Record feat Visakhapatnam

The soaring spirit of a sailor

Commander Dilip Dhonde on the Indian Navy Sailing Ship INSV Mhadei which went round the world twice under Sagar Parikrama project. The boat reached Visakhapatnam from Port Blair and is headed to Chennai. Photo: By Arrangement   | Photo Credit: arranged pic

The spirit of a sailor is ancient, enduring and everlasting. For anyone ready to go out on to the high seas for a long trip braving the odds, willingness to learn and work hard pays and physical fitness comes on its own, says Commander Dilip Donde, the first Indian to circumnavigate the world in an Indian-built boat, the Indian Navy’s iconic yacht INSV Mhadei.

Out on the high seas and braving the roughest South Sea as part of the record-breaking feat, Cdr. Donde has learnt to live with the boat as his companion. “We confront it, we argue with it,” he says when asked how he felt being alone. “I never felt alone,” he says on the affinity with the make-do yacht he had built with his own hands.

He had volunteered for the circumnavigation project – Sagar Parikrama - when the Navy was looking for one. He had begun the circumnavigation on August 9, 2009 and completed it on May 19, 2010.

Out on the high seas no one can reach the yacht when it is going through the rough sea with the waves rising up to 9 meters and “you are on your own,” recalls Cdr. Donde in an interaction on board the boat.

On how he managed to sleep while commandeering the boat alone, he says he catnaps. It has an auto pilot system that goes on a set course but one has to watch out on the seas and put up the sails when required. He quotes the reply of a South African woman who came onboard once, “It is like managing a two-month-old baby. When it wakes up, you have to take care of it.”

To answer all the questions on his sailing trip he authored the book “The First Indian: Story of the First Solo Circumnavigation under Sail.”

INSV Mhadei is in Visakhapatnam having set sail from Goa to complete 100,000 nautical miles in six years. The crew has a woman officer. It will go back to Goa in time for celebration.

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Printable version | Nov 26, 2020 9:55:25 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Visakhapatnam/The-soaring-spirit-of-a-sailor/article10953379.ece

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