In January 2018, Barb Roy, our long-time associate editor and regular contributor, passed away after a long battle with illness. We celebrate her inspiring life and imagery in this memorial portfolio, highlighting some of the many beautiful and vivid underwater photographs Barb took during her frequent forays under the waves.
"It is very difficult to put into words how Barb was a gift to all of us, particularly in the dive community. Her constant upbeat nature, and enthusiasm for our sport is irreplaceable. Thanks for the memories." —Virginia and Andy Lamb, Marine Naturalist, Author and Educator
"The dive community has lost a great underwater explorer. May she rest in peace." —Diane Reid, Underwater Photographer
"Thanks to Barb for all the many years of support for the dive industry." —Jan Breckman, Director, Dive Industry Association of British Columbia
"Barb was an enthusiastic and engaging reporter whose photography and writing reflected her pure love of diving. She will be sorely missed." —Jeremy Heywood, Diving and Boating Safety Officer, Vancouver Aquarium
"Barb, thank you for all your efforts on behalf of the dive community. It was a privilege knowing you." —Bernie Hanby, Conservation and Education Committee, Vancouver Aquarium Marine SeaLife Science Centre
Barb was an avid technical and wreck diver, underwater photographer and instructor, having learned to dive in Anchorage, Alaska, in 1979. She was a PADI Master Instructor and held instructor ratings with DAN, IANTD and NAUI. She became a NAUI Wreck and Archaeology Instructor to explore wrecks and an IANTD Trimix diver to photograph giant gorgonian sea fans at 200 feet.
In 1980, she opened a dive business in Anchorage called Orca Oceanic Research & Salvage, where she taught hundreds of people how to scuba dive, organized local and international dive travel and sold diving equipment. After almost ten years, Barb took on a business partner, Ron Akeson, and changed the company name to Alaskan Underwater Adventures.
In 1991, they moved the business down to Washington State and again the name was changed to Adventures Down Under (ADU). It is no surprise that Barb was certified to repair regulators, drysuit seals and inspect cylinders. In 1997, Barb sold her half of the company to Ron but continued to work, teach and provide the marketing for ADU.
In 1995, Barb also began a part-time career as an outdoor adventure photojournalist, specializing in dive travel stories. Since then, her written work and photography have appeared in various international and local print magazines, books and digital publications, including Diver UK, Scuba & H2O Adventure Magazine, Skin Diver Magazine, Wreck Diving, and X-Ray Mag; as well as for dive businesses such as Tahtsa Dive Charters.
- “What I remember most about Barb, beyond her deep passion for cold water diving and her journalistic and creative gifts, was Barb was a consummate human who reveled in being alive. She was insatiably curious about the world around her; was humble and deeply grounded. And she was always kind, always smiling, always looking at you with a twinkle in her eye that made you want to follow her journey to see what treasure in life it would shine upon. Barb’s passing darkens a vast knowledge of the undersea realms, but the memory of her relentless and egoless passion for life will stay with, and inspire, those that knew her, and I am exceptionally grateful and lucky to have crossed paths with her during my life. I will celebrate her memory in my heart on my next dive (sorry, Barb, it may be in warm water).” — Ty Sawyer, Skin Diver Magazine
After the passing of her good friend and business partner, Ron Akeson, in April of 2014 and the closing of ADU, Barb and her daughter, Tallen Patrick, opened a dive travel business in the same Bellingham location called Orca Oceanic Diving & Photography. It specialized in underwater photography and videography.
Barb had also served as a board member with the Dive Industry Association of British Columbia, the Maritime Documentation Society, and the Technical Dive Training Facility at ADU. She also assisted the Washington Scuba Alliance (WSA) in collecting donations.
