Cayman dive legend Nancy Easterbrook has been inducted into the Women Divers Hall of Fame.
The accolade was given to the popular diver, environmentalist and conservationist at the Beneath the Sea Dive and Travel Show in New Jersey over the weekend of 23-25 March.
“We have been going up to the show for 17 years, we have a booth there, and as well as many other things going on, they will host the Hall of Fame ceremony, dinner and all kinds of different activities for the people being inducted this year,” said Ms Easterbrook.
“There are five of us; I am in great company. I was very humbled; I cried when I read some of the nomination letters which had been sent in. There were a lot of people who, however they did it, decided to nominate me and sent in all the information.”
When the news came in, Ms Easterbrook said, it made some of the past few months make a little more sense.
“I’d kept getting asked these strange questions like when I first started diving, which was 1973 in Mexico – I was wondering why people kept asking me little tidbits about my background but now I know what was going on.
“Out of the various letters the Hall of Fame had received, they constructed a biography which is now on their website,” said Ms Easterbrook, who said that it had been a busy year so far with spring trade shows.
The Women Divers Hall of Fame is a non-profit organisation which runs youth scholarship and outreach community programmes. There are around 150 members of the Hall of Fame who network and often work together on various issues related to the industry.
“It is quite a phenomenal networking opportunity. During the weekend, there is a general meeting and a casual get-to-know-you luncheon, different social things. They have their own booth, so that’s where talk goes on about different initiatives and so on.
“They also mentor a couple of marine careers groups; different people are signed to different youths to help guide them in different types of work environments, scholarships and education programmes. There is also a silent auction they host and we have donated a trip for people to come and dive with us at Cobalt Coast, with funds raised going towards those programmes,” explained Ms Easterbrook, who runs DiveTech on Grand Cayman with her husband and partner Jay.
In 2011, funds raised were around $30,000 for the Hall of Fame, she added.
The dive travel industry is not as male-dominated as other career paths, she said.
“I did not feel any particular barriers to my career in the industry and in the travel industry, which is part of diving, as a generality, I meet a lot more women travel agents and tour operators than I do men.
“Our staff in the diving industry here has probably been about 40 per cent women so it’s not quite, but fairly, equal. Part of that is that we do not get as many female candidates for local scholarships or continuing education in diving, internships and summer work programmes. Boys seem to sign up a little more than the girls do,” she said.
Ms Easterbrook was the driving force behind bringing the USS Kittiwake to Cayman. It was scuttled off the western end of Seven Mile in 2011 and has become one of the most popular dive sites in the Cayman Islands.
She is also the founder of Inner Space, now celebrating its ninth year, which brings together Closed Circuit Rebreather divers from around the world to share knowledge and friendship.
The 2012 Women Divers Hall of Fame honourees are Maurine Shimlock, Robin Parish, Nancy Easterbrook, Nancy Guarascio and the late Amelia Behrens.