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Old 28th March 2013, 16:56   #91
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Default Re: Going solo at 5 kmph - Mumbai to Goa in an inflatable kayak!

This thread is the perfect example of why i love teambhp. Cars, bikes, trains, ships and now we have a Kayak. Where else can one get so many different perspectives on "Motion" in one place ?

Absolute respect to Kamen_Rider and congratulations for achieving this feat.
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Old 28th March 2013, 22:32   #92
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Default Re: Going solo at 5 kmph - Mumbai to Goa in an inflatable kayak!

Originally Posted by MadBiker View Post
Is the delay from Triumph's end made a favor to switch from motorcycling to kayaking? ;-)
Ha ha, Ananth, something like that. The itch to explore bugs me hard.

Originally Posted by ijeet View Post
I am looking for a fishing kayak but not been able to get one in my budget.

Thank you ijeet. If you're interested, Advanced Elements makes fishing kayaks too. One might think that inflatable and fishing hooks don't go together, but the AE Straitedge Angler is a durable kayak with the convenience of easy transportation.

Originally Posted by gd1418 View Post
I would have loved to see the expression on their faces when they "spotted" you the first time.
Oh, I saw the expression and I will try to put it in words in the relevant episode. Thanks for the comment!

Originally Posted by VBoss View Post
Congrats and waiting for day zero.
Originally Posted by r0ckstar.1 View Post
Nice updates of the preparation and the day zero. Looking forward to tomorrow for the Day 1 events.
Originally Posted by blazing_fast View Post
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!
Originally Posted by rijo_tj View Post
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.
Thank you everyone - I appreciate your patience while I attempt to finish writing the next Episodes. I think the challenge is choosing which pictures to include in each update.

Originally Posted by am1m View Post
I have tons of questions for you. I will wait till you've posted all the details about your trip before asking them.
I think I will have answered most of the questions by the time I am done with this thread in the next few weeks, but if you still have anything to ask, I'll be around

Originally Posted by sukhoi30 View Post
Eagerly 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.
Originally Posted by am1m View Post
I'm thinking that a kayak in salt-water crocodile and tiger territory would be considerably more than 'a tough one'?!
No, I don't know of anybody who has done this stretch. I vaguely considered kayaking the length of the Ganges, more like a fleeting thought. But there are few obstacles bigger than crocs - the river goes through sluices (flow regulators) at certain points, so there will be a fair bit of research on where these gates are. Also, one would need at least two kayaks - one for the rapids high up in the Himalaya's and then for the sedate plains. And it would be suicidal to carry expedition luggage in the rapid. A whitewater kayaker's survival would depend on being able to execute lightening quick rescue rolls (up righting the kayak while being in it) several times a day. With luggage, that maneuver would be near impossible.

Originally Posted by cataclysm View Post
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.
Yes, it is an incredible feeling, alright! It is addictive once you become one with the sea.

Originally Posted by EagleEye View Post

Congrats and don't be too long with the write-ups or I shall die of this trepidation..
Originally Posted by vkochar View Post

I am hooked on to it and waiting for the rest of the episodes to be unfolded.
Originally Posted by srikrishna717 View Post
Wow! Fantastic! I am hooked on to this and waiting for the full story.
Originally Posted by MotoNanu View Post
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. M
Originally Posted by narsi_6989 View Post
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.
Originally Posted by Freebird82 View Post
This thread is the perfect example of why i love teambhp. Cars, bikes, trains, ships and now we have a Kayak.
Very kind comments, thank you everyone! I am currently editing pictures and writing for super packed Day 1, so appreciate your patience for sticking around. Will be back with an update very soon!
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Old 28th March 2013, 23:09   #93
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Default Re: Going solo at 5 kmph - Mumbai to Goa in an inflatable kayak!

Fantastic going, Kamen. Truly admirable. Cheers.
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Old 28th March 2013, 23:49   #94
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Should I wait for an update today or go to sleep? How soon is soon? C'mon Kamen, we demand an update everyday! by the way, no pressure huh.......
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Old 29th March 2013, 00:19   #95
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Default Re: Going solo at 5 kmph - Mumbai to Goa in an inflatable kayak!

Awesome man Awesome, fantastic.

I was glued to K'top n M'top logs at 18000 ft above msl but you have me at sea level now, this has me glued on...keep it rolling .
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Old 29th March 2013, 14:12   #96
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Default Re: Going solo at 5 kmph - Mumbai to Goa in an inflatable kayak!

and my friends ask me, how can you keep reading auto stuff all the time on tbhp?

This is the THE answer!

This is one amazing travelog. Plenty on Leh-Ladakh, Tigers, tracks - but water? This is amongs the best threads here. 5 stars!

