The rime of the Indian Navy mariner - The New Indian Express

The rime of the Indian Navy mariner

Published: 08th October 2013 09:30 AM

Last Updated: 08th October 2013 09:31 AM

For Lt Commander Abhilash Tomy, it wasn’t weeks of solitary sailing that depressed him. It was the sight of a patch of land, that did the trick. “A friend had mailed me to go see Cape Horn. So I went as close to it as possible, saw the land and left immediately,” he said, displaying his affection for the seven seas. Tomy, who was the first Indian to circumnavigate the globe, solo and non-stop, was in the city as the brand ambassador of India International Regatta. Cape Horn is considered the Mount Everest of ocean sailing and he passed it on January 26 as India celebrated its Republic Day.

Talking about his days on ship, he said that being alone gave him a chance to introspect and meditate. The Navy would contact him once a day but Tomy would ask them not to worry in an irritated tone.

The Navy-sponsored voyage — from November 2012 to March 2013 — in INSV Mhadei, brought a lot of publicity for sailing and also taught people how to lead a better life with less resources.

“After I reached Mumbai, people started asking ‘what did you eat, how did you sleep’. People thought I would crave  a lot of food, but I had lost all cravings,” he said.

Post the sailing attempt, today the Navy officer makes sure he stops driving after 1 pm and commutes by bicycle. He has also stopped eating meat. 

Surviving with the frozen food developed by the Defence Food Research Laboratory, the officer, who is now posted in Mumbai, saw 150 days and 23,000 nautical miles, crossing three major capes — Cape Horn, Cape of Good Hope and Cape Leeuwin. During the course of his journey, he had to put up with erratic weather conditions with temperatures ranging from 40 degrees to 4 degrees. Also, he had to manage with only a bucket of water for 15 days towards the end.

And yet, Tomy said that if given a chance, he wouldn’t mind taking another trip round the globe again. “Circumnavigation was an excuse for me to go out explore the seas. I sold it to the Navy with an idea of setting a record,” said the officer with a smile. 

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