It’s a sultry afternoon as we trudge along the beach making our way to the water’s edge. The sand is hot beneath my feet and the sound of the waves is calling out to me. The prospect of riding some of those waves in the azure sea is promising.
Closer to the shoreline, Meghanathan (my guide for the day) and his mate are lugging a shiny jet ski off the back of the tractor that they’ve just driven in. I am at Beach Adventures in Pattipulam for a jet ski ride. Once everything is set, Meghanathan invites me to sit behind him and as I hold on tight we’re off. The start is a little bumpy as waves break closer to the shore; every time the jet ski hits a wave, I’m worried I’ll fall off. But as we make our way further into the sea the ride becomes smoother and Meghanathan gently steers the machine and turns around to check if I’m doing okay. He then suggests letting me ride the jet ski. And just like that, mid-sea he stands up and urges me to scoot forward and take control of the machine while he rides pillion.
I work the accelerator, tentatively at first, but slow down soon, worrying that if I ride too fast the jet ski might tip and we’ll be in the water. But with Meghanathan’s encouragement I slowly let myself trust the machine and feel it pick up speed as we go farther away from the shore. “We usually don’t allow guests to ride the jet skis themselves,” says Benedict, “There’s always a guide riding the machine.” Guests might be able to ride themselves once they’ve trained for a few hours and are well versed with the safety aspects.
The brainchild of Sathya Narayanan and Benedict Nirmal, Beach Adventures launched in 2016. It offers enthusiasts a host of water sports to choose from; the perfect way to beat the Chennai heat and of course appreciate the city’s expansive coastline. One can choose from jet ski, shore fishing, deep sea fishing and floater rides. “Sathya and I go back a long way and we both travel overseas extensively. We found several places abroad that offer adventure sports that keep people engaged. Goa has some of them. But there wasn’t much here. That’s when we decided to set up this facility here,” says Benedict. “We got in touch with a jet ski distributor and bought two machines; one a high-speed jet ski. We also got in touch with our friend Sundar G, who has been operating Off Road Sports here for a while now. Once we had all the necessary permissions and had set up safety procedures we launched Beach Adventures.
The crew here are local fishermen, who still go about their regular fishing and double up as guides at Beach Adventures. “We’re usually quite busy on the weekends. We also have a lot of corporates signing up for activities here,” says Benedict. Most people usually head to Pattipulam for a spot of jet ski towards late afternoon.
Safety does figure high on their list. Each of the jet skis has a panic button, a front camera and an emergency torch. “Guests are requested to wear a life jacket at all times and there are back up boats stationed by the shore in case the need arises,” explains Benedict.
We soon make our way towards the shore, Meghanathan takes over once again, this time asking if I’m okay with some speed. Wave after wave hurls itself against us as he expertly manoeuvres the scooter and lets it ride the waves. “The machines are designed to go up to 90 kmph. As long as you feel like you can control the machine, speed isn’t a problem,” says Meghanathan, as we suddenly spot a tentacle surface before us. But it’s gone before we can make out what it is… an octopus maybe.
I hop off at the shore, and with windswept hair and sea spray in my face, I yearn for another spin on the mean machine. Maybe next time.
In this column, we hunt for adrenaline-filled activities in and around Chennai