A SCUBA divers’ feminine planet “OCEANA”
By Tracy Statt

“When women dive, they bring special talents to a special environment, thereby enriching both themselves and their setting. Women have always been known for social graces, gentle spirit, and the gift for civilising any situation. It’s wonderful that we have brought our special attributes to enrich the world of diving.”
-“When Women Dive” by Erin O’Neill & Ella Morgan

 

Think of a planet  heralded as the “birthplace of life”… filled with multitudes of organisms… in fact considered a living organism itself… A planet which abounds with a spectacular display of moving colours… stripes… polka dots… glittering sequins… gentle sounds… and a medium which caresses as it waves to and fro…

Our planet is 72% water…. “Earth”? I wonder? Hmmm let’s rather say, “Welcome to the planet “Oceana… a SCUBA divers paradise!”

Many women are drawn to the underwater environment. It is a gentle, soft, peaceful environment, where beauty abounds… We can access a great deal of the underwater environment, by snorkeling. Taking a deep breath on the surface, and swimming down for short periods, before having to re-surface for another breath. But by utilizing SCUBA (Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus), we can take air down with us, and relax for a prolonged period of time, to enjoy reefs, wrecks, volcanic rock formations, and aquatic life at leisure. By becoming neutrally buoyant underwater, it is the equivalent of floating in mid-air.

For the more naturally adventurous woman, the training is approached with great zeal and enthusiasm… but some women do find the idea of donning high-tech equipment, breathing off of a pressurized cylinder with 33 feet (10m) of water above them a little daunting. Thanks to the great underwater legend of Jacques Cousteau, who invented the commercially viable SCUBA equipment system, and those who have followed, the gear we use today, is lighter, less complex, and made in ladies sizes and configurations.

Proper training is a MUST. During the training sessions, a good diving instructor will assess each pupil, and determine how best to equip, train and advise to make diving a pleasurable experience.

I have observed over 25 years of diving instruction, that on the whole, women do tend to prefer warmer water, safety guaranteed, and something pretty to look at on a dive. Yet, there are those who will willing take on a zero visibility, search and recovery training course, to locate and reconstruct a disassembled bicycle in pieces, rebuild it with zest, in the dark, and float it to the surface in one piece, with great pride.

Many of us combine our love for the aquatic environment with our careers…..dive-masters and instructors, writers, photographers, biologists, teachers, travel-consultants, doctors, nurses, paramedics, etc…. As time goes by, many more women are diving for the sheer pleasure of the sport.

Diving has provided “dive-girl”, with an opportunity to share an adventure with her friends, her partner, her children etc. Many women divers who never considered themselves physically gifted, are thrilled to discover that they have a natural  grace and ability in water. On the whole, we have greater balance underwater, and due to our smaller muscle groups, better air consumption, than men.

There are those, who do believe that women are at greater risk on SCUBA, due to naturally higher body fat percentages, hormone cycles etc. I was driven to explore these issues several years ago, working with the input from a hyperbaric specialist doctor. As a result of my investigations, I discovered that there were several issues surrounding women and diving which needed to be addressed. For example Diving and pregnancy… breastfeeding… contraception…. Eating disorders etc… As a result a world first was born…I registered a Specialty diving course for “Women Divers” with NAUI and SSI diving agencies. I hope through these efforts, to keep women well informed about issues relating to their health and diving, and in time, hope to convince diving instructors to be better informed and less shy to discuss these issues.

With proficient, well informed training, and good understanding of your own unique interpretation and physical differences, there should be no end to your diving enjoyment.

Fortunately, women are generally not ego-driven, in this environment. I have found however, that some women become very dependant on their male buddies, and forget how to work with their SCUBA equipment over time. I encourage these women to resist the gentlemanly assistance, and stay actively involved with rigging up, and even maintaining gear. You can certainly accept the kind assistance when it comes to carrying gear…or getting that wetsuit off… just strive to be the most competent diver that you can be. Keep up to date, safely broaden your diving experience by take specialty courses, and above all else, take charge of your own diving enjoyment.

It is my passionate dream to see Groups of women planning and going off on “Gals” diving excursions. Be sure to write and tell me all about it when you do… tracy@adventureschool.co.za or find me on facebook or join our facebook group… Women who SCUBA dive.