Every year in May, Buddy Dive Resort turns into CCR heaven! Also, coming up in 2023, Your Buddies on Bonaire are back with a new edition of Operation CCR. During this weeklong event, Buddy Dive Resort offers a program filled with try-outs, demos, presentations, and of course lots of CCR dives, including several dives on the Windjammer wreck!
There is no doubt that closed-circuit rebreathers are not only the present but also the future of diving exploration. Buddy Dive TeK is a leading technical diver support facility, and we recognize our guests’ ambition to explore and conquer new frontiers. Therefore, we are proud to be able to provide 100% support to all types of CCR units in the market.
Our facility stocks a large assortment of different sizes of rebreather cylinders, has available different types of CO2 absorbent, and provides a state-of-the-art filling station with two booster pumps capable of reaching high pressure fills of oxygen and TRIMIX. Our 100% rebreather-friendly facility also comes with staff trained in different CCR units, including the JJ CCR, the X-CCR, and the O2ptima CCR.
There is no doubt that we are ready to welcome CCR divers from all around the world. Buddy Dive Tek on Bonaire is the CCR place to provide unlimited hours of freedom, fun, and exploration for technical divers. So, CCR divers, bring your rebreather and join us from May 27 until June 3, for Operation CCR 2023!
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InDEPTH: Nourishing My Inner Tekkie At Bonaire Tek by Michael Menduno (2019)
About Buddy Dive Resort
Buddy Dive Resort, Bonaire’s leading dive hotel is known for its personable staff, spacious accommodations, and a dive operation that has something for every diver. The full-service resort houses spacious studios, one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments, a full-service dive center, activity desk, two swimming pools, two restaurants, a pool bar, vehicle rentals, and the famous drive-thru air and Nitrox fill station. Built with active people in mind, Buddy Dive Resort knows exactly what is needed to make guests comfortable during their busy day of diving, exploring, and relaxing at the resort. Over the last few years, Buddy Dive Resort was recognized as one of the World’s Best Dive Resorts & Operations in Scuba Diving magazine’s Readers’ Choice Awards: Top 100 Gold List.
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For more information visit www.buddydive.com.
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Remembering Bret Gilliam
by John Bantin. Photos courtesy of Bret Gilliam unless noted.
Bret Gilliam (1951-2023) was one of the true pioneers of scuba diving. He worked for the U.S. Navy before moving to St. Croix and becoming a dive shop owner. In the Caribbean, he later ran liveaboard dive boats, including the 550-foot Ocean Quest, the largest such vessel ever dedicated to diving. He started Fathoms magazine with Fred Garth, to which he brought both his writing and underwater photography skills. He ran Uwatec in the USA before it was bought by Scubapro. In 1972, he created a consulting company, Ocean Tech and, over the years, he appeared as a diving and maritime litigation consultant and expert witness, representing both plaintiffs and defendants in almost equal numbers. He set the record for the deepest dive on air (475 feet in 1993) and founded the technical diving training agency TDI. A frequent contributor to Undercurrent, he will be sorely missed. If you ever met Bret, well, you know he was larger than life.
When I first met Bret, I disliked him intensely. My British friend Rob Palmer, a self-effacing gentleman, had invited me to the Bahamas for the launch of the Draeger semi-closed circuit rebreather, and I found myself in the company of a group of American loud-mouthed technical diving pioneers, each competing with the other to hold the floor, with Bret’s booming voice dominating. Bret could be a bit of a bully, and I noticed he would pick away at any perceived weakness of character or physique.
It was later, at the TDI (Middle East) conference, when Rob Palmer, my roommate, went missing, having been last seen at 400 feet in the Red Sea and still descending, that Bret and I bonded in our mutual grief and a shared total lack of understanding as to why it had happened.
When we boarded the charter flight back to the UK, Bret dryly observed that he usually traveled in business class. I opined that I’d be happy if I didn’t have to sit next to a fat bastard. It was at that point Bret realized he’d met a soulmate.
Before I visited him at his home in Maine for the first time, he sent me over eighty photographs of his properties. I retorted I was coming to see him, and I didn’t really need the realty sales pitch. To his dismay, I turned up with my wife and two young children. He discovered, to his delight, that none of my family would take any shit either, and they hit it off quite well. My view is that if you can give it, you’ve gotta be able to take it, too. Bret had a similar philosophy.
Meeting him by chance, diving in PNG, for example, bystanders were amazed at the way we insulted each other by way of greeting. In spite of that, Bret was a stalwart and loyal friend who was quick to insert himself into any confrontation his friends found themselves in. His technical witness work in litigation cases and extensive knowledge of diving meant that opposing lawyers competed to get him into their camp. As one judge was heard to say, “I know Mr Gilliam. He’s never started a fight but I’ve seen him win a few.”
Bret was generous to a fault. Never one to shy away from picking up the tab, he once invited me to join him on an all expenses paid (by him) musical pub crawl in Ireland. We found ourselves on a tour bus with a number of ready victims from America. We laughed all the way. More recently, he invited me to do the same thing again and to join him and friends on a trip to the Grand Tetons. Alas, I was not able to make it. As always, all expenses were covered. He used to regularly invite a great gathering of notables (and me) to dinner while at the DEMA show, all on him.
Because I was tall, thin, and English, and in those earlier days wore my hair in a ponytail, he likened me to Mick Fleetwood of Fleetwood Mac. He even had a framed photo on his wall of the drummer and some people questioned why he displayed a photo of me. I always signed my emails to him, ‘Mick’.
If you stayed in his home, you were careful not to over-do the cookies and you made sure to replace the drip cup under the coffee machine.
John Bantin was an advertising photographer and television commercials director during the ’70s and ’80s. He learned to dive in 1979, and in 1992 made it his career. He was technical editor for Diver Magazine, Britain’s most popular diving magazine for 25 years until he retired but then became senior editor at Undercurrent.org.