Scuba diving in Pondicherry🚤

The scuba diving took place on 1st Oct 2019 and am writing about it a month later; the delay was in anticipation of receiving the underwater photographs from the vendor. We paid for the same, was promised via email 15 – 24 hours later; but not received them till date, now a month and counting. We tried following up, emails, phone calls; but all we got so far was will get back. So….no under water photos.

The vendor was called – Urban Nomad, located in White Town, Pondicherry. It is a PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) authorised center. I did not go diving, but went along on the boat into the sea; hubs and the kid went diving, each person was charged RS. 6500/- plus taxes. They charged me for going out on the boat, Rs 2500/- plus taxes.

The vendor took care of all the equipment – from the wet suits to goggles to the oxygen tank; all we needed to have was a change of clothes and a towel. The dive in the sea was a one-to-one session.

As rightfully mentioned by the proprietor, Mr. Apurva, diving on the screen looks fun, adventurous and guaranteed to give you an adrenaline rush. You see the men in black pulling the googles down, leaning back over the edge of the boat and making a splash into the sea. And behold the world underwater; inaccessible in the normal course – the multicoloured fishes, spectacular corals and the diver effortlessly swimming along; almost floating in water. Was it as cool as it is made out to be? The picture we see on TV is the lure and soon after a dose of reality, either you will hate it (once is enough) or will be hooked and sign up for the PADI certification course.

Scuba diving at Urban Nomad, White Town, Pondicherry
Scuba diving at Urban Nomad, White Town, Pondicherry

First was a practise session in their pool. You suit up and then sit for a theory session. It was conducted by an instructor named Alec hailing from US – how do you communicate under water? What problems can occur and what should you do? 

The communication was the key part – you can’t talk under water !! They use hand signals – 👍 – for going up; 👎 – for going down and others.

The problems encountered included water getting into the goggles, clogging of ears as you descended; fogging of the goggles (the defogging process is spitting into the goggles and then rinsing them in the sea water 😬).

In full diving gear in the practice pool at Urban Nomad, Pondicherry
In full diving gear in the practice pool at Urban Nomad, Pondicherry
Learning to breathe underwater in the practice pool at Urban Nomad, Pondicherry
Learning to breathe underwater in the practice pool at Urban Nomad, Pondicherry

The next day, empty stomach as advised, we reached the Urban Nomad office by 7:30 am and then drove down to the boat jetty located close to the Pondicherry harbour. I had a rucksack with towels, clean clothes and water. “You can’t take the bag in the boat” said Apurva “there won’t be place.” How small is the boat, I wondered ?

Fishing boats parked at the Pondicherry harbour
Fishing boats parked at the Pondicherry harbour

On reaching the jetty and after seeing the size of the boat, I decide against going into the sea (but went on reluctantly😏). It’s the smallest boat I have been on. There were 6 people diving that day – a man from Delhi, three college kids and two of us; the group was led by an instructor named Mike, he was from UK; there were 3 other  instructors – Rahul, Prithvi and Hamil. In addition, there were two men manning the boat and two of us, who were not diving – taking the total to 14 – on the small boat. In addition to the people; there were individual oxygen tanks for all the people diving; boxes of cut fruit and vegetables; all the diving gear; first aid kit; drinking water.

The boat anchored 6 km into the sea - the shore line seen from the boat
The boat anchored 6 km into the sea – the shore line seen from the boat

As the boat pulled out, the waves were rocking it from side to side; I imagined the worst; the possibility of drowning in the Bay of Bengal had never crossed my mind; but now it looked highly probable😓. All was good, nothing bad happened; soon we dropped anchor about 6 km from shore. We were in the company of two other similar boats with people out for diving.

A typical boat used for diving in Pondicherry
A typical boat used for diving in Pondicherry

The instructors decided on the sequence for diving – one novice and one instructor. People began to suit up and one-by-one went into the sea, for 20 min. (approx) depending on individual’s comfort once under water.

Suiting up for the dive into the sea in Pondicherry
Suiting up for the dive into the sea in Pondicherry

Back in the boat, all fears of drowning had vanished from my mind – if something was destined to happen. it will; feeling powerless in the middle of the blue sea suddenly felt peaceful, there was nothing I could do; just go with the flow and hope for the best. The waves were still rocking the boat; plus the weight had to be suitably distributed once the oxygen tanks and the people started getting off.

One to one scuba diving session in Pondicherry
One to one scuba diving session in Pondicherry
Last glimpse before the dive down
Last glimpse before the dive down

Finally after everyone had their dive; we head back. The strenuous activity made people hungry – the instructors brought their food and ate on the boat – the novices who drank water or ate the fresh fruits ended up puking. The oxygen tanks are really heavy once on dry ground; hauling them to and fro is not an easy task.

What did the kid see under water? It was calm underwater, low visibility though; the kid saw  blue jelly fish, fishes and a truck 🚚. The truck was sunk and anchored down to help develop the corals. The water was cool; though on the surface it was blazing hot. The kid went down to 12 m depth and hubs decided to return after going 6 m down.

The kid’s nose was bleeding slightly once back on the boat, a capillary burst maybe because of the pressure difference when diving and it stopped before we reached back on land.

Few pointers:

[1] The boat is small, don’t have high expectations.

[2] Try to avoid food and drink until back on land.

[3] Though they set off by 8:00 am, it gets very hot in the boat and since you are sitting in the boat in the wet suits; you will be sweating even more.

[4] Go with the flow. Learning to breathe through the nozzle underwater will be the biggest challenge.

[5] Make sure to get the underwater photographs before you leave the place.

Last [6] Even without knowledge of swimming, you can go scuba diving. The vest helps you float.

Overall, it was a good experience – the team on the boat managed the whole show well. Our only rue is the we are still following up on the promised underwater photographs.

Before dropping us back on dry land, they gave us glimpse of the mangrove forest. It was a pleasant surprise.

Mangrove forest in Pondicherry
Mangrove forest in Pondicherry

There are boat rides that take you through them, we saw a ride in progress before we turned back👇.

On the mangrove trail in Pondicherry
On the mangrove trail in Pondicherry

Till next post; take care !!

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s