Five years to the date he began his circumnavigation of the globe, the Indian Navy’s Commander Dilip Donde released a book based on his experiences on Tuesday at the Western Naval Command Officers Mess. The book, released by Maharashtra Governor K Sankaranarayanan and Commander-In-Chief, Indian Navy, Anil Chopra, charts the construction of Donde’s sailing yacht, the INSV Mhadei, and his 10 months at sea.
In May 2010, Donde became the first Indian to complete a solo circumnavigation of the globe. He made four stops in his journey. Donde’s book, The First Indian – Story Of The First Indian Solo Circumnavigation Under Sail, has been published by the Maritime History Society.
Donde said that he faced a greater challenge getting the Mhadei ready on time, than out at sea. “There was a strict penalty clause in the contract, that too inserted by me, since I was both the Naval Observer as well as on the sailing team. A third of the book is about this phase. Boat construction really killed me,” he said.
Once out at sea, however, Donde admitted that everything that could go wrong, went wrong. “First the steering broke, then the autopilot and then the sail tore. I had to repair them all. I was 700 miles away from Tasmania when the steering broke. And the autopilot stopped functioning, I was in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, with New Zealand 200 miles away and South America some 300 miles away. But we ironed everything out before the Mhadei set sail again,” he said. In 2012, Donde’s protege, Commander Abhilash Tomy, also sailed on the vessel, becoming the first india to complete a non-stop, solo circumnavigation of the globe.