Seven of us started our trip to Andaman Islands on 6th March 2014. Since the day we planned for our trip everyone of us were very curious for the day of our trip. For almost 5-6 months we were imagining how thrilling our deep dive going to be & we were sharing some amazing scuba pics from Google in our whatsapp group, you might have read about this in my previous blog.
Finally the day had arrived and we traveled to Andaman Islands on 6th March. We reached our stay, Anet (ANDAMAN and NICOBAR ENVIRONMENTAL TEAM) which is 28 kms from Port Blair. It’s a Eco friendly place for stay, which is primarily for Students & Researchers to stay & do their intern & researches.
On a 10 feet height wooden basis was our hut, 3 bed with mosquito net, a fan & lights; It was beautiful!
We refreshed and had lunch. Rice, Dhal, Cauliflower, Brinjal fry, Curd & Papad. As everyone was very hungry, we ate as if we haven’t had food for one full day!
Smita, a member of Anet informed us there will be a mangrove walk at 4.30 and asked us to be ready! But Leon, a dive master said that he’ll be taking us to pool for a training to prepare for Scuba 🙂 We were excited to go out for training in pool. Smita introduced Indhu, a dive master trainee who took us to match a perfect Fins, BCD (Buoyancy control device) and Masks. Our excitement hiked after trailing the BCDs.
Shaam drove the van & we headed to the pool at “The Sea Princess” resort which is 3-4 kms from Anet. We all geared up for our training with full of smiles on our faces. Hayat introduced herself that she along with Indhu & Shaam are going to train us. Indhu briefed about what is it going to be in another few mins & explained the various parts of the BCD.
- Regulator first stage
- Cylinder valve
- Shoulder straps
- Buoyancy compensator bladder
- Relief and bottom manual dump valve
- Regulator second stages
- Console (pressure gauge, depth gauge & compass)
- Dry-suit inflator hose
- BC inflator hose
- Oral inflation mouthpiece and manual dump valve
- Crotch strap
- Waist strap
After explaining the usage BCD, Indhu taught us few gestures to use under water, Are feeling Ok, Not Ok, Masks Ok/Not Ok, Reguator Ok/Not ok and so on…
A main tips she gave was not to laugh out when we are under water, as we might lose the mouth piece regulator We should smile only through eyes so there is less risk of losing your life saving regulator
As soon as she finished we got ready to enter the pool… We’d put on our BCDs and cleaned our masks, the worst part for cleaning Masks is you’ve to spit on the glasses and clean it with your fingers and dip it in water.. This is the traditional way of cleaning the mask which I’d learnt through a documentary before travelling! While Indhu was explaining about cleaning the mask, “kraaaak… kraaak… thu.. thu…” a disgusting sound Hayat started cleaning the Masks… I rushed out to pick a mask which I was going to use to spit on my own
Out of 7 of us only two of us know swimming, Rajesh & Venkat. Shaam took them to train & Hayat took Mohan, Karthik & Ram for training. Myself & Ranjith were trained by Indhu. This training covered there basic things
- How to get the regulator back in position if you lose it accidentally (probably laughing at a naughty actions of fish? )
- How to remove water from your mask while being under water (?!)
- Breath and remove water from breathing regulator
Soon after the training was over Shaam asked me what all did I learn, I thought for a while and said I forgot Then I could recall 2 of the 3 basics and later the 3rd one too! So the training is over and we all headed back to Anet.
Leon said that the underwater camera is not working and he don’t have a camera to take pics underwater! All of a sudden we all were so calm & were looked at one and other. Venkat requested him in american accent to get camera from any of his friends who conducts scuba and so on! But Leon still said firmly that he doesn’t have a camera and doesn’t know anyone who can lend him camera. After informing him that we’d paid 1K each for the photos already and we need to take photos within 5 mins he came back saying he managed to arrange a camera (?! ). Now happily we went to sleep!
The dive day!!!
We all woke up 6:30 in the morning (God! Though it’s full of excitements waking up at early morning during vacation pains a lot ) and got ready! Though bread, butter, jam, puha, rusks, cornflakes & tea were available for breakfast with heavy heart we’d very little & light breakfast We were asked to drink water too often before boarding boat and we did. Then each one of us took a Dramamine tablet to avoid sea sickness / motion sickness, Somehow this tablet didn’t workout for me .
Finally after 9’o clock we all started walking towards the beach nearby Anet which is about 1 km. Twepa lead us to the beach and on reaching she went on to water and rolled on the beach sand! She enjoyed it a lot!
