Women Underwater Available Now!

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Our first shipment of books just arrived and are now available for order. This first batch of 40 will be signed by both authors! We can’t always get together for signing, so these will be special! We met on the side of the road and signed them in the back of my 1996 Volvo! Book Signing0246

We’ve built on the work of others and want to recognize some of the great people that helped make Women Underwater possible.

In 1979, Susan Bangasser and Jeanne Bear Sleeper published the first book to specifically reach women divers. In 1992, Ella Jean Morgan and Erin O’Neill published When Women Dive. They were way ahead of their time. All inaugural inductees into the Women Divers Hall of Fame, they were true pioneers in our industry. Co-author Reneé Power and I are proud to  build on the foundation of these remarkable women.

In the late 1990s, my dear friend Patty Mortara and I were lamenting the lack of resources for and connections between the very few female technical divers around the world. With Velora Peacock, we started an organization called Cardea 2000, in the hopes that we could better connect women tec divers around the world by the turn of the century. Patty and I started a magazine called Women Underwater in order to further that cause. Edited and printed in small numbers the quarterly was mailed out around the world until we ran out of money to do it. We shared stories about expeditions, gear and  resources with our growing community of women technical divers. I knew one day I would dust off the concept and this book is very much the result of that desire.

WOMENcoverReneé and I would like to thank the many people, organizations and manufacturers who assisted this project with loans and gifts of equipment, donation of charters and volunteer support. Specifically, we would like to thank Dr. Maida Taylor for incredible support and research, and Santi Diving, who provided Reneé with a drysuit when she really needed it and who continue to support my work generously. We would also like to thank: Amigos Dive Center, Aqualung, Ken Charlesworth, Cobalt Coast Dive Resort, DiveRite, DiveSangha, Divetech and InDepth Watersports in Grand Cayman, Halcyon, Bob and Sylvia Ledbetter, Light & Motion, Peter Skop Industries (PSI), Rick’s Dive ‘N Travel, SCUBA-Blog.com, Seminole SCUBA, and Suunto.

This book was carefully proofed and edited by Kristine Rae Olmsted. It is an enormous task and we truly appreciate her talent, support and guidance in bringing this to fruition.

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Fitting Gloves for Women

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There is no arguing that women’s hands are smaller than men’s, yet there are few underwater gloves that have been designed for a woman’s hand. When you choose a pair of gloves of any thickness, ensure they are snug. The gaps between the glove’s fingers should nestle right down into the web between your own fingers. When they are pushed down, you want the fingertips to hit the very top of each finger pocket. In the case of three-finger mitts, it is critical that the index finger touches the top of the finger pocket. If you have a little extra glove hanging over the top of your finger, it will rob you of your dexterity.

If you are selecting a dry glove system, the same fit tips are true. Dry gloves are a two-part system. The inner glove functions as insulation and the outer glove serves as waterproofing. When attached to a dry suit, the diver generally leaves the thumb loop from their undergarment in the wrist seal of the dry suit to allow some air transfer between the glove and the suit while still maintaining most of the seal in case of a flood. When the outer glove is donned on the surface, it is done so leaving some air in the glove. As you descend, the outer glove compresses somewhat and improves dexterity as it becomes more form fitting. The thumb loop from your undergarment offers just enough space to allow more air from the suit to enter the glove as you descend, equalizing it along the way. On ascent, the reverse takes place. The extra gas in the glove will travel back into your suit without you even noticing it. If you fail to leave something in the wrist seal for air transfer, then you will reach about 30 feet or 10 meters and find the gloves to be too tight, preventing further descent.

Form fitting gloves will not only keep you warm but also make diving easier when you can easily operate all your clips and buckles without assistance.

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Thermal Protection Under the Ice

By | Rebreather Diving, Sedna Expedition, Sidemount Diving, Underwater Photo and Video, Women Underwater | No Comments
The Santi Ladies First Suit


lf_drysuitReliable drysuits are critical for survival in cold water. Without proper exposure protection, one could expect to survive for less than 45 minutes in water near freezing. In less than 15 minutes, unconsciousness would be likely.


Santi Diving has outfitted the Sedna team with the first drysuits ever designed specifically for women. These “Ladies First” suits have many special features. The crotch has been recut and reinforcement for better leg motion and comfort. But beyond custom tailoring the suit offers many unique features. It has been redesigned from their unisex line with a right shoulder to left hip zipper. This permits better placement of the left shoulder dump, especially in small women. The zipper is a TIZIP Masterseal design that is flexible and therefore comfortable. The ripstop nylon fabric also allows for stretch and easy movement. As with all Santi suits, they have not cut any of the features made for serious divers. Larger gusseted leg pockets are easy to reach and the right pocket has an extra zipped small pocket for quick access items.


