-by Jay Murdock, SDKC Safety Editor
A memorial paddle and service was held on May 26th at the Aqua Adventures site to honor a great friend and teacher to many of us through the years. Robin was also a great guy to paddle with, always optimistic and fun-loving. He often had a good joke to tell on a day or overnight paddle, and looked at the bright side of events that could have discouraged someone else. A diving co-worker told a story at the service which summed that up, of them surfacing a quarter mile from their boat, with some students in tow. Robin simply said “It is lovely day for a swim”, and that was the essence of how he approached life.
Robin’s struggle with the cancer that eventually took him on May 8 was a lesson in courage to us. The last time I saw him, he looked frail and tired, but just finished an ocean paddle that would have been a challenge to many of us. He did not complain a bit about the disease that was consuming his body, and only talked about us planning some new paddles for the club.
Robin graduated from the Royal School of Military Engineering and went on to serve with the British Royal Marines, leading expeditions to North Africa, the Middle East and to Eastern Europe. He also spent some time Salvage Diving in the North Sea. Immigrating to America, he and his family lived on their 45 ft sailboat and were able to take several trips down the Baja. After receiving his Captain’s License, he operated a number of craft including a private yacht and several Dive Charter boats. He loved Baja, and spent a lot of his time kayaking, hiking and camping there. He was also a good musician, playing the guitar and singing, or just listening to Italian Opera.
I spoke with Robin’s wife at the service, and told her how he loved to entertain us on our paddles with his many jokes, and that on one occasion heading to the Midway, the two of us were discussing the strange behavior of a certain bird, which suddenly struck us as extremely funny. We laughed so hard that we almost capsized, and that was why it was special to know him: he knew a great deal about a lot of technical things, from navigation to astronomy, and would gladly teach you what he knew. And the next minute he was telling a great joke in a clear and unbroken way with his Royal Marine swagger and dramatic presentation that made the moment very entertaining. The telling of jokes around a campfire transported him back to his military days that he loved, and which we were able to witness. I have since forgotten many of his jokes, but will forever have vivid memories of the way in which he told them. Like Herb, he was a man’s man. Those of us who were privileged to spend time with Robin will miss him, and are thankful that we were blessed to know him.