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Diver finds lost ring and returns it to owner – nearly 40 years after it was lost

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Diver Brian Tovin swam deep into South Carolina’s Cooper River in search of fossils and relics. In 40 feet of murky water, fighting the current, something shiny caught his eye.

“Without even shining my light on it, it was clear that it has weight to it, and it was metal or gold,” Tovin said.

“And when I shined my light on it, I said, wow, this is the first time I’ve ever found jewelry underneath the water,” he said.

But it was more than just jewelry. It was a ring that had become the “stuff of legend” since the owner lost it nearly 40 years ago.

“I held onto it for the rest of the dive. I just didn’t want to lose it,” Tovin said.

Inscribed on the large, gold ring were the initials RLP and the date 1974. The ring also displayed the name of a nearby school: the College of Charleston. With those clues, Tovin’s journey to return the jewelry began.

Tovin first called the college’s alumni association. The college determined that only two people who graduated in 1974 had those initials, and one was female.

Now, Tovin knew who he was looking for: Robert LeVaughn Phillips.

After searching on social media, Tovin eventually connected with Robert’s son, Eric Phillips. Tovin quizzed him to make sure he had tracked down the rightful owner. Phillips e-mailed a copy of his father’s diploma, and Tovin was convinced he was in the right place.

Tovin soon learned that like so many other things in life, this very simple college ring — lost for so many years — had more meaning to it than many will ever understand.

“My dad was a storyteller, kind of a used-car salesman at times,” Eric Phillips said.

“He kind of has some of the same jokes, but he talked about the ring all the time because it came from his mother, and you know it’s just one of the stories that just epitomized a season of his life.”

Robert Phillips was boating on the Cooper River with his future wife, Nancy, when he lost the ring in 1974 — just two weeks after he got it.

“He was very upset and hated to tell his mom that he lost it,” Nancy Phillips said.

“Losing it in the river, we never thought we would never, ever, ever see it again.”

Growing up without his father in his life, Robert Phillips was determined to succeed on his own. He graduated from the College of Charleston with a degree in business administration.

The ring, a symbol of all he had accomplished, was his mother’s last gift to him before she passed away from pancreatic cancer.

Tovin hoped he could return the cherished ring to Phillips at his home, but Phillips — now fighting cancer — was not there. He was rushed into surgery at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston last weekend for brain surgery.

That setback didn’t stop a reunion 39 years in the making. A few days after Phillips’ operation, Tovin met Phillips in the hospital. With his family by his side, Phillips sat in a hospital chair. His voice was barely above a whisper, but it was full of life as a stranger returned a part of his life to him.

Down on one knee, Tovin opened up a ring box to reveal Phillips’s lost treasure.

“I was down there fighting strong currents and alligators trying to get you your ring back,” said Tovin, as Phillips smiled.

“And I’ve got it here, and I know this is going to look like I’m proposing to you, so please don’t tell my wife, OK,” he said, as the room erupted in laughter.

“Wow. That is awesome,” Phillips said.

Then, Phillips began to tell Tovin and everyone the story that his family has heard endlessly — the story of the lost ring.

“I was on the back of the boat. And I decided I needed a beer,” he said softly.

“I pulled the pop top and when I did, my finger got caught in the pop top, and it went with it,” he told Tovin.

“I guess I have to go have it sized now, don’t I,” he added with a grin.

“You’ve got a lot of years left. So, you’re going to be wearing that ring,” Tovin responded.

With his wife and two children watching this reunion of sorts, they all felt this ring would give their patriarch the comfort he needs right now.

“No matter how much time he has with us, we’ll always have that ring. And it will always signify a good season of our life and a good memory of our father, and the fact that he got to share in it before he left us,” Eric Phillips said.

In some ways, this decades-long loop of life has been closed, and a new story — one that the Phillips family will be telling for generations — has been written.

“Thank you Lord that I got it back,” Robert Phillips said.

“I had a nightmare the other night that I lost it again,” he said.

“No more beer cans,” he laughed.

Source: http://www.wptv.com

Photo: Tim Sheerman-Chase

Gear News

Fourth Element announce Tech Fins inspired by whale tail

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A classic vented dive fin, engineered by nature and redesigned to maximise performance.

Fourth Element’s new Tech Fins have taken inspiration from nature and evolution to optimise efficiency. The turbulence disruptors on the top of the blade work in the same way as the nodules of the leading edge of a humpback whale fin, which disrupt the water as they move through it. The resulting turbulence enables the whale to swim with more efficiency. Fourth Element has adopted this evolutionary concept to improve the performance of this classic fin.

Utilising natural rubber in a unique density gradient, the dive fin delivers an ultra- comfortable foot pocket combined with optimised stiffness for finning performance.

The vented design allows water to flow along the blade reducing drag and fatigue, whilst the stiffening rails and ribs ensure that the blade of the fin is driven through the water to maximise the return on effort.

