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Old 23rd March 2013, 17:58   #16
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Default Re: Going solo at 5 kmph - Mumbai to Goa in an inflatable kayak!

The title itself had me glued to your travelogue. Hats off to you!!! Keep updating...
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Old 23rd March 2013, 18:14   #17
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Default Re: Going solo at 5 kmph - Mumbai to Goa in an inflatable kayak!

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Originally Posted by akshay1234 View Post
I don't generally comment on travelogues, but this one has me hooked. Can't wait for the rest of it.
+1 Akshay. Same for me too. Generally dont comment on travelogues.
But wow! This one takes the cake.

Kamen_rider,
Too bad you could not take the Fiesta AT over waters !
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Old 23rd March 2013, 19:40   #18
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Default Re: Going solo at 5 kmph - Mumbai to Goa in an inflatable kayak!

This is one a kind travelogue on team-bhp. Totally glued to it. This is going to be very interesting. Thanks you so much. We're all glued to this thread !
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Old 23rd March 2013, 20:06   #19
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Amazing write up man. Must have been one hell of an adventure. Looking forward to read the rest of it.

BTW adventure tools are very difficult to find in India but a lot of tools are now available online on the recently introduced Junglee.com, though u can't be sure of the quality.
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Old 23rd March 2013, 20:16   #20
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Default First practice run of 15 kms - to St. Mary's island and back.

I returned from my US trip on November 23rd. I was severely jet lagged, but I had to complete my first dry run as soon as possible. That way, I would still have a month to get any additional gear and to weight train if my body needed more conditioning.

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For the location of the test run, it would have been easier to drive down to Pondicherry (from Bangalore), but I decided to go to Manipal, and launch from the fishing village of Kodi Bengare. Why? Two reasons. First was I wanted to get a feel of the Arabian Sea and get familiar with the actual conditions, and second, one of my friends wanted to come along and try surfing on that coast (there is a school called the Shaka Surf Club in Kodi Bengare). So just two days after my US trip, and still heavily jetlagged, I set out on a Saturday morning (Nov 24th) to the coast of Manipal. I had loaded everything in the Ford Fiesta the night before, so in the morning, I just had to sit in the car, fire up and be on my way.

This had to be a rushed trip. The plan was to drive all of Saturday, kayak on Sunday till noon and then get back to Bangalore by late evening. Not ideal, but the best I could manage for a dry run.

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I picked up Puspen and his wife (my friends) from their house around 6 am in the morning, and we set off for Manipal. The road leading out is a dream, with the six lane NICE highway leading out of the city and then the four laned Mangalore highway further on. A Cafe Coffee Day outlet came up within a few hours – we stopped there for a while. It is amazing that you pass many of these in the city without as much as a thought, but once on the highway, these coffee shops are an oasis for travelers. Clean toilets, bottled water and nice sofas to stretch your sore back.

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After a short break, we moved on; the road is under construction in many parts so the highway became two lane, then four again and so on till we hit the ghat sections of Sakleshpur. We had heard much about the terrible road conditions, and while it was better than expected, there were places where we had to slow down to a crawl due to potholes. After we made it through the winding ghat sections, we hit a point where our GPS asked us to turn right, so we did. An hour of driving on narrow hill roads got us to the Mangalore Upudi highway with lot of trucks and crazy cab drivers – after patiently driving on that road for an hour we finally made it to the turn to Manipal and reached our hotel around 4.00 pm. We decided to regroup after a quick rest, and head to the beach to see the sunset and check out the spot from where I would be launching my Kayak the next morning. Should be easy, right? But we left at 4.30 pm, and missed the sunset just 10 kilometers away. Here’s how.

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Both our GPS's (googlemaps and mapmyindia) led us into a small peaceful village. Ancient, but cute houses with clay tiled roofs and flowerpots on small, picturesque verandas. We enjoyed the little drive through the very narrow roads till both the GPS devices started acting funny and started pointing in different directions. After turning back from a dead end with nowhere to go but the backwater, the road started getting narrower and narrower till the sides of the car started brushing the bushes. We thought it would be a good idea to stop the car and ask for directions. We asked a lady in the one of the houses, but she did not speak Hindi and we did not speak Kannada, so that didn’t turn out well. But by this time, we figured that it would be best to somehow retrace our path and come back to the main road. We hit a T-point (if you can call it that) in the village and just when we wondering whether to go right or left, a person told us the right way to head back to one of the other busy roads. We were finally on our way to the fishing village of Kodi Bengare, and when we reached there, the sun had set and we could see nothing – just hear the sound of the waves crashing on the shore. We had a powerful flashlight, so we got out on walked around on the beach for sometime before heading back to Manipal. We were staying in the Fortune valley view, and dinner was in the nearby foodcourt – Manipal is a city full of colleges, so the food court was full of 17~18 year olds. We suddenly felt very, very old!

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The plans for the next morning went rather well. Everyone got up on time and ready to leave at 5.45am. We bought a couple of Subway Sandwiches the previous night so we managed to grab an early morning bite – it was too early for any restaurant to open. Since we had figured out the correct way to reach the Kodi Bengare through trial and error the previous evening, we had absolutely no trouble driving to our launch spot.

