Scuba diving had been on my bucket list for a long time and I finally ticked it off at Andaman.
Without prior reading or research I took a plunge into it. Registered with the ‘Andaman Bubbles’ group at Havelock island. They have various packages- One for 3500 Rs – 6m deep and another 5000 Rs- 12 m deep. I chose the 12 m Deep package.
There was a small briefing
- First rule in scuba is to not stop breathing under water.
- The second rule in scuba is to equalise underwater.
We were made to take a small quiz to make sure we understood the commands. We were taken to another spot where scuba kits were provided and taken to the scuba diving site by the sea.
We were given some training at the shallow waters. Dead weights were strapped to our waist along with life jacket and oxygen cylinder. We were given a mask covering our eyes and nose. Bye bye to breathing through nose for another 40 minutes. We had to keep the mouth piece with the pipe in our mouth to breath underwater.
The scariest part was the training. It can feel odd to not breathe through your nose and breathe dry air through your mouth for an extended time. I did not think it would be that hard to just breath underwater trusting a cylinder behind your back.
I breathed for a few seconds and then climbed right back up to the surface. He told me to get in again and then kneel at the sea bed which was extremely hard to do for more than 10 seconds.
The main signs to remember were ‘I am ok’,’ I am not ok’, ‘Take me up’.
Then we practiced the event of losing the mouth piece underwater and how to get it back into your mouth and start breathing. Then we practiced equalizing. This is by holding your nose and blowing to your ears get adjusted. This is because the pressure inside water is much higher than on the surface.
I decided to quit as I lost confidence of how I would breathe underwater 12 meters deep and resist the urge to get onto the surface waters. I told the trainer I want to do it only in shallow waters where I can come back to the surface when I wanted to. He said that’s fine we will take it slowly. I was made to float with life jackets inflated and fins fitted to our legs. He dragged us to deeper waters.
When we were about a few meters deep, I was made to wear my mask and mouth piece and he gently flipped me around. I could see the depths of the sea- the fishes swimming peacefully and I focused on it. He lowered me inside the waters.This is done by reducing the air in life jacket and the weight of the dead-weights around you takes you down.
I witnessed the breath-taking view of sea life underwater, the corals and colourful fishes. I swam with the fishes – it felt like being inside an aquarium. We swam towards the reef where purple coloured organisms closed and opened their orifices. I saw an octopus stuck to the bottom of a rock. A swarm of fishes swan past me and I made futile attempts to catch them.
He lowered me even more down and then I saw a statue deep down in the sea bed. It was 12m deep and I had made it. I made sure I breathed with my mouth the entire time and equalised my ears. Some sea water entered my mouth and I felt uneasy. I showed him through signs that I wasn’t OK.
It was time to go to the surface and be human again. He took me up slowly inflating my life jacket and I finally reached the water surface. I took off my mask and there I felt relieved to breath with my nose again and stunned I could stay underwater and breathe with my mouth for about half an hour.
He dragged me back to the shore. Here I couldn’t wait to walk on the sand again. Reminded me of the last scene of ‘Gravity’ movie. I could feel the weight of my body when I walked on the sand again after an hour of swimming like a fish.
It was one helluva experience.!!
Fun fact: Did you know that you could get a professional diving certificate with just four days of training.
Read more on Andaman: A quick guide to Andaman