The Santi Ladies First drysuit is produced from lightweight Ripstop nylon fabric especially designed for Santi to achieve the best possible stretch. It is light and soft but at the same time very durable and flexible, which is exactly what any diver needs. The cold water hood is made with supple stretchy neoprene. Recognizing that women’s head to neck ratio is great than a man’s, they added an expansion zipper in the back of the hood. Now it can be easily donned without tearing hair and then zipped for perfect fit.


lf_undersuitOur exposure protection is a full package. Each woman will wear a custom engineered and fitted undersuit made of Thinsulate. The garment also has a net layer, which makes the undersuit even more durable and practically indestructible. The lining is made of soft 190 gram micropolar insulation and the outside layer is constructed of polyamide additionally reinforced with polyester fabric in the most vulnerable areas. A layer of Merino wool next to the skin will add to comfort and warmth.

In between the Merino and the undersuit, swimmers will wear an electrically heated vest which covers the torso and is connected to electrically heated dry gloves. Cinematographers who are likely to experience longer exposure times will wear a heated full undersuit. Dry gloves dock to rings on the wrist to keep the heated gloves from getting wet and a double layer ice hood will keep heads warm. The only exposed flesh will be around the swimmers mouth.


HeatingPackageThe wiring for the heated undergarments is ported through the dry suit inflation valve, which has been replaced with a dual-purpose thermal valve. An E/O connector hanging from the chest plugs into a lithium ion battery pack provided by Halcyon for the project. These specially designed battery packs are intended to provide up to two hours warmth. Electric undergarments demand high-amperage and therefore high capacity lithium batteries are the best choice. The pack will be mounted on the diver’s harness.


The entire package should allow each woman to remain submerged in water that would be categorized as deathly cold. Close to icebergs and floes, we expect temperatures as low as 28°F/ -1.8°C. One tenth of a degree colder and the entire ocean would be solid!


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Staging in St. John’s, Newfoundland

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Today is arrival day. Expedition Leader Susan Eaton arrived in the wee hours of the morning after flight delays over Toronto. She is short some luggage, but we hope it will arrive shortly. Emily Dowding Smith arrived yesterday and got settled and this morning tested her new Santi suit in the Ocean Quest Adventures pool. Kylie from the Petty Harbour brought aquarium parts and stands that will hold our educational outreach tanks. She also brought a much needed seasickness care package for Ruby. She’ll be relieved to have that as a backup. We’ll have a lot of organizing today as we prepare to fly to Nain, Labrador on Friday.

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By | All Posts, Bell Island, Newfoundland, Rebreather Diving, Sedna Expedition, Sidemount Diving, Underwater Photo and Video, Women Underwater | No Comments

RosecastleJelly5066lI was diving on the wreck of the Rosecastle this morning with Cas Dobbin and used my new Santi heated gloves for the first time. It was glorious. I can’t imagine how I worked without them. We had an hour on the wreck which sites in 150 feet of water. The temperature is 1°C on the bottom and I was comfortable for the duration of the dive.

The under gloves are great insulators even without the heat. They sit inside my Kubi dry gloves and mate to the suit with a metal ring that is sealed with an O-ring. A small wire runs from the chest area where it connects with the thermo-valve on the suit. The wire divides and runs down the arms inside the undergarment. The wiring snaps into the connector on the back of insulator glove. The Halcyon battery pack that powers the gloves and other heating accessories can be easily worn on the hip like a primary light pack or in my case across the back of my sidemount rig. It connects externally to the thermo-valve with an E/O connector.

The addition of heated gloves makes operating my camera so much easier. Normally my fingers stop working at some point on a cold dive.


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Ladies First for Sedna

By | All Posts, Cave Diving, Rebreather Diving, Sedna Expedition, Women Underwater | No Comments

SantiLadiesFirstThe mailman just arrived with my box of goodies for the Sedna Expedition in the Arctic. The Ladies First suit totally exceeded my expectations. I was so excited I couldn’t even wait for my husband to get home to take a photo! I’ll prepare some videos and pics to show you how the heating system works, but if you are thinking of getting a new suit, this is it! I’ll get it wet tomorrow!!




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Women Underwater Cover Shoot

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Surface0310lSanti and Halcyon Support the Photo Shoot for Women Underwater

I spent two days shooting photos for the cover of my new book, co-authored with Renee Power, my most excellent model! Ken Charlesworth from Halcyon joined us for a day of shooting at Ginnie Springs while Renee enjoyed her new custom dry suit from Santi. The Women’s First line is a brand new product series from Santi designed to specifically meet the needs of women recreational and technical divers.