The Sun shone bright on warship INS Sharda at the Naval base in Kochi on Tuesday as Kochiite Lieutenant Commander Abhilash Tomy, fresh from breaking into the elite league of extraordinary seafarers who have gone around the world solo without halts, recounted experiences from the pioneering venture by an Indian.
The turbulent seas he sailed past and the storms he weathered during the six-month odyssey seemed to have further mellowed the young man, all of 34, but with an undying fire in the belly to surge beyond the mundane and the mediocre.
The youth, he says, should invest in themselves, as this is the best time in their lives to explore the worlds within.
An avid reader and photographer, Abhilash plans to put down his record-breaking experience in black and white, as he is the “best person to record what happened out at sea”.
Thanks to the popularity of his blog, sagarparikrama2.blogspot.com, there have been enquiries from a few publishers.
Meanwhile, Commander Dilip Donde, Abhilash’s mentor and the first Indian to circumnavigate the globe, with stops, on the robust INSV Mhadei, is ready with the manuscript for his forthcoming volume on his circumnavigation. He is on the lookout for the right publisher to take it to a wider audience. The book will have Marathi and probably Malayalam renderings as well, Cdr. Donde told The Hindu.
Flanked by his father Lt Cdr (retd) V.C. Tomy, Abhilash, a maritime recce pilot, says the singular most support as he was toying with the idea of non-stop circumnavigation was provided by his aged grandfather. The lessons learnt from the debut Sagarparikrama undertaken by Cdr. Donde and an unflinching faith in his mettle stood him in great stead as he set about the solo voyage.
Though he was never in a communication dead zone, stormy weather, freezing temperatures, a conked-out water purification plant, contaminated water and a torn genoa sail tested his ingenuity and skills. The toughest part was when he had to climb the 12-metre mast, taking almost two hours, in the Pacific to replace the sail, something he never imagined he would have to do.
Self-discipline holds the key to conquering the odds, says the adventurist, who neither smokes nor drinks. Freeze dry food from New Zealand, ready-to-eat food made by the Defence Food Research Laboratory (DFRL), fish pickle given by his grandfather besides sun-dried fruits and vegetables tickled his taste buds during the expedition. There never was a dull moment, as he was ‘self-intoxicated’, he says.
On a lighter note, the voyage also taught him the utility of the famed lungi — traditional single-piece garment draped around the waist. “I realised how comfortable it was wearing the lungi in tropical climes,” he says.