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We quickly carried the equipment to the beach and I started setting the brand new Kayak up for its maiden mini-adventure! After 30 minutes, I was all set (or so I thought), looking like a cool dude who had everything under control. I was soon cut down to size a few minutes later.

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Puspen helped carry the kayak into the water, and I quickly sat in it and started to paddle. Unfortunately, the timing was off – the next wave was just on the verge of breaking, and when it did, the force turned my kayak sideways, flipped and rolled me under, churning me and my kayak in frothing waves for a few seconds. I thought I had secured my luggage properly, but when I re-surfaced, I saw all my stuff (including the ones stowed behind my seat) bobbing up and down in the waters around me. My friend and a couple of fishermen on the beach ran to collect all of my gear, and after making sure nothing was left floating, they helped put everything together on the beach. One unfortunate thing happened though - the impact of the flip broke my brand new sail - a crucial equipment which I might need later on my expedition. But that had a happy ending, more on that in the next episode!

So my first launch on the brand new kayak ended up in failure, with some miserable drenching. A few lessons were instantly learnt. One - take your time to read the wave conditions before launching. Two - the so called 'Dry bags' are not completely waterproof. Use double or triple bagging techniques to ensure water does not seep in. This also meant I had to buy more dry bags - exactly the kind of learning the test run was supposed to throw up.

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So after 20 minutes of bailing out the sea water from the kayak and re-organizing my gear, I attempted to re-launch, and success! I quickly paddled forth outside the surf zone, and when I reached a safe distance, I stopped and waved back at the beach.

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Once in the sea, I started making good speed (around 7 kmph, my GPS showed) and the sun was yet to come up. When the first rays of the sun started shining through the clouds on the water, what happened next was amazing. Dozens of Dolphins started swimming around, in twos and threes, their fins gracefully going in and out of water. I wished a few Dolphins would come close to the boat and then rest their cute noses on the side of the Kayak, but then this wasn't Seaworld but the open sea, and I had a fat chance of wild Dolphins doing that unless I lured them with some really tasty fish! I was hoping to record some of that with my on-board GoPro, but in hurry I forgot to empty the memory card so could not get any video at all.

Once the sun came up, the Dolphins disappeared, and I set my sight on paddling to St. Mary’s island (seen as a small bump to the right in the picture above). It is a few kilometers offshore, and it is a uninhabited island with curious volcanic rock formations. Boats ferrying tourists go to the island from Malpe, but I wanted to be there before anyone did that day!

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St. Mary's island has a rocky approach, so I had to be careful, navigating through the rocks and waves to reach the small strip of sand on the island. I was rewarded with a trouble free landing on a pretty, yet tiny strip of sandy beach and clean waters. I stopped there just long enough to look around, and then got back to my kayak to prepare it for launch back into water. By then, the first boatload of local tourists came in to land, and in a few minutes I was surrounded by a group of very curious teenagers. They touched my boat, and muttered ‘foreigner’. But I started speaking in Hindi, which dissolved any inhibitions they might have had about speaking with me, and then they started asking a lot of questions. Where are you from? How did you come here? Does this boat have a motor? Doesn't your hand get tired with all this work? And so on. After managing to answer most of their questions, and with friendly goodbyes all around, it was time to head back.

Guess what? It was dunking Donuts time again, as I capsized my Kayak while launching on St. Mary's island - again. And this time, there were no waves. The water around the island gets quite deep as soon as one steps off the beach into the water. I simply lost my balance while trying to enter the Kayak, and I soon tasted salt water. Good that I was done with most of my ocean dips during the first dry run. During the actual expedition, I only capsized twice. Not bad for a novice ocean paddler, I'd say.

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An hour and half after leaving the island,and I was back at the landing spot. Meanwhile, my friend Puspen had been taking surf lessons from the local Shaka Surf Club, run by Malvika and Tushar from Manipal. Once on the beach, I quickly packed the Kayak, and after loading everything on the car, we headed back for the hotel.

A quick bath to wash off the seawater, and all of us were finally ready for the 13 hour return drive back home. That also turned out to be quite an adventure – just after Hassan, the Mapmyindia GPS took me to Mysore instead of Bangalore, so that became an adventure of sorts - I don't want to digress, so that's a story for another day and a different thread!

Next Episode: 2nd test run in Ganpatiphule, 40 kilometers with full luggage.
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Old 23rd March 2013, 20:52   #21
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Default Re: Going solo at 5 kmph - Mumbai to Goa in an inflatable kayak!

Quote:
Originally Posted by akshay1234 View Post
I don't generally comment on travelogues, but this one has me hooked. Can't wait for the rest of it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by download2live View Post
First of its kind on the forum I guess?
Waiting to see the beaches still untouched thanks to lack of roads.
Quote:
Originally Posted by padikpanther View Post
The title itself had me glued to your travelogue. Hats off to you!!! Keep updating...
Quote:
Originally Posted by kaka46 View Post
This is one a kind travelogue on team-bhp. Totally glued to it. This is going to be very interesting. Thanks you so much. We're all glued to this thread !
Thank you! The trip was a crazy adventure, and it will be fun for me to write from memory as the weeks go by. The pace picks up from day one, made interesting by not only kayaking, but also what happens on the land once I am off water.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ampere View Post
+1 Akshay. Same for me too. Generally dont comment on travelogues.
But wow! This one takes the cake.

