On the last leg of its two-month training cruise covering Langkawi and Phuket besides Indian naval ports, naval sailing vessel Mhadei skippered by Lieutenant Commander Abhilash Tomy arrived here on Thursday.
On Tuesday, the boat will set course for Goa, from where it had begun the voyage on March 17.
“The return leg, started from Phuket on May 7, was pretty interesting, as we were heading straight into the south westerly winds. The rough weather, with gales blowing at speeds of 40 knots, sent the boat bobbing up and down and in zigzag fashion. While, on an average, we sailed almost 150 nautical miles everyday, we were only coming closer to the shore by about 70 miles,” said Lt. Cdr. Tomy.
As a result, the sail boat veered off from the designated path and had to sail 2,100 nautical miles instead of a linear distance of 1,400 nautical miles to berth at Kochi.
There were other issues, too. En route to Kochi, Mhadei's toilet pump was damaged, but the crew managed to mend it. In the meantime, its reverse osmosis plant developed a snag, posing a new challenge. Worse, the strong winds tore the main sail of the boat. “We clipped the torn portion and sailed using 75 percent of the sail area,” said Lt. Cdr. Tomy.
As the boat reaches Goa in early June, it would have traversed about 6,000 nautical miles as part of the voyage instead of the 5,000 miles — distance as the crow flies — originally envisaged.
Undertaken to train more naval personnel in ocean sailing, the first leg of the voyage had a crew comprising Lieutenant Vishal Sharma, Mohammed Izhar Alam and Bhanu Pratap Blavant.
The return leg has Lieutenant Sandesh Keshav Singh, a submariner; LRO Sushil Kumar Solanki; and LSM Indukuri Sandeep Kumar Reddy manning the boat besides the skipper.
Once the voyage gets over, Lt. Cdr. Tomy will most likely embark on a non-stop solo circumnavigation of the globe on the same yacht. Originally a Dornier pilot, he is awaiting clearance from the Naval Headquarters to carry out the rare feat, which is likely to take off in November.
Lt. Cdr. Tomy had provided shore assistance to Commander Dilip Donde when he circumnavigated the world solo on INSV Mhadei in 2010. He has already logged over 25,000 nautical miles on the boat over the past three years.