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     L I N K S

 

 

 
   

2004 Aquawoman Dive

 
 

By Janice Raber

 

 

 

 

 

Crewmember and search and recovery expert, Dave, gets his reward from Kaz, whose computer he rescued.

Photo/Jan Raber

 

  Ancient mariners gazed at the ocean for hours during tedious long journeys, fantasizing visions of the things that they longed to see. The mythical mermaids, creatures believed to be half women, half fish, were a sailor’s dream, beckoning these mortal men to the sea with their beautiful long tresses and their siren’s song. They were a mystical vision, yet never proven to be real. Modern day sailors may still dream of seeing a woman swimming in the open sea and if they look in the right place at the right time of year, they have a good chance of seeing one. However, she will not be wearing scallop shells, nor flip the fish tail depicted in your typical artist’s rendition of a mermaid. Most likely what they will be seeing is an Aquawoman. She will be wearing a lot more than shells, and in actuality doesn’t resemble the mythical mermaid at all, when garbed in several layers of scuba gear. But she is 100 percent woman; she is today’s modern mermaid with legs, feet and manicured toes. Sixteen of these lovely ladies boarded The Eagle’s Nest berthed in Point Lookout (at the ungodly hour of 5:30 a.m.) and dutifully loaded gear on the boat by 6:00 so they would be ready to absorb every precious, insightful and informative word of Captain Howard Klein’s infamous briefing. Perky, cheerful gals like Kerry helped out those of us who were more bleary-eyed. Calm and serene morning people like Susan soothed the more discombobulated ones who were unprepared for the slippery early morning dew that caused them to board the boat in a manner slightly less than graceful. (By the way, how are your bruises?) Capt. Howard and his crew were in excellent form and did their best familiarizing everyone with where to stow what, taking note and making special provision for all the food that was toted along. Crews know they will eat well when the Aquawomen are on board.

The Aquawomen gather aboard The Eagle’s Nest for their 2004 wreck dive. Author is in front row, third from right.
Photo/Mr. Lucky

The Aquawomen are not a dive club or even a group that has meetings and such, it is simply a tradition of an all-female day of diving that was started in the 1980’s by The Long Island Divers Association. Today Joan, an Aquawoman returnee many times over, was actually sporting a T-shirt from the very first venture, or perhaps one could say the "maiden voyage" of the Aquawomen. Back in the 80’s, the event was originally organized with the idea of encouraging women to try wreck diving, offering the opportunity for newer divers to learn from more experienced divers in a relaxed atmosphere. It was an attempt to dispel the "he-man" image that ntimidated some girls in those years. Well, to paraphrase a cliche, we’ve swam a long way, baby. Today, women are regularly found on weekly wreckdiving charters and many are working as crewmembers. For whatever reasons it was started, the Aquwomwen tradition has continued just for the fun of it and this year drew participants from New Jersey, Manhattan, and Long Island as far east as the Hamptons. Their expertise and life experiences were diverse, ranging from college students to grandmothers; from bar tenders to members of the bar, all of which made for varied and lively topics of discussion. Stories were told of exciting dives and exotic trips, dive tips were shared from accomplished instructors like Randi, tasty recipes were exchanged from gourmet aficionados like Freddie. We compared dive equipment, and had some good ideas for solving the world’s problems. We shared giggles and guffaws.Darlene impressed Capt. Howard with her toenails painted like dive flags and he offered an imaginative suggestion as to how he might help her display them to passing boats. Crewmember Dave became the hero of the day, earning him a big kiss from Kaz after he wowed us all with his astonishing search and recovery achievement. His skills succeeded in retrieving her computer that had fallen overboard when we got rocked and rolled by a big wave. Our destination for this annual trek was to be the wreck of the USS San Diego, 12 miles off shore. This World War I armored cruiser sunk in 1918 in 110 feet of water, making it a perfect wreck for varied diving abilities since her hull can be reached at 65 feet. Mother Nature doesn’t always see fit to provide the sea conditions that best suit diving on this offshore wreck, therefore Captain Howard suggested we reroute to the Eureka, also at 110 feet, in a calmer section of the ocean. While the Eureka doesn’t have the same dramatic history attached to it, the choice was a good one. The wreck is thought to be a clam dredge, broken up, but still easy to navigate, and known for yielding bottles and lobsters. Unfortunately, after only one dive, with the wind increasing and the seas building in excess of five-foot swells, the group voted to return to the safety of the dock for our barbecue where the sun finally made its appearance. Captain Howard sought to soothe our disappointment with his outstanding mixture of Bloody Marys. His special concoction along with Steve’s Marguerita Magic, helped to wash down the chips and dips, salsa, chili, salads, crab cakes, ribs, London broil, pork chops to-die-for, and fancy desserts. Did I miss anything? Seems no one was diet-conscious today. An afternoon of camaraderie ended with exchanged phone numbers, e-mail addresses and plans for future dives. Everybody went home with lots of smiles and a special gift memento donated by "CURVES." All in all, Aquwomen 2004 was a memorable, resounding success! Next year we hope to see more of you modern mermaids out there with us. You missed a one-of-a-kind, fantastic day! Visit The Long Island Divers Association website at http://www.lidaonline.com for future events.