Board of Directors
James Trask - President
I've had a wonderful time serving with WSA. Les Davis Park Stairs which was the Pacific Northwest Aquatic Association's swan song is now history. I am now moving forward on mooring buoys in the Puget Sound and Hood Canal areas. This is to protect our existing dive locations from anchor damage. I am also helping on a number of other fronts as well. I am doing some work on the creosote piling removal program to help replace the pilings with other features to attract sea life. This is currently going on in Tacoma at Titlow Park. And always and foremost in my mind is sinking some sizable vessels in the area.
I also sit in on the Metro Parks of Tacoma, Marine Advisory Council. This came about because of the Les Davis Project. In this position I have the ear of the people responsible for the waterfront in Tacoma, from the Browns Point Lighthouse to Titlow Beach. They want constant updates on the future possibility of sinking a ferry in their area to replace lost revenue from the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. Plus they are very interested in the piling removal program too, since they see it as lost revenue.
I am a Master Diver, a Private Pilot , Skydiver, retired Army First Sergeant with 25 years service, Husband of 37+ years, and Grandfather forever.
Ron Akeson - Vice-President
Ron Akeson is the owner of Adventures Down Under, located in Bellingham, WA. He first started diving in 1977 and has worked professionally in the dive industry for over 20 years. Ron specializes in teaching technical diving, underwater photography and holds Instructor certifications in PADI, IANTD, SDI, TDI and DAN. With a degree in Marine Biology, Ron utilizes this knowledge to teach marine education and sits on the Board of Directors for the Whatcom County Marine Resources Committee. Ron is also one of two US Representatives for the Dive Industry Association of British Columbia. When he is not out exploring deep shipwrecks, photographing a historic site or teaching Rebreather Courses, he is a freelance writer for Northwest Dive News, X-ray International Dive Magazine and Canadian Diver Magazine.
Rick Stratton - Secretary
Rick is the publisher of Northwest, Northeast, Southeast, Southwest and Midwest Dive News magazines. An avid diver, he's logged over 2000 dives all over the world. He owns a small farm on Whidbey Island and is very active in promoting the sport of diving in Washington. He also heads up the annual Northwest Dive and Travel Expo, and the Northern California Dive and Travel Expo.
He was born and raised in California's Bay Area. His father was a diver and Rick grew up watching Cousteau and Sea Hunt reruns. He began free diving for abalone on the Sonoma and Mendocino Coast at age 13. After graduating from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, with a degree in agricultural business management, he joined the U.S. Navy and entered the flight program. Rick dreamed of becoming a naval officer and a pilot. After working for three years, he earned his "wings of gold" in 1992.
He founded Dive News Network Media Group while still on active duty with the Navy. He was transferred to the Pacific Northwest to fly EA-6B's from Whidbey Island, Washington. He immediately began diving in the area and fell in love with it. Rick wanted to learn more about diving in the area but there was no regional scuba magazine available. The diving in the Pacific Northwest is wonderful, but the chilly temperatures discourage the curious and reward the determined. He created NWDN to promote scuba diving of the Pacific Northwest in the minds of the industry and consumers.
Karlista Rickerson - Treasurer
Avid scuba diver specializing in sites near Vashon Island and the mid Puget Sound region for the past 20 years. No special skills related to marine science other than a photo record of the changes that have taken place in various sites.
Very interested in establishing MPA, safe places for scuba divers and marine life, maintaining safe beach access for the public, and helping with marine life educational events.
I have been in the dive business since 1974, first as a commercial diver (10 years) and also managing a dive harvest fleet. I have had my 100 ton Captains Lisc. for 19 years and started Bandito Charters Inc. in January of 1997. Since then I have operated the charter business full time. I have worked retail in the dive industry and have taught diving from 1993-2001 @ Pacific Lutheran University, University of Puget Sound and Curtis High School and Underwater Sports. Between 1988 and 1996 I owned and operated a drywall and painting company with between 15 and 50 employees.
Barb learned to dive in 1979 in Alaska, then became a dive instructor in 1981. Her dive certifications are in PADI (Master Instructor-retired), DAN Oxygen, NAUI - Archeology, and IANTD- Nitrox. Trimix, wreck diving, underwater photography and critter watching are her driving force!
