Life Member: Renee Applegate

  • Renee "Apple" Applegate

Renee (Apple) ApplegateAt the July meeting it was put on the floor to make Renee (Apple) Applegate a Life Member. Life membership is an Honor bestowed on someone that has helped and been supportive of Aqua Tutus.

Here is some background for the nomination of Renee Applegate for Life Member.

In 1976 Renee Applegate signed up for the Aqua Tutus Skin and SCUBA Diving class. The class was held at Chabot College. It was a rigorous course held on Tuesday and Thursday evening from 7 PM until 10 PM for 12 weeks. The first hour was lecture then off to the locker room to get ready for one and a half hours of water work. The first 12 sessions (6 weeks) focused on Skin Diving with the second 12 sessions addressing SCUBA Diving.

Beginning with the second night and for the balance of the Skin Diving training the last part of the one and a half hours of water work was conditioning for the upcoming Skin Diving trip to Pacific Grove.

The conditioning session was actually called Snorkel Circle which was everyone, including instructors, swimming around the pool in a circle. The first night was only for 5 minutes but each session got longer by 5 minutes till it was 35 – 40 minutes. During the Snorkel Circle one could not stop or touch the side of the pool or they would hear “off the pool side; the ocean has no sides” from one of the instructors.

The reason the instructors where also doing the Snorkel Circle was they would watch for those who needed help with their “Finmanship” (kick). They would pull them aside and work with them to improve their kick. On the other hand, if the student looked like they were doing well the instructor might (likely)/would do something like flood their mask or pull off a fin.

After four weeks it was time for the first trip to the ocean which was Lovers Point (Burwick Park) in Pacific Grove for a little Skin Diving which included entries and exits, swimming around rocks, making rock landings and a swim over / through the kelp across the cove for a trip through the blow hole at the point then back across the cove again over / through the kelp exiting after 3+ hours (this is where that conditioning came in).

The next Sunday it was off to Fitzgerald Marine Reserve in Moss Beach for some more fun and another 2+ hours in the water doing more rock landings and experiencing waves coming from two or three directions at the same time.

The next weekend it was off to Salt Point with Saturday walking to the south end of Salt Point in your gear, getting ready and entering the water for another Skin Diving session with more playing in, around, and on the rocks and working the way back and into Main Gerstle Cove for the exit. (If no abalone was picked up along the way the instructors would head out again to gather abalone for the potluck while the student headed back to the campsite to celebrate their survival.).

While still celebrating the students got “hands on” experience of cleaning, slicing, pounding (per Apple using empty wine bottles with included sand and grit), breading and frying the abalone which EVERYONE got to enjoy. For those who have not met Apple she is a great story teller and has many, many stories of Aqua Tutus. She can tell this story much better than I can in print.

Sunday morning it was down to Main Gerstle Cove to put that Cold Wet wetsuit on for the first SCUBA Dive. On the beach, such as it is, one would finish gearing up including Mask and fins then down over the rocks to enter the surf and a surface swim out for that first SCUBA Dive.

The next weekend it was off to Monterey (again have Apple tell this) to have some more fun and do a couple more SCUBA Dives. After Saturdays dive it was up to Jefferson Park for celebrating, camping and hanging the wet suites out to dry.

Sunday morning it was up and at it, gather up your gear including your wet suit that had been hung out to dry (which was likely wetter, and defiantly colder, than when you hung it up because the weather was foggy and damp. Then drive down to the beach for another SCUBA Dive in the “cool” waters of Monterey.

The following Sunday North Monastery for the final class dive. An onsite briefing on how to enter and exit was given then some entries and exits with just Skin Diving equipment were done. After a break it was time to gear up in full SCUBA to make the entry for the 4th SCUBA Dive.

A graduation session was held the following Tuesday. Graduation was a big deal. After some demonstrations and other fanfare the students would get in the pool at the shallow end with Skin Diving gear. Upon hearing their name they would snorkel part way to the deep end, make a surface dive continue swimming to the deep end where their instructor was on SCUBA waiting for them. Air from the alternate regulator was offered while the instructor shook their hand and presented them with their Aqua Tutus Certificate. Apple was one of 34 receiving their certificate that night.

After completing the Aqua Tutus class, Apple worked for Bamboo Reef in Berkeley, also doing her Advanced Open Water, Rescue Diver, Dive Master and Instructor development. She then went to Southern California to get her Instructor Certification. Apple then ran dive trips in Monterey and Channel Islands. Apple’s next stops were Cub Med in Cancun, then Cayman.

She decided to get a travel job in Nursing so she could dive the east. Apple hired on with a company in Dharan, as a nurse, and set up a small diving school on the compound for ex pats. The dives were in the Arabia Gulf. She worked with Aramco dive club there. Sometime later she moved to the east side of Saudi, and worked in the Jizhan mountains at Al Baha. She was a clinical instructor in nursing, and also had a small diving school, including compressor, on compound for ex pats.  Open water dives were in Jeddah.

While in the Middle East Apple did a few trips to the Acaba, Sharm, El Sheik, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Australia, Cairnes, Bouganville and Osprey, and Lizzard Island

In 1986 Apple arrived in Cozumel and hired on as manager at Dive Paradise owned by Tom Hartdegen. She had a few trips back to Channel Islands.

In 1994 on one of his trips to Mexico City Tom Hartdegen was found deceased in his room. Apple then assumed control and operation of Dive Paradise as Tom left it all to her.

In 2003 Apple was inducted into the Women Divers Hall of Fame. Renee Applegate–Women Divers Hall of Fame

Dive ParadiseTo this day Apple remains true to Aqua Tutus and is very supportive of the Club. Tooters diving with Dive Paradise are well looked after. Those traveling to Cozumel should stop by Dive Paradise’s main location near the Hotel Barracuda to meet Apple. Ask her about her life as an Aqua Tutus Student (have a drink in hand as this could take a while). She loves telling about it and the stories are rich and vivid. They will give you a glimpse of “wilder” days of Aqua Tutus.

Apple’s roots remain with AQUA TUTUS.

For more information on Dive Paradise check out their website.

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