Cdr. Dilip Donde Recounts His Epic Voyage In A Book

In May 2010, Commander Dilip Donde became the first Indian to complete a solo circumnavigation of the globe. He made four stops in his journey. Cdr. Dilip Donde’s book, The First Indian – Story Of The First Indian Solo Circumnavigation Under Sail, published by the Maritime History Society, is based on his experiences. The book, released by Maharashtra Governor K Sankaranarayanan and Commander-In-Chief, Indian Navy, Anil Chopra, charts the construction of Cdr. Dilip Donde’s sailing yacht, the INSV Mhadei, and his 10 months at sea. This Indian has not only created history, but started a tradition, mentored another to follow his footsteps and set off a million sailing aspirations in a sea blind nation. Do buy a copy of the book on Amazon if you want to know what it takes to be “the First Indian”. India Yacht Page is happy to bring to you a short interview of the man himself, we thank Cdr. Dilip Donde once again for his contribution and wish him the best!


For how long did you train before taking up the Sagarparikrama mission and what made you take it up?
I volunteered for project Sagarparikrama on 27 Apr 06 and tried training myself whenever I could find time between doing the necessary paperwork, building my boat and testing her till my departure on 19 Aug 09.
Till I volunteered for the project I didn’t even know that people sailed solo around the world. The navy was looking for a volunteer and when I heard about it I immediately volunteered because it sounded like an excellent idea. It was only when I started reading up on the subject that I realized how difficult it was going to be and that increased my resolve to do it.

Tell us a little about the training in a few lines?
I worked in UK and Spain for six weeks with Sir Robin Knox-Johnston in 2006 when he was getting ready to take part in a solo around the world race. He is the first person in the world to have sailed solo and nonstop around the world in 1968/ 69 on the Bombay built boat Suhaili. Subsequently I sailed J 24s and INSV Sameer, a 34 ft naval yacht on the west coast to gather some sea time. I was involved throughout the construction of Mhadei which helped me know, maintain and repair her.

What was the greatest thing you experienced during your journey?
The freedom to be on my own with only myself to rely on!

What was the most difficult thing you endured during your journey?
During a trip such as this on an untested boat there were plenty of difficulties. My steering broke, the autopilots stopped working, sails tore and the list can go on and on. What matters is I managed to fix the problems and continue sailing without taking a detour or asking for any assistance.

What did you do when you were bored?
I don’t recall being bored anytime. There always used to be some work to do and when things were going well I would read, watch movies on my laptop or just enjoy the sea and the solitude.

How much did you sleep? Tell us about your day’s routine
The sleep patterns and daily routine varied depending on the weather, problems in the boat and shipping traffic. I would usually take catnaps, get up to check things and sleep again. In Open Ocean when the wind was steady, the boat sailing well and there wasn’t any shipping traffic I could get enough sleep with catnaps. Close to coast I could get very little sleep due to the chipping and fishing traffic.

What devices did you carry with you to keep you connected with civilization?
I had a satellite phone and internet connection.

Your message to the future sailors who will take up the challenge again?
Throw off the bowlines and get out of the harbours instead of waiting for things to happen. If I could do this with no precedent or knowledge base in the country you can do it too!

Besides sailing, how do you like to spend your time?
I like to read, cook and generally enjoy being at home.

How and where can one purchase your book?
The book can be purchased from

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