Whether walking on the bottom of the ocean or sitting behind his desk as Cedaredge's "top cop," Robert "Bob" Yant's favorite color is obviously blue.
Born and raised in Culver City, Calif., Bob is one of five children born to Ted and Isabelle Yant.
Bob graduated from Culver City High School before attending Columbia Southern University.
"The question for a youth living in southern California back then, was whether or not you were going to surf," explained Bob, "and I didn't like to surf, but I loved to dive."
As a youth living in southern California, hanging out in SCUBA diving shops and watching the then popular TV series, "Sea Hunt" (starring Lloyd Bridges) and going to see deep sea diving movies like "Reap the Wild Wind," "Wake of the Red Witch" and "Beneath the Twelve Mile Reef," Bob said he became "hooked" on SCUBA diving and at age 12, he was invited by a group of Navy Frogmen to participate with them in a diving demonstration that required jumping out of a plane.
(Sadly, according to Bob, his mother said "no" to the invitation).
In his early teens, before becoming a commercial diver, Bob went to work for a diving equipment manufacturer, demonstrating their diving equipment at Pacific Ocean Park using a glass tank filled with water (including how to eat underwater).
Later, as a commercial diver still in his teens, Bob rented his diving equipment. "Back then you didn't have to be certified to rent diving equipment," he explained. But in 1962, that all changed. "In order to buy or rent equipment from a dive store, you had to be a certified diver," Bob said. He became certified by the Los Angeles Parks and Recreation Underwater Unit.
The helmeted diving suit he used as a commercial diver consisted of a diving helmet, a weighted waist belt, and ankle weights, weighing in at almost 200 pounds. "And you had to keep moving," he laughed. In the water the 200 pounds of diving gear was "almost weightless," — aka "neutral buoyancy," he explained. Weightlessness was achieved by regulating the air in the divers suit. Once, during a dive, Bob had so much air in his suit that he became wedged between two outcroppings and had to force some of the air out by pressing his diving suit against the upper outcrop to free himself.
After becoming certified Bob (still a teenager) started his own business recovering lost items, inspecting and cleaning moorings in the waters off Marina Del Ray. "Boaters were always losing stuff and the moorings always needed cleaning," he said.
In 1972, he enrolled in a diving instructor certification course in Monterey. The course included extensive testing and was designed for the student to fail. "But I didn't fail," he smiled, "I made it." He became a full-time instructor at the College of Oceaneering for two years, teaching commercial diving.
"I loved teaching," he smiled. "Teaching first timers is both fun and exciting . . . something new everyday." Bob said many of his students told him that they had wanted to learn how to SCUBA dive their whole lives and didn't know why they had waited so long to learn.
In 1982, after spending years teaching (in both warmand cold waters) and managing dive shops around southern California, Bob taught various aspects of diving (hyperbaric medicine and chamber orientation, underwater navigation, search and recovery, etc.) to members of the armed forces, at the Air Force Academy and at Pearl Harbor. He also taught military special forces for the government of Columbia and commercial diving for the governments of India, Israel and China.
He also worked as a "dive medic" for offshore drilling rigs, dealing with medical issues and communications. And, due to security concerns and boycotts during the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, Bob trained divers in underwater bomb detection as a precaution to protect both athletes and those in attendance from harm.
In 1976, as a diving instructor in Hawaii teaching diving instructors, Bob met and married his wife Lana, and it was in Hawaii that Bob taught Lana to SCUBA dive. For his efforts, Bob said Lana made him pick out, "face to face," the fish they were going to have for dinner that night. When asked about the denizens of the deep, specifically sharks, Bob said, that in the waters off Hawaii, tiger sharks were the most dangerous. "But I've never had a problem with sharks,"he said, "Most of them just want to get away."
When one of his students asked if there was a sure-fire way for a diver to know whether or not a shark is about to attack, Bob answered, "Sure, when you hear — Dah-dum! Dah-dum! Dah-dum-dah-dum-dah-dum," mimicking the theme from "Jaws."
Noting that there are now several levels of certification, of which he has achieved the highest levels (Master Instructor and Course Director), Bob said in the early days, the number of Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) certified diving instructors was less than 3,000. Today there are more than 135,000 PADI certified diving instructors worldwide.
Also a certified ice-diving instructor, Bob said those who dive under the ice need to use life lines in order to find their way back to the ice holes in an emergency, and to communicate with the people on the surface by pulling on those life lines. Displaying his unique sense of humor, Bob said it was fun to wave to ice fisherman from underneath the ice, "just to see the expression on their faces."
When asked why he stopped the exciting and glamourous career of deep sea diving and changed to careers in law enforcement, Bob said that as a diver or diving instructor he was always an independent contractor trying to raise a family with no benefits and no guaranteed income. He also noted that it got to where he couldn't handle cold water anymore. "That meant living in Texas, Florida or California," he explained, "and we didn't want to live in any of those states."
Bob also said that his love of law enforcement (which actually began back in 1969 as an officer for the State of California), was second only to his love of SCUBA diving, and that it seemed only natural for him to pursue a career in law enforcement, and so he did. His career has taken him from the Colorado Mountain College Police Academy (he graduated in 1995), through the ranks of reserve officer, patrol officer, detective and as police chief of four separate small Colorado rural communities, including Cedaredge, where he and Lana now live. The two moved to Cedaredge in 2010 after Bob was hired to be the town's Police Chief. Lana was hired as the activity director for Senior CommUnity Care (PACE) in Eckert. They have three children and two grandchildren.
But even now, as Chief of Police, Bob remains a PADI certified Master Instructor and one of only 1,300 certified Course Directors worldwide.blog comments powered by Disqus