Sixty four Indian Army personnel, who have been training for almost a month for a sailing expedition from Mumbai to Goa and back, will kick off their adventure on Friday.
While the Amy has organised several sailing expeditions, this is the first time that so many personnel are heading for one. They have been training for the event at the Army’s Heavy Bridging Training Centre (HBTC) at Marve beach in Mumbai.
They will complete the expedition in four legs, two legs from Mumbai to Ratnagiri, and Ratnagiri to Goa, and two legs for the return journey. They will sail in four ‘Seabirds’ and each will carry a set of sailors who will be tasked with different responsibilities. The crew in each boat will be changed at the end of every leg, with only the captain remaining the same, to give all the 64 members a chance to sail.
“These are 18th century Scottish design boats generally meant for harbour sailing. It is an open boat with no modern amenities like toilets or navigation devices. Once they are trained on these boats, they can sail on any boat,” said Lt Col Bhuvan Khare, the expedition leader, who has been sailing for the
last 27 years.
The Army has planned the expedition as a build-up to a bigger expedition next year, when they would cover the entire Indian coast from Porbandar in Gujarat to Sagar Islands in West Bengal, passing Sri Lanka.
Two women officers – Captain Arpita Dwivedi and Captain Shaweta Kanwar – are taking part in the expedition to Goa. Among various challenges they face is lack of toilets on the boat.
“Unlike other vehicles, no modifications can be made on a boat. We will have to answer nature’s call in the open with a harness around us while one of our male counterparts will keep a lookout for us. It is not a challenge for men but for us it will be one of the most difficult challenges on the boat,” said Capt Dwivedi.
For Army officers trained to work on the ground, handling adverse situation on the water is expected to be a challenge in itself.
“For me, four months of posting in Kargil will be like 10 days on the sea,” said Captain Prashant Kishore, a first-time sailor, who was posted in Kargil for three years. “What we have learnt on the front we will apply it here and what we learn here we will apply when we are back on the front,” he added. The officers underwent training between November 1-20 and had been preparing the boats. Among the 64 members are trained sailors with prior experience in sailing, who will play the role of captains during
“Here the rank structure of the Army does not interfere. We might just be a sepoy but if we are trained in sailing, then we can be giving orders to our seniors. Only our expertise matters during the expedition,” said havaldar Sachin Singha, winner of a national medal in competitive sailing. firstname.lastname@example.org