During one of my trips to Pondicherry Rob, Jonah, Gary and myself were having ‘evening refreshments’ after an awesome day of diving. It was one of those 10m viz days and the temple reef was looking absolutely stunning. But it was also the week when Danny’s eel garden was discovered. The initial dive reports of the place were really great -lots of morays around the rocks, and cuttle fishes all around. Rob wanted to wait for Aravind to join us in Pondicherry, before exploring this new site. But as it always happens with Rob and the refreshments, the crazily awesome ideas start flowing out. He proposed an underwater swim from Danny’s eel garden to Temple Reef.
I have to mention here that Temple and Danny’s are a good 750m apart. And Gary and me were not Tec divers at that point (sorry Gary, you are still not one). But I, recently did my PADI sidemount course and got an awesome new Scubapro rig and was happily pushing and finding my limits.
To get back to the idea, we calculated that it should take around 70 -80 minutes for the dive, including a swim around Danny’s. Rob and Jonah would be on sidemount and would be carrying pony bottles as well. Gary would be on back mount with a stage bottle and I would be on sidemount only. We figured we might be hungry and thirsty during the dive and decided to carry some chocolates and beer as well (I am kidding you not).
The next day we took off to Danny’s and rigged up some DIY buoy with some fishing net floats, and specifically asked the captain to follow our buoy. We went down to 18m, and started swimming around the site. The visibility was around 3-5 mts, not the best Pondicherry visibility, but decent enough for us to know that this dive site is here to stay. After around 10 minutes, we decided to start our swim. We hovered around 1-2 m from the bottom, as the visibility was a bit better. Rob and Jonah were ahead with Gary and me staying close behind. There was not much of a current and neither much activity around us. There was some snails roaming around and I still claim to have seen an octopus during the dive.
I had a pint of corona and some milkybars with me, in the event the boat misses us and we are stranded in the sea. The beer was for when we surfaced, but I definitely tried eating the chocolates down at 17m. At first, I was chewing my mouthpiece instead of the chocolate and ended up having one of the smaller pieces getting stuck inside the regulator. This stopped the valve from moving and suddenly I was not able to breathe. Good thing that I was trained to dive sidemount. Immediately, I switched to my other tank and proceeded to clear my regulator of the chocolate piece. By the time I got that out, Rob and Gary were nowhere to be seen and Jonah had found a rope on the seabed, and was pulling himself on it. We navigated ourselves to one of our other site, Ghosts 18!!! With this we were sure that we were on the right direction. But I was getting low on gas and signaled to Jonah that I am going up a couple of meters. But at that moment Jonah found something shiny on one of the ropes. On a closer inspection, we found a Nikon camera securely fastened to it. We got it out and I immediately started to ascend, all the while Jonah’s maniacal laugh buzzing in my ears
Half way up I saw Rob at around 4-5 meters. He signaled that he had equalization problems. After the mandatory 3min-5m-safety stop we got back to the surface. We could see the boats anchored at temple reef only around 100m from where we were. We had almost done it. While we waited for Jonah to ascend, we opened up the beer and had a nice drink from it. Jonah had also ascended by that time and he was just too excited about the camera he had salvaged. Lucky for us, the swells were minimum and hanging around the surface was not much of a discomfort. Plans were made for another attempt (Temple to Danny’s maybe this time) by the time the boat got to us. After the chocolate fiasco, it was great to finally get some real food on the boat.
It was a fun experience and definitely a dive to brag about in Pondicherry (with all the cool things these guys keeps doing and that damn whale shark which shows up whenever I am not there, it is a big thing). We are yet to do another long swim after that dive. Maybe this time we will do it in Tec style!!!
– Cheers to Donarun for helping to put some great memories in print. If you have some really cool diving stories or some DM/Instructor bloopers of Pondicherry, please share them with us, and we will make sure everybody else gets to hear about it as well 🙂