Currently employed as a freelance journalist and photographer, Barb writes for various dive, kayak and travel publications; including Northwest Dive News and X-ray on-line dive magazine. In her spare time she teaches marine education in schools and she sits on the Board of the Dive Industry Association of British Columbia (DIABC). When she gets the opportunity, she plays tour guide for visiting groups and organize dive travel expeditions.
Barb hopes to contribute her marketing skills to the WSA to work alongside the DIABC to attract visiting divers to the northwest as well as help develop what we already have for local divers to enjoy.
Gary grew up near Detroit and moved to the PNW thirty years ago to attend grad school in Pullman. Since 1985 he has lived in Yakima and has worked for Michelsen Packaging where, among lots of other things, they turn waste paper into new molded fiber apple trays.
Gary became a certified diver four years ago, mostly at the insistence of his two children, Ashley and Ben. Since then he has become a PADI Divemaster and has logged way more dives than both of them combined.
Starting next January, Gary will become the President of an active dive club in Yakima, WA. He is also a sailor, and maintains his membership at Windworks Sailing Center, though Gary admits that diving has absorbed most of his free weekends.
John has been a diver since 1982, when he was Naui certified by Walt Amidon. He holds Nitrox, altitude, Aquarium and Master Diver certifications. In 2007, John obtained his Naui Divemaster, Assistant Instructor and Skin Diving Instructor certifications. In 2008, he became a PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor. John is currently affiliated with the Thunder Reef dive shop, and is a dive volunteer for the Oregon Coast Aquarium. He is also president of the Neptune's Minions dive club, which meets in Clark County, Washington, and a member of the Oregon Scuba club. John is a frequent diver both locally and abroad.
John combines his passion for the law with his passion for diving by representing local dive shop owners and other diving-related professionals. In this regard, he has provided advice and guidance to the diving profession in business transactions, regulatroy work, business advice and litigation.
I am a 57 year old aquatic recreationalist and semi retired utility contractor with 13 employees and am the principle of a local fiber optic network serving the Clallam county area. Originally from San Diego county and transplanted in the northwest via the US Coast Guard in 1971. I am an avid sailor and have raced and enjoyed coastal and near shore cruising most of my life. My diving habit started 3 years ago at the urging of good friends concerned about my boat bottom cleaning methods. I dive with the great folks at Scuba Supplies in Port Angeles and have the SSI master diver, nitrox, and surface supply certifications and am currently working on my dive con rating. I currently have 140 dives including trips to Hawaii, Cozumel and the wonderful wrecks of British Columbia.
Last year my talented city planner wife and I decided to head a project that would bring an underwater park to Port Angeles and are currently in the permit process which has been interestingly difficult, but very enjoyable, working with and meeting lots of like minded divers.
Mike retired from Onyx Software in 2001 as Executive Vice President in charge of Services. He was a founding equity owner at Onyx and served there from its organization in 1994. As a member of the executive team during that time, Mike helped lead and grow the company from 4 to 725 employees and $0 to $120 million in revenue. At its peak, Mike oversaw a services organization of $50 million in revenue and 225 employees. The service groups at Onyx included system integration, technical support, education, information systems, and facilities.
Prior to Onyx, Mike played various project management roles at Microsoft Corporation in their IT organization. Projects focused on development of internal business systems in the areas of email, helpdesk call tracking, and sales consolidation, reconciliation, & reporting.
Mike holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Rangeland Management from Utah State University and a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Oregon. In addition to his role at Pacific Northwest Aquatic Association, Mike serves on the board of directors at the Cascade Land Conservancy in Seattle.
Eleven buoys down, six to go!
The photo shows the most recent additions to our mooring buoy project. WSA as many of you know has taken on the task of preserving seventeen (17) of our favorite dive sites by installing mooring buoys to protect the fragile environment below. Started two plus years ago we have gotten to where we are by generous contributions from a few foundations and mostly funding from private donations by individuals, dive clubs and Washington Scuba Alliance itself.
The buoys pictured are going in at Hood Canal at Elephant Wall and Pinnacle's new dive site "Broken Leg". The last one we have just finished is going in at the Possession Point Ferry site. There will now be a buoy at both ends of the ferry. The two latest buoys going in Hood Canal were redone when they were once Pulali Point East and South buoys. The Navy didn't like them there because it interfered with their acoustical testing. So they were reworked, repainted, cleaned and made nearly new again. Those of you who have dived on any of the sites which have the buoys love to see them there and have praised there existence.
