October 28, 2018 6:07:00 am
Last week as Mumbai-Goa cruise commenced its first journey, sailing enthusiasts claim that sea waters, which until three years ago were off limits for commoners, has started to open up to those setting sail for short trips. Almost every weekend now, sailing trips offer people a view of the vast sea, the sun, marine life and as they near the shore — of the Gateway of India.
Dr Ishani Chaudhary, a member of Royal Bombay Yatch Club, has learnt how to sail. “But you need to have a sailboat of your own or rent it out,” she says. So she decided to try a shared sailing experience in 2016.
Eventually, she took her parents, sister and friends over five sailing trips. “You get out of city in five minutes and are in a completely different world. The city skyline from the East side is very beautiful,” she says, adding, “It is not just about sharing some intimate moments with the sea, but you also get to make new friends. It is a different experience to talk and share stories, connect with people on the sea.”
Chaudhary is also a national surfer and an orthopaedic surgeon by profession. While she started off with solo sailing expeditions, she eventually started enjoying the shared sailing experience.
“The shared sailing experience is growing popular. Three years ago, there were not many takers,” says Johann Daniels, who founded Jack and Hill Adventures and started sailing expeditions at the Mumbai Harbour. The sail sets off from Gateway of India, chartering a route around the Navy Nagar belt, with a view of the Afghan Church all the way to the US club. “We don’t go beyond the light house near Navy Nagar, those are the off limits,” Daniels says.
He adds that the popular timing for sailing are usually sunrise and sunset, often giving a generous sighting of seagulls and, on rare instances, dolphins. Starting at Rs 2,000, sailing, once perceived as a luxury experience has become accessible for many.
“When we set sail, the smallest boat can accommodate four and the biggest 25 people. Ninety per cent people coming for sailing are women, who want a getaway to relax,” he says. It is also on shared sailing boats that those with love for the sea get to meet like-minded people.
Yamini Walia (27), a native of Chandigarh, first went for a morning sail in January this year. “I was bored of going to clubs, and of parties. I wanted to try something different,” she says. As she began her sail with five others at 7 am, the city shrinking and the wind getting strong, she says “it was a calming and peaceful experience after a long time”.
The Mahim resident, a social media manager, has since gone for sailing at least thrice. “In the two hours on-board you get to interact with like-minded people,” says Walia.
The group of those interested in sailing is growing stronger. A glamour quotient attached to sailing has also enticed many. Jack and Hill founder Daniels added that people have now shown interest in learning how to sail by themselves through these group experiences.
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