This is the fourth episode in Richard Hyman’s recollections of his adventures traveling with Jacques-Yves Cousteau (JYC) and the crew of Calypso. The last episode closed in January 1975, with Richard saying that John Denver wanted to write a song about Calypso, it wasn’t finished until after he returned to Colorado, but it’s a great story, told here.
“To Live on the Land We Must Learn from the Sea” – from Calypso by John Denver
Jamming with John on the deck of Calypso!
We were filming the Belize Barrier Reef but in the night John gave us a wonderful concert on the deck of Calypso. I write about the night “the luscious warm breeze (was) enhanced by plentiful rum punch.”
Shy Madame Simone Cousteau, nicknamed “La Bergère”, meaning The Shepherdess, hides in the shadows until the lights and cameras are off. Then she emerges, sits next to John and requests many more songs. I’m amazed that she knows the titles and am impressed by John’s graciousness.
Left to right: JYC, Denver, Joe Thompson, Richard Hyman, Louis Prezelin, Photo © Richard Hyman
John was such a gifted talent and a genuine man. I miss him. In 1997 he was killed in a plane crash. It was the same year that JYC died.
John was aboard several days and left the morning after the concert. Then, for us, it was back to work. We dove around the clock, filming a concentrated grouping of hundreds of spawning grouper. There were also thousands of grunts, tangs, amberjacks and angelfish, which were all active and hungry after their night of sleep.
Perhaps the grind took a toll on us, as there were accidents. I was almost electrocuted. Lev (Poliakov) took a painful shot from the stern dive ladder. A rogue wave crashed it into his chest. Lev continued that night dive and was then flown by chopper to Belize for x-rays.
The night dives were always spectacular, with underwater lights presenting various shades of illuminated aqua water. The days passed and we finished filming the grouper. We returned to port in Belize City. I received a Telex with news that required me to return home.
Richard Gets His Red Dive Cap
On my last day, while sitting at the wardroom table, writing, Captain Cousteau, Madame and many of the crew walked in. JYC presented me with a Calypso pin; a hand carved wooden shark, and the trademark Cousteau red cap.
That’s how I got my red cap.
The next morning Bernard and I disembarked, bound for the airport. He was on to L.A. and me on to New York. To be continued….
By Richard Hyman, contributor to Blue Ocean Network
More Adventures in the Last Episode
In the next and final episode Richard will tell us about searching for the wreck of the USS Monitor in deep, rough waters off North Carolina, and diving on sunken shipwrecks in Martinique.
The True Story of My Journeys
In 2011, Richard published FROGMEN: A fascinating first-hand account of his experiences aboard the Calypso. It is the inspiring story of a young man who pays homage to one of the greatest explorers and visionaries of all time.
You can find your copy at Amazon.com, available in eBook and softcover. For direct shipment of signed books contact Richard at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out Richard’s website at: www.richardehyman.com
See these Blue Ocean Posts for more on Cousteau and other authors:
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