- "I first met Barb as she arrived on the dock in 1996, with her mischievous grin, while I was managing Ex-HMCS Columbia Artificial Reef project. In quick order (“somehow”) she was riding the ship on its tow to Campbell River. Barb had an ability to know when something was going to happen, OR she made it happen. Maybe the word is tenacity. Barb was always nearby. Maybe it has something to do with her relationship with my best friend and associate Wayne Grant (eventually her husband). She later joined us in Portimao, Portugal, to report on the four-ship “Ocean Revival” project. With Barb things were always interesting. She will be missed." — Wes Roots, Canadian Artificial Reef Consultants
Barb was a big advocate of diving in Canada and the Pacific Northwest. It was one of her great loves. Her images were widely used to promote ecofriendly diving in British Columbia, and she spoke at the Vancouver Aquarium Diver’s Weekend and at the dive show in Tacoma. Last March, she gave four photography seminars on diving in BC at the Tacoma Show.
- “The entire BC Dive Industry was deeply saddened by the news of Barb Roy’s passing. Barb was a friend to diving and the whole diving community. She will always be remembered for her passion and devotion to the emerald waters of the Pacific Northwest. We are a little less of a community without Barb here amongst us, lighting up our days with her images and stories.” — Donnie Reid, Dive Safety Officer and Photographer, Pavilion Lake Research Project, NASA Moon Mars Analog Mission Activities
With over 30 years of experience in the dive industry, with special interests in marine life, science, photography and shipwrecks, Barb offered presentations to the public about her various dive journeys to places like Tasmania, Egypt, Churchill (Manitoba), Alaska and Guadalupe (Mexico). Barb enjoyed sharing stories of her adventures but also liked to hear about everyone else’s too. She often traveled with family members, including her husband, Wayne Grant, children and grandchildren, so she could offer refreshing new perspectives in her stories and photography.
- "Barb Roy made an indelible mark on this sport we love so much and will always be remembered for her passion and years of remarkable work in photo journalism, telling the story so well with her artistic eye to divers and non-divers alike around the world of why our emerald waters in British Columbia and Washington are so uniquely special. She will be forever remembered and has left a legacy of work that will live on for years to come." — Deirdre Forbes McCracken, Owner and PADI Master Instructor, Ocean Quest Dive Centre, Burnaby, BC
For X-Ray Mag, Barb was one of our most prolific and popular contributors, writing a long list of in-depth articles and news stories, often together with her husband, Wayne, over the past decade—with each article accumulating tens of thousands of reads from divers around the world.
- “As an outdoor adventure writer, dive travel photographer, friend and colleague, I will miss her greatly, as indeed will all of her fellow writers at X-Ray Mag. She was a consummate professional who enjoyed giving presentations about her many adventures to various dive clubs, museums and schools." — Peter Symes, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief, X-Ray Mag
Barb's stories included topics such as Diving Coastal British Columbia, BC’s Wreck Trek, Underwater Nanaimo, Diving Canada’s Freshwater Interior, Vancouver’s First Major Artificial Reef: HMCS Annapolis, Pavillion Lake, Washington State’s Hood Canal, Churchill: Trekking Canada’s Sub-Arctic Region in Manitoba, San Juan Islands, BC’s Southern Gulf Islands, BC’s Critter Connection, Red Sea Safari: Journey from Cairo to El Quseir, BC’s Port Hardy: Aboard the Nautilus Swell, Guadaloupe’s Great White Sharks, Diving the Hot Spots of Vancouver Island, Socorro, Technical Diving Paradise in the Pacific Northwest, Journey to Bikini Atoll, Choosing a Technical Instructor, Thetis Island, Hawaii, New Zealand, Skookumchuck: Challenging the Rapids, and BC’s Reefs of Steel.
One of Barb’s favorite quotes (originated by E.J. Stieglitz, but often attributed to Abraham Lincoln) was: “In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count, it’s the life in your years.” Barb certainly fully lived life in her years, and was an inspiration to us all. ■
Special thanks to Wayne Grant and Deirdre Forbes McCracken for their kind assistance and dedication in compiling this memorial article.