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Saturday, June 2, 2012

Rounding Cabo Raj Nivas

The long awaited halt in kochi was well worth it. I finally managed to call on the C in C and meet Cmde G P. The press too gave us enough coverage.

There was still time to get used to land before we cast off again. Sleep pattern was almost non existent as were a whole lot of other body cycles. Yet five days were long enough to count for a halt and I was in a hurry to get back to Goa- not for fear of monsoons but the surf and rollers at the mouth of Aguada Bay that worsens from Jun onwards. I have twice entered the channel in two successive monsoons, first out of ignorance and then a second time out of lack of choices. Believe me when I say that it turned out to be a whole lot more exiting than rounding the Cape of Good Hope twice under sail - a perfect reason to break even an unbreakable boat.

That said, I decided to cast off by the 30th of May. Under the influence of the prevailing high in the Arabian Sea, weather predictions began with twenty knots of head winds for the first day trailing off to a ten knot breeze before becoming almost non existent on the third day. So it was to be a lot of slam bang followed by a lot of motoring..and no down wind sailing at all.

The cast off was at 10 in the morning. We were seen off by the officer in charge of the Seamanship School, my father who had come to drop me off and four sailors who had been assigned for unmooring us. Our driver too stayed back out of curiosity.

As soon as we left the channel we got the main up on two reefs (I could not repair the torn sail) and set on a west south westerly course to gain distance from shore in a squall that discharged gale force winds. It showed that the crew had not had enough rest for they soon showed signs of sea sickness. With one man less and despite their condition, they still decided to keep watches on their own keeping me out of the roster.

Things had calmed by the night of the second day when we crossed Mt Dilli after two attempts. One of the crew was still on shaky legs. The rest of the voyage was sailed on motor and sail and then on motor alone. It was my intention to enter Goa on the same day as I had entered last year after a solo passage non stop  from Cape Town.

We were alongside by 1630 hrs yesterday on the jetty by the river and were received by the Commanding Officer of INS Mandovi, Capt Bapna and his staff and a horde of journalists.