The boat and I bid a final farewell to Goa and the River Mandovi on the 19th of October. It was a languid Arabian Sea we sailed into.
Goa had been as hectic as could be. Though contracted work finished well in time one must understand that work in the boat is mostly akin to that of a housewife- there is too much of it and it is endless. Thankfully, we have Ratnakar. Not only did he spare his men and his own time and advice, he also helped with stocking up the boat on essential spares too. He has even promised to make himself present at Mumbai a few days prior my departure to help is as many ways as he can. More than anything, he is a confidence booster.
Within days of our arrival at Goa, Cdr Donde joined us. It meant just one thing- a doubling of experience and tripling of working hands. He busied himself fault finding and chiding before getting his hand dirty with repairs. That is the kind of shore support one would need at this juncture and that is exactly what I have. Vishal Sharma, who had sailed with us to Malaysia had joined sometime in October and augmented the working hands.
It was on the 5th of the month that I had a couple of surprise visitors who had travelled all the way from Mumbai just to see the boat. Swapnali and Mugdha left a box of chocolates and a lot of wishes behind.
One of the weekends, Ratnakar and his friends threw a party to bid farewell. In the end they gifted me a tee shirt with personal messages from each and everyone present. Work carried on at hectic pace even as we did two sailings for media. There were India TV, India Vision, ToI, Nat Geo among others.
The following Sunday the boat was thrown open to visitors at the Captain of Ports Jetty. The response was nothing short of overwhelming and there was no moment when the boat was not filled to capacity. Visitors who came alone in the morning went back to get their family, friends and relatives. Children got brochures autographed and many adults got their tees signed. One of the visitors was a seven year old who left a hand made post card with directions to carry it around the world and mail it to him at the end of the voyage. No wonder, Goa is still a seafaring people at heart and I hope they remain so for ever.
On the 15th I had to travel to Delhi for a final round of briefing. It was an Air India flight which had a halt at Mumbai enroute. One of the naval commanders who was flying in the aircraft alerted the captain about my presence and he walked up to my seat to personally wish good luck for the voyage. That was followed by an announcement in the onward flight from Mumbai.
Truly, adventure is not dead in the hearts of Indians. I have not met with anyone so far from any walk of life who has been pessimistic about the voyage. If this is a sign of changing times, I am sure we will soon have a population that will play an active role in the resurgence of the country.
On the 19th we bid farewell to Goa and the River Mandovi that had been home to the boat for as long as we can remember. Weather predictions, as is the wont had changed suitably to gift me with relentless head winds. Neha and Ashima from Nat Geo and Mayank from the Sunday Indian formed part of the crew. Neha was an old hand for she has already sailed on this boat from Goa to Mumbai in 2009. As far as Ashima and Mayank are concerned, I do hope they enjoyed the company of the boat and the sailing as much as we enjoyed “Ashima’s company".