We Want A Sea-Change! Mumbai Marina Please Hurry

From infrastructure to regulation policies, everyone is well aware of the rising number of obstacles our boating industry faces. We bring you the innovative suggestions and feedback from various companies and the first change they want to see in place when the season re-opens in October. What is this change? Who is going to make this change? What’s it going to take to make this change? Why has this change not come about so far? When is this change coming about? Read on to find the answers to these questions. 2011 may just be the “Year of Sea-Change”!

Mumbai still remains the heart of boating in India. So, why is there no Marina in Mumbai? Do the winds blow in the wrong direction causing the sea to dance violently and destruct? Do monsoons affect tide levels to the disadvantage of any construction along the shoreline? Are breakwaters an impossibility or next to a wasteful exercise, not to mention environmentally damaging? Is it the government’s reluctance to understand that boating increases employment and earnings? Is somebody not asking the right questions to the right persons and hence not getting the right answers? Why, why is there no marina in Mumbai? When the season re-opens in October, the following are the minimal changes that must be in place in Mumbai.

  1. A landing stationin the form of a temporary floating pontoon structure to ensure safe embarkation is the minimum infrastructure required at the Gateway of India. Whether you are Tina or a tindle, safety is for one and all. The slipway needs a makeover before somebody slips over!
  2. A fuel stationexclusively for pleasure boats is the first safety and security measure ignored at the Gateway of India. It is urgently required along the coastline to prevent wastage, pollution and unforeseen accidents. Transporting fuel in jerry cans in a crowded area where people chuck cigarette ends heedlessly is extremely dangerous. If no one looks into this matter there’s going to be a different kind of an explosion and terrorists will be the last to be blamed!
  3. A docking stationfor boats especially during the monsoons and for their upkeep and maintenance is the next in question. Many persons say that given the conditions at hand a marina in Mumbai is a far off fantasy. A marina or docking stations for boats can be considered on the opposite side of the harbor, or a little along the coastline. A marina in Mandwa sounds perfect, as long as it does not meet the same fate as that of the Mandwa jetty.

Let’s pause here. May be its inconvenient to build anything at the shoreline. Let’s build it bang in the middle of the sea. The success of the Bandra-Worli sea-link inspires thought. What if a marina arose from the middle of the sea in the form of a tower, a gigantic lighthouse! Boats could be housed inside of it. And that’s not all, it would include offices, sailing schools, clubs, restaurants, a hotel and shopping centers, with infotaiment and entertainment designed around sailing or water sports and yachting activities. Imagine the boost tourism will achieve out of it! Mumbai city would change.

  1. Separate laws ruling pleasure crafts may take a while to come about but we have six months left to make 2011 the year of sea change. Foreign as well as Indian sailors are frustrated by the never-ending procedures necessary to access and leave Indian ports, causing waste of time and fears about the continuation of their safe sailing. Here’s what the industry has to say:

Roshini Pahlajani, Oceanstyle: “The very first change I want implemented when the season re-opens in October is a cohesive boating policy to address licensing, registration, and passage of pleasure boats in their own category.”
Pavel Dremine, Nanotekmarine: “Opening the coastline for a fully free navigation 24 hours a day is the first change I want to see.”
Nitin Peter, Valeth: “Certification procedures and criteria of IRS are the very first change I want implemented when the season re-opens in October.”
Khojesteh K. Yacht Charters India: “Security at Gateway of India needs to change.”
Cyrus Heerji, VP, RBYC: “Simpler registration policy for pleasure boats and free movement along the inter-state coast is the first change I want in place by October.”

  1. The last but not the least on the list are: the venue of Mumbai’s boat show, stepping up the promotion of the yacht club and cleanliness of the sea. The Government must consider granting special permissions for the venue of boat shows in Mumbai. After all, this particular kind of trade show is like no other, its business is the sea and it cannot take place anywhere far from it. It makes no business sense. Hence it makes no business. The government must make this industry an exception and allot special privileges to it.

The Royal Bombay Yacht Club (RBYC) is like a lost gem in rubble. So many persons who are curious about yachting and stay in Colaba or Cuffe Parade do not even know that a yacht club or the smaller sailing clubs exist in their own vicinity! Adding to this is the misconception that boating is only for the elite. It is only when the smaller clubs grow and sailing picks up will the culture truly set in. When people become fond of water activities they will develop a careful attitude towards the environment.

Cleanliness, anywhere in India, (forget the sea) is by far the most challenging change. Yachting is a culture that brings about a change in “attitude”. Cleanliness is more than just a physical change. It is a behavioral change and it is a strong reflection on culture.

A temporary pontoon in the Mumbai harbour, opposite the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, during the Mumbai Boat Show

To summarize, the many “first changes” we want to see when the season re-opens:
• A landing station / floating pontoon at Gateway of India
• A fuel station
• A docking station
• Freedom of movement along India’s coastline
• A better land venue for boat shows in Mumbai adjacent to the sea
• Promoting yacht clubs and sailing in Mumbai

Can the powers that be put on their collective thinking hats and work on a feasible solution? And hurry?

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