Solo circumnavigator may reach Mumbai in April

Last Updated 23 February 2013, 15:13 IST

Abilash Tomy exhausted his entire stock of popcorn, a fortnight after his 34th birthday. Not a problem for most people because all it requires is a short walk to the nearest shop to replenish the stock. Sailing in the middle of nowhere in South Atlantic, Tomy did not have that option.

With the shoreline still six weeks away, Tomy could do little than push his 56 ft sail boat Mhadei as hard as possible to reach Mumbai for devouring his favourite snack. But as luck would have it within days, he lost his Genoa – one of his sails – slowing him down further.

When the Dornier pilot from Indian Navy, who is on a non-stop solo circumnavigation trip around the world, will reach Mumbai by the first week of April, he will be the first Indian who sailed around the globe in 120 days without touching any port.

Though there is no confirmation from Rashtrapati Bhawan yet, but the Navy is making efforts to bring President Pranab Mukherjee, the supreme commander of the armed forces, at a special ceremony to welcome the naval pilot who began his amazaing journey from Mumbai on November 1.

Non-stop solo circumnavigation is an adventure-sport, which few persons have dared so far, as it requires sailing 21600 nautical miles covering all the three oceans, all alone.

More than 5000 have summitted Mount Everest and close to 500 people traveled to the space. But when Tomy completes his voyage, he would be the 81 person and first Indian to complete this daring feat. “" I have proven that the earth is round," Tomy told Deccan Herald in an email as he is keeping touch with the world through his blog and facebook page.

On the Valentine Day, the sailor passed Prime Meridian and after five days he crossed the Cape of Good Hope to enter the Indian Ocean, where he would have to slow down due to unfavourable wind conditions.

As a condition of solo circumnavigation, he crossed three capes in three continents– Cape Leeuwin (Australia), Cape Horn (South America) and Cape of Good Hope (Africa). On the last day of 2012, Tomy sailed across the international date line.

“One has to be mentally very tough to be on the high seas for four months without seeing a human soul and passing through roaring forties, screaming fifties and screeching fifties,” said Rear Admiral Monty Khanna, assistant chief of naval staff.

All repairs in the mid-sea had to be done alone including atop the mast to repair amidst 15 ft high waves on a tossing boat. In between he takes a nap – not more than an hour at a stretch. “When I reach back, I will need popcorn and pizza followed by shave and shower,” he said.

(Published 21 February 2013, 21:08 IST)

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