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Sailor sets off on voyage of adventure, fun, dolphins

Last updated on: November 1, 2012 20:02 IST

Sailor sets off on voyage of adventure, fun, dolphins

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Lieutenant Commander Abhilash Tomy set off on his adventure – a 180-day long, solo, non-stop circumnavigation of the world -- from Mumbai on Thursday.

Flag Officer Commanding-in-chief, Western Naval Command, Shekhar Sinha flagged off Lieutenant Commander Tomy amidst an air of expectation and celebration.

Reportage: Manu Shankar 

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Image: Abhilash Tomy being sent off by Flag Officer Commanding-in-chief, Western Naval Command, Shekhar Sinha
Photographs: Satish Bodas/Rediff.com

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While several officers wished their fellow naval personnel the very best, a lanky old man watched on gleefully.

Nothing could mask the happiness and pride of VC Tomy, father of the 33-year-old sailor.

"I couldn't be more proud as a parent. With all the blessings around, he will complete the task at hand," said the proud father.

"I remember him being focused about such an occasion early in his career. He joined the navy in 1996 and by 1999 he had made up his mind about the trip. Even though he told us in 2004, I could see it coming, judging by his interest in solo navigations," he said.

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Image: VC Tomy
Photographs: Satish Bodas/Rediff.com
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"Initially, his mother had some reservations, but now she is quite happy to see him doing what he likes best. Besides, he is guided well by Donde," he added.

Three years ago, Commander Dilip Donde, another naval officer, became the first Indian to sail solo around the world in the Mhadei, the same sailboat Tomy is navigating.

The 180-day trip, called Sagar Parikrama 2, will see Tomy, who hails from Tripunithura in Kerala, navigate without a halt.

During the trip, he will cover three Southern Capes -- Cape Leeuwin (Australia), Cape Horn (South America) and Cape Agulhas (Africa) -- while crossing the equator twice before ending his voyage at Mumbai's iconic landmark Gateway of India.

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Image: Abhilash Tomy with the 'Mhadei'
Photographs: Satish Bodas/Rediff.com

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Tomy senior was also quick to dispel the apprehensions associated with the lengthy and unpredictable expedition.

"I am not at all scared of the situations that could arise during the course of the expedition. Abhilash is capable of managing himself; besides he has blessings and well-wishes from all of us," he said.

On keeping in touch with his globe-trotting son, he said, "When he is at sea, there will be no phone communication".

"Everything will be on e-mail. He will be sending his daily positions and readings to the naval headquarters, from which I will get to know his locations and the conditions," explained VC.

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Image: Abhilash Tomy with Commander Dilip Donde
Photographs: Satish Bodas/Rediff.com
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Commanding-in-Chief Sinha, who was elated about his lieutenant commander taking on such a challenging task, said Tomy will lead the way for youngsters.

"I am sure he will inspire many to look towards the seas. We had been quiet for some time and it is time for us to rise again," he added.

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Image: The navy band plays at Gateway of India
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Tomy is confident that the 56-feet Mhadei will not let him down.

During the expedition, he will try to cover 150 kms daily on an average before touching Mumbai's shores again in April (after 180 days).

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Image: Abhilash Tomy with his navy colleagues
Photographs: Satish Bodas/Rediff.com
Tags: Mumbai , Mhadei

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"Traditionally, it should be a smooth sail. I will be east-bound, touching Cape Leeuwin first. But there will be challenges on the way, depending on the conditions," he said.

Explaining further, Tomy said, "Last time, when I was making my way from Cape to Goa, I was alone in that leg of sailing. Sometimes, you can see the sea roaring with waves that attain a height of nearly 30 metres."

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Image: Abhilash Tomy with Ratnakar Dandekar, Shekhar Sinha and M P Awati
Photographs: Satish Bodas/Rediff.com

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I
nterestingly, Tomy is also a trained Dornier pilot with 1,300 hours of flying experience.

This sea sojourn, he says, is for "sheer adventure", adding, "It will be good fun. I will have a panoramic view."

"Not to forget, I will also have the company of birds and dolphins," signs off Tomy, before he steps on his boat and sails off, with his many well-wishers and navy colleagues waving him bon voyage.

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Image: Abhilash Tomy sets off on his journey
Photographs: Video: Manu Shankar
Tags: Tomy , navy

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