Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Scuba diving and Snorkeling

Before I begin with the blog, let me tell you that I am not a regular blogger and this is my first time writing a blog so please don't mind any grammatical mistakes :) I just felt that the experience is worth sharing and the information would help other enthusiasts. So here I go..

I've always had the curiosity to know what's beneath the oceans... But, had never ever thought that I would do it sometime in my life ! On the last trip to Goa, I searched for places where I can Scuba dive, but, all in vain.. :(
This year we were planning a trip to Gokarna and around and a friend told me there is a dive spot near Netrani island. This is where it all started.... A quick search on the net confirmed this and we were on to something... One thing led to another and just another blog like this led me to - http://www.dreamzdiving.com/

Dreamzdiving is a dive school located at Murudeshwar, at RNS residency, just beside the famous Shiva temple.
Getting to Murudeshwar : There are K.S.R.T.C buses that ply between BLR and Murudeshwar. If you are planning to visit the places around - Gokarna, Yana, etc, it makes sense to hire a private vehicle from BLR. This is what we did and it gives you good freedom to roam about as you will.

I called Dreamzdiving about a week before the planned visit and booked ourselves for the dive. 11 of us in total :) The best part is.. Most of them do not know how to swim. Yes! you need not be a swimmer to go Scuba diving. Scuba demands you sink into the water.. so why bother about swimming! Moreover, you will not do the dive alone. One of their professional divers will accompany you throughout. All you have to do is get used to breathing from the tank and enjoy the rest.

21st Jan 2012 - Day of the dive :
We reached their office by 8:30 AM. The office was a small room filled with Oxygen tanks, flippers, diving suits, underwater goggles and other such equipment... an amusing sight! :)
Firstly, we were asked to fill out a couple of forms - one was a medical form and the other was a waiver. Basically, it stated that the dive school wasn't responsible for our lives ;) None of us bothered to go through the details. We signed the forms within a minute.. out of excitement! Then, we picked out flippers corresponding to our shoe sizes. Putting them on and walking around with them in their office was fun ! :D
Soon, all the equipment was loaded in a mini truck and we set off to the beach. The truck looked pretty cool.. decorated with nice posters of fishes and divers.. Advertising.. hmmm!
Once on the beach, the divers started loading all the equipment on to a boat. We too gave them a hand. Pushing the boat from shore to sea, carrying the equipment down the beach and loading them on the boats brings about a feel of responsibility and self preparation. I would say this is where MY! diving experience began..
Pushing the boat from shore to sea..

That's us loading the equipment from the mini truck. @ Murudeshwar beach.
Once on the boat, we were briefed about Scuba in general and some information on using the equipment. Mainly, you need to learn how to breathe from the tank and learn the technique of pressure equilization. This is crucial! so pay attention.. although staring at the ocean and beyond may seem more interesting :)
Equipment practice on the boat

Everyone got a chance to practice breathing from the tank.. hence boosting our confidence before the dive.
Another interesting learn was using sign language under water to tell your diver if you're not OK.
There is even a unique hand sign for most of the fishes seen underwater. It was interesting to watch as our guide demonstrated the sign for every fish.
Later on, we were shown a chart of the different species of fish and coral that inhabit the waters. There is also a particular season when sharks visit the island. All this talk added more and more to the adrenaline rush..
Splashing away to Netrani island. Shot this from the boat. Every time the boat hit the water it created a nice splash pattern.

After about 1.5hrs we reached Netrani. One by one we got padded up, sat on the edge of the boat and got pushed backwards down into the water.. :) When you have the Scuba equipment on, you have to dive backwards so that the tank hits the water first and immediately, the heaviness of the tank is nullified.
On the edge of the boat..All set for the dive. And that is the all O.K sign.

The first few minutes - Fear!! I wasn't able to breathe properly when I looked below the water surface. I was breathing too fast, erratically and gasping for air. This is common for most of the first timers... probably the vastness of the deep blue ocean hits you real hard ! Some of my folks were fine initially but had to re-surface within the first few minutes to get things ( breathing, ear pain, etc) right.Their diver helped me calm down and get my breathing back to normal. Once I got my breathing rhythm back to normal, I signaled the all OK sign and we began to descend. Slowly I could see rocks, the corals, the fishes and finally the ocean floor. The rest of the experience was pure bliss ! I really have no words to describe how it felt. Swimming with the fishes, moving between the rocks, chasing turtles, picking up spongy corals, touching them, diving deeper and deeper into the blue... was just fantastic!! Suddenly, a huge school of fishes would appear and swim by and I was just awestruck looking at them.
Trigger fish, Butterfly fish, Angel fish, Eels, Anemones, Clown fish, Lion fish, puffer fish, sea urchins, turtles, etc were some of the fauna we saw that day. After about half an hour underwater we re-surfaced. We did away with all the heavy equipment and climbed back on to the boat.
The ocean floor and the corals.

Trigger fish
A Beautiful fish ( don't know the name )
Those of us who knew swimming, picked up some snorkels and went for a swim at the dive spot. We went pretty close to the island where the water is shallow and we could see the ocean floor from the surface. We spent a good hour snorkeling, watching the fishes below and just chilling in the cool waters of the Arabian sea. The beauty of the ocean and the coloration on these fishes is really admirable and time just flies when you get engaged in looking at them.
The diving spot. And the waters around the island where we snorkeled.
I really didn't expect to see so much fauna in these waters. It was like watching a documentary on Nat geo. Only this time.. it was happening to me! And I enjoyed every bit of it..
Snorkeling in the open ocean :)
All good things come to an end.. And soon, it was time for us to depart the island. We were still in the water and the divers asked us to climb back on to the boat. Scuba and snorkeling burn away a lot of calories and thankfully, the organizers had carried a lot of snacks on the boat - Juice boxes, biscuits, fruits and chakli :) We ate our way back to Murudeshwar... :)

I would like to appreciate Dreamzdiving for their professionalism in scuba. Everything was well organised and hence it made for a pleasant diving experience. Also, our guide divers were warm and caring and made sure that we felt comfortable during the dive. Overall, an experience of a lifetime.
The dreamzdiving slogan reads " If you haven't dived, you haven't lived".
Initially, I was like whoa! just another catchy phrase. I realized how true this is after the dive :)

Hope the blog was helpful.

Queries? You can write to me at : arvindr33@gmail.com