Kamen_rider,
Too bad you could not take the Fiesta AT over waters !
I think I can make the Fiesta AT drive over water (with water wheels and inflatable floats) if I put my mind to it, but then that will be the first and last time the Fiesta does that!
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Old 23rd March 2013, 21:48   #22
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Default Re: Going solo at 5 kmph - Mumbai to Goa in an inflatable kayak!

Wow! What an adventure!

Do tell us if you faced with issues from the Coast Guard, or if you had already sought permission :-)

Eagerly waiting for more :-)
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Old 23rd March 2013, 23:02   #23
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Default Re: Going solo at 5 kmph - Mumbai to Goa in an inflatable kayak!

Wow! Outstanding travelogue Kamen_rider. Both the adventure and your language.

Glued to the thread. Keep it going.
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Old 24th March 2013, 08:42   #24
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Default Re: Going solo at 5 kmph - Mumbai to Goa in an inflatable kayak!

This, by far, is the most fascinating and unique travelogue I have ever read on team-bhp and in general ! Hats off!

Kudos to your determination and effort, not just for the journey itself, but also for training and practicing to do such an adventurous journey, that too all this in a kayak!
Eagerly awaiting the rest of the journey and travelogue! Rated a well-deserved 5 stars (wishing I could rate more than 5 though).

Last edited by KarthikK : 24th March 2013 at 09:02.
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Old 24th March 2013, 09:01   #25
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Awesome write up man. The most stunning travelogue on teambhp. I am glued to the thread. I never thought kayaking could be a mode of transport on a travelogue. You must be physically very fit and atheletic. Also share your fitness regimen prior to the trip.
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Old 24th March 2013, 09:56   #26
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Default Re: Going solo at 5 kmph - Mumbai to Goa in an inflatable kayak!

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Originally Posted by Kamen_rider View Post
Thank you, Soumen! Kayaking is fun, isn't it?
Kayak-ing sure is fun. I haven't been mid-water more than 90 mins at a go but thats when you are truly with yourself. Kinda addictive

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Originally Posted by Kamen_rider View Post
If you can dream about it, you can do it. I am not a hardcore kayaker, and I did it just because I wanted to do it. Anyone can do it, provided one carves out the time and resources.
For now my priority is entire west-coast. Kanyakumari to Gujrat on bike. Hope I will have saved enough leaves by diwali for the same. For now I will FEAST upon your travelogue to quench the thirst

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Originally Posted by Kamen_rider View Post
I bought a one-man tent from North face, called the Asylum Bivy. The picture above doesn't look like much, but boy, it has more than enough space for one person. The weight is under a kilogram, and it is easy to set up once you have chosen the right surface. I personally love North face tents, they are expensive, but will last a lifetime. There are similar 2-3 person tents available from a lot of brands - just browse REI.com to look at more choices, and you can pm me for questions.
Thanks for the tip . Will surely check it out.
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Old 24th March 2013, 12:13   #27
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Default Re: Going solo at 5 kmph - Mumbai to Goa in an inflatable kayak!

Wow! A unique and fascinating travelogue I must say. I am hooked like many others here on team bhp. Hats-off mate for this original trip. Keep the details coming. we are in a virtual paddling trip ourselves. 2 weeks back I was at the REI store in Seattle and wanted to buy so much stuff. It's a place where you can spend a day and not get bored. Wish there are cheaper ways to bring stuff back from USA.
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Old 24th March 2013, 14:58   #28
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Default Re: Going solo at 5 kmph - Mumbai to Goa in an inflatable kayak!

This is the epic. Haven't come across a more adventurous travelogue in my life for travel in India.

Great One KamenRider ...keep it coming.

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Old 24th March 2013, 18:20   #29
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Default Re: Going solo at 5 kmph - Mumbai to Goa in an inflatable kayak!

Stupendous is not the word. What more to say!

Many dream. Few plan. Very few contemplate. Rarely achieved. You are the ONE to achieve.

Take a Bow.
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Old 24th March 2013, 21:10   #30
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Default Re: Going solo at 5 kmph - Mumbai to Goa in an inflatable kayak!

Kamen_rider,
Just one word: RESPECT!

I don't think after Decky's walking expedition to Maan Sarovar, I have seen anything which is so overwhelming. Completely glued to this thread. Take your time, don't compromise quality for speed.

My native is along the Konkan shoreline and have to admit that the thought of doing this stretch on water has definitely struck me more than once. With age, body in bad shape, no swimming or in general any "water"-skills, this would remain a dream for me. May be a powered boat or a yacht one day! Definitely part of my "100 things to do before I die" list.

And yes, thanks for sharing!

Last edited by SDP : 24th March 2013 at 21:12.
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