We all love to dream, and strive hard to achieve them, yet this voyage by the team of six Indian Naval Lady Officers is much bigger than a mere dream! It’s a daunting challenge posed by the stormy seas and fierce weather, which could deter the best of the seafarers! Yet, they chose something for which they had opted. Team Tarini, a name that will be attached to the six brave Navikas’ as they are termed for the rest of their life.
They set sail from Goa, India to circumnavigate the globe in the sailing vessel named Tarini – the Goddess from eastern province of Odisha, India. With immense amount of naval training made available to each of them, who are either Air Traffic Controllers, Ship Constructors or Education officers – none classically seafarers; but young and bubbly in their twenties, were made to steer and move the sails of this 56 foot sail boat with perfection and in a team mode. 10 Sept 2017, leaving the coast of Goa and following the coastline they were soon in the Indian Ocean facing the vagaries of the Doldrums around the Equator! Just no wind made the progress very slow and painful. For circumnavigation, the sailboat has to use only wind power to propel itself except while entering / exiting a port enroute. It was finally celebration with onboard cooked cake as they crossed the Equator on 25 Sept. Missing the deadline to be in Freemantle before Deepawali, ( traditional Hindu festival of Lights ) - Team Tarini with lot of bonhomie, crafted the Diyas from wheat flour and cotton wicks to celebrate the fantasy of lights in the middle of the ocean. Such is the life in uniform – when the going gets tough, the tough get going !!
It is psychologically stressful, when for a protracted period you are away from humanity and see only the blue - black sea waves, pulling you down and tossing you up and about. The wind took its turn and pushed them westwards – though they had plotted to head east. Once they crossed the Tropic of Capricorn, the trade winds helped them to be steered head on for Fremantle, Australia. The 4500 Nm journey took 43 days with onboard dry rations running out within a month and survival was on packed foodstuff. The unison and camaraderie of the Naval officers took on the challenge.
There are as many as six kinds of sails – Main Head, Genoa and Staysails, Downwind and Storm sails. There are as many as 23 kinds of ropes on the vessel The crew has been trained to handle emergencies and all equipment but of course each of the crew do have expertise in something discreet. They have become more patient and tolerant while on this voyage, spend even leisure with a time balancing act – thinking about the next four hour duty round. The skipper Lt Cdr Vartika Joshi is no more taking impulsive decisions - she has to look for positive strength of the crew and utilize it to the advantage of the voyage. After this pit stop at Fremantle, the team Tarini headed on 05 Nov for Lyttleton, New Zealand, reaching there on 29 November. At Australia and New Zealand, the team had an opportunity to meet Government officials and students apart from the naval entities. A bit of sightseeing further gave the requisite rejuvenation to the girls. The team left New Zealand on 12 December 2017. These short halts are for recouping and loading the requisites for the onward journey. They celebrated X Mas and New Year in the Pacific Ocean on their way to Falkland Islands. On 10 January 2018, they faced a huge storm with winds lashing at them, but ‘all hands deck’ gave a befitting response to the wall of sea looking into their faces. The team came out with flying colours. The next challenge was the Drake Passage where everyone was expecting another swell and gale. The crossing of the Cape Horn was a herculean task as they encountered conquering the Everest of the Seas ! They are now in safe waters in the Atlantic Ocean, with Port Stanley in sight. A brief halt for a few days in the Penguin country and once again on their onward leg to touch Cape Town, South Africa. They will be covering approx 21600 Nm till they return to Goa, India in April this year. Presently we can only wish them rest, recoup and then again Go, Tarini Go .. Lord Neptune - God Speed and Fair Winds for the young sailors !!
By Colonel S W Thatte (Veteran Indian Army) for MercoPress