It was a new moon on the night eight valiant sailors set sail from Mumbai to Goa in a J122E to catch the India Bike Week 2015 last month in February. The round trip covered a week with two days of sailing to the destination non-stop, two or three days on land and two days of sailing back to the home port. Out of the team members, only three of them had experienced off-shore sailing and the others were well versed with tackling the winds within the harbor. It was a one-of-a-kind first time experience for them and they would recommend it to anyone who is ready for an adventure and up for enduring some highly disciplined yet fun outdoor living! Sit back and read on about their exciting escapade…
A little about the sailboat and preps before the voyage…
Though Ayesha Lobo has sailed to Goa in sailboats much smaller, like the J24 which are almost half the size of the J122E, she recommends that one chooses a boat that suits them best in terms on size, stability and on-board living. The versatile J/122E is a beautiful 40 footer cruiser/racer with comfortable live-aboard accommodations, a refined deck layout, low VCG keel with a moderate 7.2′ draft. She is the ultimate combination of endearing sailing performance and comfort for a sailboat of her size, she is as easy-to-handle by a couple as for a full crew to race around the buoys! Sunil Lobo tells us about the adequate planning and checking of the vessel and the paperwork which is a must before the journey. The boat was checked inside out, he says, engine, rigging, sails, safety equipment and a spare anchor were all in place and complete function. Paper work involved informing both ports and the coast guards well in advance of the trip. Having a shore-team in place helps tremendously as they take care of many things like providing the dinghies to go on to shore and back, or any crucial/helpful information like sudden change of weather conditions. Local knowledge comes in handy when you have to avoid fishing nets and rocks and steer into a clear and safe course. Performing a safety drill and maintaining an absolutely disciplined code of conduct are paramount.
As mentioned earlier it was the first time for the majority of the crew who were making an offshore voyage, hence it was an incredible learning experience for them. With two Yacht masters on board, Ayesha and Sandeep, both RYA qualified, the boat was in capable hands, nonetheless everyone was asked to be alert and vigilant through the journey. They worked in 12 hour shifts rotating every 4 hours between them. The J122 sailed between the shipping channel and the shore, hence land remained always more or less in sight. The team learned many new skills like chart plotting both on paper (hard copy) and electronic devices. They sailed with the kite up during the day, racing with the wind but put it away at night for a calm and smooth ride. The crew kept in touch with loved ones sending SMS regularly and through the radio. If you are wondering if there’s much to do once you are on a boat and in the middle of the sea, you’d be surprised to learn that there’s plenty! During the day there were so many fun activities to indulge in and the nights were equally magical thanks to no moon in the skies!
Activities on board…
Besides taking the wheel, the team performed the man-overboard drill (with a bucket) while the boat was in motion and at good speed. This situation calls for immediate action when a crew member accidentally falls off the boat. It may sound fun to you but getting that person back aboard is harder than you think! Unless you do the right things, fast, when someone falls overboard, that person could be lost. Man-overboard (MOB) fatalities make up 24% of all boating mishaps. Hence this activity, though very entertaining, had to be performed with utmost seriousness. Later some of the crew took a quick dive into the crystal waters. You also need to watch out for sea snakes in the waters if you intend to stop the boat and take a dip or a quick swim or go snorkeling and diving. They are much more dangerous and poisonous and it is a good idea to carry anti-venom if you wish to perform such daredevil antics.
Fishing ofcourse was the next most thrilling pass time and no, they had no fancy equipment on board, not even fishing rods. By just throwing in some bait tied to a line, they managed to pull in a sizable catch! Beginner’s luck? Pretty impressive I’d say! Though Ayesha was insistent on putting it back into the sea, fate had it otherwise. The fishy traveled back to Mumbai to be deliciously barbequed and relished. Another fun activity on board is going up the mast when there is no wind and the boat is more or less still. If you’re wondering what’s so great about that… well, the picture below explains it all Ahoy Meghna! That’s a great shot from your first time up there.
Although it is hot during the day and you are out in the sun, it is comparatively more comfortable when you are out on the waters. It’s way cooler and the breeze makes it a very pleasant experience. Getting to the most exciting part of the voyage – sailing on a new moon night, this was a first for all of them! During the day you have visual references like the shore or other boats in the distance but night sailing is very different. During the day you are looking down at the charts to navigate, believe it or not, at night you are looking up at the stars for the same! Although a no moon meant sailing in almost pitch darkness, the stars were very clear and brightly shown in the skies. It was an overwhelming experience sailing your course with the stars to guide you. Its instant gratification says Nandan who owns the boat. Did you know one can download free apps that see stars and help you navigate? Woaw I’d like to check this out. You open the app and point your screen towards the sky. The app automatically catches the patterns and tells you the star constellation you are pointing to. Mind blowing!
It is essential to keep yourself adequately hydrated and well fed during the journey. One can never carry enough hence you also need to be disciplined with the stock you take along and consume. There could be a leak or some unforeseen spill, so one should be prepared for such situations. Last and most importantly, I’d like to mention Rohit who was the chef in charge on board! He prepared gourmet meals for the crew which kept them delighted and satisfied. Meals included simple dal and rice, tacos, pasta, bacon and eggs, garlic toast and lots of coffee. The yacht masters on night shifts looked forward to their mid night and 4 am cuppa. For persons who are completely new to off shore sailing and have had no more experience than a one or two hour sail in the harbour, it is advised that they make stops in between the voyage. There are many destinations to explore in between Mumbai and Goa with decent facilities if you want to stay a night over. These include Nangaon, Ganpatiphule, Jaigarh, Rewdanda, etc
To conclude, if you liked this article and have a story of your own to share, do write in! If you would like to learn how to sail or experience a similar voyage, get in touch today and get planning. The summer vacation awaits!
For more information contact:
Ayesha: +91 9930194695