Now we all boarded the boat and ready to start! Babu, captain of the boat that day! Like a generator the boat sounded and started from the shore and it’s not even 3-4 mins since we started, Luckily it’d stricked for Indhu that Shaam forgot to pick up the Masks from the van! Then the boat turned back to shore and Indhu collected the masks to our boat. We started a 40 minutes journey to the coral reef. I asked her how do you identify the place where we are going to dive & she witted ‘Do you see those two mountains? When they seem to be aligned together we’ll stop’ she said and added we’ve a GPS device too
Rohin, Arnav, Shaam, Indhu are going to take us to the dive! Finally the time has come to dive! The boat stopped after 35 mins of sailing. One by one we started to put on our diving suits and got ready to dive. Rohin demonstrated a dive with the positions to be seated before dive and how to come up after diving. Shyam took the underwater camera and entered the sea.
One by one started diving Mohan, Karthik, Venkat, Rajesh, Ranjith, Myself and Ram!
Get set go! 3…2..1 Zuffff!!!!
I’m into open water now! Wow…! What a wonderful moment of my life!! The water was moderate cold, somehow not afraid of being in open sea at all! After all this is the moment I was waiting for. Arnav made sure I’m comfortable with the Mask, BCD & I showed the ‘ok’ sign!
With full of excitement I’m ready to get into the sea. Arnav was controlling the inflator of my suit. Slowly we moved in… As I watched Gravity movie twice in theatre recently, I felt like an astronomer moving in the space. I could hear only the exhalation bubbles sound so far and the sound inside water blublublulaak (hehe.. Just trying to make you create the sound yourself).
The water was crystal clear… White sands… Ocean blue colour at long distances… A splendid scenery it was. As the air pressure in my suit reduced I was able to move in further. My mind was very calm, Enjoyed every millisecond there. Now I was able to see small sized corals and beautiful fishes. Every fishes came out of the coral and went back in, just like how you react when you hear a sound out of your house and you open the door to take a look and close the door.
Very colourful fishes were moving all the places… Now a group of fishes probably tiger fishes moved in same alignment from my right to left and from bottom to top which I use to see many times in Animal Planet channel. It was a great moment to witness that beautiful movements live.
We further moved on & now I was able to see my other friends who were enjoying the dive & fishes and the colourful corals. My tummy touched the sands and I’m almost lying in the floor, this guy Arnav took a oval shape stone kind of thing and showed a gesture for me to touch it. I slowly touched it and it was like touching a velvet blanket. Felt very excited
As soon as they dive water entered in Mohan, Karthik & Ram’s mouth! The worst part is you can’t do any monkey face expressions being with the regulator! They came up, spit the water & moved swam in again. When shyam began to take photos & videos, Karthik posed with ‘yo..yo.. sign’ for few seconds thinking it’s a photo, realized later it’s a video! While posing for the photo Karthik’s leg/fin was stuck under a coral, without moving his leg he posed for few seconds which was captured in the video Ronin showed some baloon fishes, sargent fishes to Mohan & Karthik. While others were enjoying their sights!
Until now I was moving just above the sands and witnessing the fishes near the coral. Now he took me above the coral and I was little scared on what would happen if my tummy touches the coral! As I’d never thought this scenario and was not informed that nothing would happen if coral touches our body, I was doing a left & right turns in my hands like turning a lorry steering; to move away from the corals. Arnav increased the air level and so I moved little above the corals.
Above a 12 feet height corals now I was floating and I could see a 20 inch mid sized fishes swimming in the cracks between this two 12 feet height corals. Felt like I’m watching Discovery channel. Very colourful fishes moved around. Vilot colour fishes, Star fish (reminded me of Steve Irwin’s death by a Stingray barb!), Parrot Fish and many other for which I don’t know the names. And there came a 20 inch fish which reminded me the fishes from Piranha movie, I thought it’s coming towards us, but suddenly it took a U turn and swum super fast & dropped it’s loo like rocket bombs for 25 meters
Felt little irritation in my forehead as my mask was pushing it tight, and water entered my mask to a little extent, filled up my nose and a little portion under my eyes. I didn’t want to go up to clear it as my time under water might be reduced. My throat had dried by now as I was breathing only through mouth (both inhale & exhale) tried to swallow little saliva but the regulator made it little hard but manageable.
When I went near a coral suddenly 4 mid sized fishes came from my back near head and just when I turned my head to left it was so close to my eyes and I’d jerked my head… I was about to say ‘aah’ and realised I might miss my breathing regulator if I open my mouth Arnav signed that it’s fine and nothing to worry… we moved on.
Just when I was thinking how are we going to go up and find the boat, I could see the anchor. Slowly moved up and reached the ladder in the boat, removed my BCDs and climbed up the to the boat. One of my friends Rajesh and Indhu had gone in a wrong way which is atleast 500 meters south from the boat, Leon jumped in with a life ring brought them back to our boat.
Like a child hesitates to go to school after a long vacations, we moved away from the dive area with our eyes glaring the sea our minds were still looking deep into the blue.