SI Vault
First of Two Installments: THE HEAVEN BELOW
Clare Boothe Luce
August 11, 1958
It lay in the crystal waters of a Bahamas reef and was found after days of storm. It was, as always, a place of beauty and adventure, a new world
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
August 11, 1958

First Of Two Installments: The Heaven Below

It lay in the crystal waters of a Bahamas reef and was found after days of storm. It was, as always, a place of beauty and adventure, a new world

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue

...My soul is full of longing
For the secret of the sea,
And the heart of the great ocean
Sends a thrilling pulse through me.

On Wednesday, May 21, I boarded Pan Am Flight 205 out of Idlewild for New Providence in the Bahamas. My objective was to gather material for several articles about scuba diving from a 50-foot cabin cruiser on the coral reefs of the Grand Bahama Bank.

Our diving team was to be composed of five members: two expert underwater photographers, a well-known professional spearfisher, one amateur diving dub (myself), and a sub-dub diver with only three scuba lessons under her weight belt. That was Louisa Jenkins.

Louisa is a mosaic artist. She lives and works in Big Sur, California. I met her last winter at St. Ann Chapel in Palo Alto, where we had gone to discuss, in loco, a commission for a mosaic altar. As we left the little chapel built in memory of my daughter, Louisa said, most unexpectedly, "Tell me about skin-diving. I saw The Silent World too. Now, all the time, I dream of it...."

And so it happened that she was with me on the plane as it roared out over the sapphire savannahs of the Atlantic for Nassau.

I briefed her on the others whom we would soon be meeting. There would be Coles Phinizy, Associate Editor of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED. Coles, lean, dark, Harvard '42, sportswriter and photographer, is an ardent amateur ichthyologist. Coles has "a thing" on spectator sports. He believes the fewer spectators and the more participants which sports produce among Americans of both sexes and all ages, the richer in the end will be America's crop of real champions, the happier and healthier our people, and the better our chance of national survival. No man, Coles thinks, can wholly realize himself—and therefore can never be wholly mature or free—who does not reasonably develop his own physical strength and skills and recognize in action his instinctive need to make contact with the speechless creatures of earth, sky and sea.

The second member of our team was David Goodnow, a crack wildlife photographer. Dave, 40ish, is wiry, gentle and singularly unloquacious. His silence, I think, is a professional discipline acquired while lying flat on his stomach for hours, waiting for wild things—a pair of amatory herons or predatory eagles—to come within the loving range of his camera (SI, June 6, 1955, and other issues.). In Dave, the New England farmboy's native passion for observing wildlife has triumphantly survived a Hotchkiss and Amherst education.

The third member of our crew was Art Pinder. Art, ex-coast guardsman, and still in his 20s, is the lifeguard son of a Miami Beach lifeguard captain. He acts in and photographs movie sports documentaries, doubles for stars in dangerous underwater shots and is a "white sea hunter" (SI, Sept. 5, 1955) for well-to-do amateur sportsmen. He has won practically every spearfishing competition he ever entered and can swim underwater for almost three minutes without coming up purple.

Louisa's clear blue eyes clouded. "They're all practically seals. Won't we bore them awfully?" Pointing out the window of the plane, I said cheerfully: "So long as the sea stays smooth and the sun shines like that, even dubs give experts no trouble. We picked these two weeks just to catch this perfect weather."

A half hour out of Nassau we hit soft boulders of storm clouds, bounced off them into a gray soup of scud. Great globules of liquid quicksilver burst angrily against the window. Below, barrier reefs were plumed with froth, lagoons were muddy green.

Continue Story
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11