakfast daily and 3 days of 2 tank boat diving. $950 pp/do.


We still have 2 spots available for our March 2005 Truk Lagoon trip. The trip is all inclusive with 9 days of the best diving in the world. $4300 pp/do.


Our Spring Break trip to Cozumel was a great success. We spent a week at a really nice all inclusive resort. The 10 of us enjoyed 80 degree temperatures above and below the surface. All of the usual Cozumel creatures were there plus there were some things that we don't see there that often. Turtles were seen on almost every dive and we even got to see a spotted eagle ray up close. In our 20 trips or so to Cozumel in the last 10 years we have seen tremendous changes to the island, mostly due to the cruise ships that come there daily. It still is a great place to go.


After 5 months of waiting, Steve has finally been indicted for diving in the Alabama River at Selma. The current legislative session is half over and it is critical that SB243 is passed. We still need people to call the legislators and ask them to support SB243. SB243 repeals the ridiculous all inclusive parts of the law which prevents people from diving and finding anything in Alabama's waterways but it still does control salvage on shipwrecks of Mobile Bay as it was intended in the first place. Steve's ordeal with the Alabama Historical Commission is featured in 2 national publications this month. North South Trader's Civil War which you have already received an email about, and the April edition of Dive Training Magazine. Click here to read the article in Dive Training www.dtmag.com/04-04-Dive%20Observer.shtml

Give us a call or come by the Scuba School if you want to go diving on one of our trips.


Let's go diving,


Spencer Phillips
Southern Skin Divers Supply
4515 5th Avenue South
Birmingham, AL. 35222
205-595-3052

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

March 19, 2004

Save Our Lost History

This week I found out that Perry and I have been indicted in Selma. Actually the archaeologists of Alabama knew we were indicted last week but Perry and I didn't find out until this week. It really irritates me that these people can make me and Perry have to go to all this trouble.


Steve Sylvia is the publisher of the finest magazine written about the Civil War. North South Trader's Civil War is written for collectors and historians. This months issue has a nice article about what is going on down here. Steve Sylvia said we could send it to all of our divers and readers, so here it is. Please post this to your chat pages and web forums.

Thanks,

Steve Phillips 
Southern Skin Divers Supply
4515 5th Ave. South
Birmingham, AL. 35222
205-595-3052

In 1995 I wrote an editorial about anti-relic hunting activities in Baldwin County, Alabama. According to my sources, an old law on the books in Alabama, that had never been seriously enforced or tested in a courtroom, was being dredged up and given teeth by a few young ambitious politicians bent on easy anti-crime headlines. The law, in its simplest definition, claims that any item of value or significance that has been in Alabama’s soil for 50 years or longer belongs to the state regardless of the location of the item—even on private property. Quite simply, it means that the engagement ring your grandmother lost in her backyard in 1954 now belongs to the state of Alabama. If you come along with your metal detector and find it you are legally bound to surrender it to the state or risk a felony charge for theft of cultural resources. This is an admittedly unlikely scenario but it is the letter of the law. 

I was astonished to hear that relic hunters in Alabama were being arrested and charged with violations of this absurd law. I was informed of a meeting between some 30 law enforcement agency heads, state prosecutors, US Coast Guard representatives, and NPS representatives to discuss and address the enforcement of this particular law. At the meeting, an up-and-coming district attorney likened relic hunters to “drug smugglers.” An undercover agent for the Alabama Department of Conservation who had “infiltrated” a monthly meeting of a local relic hunter’s club described the clubs members as “looters” and “thieves.” A special deputy sheriff actually stated that “metal detecting in the state of Alabama is illegal…Everything belongs to the state or federal government.” 

I had hoped that exposing this situation would apprise Alabama’s relic hunters of this rather serious threat to their hobby and a grassroots uprising would result to contest this law. Surprisingly, nothing of the sort occurred. It would seem that many relic hunters, while bent on removing items from beneath the soil, also bury their own heads beneath it when it comes to defending their own rights.

In 1999 the Historical Commission of Alabama pushed through a new law affecting artifact recovery in its 77,000 miles of waterways. The new Alabama Underwater Cultural Resources Act was designed primarily to protect historically significant shipwrecks. Few can find fault with such a law, despite the fact that its enactment was redundant. Federal and state maritime laws have been in place for many years protecting such underwater sites. However, the verbiage of this new law is so vague and pervasive that Alabama law-enforcement personnel are confused as to what constitutes a violation. Consequently, they are empowered to arrest relic hunting divers indiscriminately—or so it seems. It would appear that the purpose of this act was to target amateur scuba divers and prevent them from recovering any artifacts of any kind from Alabama’s waterways.

Like a festering boil, the matter is fast coming to a head. Last October 20, prominent Civil War collector and renowned scuba diver Steve Phillips of Birmingham, Alabama, was arrested along with Perry Massie while filming a television segment for California’s “Prospecting America” program. Massie is the CEO of the popular “Outdoor Channel.” Both men were charged with felony theft of Alabama’s cultural artifacts. They were not diving on a shipwreck nor were they diving on a registered underwater historical site. The artifacts they were charged with stealing were a Civil War musket, a Confederate ammo box, and several minie balls identified on the site by state archaeologist Thomas Maher. Interestingly, the “ammo box” proved to be an old Prince Albert tobacco can, and the “minie balls” were, in fact, fishing weights. But, no matter, the musket was indeed a musket. Maher and his assistant with the Historical Commission were able to accurately identify that along with Phillip’s boat, both of which were duly confiscated.

Phillips, however, is not going to “go gently into that good night.” He and Massie have mounted an impressive campaign to defend themselves and the rights of fellow recreational scuba divers in Alabama. The two men have been contacting senators, congressmen, scuba divers, relic hunters, news reporters, hobby publications, and anyone who’ll listen to aid in repealing or, at least, in redefining this dubious law. Their plight and their complaint have been broadcast nationally via newsletters, newspaper and magazine articles, and the Internet and people are beginning to respond, including some Alabama legislators. 

As Steve explained to me, laws that put our hobby in jeopardy are quietly being proposed and passed throughout the country. He referred to the new law in Georgia-- a topic of a previous NSTCW editorial--that requires relic hunters to submit a written request to the state archaeologist to relic hunt 10 days prior to doing so, even on private property with the landowner’s permission.

As Steve told me, “Last I heard, this is still America and we have the right to pursue our hobbies. We aren’t doing anything wrong. We are helping to preserve history. Relic hunters have added more to the published historical record than all the archaeological reports combined. Furthermore,” he added, “many of the nation’s top Civil War museum collections were donated by relic hunters and collectors. Claude Fuller, Richard D. Steuart, Beverly Dubose, Tom Dickey, Syd Kerksis, and many others’ collections have filled display cases in museums across the country. Even my own extensive artillery collection was slated for loan to Alabama. What are these people thinking?” 

