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Scuba Diving at Netrani Island (Murdeshwar)

Sunset with Netrani Island as backdrop
The Desire:
The desire for Scuba diving had ignited during my Andaman trip in 2007. I managed to have a feel-good snorkelling session after several attempts. The major hurdle for the activity was my spectacles, as I tried to wear snorkelling mask on top my spectacles and salty water went into my nose because the mask was sealed properly. Later, I managed to have a decent session without spectacles at Wandoor Beach. But, with high myopic power ( minus 4) I could not enjoy experience 100℅ ! Then, I had decided that next time when I do similar activity like Scuba diving I should have contact lenses on. 

To do or not to do :
The actual execution of scuba diving got delayed like anything. A few years I was out of traveling mode and health challenges in between kept scuba diving off from the to-do list. Recently, my traveling and photography buddy Jatin got very enthusiastic about Scuba Diving at Netrani Island near Murdeshwar. I was constantly in denial mode giving reasons of spectacles but Jatin's conviction and enthusiasm forced me to visit my optician. The contact lenses were done in a day but wearing it became a bigger circus than scuba diving itself :)
DSLR with Dicapac
Jatin, went one step ahead and bought a camera cover Dicapac for this DSLR. The cover completely seals the camera from water and if you throw it into the water your DSLR will stay afloat !

Training Session:
We traveled overnight to Murdeshwar by "Sri Durgamba" bus from Bangalore and reached the destination at 7.30 am in morning. We quickly finished our morning ablutions and headed towards the training session at swimming pool of RNS Residency. Our instructor Aaron briefed us about the agenda for the day. First, we gave an overview about the equipment used, principle behind the functionality of various apparatus and hands signal which we will using for communicating inside the water ( yes, we can’t have vocal conversation inside the water). This was followed by dry run with the equipments inside the swimming pool. In the same session, we were instructed how to handle exceptional situations when water gets inside the mask and how to equalize pressure inside water by blowing air thru our ears. 
Training Session at Swimming pool
Getting to Netrani:
After 2-3 hours of training session, we were off to Netrani Island from Murdeshwar coast. The island is around 18 kms from the coast and it takes around 1.5 hours to get there. Unfortunately, due to rough sea on that day our one-way trip took around 2 hours ! Most of us were with mixed emotions, the excitement of doing scuba diving for first time was obviously there but also nervousness started developing in our minds - what if in water I won’t be able to breath, if i am not able to bear the high pressure etc.

On the way to Netrani: Aaron giving instruction to participants
The Nervous Wait:
We reached the Island around 1 pm. The diving sessions are executed keeping the boat stationary at 25 meters away from shores of Netrani Island. The diving was conducted two participants at a time and were done in tandem with an instructor from West Coast Adventures. One of the girls from other group who was first to do Scuba created a big hype about the exceptional conditions that lot of water went into her mask, she was not able to equalize the pressure etc. Listening to it many guys in our group got nervous. However, once Dwayne came onboard the boat our confidence was back on tracks. My diving session got delayed like anything, either I didn’t have right size Fins or right size jacket for diving into the water. And I turned out to be last person from the boat to dive into the water.

The reverse plunge into the water. The moment was very scary !
Finally I managed to dive and stay alive :)
The initial reverse plunge into the water was quite scary, I din't know what happened for first 3-4 seconds. One month training on basics of swimming which I had taken a few years back came handy as the fear of getting drowned didn't exist in my mind. Then our instructors Aaron and Keith came near and asked me to hold rope attached to boat for getting down. With the press of the button the air in the jackets were deflated and my body got immersed in the water obeying laws-of-physics.

We got down meter by meter ensuring that pressure is equalized in the body. But somehow I was not able to release the pressure thru ears but maintained concious to cherish never seen before visuals ! But after a struggle for a few minutes my body sub-conciously released pressure though ears and I managed to maintain equilibrium state :) Keith took me around to experience variety of sea creatures/corals from a close distance. It was absolutely dream come true experience ! In one thread in my mind, I was wondering whether this is reality ?.. other thread I was thanking my optician for arranging contact lenses in quick time. It would have been impossible to enjoy the stuffs 100% with myopic vision of 'minus 4'. Seeing the underwater stuffs in reality and seeing in an idiot box (Discovery, NG) is a different experience and would be unfair to compare !. 

After 30 minutes comprehensive session, we came back to zero level by inflating the jackets by click of a button. However, it felt like that I was inside the water for hours ! Getting back on the boat was tedious, we had remove the waist belt by staying afloat, then remove the fins, remove the mask and finally the jacket. I was totally exhausted and ate up all the remaining snacks on the boat like a Bakasur !

After completing my Scuba session the group started the return journey towards Murdeshwar. Experience sunset with Netrani Island as backdrop was an icing on the cake for extremely adventurous day ! 

Retrospect:
  • Contact Lenses is highly recommended for people who wear spectacles. Don’t comprise with the experience by saving 1000 bucks.
  • All photos taken by our instructors through his Go-Pro camera were lost due to memory card corruption. And photos taken by Jatin using Digipac were not upto the mark. Do try having your own Go-Pro rented from camera rental companies in Bangalore 
  • The to-and-fro journey from Murdeshwar is quite long. We got back to Murdeshwar around 8 pm. A few members of the group who were supposed to leave Shimoga on same night missed their Bus. Therefore, don’t plan anything on night of the diving day ! 
  • Keep instructor aware of a little pain or niggle in your body. The oxygen cylinders which you carry on your back are quite heavy ! One of our instructors, Dwayne helped me to avoid strain on my lower back while jumping into the water. 
  • Try to ignore the negative hype created by members who dive first. Artificial breathing and pressure equalization comes subconsciously and practice it perfectly during training session in swimming pool.

Contact Details of the Organizers:
Also read about Shrinidhi Hande's experience. He did the dive with Dreamz Diving after a few weeks.

10 comments :

  1. Gr8 detail Shande, next time i'll also join you guys.

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  2. nice to read. I am 2 weeks away from trying it

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    Replies
    1. thanks nidhi .. and looking forward for your report on Scuba experience !

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  3. After a long time.... really enjoyed reading your blog :)

    Take Care Shande.

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  4. Its been a long time since we met.... Nice write-up Shande... really enjoyed every bit of it :)

    Take Care.

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  5. Soooper shande.....shud try it smtime soon:)

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    Replies
    1. thanks .. and adventure enthusiasts like you shud definitely try !

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