The snorkelling debacle

Imagine yourself in the middle of a magnificent azure sea, its surface shimmering like blue Swarovski crystals. Afar you could see a faint hint of the coast, and in the backdrop, a hazy silhouette of a mountain standing tall. You find yourself standing in a ferry,  near a bunch of rocks where seals… yes seals are frolicking and basking in the sun.

Snorkelling experience

And then you hear the captain roar behind you – “JUMP“. The water, on which you were writing poetry in your mind just a second ago,  suddenly looks dark and devious.

This is not a dream my dear friends. This is reality.  Sigh!  my reality.

Last easter I found myself on a ferry to Montague Island from a quiet coastal village called Narooma. We were going to make a quick stop on the way before heading towards the island. My swimming skills are abysmal, so I have no idea what compelled me to register for snorkelling. Maybe I just assumed that we would be swimming in shallow water, near Montague Island.

So when I found myself holding the railing, staring into the blue water, my heart was ready to jump out of my mouth. I was pretty sure I was going to be a delicious fish meal in the next few minutes.

The area was right in the middle of a sea. A big massive frightening sea.

I looked incredulously at the captain.

You mean here.  Right here.

Yes miss,  it’s ok. Just jump.

Snorkelling spot in narooma

I had already changed into a wetsuit and was wearing flippers too.  Someone helped me to put on my mask. Holding the ladder I slowly descended into the water. For some weird reason my mind started chanting  the only Sanskrit sloka I remember ‘ Om bhur bhuva swaha… ‘.

They say your whole life flash before your eyes when you are about to die. Well, in my case  a random sanskrit sloka repeatedly flashed in my mind.

When I came upon the last ladder,  the water started  lapping  against my chin.

You have to let go.  I heard the captain say from above.

And that’s when a thing called Fear rose.  My feet couldn’t find the floor as I was used to in a swimming pool. My chest constricted and I would feel the fear rise from my chest to my throat. Even my body forgot to breathe. Never estimate the fear of water.

I stuck to the ladder like my life depended in it.  Well,  maybe it did.

There was water everywhere, so beautiful and yet so unnerving.

I could feel the fear getting stronger with every second.

That’s when the Captain  asked me to climb up and said that there’s no way he would let me snorkell. It won’t be safe for me.

My husband had already jumped into the water and I could see him leisurely swim towards the seals.

As I climbed up the ladder,  I didn’t know which emotion was stronger, guilt or that nagging feeling of shame. But well atleast the views were beautiful.

And I didn’t die.

This is me trying to console myself after my snorkelling debacle. The sting of defeat hurts real bad.

Montague island narooma australia


Last weekend I went to the swimming pool to practice my strokes, or the lack of  it. Let’s just say that I was the slowest in the slow lane. It didn’t help that the two young girls in my lane propelled from one end to another like a machine on superfuel.


Related post : Gulp, cough,  sink – my first swimming class


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32 thoughts on “The snorkelling debacle

  1. Well, I think you can try and try to overcome the fear part, if you are confident with your swimming part, and that is very essential……nice reading your humor filled adventure….:)

  2. My Dear Raj,

    Though I don’t get your fear, as I’m a avid lover for all things sea/ocean/diving/snorkeling/marine life. Yet, I can imagine in some ways how intimidating it can be for someone who has the fear of the unknown.
    I was in Andamans last month and dived/snorkeled my way through happily, though while snorkeling when I chose to leave the life buoy, I kind of freaked out a tad bit. I guess it’s the enormity of the sea that proves to be intimidating.

    Don’t worry, you ain’t alone in this fear. I can see in your comments so many other bloggers who share the same sentiments as you.

    I love the perfect dose of humour you throw in to your posts.
    Hugs <3

  3. Well, as a lifelong [competitive] swimmer, I find it hard to put myself into your fins. But, I can understand where you are coming from. It sounds like you are taking the right approach to eventually overcoming your fears….all the best!!!!

  4. I’m so sorry to hear you weren’t able to snorkel, but glad you stayed safe and are using it as motivation to become a better swimmer. I wasn’t always a strong swimmer either and it can be really nerve-wracking, especially when you’re in a situation like this one. Thanks so much for being brave and sharing your experience!

  5. I’m sorry you couldn’t make it after all. I have a mild claustrophobia and went snorkeling in Flores, Indonesia last summer. I started to panic when I put the mask on. I thought I couldn’t breath. My husband and son were already left the beach and I struggled by myself. The only thing helped me because I kept telling myself that we flew all the way from the U.S. for this. Be brave. Keep calm. I finally made it and wanted to stay longer in the water. I hope you can make it on your next one.