What Phillips and Massie hope for is the creation of a national organization to establish a legal fund for legitimate miscarriages of justice regarding relic recovery whether on land or underwater. He hopes to gain sufficient support to fund a lobbyist to represent the concerns of relic hunters in Congress. As he noted, it is common for test laws in a given state to be mimicked by other states. He foresees a dark future for recreational scuba diving, relic hunting, and collecting if we don’t pull together now. Given the increasing legislation, I feel his sinister prediction is not illogical. 

It is baffling to me that in a time when illegal immigrants can obtain driver’s licenses, criminals can flourish on Internet sites, and the English language is no longer essential for US citizenship, long-established American hobbies are under attack and labeled “threats” to society. Whose society? 

As Phillips knows, attempts to organize amateur relic hunters on a national level have been tried before. Just a few years ago, Jack Gifford of Tesoro Electronics expended considerable time, effort, and money with the establishment of the National Society of Metal Detectorists. His concern over the ever-increasing opposition to metal detecting from such powerful organizations as the National Park Service and the archaeological community prompted his effort. He also feared that collectors would eventually be targeted for possession of national cultural resources. Unfortunately, apathy ruled the day and Jack discovered that relic hunters and collectors just weren’t sufficiently motivated to support the infant organization. 

In those few years since that noble attempt to organize, more restrictive laws have passed. More are slated for enactment as I write this column. 

If ever we are to defend ourselves now is the time and Steve Phillips has promised to dedicate himself to the task. He can be contacted at www.ssdsupply.com or at ssdsupply@aol.com for further information on how you can join this effort to protect our hobby. I urge all of you to do so. Militaria and artifact collectors, relic hunters, treasure hunters, coin shooters, divers, show promoters, and even reenactors are all in the sights of special interest groups who don’t like our hobbies and are trying to curtail our pursuit of happiness. It’s time to unite.

In the words of Benjamin Franklin, “We must indeed all hang together, or most assuredly we will all hang separately.” 

Stephen W. Sylvia, Publisher

North South Trader’s Civil War magazine.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

March 11, 2004

Save our Lost History
 
A week ago John Trott, Dave Anderson and I went to Montgomery and spent the day talking to our legislators about Senate Bill 243. I found all the legislators that I talked with to be very helpful and interested in helping to fix our bad law that was enacted in 1999. The legislators are very upset at the Alabama Historical Commission for changing the law that was supposed to only be about shipwrecks in Mobile Bay. The AHC changed the regulations to give them control of all relics that are anywhere in any waters of Alabama.

Any bottle, coin or anything else over 50 years old is now claimed by the AHC. Yesterday Spencer and I went back to Montgomery and talked to other legislators and to  the Department heads of some of our State departments. All of these people are very interested in what our divers really do. We helped inform them about the truth and about the BS the AHC has been telling them. Speaking of BS, I gave Senator Biddle a piece of DS. I told him that he often hears BS and I wanted him to show others this piece of DS that I had found. DS is also known as coprolite and is about 160 million years old. I found this DS in the Alabama River. Coprolite is fossilized dinosaur poop.

SB243 is on track to repeal the 1999 law and to fix the law to only cover what was the original intent that the legislature voted for in 1999. The AHC is very mad about the legislators wanting to fix the law. The AHC doesn't want the legislature to interfere with there power over collectors, divers, relic hunters, historians, authors and just about all citizens of Alabama.

Last week the AHC sent out an email to all of their employees telling them to have their families and friends write to the legislators and ask them to oppose SB243. Some of the legislators showed me copies of the emails that they have received from these people. We are always referred to as looters, plunderers, scavengers and they usually say words like booty, robbers, black market and the like.

 

They never say that we divers and collectors are the people who actually save our lost history. We find the relics before they have totally rusted away. We then preserve them and write the books that everyone including the AHC uses to know how a relic was made and used. We quite often lend or give our treasures to museums or display them in private collections. The AHC has no facilities or money to even preserve or display the finds that we make. They have no plans to ever find anything themselves. To them it is better to let our history be totally lost than for anyone other than them to have any historical relics.

I was given a copy of a letter that was written by the AHC in 1981 to the Alabama Gun Collectors Association. In this letter the AHC claims that all Indian arrowheads or artifacts belong to the state. A copy of the letter is attached (or you can click here to see it). They consider themselves to be the state. I guess us commoners are not the state. We are just to work and pay their wages and do what we are told. I don't think this is right. I think we as divers and collectors should save all of our history that we can before it is lost. Construction alone destroys millions of artifacts and relics each year. Dredging for gravel in our waterways also destroys our history. Don't get me wrong, I am not opposed to construction or dredging. I know that this is life and is going to happen. I also don't want to delay or oppose any such operations because that would just make the people who are earning a living in these professions want to keep quite about what is in the areas where they work. All I want is to encourage everyone involved to save as much as we can before our treasures are lost. You divers and collectors are the people who are going to save as much as possible. You may be a Boy Scout walking along a river bank and find an arrowhead. That is real good. Take care of your artifact, write down where it was found and share your finds with the people who will write the books. Don't be afraid of your government. If others don't understand the good that we do then we must try to help them understand. The fact that others may not be able to find and save our treasures does not mean that you shouldn't. If you can find an old bottle while diving I want you to be proud of saving it before it is broken and lost. Take care of your finds because they are history and you are the custodian of that part of history. You are good.

SB243 has much support now and I hope we can get it passed in this session of the legislature. The problem is that it may not come up for a vote. The legislators are now bogged down on other issues. Our budget problems for the state are taking too much time. I noticed in Montgomery that the legislators do personally read the emails that are sent to them. Please write to them again and ask them to support SB243. I know many of you have written before and now I ask you to write again. The squeaking wheel gets the grease. Lets squeak all we can right now. I don't want all of us to have to do this again in the next session. Lets fix this bad law now. 

The legislators phone #'s and address's are found at:

 

Senate:    www.legislature.state.al.us/senate/senators/senateroster_alpha.html

 

House of Representatives:    www.legislature.state.al.us/house/representatives/houseroster_alpha.html

 

Please contact all that you can.
 
We have changed the name to our rights group to:
 
Save Our Lost History
4515 5th Ave. South
Birmingham, Al. 35222
 
This name better reflects what we are about.

