India Insight

Sailing solo around the world

By Reuters Staff
January 21, 2010

Dilip DondeCommander Dilip Donde of the Indian Navy is on a quest to become the first solo sailor from India to complete a circumnavigation of the globe.

The 42-year-old Donde has reached the halfway mark of his nine-month “Sagar Parikrama” journey. Having started from Mumbai in August 2009, his ‘Mhadei’ vessel passed through Fremantle (Australia) and Christchurch (New Zealand) and has now reached the Falkland Islands.

Here are excerpts from Donde’s blog.

WEDNESDAY, January 13
Mhadei crossed the Horn at about 1500 GMT on 12 Jan in a howling gale that seems to be going from bad to worse. Presently trying to maintaina NE course. More later…

SUNDAY, January 10
Thanks to the good wishes of so many, the sea and wind seem to have been kind to us for the past few days. The wind has been light and shifty which means frequent visits outside to adjust the wind vane and the sails but we are moving — which is what really matters.

The swell is much less and we have been sailing upwind most of the time which puts less stress on the wind vane and the creaky steering. A good current of up to 2 kts has been compensating for the lack of stronger winds to some extent.

Jessica seems to have run ahead to meet up with her parents at Cape Horn. As per her last position she was about 90 Nm ahead so looks unlikely that we will be able to catch up, with a little over 300 miles to the Horn.

MONDAY, January 4
It blew through yesterday and night building up big seas and keeping Mhadei’s crew on tenterhooks with the steering groaning. By morning the wind had come down, the swell reduced marginally and we were moving well again.

At the end of my tether with the groaning of the steering, took a can of WD 40 and sprayed it in every nook and cranny of the steering system without any conviction that it will work. An hour later, I was so happy to have been proven wrong. No more groaning! Not sure what exactly was the problem but the solution seems to have worked which is all that matters.

The weather forecast is predicting another gale in the next couple of hours so waiting and watching the wind. It is really cold now with the temperature dropping below 4 deg C at night and not much better in day time thanks to an overcast sky.

FRIDAY, January 1
Last night as I was checking up various things on deck, I realized that one of the two bolts holding the Wind Vane together had gone off. This was serious especially with the autopilots already on strike. Rushed with a spanner and as I was sitting on the transom putting on a new bolt a couple of waves washed over me soaking me to the inside of my boots.

Exquisite agony is probably a good way to describe it. Managed to put on the bolt without loosing the spanner as my hands had already started going numb, got inside and it was straight in the sleeping bag for a couple of hours after a quick drying up and change of clothing.

Got up grudgingly only when my boat builder, Ratnakar, rang up to wish me a happy new year and discuss a solution to the problems on board. He was celebrating New Year’s with friends and family at Goa but by all indications his mind was on the boat in the Southern Ocean.

Midnight of New Year’s eve, just as I was getting out to change the wind vane with the wind dropping, the phone rang. Finding it a bit odd to receive a phone call close to midnight, picked up the phone and what a pleasant surprise. Jessica calling to wish New Year’s. So very thoughtful of her. Amongst all the new years wishes I have received in all these years and at various places I think I will cherish this, from this gutsy girl 350 Nm away and the nearest human being to me, as the most special. With wishes like these how can 2010 not be anything but great.

As we sail into 2010, here is wishing all the readers, from Mhadei & her crew, a great year ahead and good times to come.

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