Do you remember the movie “Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara” (ZNMD) and do you also remember the scene where all the three main characters of the movie go scuba diving?? they learn all the signs, do a quick test under shallow water and boom…are scuba diving in the deep-sea. Scuba diving made easy doesn’t it?? well…the truth of the matter is….it isn’t that easy, at least not for me.. Here are the details of my first shipwreck dive in Sri Lanka and a little intro to diving.
Scuba diving was one the main reasons that we did a road trip as a family to Sri Lanka, a couple of weeks back. You can read all about it here. Now before we start on my experience with scuba diving..let me tell you first about my snorkeling disaster the previous day … that Saturday, all of us ( 2 couples and 2 kids)..put on life jackets and started on the boat to the snorkeling site.
The guides / instructor jumped in first, then one by one each of us had to jump in. My brother went in and nicely floated in sea. Next it was my turn..I slowly got down into the sea using steps and tried floating and breathing through mouth ( yes that’s what we need to do)…breathing was okay, but I had not anticipated how choppy the water would be…I panicked and held on tight to the rope which was tied to the anchor and did not move!!! I just swayed in water and just swayed. Snorkeling is floating / swimming in seawater..whereas scuba diving is swimming into the sea. The instructor after seeing my condition, took my hand and guided me through the next 45 minutes of snorkeling.
Post my disaster in snorkeling in choppy waters, I was not too confident of my performance with scuba diving..but I did not lose hope and went ahead with my brother for the introduction testing in swimming pool waters, wearing the tanks and fins. Under water since one cannot communicate the usual way, were taught different signs. The sign language includes “Okay”, “Up”, “Down”, “Stop” etc. Whenever the instructor asked us these question under water we have to respond to him…this is how he understands whether we are doing okay under water. Once we understand these signs, he takes us slowly to the deeper end of the pool to equalize the pressure and to understand how we withstand the pressure going deeper into water. The pressure / pain in the ears is all normal ( very similar to flying in a plane) while one is going deeper into water and one has to pinch the nostrils and swallow at the same time for the ears to pop…
Since the swimming pool session was okay, I got back some hope and enthusiasm for scuba diving. The next day early in the morning, my brother, myself and our instructor Mahendran started out in a boat to for our first shipwreck dive in Sri Lanka. Mahendran was an experienced diver, he had been diving for almost 16 years and had completed over 2000 dives. We went into the sea for about 15 – 20 minutes before Mahendran and another instructor geared up. The other instructor (don’t remember his name), jumped in first with our boats anchor. Once he had anchored our boat to the ship wreck…we all had to get into the sea one by one (not an easy task for me 🙂 esp after the snorkeling performance). Once you are all geared up with the fins, mask and tank..you can’t walk 😀 …all that you need to do is sit at the edge of the boat, back facing the sea and go back into the water..head first..plop!!! Thankfully I did that without too much effort..phew.
Once into the water I struggled a little bit (the water was very choppy), hyperventilated also a little bit and held on to the instructors hand really tight. He was really understanding and slowly took me to the yellow rope connecting the anchor and the boat. We went down really slowly, Mahendran kept checking with me if I was “Okay” at all times. Half way to the shipwreck, my left ear started paining a lot and i signaled regarding that to Mahendran. We stayed put at this depth for a little while and once i was okay we slowly went deeper into the water.
The shipwreck was at depth of 7.5 metres, the four of us slowly swam around it. The water was quite murky and the visibility was not great, in spite of that we could see variety of fishes, corals and also the shipwreck.
I could only hear my breathing and the bubbles coming out through the tube and nothing else…total silence. It was a surreal experience, watching the fishes go by their own life as if we did not exist. The sheer colours on the fishes, colonies of fishes passing us ( I don’t know the names of the fishes) was amazing to see.
With my fear slowly going away, I started enjoying the dive, looking at the sea life, the different parts of the ship..I think we saw the propeller (the metal on the edge was still in shiny condition) and one long tube kind of thing. We also saw an adult and small baby fish swimming really close to us..this was something that i had not thought I would experience…pure joy.
While on the beach Mahendran showed us a casing in which he could put his normal point and shoot camera to take pictures under water. Well…that was a great chance for us to get our pics under water, we immediately gave our SD card ….yay we were getting pictures of our first shipwreck dive in Sri Lanka. Under water, I also spotted a “Nemo” fish (as my daughter would call it), commonly known as a clown fish..it was thrilling and yet very calming experience.
After about 45 minutes, we came back to the yellow rope and slowly started ascending to the boat. Once seated in the boat after, i remembered the scene when Hrithik Roshan completes his dive in ZNMD movie…i quite felt like that.
Was I scared to get in choppy waters..yes of course….but did i love the experience of my first shipwreck dive in Sri Lanka…of course yes…would i do it again and again…of course yes!!!
The sea water had gotten more choppy when we were returning after our first shipwreck dive….but i didn’t care. With my wet curly hair flying all over, all i could think was where i would go to do my next dive?? Time to figure out a place to do my PADI certification !!!
My Thoughts after our first shipwreck dive in Sri Lanka:
- Do not fear the water but be very respectful of it.
- Trust your diving partner / instructor.
- Try and get some pictures.
- Be calm and slowly get accustomed to breathing through the mouth.
- Last but not the least….enjoy every minute of the dive…
Scuba diving was a small part of our recent road trip in Sri lanka. It was a full on… fun trip…more trip posts coming up 🙂