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Girls Just Want To Have Fun by Janice Raber

Aquawoman Dive 2003


Mate Eddie Marzocci took a break from the girls long enough to dive this new friend.

Photo / Liz Milby


When first we saw this shot, we thought diver Mia Landin was laughing. Actually, she was screaming as the 56-degree water was being purged from her wet suit.

Photo / Liz Milby


Is this news?  Not to the girls who scuba dive on Long Island, and especially those who participate in the annual Aqua-Women Dive sponsored by the Long Island Divers Association (LIDA).  Every August, as sure as the sparrows returning to Capistrano, the Aqua-Women assemble together for their descent to the depths of a local shipwreck in the ocean waters around Long Island. 


The tradition was started in 1980 when female wreck divers were scarce. Back then the sport seemed to be more attractive to the “macho-male,” and was somewhat intimidating for those women who occasionally ventured out on a dive charter boat.    Edith Hoffman, then the Vice President of LIDA, spearheaded the idea and encourage experienced women to exchange ideas and mentor newcomers to the sport.  The event was a resounding success and has continued for over two decades.  While Northeast diving is equipment-intensive, these days the gear is more sophisticated, much of it designed specifically for women and therefore more women are enjoying diving.


Last August, the Aquawoman Dive 2003 took place aboard Freeport's Sea Hawk Dive Charter Boat. L-R: Lynne Maher, Kaz Sanchez, Darlene Reese, Mia Landin, Eddie Marzocchi (mate), Kathy, Cascarella, Capt. Frank Persico and Lou Lyngstuyl (mate)

Photo / Liz Milby


Five out of six smiles is not too shabby!  L-R: Kaz Sanchez, Kathy Cascarella, Lynne Maher, Darlene Reese, Mia Landin and Liz Milby

Photo / Eddie Marzocchi


Cheerfully, though somewhat bleary-eyed, sans hair blowers and make-up, but toting coolers full of food and drink, the 2003 Aqua-Women divers gathered at Vidas Boat Yard in Freeport to board the Sea Hawk Dive Charter Boat.   Due to the early morning hour some were a bit blearier than others, according to veteran diver Lynn Maher were, but Captains John Lachenmeyer and Frank Persico warmly welcomed them.   The crew Eddie Marzocchi and Lou Lyngstuyl were so thrilled to have such a bevy of lovely ladies on this trip that they helped with carrying the compressed air tanks and loaded the heavy gear on board, a courtesy not normally accorded to the male divers.  I am sure they peeked in the coolers too, in anticipation of the great chow that always accompanies a boat full of women.


Jokes and laughter set the tone for the day as they got underway to the shipwreck known as Eureka.  The wreck, believed to be a tug boat though some say it is a clam dredge, is located 16 miles south of Jones Inlet and lies in 110 feet of water.  Though it has never exactly been proven to be the Eureka, that is how it is generally known.  To some it is also know as the Broadcast.  Her boilers rise eight to ten feet off the bottom and her prop shaft is easily recognizable.  She is popular for the abundance of bottles that have been recovered around her.   Due to the weather the trip out to her was a bit lumpy.  Those who were not lucky enough to be able sleep the time away were unfortunately induced to “feed the fishes.”


However, upon arriving at their destination the Sea Hawk crew anchored and expertly tied into the wreck.  Stomachs apparently stabilized by this time deterring no one from diving.  They enjoyed a good 20’ of visibility on the bottom reporting that there were tons of sea bass and quite a few lobsters, which mate Ed proved to be true when he surfaced bearing a healthy sized clawed specimen.


Aqua-Women are a diverse group and come from varied backgrounds.  Over the years many have traveled from New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut just to participate.  This year’s versatile gaggle of girls was no exception and Lynne Maher has been kind enough to share with us the distinct awards that were bestowed on several for the special memories that they created.


Darlene, a speech pathologist, was commended for the quickest transition from Mal de Mer to Margaritas.


Kathy was congratulated for giving Captain Frank an experience he’ll not soon forget!  (I think it had something to do with sunblock.)


Mia, a fundraiser for Mt. Sinai hospital was dubbed “Strongest Diver” for making it safely back to the boat with a flooded drysuit.  After a laborious crawl up the    ladder, she was literally held halfway upside down to pour the 58-degree water out of her suit.


Liz is a new diver, a mother of three, and runs her own web business.  She is so into diving now that she is going back to college for Marine Biology.  Today Eddie complimented her for the most innovative method of washing his lobster. (Was it something she learned in Marine Bio??)



Kaz, works in banking and spent a year being a dive master in Austrailia.  She   was named “Bravest Diver” for jumping in the water (this was her first New York dive,) wearing a 3 mm suit and chicken vest.  Brrrrrrr-through blue quivering lips she said this is definitely NOT Australia!


And SOMEONE was accused of getting the entire crew hooked on Mojitos!


Wearing a smile that just wouldn’t quit, Mate Eddie summed up the day with, “This is the best group we’ve ever had!”  Back at the dock while they finished off the afternoon with a bar-b-que, Captain John sipped on his Mojito and was heard to say, “I think WE should be paying YOU guys for this trip!”


Aqua-Women Dive days are not like any other dive trip as any crew member will tell you and occasionally a few men are allowed along to fill out the spots on the charter.  (By the way, there is usually a long waiting list for these spots.)  For example, on last year’s trip two girls from Westchester (the two Pat’s) brought along nail polish and a razor and treated Gus Bricker, President of the Long Island Divers Association to a special beauty make-over.  By the time he got back to shore he sported brightly polished toenails, shaved legs and had enjoyed a relaxing massage.


One year we had a stow-away and were already twelve miles off shore before anyone knew he was on board.  Among the fifteen women on the boat there was much discussion as to what kind of gage we should use to decide if he was a “keeper.”  I do believe his girlfriend said it took a week before the smile left his face.


Every dive day is fun, but there is a unique energy that sparks through the air when a boat is full of Aqua-Women.  Stories are told.  Dive techniques are shared.  Bonds are formed.  The camaraderie is great!  Girls, remember this next year.  It is always in August so get your reservation in early.  Have some fun!  Check with the Long Island Divers Association at www.lidaonline.com