July 10, 2019

SAIL FISH SCUBA
Four dive operations in the Upper Keys plan to celebrate PADI Women's Dive Day on July 20 with special trips and events.

SAIL FISH SCUBA Four dive operations in the Upper Keys plan to celebrate PADI Women's Dive Day on July 20 with special trips and events.

UPPER KEYS — Women go scuba diving every day, but the upcoming PADI Women’s Dive Day celebration makes a trip to the Florida Keys reef even more special for many.

“To me, it’s the camaraderie — a union of like-minded souls,” said Jen Kerr, owner of the Sail Fish Scuba in Key Largo, one of four Upper Keys dive operations hosting special events on July 20.

“We’re honoring all the women who have gotten into this ‘manly’ sport over the years,” Kerr said. “I embrace and commend all the women who make this their hobby, like I did. Now I’m the sole owner of Sail Fish Scuba and the sole owner of dive boat, Deeper.”

“We love to see women divers,” Suzi Simpson, manager at Key Largo’s Pirates Cove Watersports, said. “They should be celebrated. It can make going out on the water together more fun.”

“I’m living the dream,” Simpson said. “I quit the corporate life after and became a boat captain.”

The History of Diving Museum in Islamorada also features special presentations for the day.

PADI, the Professional Association of Diving Instructors, launched its first international Women’s Dive Day event in 2015.

“What started as a celebration of women in diving has quickly become the single largest day of diving in the world,” Kristin Valette-Wirth, chief marketing officer at PADI Worldwide, said.

Global events include underwater cleanups and a focus on staying healthy. In Grand Cayman, a hundred women will gather in a bid to break a record for “the longest female underwater human chain, an event that will raise funds and awareness for Breast Cancer Foundation and local conservation organizations,” according to PADI.

Keys activities taking place for PADI Women’s Dive Day:

• Sail Fish Scuba, at mile marker 103.1 in Key Largo, starts with a 6:30 p.m. July 18 educational course on a Heritage Awareness Diver Specialty, followed up with July 20 dives on two local shipwreck sites.

The $45 classroom course is open to divers and non-divers. Kerr will lead the July 20 dive trip, discounted to $100 for Women’s Dive Day. Tanks, weights and dive photos are included in the package.

Snorkelers can take part for $65. The trip is limited to 18 divers and snorkelers. “We’re a boutique operation and we like to give people plenty of room,” Kerr said. Call 305-453-3446.

• Pirates Cove Watersports, at Key Largo Bay Marriott Beach Resort, mile marker 103.8, offers a discount for participating women on morning and afternoon dives. “Molasses Reef is always a favorite,” Simpson said.

After the day’s last dive, the shop hosts a cookout with giveaways and a benefit drawing. Call 305-453-9881.

• Silent World Dive Center, 51 Garden Cove Drive on Key Largo, offers a 20 percent discount for women divers. A barbecue is planned following the afternoon trip. Call 305-451-3252.

• Florida Keys Dive Center, mile marker 90.4 in Tavernier, invites women to its Discover Scuba Diving, with a morning classroom session followed by a two-tank afternoon trip. Call 305-852-4599.

• History of Diving Museum, mile marker 82.9 in Islamorada, has plans for “a fun day celebrating female divers!”

At 10 a.m. July 20, is a presentation on “Making of the Guerrero Documentary” by director and journalist Karuna Eberl. The museum’s featured exhibit is “Diving with a Purpose.” The event and entry is $15 per person, and free to museum members and divers in some participating Women’s Dive Day events. Call 305-664-9737.

kwadlow@keysnews.com