@Kamen_rider - I am reliving your experiences. Keep the posts coming.
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Old 29th March 2013, 21:09   #97
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Default Re: Going solo at 5 kmph - Mumbai to Goa in an inflatable kayak!

Awesome adventure. Respect.

And three cheers to your writing too! Too good man... A pen worthy of the story it will tell.

Its like the "Life of Pi", beyond Imax 3D!

Last edited by sen2009 : 29th March 2013 at 21:24.
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Old 30th March 2013, 00:05   #98
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Default Day 1, part 1, Dec 21st, 2012: End of the world? Not today!

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Friday, Dec 21st, 2012: On a normal weekday, everything goes according to plan. The commute to office. Check your emails, and then the meeting calendar for the day. Lunch. Some more meetings. And then it is 7 pm, and you slowly shuffle your way to the parking lot to your car, bike or the 7 speed Trek, whatever got you to the office in the morning. Home. Sleep. Of course, on certain days, there are some variables mixed into the routine. Stepping out of office for a group lunch. A one day business trip to Delhi. Going out for a sales pitch to your client. An Indica cab with yellow plates brushing against your car or bike. A little frustration and flash of anger. But admit it, these are expected variables and will soon be forgotten, pushed into the deep recesses of your brain.

But then today wasn't going to be a normal day. I was about to begin the trip which possessed me day and night over the last one year. I was going to get it out of my system. I imagined this day for many, many months, and it was here. But like I often tell people - that one's imagination is limited by your experience; so while I had created a mental image of how each day of the trip would look like, I was going to get a lot more soon - the real, undiluted, raw experience of actually doing it.

And strangely, even for an unique day like this, I had a plan. Or at least I thought I had one. The plan was rather simple - launch from the Mandhva beach, and paddle a very easy 25 kilometers south to Alibag, where I would spend the first night of my trip at Jehan's house.

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I got up early and packed my bags, after getting dressed for the first day of my paddling adventure. Full sleeve compression layer which covered my arms and neck; quick drying surf boardshorts; waterproof Goretex hat, and I smothered myself with Neutrogena's water proof sunscreen, with the demeanor of a Maori warrior applying war paint! Once ready, I walked out to meet Sandy over breakfast around 8.30 am. While waiting for breakfast, Sandy showed me her nautical maps, which I promptly photographed for future reference. A good thing too, as I would end up needing them soon, though I did not know it at the time. As soon as we finished our breakfast, the first group of weekend guests arrived at the hotel, and went straight into a frenzied celebration of their holiday, shouting, screaming like 9 year olds during lunch break, whipping out a couple of bats to play cricket in the narrow corridor. The lime green tennis ball quickly started bouncing over the window panes and doors. I had a quick chat with one of the guys in the group, and it turned out that most of them were cameramen from the Bollywood film industry, where there are long, unbroken spells of shooting with no breaks. So this was their chance to break free and let some steam off. I felt happy for them, and feeling somewhat lucky that my job was nowhere as stressful.

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Jehan arrived by the first ferry to Mandhva, and asked his team to load our bags in the Jeep, which was parked at the guesthouse. We loaded the luggage in the back and the boys turned the ignition. Won't start. Again. Nope. So after sometime, Sandy and I decided to walk across to the beach left of the jetty, while the Jeep took its time to start. We reached the launch spot in a few minutes, and the meanwhile the ancient Mahindra woke from its slumber and grudgingly carried our bags to the beach, where it was unloaded on the sand.

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It was time to set up the kayak, a motion which I was now very familiar and comfortable with. I unzipped the bag, unfolded the kayak to stretch it flat and slowly started inflating the chambers, using a double action hand pump. When it was half full, I assembled the metal 'backbone' and inserted it inside the kayak, careful to align the front and back in a straight line. In 10 minutes, I had finished inflating the nine air chambers which gave the kayak its shape, and I started securing the luggage. At this point, Jehan suggested that since we were going to his house in Alibag anyway, I could load most of my expedition luggage in his Thar, and travel light for day one. That was a tempting offer, and I took it. So all I decided to carry on the kayak was the first aid kit and the sail, along with a few small supplies. I briefly thought about taking the GoPro with the Gorilla pod, but decided not to. Now when I look back at my trip, that was the only regret I had. Leaving the GoPro camera behind on day one. You'll soon see why.

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Sandy had a small problem. When in Gujarat, salt water jammed the keel bar (similar to my Kayak's backbone) and when she tried to take it apart, the bar broke. So her kayak was undergoing repair, which meant that she would have to paddle one of the molded, sit-on-top kayaks for today. Since these kind of kayaks are meant for recreational, short distance paddling and not for touring, Sandy said that she'd give the kayak a try and abort midway if it became too difficult to paddle. She chose a bright yellow kayak called the 'Ventura' (apt name!) and packed her basic gear on board, ready for launch.

