As the 6 lady crew members of the Indian Naval yacht TARINI prepare to leave the Falklands they take away: ‘Pleasant memories of a very wonderfully close-knit family atmosphere, of people who trust each other, are resourceful, peaceful and kind to each other and who live well with no poverty, unemployment, destitution or hardships’ said Lieutenant Commander Vartika Joshi who is the captain of the 17 x 5 meters sloop.
Visiting the Islands has been: ‘An enriching experience of visits to locations such as Bluff Cove Lagoon to see Gentoo and King penguins, the King Edward Memorial Hospital to visit the elderly patients, to the schools to interact with small children, the hockey club, to the Scout teams of boys and girls, talking to the Falklands Female Association members, visiting the Royal Naval ships HMS Protector (now back in port following the abortive search the missing Argentine submarine) and HMS Clyde, a reception at Government House hosted by His Excellency the Governor Mr. Nigel Phillips CVO and being entertained to dinner at the Waterfront Hotel by the presiding members of the Legislative Assembly.
Should the Government of the Falkland Islands have done more to entertain or educate the crew during their stay Captain Joshi was asked? Her answer was an emphatic: “No, we had just the right mix of interaction and variety and the programme we enjoyed gave us a much better idea of how people live in these beautiful Islands, and of the high standard of living that they enjoy.”
Captain Joshi who hails from the mountainous and very holy town of RISHIKESH where the famous River Ganges flows through the valley on its way from the Himalayas, says that the historic journey being undertaken by the crew is attracting considerable media attention through India. “The Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi has endorsed a policy of ‘Narishakti’ which basically means the ‘Empowerment of Women’ so he is personally following our fortunes very closely, as women struggle to compete equally throughout the Country” said Lieutenant Commander Joshi.
The circumnavigation being undertaken by the TARINI (which means Saviour) follows the route taken by Captain Dilip Donde in 2009 in the yacht MHABEI when he too stopped in the Falklands enroute to Cape Town and back to India. He had previously called into Freemantle, Australia and Lyttelton, NewZealand. ‘He is our mentor and we are replicating his voyage and it is most appropriate as we trained for several years using the MHABEI making shorter journeys to Mauritius and also Cape Town and back to Goa which is our home base’ said Captain Joshi.
Rough weather was first encountered before they hit the anticipated stormy seas of Cape Horn and the wind speed reached 70 knots for several hours. However the 6 ladies, whose average age is 28 years, coped well and the 3 years of training which they endured was paramount in their ability to combat the treacherous seas.
Are there differences of opinion and the occasional squabble on board? “It is human nature for there to be differences of opinion and I give everyone the freedom to express themselves. As we have trained together for the past 3 years then we know each others temperament very well. We have good rapport and we know how to react if there is a hint of dissatisfaction between us. There are no weak links – anymore’ she added thoughtfully.
The next stop will be Cape Town and the ladies are not adopting a complacent attitude simply because they have successfully rounded Cape Horn. They still have the Cape of Good Hope to encounter and know that they must be fully prepared for any unexpected or unforeseen incidents. ‘We trained equally for those 3 years so if anything happened to me then any of the other 5 crew members can take over” said Captain Joshi.
If the two remaining sectors of the journey goes as planned then the TARINI should return to GOA (India) at the end of April or early May. Despite the great reception and friendship which the ladies have received in the Islands they are now anxious to proceed on their mission and following some minor engine repairs and trials both yacht and crew are ready for the next stage of the challenge.
‘The Falklands has been one of the most beautiful stopover’s that we have encountered. It has a moving history and we have met a variety of people from all spectres of life. We also want to spread the spirit of adventure and we will have much to tell about the Falklands to our families, friends, the India Navy and the India Government when we return home’ said Captain Joshi.
- If you like to follow the intrepid ladies during their journey here they are !
By A.J. McAllister.