WARNING FROM BERMUDA
Recently we have been receiving frequent, disturbing reports about the indiscriminate use of scuba self-contained underwater breathing apparatus by untrained persons, leading to violations of safety rules and occasional fatalities.
The only U.S. organization trying to counter the trend is the American National Red Cross. Their water safety men give a stiff scuba test, which only a small percentage of all skin-divers could pass.
By agreement Bermuda stores will not sell diving lungs nor rent regulators to untrained persons. Now the diving stores and schools are getting together to prepare proposals for legislation to place skin-diving on a firm footing.
The plan includes formation of a skin-diving patrol of instructors under government supervision. They would be authorized to give tests and act as underwater policemen.
Skin-divers would be required to swim 75 feet under water without gear, put on scuba 10 feet under water, ditch it on the bottom and make a free ascent. I wonder how many American scuba owners could pass this simple test.
•The YMCA and the American Underwater Society, among others, and a number of universities are giving similar tests and teaching safety. We recognize the dangers involved, but are inclined to question regulatory laws at this time.—ED.
BARREN GROUNDS: TRAGEDY AND HOPE
The suspenseful presentation of Arthur Moffatt's diary of the expedition to the great Barren Grounds (SI, March 9 & 16) has all the elements of a literary saga. Here we have a Moby Dick, a Rime of the Ancient Mariner or a Robert W. Service masterpiece with photographs.
A truly memorable feature.
STANLEY W. BATES
As long as the because-it-is-there spirit remains within men such as Arthur Moffatt, there is hope for the human race.
THOMAS L. TURK
East Lansing, Mich.
The tragedy that befell Art Moffatt brought tears welling to my eyes, and I am sure many of your readers were similarly touched.
As a sidelight, I note he and his men planned to walk north from Baker Lake in order to get inside the Arctic Circle. In the Crowsnest Pass region we had one man with our expedition who had been "inside the Circle." He was much revered by the others and nothing that he wanted was too good for him. Seemed to live sort of a charmed life, as it were.
MILES O. KING
The diary of Art Moffatt in a way reminded me of Robert Scott, whose small party lost to Amundsen in the fateful rush for the South Pole. The same premonition of disaster—the still small voice a whispering in his ear. Just as with Scott, this showed itself at the start: delays and other little things snowballed into insurmountable roadblocks.
The deep love Art had for his wife and children reminded me once again of the Scott diary. But to turn back was the one thing Art could not do. As with Mallory on his last scaling of Everest, it was there. One fine fellow, and his memory should live.
CLARENCE P. WOODBURY
Fort Wayne, Ind.
The news that Art Moffatt died brought tears to my wife's eyes.
From his diary, I'd say he was one heck of a nice guy to know. He gave it the real try!
Los Altos, Calif.
Having spent 10 summers in the heart of the canoe country north of Rainy Lake, Minn., our appreciation of the outdoors was cultivated early. Through our association with the late Bernard S. Mason, noted woodcraft and Indian author, a deep feeling for the canoeland and its way of life became imbedded in us.
Reading the excerpts from the Moffatt diary, the route as it unfolded seemed similar to that followed in 1912 by Ernst Oberholtzer, a Rainy Lake resident presently active in preservation of the remaining Minnesota-Ontario canoe country, and Billy McGee, an Indian, on their trip, which has been the subject of talks by Oberholtzer to groups in the Rainy Lake area. Commencing in Rainy Lake and starting without the aid of maps in June, these men traveled through Reindeer Lake, Nueltin Lake, Baker Lake, Chesterfield Inlet and along Hudson Bay before returning through Lake Winnipeg to the Rainy Lake area in November of the same year.
Without in any way detracting from the achievements of the Moffatt group, we believe a salute to Ernst Oberholtzer appropriate along with the recent tributes paid the Moffatt group.
That Man Against the Barren Grounds is an interesting and faithful portrayal of the Moffatt expedition testifies to the skill and integrity of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED.
There were three factors influencing Moffatt when he wrote his journal. One: his fingers were on the verge of freezing so that he had to blow on them after every other word to keep the pen from slipping out of his hand. Two: squeezed shoulder to shoulder, hip to hip, into a tent with Joe Lanouette, privacy was an impossibility. And three: being unaware that anyone would read his journal after the trip was over except .himself, he wrote only that which was of interest to himself. These three factors—cold hands, lack of privacy and an unawareness that anyone would read the journal except himself—were responsible for the clipped, mostly impersonal and obscure style of Moffatt's journal. Nevertheless, your editors have taken the journal and, while preserving its flavor, have yet managed to present a clear, interesting and undistorted portrait of the trip; for which I and, I'm sure, the other members of the expedition are very thankful.
GEORGE J. GRINNELL
New York City
•George Grinnell, Skip Pessl and Peter Franck, all members of the Moffatt expedition, are already planning another trip to the north.—ED.
The enclosed picture (see below) may be of interest to you in view of your Barren Grounds article.
Last week I went up to Reindeer Lake in the far north of Canada to run a survey on our airstrip, and we experimented with ice fishing. The results were spectacular. The smallest lake trout was 32 pounds and the largest 42 pounds. These trout were caught with light metal lines, a single hook and whitefish tail as bait.
The ice was 5½ feet thick and there was five feet of snow on the ice. We had to cut the holes around five feet square.
FRED E. LOCKHART