Andaman – scuba diving at 40 feet below on sea bed!

I had never done Scuba diving before, ever. There was definitely a fear….but at the same time…there was a strange thrill. And the question kept coming back…….”Can I do this?”

The moment I landed in Havelock jetty, I was surrounded by cabbies. I randomly chose one and while riding with him to my hotel…..he popped the question…..”Sir….Would you want to try..Scuba Diving?”

I was thinking what to say to him, when his car took a sharp left turn from the road and headed through a very narrow lane, ahead. In few minutes, I could see the ocean and then after a couple of turns, he parked right in front of the scuba diving institute…..!

And that is how I landed up at the scuba centre.

I got immense confidence, looking at the fact that, these guys (Ocean Tribe) were also a dive school. I was sure, the training would be awesome.

Quickly…..the dive instructor, took me through the conditions….when you can’t dive :

1) No alcohol since last 12 hours before dive
2) Any diabetes related complication
3) Any heart transplants
4) Any major operations
5) No flying out within next 12 hours of dive
6) Anyone having any kind of ear infection
7) No cold and cough scenario

I signed on the declaration and waiver of liability to them and fixed up the 9 AM diving slot for the next day.
Ocean Tribe – They know their business!
Can you spot the ocean behind?
The front view from the dive school….!!
All decked up in the scuba suit….They give you a place to dump your things ( no valuables) and then you need to change into the scuba suit….!!
They take you to the shore where you are trained in groups. The training mainly consists of being able to breath under water. They put a mask which blocks your nose. You can only breathe through your mouth. I realised that, it was all about cheating your brain and telling it to breath through the mouth.
Trust me, lowering your head inside the water and trying to breathe through the mouth, was immensely difficult. Slowly, slowly….I was able to breathe through the mouth, under water.
We were a group of three and we literally said to each other …”Dar Ke Aagey Jeet Hain”………!!
The oxygen cylinder was immensely heavy above water, but had no weight under water…
I decided to pose for the camera before going for the ocean dive 🙂
On the speedboat …to the dive site…!!
We reached another boat, parked in the middle of nowhere. There were a couple of divers around. Someone came and tied weights to my waist ( pretty scary) and then he made me wear the mask and then the flippers.
After fitting the oxygen cylinder to my back and strapping the harnesses, they threw me into the ocean…heads down!! 🙂
The moment I landed on the ocean, I was immediately attended by one of the divers. He did a quick check on the :signs” for OK/Problem/Going Up….and then asked me to start breathing normally through the nozzle in my mouth!
And then……he dragged me under water….!
I kept telling myself….”All Is Well”! 🙂

As I went down, the ear pressure started building up ….after a certain point of time….I felt tremendous pain in my ears and then I applied a technique…we were taught…it helped reduce the ear pressure..!! I waded on!
The diver took me down slowly…..and then….I could see live corals / fishes and other species, living under water.
I can’t explain the feeling within me… eyes welled up….and I thanked God …for letting me come over and enjoy this amazing beauty!!
A photographer cum diver promptly appeared and looking at him I started posing! 🙂
Another question appeared in my mind …..”Would I find Nemo?”
The swarm of fishes were wading through the corals….and i was wading through all of them….!!
And then my flippers touched the sea bed and I felt euphoric….I knew they would take me to 40 feet under water…!!
Yes, I made it 🙂
And then I found NEMO….in fact I found two 🙂 🙂
OK Sign for both hands…!
Close Up of Nemo 1 and Nemo 2 🙂
Few more poses!
Beautiful corals underwater!
Look at my fingers… would recognise it’s me 🙂
Close Up of Swarm of fishes!…
Fishes were swimming across me….
That’s me behind the fishes!….:)
Almost 40 minutes had passed under water! Suddenly, a small amount of sea water entered my mouth. I might have gripped the nozzle lightly with my lips. Instruction was…to grip the nozzle with lips in an O formation to prevent water from coming in…..!! My lips might have loosened up a bit and some sea water entered….!!
We were taught a technique to squeeze out any water which enters the mouth..through a button on the nozzle. I did that and instead of the water going out, more sea water came in and filled my mouth and beyond…!
I had applied the technique wrongly….my lips were still not tight across the nozzle!!
Due to excess water now in my mouth…I struggled to breathe!
My body wriggled up and down and I started hinting my guide the “Problem” sign!!

Now imagine this….I am trying to breathe and I can’t as my nose is blocked and my mouth is full of sea water!!………And over and above this, to make things worse…I panicked and opened up the nozzle…..more water entered my mouth!! 😦

My guide slowly….(mind it …slowly..) pulled me up…..As I was going up for few minutes trying to calm myself down ….breathless….I was wondering how fast I could reach the ocean surface…! And then I could see the rays of sun….under water…!!
It felt like heaven…!!

After coming up, I coughed….and coughed…and then took in fresh air ……!! Yes, I was alive 🙂

My diver briefed me that they are trained not to pull out people very fast…as the pressure change under water…can augment heart attacks!!

The current was high and we had turned up a bit far away from the boat….my diver started swimming and dragging me towards the boat. I was still trying to come to terms that I had made it alive….and then….I had a feeling within me…..I was floating on turquoise blue waters of the ocean and how better life can be than this?

Conclusion :

1) It was my foolishness to try to experiment with that additional water in my mouth. I could have managed to continue with my dive. And while implementing techniques, I should have done them properly. Lips has to be in O form, around the nozzle…period!
2) Given a chance, I will dive again….( Now am having some experience under my belt 🙂 )
3) Always dive with people who know what they are doing! My diver was amazing and in no time he could sense that I was uncomfortable!
4) Preferably, dive through dive schools. They give you good training and they don’t rush you. They will only take you to the deep sea dive, post you are comfortable with the training in the shallow waters.
5) Deep sea diving requires some discipline and ensure you don’t drink or eat much the morning of the dive.
6) You will feel pukish…for some time….when you try to bite onto the nozzle….but it would be OK…provided you have eaten light that morning…!
7) Preferably dive in the morning sessions.
8) There is a first time for everything and ensure you go for a deep sea dive….soon!
9) Andamans is known for deep sea diving. I did it in Havelock! You can try….”OCEAN TRIBE” ….they are amazing and are highly recommended!
10) If you dive in andamans, you would do it at one fourth or one fifth of the cost, of diving, overseas.

The End!

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