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Old 27th March 2013, 20:23   #76
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Default Re: Going solo at 5 kmph - Mumbai to Goa in an inflatable kayak!

Since the posts ended here I stopped reading too. Never ever have I read a travelogue in one breath & one go. How do I describe? Don't have words for it. Hats off to your passion, determination and the will to do.

I could never imagine attempting it at all. What I liked best about was the way you put it about overcoming of fear. When I had my first Tiger sighting in the wild, my body started to shiver and I couldn't hold my camera steady. A direct eye-contact with the Cat, though 20 feet away, sent shivers. I felt so vulnerable & helpless in that open jeep. The second time the body shiver had stopped and subsequently in a direct eye-contact now I try to read the Cat's mind.

One more thing - after 26/11 if the security agencies are jittery one can understand. One can very well imagine their plight when they would discover a tiny blip on their radar moving at 5kmph in the waters. I would have loved to see the expression on their faces when they "spotted" you the first time.

Rahul, you have me glued, hooked or whatever you may call to this travelogue. Waiting for more.
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Old 27th March 2013, 22:30   #77
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Default Day zero: Reaching the launch site, and an unexpected visitor!

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Thursday, Dec 20th, 2012: It happens to all of us. It doesn't matter if you've studied for years, you will certainly spend the last night cramming the contents into your brain for the final exam the next day. You can plan an event for months, and everything has to come together a few hours before. The last night is the night of condensed chaos so that tomorrow can be perfect. It is a bridge between clutter and organization.

My trip was no exception, and less than three hours to go before my airport pick-up, my entire gear lay unpacked and scattered on the table, sofa and the floor. And I just had an hour to put them all away in different bags. Luckily, over the last few days, I'd kept checking things off my list and dumping them on the table, so I knew nothing was missing. The other thing was that the way you pack for air travel is very different from how one does it for a Kayak expedition. This meant that I would have to reorganize everything from scratch as soon as I reached my starting point on the coast, and that couldn't be helped. After a frenzied session of packing, I was ready to catch around two hours of sleep.

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I reached Mumbai around 10.30 am, and went to the baggage claim to collect my packages. While checking in, I had asked the airlines to tag the bag containing my paddles as fragile, but when I saw my paddle bag coming through at the Mumbai baggage claim, all I saw on the bag were bump marks, a small tear and no signs of the fragile stickers. Jet airways is pathetic. I do fly a lot on work, and I have seen that airline deteriorate from a premium one to a cost cutting, careless cattle shuttle with rude employees. I do feel bad about Kingfisher; they had a nice airline going till they ran out of money. I hope Air Asia comes in soon and kicks Jet Airways (konnect/lite/fite) hard in the backside - with a leather boot.

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I hired a Meru from the airport, and asked the driver to step on the gas to the Gateway of India. I'd planned to catch the 12.45 Catamaran to Mandhva Jetty, from where I planned to begin my trip. The cab driver obliged, and I was there by 12 noon. I soon found myself unceremoniously dumped on the sidewalk with 50 kilos of luggage, distributed in an assortment of very inconveniently shaped bags. I decided to use the kayak trolley bag to drag the heavy kayak around,and then sling the other bags around my body somehow to the ticket counter. After getting my ticket, getting down to the docked boat was another challenge. Stone steps lead down to the boat, with no guardrails. So anything which fell meant it was lost in the murky waters of the harbor forever. I made a couple of trips with careful steps down to the Catamaran, and soon I was on the upper deck, ready for the boat to pull away.

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I had booked myself the AC room, since all that dragging and pushing had me uncomfortably hot. Mumbai can be warm and humid even in December. Soon, the diesel engines of the Apollo Catamaran clattered into life, the towing lines tossed aboard as we slowly moved away from the jetty.

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As the Mumbai skyline receded into picture postcard size, I knew that I was about to begin an incredible journey. I had not begun my kayak trip yet, but I felt that this was it. No big city traffic jams. No frequent flyer miles. No late evenings of rich artery busting business dinners. It was just me and my kayak for the next two weeks of the unknown. I suddenly had goosebumps all over, a feeling which I now remember as feverish excitement mixed with a bit of fear.