We have only six to go to finish the project and then we move onto our next big project – sinking a vessel in our waters of Washington State. The six remaining sites are two buoys at Dalco Wall, one more for Sunrise and the last three in Hood Canal at Flagpole, Arrowhead and Black Point. Please help us reach this goal and contribute what you can and get your name on a buoy. Each buoy costs $2,800.00.
Washington Scuba Alliance is a non-profit corporation which promotes diving, conservation and dive tourism. We have done many wonderful things in the past and want to do even more in the future. The stairs at Les Davis Park, Saltwater State Park artificial reef are just a couple of our other projects.
WSA's next project is to work closely with Port Angeles and make their new Underwater Marine Park on Ediz Hook a reality. We want to sink a retired (heavy emphasis on "TIRED") Washington State Ferry. Port Angeles is working with the two local tribes and the area politicians to make this a reality. Interested in what we are doing? We hope so.
October 27th, Washington Scuba Alliance will be hosting our 20th Anniversary Celebration there. We will have a number of interesting speakers there talking about artificial reefing, the economics of bringing something like this in and what it take to sink a large vessel safely and creating a one of a kind attraction which will draw not only divers to the area but aquatic tenants too. The current plan is to have the WSA celebration at the yacht club with a lunch and a dive opportunity(s) nearby. We will have special motel rates if there is enough interest to spend the night and see some of the other local attractions like bars, restaurants and shopping. It will be great fun. Support from the dive community on this new project is paramount to our success. Please come up and see what all the excitement is all about.
As most of you know, Washington Scuba Alliance worked with Washington State Parks to introduce a bill in Olympia to get funding to install a new artificial reef system at Saltwater State Park. The existing dive attractions at that time was two old wooden barges filled with gravel which have long since deteriorated and some tire reefs. The bill passed and $163,000.00 was earmarked to this project. It was finished in 2009. An Army dive team removed the tire reefs that had been put there in the mid 70's for fish attraction which proved to not work at all. Instead they started leaching bad chemicals into the water. Today, the new reef is one of the best local artificial reefs created recently using quarried granite rock and manmade materials in the form of concrete poles laid over the reef tops. The reef is in the form of three finger reefs at a depth of 25-80 feet deep. This was originally conceived back in the early 90's but got lost to certain government agencies in red tape. WSA was involved in the original project also. Sea life is already gaining a foothold there and making it a wonderful dive site.
Today the project is getting additional attention in the form of the mooring buoys that are located on the site. The original buoys are looking sad and not located to help the divers find the site. Randy Williams and members of the Marker Buoy Dive Club are working to fix that problem. Working closely with State Parks and the Ranger in charge of the park, they are revamping the buoys and making them much better looking and more functional to divers. The revitalized buoys will get new paint, stencils and donation plaques. They will also be anchored properly and located better to show divers where the reefs are located and also use them as a rest stop to and from shore by having hand holds attached. Alpha Marine Installations will be doing the majority of installations.
Funding for this project is coming from Silent World Diving Systems Inc. Craig Willemsen and a number of his customers are helping pay for the project to be completed. Washington Scuba Alliance is going to cover any extra costs on this project if necessary. The money we received from the silent auction at the Dive EXPO will be used for that purpose. WSA continues to strive to make our Northwest a diver friendly location. The most important buoy will be one right on top of the site that charter or other dive boats can attach to and get immediate access to the reef. This will be located in about fifty (50) feet of water so all experience levels can have easy access. The other buoys will be used for getting compass headings from shore and to rest at.
Saltwater State Park is not one of the original seventeen (17) sites that WSA is working on to protect the dive attractions from anchor damage. We currently have 6 of those sites left to install when someone or group buys them. Should you know of a project that you may think will benefit the dive community visit our website and let us know. www.wascuba.org. Our next big project is at Port Angeles. Stay tuned, it is a big one.
Review the latest WSA Board activity here:More info here.
View the Titlow Artificial Reef Project slideshow by the Bellarmine Preparatory School Marine Chemistry Program right here!
30 Things you can do for the Marine Environment.
WA Dive Flag Rules - Important information for WA divers. Check it out here