 

Thanks,
 
 
Steve Phillips
 
 
Please forward this email to everyone interested. We need everyone to be made aware of this situation.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

February 27, 2004
 
 
    To all divers, relic hunters, bottle collectors, coin hunters, arrowhead finders, fossil hunters, gun collectors, shipwreck divers and everyone else interested in history.
    You know there sure is a bunch of us and I've got good news. SB243 is well on its way to being passed. I talked to Senator Biddle this morning and he told me that SB243 is out of committee and will be voted on real soon. It will come up for a vote. I was very worried that what happened in 2000 would happen again and our bill would not be voted on. This time is much different. We have lots of support from our legislators to get back our freedoms to find and save our lost history. Senator Biddle said it is time for all of us to call the State Legislators and ask them to vote for SB243. We are over the hump but we haven't won yet. Our opposition is the bureaucrats at the Alabama Historical Commission. They don't want anyone to find anything. They just want their wages and to be in charge. They are actively lobbying against SB243. Several legislators have told me that the AHC have asked them to oppose SB243. I don't think our paid employees of the AHC should be politicking against the citizens of Alabama. They need to learn how to work with us and not be our overseers. We don't work for them, they work for us. We all need to call our legislators now. We don't need to write, there is not time for that. Here is a link to the work phone numbers of the members of the House of Representatives and the Senate. Click on the legislators individually to see their home numbers. 
http://www.legislature.state.al.us/house/representatives/houseroster_alpha.html
http://www.legislature.state.al.us/senate/senators/senateroster_alpha.html
    Please call as many as you can and ask for their support. I am going to Montgomery next week to talk to legislators. If any legislators that you call are uninformed or oppose SB243 please let me know. I will go see them. Anyone who has time should go to Montgomery and get involved with fixing the bad law. If they have a hearing on SB243 then we will need to get a big turnout in Montgomery to show what we want. Please forward this message to your chat or discussion groups, dive clubs or anyone who is interested. We need as much exposure as possible before SB243 goes to a vote.
    We are changing the name of Alabama Divers Legal Defense Fund to: Save Our Lost History (SOLH). This name better represents what we are about and all the different groups who are involved nationwide.
 
If you want to contribute to our fund, send to:
Save Our Lost History
4515 5th Avenue South
Birmingham, AL. 35222
205-595-3052
 
    Last weekend Spencer, Dennis King and I went to Tallahassee to meet with collectors and divers. They had an amazing amount of beautiful points that they have collected and saved from being lost forever. Many of these people put their collections on display in libraries and show to school kids. They have written some very good books on the artifacts and how they were used. They find, they preserve, they write and they share. Think about it. When have you seen any of our paid professional archaeologists do anything for us?
 
CALL                   CALL                    CALL                        CALL                        CALL
 
 
Thanks,
 
Steve Phillips

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

February 20, 2004

Hello All,
 

Last Sunday we had a presentation here at the Scuba School featuring world famous Maritime attorney and diver Peter Hess. There were about 30 of our divers here for the talk which covered a lot of information on Maritime law. Peter also included a lot of footage from divers who had dived on the passenger vessel Andrea Doria, the Civil War Ironclad the Monitor and the Spanish Galleon the Nuestra Senora De Atocha. His footage showed how the ships were falling apart and rusting away to nothing, the Civil War ships in particular, and that we need to save our lost history before there is nothing left to save. Some of the divers here had some of the treasure they had recovered from the Atocha. Everyone enjoyed the presentation and we appreciate Peter taking time to come here to support us in our efforts to get rid of the bad laws that affect scuba diving.

We've setup a bunch a new dive trips. Click here for the details.

Spencer Phillips
 
 
Southern Skin Divers Supply
4515 5th Avenue South
Birmingham, Al. 35222
205-595-3052 
 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~

February 9, 2004

Senate Bill #243

       Senators Jack Biddle and Jabo Waggoner have submitted a bill in the legislature to repeal the terrible law that controls diving in Alabama. All divers should be appreciative of the help we are getting from our legislators. We will try to make a list of all the helpful legislators. I think as divers we should vote for who looks out for our freedoms. The legislators in Montgomery have told me about the many letters and emails they have been receiving from divers and other interested people. We are starting to be noticed and we can win back some of our freedoms concerning access to public lands and water in Alabama. I feel good about what has happened so far, but we don't need to get over confident. In 2000, Representative Tim Parker tried to get rid of the bad law and his bill failed.
       Our support is greater now and due to the letters written by divers the legislators understand more about what is wrong with the law that was passed in 1999. We divers did not have the opportunity to say anything about the law in 1999. We didn't know about it until it was passed. The legislators did not understand the law and they were conned into believing it was about shipwrecks only. Now some of them are mad about being lied to and want to repeal the law as they should.
       I want to thank all of you who have contacted your legislators over the last 3 months. If we gain back our freedoms it is because of your efforts. People call me each day and ask how my fight is going. I appreciate their concerns but its not my fight. I was just one of the guys who was arrested but the fight is all of ours. The bureaucrats in Montgomery would have gobbled me up and spit me out if not for the over 100,000 divers in Alabama. An individual has little or no chance but as a group we are quite powerful.
       What we need to do now is write one more time to our legislators. We must stay on them about this issue until we get the law repealed. Our bill could simply die in committee or never come to a vote as happened in 2000. We never will have a better chance to fix this bad law than we have at this time. The next week or two will determine what happens. Please write and ask your representatives and senators to vote for bill SB243. We also need to know who is with us or who is against us.
       I know many of you are concerned but have not written your legislators. They can't know what you want if you don't tell them. This is a team effort. You are on the team or you are an observer. If you are an observer then the rest of us will fight your fight for you, but we may lose. I don't want to lose. This is too important. I want all of our children and grandchildren to have diving freedoms. The government does not own the lands and waters. They belong to the public. We are the public. Please do your part. Many of the dive stores have helped in this fight and many have not. Please contact your local dive stores and try to get them involved. Here is the link to the legislators address page, http://www.legislature.state.al.us/index.html

Thank You,


Steve Phillips
Southern Skin Divers Supply
4515 5th Avenue South
Birmingham, Al. 35222
~~~~~~~~~~~~~

February 5, 2004

Alabama Divers Legal Defense


There has been much interest nationwide in divers and relic hunting here in Alabama. We have received many donations to our legal defense fund. Some of the harassment that we have been getting here is also happening to arrowhead hunters in Georgia. Relic hunters in Texas are being intimidated and threatened. The agenda nationwide of the power hungry archaeologists and bureaucrats is not helping to save our history. In fact the agenda in Alabama seems to be to destroy history that is not politically correct. One of the benefits that we are receiving from our exposure on web pages and news articles is that we are building a network of other groups with similar problems. We are linking up with arrowhead collectors web pages and with a metal detecting group in Texas. I hope that groups nationwide will help one another to give the strength that only numbers can bring. Peter Hess is a lawyer in New York who specializes in maritime law. He contacted me when he read about me and Perry being arrested. He has been helping Erskine Mathis and Dr. Cole with the problems with the Alabama law. We are fortunate to have at least 4 lawyers helping to get rid of the bad law here. Peter has volunteered to come to Alabama Sunday, February 15th. He is coming to Southern Skin Divers Supply and giving a talk.

Shipwreck explorer and maritime attorney Peter E. Hess takes his audience on dives to the world's most famous shipwrecks and explores the legal questions swirling around them.   Who owns the historic treasures discovered underwater? Does the diver who finds a valuable artifact still get to keep it?

Beginning with Spanish treasure galleons and covering warships (including the infamous Confederate raider, CSS ALABAMA), gold rush paddle steamers, the well-preserved wrecks of the Great Lakes, "warbirds" (sunken military aircraft), ancient shipwrecks of the Mediterranean and modern ocean liners like TITANIC, Hess' lecture is virtual underwater exploration with a legal twist.  

And yet with the ongoing revolution in search and recovery technology, governments at all levels are increasingly trying to lay claim to ownership of all historic objects found underwater--whether discovered or not.   While states like Alabama have passed highly restrictive laws with little or no input from the diving public, what is occurring on an international scale is even more ominous.  

Hess has spent more than 20 years on the front lines of the "Treasure Wars".  Will our future be "finders, keepers"--or "finders, weepers"?
To read more on Peter Hess go to www.maritimemall.net/salvlaw.html

The talk will start at 4:00 PM and last about 2 hours. Please come if you can. Let us know if you are coming so we can plan for enough space.


Sincerely,


Steve Phillips
Alabama Divers Legal Defense Fund
4515 5th Avenue South
Birmingham, Al. 35222
205-595-3052
~~~~~~~~~~~~~