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So it was time. Sandy's kayak was lightweight, so one of the boys simply dragged it to the tideline, while another helped me carry the kayak to the water. A lot of people are surprised by how heavy my 13 foot inflatable kayak is. With the backbone and some luggage, the kayak weighs in at approximately 45 kilograms, with most of the weight in the rear. It is a quite a task to carry it using the rubber handles, and even for the short distance, we had to keep the kayak on the ground a few times and switch sides. Soon, both the kayaks were in shallow water, ready to board.

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I swung my leg over the kayak, lowered myself into the cockpit and then put my legs inside the kayak, shielded by the deck. I attached the paddle to the leash, and then I started paddling out to the ocean, with slow, but sure strokes. No sudden burst of quick strokes which might risk pulling a muscle. Slow and steady. Twenty minutes later, I looked at my GPS, and we were a kilometer out in the sea. We took a circular left turn around the rocky tip of the beach, and headed towards the direction of Alibag.

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It was amazing how calm the sea was. No wind, and so no waves rocking the kayak sideways. The ocean surface was like glass, and our kayaks sliced through the brown seawater, sending ripples in different directions. We stopped to take a picture of the beach we left behind, since there was plenty of time. We had around 5 more hours of paddling to go, which left us with a lot of sunshine to spare. Click, click. More pictures filled the cavernous memory card.

One of the great things about the Konkan coastline is that the entire stretch till Sindhudurg is dotted with majestic forts. The topography of the area allowed the construction of those glorious structures; hidden underwater ridges and rocks frequented the coastline. But with this natural advantage came a potent danger for small crafts like kayaks. Ocean waves.

Imagine driving on a smooth road for miles. Suddenly, you see a speed bump or a pothole. You slow down, but it has an effect on your motion. When entering a pothole, you lurch slightly forward and recover soon after. The opposite happens on a speed breaker. The sea reacts similarly as it goes over these depressions or protrusions, and responds in the only language it speaks - creating swells and waves.

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We had planned to go between the two forts off Kihim on uninhabited islands called Underi and Khanderi. Ruins of an era gone by, sometimes frequented by day tripping tourists. As we approached these islands, I saw something which for a moment, made my hair stand on its skin. Multiple clusters of 5-6 feet swells near the fort, some of them which broke with massive force against the unyielding rocks. My dry runs had not prepared me to deal with massive swells, so naturally I turned to Sandy Robson for guidance. The experienced ocean kayaker she was, Sandy stayed unfazed. 'Stay right behind me, and do what I say.' she said. She also gave me a quick lesson in signals for different circumstances, so we could communicate by sign language.

Sandy spent some time studying the crash pattern of the waves, and then signals me to follow her in a straight line. We approach the first swell, and Sandy goes right over it and disappears for a split second after reaching the other side of the swell. Nervous, I follow through, paddling hard and letting go at the crest, trying to glide over the swell. Sandy shouts at me not to do that, and instead punch through the waves. I nod in affirmative, and follow her instructions. By the fifth swell, I started feeling a bit better, and gained more confidence in dealing with large waves. After 15 minutes, we managed to cross the turbulence and settle into a protected area with mild waves.

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It was noon by then, and all the paddling around big swells had made us hungry. I had a few MTR 'Pongals', a mild dish with rice and dal mixed together. I offered Sandy one, and both of us stopped for lunch. But you can't really stop, because the water tends to drift the kayak away in another direction very quickly. So the trick is to paddle forward, let the kayak gain some momentum, and then grab a bite. Repeat. And since I had left my spoon in Jehan's jeep, I just decided to squeeze the contents of the silver packet directly into my mouth.

We were almost done with lunch, and talking to each other with our kayaks side by side. Then we saw it. A helicopter flying down the length of beach from south to north, its faint 'phibbi-bhip-pphip' drone audible over the waves. We were at least three kilometers away from the coast, and we saw the Helicopter turn and make another sortie back to south. It was still very far away, and sticking to the length of the beach.

'Who do you think owns that Helicopter?' asked Sandy. 'Maybe one of the rich guys from Mumbai,' I reply. 'Or maybe the coastguard. Can't be sure, too far out to see it.'

And as we were talking, both of us saw it happen at the same instant. The helicopter had taken a sharp right and headed straight in our direction, the sound from its rotors getting louder, and the distance between us and the helicopter rapidly decreasing. We could now see that it was a coastguard helicopter, easily recognizable in its white livery.

Sandy and I exchanged nervous looks, not sure of what was about to happen next.

Next Episode: Day 1, part 2 - a visitor drops in from the sky.

