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
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
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
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