January 22, 2004

To All Interested in Personal Freedoms


Divers, Relic Hunters and prospectors in Alabama can't afford to be silent anymore. Right now is the time to do something. Steve was in Montgomery today to talk with the powers that be about new legislation. The State Legislature goes back into session in about one week and all divers in this state and definitely everyone in the scuba diving industry needs to write letters to the State Senate, the House of Representatives and to the Governor to make them aware of the way law abiding scuba divers are being treated and to let them know that you give a damn and will not stand for it. 
The AHC, Alabama Historical Commission, is a redundant department of the state that is supposed to preserve Alabama history. The only time they preserve any of Alabama's history is if it coincides with their personal agenda which is paying their own wages. Alabama residents need to express that they want to merge the AHC under the Alabama Department of Archives and History. The Alabama Department of Archives and History is the oldest department of history preservation in the country and they are interested in preserving all of Alabama's history, not just the portions they choose. The AHC has about 140 employees and this is far too many to do such a small job.
When the Legislature goes into session we need them to repeal the AUCRA law and diving be covered under the Federal guidelines which protects shipwrecks and Indian sites and was already in effect anyway. If we divers are not successful in the Legislative process we have also hired a Constitutional lawyer and we will try to win in court. The law should be removed as unconstitutional. The people that wrote the AUCRA know what it is supposed to protect, but they are enforcing the law so that it makes them the most money. They want to intimidate Alabama's divers and make them plead guilty even when no law was broken so they can confiscate your boat, equipment and collection for the benefit of the archaeologists who wrote the law. Send letters now and let your lawmakers know what you want.
Thank you to all of those who have already written letters. Send them again. Thank you to all that have made donations to the Alabama Divers Legal Defense Fund. Don't wait to see the outcome of this fight, get in it and go after it like a biting sow. You don't have to write a long letter, just let them know you are interested and don't want our state to take away our freedoms. Ask if they are going to support the citizens of Alabama or not. We want to know how they are going to vote. If you write letters as you should then you are doing your part and if you don't then you will get what you deserve, nothing.

Make any donations to:
Alabama Divers Legal Defense Fund
4515 5th Avenue South
Birmingham, Al. 35222

If we are going to win this fight, your letters will make it happen. Here is a link to the Alabama Legislators addresses from our web page, www.ssdsupply.com/aucra.htm. Please let us know about any responses from legislators so we can make a list of friends of divers.


Thank You,


Spencer Phillips
ADLDF
205-595-3052

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

January 13, 2004

From Spencer Phillips


       Last week Dennis King and I went to Florida to try some possible dive sites we had been researching on the Internet. We tried a place close to Perry, Florida on the Fenholloway River. I had a dive kayak and so did Dennis and we were testing these out to see how easy they were to dive from. There was a lot more paddling than I had anticipated. On our 2nd day of diving we arrived back to the boat launch about an hour after dark. As we pulled up to the ramp a game warden from the Florida Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation came storming up and demanded to know what we were diving for and started looking us over as well as our dive gear and kayaks. He told us that the entire river from where we were to where it flowed into the Gulf 3 miles away was an archaeological site and was off limits to scuba diving. I felt very uncomfortable when he knew my friends name before he even asked. The officer said he could arrest us and charge us with a class C felony for scuba diving. The game wardens are the ones that the archaeologists use as their own Gestapo. After the officer watched me change into dry clothes, I asked him why neither the site nor the boat ramp was posted against scuba diving and he said they didn't want to make people aware that there were artifacts in the area. We didn't find anything and had no artifacts or fossils in our possession which was good because he had been informed that we were there and was ready to arrest us for nothing.
       None of the sites that we tried in Florida were posted as archaeological or off limits to scuba diving. The state of Florida has 106,000 archaeological sites, zones and historic landmarks. If you try to find a list of Florida archaeological sites, so you know where not to dive, there is not one. The state doesn't want people to know where things come from but will gladly arrest you if you step off the trail. The state of Florida is now buying all of the land that people use to access the freshwater springs so they can close those to scuba diving as well.
       This past Sunday the Birmingham News had a great article that Mike Bolton wrote about the wrongful arrest of my dad, Steve Phillips, and Perry Massie. Click here to read the article
www.al.com/outdoors/birminghamnews/index.ssf?/base/sports/1073816379162510.xml

       We have also started the Alabama Divers Legal Defense Fund and have received about 11,000 dollars in donations to this fund. This is to protect divers who are harassed or arrested. Divers wishes are not being recognized in Alabama, Georgia or Florida and we can fix the problems with our united opposition to the wrong-headed archaeologists who think they own everything and every place. Do your part and write the legislators and donate to your legal defense fund. There is a link with all of Alabama's legislators addresses on our home page. www.ssdsupply.com. Write your legislators.

Send checks to
Alabama Divers Legal Defense Fund
4515 5th Avenue South
Birmingham, Al. 35222


