India’s first bid for a solo circumnavigation of the world is close to completion and the Navy is preparing to welcome Commander Dilip Donde and the INSV Mhadei back in Mumbai on May 22.
But the journey isn’t over yet. The Mhadei is 200 nautical miles (Nm) west of Mangalore and is caught in the doldrums. After a thunderstorm shredded the sailboat’s biggest headsail, progress has been slow. To compound matters, food supply is running low.
“There has been almost no wind and we’ve been drifting a lot. Its quite maddening in this heat and the food stock is dwindling,” said Donde.
After he ran out of gas last week, Donde has been relying on the small supply of ready-to-eat food he’d kept for lean days. He has enough for another four to five days.
Will the Navy send out a boat or a helicopter with food? “They can, but my trip is an unassisted solo circumnavigation and if I accept help that will change. I haven’t taken outside assistance for over 22,000 Nm, so why do it now?” he said.
The Navy is keeping a close eye on his progress. Chief Defence PRO Captain Manohar Nambiar said: “Despite the troubles, we’re sure he will reach on time.”