Waterfront: August 2003

Aq 0803 15pg 0001

Soaking At Sea

Hot tub helps keep service members in fighting shape.

Life at sea is hard. Months away from family and home, tight quarters and 24-hour-a-day proximity to work can be trying to deployed sailors even during peacetime. Add to that the stress of being at war, and it's no wonder that those in charge of Morale, Welfare and Recreation do their best to provide needed diversions for Navy servicemen and women.

An April 14 Newsweek article notes that the Navy buys 90,000 pieces of recreation equipment each year. This year, along with everything from rock-climbing walls to karaoke machines, that included portable spas. According to Jennie Davis, marketing director for Comfortline Products, the Ft. Myers, Fla., company supplied its Spa-N-A-Box to several ships in the Persian Gulf and other Middle East locations.

The portable spa is easily assembled and disassembled without tools, and fills quickly with a hose. Sailors can set up the unit on the "steel beach," and soak away soreness and stress from a hard day's work.

Desert Diversion Marines in Afghanistan enjoy donated above-ground pool.

Life "in country" is difficult, too. While the continuing danger in Iraq draws most of the media focus, military personnel are still deployed in Afghanistan and are living under field conditions in a very poor country devastated by years of war. The troops are charged with finding members of the Taliban and Al Queda as part of the U.S. war on terrorism.

But Marines at Camp Teufel-Hunden in Bagram, Afghanistan, will get some relief from the intense summer heat with a new pool donated by Jim McCuller of Direct Swimming Pool Products based in Flowery Branch, Ga.

"It started out with an e-mail from this corporal in Afghanistan," says McCullers. "He said he had to build a pool, and I knew there was no way that he could build a pool with the kind of supplies that they have in Afghanistan. He would have had to use whatever kind of filter they use to purify their drinking water, and it would have been a mess. But his commander said, 'Build me a pool.'" Although the corporal's initial request was simply for advice, McCullers decided he could easily solve the problem. "I realized that it wouldn't be much money to just give him a pool, and they could actually build it and use it and not get sick in it," he says.

While he figured that the 24-foot above-ground pool would be big news at Camp Teufel-Hunden, the attention it attracted stateside was a surprise. "I never expected the publicity," he says. "The next thing I knew it was on the AP wire. And we were fairly proud but fairly shocked, too."

Not only does this story have a happy ending, but it comes full circle, too. "My great uncle was in the war in 1917 as a marine, he won the DFC and everything but the medal of honor," says McCuller. "He was at Belleau Wood, all those places. And after we got this project started, and the corporal gave me the unit's history, I realized my uncle had been in the same unit. I thought that was pretty cosmic."


Gardening at the pool's edge.

The newest book from garden writer Catriona Tudor Erler is as beautiful as it is useful. Generously illustrated with lush photographs and descriptive "how-to" drawings and diagrams, this manual is suitable for the coffee table, but it would be a shame to just admire it. It's meant to be used.

Picking up on the well-documented backyard living trend, Poolscaping provides inspiration and instruction on how to plan a backyard oasis or transform an existing yard into one. And there's something for everyone. Along with projects that are breathtaking in both their beauty and their price tags, there are attractive ideas for landscaping around above-ground pools.

Throughout the book, no question is left unanswered. Erler doesn't just suggest using topiary in a planter near the pool, she provides detailed instructions on how to grow and prune topiary along with information on potting mediums and containers. A section on decking includes a list of plants — complete with botanical name, common name and USDA zone information — which are suitable for planting in the cracks between pavers to add elements of softness and scent. The chapter on enclosing the pool addresses both safety and aesthetics.

Equally thorough treatment is given to lighting, water features, spas and poolside structures, again with plentiful how-to information as well as discussions of aesthetics and suitable plant material. In fact, the final chapter of the book is an encyclopedic listing of suitable poolside plants with sections on perennials, vines, shrubs, trees, ornamental grasses and ground covers.