  6. As a former lifeguard, I have seen this so many times. Consider going slowly at first and starting in water you can touch in. Have someone work with you to build your confidence and then move into the deeper water when you’re more comfortable.

  7. Oh my, as i am reading this my heart was beating nervously as if I could feel your stress/nerves through each sentence. So sorry you went through this.

    Most of my friends call me a “waterbaby”, as being in the ocean is my favourite place to be. However, I never really read someone explain their fear of water before. I am glad that you gave it a try however. Hopefully after a few months exercising in the pool, you might feel better/the confidence about going snorkeling. I took swimming classes from age 4, so that’s why I’ve always been comfortable in the water from my teens. All the best to you dear 🙂

  8. The post is so well written and gripping. I can associate with every word of it. Reading you account felt as if i was also there in person doing it along with you 🙂

  9. I might have some recommendations for you to overcome this fear. I probably am like this about diving at this point but I can easily go snorkel now. Although I’m a good swimmer I am scared of the ocean. It’s so embarrassing to see 5 year olds jump off the deck while I am still coping up my fear. Here are my tips for you – Take additional floating equipment with you in the water such as life jacket, floating noodle, or even the floating tire if needed. Ask your snorkel tour crew if they have an assisted snorkel tour. In assisted snorkel tours someone from the team takes you with a floating tire. It always help calm the nerves down when you have someone confident along with you. Even if they don’t have that program ask your husband to wait for you and to patiently take you with him since he seems to be a good swimmer. My husband has helped me a lot until I get the confidence of swimming on my own around. And finally take a deep breath, calm down and peep inside the ocean. Once you see the life underwater everything suddenly becomes so much easier. Good luck next time girl!

  10. I counld never try doing snorkeling without my life jacket. Imagine how hard that is. These water spots have the best view underneath it. Glad you did it! you look so brave with that

  11. I know how you felt. First time I went snorkeling in South China sea – I went through the same. But, once I let go, watching the underwater world was heaven.

    You were chanting Gayatri Mantra. You would always be fine.

  12. You literally just described my first snorkelling experience off the coast of Cambodia! I love the ocean and beach, but for some reason the thought of being in open water so far from the shore freaks me out – definitely saw life flash before my eyes when I got into the water as well.

    It’s definitely something I want to overcome…so round two soon. But I think closer to shore would be better!

  13. Ok so I went a long time without swimming and I started practicing again for doing triathlons. I swam as a kid, but I honestly felt like I was flailing around and so uncoordinated. I have to say I practiced and practiced and one day it just clicked again. I suddenly felt so comfortable and calm in the water again, so keep practicing! It will get easier and more natural I promise! What’s great is you will learn to relax in the water and just float! When I snorkel you can just kind of gently kick and focus on your breathing!

  14. Ahhh, so vivid and beautifully told. I’m sorry you didn’t make it in but I understand the Captain calling you back. Safety first. Maybe you’re right, maybe that was a little out of your depths this time. Hit that slow lane, you’ll get them next time!

  15. Those are some mesmerizing pics you have here, I love water, but am as scared as you when it comes to try something new. I had gone snorkeling once and found it really wonderful, I would anytime want to go deeper again. I think it changes with time, and you sure will get the hang of it the second time.

  16. Oh you know what, I don’t know how to swim. I’m scared of water. When we went to Mauritius, S wanted to do under sea walk and registered me as well for it. I cannot tell you how petrified I was. I went below only for him and I was scared the whole time. I has to be coaxed and literally taken by one of the instructors. I will never do it again and I have not stopped blaming S for taking me there. So don’t worry, I would have done the same thing had I been with you:)

  17. I’m petrified of water, so I get what you are saying. I’ve been trying to take up swimming for years now and have never succeeded. 2018 would be the year of swimming, I hope.

  18. Atleast you tried and that is more important. I remember taking my son for his swimming classes and he clinging to the ladder. It is not easy. Better luck next time dear.

  19. Can you imagine I tried to dive? I can totally relate to this post. I’m sure you read that post from Andamans. The ocean just seems to engulf. It’s huge and the enormity of it seems unwavering.
    But see the positive side – you got to see the views and click these shots. 🙂

  20. Aw that’s sad – that you couldn’t do it, not that you didn’t die :-). But I can understand that feeling exactly – the one that made you cling to the ladder and refuse to let go. Maybe next time you will be able to overcome your fear.

  21. Awww, Raj, hugs dear girl! I, too, ain’t no swimmer and I know what you must have been through! I am happy you are safe…Don’t feel guilty, dear. Learn to swim as best as you can and then try it again. If not, sit on the shore and enjoy the scenery. I will join you there. I am not going snorkelling either! 😛

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