One good thing about a solo circumnavigation is that you don't have to worry waking up early morning and going to office. I hear today is a Sunday.
The run up to the departure had left me fairly exhausted. We had about nine days in Mumbai but it was so hectic that any memory of Goa and the sailing to Mumbai was completely obliterated. On a good day, I would get about five hours of sleep. I was so well exhausted that I hardly realised how events flew by.
Departure finally happened on the 01st of November as per plan with a cyclone brewing in the eastern coast. There was an overwhelming crowd that came to see the cast off, and those who could not be there saw me off from afar with their wishes. National Geographic Traveller India came with the first 100 copies of their November issue. Many who received these copies came to me for an autograph on the page in which the Mhadei was featured. Taj sent a couple of pizzas that I relished for two full days after the cast off. There were many who came with cards and gifts of books but among them was a person I did not meet and whose face I might never know. Realising that he would not get access into the visitors area and a chance to meet me, he handed over a talisman to an officer in uniform. I have it safely with me and I will be taking it around the world. Whoever that person was, I would want to meet him when I come back.
It was a welcome surprise to see Lord Varuna who came down in person to see me off with a wish of fair winds and following seas and a gift of conch. Perhaps these terms have little significance to the modern day mariner but for a sailboat there is no better wish.
The Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief finally accorded permission to my request to circumnavigate the globe. But before the lines were undone, he gave me a pair of binocculars and a sea cap, and wished that I would do the navy proud. Warships had lined up in column and men had formed up on their sides who raised their caps with slogans of “Victory to the Navy and Victory to Mhadei”. The CinC’s barge with the CinC and Adm Awati, two RIBs with Cdrs Donde and Patankar and Ratnakar, one boat full of press and two sailboats, one of them with Capt (Retd) Homi Motivala followed me all the way out of the harbour.
By the fairway buoy, the main was set and when the last of the spectators had peeled off, a breeze trickled in and the engine was shut. The boat soon settled in sync with the familiar rhythm of the wind and waves. For the mild breeze her speed was not disappointing and I shaped a course away from the coast, away from land and away from the noise of daily life. By the night of the second day we had crossed Angria Bank and on the noon of the second day we were crossing our home port and the mouth of the Mhadei River.
It was only after engaging the autopilot after the fairway buoy that I realised how exhausted I had been. The last two days I have done nothing but sleep. Thankfully, there has not been much traffic and the wind was a mild and steady breeze from the north west. Cyclone Nilam, which I had hoped would give me fresh breeze, disappointed with a disappearing act. But then there are no complaints, for what could be good for me, might have wrecked havoc elsewhere.