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After spending 45 minutes on the ferry, the hills of Konkan loomed in the distance. The boat docked at Mandhva jetty around 1.30 pm, and moving the luggage overboard was a little tricky - again. The ferry pulls up against the sides of a stationary boat, separated only by a barrier of tyres dangling down the hull. A flat plank is thrown between the two boats and passengers must walk across the narrow path like trapeze artists, with some hop and jump thrown in for good measure. Once that Super Mario-esque move was complete, the passengers would be required to jump from the second boat onto the lower steps of the jetty. And as soon as one hit dry land, a few flights of stairs awaited. Someone should make an Iphone or an android game inspired by the jetty landing and throw in a few more levels for fun.

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So it was with much struggle that I moved all the luggage on the jetty, and I spent the next twenty minutes trying to drag my heavy luggage towards the end of the jetty. I placed the foldable cart below the heavy kayak bag, and I adjusted the rest of the bags around my shoulder, arm and back, looking not unlike the street toy hawkers who manage to carry their shiny made-in-China wares in a similar fashion.

My original plan was to start from Mandhva Jetty as soon as I reached there, and paddle till Kihim and stay the night. But something happened because of which I decided to postpone my trip to the next day. Actually something extremely nice happened, and I was glad I stayed back. I owe it to you to explain the background, so allow me to digress a bit.

During my trip planning, I was trying to find out if anyone else had done this route on a kayak, or had plans to do so. I found that just all of 3 people had done this coast by kayak so far. The first person to Kayak the Konkan coastline was Oskar Speck, a German who kayaked from Germany to Australia (50,000 kms) just before the World War two. In the process, he kayaked the entire Indian Peninsula (a feat unmatched to this day) before heading eastwards towards Australia. By the time he reached Australia, Germany was at war with the allies, and Oscar Speck was promptly taken into custody and into the POW camp. But the story had a happy ending as Oskar built a successful business after the WW II, and stayed in Australia for the rest of his life till his death in 1995. And what's even mindboggling is that Oskar Speck DID NOT KNOW HOW TO SWIM.

The other two guys were from South India - I don't know their names, but I think they are part of the Adreno team www.adreno.org and they kayaked the entire western coast in 2006. Good timing too, a couple of year before the Mumbai incident. They would not have run into trouble the way I did.

When I was googling around in August 2012, I saw a post on the Lonely planet forum from a person named Sandy Robson. She was asking how the coast of India was for Kayaking, and whether someone could help with that information. I replied on that forum, and when I did not get a reply, I decided to look her up on google. What I discovered was amazing. Sandy Robson was a professional Kayaker, a 45 year Australian woman who had set out to retrace Oskar Speck's journey, starting from Germany and paddle the entire coastline(barring countries like Iran etc) till Australia. As she had limited funds at her disposal, she would first finish a stretch in a few months, and then fly back to Australia or Fiji (where she works) and then come back to where she left off. If you want to know more about her and her journey so far, she has a website - www.sandy-robson.com. I thought I was adventurous, but Sandy Robson's expedition made my trip look like a mild workout on a stationary cycle. Her commitment and dedication is simply superhuman. Oh, and did I mention that she started this after she had a hip replacement surgery?

I got in touch with Sandy through her facebook page, and gave her whatever information I could. We promised to stay in touch, and try to meet each other at some point during her trip.

Her India leg of the trip began in early December, and she started kayaking from Jamnagar (Gujarat) after getting permissions from the marine park authorities and the coastguard. She made it till Diu, but not without some adventure. A good part of her supplies and gear got stolen, and then she was detained by the local police at least three times, some of them who thought she was paddling in from Pakistan. Even when she showed her immigration stamp, which clearly mentioned that she had flown in to Kochi, they would not believe her. It is only when some of her contacts in Gujarat and the coastguard translated and backed her story up, she was let go. By the time she reached Diu, she realized that similar roadblocks lay ahead which threatened to add lengthy delays. Add to that, the water from Diu to Mumbai was not exactly paddle friendly due to a lot of factories discharging unmentionables into the ocean. So she decided to pack her Feathercraft Kayak, and drive down to Mumbai, and get to Mandhva jetty, the same place where I planned to launch from.

So guess what - it seemed Sandy could make it to Mandhva from Gujarat by evening of day zero, and she wanted to meet me to make sure I was properly equipped and geared for the journey. I was also very excited to be able to meet an hard core expedition kayaker, and looked forward to learning a lot from her. I thought it was mighty nice and humble of Sandy Robson to rough it out (more than 12 hours of driving) just to meet me and give me some guidance for my expedition.