Spencer Phillips

205-595-3052


~~~~~~~~~~~~~

12/31/03

Happy New Year! Our latest news is right over here

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

December 17, 2003
Alabama's Unfriendly Diving Rules

       Friends, divers, and all interested parties, In 1999 the Alabama State Legislature passed a new law to control the salvage of sunken ships in the public waters of Alabama. This law was passed without any input from the 100,000 divers in the state of Alabama. After the law was passed we divers were made aware of the law. The Alabama Historical Commission was granted permission to write the regulations that control the shipwrecks and diving on them. Don't confuse the Historical Commission with the State Department of Archives and History. The State Department of  Archives and History is interested in history and do a great job in the preservation of history. The Historical Commission has overstepped their boundaries and is attempting to control all the relic hunting, gold dredging and diving in general in our state. Southern Skin Divers Supply and many other divers have been trying to work with the Historical Commission with no success. They told us that the law would not affect recreational divers, relic hunters, or gold prospecting. This was not true. We are being mistreated and put upon by the Historical Commission employees. The Legislature did not want these unfriendly regulations but that is what we got.
       Alabama has 77,000 miles of inland waterways. We have more than any other state in the lower 48. Florida has 11,000. Most of our public waters have never been dived. The Historical Commission does not have divers or historians. They are archaeologists who know nothing about diving or history. Archaeologists study prehistory and how to apply for grants. Money is their main interest, history and diving are not what they care about.
       In October of this year I was arrested along with Perry Massie who is the head of the Outdoor Channel on TV. He was going to make a TV show about diving in Alabama similar to the one he made of us diving for fossils and relics in South Carolina last year. We were diving at Selma where I have dived for 30 years. We were not diving on a sunken ship. There are no sunken ships at Selma. This site has been dived by hundreds of divers, even before my time. My boat was confiscated and Perry and I were charged with a felony. We had to post bond and Perry's 8 year old daughter had to see her father arrested. We did not commit any crime. We violated no laws and were diving within the regulations of the Historical Commission.
       We were arrested anyway. It's all about money. The Historical Commission wants my Civil War Collection so they can sell it and pay their salary with the proceeds. According to the regulations that they wrote the Historical Commission gets to keep whatever they can steal from divers. I know that it is hard to understand but it is true. I had already agreed to loan my entire collection to the state to be put on display. They had to insure and display the collection but they could not sell it. It's all about money.
       The charges against Perry and I should soon be dropped because we have not done anything wrong. What I worry about is the other divers who will be harassed under these thugs at the Historical Commission. I do not want my sons, or any other divers bothered by these people. If you want to dive in a swimming hole and find a coin or bottle, that's just fine. I don't want you to feel threatened by your own state employees. I want you to take an interest in your own freedoms and the future divers that will come along. We need to get our Legislature to fix this bad law and even worse regulations. We can do this in court if we have to but it would be better if our own representatives would fix the problems they created. Bad laws can be fixed. Please write your state legislators. We have made a big file of correspondences since 1999 with the Historical Commission, State Legislators, the Governor and others concerning our problems with the Alabama Historical Commission. Click here http://www.ssdsupply.com/aucra.htm to learn more. Remember you have a dog in this fight. You are a free American citizen, you are not a subject. You do not have rulers, in fact you make the rules. Our Federal and State government is good, not bad. It is us. We have to keep an eye on our employees in our government to make sure they do for us, not to us. Please take charge, write your Legislators.


Thanks,

Steve Phillips
Southern Skin Divers Supply
Birmingham, Alabama
205-595-3052

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

11/28/03

This just in,


March 21-28, 2004
We have a Spring Break trip to Cozumel, Mexico.
The trip includes: roundtrip air from Birmingham to Cozumel, airport transfers, breakfast every day, unlimited diving and accommodations in a beautiful beach front hotel. We still have a few spots available so let us know if you want to go. Passport price $1745, Non-member $1795, Non-diver $1545. Give us a call if you need more info.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

9/22/03

Hello Everyone,


50th Anniversary Party
The Oldest Scuba School In The Country.


       Our reunion and party was a big shindig. We were expecting less than 100 people to show up, but we estimate that over 300 people came by to visit. Bill Tant and Eloise were here to visit with the old diver's from the 50's and 60's. Many of these divers are in their 80's now and haven't been diving in many years. They had a great time talking about the old days when Scuba was a new sport. We also had many of the midrange and new divers come by. I was cooking ribs as fast as I could all day. It was impossible for me to cook ribs fast enough. I did manage to burn them on the outside and I hope they were not raw in the middle. Forrest, Spencer, and Mark were able to chat with everyone but I didn't have time to talk much. We want to thank Ben Dugger who brought one of his antique diving helmets and a hand pump so people could try it out in the pool.
      
September 27th - 28th  Advanced Trip

       We have some upcoming activities for the divers who want to get wet. This weekend we are scheduled to go wreck diving in Panama City. This is a really good dive trip and doesn't cost much. If you like you can get your advanced certification on that trip. We need several more divers to sign up so we can make this trip. This will be our last wreck diving trip this year, so sign up now.

October 23rd- 26th South Carolina Trip

       We are planning to go to South Carolina and find fossils. Our last trip was over Labor Day weekend and Forrest, Spence, Don Sublett, and Dennis King found over 400 teeth and fossils. We know some real hot spots to dive there.

December 7th - 14th Cozumel Trip

       We were there in July and the trip was enjoyed by all. We don't have enough people signed up so far to make this trip happen. If you are interested in going please let us know now, don't wait.

October 25th - 26th Checkout Dive
       Any of our divers who want to tag along on our next checkout dive trip to the springs are welcome to go with us.

       Last week I was hired to look for a lost gold necklace in Logan Martin Lake. I was the 3rd diver to be hired to look for the necklace. I used my underwater metal detector and Night Rider light. It took me 35 minutes to find it and I made $500. By the way we sell underwater metal detectors and lights so you can find some good stuff yourself. I'm trying to dive all I can this year so I can stay in shape for Alaska next summer. 

Steve P.

Southern Skin Divers Supply
205-595-3052    

~~~~~~~~~~~~

7/23/03

Hello Divers,

August 15th-17th

We will be leading a group of divers on a 2 day wreck diving trip out of Panama City. We will be diving some of the 10-15 mile offshore wrecks that are dove less frequently than the usual in shore stuff. There is a greater chance for better visibility and bigger fish encounters. The price includes 2 nights in a hotel, double occupancy, and 2 days of offshore boat diving. This is also a great way to add advanced scuba certification if you have not yet. Passport diver price$325, with advanced class $395.

We also have our next fossil hunting trip to the Cooper River scheduled for August 28-31. Call the store for more info(205-595-3052).

Safe Diving,

Southern Skin Divers Supply

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

6/2/03


Hello Divers,

Tomorrow morning Steve and Spencer depart for the Land of the Midnight Sun, Alaska, to do some gold dredging in the Bering Sea. When they get back later this summer we are going to have our 50 year anniversary party for SSDS, we haven't set a date yet. We are staying busy teaching scuba classes and taking divers on trips. Every month we do an open water certification trip to the springs in North Florida and you are more than welcome to tag-along on any of these trips so your dive skills don't get rusty. Stay active this summer and go diving, that is the reason you got certified. Here are some upcoming trips for you to go on. 

Trips

Panama City, Florida. Wreck Diving June 14-15, 2003.

There are 3 spots left and you can receive your advanced certification on this trip. All of the diving is ocean boat diving and you will get to experience deep diving, wreck diving, night diving, underwater navigation and diving in current which will all make you a more experienced diver.


Cooper River, South Carolina. June 26-29, 2003.

We still have spots available for this trip. You can receive your Solo Diver certification on this trip, which will allow you to dive without a buddy if you choose. There are also a lot of neat things to find while diving. Look at our web page to see some of the finds from previous trips.  

Cozumel, Mexico. July 27th-August 3rd, 2003.

This trip is full but we are still signing up alternates in case anyone cancels.


Hawaii, The Big Island. November 5-13, 2003.

We are going back again. Read Mark's trip log to hear about the great trip we just had out there.



Mark's trip log

Hawaii Trip May 14-22, 2003.

