When was the last time you tried something for the first time?
When was it that you were fearful of something you were going to try for the first time?
When was it that something you tried for the first time and you loved it instantaneously?
When was it that you turned your exploring fun session to a full-fledged certification course?
Okay, I wasn’t fearful, but the rest is absolutely true for my first exposure to Scuba diving.
Andaman Islands are probably the best place in India for scuba diving. The crystal-clear water, soothing tropical climate and the rich marine life makes it the ideal for scuba diving. Scuba is not something you can do anywhere anytime. So, when it is the first time, you want to make it right.
Our Andaman trip was the perfect chance for this experience. When we booked our stay at Havelock, we pre-booked a discover scuba package at the same resort. This ensured that even if we have any last-minute nerves, we would have to go through with the experience.
On the scheduled morning, we filled out the pre-Scuba form and made sure we were fit and fine to go ahead with the dive. My instructor Bubba was a French bloke who was on the island for the season just to teach Scuba as part of his pan India journey. We chatted along after he explained me the basic equipment and signals required for the first dive.
For the discover scuba dive, the equipment (SCUBA) is setup and checked by the instructor. So, I got suited up in the wet-suit, put on the slip-on shoes and we were ready for the dive. I donned the BCD (Buoyancy Control Device) with the oxygen cylinder mounted on the back. We walked into shallow waters and Bubba gave me further instructions on the use and care of my oxygen regulator and the mask.
After a few exercises, we were ready to go in deep waters. My BCD was filled with air and I started floating easily. What sorcery is that! No need to know swimming, just wear the BCD. Kidding. I waddled a bit and Bubba pulled me towards the dive point.
We reached there in a few minutes. The equipment was checked again. I put on the regulator and the mask and we were set. My instructor started deflating my BCD and I was going down now. By the way, we had another diver to accompany us and film my session.
Slowly we descended. I kept popping my ears as had been instructed. Had a bit of struggle with the regulator initially but then realized the correct way to put it in my mouth.
And just like that we were underwater.
It is really a different word down there. (Duh!)
The water was so clear that I could see over a distance.
I could easily make out the myriad life around me and below me on the seabed.
So many different fishes, small and big.
The colorful clams breathing in and out.
The unique vegetation hiding more marine life.
And the highlight for Andaman, the beautiful corals.
From the start till the end, I was amazed by the scenes around me.
On this dive, I didn’t have to do anything. I was floating above the seabed and my instructor was dragging me around. I could enjoy the scene around me just like a safari. And I saw more marine life than I had ever saw in any aquarium anywhere.
I was left speechless.
We came back to land. But I felt like I was still underwater and was longing to go back.
We enquired about the second dive. But another similar dive wouldn’t be much of an addition. We only had half a day before we would have to catch the ferry back to Port Blair. Considering all constraints, I decided to go for Scuba Diver certification. I would still be short of open water, but still more than amateurs.
The next day started really early at 6 am as we had to cover a lot.
We started with detailed introduction to the equipment. As our lives depend on the equipment underwater, the familiarity is of utmost importance.
Next we went in the shallow water for the exercises. First the theory. Then the demonstration by the instructor (Kingston this time). Then my turn to replicate above water and finally under water.
After hours of the exercises and the training completed, we took a break to change oxygen.
We took rest, had breakfast and were ready for the final test. The dive.
This time around, I setup my equipment. I carried the setup in water and put it on myself. We paddled to the dive point. After re-checking the equipment of the other one, we followed the procedure for going down.
My first independent descent for the dive was a bit choppy as I was caught up in the current. Once I got over that, I was able to stabilize myself to float above seabed.
We swam around the reef watching the marine life. In this dive, I was more focused on being able to dive and swim independently following what I had learnt. But the scenes were great as well.
After a long dive, we came back up and swam to the land.
(**No photos for the second dive**)
Post lunch break, I had to watch the videos and fill out knowledge papers and the exercises.
It was exhausting and exhilarating at the same time. By the time I completed the course, it was 2-3 PM and our time to go to Port Blair.
May be we could make a point to learn new things on all our trips as this was so much fun and pure satisfaction.
Do you have a story to tell about your Scuba experience? Drop in a comment or send us a mail. We will definitely reply. All the interesting tales will be published in a special feature.