By Jill Heinerth
Videographer & Photographer, 2014-2016 Sedna Epic Expedition
Reliable drysuits are critical for survival in cold water. Without proper exposure protection, a person immersed in near freezing water would be lucky to last for 45 minutes. That said, unconsciousness would likely occur in less than 15 minutes.
SANTI Diving has outfitted Team Sedna’s ten women with its first-ever line of drysuits designed specifically for women. These “Ladies First”suits have many special features. The crotch has been recut and reinforced for better leg motion and comfort. But beyond custom tailoring, the suit offers many unique features: It has been redesigned from SANTI’s unisex line with a right shoulder to left hip zipper, permitting better placement of the left shoulder water dump, especially for small-sized women. The zipper is a TIZIP Masterseal design that’s flexible and therefore comfortable to the wearer. The drysuit’s ripstop nylon fabric also allows for stretch and easy movement. Common to all SANTI drysuits, the Ladies First suit incorporates of the features made for serious divers. Larger gusseted leg pockets are easy to reach, and the right-leg pocket has an extra zipped small pocket, enabling the wearer to quickly access items.
The Ladies First drysuit is produced from a lightweight Ripstop nylon fabric—especially designed for SANTI—providing the best possible stretch. The fabric is light and soft, and it’s very durable and flexible, which is exactly what any diver needs. The 10-millimetre-thick cold-water hood is made with supple stretchy neoprene. Recognizing that a woman’s head to neck ratio is great than that of a man’s, SANTI added an expansion zipper in the back of the hood. The ladies hood can be easily donned without tearing the wearer’s hair, and then zipped shut for the perfect fit.
Team Sedna’s exposure protection is a multi-layer full package: Each woman will wear a custom-engineered and fitted undersuit made of Thinsulate. The garment is constructed with a net layer, making 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 which is reinforced with polyester fabric in the most vulnerable areas. A layer of Merino wool underwear next to the skin will add to comfort and warmth. In between the Merino wool layer 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-body 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 swimmers’ heads warm. The only exposed part of the body will be around the swimmers mouth.
The wiring for the heated undergarments is ported through a drysuit 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 which provided by Halcyon for the Sedna Expedition. These specially-designed battery packs are intended to provide warmth for up to two hours. Electric undergarments demand high-amperage; therefore, high capacity lithium batteries are the best choice. The Halcyon battery pack will be mounted on the diver’s harness.
The entire SANTI-Halcyon package should allow each woman to remain submerged in arctic watesr that would be categorized as deathly cold. Snorkelers and divers swimming close to icebergs and floes will experience temperatures as low as 28°F/ -1.8°C. If the water cooled to one-tenth of a degree colder, the entire ocean would be frozen solid.
SANTI’s corporate logo, “extend your limits,” will assist Team Sedna with the challenges of snorkeling long distances in often ice-infested waters, as it travels in July, from Labrador to Baffin Island, and, across the gnarly waters of the Davis Strait.