Just back from Hawaii, "The Big Island", I don't know of any Islands that have so much to offer underwater as well as topside. Our dive group spent the first 4 days diving the Kona Coast. The boat rides were short and close to shore. Spinner dolphins were just outside the harbor each day and they briefly escorted our boat while we headed to the dive sites. Everyone on the trip had the opportunity to see mantas, white-tip sharks, turtles, eagle rays, octopus, and a variety of moray eels. Some of our dives had swim throughs and arches like "Lone Tree Arch" it was common to find a white-tip shark or two and green turtles lying on the bottom inside some of the overhangs and lava tubes. There is always a good chance to see the big animals in Hawaii due to the deep water close to shore, but also there is an abundance of small marine life that is unique to these waters. Some of the small macro stuff we saw included nudibranchs, frogfish, flatworms, leaf scorpionfish, rockmover wrasse, pipefish, trunkfish, red blooded starfish, damselfish, and the egg mass (red rose) of a spanish dancer. There were always schools of raccoon, ornate, and threadfin butterfly fish feeding on the coral during our dives.
The underwater geology of Hawaii is distinct, large tracts of volcanic formations and shallow reefs covered with cauliflower coral which gets deep quick and drops down thousands of feet offshore. There is no river run off on the Kona side, it is dry, and that makes for incredible water visibility that averages 100 feet year round. The highlight dive during the trip was "The Manta Ray night dive" ; this was the first night dive for several people in our group. During the dive briefing we had heard of "Big Bertha" with her 14 foot wingspan. As soon as the sun set, we went overboard to settle in on the bottom at 30 feet. Already waiting on us were 10 mantas including Bertha. They were competing with each other to feed on the plankton illuminating from our dive lights and the portable light that the dive staff put on the bottom. All you have to do is sit on your knees and point your dive light toward the surface, the mantas would glide overhead scooping the plankton with their mouths wide open. Some of the divers that shot 35mm cameras instead of digital were out of film in 20 minutes. There was a lot of action that turned into a feeding frenzy. The dive lasted an hour, when we surfaced a few mantas followed some divers back to the boat. The staff on the boat said that the 10 mantas that night were more than the normal amount that routinely show up. A great place for a shore dive is "The Place of Refuge", it is 16 miles from Kailua-Kona. The group headed that way one morning. As soon as we entered the water it didn't take long for the green turtles to find us. We counted 7 on one dive. Some were together in shallow water from 15 to 30 feet, there were 2 at the surface near the drop off and they were not afraid of divers. Hawaii has a thriving turtle population. If your mask was somehow fogged, and you didn't see any, all you had to do was drink a cup of coffee on the balcony of your oceanfront condo in the morning time. We had one or two each day that would climb onto the lava rocks in front of our private condos where we stayed during the week. Some would sun on the rocks and also feed on the algae in the shallow water. If you wanted to dive all week, shore diving is available at no extra cost. After 4 days of boat and shore diving it was time to see the island. The Big Island has so much to see you can't waste anytime. The island is over 4000 sq. miles and has 266 miles of shoreline. The most active and longest erupting volcano on the planet is located on the big island. Kilauea in Hawaii Volcano National Park, has erupted continuously since 1983. At the edges of the volcano some active lava vents are accessible allowing people to hike to selected areas where you can view the volcano and even see the glow of the lava at night. Some of our group spent the night on the other side of the island at the volcano lodge to take advantage of the sites around the volcano and Hilo. There are two mountains over 13,000 feet each; Mona Kea and Mona Loa. The observatory is on Mona Kea and at times during the year snow covers the mountain top, you can make this drive with a 4wd vehicle. Waipi'o Valley, The Parker Ranch, Black Sand Beach, Green Beach, South Point, Hapuna Beach, Puna distict, coffee plantations, Akaka falls, and the north and south Kona Coast area just of a few of the places on the Big Island that we were able to visit. There is more to see while driving through some of the small towns, it takes more than one trip to see it all. Our next Hawaii group trip is from November 5-13, 2003. If you want to see and do something different, go west, our flight to Kona was only 5 hours from L.A. 
We are taking reservations and deposits now, call or come by and see our photos and videos of past "SSDS Big Island trips". 

Stay Wet and Safe Diving,

Southern Skin Divers Supply
4515 5th Avenue South
Birmingham, Alabama 35222
205-595-3052 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

5/14/03

Hello All,

Panama City, FL, June 14th & 15th

We are taking a group of students for their advanced certification. If anyone wants to sign up for this class or just do some ocean diving give us a call at the Scuba School.

Hawaii, The Big Island, Nov 5th
Mark is escorting 10 divers to Hawaii May 14-22 and we are also running a trip back to Hawaii on November 5th. This trip is excellent for the diver and non diver alike.  If it wasn't such a great place, we wouldn't take people there twice a year. Sign up now if you want to join us.

South Carolina, June 26th - 29th
We have a couple spots available for our Cooper River, SC trip next week. The trip is Thursday - Sunday and includes transportation to and from South Carolina, 3 days on the boat, a guide to put you on the good spots, tanks, 3 nights in a hotel and food and beverages while on the boat. This is a great trip to find relics, fossils and prehistoric shark's teeth. Our divers have found many 200 to 400 year old bottles, clay pipes, pottery, Indian arrowheads and coins on these trips. Give us a call ASAP if you are interested.

Cozumel, Mexico. July 27th-August 3rd
We are about to close out our trip to Cozumel. This is really a wonderful trip with great easy diving. This time it is very convenient because we leave out of Birmingham and the days are from Sunday to Sunday. The trip includes: Roundtrip airfare, airport transfers, unlimited diving and accommodations in a beautiful beach front hotel. Let us know soon if you want to go.


Equipment Service
If you need to have your equipment serviced bring it in because Spencer will be gone to Alaska almost all of June.

Come dive with us,
Southern Skin Divers Supply 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

3/11/03

Hello,

We are leading a trip on March 27-30 to the historic Cooper River in South Carolina. This will be an excellent opportunity to find fossilized sharks teeth, bottles, Indian artifacts and other relics. The Passport Club member price is $615 and this includes: transportation from Birmingham, boat, guide, 3 days of diving, food and beverages on the boat, tanks and 3 nights in a hotel. This trip is a lot of fun and you can find some really great stuff. Call the dive store for more information, 205-595-3052. Let's go diving.


Spencer Phillips
Southern Skin Diver Supply

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

3/6/03

Hello,

We still have a few spots available for our Hawaii trip to the Big Island. The trip is March 14-22, 9 days 8 nights. AIRFARE. The trip includes round-trip airfare from Birmingham to Kona. ACCOMMODATIONS. Fantastic condos (shown in picture) that sell for over $300,000 each, Ocean front rooms, 2 bedroom 2 bath, full kitchen, washer and dryer in each unit, housekeeping daily, dive or snorkel right outside condo. DIVING. 3 days of 2 tank morning boat dives, 1 day/night boat dive (includes famous Manta Ray dive), also includes tanks and weights for unlimited shore dives. VEHICLES. Choice of SUV for every 4 people or car for every 2 people. PRICES. Based on 4 people in condo. Passport club divers: $1995, Non-club divers: $2050, Non-divers: $1695.

