Total Pageviews

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Becalmed, but where is the chopping board?

06-11-12-2000-sagarparikram2-1The first three days out of Mumbai was a dream run. There was wind on the quarter (for a change because I am known for my jinx with headwinds) and the course and speed were just perfect. We were quickly putting distance between us and the coast and in a couple of days time we were 300 miles away from Mumbai and the noise of shore and landmines of fishing nets.
Things began to change by the third day when it became apparent that Nilam was dying. The breeze slowly went down scale as I dug myself deeper into a windless hole. We did only 120 miles that day. I tried to keep up boat speed changing sails as often as I could. But even hoisting the 2000 square feet A3 did not improve things much. We have been becalmed the last couple of days.
Light winds offer a peculiar condition. Even with a mild swell, the sails thrash about and it becomes imperative that I take them off lest they tear before crossing the Equator.
_DSC0028Raising and lowering the main sail is never easy. You could ask anyone who has come for a day sail with us. Hoisting 100 kilograms over  a seven storey building on a hot day with your bare hands can leave one terribly exhausted. And I have been doing that something like three times a day on average. The genekar is something I have rigged only with a crew of three assisting me, but the last few days I have been doing that alone. With all this, I am managing a meagre 40- 50 miles a day. Hopefully things should change soon. As they say, wind can blow only in one direction in the North Pole. For me, its just a matter of time.
_DSC0020How badly are we becalmed? Here is an example. I woke up this morning to find a sea and sky that were merging at a horizon that was indistinguishable from one another. It was like living inside of a cotton ball. Yesterday the sea was so calm in the evening that there were stars in the ocean and you couldn’t tell which was was up and which way was down. Not a whiff of wind, not a ripple in the sea.
On the other hand, I have managed to catch up on sleep.  I also had my first bath in four days (in sea water of course!). The water maker, which is a bit iffy at the best of times, was tested and satisfactorily made “fresh” water after a bit of cajoling. I was subsisting on fresh fruits and vegetables till now but yesterday I took out some potatoes and boiled them. With the dried fish pickles that came from grandfather, the potatoes tasted well! Today morning was brown bread sandwich of peanut butter and banana.
Bad news though. It was only when I was trying to cut the potatoes that I realised that we have no chopping board on the boat. I will have to manufacture one now. On the flip side, I have an excess of one grasshopper, one sparrow and two dragonflies. Its just my bad luck that they don’t make for good chopping boards.
Meanwhile, Neha from Nat Geo sent in a link to the story she did on the Mhadei. Great pictures there and a great article… read on!
Maybe you should just buy a copy. Its well worth it.


  1. wish u get ur favourable winds nd positive conditions ahead!..U dont hav nythng like chopper in ur tool box?..aww u have to make one.

  2. Lucky you sir , live your dream ...... enjoy n keep posting

  3. Your narration is exemplary. U R actually giving us an opportunity to virtually travel with you. I am thoroughly enjoying reading them and take my words all your blogs together will surely make a best adventurous novel. Nevertheless to say, our wishes are always with u.

  4. Superb narration Abhilash. Feel as if I am travelling with you. Looking forward to your posts and Praying for good winds.

  5. Great narration Abhilash. Lord Varuna will definitely oblige you. Keep going buddy.

  6. Great going Tomy. Super writing!!!!!

  7. What a captivating narrative, and some seriously splendid writing, Abhilash! Will catch-up on the previous posts as I have some time off work now.
    God Speed, Abhilash! All our prayers and best wishes are with you! My six-year-Old Daughter was intrigued by your blog, my 'reading aloud' and the explanation about what solo circumnavigation means.... her big eyes widened even more and I can see you've inspired a whole new generation of kids!!
    Love and Luck, and lots of Hope,

  8. Super writing, looking forward more write up.

  9. Could finally open this post after several attempts over the past few days. You write as well as you sail. And sparrows do make for splendid company. As for the cotton ball analogy - simply brilliant. Did I mention that I am now unashamedly jealous of you! Even the 100 kgs of sail weight don't compensate for the chance to be out on a place where the sun and the sea merge.

    1. I think it might have been because I reposted the blog. Glad you are liking it! Maybe someday you can have your own yatch and sail out too.

  10. Cool... Keep writing Abhilash Bhai..
    Await more experiences.
    Gob Bless..

  11. Hope you don't have any "Wilson" for company in addition to the sparrow and grasshopper. By the time you get back I would have probably left the Service.

  12. fantastic journal...feels like being there yourself....dont know about the mantis and the dragon flies...but maybe you can train the sparrow to be good look out!

  13. May the sea god Varuna protect you every second on your fantastic voyage.You are the GREATEST INDIAN