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Friday, January 4, 2013

2012- A Double Leap Year


20130101 nat geoWe weaved through the sub Antarctic islands of New Zealand in the hope of catching a glimpse of land before being hurtled into the vast desolate seascape of the Pacific. Far from sighting an island, I could not even see a cloud that could be attributed to the presence of land nearby. By the 30th of December we had passed New Zealand signifying the beginning of the third leg of this circumnavigation. The last patch of land had been left behind on our 4000 mile long passage across the largest water body in the world.

low res 2As I did so, I shouted a big hello to my brother and Mariette in Auckland, and to all the residents of Lyttelton whose acquaintance we had made during Cdr Donde’s stopover. Most of all I will miss the god-fatherly presence of our agent, Peter Rea, master mariner and yachtsman, and the good humoured Merve who had lent his yacht to see off the Mhadei as she left, and George from my hometown who has been working in LPC for over a decade. The “little town with a large heart” (as Cdr Donde calls it) is home to a very warm and generous people. It was here in New Zealand in 2009 that I had touched snow for the first time at Aoraki, and made use of the layover at Auckland during the transit back to India to visit the gun turret of the Achilles (which later became the first INS Delhi) installed at Davenport. It was a pilgrimage of sorts to visit a turret that had seen action in the Second World War in the Battle of River Plate against the Graf Spee and  later on in the liberation of Goa from the Portuguese. While Admiral Awati served on the old INS Delhi, I did so in the second ship of the same name. low res

Visit this link for more pictures of New Zealand.



Two out of three winters of the Mhadei’s short life has been spent negotiating a passage through the Southern Ocean. In the first year of her commission, she was skippered by Cdr Dilip Donde around the world on the first solo circumnavigation attempt by an Indian. In the second year, she found herself taking part in a trans-Atlantic Race from Cape Town to Rio de Janeiro followed by a solo passage to India. 2011 had been the only aberration as she spent the winter resting in Indian ports after 60,000 miles of sailing. With plans firming up for a non stop solo circumnavigation, 2012 promised to be the most exciting year of her life yet. For that very same reason, the year held a special significance for all those associated with the boat and the project.

Two days after New Zealand we bid farewell to 2012 with the meagre resources I had on-board- a packet of halwa and the other half of a bar of Bourneville that had been saved from Christmas. Six hours later the Mhadei strode across the International Date Line for the second time in her commission and entered into the Western Hemisphere from its west causing a confusion in dates that was worse than the cacophony of unsynchronised clocks. A short lived 2013 was struck off the logbook and 2012 was raised from the dead to serve its last day again which it did begrudgingly. The bilge pump quit soon after I had made the first entry of the day in the log  and then the raw water pump of the generator disintegrated. I replaced both with on-board spares and was boiling water for dinner when the boat lurched throwing me across its width to the leeward and scalding me with hot water. When 2013 arrived again at midnight, I heaved a sigh of relief and made my first new year resolution- never to resurrect a dead year.

But the appearance of the new year so close to the 180th meridian did have its record side - I became the first Indian to welcome the new year before crossing over to the other side to become the last Indian to see off the old year; we had two new year celebrations; the first appearance of 2013 lasted only six hours which afforded me the unique opportunity of holding on to a new year resolution for the entire year of six hours. The question that vexes me though is the extra day that I have lived and  if I must advance my birthday forever by a day.

2013 was seen in by gale force winds that saw wind speeds picking up to 52 knots at one point. Here is a short video shot as India was ringing in the new year at midnight.

52 knots 





Wishing India a very happy new year!

The best New Year’s gift this year has been the article in Nat Geo Traveller India. Pick up your copy if you already haven't!

PS- After spending 64 days at sea covering more than 9000 nautical miles, Sagarparikrama 2 is into her third leg. 03-01-13-2000-sagarparikrama2-2You can also follow the progress of the voyage on Facebook ( or on twitter (@abhilashtomy). National Geographic Traveller India publishes a monthly article on Sagarparikrama2 which comes with some splendid writing and photography.



Next Up- Point Nemo


  1. Very inspired by your blog, Sir! The video and photo album are exciting to see. I think you should advance your birthday by a day. Wishing you and Mhadei a happy new year, Sir!

  2. ever since i came across this i havent stopped reading your blog. your narration of this voyage is awe-inspiring. the videos, the humor-just the way you put your thoughts into words-describe the mood so well-feel like one is experiencing this journey in person.hats-off to you.all the best.cant wait to read more on all your fascinating days ahead.

  3. your pics & videos speak the language of your spirit...great going, sea-farer! Happy New Year..

  4. Hey abhilash, have been tracking your journey, read the article on the natgeotraveller and about the corn soup:)fatty and me saw the video and we loved it and the last bit specially the pause with "happy Newyear" message. keep going.....

    Waiting to build my own boat once you are back;)

    "Every moment and every event of every man's life on earth plants something in his soul."
    Thomas Merton


    1. Haha.. I did not know what else to say! So said a happy new year :D I hope it is a happy one for you.

      Yes, lets build a boat and you can take off without telling Fatty where you are off to :)

  5. Dear Tomy, Both voyages of IN had rocking New Year at Sea with gale force winds. What a coincidence? Am following your moves with gr8 interest. Nice article. Keep it up.

    Warm Regards,
    Cdr N Shyam Sundar

  6. Read your account too sir.. I can only imagine how it would have been there!

  7. Hi Abhilash. Keenly following the progress of your voyage. Good to see that your spirits are high..............will get high on spirits in your honour tonight!!! Keep it up!! And nice blogging!!!!

    Subhal Nathan

  8. Hi Abhilash,
    A belated happy new year and a wonderful, successful and fame-filled 2013 for you. Travel safely and come home quickly.
    Meanwhile, I'm relaunching the Doordarshan News 9 p.m. english news bulletin, which I will be anchoring daily on weekdays. Make sure this is the first TV channel that you come to... our reach is many times more than the private channels, because of our terrestrial reach to practically every village household in India... something that satellite-transmitted private channels do not (yet) enjoy.
    Loved the National Geographic article!
    Cheers and keep smiling,
    Ajai Shukla

    1. I think that is one fantastic news for the day! Glad you have been following the voyage sir and glad you could experience a bit of it first hand yourself. Could you mail me on

  9. Big Bro,
    your every blog is so informative that we are becoming knowledgeable/blog.

    Keep writing even after you reach home.

    All the best for another 10,000 miles (approx) to sail.

  10. Hey,

    Heard about your journey and blog from some of my friends in the navy and must say its been a pleasure to read every single post on this blog.

    Chill out. Godspeed.

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