This month OSC’s Member Spotlight is shining on Jeff Groth. Jeff has served in two different positions with club in the past to include:
OSC club President in 2012/2013 and OSC Dive Coordinator in 2010/2011
Please say hi to Jeff at the next meeting and extend a warm thank you for his past service to the Oregon Scuba Club.
What made you want to be a diver?
I have always loved the water and as a kid some of my favorite shows were shows with divers like “Sea Hunt” and the “Wake of the Red Witch” or “The Frogmen”. I spent most of my time as a kid in pools or lakes either in Red Cross swim lesions or on the local swim team.
How long have you been diving?
I started diving in 1982. I had been a life guard at the local pool in Bend. One of my duties was to lifeguard on Sunday evenings when the new local dive shop used the pool for classes. In the summer of 1982 I got my driver’s license and signed up for scuba lessons. The shop owner was a former Navy Diver who was running a dive shop out of his garage. We did our open water in Three Creeks Lake at 6,550 ft with snow still on the ground. After that we took trips to Newport, Florence, Waldo Lake, and Lake Billy Chinook.
What is your level of certification?
Before graduating from high school I got my Advanced Open Water certification. After high school I joined the Army with the intent to use my educational benefits for commercial dive school. In 1985 I started class with Divers Institutes of Technology (DIT) in Seattle. We were class 109-85 and we nick named ourselves “Gas Gods” because by the end we had been doing helium and oxygen dives in excess of 200 feet with surface decompression in the chamber. After DIT I spent time working in the oil fields in the Gulf of Mexico. I started as a tender. On my first job off shore I ran a decompression chamber for 14 hours a day. Eventually I moved up to tender/diver. That is a tender who gets to dive the shallow stuff that the company does not pay depth pay on so the regular divers would rather not do. On my last two jobs we bent two divers, had a helicopter crash on our helideck and were evacuated from our pipe laying barge because of a hurricane. Everyone was sea sick on that boat ride to shore. When I came home from the Gulf I did very little diving. My attitude was if you give me a $100 bill I will get in the water. Mostly I worked on my own sailboat and cleaned the hulls of sailboats I was racing on. When I went back to Collage some of the other students in the Anthropology program who were very excited about underwater archaeology talked me into getting back into diving. While underwater Archaeology was something I was very interested in, I just did not see the pay off for the schooling expense. Getting back in I started with a refresher and an equipment specialty class because a lot of things had changed. I went on to do my NAUI Rescue, NAUI Master Diver, and I am currently almost finished with my NAUI Divemaster.
How did you hear about Oregon Scuba Club?
I learned about the Oregon Scuba Club through diving friends Steve Linzel, John Bachofner, Janna Nichols, and Blake Bippes. Blake recruited me to be dive coordinator in 2010.
What is your favorite dive spot cold water?
I really like Day Island Wall. I have only done it from shore. The drift dive I did there from the south entrance to the north entrance was epic. I also like Keystone and Salt Creek.
Warm water what is that? Before my trip to the big island in Hawaii two years ago my last warm water dive was in the Gulf of Mexico wearing a helmet, coveralls and steel toe boots. I did really enjoy the Manta dive off of Kona. I think my next trip will be Coco View or Bonaire.
What is the one piece of dive equipment you could not live without?
My “new to me” dive boat that will take me to great new to me dive spots.
Tell us your favorite dive story (the one that got away):
Diving with Hammerhead Sharks in the Gulf of Mexico where I think I may have been the one that got away. I was doing a dredging job on a pipeline close to the Mississippi River Delta. When the tide shifted we could watch the mud from the river move toward us and cover our job site. We were working from a 200 foot long barge. I was diving off the stern hand dredging the last of a pipeline up to an oil rig. The dredge is basically a high pressure water jet. When the dredge is running there is no visibility (everything is done by feel) and you can hear nothing but the dredge. Even with a helmet and intercom we could not hear, so the top side crew just used our umbilical line (air, communications, safety line, and pneumo line bundled together) to send us signals by pulling on it. After my dive as I climbed up the ladder I saw that there was a 9 foot Hammerhead shark on deck. My crew mates had been chumming and fishing for sharks off the bow of the barge while I dove off of the stern. I felt a lot like bait and I am sure to this day I was surrounded by sharks I could not see.
Non-dive related stuff about you (what you do for a living, how big is your family, pets, who is your hero)?
I am a 4th generation Oregonian. My family moved to Oregon in 1882. I live in Vancouver with my roommate and the old (19 year old) cat she inherited. My Hero is Pat Lyttle, Pat went to collage with me and graduated with her BA in Anthropology at the age of 70. Pat’s husband has been a member of the Portland Sea Searchers Dive club since 1968. Pat is my hero because she inspired me to finish school and proved to me it is never too late. I work for Washington County as a Cartographer (I make maps). When I went back to college I picked up a BS in History with Minors in Anthropology and Geography. Basically a Historical Archaeologist by training. Archaeology is all about place, hence the minor in Geography that lead to my current employment. I am a member of the Oregon Archaeology Society. I have in the past helped with their annual basic training for volunteer archaeologists. I am a member of the Beeswax Project looking for a Manila Galleon shipwrecked off of the Oregon Coast. I am also a Board Member of the Northwest Diving History Association. I have been working on collecting local diving history from the 1950’s and 1960’s in the Pacific Northwest.
About the Member Spotlight:
Each month we will host a club member on the Member Spotlight page. Our idea is to get peoples names and faces out there for everyone to get to know each other, and potentially make new friends. We would like to post a picture of our ‘club member of the month’ along with a little bit of information they provide about themselves. This is one more way to make new friends and meet new people.