If you want to do some local diving you can join Southern for a weekend of ocean diving April 12th and 13th. We will be doing 5 dives in 2 days, one will be a night dive. The dives will range from 60 to 95 feet deep. We will be between 3 and 10 miles offshore. The price includes 2 days on the boat and 1 night in a hotel, double occupancy. Passport price $220. Nonmember price $245.

Let's Go Diving,
The Scuba School
205-595-3052 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

2/18/03

Hello Divers,


The new year is starting off good at the Scuba school. We have classes going on now on Tues. and Thurs. nights and we have a Monday and Wednesday class starting Feb. 24th. Our next Saturday class starts March 8th. We are also now offering our Executive Private classes that will accommodate new divers that have difficult working hours. We are the only school that can offer this training because we have our own indoor 14' deep heated pool. We make the classes fit the divers schedule. We don't even charge extra for these classes. Our new Passport Club Divers are paying the lowest costs for training and checkouts available anywhere in this area. If you have friends or family that need to be trained please send them to see us. They can get trained now and not miss the upcoming dive season. We also have an Advanced Open Water course starting on April 12th that will be ocean diving in the gulf not quarry diving. If any of you divers want to get trained and certified as a Stress & Rescue or Search and Recovery diver please let us know so we can set up the training. Remember that you will be trained and certified not just certified. We are not in the business of just passing out plastic cards to whoever will pay us. We want you to be competent divers and not mess up our perfect safety record.

TRIPS

We have a checkout dive trip scheduled for March 1st and 2nd to the springs in Florida. If you want to tag along and get wet, you are welcome. The water temp. is always the same at the springs and this should be fun for you. 
I hope all of you were able to see the Prospecting America show on the Outdoor Channel that was showing our Fossil Diving trip to South Carolina. This trip is great fun and we find lots of fossils and treasure. Our next South Carolina trip is March 27-30 and we have a couple spaces left. Hawaii is May 14th. The Big Island is fantastic. You will love this trip and our prices for what we offer is really low. The best animal encounter dive in the world. Don't miss Hawaii again. Our Truk Lagoon trip is leaving in a couple weeks. The wreck diving and the soft corals of Truk are the best in the world. This is a big trip and it will be several years before we go again. Six of our world class divers are going this time. The lucky few.

ALASKA

Steve, Spence, John Trott, Kathy Wales, Chris Scott and Erskine Mathis are going to Alaska this summer dredging for gold. This is Steve's 11th and Spence's 9th year to dredge in Alaska. Some of us will be up there as long as 2 months this summer. For the rugged among you who like to find GOLD you should check into going to Alaska with the Gold Prospectors Association. Come by the Scuba School and we will give you some Alaska info.


REPAIRS

Spencer says to bring your regulator and BC in now for your annual service. He gets covered up with work later on so bring yours in now and avoid waiting on repairs. All club members must bring in their equipment each year to maintain their club discounts and freebies as well as their lifetime parts warranty. All of you club members should be using your free benefits such as free use of our pool with free use of scuba tank. Come in get wet and stay current. Any divers who need new gear can come by and try the new Aqua-Lung and Suunto products in our pool. Where else do you get to try scuba gear before you buy.

EQUIPMENT

We have a special trade in on dive computers now. If your old dive computer is tired or worn out, then upgrade now to a Suunto computer. Suunto is the #1 dive computer company and is part of our Aqua-Lung line of equipment. The new Suunto's are very reasonable in price with many more features than previous computers and are now user friendly. You can change your own battery. Our special deal right now is that we will give you $100 trade in for your old computer, and double the factory warranty. We don't care what the brand is or if it works or not. Now is a great time to trade.

Come See Us.
Steve, Mark, Forrest and Spence
205-595-3052
www.ssdsupply.com 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

1/8/02

Hello and Happy New Year,

In Nome, Alaska today the temperature is 20 - 35 degrees below zero and the wind chill factor is 55 below zero. Daylight starts around noon and dark comes at 4:30 PM. Where Spence and I will be diving this summer, the water conditions are solid. If you can get under 4 feet thick ice, there is water under there. There is one real hardy dude up there named Yano who dredges for gold under the ice. He takes a special chainsaw and cuts through the ice so he can get under. Extremely dangerous with no second chances and not for me to do. When we go in June the water temp will be mid 30's to 50 degrees. The days will be 23 hours long and land temp will be mostly nice. I plan on staying 2 months this year. Sam is building us some stainless steel water heaters for our dredges so we should be a little warmer in the water this year. Lonnie is planning what all we're going to do this year and how we're going to find lots of gold. I bought a hot water shower unit for our camp so we will not smell too bad this year.


In South Carolina now the alligators are sluggish and the water temp is 40 - 50 degrees. Its too cold to be in a boat or diving right now. I guess we will be going there to find fossils in March or April.

In Hawaii right now it is perfect on land and in the water. Hawaii is just another word for perfect. Beautiful water, great diving with turtles, manta rays, sea shells, eels, colorful rare fish, no hurricanes, no passports needed, no stomach problems, no bugs, two 14,000 ft. tall mountains, active volcano with lava flowing into the sea, safe location, English language (well pidgin), surfing, low prices. You know Hawaii sounds so good and we haven't been there in over a month so why don't we just go back as soon as we can.
How About. May 14th 9 days 8 nights. We'll stay a little longer this time. Fly from Birmingham to Kona, the big island, a car for every 2 people, great condo with ocean view. Four days boat diving includes manta ray night dive, unlimited shore diving. The first 12 people to sign up for this trip will be the ones to go. We have 6 so far.
Passport Club members $1995 PP/quad occ.
Non Club divers $2050pp/quad occ.
Non Divers $1695pp/quad occ.
Everyone who has done this trip loves it. The only people who don't like Hawaii have never been there or went to the wrong island. 


The Boat Show
Jan. 29th thru Feb. 2nd. The Scuba School will once again this year be offering free scuba experience at the Boat Show. We can use some volunteer club members to give out literature, get in the water or just yuck it up with people at the show. Call us at 595-3052 if you want to help. Our web page is really good thanks to Barry Hocutt. If you haven't checked it out lately please do so www.ssdsupply.com.


Mark, Spence, Forrest and Steve are now setting up the escorted trips that we will do in 2003. Where do you want to go and what do you want to do? Give us your ideas.

If you haven't been diving lately it is time to go, don't miss out.

