Chamber Day obmination

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Posted by Denny Crane on June 10, 2009 at 08:46:09:

Itís sad, very sad, to witness what an atrocity Chamber Day has become.

I have been diving in So Cal for most of my adult life. I was certified in late Ď81. I have been a customer on almost every dive boat in Ca and I liked them all. Some are still here, and many have left or been retired. Some dive boats are of course better and/or bigger than others. Come to think of it, I have never been on a boat that I outright did not like. I think the dive boats in these parts are some of the finest I have ever been on in the USA.

With that being saidÖ

The Chamber Day Event has turned into an abomination over the course of the last 10 years. I have watched closely through many different newsgroups and diving related billboards the annual Chamber Day turn into the Ken Curtis Day.

I have seen in years past where Ken and the Chamber have been accused of taking money from the event that is not theirs. I have seen it posted that USC retains any money that is extra from Chamber Day. I understand that the USC Catalina Hyperbaric Chamber is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. Being designated as such, the public can look at their accounting books. I for one, have tried to look at their books. One word explains this experience; impossible.

This year the boats and their owners were attacked by people on this and other diving related boards and newsgroups. They were not defended by the ones that need their support.

On the initial Chamber Day this past month, the majority of the Captains of the dive boats cancelled due to an ominous weather forecast. Diver safety was first and foremost on the captainsí and boat ownersí minds. A good boat would never jeopardize diver safety with such a forecast.

The question then has to be asked; what the Hell were Ken and Karl thinking at that time of that initial forecast? Their decision to go at that time was obviously not in regards to diver safety; it was to further own agenda, that is to get the diving publicís donated dollars.

A few captains and their boats went anyway and through the grace of God made it as the predicted wind and swell laid down. Ken sent a message to the diving community that he, and he alone new the interpretation of a weather forecast better than any captain or owner of the dive boat fleet.

OK, so now letís ask this question; how many years has Ken Kurtis run a dive boat? The answer is a simple ZERO. He does not even run a shop anymore. All Ken Kurtis and Reef Seekers are nowadays is a highly paid travel agency. Travel agents themselves retain typically between 2-5% in commission for their services. Ken Kurtis and Reef Seekers is getting about 40% by my math and their published prices. I can say this in all certainty after listening to more than one dive boat captain or owner discuss frustration in the rising charter prices.

In getting back to the Chamber, how many years have the boat owners donated their time and money to the chamber? I know that Ken Kurtis says that the divers donate their money, but that is absolutely incorrect. The boat owners must make the biggest collective donation amongst themselves.

By divers donating money to the Chamber and taking the boats to Catalina for dives and a chamber tour, divers get a cheap day of diving with an extra bonus of a tee shirts and perhaps a free gift or raffle prize if they bought enough extra tickets; emphasis on the word cheap here boys and girls.

The reason why I write this is no more apparent than this year. Many of the divers refused to give their up the money donated for the dive day/tour and just donate it to the chamber. They insisted on their money back after the dives and Chamber tour were rescheduled a month later. Because these divers will not donate to the Chamber, this proves that only the owners of the boats truly donate to the cause. I think nothing else needs to be said other than to thank those divers who either moved their donation (which is exactly what it is, remember? How many of you write off your donations and raffle ticket purchases) to either the Flying Dutchman experience, joined the other divers in the make-up dive day event this week, or outright donated the money for the trip by not doing any of the above.

But what we divers did or did not do for Chamber Day has little effect on what caused this whole mess to begin with.

I suggest that Ken Kurtis contact the Catalina Express now, to book the dive spots for next yearís event. If I owned a dive boat in So Cal I would tell Ken to go pound sand. USC Ken Kurtis should be banned from ever again participating in Chamber Day, and Karl Huggins should be asked to resign for allowing it to happen.

Denny Crane

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