The Indian Navy has sent six women officers on a world circumnavigating mission. These brave women have voluntarily taken up this herculean task and they need to be hailed for that.
INSV Tarini is a 55-feet-long dual propulsion Boat having 5 sails namely Main sail, Genoa, Stay Sail, Genaker and Storm Jib. The Boat is also fitted with a 130 Horse Power Volvo Penta inboard Diesel Engine. Apart from having duel propulsion capability, the boat is fitted with ultra-modern navigation, communication and safety equipment which are necessary for survival in treacherous oceans.
A smooth sea never made a skillful sailor.
The high seas can be very deceptive as well as dangerous at times. The sea waves which look normal from the coast can make your boat turn turtle within minutes. Too much Wind speed can also be fetal as the sails catching more winds than usual can result in capsizing of the Boat.
‘Wind to a sailor is what money is to life on shore.’ Sailing using wind is considered as the most challenging task for a sailor. Modern ships and boats have powerful engines, which have made sea faring a cakewalk. True seafarers enjoy the ultimate challenges that mother-nature throws upon every day at sea.
Extended laps of bad weather at sea results in dipping of morale of the crew and also instills feelings of fear and uncertainty. A well experienced sailor sees the storm as a challenging weather and nothing else. If you have got your brains in place and bilge pump running, your boat is going to pass almost all the weather conditions unscathed.
In the modern times, well equipped and connected boat crews get accurate weather forecasts and can easily avoid unnecessarily facing the storms. Sailors of oceangoing sailing boats should avoid getting caught between islands as undersea currents make passing through impossible. Many coastlines and islands around the world are such that in stormy weather small ships should not enter or leave them as they will suffer stranding or total loss.
A sailor at sea can have all the preparations and plans, all the modern equipments and navigation systems but ultimately it is the sea which decides your fate. A good sailor surrenders himself to the rough seas, waits patiently till the storm subsides then cleverly and quickly makes his way ahead.
All the crew members have to follow flexible watch system with shorter hours. Auto pilot systems cannot see sea state. The steering and the sails needed to be watched upon attentively all the time. On duty watch keepers should not be tired or sea sick. Smart skippers never choose crew with history of sea sickness. It is the sea dogs who prevail at high seas.
As Samuel Jackson once said, ‘Being a sailor is tougher than being in a jail; for being in a ship is being in a jail, with chance of being drowned. A man in a jail has more room, better food and better company.’
At times when upwind progress is very slow or non-existent, one has to decide to start engines and keep on cruising. Even if one is sailing with power, there is a need to be careful about cross sea waves which can throw the boat sideways. Thumb rule of sea is, ‘never break waves’ and stay at 15 degrees as it allows the quartermaster to surf away from breaking crest and avoid pitching. Riding crest of a big sea wave can capsize a yacht. Windy weather can also kick up the tides to go rough.
Sailing at the high seas requires skills; it wears you down and demands the quartermaster’s total concentration. Sailing with the wind is also sometimes frustrating because you will fall off some of the waves with a bang that could pop a bulkhead, and the motion is precariously bumpy.
While writing about the Brave women’s circumnavigation voyage one tends to remind of his own experiences during Tri-Services whaler Sailing Expedition which was held in the year 1999.
The sailing expedition was an awe-inspiring experience for all the participants from the tri-services. One learns a lot from the sea, the feeling of loneliness and being such a nobody in the gigantic ever moving lap of great lord Varuna, the God of the Oceans.
During night sailings the boat while moving ahead leaves behind magnificent florescent blue trail. The ever glowing stars accompany you in the darkness of the oceans. The sea has many faces and it chooses which one is on show on any given occasion. When one shifts his gaze up towards the sky, the brightest of the stars bedazzles the eyes of the beholder.
As you keep on staring at the extravaganza called space soon you can see more of the stars, millions of them shining more and more brighter and staring back at you. It takes all but half an hour to develop night vision at sea. The best of navigators do not recommend use of artificial lights at sea.
Night at sea brings many inherent challenges. It also tests alertness of the sailor’s mind and agility of his eyes. At night visibility is very low, sometimes near zero. A sailor has to rely on all his senses to understand his location and also has to keep his boat moving in right direction. The ears become extra sensitive to the sound of breaking of each sea waves.
Oh, a sailor’s life is the life for me,
How I love to sail over the bounding sea;
And I never, never ever do a thing about the weather,
For the weather never ever does a thing for me!
Oh, a sailor’s life is the life for me,
Tiddle-ee-um pm pm deedle dum dum dee..
(Alice in wonderland)
Sha no varuna.
Veteran Petty Officer Manan Bhatt, [email protected]