Best Wishes,

The Scuba School
~~~~~~~~~~~~~

12/10/02


Seasons Greetings Divers,


       SSDS just had another great trip to the Cooper River in South Carolina and here is Steve's log from the trip.

       Thursday morning:    We left my farm at midnight. Erskine Mathis and Don Sublett showed up right on time as usual. Forrest and myself are going on this trip. There will be a total of six after we meet Perry Massie and his photographer Joey. They are flying in from California and will meet us in South Carolina. The weather is cold and raining with some icing. We're going to get cold and wet and probably be uncomfortable but it beats watching golf on TV all to hell. We've been riding about 9 hours now and are almost there. I've been watching Gettysburg on the VCR player for about the 20th time and now we are discussing great inventions. Velcro, cable ties and Ziploc bags are high on our list but Erskine thinks duct tape is the greatest.  Erskine informed us of a use for duct tape that we didn't know. He says to put a patch of duct tape on any unwanted warts and they will fall off. He says it takes about a month and you must change the patch about once a week, then it just falls off.  He is currently treating a big one on his butt. We did not look to see if it is working or not but he assures us that it is working. These little tidbits of information are what makes reading our newsletters and emails so valuable to our readers.

       Forrest and Spence had a big argument about which one of them would be able to go on this trip and who would have to stay home and run the Scuba School.  They were about to come to blows when Spence suggested they settle it Texas style. He told Forest they would just kick one another until one gave up. Spence went first and kicked my darling Forrest right in the groin. After a while, when Forrest got up he said it was his turn to kick. Spence said he quit so Forrest won the Texas kickoff. What Forrest sometimes forgets is that Spence spent 5 years going to college at Auburn and is a graduate of that fine school. He picked up quite a bit of useful knowledge while there.

       Thursday Night:   Today Forrest and Don made 2 dives and Erskine and I made 1 dive. The air temperature was 40 to 50 degrees and the water temperature is 50. It was really cold. Everyone was cold but mostly Erskine and I. Our suits are excellent but we should have brought thicker booties and gloves. I wasn't expecting the water to be this cold already. Don missed the boat in the strong current and we had to pull up anchor and go get him. Visibility in the water is about 2 feet. We were diving 30 to 40 feet deep. Forrest did the best on finds. He found a South Carolina Dispensary bottle, about 50 sharks teeth, some sort of fossil claw and lots of other good fossils. We know some real good spots to dive over here. Right now I'm trying to figure out how to stay a little warmer for tomorrow. I wish that I had some of my warmer equipment that I left in Alaska. We saw many big catfish today but no alligators near us.

       Sunday Morning:    Friday and Saturday was spent diving and filming. Perry's TV show is on the Outdoor Channel and is named Prospecting America. This show about our trip will start being broadcast in about a month so be watching for it. We have had real good luck on our finds. The group has found several hundred sharks teeth and other fossils including several whale inner ear bones, alligator teeth and claws. Don found a pretty clay smoking pipe. Forrest as usual found the most fossils and a couple of old buttons and other relics. Perry had a really great find yesterday. He found a pint sized South Carolina Dispensary bottle. Its a beauty. He was very excited over this and it made the cold water diving worthwhile. I've never found a whole one of these but maybe I will in the spring when we come back. All our divers did well. Nobody got hurt and our gear worked good. Forrest also found a weight pocket with weights from some previous diver and a good underwater light that still works. We are going to film some more this morning in the restaurant to show our finds. It looks like our diving is over for this year and we still start making trips again in late February. It has been a good diving year for me with about 200 dives total. Relic and fossil hunting dives in the southern states, gold diving in Alaska in the summer and fair weather diving in Hawaii and the British Virgin Islands have made an active year for old Steve. As always I feel lucky to work with my sons and to have so many great adventures. If anyone is interested in scuba lessons for friends or family then this is a good time. SSDS has plenty of time for personal training this time of the year. The Scuba School has full time instructors and our own indoor heated pool so we can train at the students convenience to fit their schedule. Currently there is no additional charge for private lessons.

       If you have divers that you need Christmas gifts for, let me make a few suggestions. Digital underwater cameras are on all divers want list. Safety equipment such as: Dive Alert air horns, safety sausages and high intensity strobe lights can improve your BCD and be a real comfort if you ever need one of these. A Spare Air can come in handy if you need air and can't find a buddy. Pelican boxes which are great to protect your equipment and come with a lifetime warranty.  A Suunto dive computer is a must for every scuba diver. If you don't know what to buy, then a gift certificate will always be great. Then they can pick out whatever they need or use it toward one of our upcoming trips next year or for training. SSDS wants to wish all of our diving and prospecting buddies Merry Christmas and hope you have a safe and happy next year.

Steve Phillips
Mark Tant
Forrest Phillips
Spencer Phillips
Southern Skin Divers Supply
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

10/25/02

Steve and Spence had a booth at the Gold Prospectors show in Gainesville, Georgia last weekend.  We sold quite a few heavy duty thick wetsuits to the dredgers who want to extend their diving in the cold creeks of Alabama and Georgia.  We saw at least 30 of our Alaska friends at the show.  We have many friends that go to Alaska with the Gold Prospectors Association each year and it is always good to see them.  Perry Massie is the CEO of the Gold Prospectors and of the Outdoor Channel on TV.  He is also one of our good divers and goes on trips with Southern.  Perry has gone on our last two trips to TRUK Lagoon in Micronesia.  He will be going with us again next March.  Forrest brought over our boat and van and met us in Georgia.  We then went to South Carolina to dive for 3 days.  Perry met us there and brought his camera to film a show for the outdoor channel.  Perry went diving with us for 2 days and he was a natural for dark water diving.  He learns quick and is an excellent diver anyway.  I think Perry found about 100 fossilized shark teeth.  He also filmed some underwater video of us finding teeth and other fossils.  The Outdoor Channel will be showing this show starting in about 3 or 4 weeks on Perry's show Prospecting America.  This show is shown on Cable, Direct TV and the Dish Network nationwide.  He will also put in some footage on our last TRUK Lagoon adventure.  Ya'll be watching to see us.  We found well over 500 fossilized shark teeth over the last three days as well as some neat relics.  Spencer found a great Indian spear point that is in perfect condition.  Forrest found an unbroken Dutch Onion bottle that was made in the 1600s.  That is what he wanted to find and that is what he found.  We find many broken pieces of these old bottles, but a complete one is very rare, This bottle is worth over$1000.  All four of us found over $4000 worth of relics and fossils this trip.  We are getting so many teeth that we should probably start selling them on our web page.  The fossils from So. Carolina are from 5 million to 30 million years old.  In Alabama we find fewer fossils but they are much older, from 65 million to 150 million years old.  Steve found a vertebrae last week from a Plesiosaur.  This was some sort of big bad underwater animal that was about one-third mouth.  The single vertebrae weighs about 5 lbs.  We have also been finding coprolite, which is fossilized feces.  In Alabama the coprolite is now iron pyrite and the smell is gone.  Our next dive trip is to the Empire Mica and other sites in the Gulf.  That trip is Nov. 1, 2 and 3.  The Hawaii trip leaves Nov 2nd.  We still have some spaces for the Mica trip if you can go.  The TRUK Lagoon trip is in March and we have a few spaces available on that trip.  The TRUK Lagoon trip is the best diving in the world.  Go if you can.  Remember there is one more week on our October Store Wide Sale. Don't miss out if you are needing anything.

 

 

 


 

LIFE IS AN ADVENTURE. DON'T MISS IT

 

Let's go diving,

Southern Skin Divers
- The Scuba School -