October 20, 2020

Women’s Dive Day

women's dive day, big 5 dive
logo designed by Jacque Edwards

Part of the impetus of Big 5 Dive was participating in PADI Women’s Dive Day, which is July 16th. Originally cooked up by three of the fourteen participating divers, Stephanie Gandulla, a maritime archaeologist, Jacque Edwards, a graphic designer, and Meaghan Gass, a Great Lakes Educator, the three dive buddies thought “BigFiveDive would be the perfect feat to attempt,” according to Stephanie.

So who is PADI and why do we care what she thinks of anything? PADI stands for Professional Association of Diving Instructors, and certifies divers around the world from the basic Open Water class to Diver Propulsion Vehicle Diver. So you know, all levels.

2015 was the first year of Women’s Dive Day, which saw events hosted across the globe. From the sounds of it, 2016 will be an even better turn out with 625 events in over 75 countries. Not too shabby.

imgresBut why is a Women’s Dive Day even necessary? There is a wide gender gap amongst divers.PADI’s own statistics show that in 2015, 36.1% of PADI certified divers were women. Five years before that, it was 33.7%. Not much of a change.

Having a Women’s Dive Day event seems to be a way that the organization can reach out and make diving less intimidating for women. For instance, on July 16th, in Hurghada, Red Sea, Egypt, women can embark on a female-only boat trip to dive two extraordinary sites in the Red Sea, according to PADI.

But our event, Big Five Dive is not for the  faint of heart–can I please just mention 5 dives, 5 Great Lakes, 24 hours?

Most of the other events are inclusive, with opportunities for non-divers to explore the world of diving. Not that this group isn’t welcoming or inclusive, but these women are, pardon my French, bad-asses.

BigFiveDive_Map_1, women's dive day
Our map and dive schedule, also by Jacque Edwards

Some of the things that make our event challenging? Well, sleep-deprivation alone. Our first dive will take place in the frigid waters of Lake Superior at midnight. And then there is the other 23 hours.

In order to dive in these lakes, we will all be wearing 5-7 mm thick wetsuits or drysuits, which are a terror to get in and out of. All of the dives are shore dives, which is far more exhausting than boat dives because the diver has to haul all of the equipment to the water (two of the sites seem to have a bit of a hike), and then wade out to a snorkel-able/dive-able depth.

Air cylinders weight about 35 pounds. Plus we’ll be in neoprene. Plus the BCD (fancy floaty vests that attach to the air cylinders). Then getting out of the water, you haul all of that stuff, but now it is soaking wet and the water makes everything heavier.

champagne on women's dive day, big5diveWow. The event in Kamuela, Hawaii sounds so much better all of a sudden: “Enjoy a deluxe dive boat experience complete with local foods, sparkling beverages and a two-tank morning dive.”

Ah yes, we could all tool around without wetsuits, and then lounge about on a catamaran drinking champagne. I think we chose to film the wrong event.

…Nah.

big5dive, women's dive day prep
Taken by my own self on my own phone, thanks to the lenzO by valstech. Diving at Rockport State Recreation Area in Alpena, MI with Kyle.

We’ll be exhausted. But the footage is going to be amazing, and hopefully Big Five Dive the movie will help highlight how these badass women divers make the world a better place.

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