Published in 1934 and widely regarded as being the first book to popularise recreational diving, Guy Gilpatric’s, ‘The Compleat Goggler’ still manages to charm and delight those people fortunate enough to lay hands on a copy.
Written well before the advent of underwater film and television documentaries - and combining DIY advice for the would-be skin-diving enthusiast with stories of spear-fishing exploits along the French Mediterranean coastline - Gilpatric’s folksy humour and keen eye for fact rather than fiction helped stimulate interest in the new sport of ‘goggling’.
Those skilfully written first-hand accounts of his experiences inspired thousands to look at the ocean in a new light – including Jacques Cousteau who, it is said, kept a copy of ‘The Compleat Goggler’ in the Calypso’s library.
More than eighty years have passed since Gilpatric’s first tentative plunge into the ocean. During that period of time we have developed recreational diving technology that will safely take us to depths undreamed of in 1934. Sadly, however, we have sometimes fallen short in our responsibility towards the aquatic environment.
Unaware of how fragile a resource the world’s oceans are, ‘The Compleat Goggler’ concludes with, “Man, we reflected, has polluted the rivers, destroyed the forests, pitted the fields with high explosives, obscured the sun with the fumes of industry, filled the heavens with the tumult of planes and reared hundred-story buildings as monuments to his folly. But nothing he has ever done has spoiled the bottom of the sea, nor will anything he can ever do leave a lasting trace upon it. – At least, we hoped not.
“(But just the same, if I were you, I’d get a pair of goggles and see it while the seeing’s good!) “
And when it comes to diving there’s no better time than now.