March 2008 - Page 20
Water Life Diving
since man figured out he could sharpen a stick, we have been hunting
fish and game. A lot has changed since the days of an arm powered javelin.
The first major innovation was the addition of a rubber band to increase
velocity. Probably the biggest modern marvel in the world of spearfishing
was the invention of a trigger mechanism some 80 years ago, or arguably
earlier. This allows the bands potential energy to be stored indefinitely
and then utilized at the moment of need with a simple pull of the trigger.
All new guns made today are basically produced with the same principle
design elements consisting of a stock, muzzle, trigger, shaft and bands.
There are also pneumatic guns which use compressed gas instead of bands,
but on a much less popular scale, due to their loss of power with the
increased pressures at depth. The latest refinement to guns in the past
3 years has been the modification of a closed track gun. Instead of
the shaft resting on top of a guns stock, it is enclosed in a routered
channel inside of the stock. This allows for very high power loading
and incredible accuracy. Daryl Wong, the Hawaiian gun maker, has by
far been the top producer of custom track guns for several years now.
Today in Sarasota there is a new designer and manufacturer of spearguns
that is sure to have the big names like Sea Hornet, Riffe, and Daryl
Wong scrambling for the drawing board, his name is Stuart Daneman
and he has recently developed an innovative new design twist on the
already effective track gun.
Stuart has recently produced a double barreled, over-under gun with
the capability of shooting two shafts either simultaneously or one at
a time. The benefits with such a speargun are obvious, whether for slowing
down big fish or a second chance on that missed grouper. Talk of his
new design is just now starting to spread through the local spearing
community and I wouldn't be surprised if he begins receiving orders
from across the country or even overseas soon.
Stuart's world headquarters is a detached garage just off from his house.
A tall glass display showcasing his custom teak and steel creations
is at the entrance to his small workshop. Heavy monofilament line and
steel fish stringers hang from the ceiling. His bench is lined with
vices, clamps, drill presses and grinders. Buckets with thousands of
odd parts, spear flappers, springs, and stainless snap swivels cover
the square footage under his benches.
Watching him work with a rough piece of teak on his six router table
is like watching a mad scientist whirl knobs and dials on some unknown
contraption. The sawdust flies as he carefully runs a new stock through
the strategically placed jigs surrounding each router bit, being careful
to follow his pencil marks for the precise removal of the excess lumber.
He also produces his own plastic and stainless parts, all receiving
the same specific scrutiny, with only the best parts ever being screwed
or slipped into one of his blank stocks.
Whether he is making a new over-under gun or just a regular, single
shaft track gun, his close attention to detail is beyond perfectionism.
He is an artist and skilled craftsman in a market that today is dominated
by large corporations that simply stamp out adequately working production
pieces. Stuart Daneman can be contacted for custom gun creations at
941-232-5735, and he is always happy to show off his
workshop and talk fish stories.
I had a chance to dive with Stuart recently off Palm Beach. The area
between there and Jupiter to the north is known as shark alley. The
sharks in this stretch of ocean associate divers, especially hunters,
with food. All the divers on the boat that day reported having multiple
sharks swarm them just after pulling the trigger. One diver had two
jacks eaten off his stringer on his ascent. Whether it's from the past
years of feeding sharks over there or just the constant positive conditioning,
most of the larger sharks there have no fear of humans. Stuart found
this out shortly after shooting a jack on Juno ledge. With his . back
to the ledge he was being harassed by five reef sharks. His dive buddy
deemed the situation too dangerous. Not wanting to wait till the shark
had Stuart's leg for lunch, his buddy dispatched one of the larger reef
sharks. The other sharks quickly backed off. Seems like a little negative
reinforcement might be good over there.