Joy Magazine

Off the wall

Local woman chronicles her scuba adventures

Sue Webb lives on a 62-acre tree farm outside Eagle Point, but she's hardly a landlubber.

The native Oregonian recently self-published a book of scuba-diving adventures, called "Off the Wall — Dive Tales," that is as far removed from Southern Oregon as most locals could imagine.


Webb, who grew up in The Dalles and moved to the Rogue Valley in 2006, began her underwater adventures more than two decades ago with her husband, Russ. The couple met and married some 30 years ago. During their honeymoon on Hawaii's Maui, they snorkeled at the Molokini Crater, and Webb "was instantly hooked" on seeing the world from below the waves.

Garnering cold-water certification, Webb has not wasted any of the time she spent training. Always drawn to warm climates and adventure, Webb's foray into the written word was a natural, as well. After reading the book "I Married Adventure" during her childhood, Webb says she was determined to live her life to the fullest.


And live, she has.

She and Russ have completed more than 400 dives all over the world. Every winter, a sun vacation spares the couple a few days or weeks of Oregon winter and provides fodder for stories, says Webb.

"We got certified, thinking it would be a great thing to do when we went on vacation," says Webb. "At this point, it's easier to answer the question 'Where haven't we gone diving?' than where have we."


Webb's book, released Sept. 20, outlines tales of nearly becoming fish food and being welcomed by natives in tiny, jungle communities while making light of equipment malfunctions and sightseeing mishaps. A trip to Dominica, rumored to be Jimmy Buffet's favorite dive spot, offered an abundance of marine life to enjoy while a trip to Washington's San Juan Islands furnished both a dive opportunity and scallops for dinner.

Stories of shipwrecks off the South Pacific island Chuuk and meeting clownfish paint colorful insights into life on the ocean floor. A story of diving near La Paz, Mexico, tells of an encounter with a very social elephant seal nicknamed Romeo. Living among hundreds of sea lions, the elephant seal with a penchant for bright colors twirled and danced with one of the Webbs' friends, who sported a bright-pink wet suit.


Other stories include diving with manatees and dolphins off the Gulf Coast of Florida and even dry-land encounters, such as a trip to Australia where Sue Webb "cuddled a koala."

Whether the stories are of land or water, the constant theme is Webb's persistent humor and optimism, whether settling for kayaking when diving flopped or losing luggage on a flight to Venezuela and embarking on a doomed rental-car trip that found Russ, on his 40th birthday, pushing the car uphill during a mudslide.


Other hair-raising experiences include an air tank tainted with gas and a 12-foot tiger shark joining a dive in the waters off Kona, Hawaii. Ironically, the cover of Webb's book is a photo of her sitting on a beach next to a sand-sculpted tiger shark, her "arch nemesis."

Russ Webb says humor and survival skills were equally necessary during many of the couple's experiences.

"I definitely have more of an appreciation for all the things we have done. It was kind of interesting to go back and remember them all for the book," he says. "(For) some of the situations we were in, you needed a sense of humor — and probably, a few, we could have used even more of a sense of humor to get through."

Sue Webb says the book will give both divers and nondivers some perspective of far-off places inaccessible to mainstream travelers until recent years, with some good belly laughs on day-to-day life.

"I wanted everyone to be able to share in what it means to be a diver, and I felt like some of the stories we had would be fun to read about," she says.

"And some of the places we've seen and the things we've experienced, we think back or read the book and say, 'Wow, that really did happen!' "

Webb's book is available through Amazon (www.amazon.com), the Barnes & Noble website (www.bn.com) and at www.goodreads.com.


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