Okanagan divers carve pumpkins below the surface

Members of the Okanagan Diving Club submerged in the waters of Otter Bay, Vernon, on Saturday

More than a dozen members of the Okanagan Diving Club got together for some pre-Halloween pumpkin carving, but they did so in a place that only a group of passionate divers would consider: underwater.

The Okanagan Diving Club held its 38th annual underwater pumpkin carving event on Saturday afternoon in the shallows of Otter Bay in Vernon.

The event, co-hosted by Innerspace Water Sports, required participants to carve a pumpkin with a diving tool only while fully submerged in the water, with a trophy going to the best sub-aquatic jack-o’-lantern as picked by the judges.

“It’s definitely challenging,” said Brooke Astells as she attempted to warm up despite a frigid wind, minutes after emerging from the water with her pumpkin freshly carved. “I think the smartest thing to do is cut holes in it so that it fills with water and sinks.”

Astells has been diving for six years and was one of the event’s organizers. She’s been diving for six years and first learned how to dive tropically in Australia, but treats diving in Canada in October as a rite of passage.

“It’s that much more rewarding when you do it (while) bearing the cold,” she said.

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“This time of year in Canada we usually dive in dry suits … today mine sprung a leak so it was filled with water, but I just kind of used it like a wet suit.”

Despite the cold – and the awkward challenge of trying to keep a buoyant pumpkin submerged while carving it – Astells found the experience rather tranquil.

“Once you’re down there it’s pretty relaxing, and if you can get a good grip on it it’s just like carving a pumpkin above water really.”

The event is mainly about having fun and working on a decidedly unique diving skill, but it’s also about cleaning up the bay.

“The main thing is just to have some fun carving a pumpkin underwater, but there’s also an environmental component where we’ll go in and we’ll pull out stuff to use in our display,” explained Brad Houghton, president of the Okanagan Diving Club.

“There’s always lots of trash in the local lakes so any chance we can get to be eco-friendly and pull out some of that stuff when we find is great, and then we can use the trash to decorate the pumpkins.”

Not knowing what decorations they’ll have to work with until they find them means the parcicipants have to get creative when it comes time to jazz up their jack-o’-lanterns for the judges.

“I found quite a few golf balls, a beer bottle and a half-decayed salmon,” said Houghton. Despite the odd assortment of items, he was confident his carve would put him over the top.

“I have a good feeling about it.”


Brendan Shykora
Reporter, Vernon Morning Star
Email me at Brendan.Shykora@vernonmorningstar.com
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