Jehan Driver from Mandhva Watersports (www.adventuremandwa.com) was one of the people helping Sandy Robson in her trip. He and his friends took care of her expenses wherever they could, and also lent her a cellphone with GPS so her location could be tracked wherever there was network. Jehan got in touch with me and offered help if I needed it, as he and his partner Praful had connections with all the watersports centers on the Konkan coast. On day zero, Jehan was kind of enough to arrange and sponsor two rooms at the guesthouse Mandhva Jetty for me and Sandy. Nice little place behind a provisions store near Mandhva Jetty. Clean rooms and the beach was a 5 minute walk. So it was to this guesthouse I dragged my bags to, helped by one of the boys from Mandhva watersports once I reached the end of the jetty.

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I was ravenous, and after a quick shower I wanted lunch. But most of the shops around seemed shut, so I decided to make do with one of the MTR pongals from my ration. I asked one of the guys at the guesthouse to fill my kettle with hot water, and I poured that into the silicon mold which doubled up as my serving plate. Why silicon? Well, it folds well in tight spaces, and it does not corrode. All my gear was meant for saltwater use - plastic spoon forks, rubber coated bungee cord ends - you get the idea.

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After that jugaad lunch, I went to the beach to survey the launch spot. The whole Mandhva beach is very rocky, and barnacles stick to many rocks - these shells encrusted on the surface are razor sharp, and can slice through the hull of an inflatable kayak in no time. Equally dangerous for the human skin if one is not careful.

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Jehan kept me updated about Sandy's schedule on that day, and finally I got to know that she would be on the last ferry from Mumbai. At dusk, I went to the jetty to receive her along with someone from Jehan's team, and helped transport her luggage to the small hotel, where Jehan had booked another room for her.

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Sandy and I got together later that evening over some delicious home cooked food. While the dinner was getting ready, we went each other's gear, and Sandy nodded as she saw my gear, happy that I was sufficiently geared up for an expedition. I also had a chance to look at what she was carrying for 3 month India trip - very similar choice of gear (mentally pat myself on the back, good boy) though she had many small, practical things which I did not have. Experience, man, experience.

Both of us had a long day, so we thought it wise to go back to our rooms for a good night's rest. I soon drifted into a dreamless sleep, unaware of the drama that was about to unfold tomorrow.

Next Episode: Day 1 of paddling. Boy. Oh boy. And then some.

Last edited by Rudra Sen : 28th March 2013 at 13:51.
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Old 27th March 2013, 22:58   #78
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Default Re: Going solo at 5 kmph - Mumbai to Goa in an inflatable kayak!

Nice updates of the preparation and the day zero. Respect to those guys who have achieved some of the impossible things in life and give some meaning to it. Looking forward to tomorrow for the Day 1 events.

Cheers

Last edited by r0ckstar.1 : 27th March 2013 at 23:03.
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Old 27th March 2013, 23:51   #79
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Default Re: Going solo at 5 kmph - Mumbai to Goa in an inflatable kayak!

This is an awsome Travelogue. I am sitting in my office at this un-godly hour and was reading your story till now in one go. Suddenly it feels like i am surrounded by mild waves splashing against my kayak, feeling thirsty because of the high humidity and having dry skins courtesy the salt water.

This is the EFFECT your travelogue is having on me at the moment !! Kudos to virtually teleporting me from a lone office environment to the middle of the seas.

And i guess i know what happened on the Day 1 of your kayaking. Courtesy your Australian pal !! . So i am waiting for the next part after that !!!
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Old 28th March 2013, 08:01   #80
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Wow! What an achievement! I am sure this is going to be one of its kind travelogue in tbhp for long time. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 28th March 2013, 11:13   #81
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Default Re: Going solo at 5 kmph - Mumbai to Goa in an inflatable kayak!

Gold man! Gold! This travelogue is gold! Thank you so much for taking the trouble to record your experiences. I have tons of questions for you. I will wait till you've posted all the details about your trip before asking them.

Hats off to you man, most of us like to think we're doing something different with our lives. You actually did!
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Old 28th March 2013, 12:03   #82
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Default Re: Going solo at 5 kmph - Mumbai to Goa in an inflatable kayak!

