Who Was Betty-Pratt Johnson?

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Betty Pratt Johnson
Photo Credit: Alison Brown

“151 Dives,” written by Betty Pratt-Johnson, (1976, her first book) was the dive “Bible” from Olympia, Washington, USA to Seymour Inlet, British Columbia for divers and snorkelers. “I decided to write the very book I wanted to buy.” Pratt-Johnson was a mystery in the diving profession. Very few have ever met her; less dove with her. Yet, Betty Pratt-Johnson wrote two comprehensive dive books for the industry, then became a Contributing Editor for the new Pacific Diver magazine, (Diver) magazine, and wrote in every issue for 6½ years.

Betty Pratt-Johnson was born on July 16, 1930, in Evergreen Park, Illinois, and attended Purdue University at West Lafayette, Illinois, USA. Betty graduated with a BSC in Home Economics. She learned to dive at Vancouver’s YMCA in 1967 when she was 37 and there was only one dive shop in town. In 1973, NAUI accredited Pratt-johnson as Sport Diver 363. She was ranked #55 on the BC Security Council. In 2002, when Betty was certified for nitrox, she put her foot in the door of technical diving and dove with it for the rest of her diving career. Pratt-Johnson’s number was certified as Nitrox Diver 76578 by Technical Diving International.

She has also dived from the Red Sea to the East China Sea in Okinawa, Greece and Formentera in the Mediterranean; Hawaii, Japan, Indonesia, Fiji and the northern Great Barrier Reef in Australia; Bonaire, Martinique, Jamaica, Mexico, Bermuda, Andros and Eleuthera in the Bahamas; Brazil, Tobago, Colombia, the Galapagos Islands and freshwater lakes in Alberta. Betty dove at the first U.S. underwater reserve at Point Lobos State Reserve and entered efforts to set up three underwater parks in Japan, and diving projects in Greece (where destruction of any artefact is illegal).

Betty Pratt Johnson

Betty ‘s book of 151 dives is the “go to book for all divers,” and starts with the line “Why-Go.” It includes visual explanations of the site, how to get there (GPS) and also includes dive shops who provide recreational instruction, nitrox technical instruction, rebreather, trimix, salt, nitrox, and soda-lime sources. Boat charters, day, multiple days, liveaboards, boats rentals, launch ramps and dive resorts, are also included in this “Bible” of diving.

Betty Pratt-Johnson flew all over the world, under, and beyond. She enjoyed exploring :: scuba diving, hiking, whitewater kayaking, spelunking, sailing, hang gliding and paragliding, and then writing about it.

Pratt-Johnson was no longer able to dive, because of her eyes, at the age of seventy-nine, but was busy writing another book “Small Walks Around Canada”. It started in the summer of 2008. She had gone to Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk. She enjoyed writing and the research involved and was a 100 percent stickler for accurate facts and details in the many books to which she put her name.

Betty Pratt Johnson
Betty Pratt Johnson – Photo Credit: YouTube

Betty’s first book went from 1976 to 1992 to a total of 11 printings before being withdrawn from print in early 1994. At this time it was revised and expanded into two volumes; 99 Dives and 101 Dives. 151 Dives was printed in September 2007, and 3,000 books were immediately sold to the Seattle Mountaineers Market.

But alas after a great diving and writing career, with her two sons Brian and Doug at her side, Betty Pratt-Johnson died peacefully at the age of 84 at the Shuswap Lake Hospital in Salmon Arm, British Columbia on October 21, 2014.

Betty Pratt-Johnson may have been a mystery about diving with others, but she was definitely a well-known dive writer who made her home in British Columbia, Canada.


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About Author

Kathy is the owner of Kirk Scuba Gear, a passionate Scuba Diver, Ocean Advocate and Managing Editor of The Scuba News Canada

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