It was sometime when Cdr Donde was on his second leg (Freo to Lyttelton) that Adm Awati, mentor of the first project, recommended to the naval headquarters about a more ambitious project - an unassisted solo non stop circumnavigation of the globe- for which I was the natural choice (condemned to volunteer, I would say). It was an attractive idea for the naval headquarters. It did not take long before deciding on a suitable vessel. The Mhadei needed only minor modifications and a short refit before it could be put for the voyage. It was also decided to take part in the Cape to Rio Race-2011, which comprised sailing the boat from Goa to Cape Town and Cape Town to Rio with crew of four, return to Cape Town shorthanded and finally sail her all the way back to Goa single handed. The 17000 miles that she would put under her keel on this voyage coupled with the 3500 miles I already had sailed on her amounted to a circumnavigation in itself. Moreover, there could be no better training.
In due course, I was transferred from the far flung Andaman and Nicobar Islands to INWTC (Mb). A week later I found myself in Goa at INS Mandovi monitoring refit work and modifications being carried out by Ratnakar Dandekar of Aquarius Fiberglas. Soon a crew of four comprising an officer and three sailors joined. Lt Cdr Khajuria is an engineer officer appointed to an RE while the three sailors, viz., Ram Lal, Pankaj Kumar and Pradeep Kumar belong to the aviation cadre of the navy. Cdr Donde dropped in for a few days to oversee progress of work. However, Pradeep Kumar was soon to leave us due to the untimely death of his grandfather.
Modifications and refit to the boat was divided into two, one part of which was to be completed prior to the Race and the other which was to be preparatory to the non stop solo in 2011. Work is progressing well and is expected to complete in time. Hopefully, we should be sailing out on the 20th of Nov to Cape Town.