Sea Venture – January 8th

It had always been on my wish list to
take a deep dive in to an ocean, barring gears of any sort. On an
early Sunday morning in January, I was able to quench this thirst
along with a thirsty group of divers. After about an hour of chivalry
out in the open sea, I was reiterated by the fact that water remains
THE force among the five elements. With over 70% inside and outside
us, it’s no wonder she rules. In this weekend outing section, I’ll
take you through a trip of a life time in to our very own Bay of
Bengal.

 Preparations started as early as the
beginning of the week and there were feverish calls from participants
asking how safe it is to venture in to the sea. My answer had always
been a confident ‘very’, with the crew that’s taking us in
mind. After about 150 registrations, 60 were shortlisted as the group
is expected to be small. The Sunday morning came and I was up early
to receive and manage the group at the scheduled pick up points. It
was 6 AM (for the uninitiated, including me, to see the sun rise on a
glorious Sunday) and every one made it before time and I was able to
read a tensed anxiety on their face, eagerly waiting to see what the
sea had to offer. We started towards the boarding point at Kovalam
where the 7 boats were expecting to take us to the sea.
First things first; Life jackets were
given to us and we wore it before boarding the boats. It gave a sense
of safety and we geared up for whatever lay ahead. After loading up
all the boats, ensuring everyone had their leash in full safety, I
boarded the last one and we started our journey with much oomph. The
Sun was ready too and was lazing at the horizon waiting to wake the
city. In the next 30 minutes, we were about 5 kms in to the sea and
the shore we boarded from looked almost a distant haze. The most
wanted word for the whole group now was JUMP and so did all the 30 of
us. Yes, we were in the sea, floating on the safety of our
life-vests. A group of non-swimmers were a bit reluctant initially
but with all activity on the water, they braved it and jumped in. The
water was peaceful and still with mild waves pushing us back and
forth. The vest held us above the water and did a great job of saving
us but made it pretty difficult to move around. 
In less than 10 minutes, a group of us
found this uncomfortable and we were back in the boat to get the vest
off. With a peer check among us and with a mild warning from the crew
we dived from the boats. A feeling of elation and anxiety gripped us
but we thoroughly enjoyed the vest-less dive. I was able to feel the
difference between the sea water and our regular stream water during
our treks. In the still stream water, we were mostly in control and
know what happens to us but with these waves, we were entirely at the
mercy of the sea. But strange enough, it felt comfortable as the
waves kept us from sinking too soon. To get a feel, I swam around the
boat and afar. With no knowledge what lay underneath, I felt a
strange comfort and let the waves do the splashing. Remembering the
great under water cam works on our NGC and Discovery channels, I took
a deep dive only to see nothing but eternity beneath. All other boats
lay still and our boat was moving away from them. It was because our
boat was not anchored and with no hold, any object is bound to move
and the waves get to decide where. After a bit of paddling, I swam
from boat to boat listening to shrills of joy and screams of elation.
There were group snaps taken by people on boats and we had a great
time swimming around for the next hour. The crew men called up
signaling the end of the delirium and we reluctantly boarded the
boats. The engine revved up and we slowly started moving towards the
shore.

 For the next 30
minutes, the crew filled us with all the sea-stories from their
memories starting with the Tsunami. I was surprised to hear people
who were in to the sea for as long as 30 kms away from the shore
during Tsunami made it safe home. I understood it was the shores that
took the most beatings when the waves lashed as high as 20 meters; it
was the rubbles that caused the most damages; In short, it was a
shear display of the power of the mighty water that washed lakhs of
us away. Facts after facts from the crew, we shared nervous looks
among us; the place we swam and dived in was almost 100 feet deep!
The place was visited by sharks from time to time which are as long
as the boat itself. The very crew that took us to the sea and back
had never stayed in the waters as long as we did. Also, there was
this fact about the sea changing colors from green to deep
transparent blue during summer and this attracts varieties of fishes
to the shore for preying on smaller fishes that stay close to the
shore. 
Fishermen for life, they told us, following Tsunami the sea
had never been the same and it had grown all the more unpredictable
but they had praises for the met department (the department we all
know of as someone sitting on an executive chair saying it’ll rain
the next day, which we can bet our last paise with to go out trusting
it wouldn’t) that warns them of the cyclones, thunderstorms and
even Tsunamis, which in their case do happen as predicted. Technology
(and India) have come a long way. Time to part with the sea, to thank
her and to say our tense goodbyes. Just before 50 meters, we had
another chance to dive in and reach the shore. With no questions
asked, did we dived in and swam to the shore in the next ten minutes.
Another life time experience as I was close to the shore. The waves
were really ferocious and lifted me like a rag doll and hurled to the
shore. With sand grains in ears, mouth, nose and all over, I looked
back and felt like a minnow before a bewildering giant. With a secret
little chuckle, she said: You all go around
the world to wonder at the heights of mountains, at the huge waves of
the sea, at the long courses of the rivers, at the vast compass of
the ocean, at the circular motions of the stars, yet you pass by
yourselves without wondering.
How
true!
Write up by Vasanth G.

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