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About Vaqueros Del Mar

The Vaqueros Del Mar ("Cowboys of the Sea") dive club was formed more than 40 years ago with the stated purposes

"... to encourage skin diving, spear fishing and underwater sightseeing for the love of the sport ..., to establish training programs to ensure safe practice ..., to promote fellowship, sociability and cooperation ..., and to promote public good will towards skin diving ..."
Four decades later VDM remains true to these founding principles.

Pacific Atoll The club started soon after Livermore was chosen as the site of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the early 1950's. The Laboratory needed divers for studying the underwater effects of the nuclear tests in some of the Pacific atolls. These divers returned to Livermore and founded the club. Incorporated in 1958, it is one of the oldest clubs in the San Francisco Bay Area.

In 1959, VDM's 30 members applied for membership in the Central California Council of Diving Clubs (CenCal). Over the years the club has been a strong supporter of CenCal, and club members are generally also CenCal members.

One of the first activities of the club was to teach safe diving practices. Club divers developed a training program to teach new members how to dive safely. This training program was later brought under the auspices of the National Association of Underwater Instructors (NAUI). Joe Jaklevick, who was NAUI's Mid-Pacific Branch Manager and Northwest Regional Representative during the mid and late 1990's, was the first VDM Instructor to be certified as a NAUI instructor in 1968.

Today, VDM is closely allied with the VDM School of Sport Diving which assumed independent responsibility for training in 1989. Graduates of the entry classes are welcomed into the club and receive a complementary guest membership for the rest of the year. The VDM School of Sport Diving offers a variety of classes every year including Scuba Diver (entry level), Advanced Diver, Master Diver, along with the DAN Oxygen Provider Course, Openwater Rescue Course, NITROX Course, and Dive Master Course. Currently the school has five instructors and five dive masters.

Memorial Day and Labor Day usually find the majority of club members on the north coast of California, particularly at Van Damme, Anchor Bay, or Salt Point. We skin dive for abalone and scuba dive with cameras or spear guns. In the evening, we usually have a potluck dinner featuring plenty of abalone cooked in various styles.

In 1992, to encourage and learn both still and video underwater photography, the special interest group PhotoGeeks was formed. PhotoGeeks has a monthly meeting (normally the Wednesday after the club meeting), runs a monthly photo competition at the club meetings, and maintains the club camera gear to rent. Monthly photo competitions include a variety of categories (such as California underwater, Topical underwater, and above water), and two levels for underwater categories (Novice and Advanced). The winners at the end of the year receive plaques at the Annual Awards Banquet. Through these practices, quite a few members have received regional and national photographic awards.

The Annual Awards Banquent provides an opportunity to celebrate the diving year. Typically held in November along with entertainment and dancing, it features awards for photography and sport fishing. Diving equipment and trips donated by dive shops and sponsor organizations are given as door prizes.

Seafood Festival To promote environmental awareness and diving safety, we have an annual Beach Clean Up, and a Seafood Festival. The club is also a supporter of nonprofit organizations such as DAN, the Marine Mammal Center, the Pacific Grove Hyperbaric Chamber, the Abalone and Marine Resouce Council, and Point Lobos State Park.

Last modified on January 1, 2004
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