THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: He’s definitely ‘The First Indian’ in his own right. The Indian pioneer in solo circumnavigation - and one of the only two Indians to do so - Commander Dilip Donde of the Indian Navy is all set to come out with an eventful account of his solo voyage around the globe onboard INSV Mhadei.
To be released in Mumbai on August 19 - five years after he commenced the historic voyage - the book is titled ‘The First Indian’, a tribute to the adventurous and never-before attempted journey.
In what could be a step towards attracting thousands to un-assisted sailing, the book is based on Commander Donde’s nine-month-long solo sail - ‘Sagar Parikrama 1’ from August 19, 2009, to May 19, 2010. A collection of his jottings throughout the voyage are already online at sagarparikrama.blogspot.in.
However the book offers much more. “The blog was my travelogue once I commenced the circumnavigation. I had been working on the project since 2006 - building the boat, training myself and planning the voyage with no past precedence or experience in the country. The hard work put in during these turbulent years was responsible for building a fine boat like the Mhadei, and the spectacular success of the project. Thus, the story of ‘Sagar Parikrama’ would be incomplete without the story of these years. The book covers my journey from volunteering in April 2006 to completing it in 2010. Since it is difficult to recreate the mood and atmosphere I was in, while writing the blogs, I have included them in the book, and added things that were not written in them due to the constraints of weather, space or sheer tiredness,” he told Express.
According to Lt Commander Abhilash Tomy - the first and only Indian to solo circumnavigate non-stop - his mentor has titled the book aptly.
“Although it had four stops, his voyage was much more difficult than my own. He was literally sailing blind in an untested boat. His boat was so strong that two years later, I was able to do a non-stop circumnavigation in the same boat,” Tomy pointed out. “I realised that I was the first Indian to have circumnavigated the world completely unassisted, so the book about this voyage could lay claim to the title,” says Commander Donde, who’s quick to add that the title was chosen after consulting some friends and Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first man to do a solo non-stop circumnavigation .