The Tech Fins, with a slightly negative buoyancy characteristic, were developed with technical divers in mind but are suitable for all levels of diver looking for a high-performance rubber fin. The wider blade gives manoeuvrability without compromising the power, while the shorter length improves agility and makes stowing the fins for transport more convenient. Spring straps with comfortable heel pads keep the feet securely held in place. These straps can be removed and changed easily with everyday tools if required.

The Tech Fins are supplied with a hanging/carrying strap and a marine quality bolt snap which may be used to attach them to a bcd or harness for carrying, leaving both hands free for climbing ladders or carrying other gear.

The natural rubber material of this fin is extremely durable, and all components are recyclable at end of life.

The Tech Fins are available in M, L, XL and XXL. These fins will fit sizes 4 (US5) to 14 (US15) and come in Black, Grey or Aqua.

Features

  • Natural rubber heel strap
  • Stainless steel spring strap
  • Soft foot pocket
  • Hydro-flow vents
  • Turbulence disruptors
  • Strengthening ribs
  • Stiffening lateral rails

Find out more here.

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Discover the Best of Belize with Dive Worldwide

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This June marks the 25th anniversary of the Belize Barrier Reef becoming a World Heritage Site! To celebrate, Dive Worldwide have rounded up their top trips to Belize which includes a resort-based stay, a liveaboard special and a twin-centre with neighbouring Guatemala – perfect for soaking up some culture. 

Reefs, Atolls & Mayan Ruins

The only English speaking country in Central America, Belize is warm, welcoming and offers unbelievable adventures. This gem has plenty for divers from incredible nature and topside activities to magical diving opportunities. Belize has the second longest barrier reef in the world and three of the four atolls in the western hemisphere making it a popular choice for divers.

If you missed the Dive Worldwide Belize talk in January you can catch up here.

Belize Discovered

Spend a week diving the remarkable barrier reef from Ambergris Caye before enjoying a few nights exploring the jungle with its Mayan ruins and caves.

Underwater there’s plenty on offer, with canyons, drop offs and swim throughs in addition to a unique topography and relatively easy conditions. You’ll be accompanied by a kaleidoscope of reef fish as you marvel at the array of sea fans and sponges adorning the seabed. Highlights include nurse shark, stingray, grouper, angelfish, turtle and dolphin. 

You then head off-the-beaten-track in land where you stay at an eco lodge in the heart of the Belizean jungle. Here there are a multitude of activities on offer including hiking and cave tours or you can immerse yourself in Mayan culture and visit a number of nearby ruins for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Departs: Jan-Dec

Duration: 13 days

Price from: £2,945 per person

Belize Liveaboard

Dive the Lighthouse and Turneffe Atolls from a liveaboard and experience the very best diving Belize has to offer. Located in the Lighthouse Reef there will be the opportunity to dive the Great Blue Hole. This atoll is full of marine life with angelfish, Creole wrasse, butterflyfish, barracuda and sponges found here.

Turneffe is the largest of the three atolls and offers a mixture of shallow reefs and sheer walls with a variety of reef fish and beautiful underwater scenery. Turtle, eagle ray, reef shark, snapper and jacks live on the healthy reefs. Dive sites of note include Half Moon Caye – another UNESCO World Heritage Site – and Painted Wall where you can find macro subjects such as ghostfish, crabs, blennies and invertebrates.

Departs: Jan-Dec

Duration: 10 days

Price from: £3,475 per person

Guatemala & Belize

Begin your holiday with some topside cultural discovery in Guatemala. This country packs a punch with its colonial architecture, Mayan ruins nestled in the verdant green jungle and stunning vistas. Don’t miss a visit to Lake Atilan, widely renowned for being one of the most beautiful lakes in the world with its volcanoes, thermal springs and incredible sunrises.

After a few days in Guatemala it’s time to go diving in Belize! Explore the barrier reef and spend time diving the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Blue Hole – the largest of its kind in the world and one of the top reasons to visit Belize. Here the waters are crystal clear, the topography is impressive with large coral and rock formations and the marine life is prolific with reef and black-tip shark in addition to large grouper.

Departs: Jan-Dec

Duration: 14 days

Price from: £3,495 per person


If you want to experience the world class diving and topside highlights of spectacular Belize, contact the Dive Worldwide Team.

All prices are per person and include flights from the UK, liveaboard or accommodation, diving, most meals and airport transfers.

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Competitions

A luxurious dive resort in the heart of Lembeh Strait. Enjoy refined services while exploring the rich waters of Indonesia.

The resort is nestled around an ocean front deck and swimming-pool (with pool-bar) which is the perfect place to enjoy a sundowner cocktail at the end of a busy day of critter-diving.

All accommodation is full board and includes three sumptuous meals a day. Breakfast and lunch are buffet meals and in the evening dining is a la carte.

Book and stay before the end of June and benefit from no single supplements in all room types!

Booking deadline: Subject to availability – book and stay before end of June 2022

Call Diverse Travel on 01473 852002 or email info@diversetravel.co.uk.

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