Poolscaping inspires and informs with its mix of dreamy example projects and practical advice on achieving your backyard vision within your budget and capabilities. If you can only read one book on how to landscape pools, this should be it.

– K.P.

Poolscaping: Gardening and Landscaping Around Your Swimming

Pool and Spa by Catriona Tudor Erler is published by Storey

Books, ISBN 1-58017-385-3.

The Swimming Pool Q's Resurface

Music for your next pool party.

The Swimming Pool Q's, a part of a seminal Atlanta New Wave scene in the early '80s that included R.E.M. and the B-52's, are back with their first album in more than a decade, Royal Academy of Reality. AQUA recently spoke with singer Jeff Calder about his home state of Florida and the band's connection to the swimming pool industry, however marginal.

"The name comes from something I read in a detective novel. There was a scene in a barroom where they were 'swinging pool cues,' and I misread it as 'swimming pool cues,'" Calder explains. "Being a quirky new wave band, I decided it'd be a good name.

"I grew up in Florida and a lot of the songs we did on our first album, The Deep End, had to do with odd characters and a lot of the weirdness I saw in Florida. In the '70s, Florida still looked like the world of the '50s or '60s — motel pools, kitsch and general amusement and fun. So there's a bit of a connection with that in the name, as well."

Released this spring, the album is a departure from the skittery rhythms and angular guitar work of the band's early material. Royal Academy is awash in synthesizers with baroque arrangements, dense production and instruments not typically heard on rock albums: sitar, xylophone, glass harp, didgeridoo and toy piano.

"We've always been known as a unique guitar band, but on this one we wanted a more atmospheric sound. I think you could even call it an 'aquatic' sound," Calder says, laughing. "We definitely try to go down a few fathoms."

Royal Academy of Reality is available on the band's Web site (swimmingpoolqs.com), and in select music outlets nationwide.

– B.K.

Canadian Architecture Students Dream A Better Hot Tub

Beachcomber competition produces state-of-the-art designs.

For 10 days in late April, teams of two to four students at the University of British Columbia School of Architecture designed and produced concepts of what they believe could be the hot tub of the future.

The students were taking part in "Competition: Body and Water," a design contest initiated by Beachcomber Hot Tubs, Surrey, British Columbia. It challenged UBC architecture students to redesign the traditional hot tub.

"I didn't tell them anything about a hot tub at all. I just wanted them to be free," says Keith Scott, founder of Beachcomber Hot Tubs.

"One of the things I don't like about our industry is that we're really not doing anything with our product in terms of change. So I'm going to go to the next generation, because I think a lot of times in our 40s to 60s, we're trapped into a type of thinking. So I thought I'd go to the 20 to 40 year olds," he says.

The students competed for a $1,000 scholarship and the chance to work with Beachcomber and university employees to produce a new hot tub design. Beachcomber is also producing a small publication that will feature the winning entries.

Of the 24 entries submitted in early May to the UBC art museum, three were chosen by prominent local architects who served as judges: Perceptual Depth by Keith Ng and Chris Boldt, ID CitySpa by Irene Ho, and SB-10 by Mathias Scolozz.

According to Scott, the judges determined the winners by evaluating not only the structure they envisioned, but also by the role the hot tub played in the home and family environment.

"I was quite interested in the concept of water and how we can understand the properties of water and try to allow our body to understand it in a new way," Ng says. "It's my first time doing a competition like this. It's not dealing with conceptual space. It's really asking us to be innovative in our ideas and really try to define something new and introduce something new to the world," he says.

Although Scott says the students won't be building any of the submitted conceptual tubs, the company may incorporate ideas from the competition into future hot tub designs.

Content Library
Dig through our best stories from the magazine, all sorted by category for easy surfing.
Read More
Content Library
Buyer's Guide
Find manufacturers and suppliers in the most extensive searchable database in the industry.
Learn More
Buyer's Guide