Honestly, this is turning out to be as addictive as watching those X-Files episodes in the past. Every morning I first login to T-Bhp and check this thread for the next episode. You are extremely lucky that you met Sandy who is guiding you for this trip. It is always good to learn from the experiences of the experts. Eargerly waiting for the next set of updates.

Out of curiosity, from your research, have you found anyone who have done Kayaking from Gangotri to Bay of Bengal??? That would be a tough one too.
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Old 28th March 2013, 12:10   #83
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Default Re: Going solo at 5 kmph - Mumbai to Goa in an inflatable kayak!

Quote:
Originally Posted by sukhoi30 View Post
Out of curiosity, from your research, have you found anyone who have done Kayaking from Gangotri to Bay of Bengal??? That would be a tough one too.
Am no expert, but wouldn't that be along the Ganga? And wouldn't that route empty out somewhere in the Sunderbans? If so, I'm thinking that a kayak in salt-water crocodile and tiger territory would be considerably more than 'a tough one'?!
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Old 28th March 2013, 12:18   #84
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Default Re: Going solo at 5 kmph - Mumbai to Goa in an inflatable kayak!

Quote:
Originally Posted by am1m View Post
Am no expert, but wouldn't that be along the Ganga? And wouldn't that route empty out somewhere in the Sunderbans? If so, I'm thinking that a kayak in salt-water crocodile and tiger territory would be considerably more than 'a tough one'?!
I am not an expert either but I was just imagining in my head as to whether it can be a doable thing. Expecially, as you know it is the longest stretch of water body in the sub-continent.
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Old 28th March 2013, 13:00   #85
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Default Re: Going solo at 5 kmph - Mumbai to Goa in an inflatable kayak!

Oh man! What a journey and what a way to travel! I thought stuff like this wouldn't be possible in India but you truly proved me wrong. Must be an amazing feeling sitting in your kayak in the middle of nowhere and no one around. Being one with nature! Can't wait for the next part.

Thank you for sharing this amazing journey with us.
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Old 28th March 2013, 13:04   #86
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Default Re: Going solo at 5 kmph - Mumbai to Goa in an inflatable kayak!

MINDBLOWING is the word!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I am an adventure lover myself and you, my man, have inspired me beyond what words can describe!
Needless to say I am on tenterhooks waiting for the next episode. Special mention goes to the way you have narrated the story; my heart was pumping adrenaline when you set out into the open sea from Ganapatipule and I too had goosebumps all over my body when you left the coast of Mumbai in the catamaran.

Congrats and don't be too long with the write-ups or I shall die of this trepidation..
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Old 28th March 2013, 13:51   #87
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Default Re: Going solo at 5 kmph - Mumbai to Goa in an inflatable kayak!

Awesome. This travelogue has to be the most different one and adventurous one I have ever come across in my recent times of reading on various websites and social media.

You have the guts and courage and the dream and that is applause worthy.

I am hooked on to it and waiting for the rest of the episodes to be unfolded.

Giving it a 5 stars and sharing it on my facebook page.
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Old 28th March 2013, 15:06   #88
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Default Re: Going solo at 5 kmph - Mumbai to Goa in an inflatable kayak!

Wow! Fantastic! I am hooked on to this and waiting for the full story.
And about you, If I can say one thing ...
'Jahapana Tussey Great Ho"
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Old 28th March 2013, 15:07   #89
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Default Re: Going solo at 5 kmph - Mumbai to Goa in an inflatable kayak!

One word: RESPECT!

Accidentally opened this travelogue and read from first to last in single stretch! Dude, take a bow! Seriously, a true example of LIVE FREE.

Your preparation, commitment, narration, ground work and adventurous ''keeda" make this one of the most craziest travelogue till date. Hats off. Shall be definitely sharing this with my friends. Makes for an interesting read and more than that a true story of human courage and strong will.
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Old 28th March 2013, 15:33   #90
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Default Re: Going solo at 5 kmph - Mumbai to Goa in an inflatable kayak!

Fantabulous travelogue Kamen_rider. Hats off to your passion and determination.

This is one of a kind and I have no words to express my feelings. Dreaming is one thing and achieving it is totally different. Subscribed and rated a well deserved 5*.

Waiting eagerly for next episode.
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