Last edited by Kamen_rider : 30th March 2013 at 00:24.
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Old 30th March 2013, 00:23   #99
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Default Re: Going solo at 5 kmph - Mumbai to Goa in an inflatable kayak!

Awesome Mate!!! If this is not free spirit then what is.
Your expeditions really fits the famous Saying of Mr. APJ Abdul Kalam"
"Dream is not what you see in sleep, Dream is something that does not let you sleep".
Really happy that you could live your dream.
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Old 30th March 2013, 17:40   #100
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Default Day 1, part 2, Dec 21st, 2012: A visitor from the sky!

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The drone of the helicopter drew closer, and when it was around 200 meters away from us, it stopped to hover and have a close look at the floating objects which attracted their attention. When they realized that they were looking at two people in small boats, they decided to come closer, and then stopped at just 50 diagonal feet away. The helicopter also came very low, around 30 feet up from sea level. Good for them, bad for us. From their behavior, it was very obvious that they had never dealt with ocean kayaks before. We could feel the piercing gaze from four pairs of eyes staring right down at us.

The helicopter was creating a huge din and a dangerous downdraft.

'Whooph-whooph-whoof-whoof-tzing-tzing-tzing-tzing', as the metallic cling from the rotors punctuated the noise from the loud engine exhaust. The blades swirled above, angrily slicing the ocean air, sending a massive amount of air downwards at hurricane speeds. It created a huge trough on the surface, sending fine sprays of sea water in all directions. And the powerful downdraft nearly capsized my kayak.

I had the sail folded down on the deck, but the furious gale from the helicopter was filling it with air sideways, and that almost flipped my kayak. I moved my torso to regain balance, and I quickly placed the blade of my paddle on the front deck, trying to press down the sail with all the strength I could muster. In spite of that, the sail was still going ballistic. Sandy saw that I had trouble with the out of control sail, and paddled closer and and tried to hold it down. We tried to signal the helicopter to move away, but it stayed put. After a while, it moved away 200 feet while still keeping very low. Just when we were wondering what they were up to, we saw a silhouette of a man being lowered into the ocean. It was incredible. The coastguard was actually sending a man down into the sea to speak with us. Once in the water, he freed himself from the harness and started swimming towards us. Sandy's kayak was closer to him, and as he approached her, Sandy shouted out to me to pull up close to her so that I could explain in Hindi to the coastguard.

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The man was saying something to me and I couldn't hear a word, and neither did he, so he signaled the helicopter to back off. It did, which made the din bearable. My conversation lasted only a minute; very basic questions like where you're coming from, where to, who owns the kayaks etc. When he politely told us that we shouldn't be so far out in water, I tried to show him the waves which had to go around, and hence the distance from the shore. That was pretty much it, but this has to rank in my list of the most unusual conversations ever. I am on an inflatable kayak 4 kilometers away from coast, and here I am, talking to a gentleman in the water, his hands on the edge of Sandy's kayak. Unbelievable, isn't it?

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After he was satisfied with our answers, we offered him a 'lift' to the beach in our kayaks, but he said he'll go back in the chopper. With that, he let go of his hands and swam a little further where he signaled the chopper to pick him up. I wish I had the GoPro then, that would have been something. But we still managed to take some pictures.

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Soon, the chopper was out of sight, and both of us let out a nervous laugh, slightly shaken by the Bollywood style drama of the last 20 minutes. We thought it wise to stay close to the shore, so paddled towards the land. As we got closer, we saw a shining light on the beach, as if someone was signalling to us with a mirror. For a minute, we thought that the coastguard had alerted the police so that they could check on us. When we went closer to check the source of the light, we discovered that it was just reflection off the windshield of a car which was moving slowly near the beach. False alarm. I would have my share of dealing with the police later, but it was not to be today.

As I look back on that day, my opinion is that the coastguard behaved exactly the way they were supposed to. They saw something unusual, so they came to investigate. When they came closer, they wanted to communicate, so they sent a person to talk to us. The water-man was extremely polite, asked questions, and went back when he was satisfied. No bureaucracy or harassment. Just checking, and then they went back. It is also amazing that they managed to spot two, extremely small objects on the water from a distance of a few kilometers, a difficult feat even with binoculars. This meant that they were alerted of our presence, and that is re-assuring, knowing what goes on these days. And as I followed Sandy's solo trip over the next few months, the coastguards always shone when it came to supporting her trip, and extending help in more ways than one. Can't say that for the terrestrial police though.

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It was close to 5.00 pm, and we saw the faint outline of the Kulaba fort in the distance, which meant our landing spot on Alibagh beach was near. We paddled near the fort, and while Sandy went ahead and took some pictures, I stayed back because I was wary of the rocks. Landing on the beach was easy, since I had an expert to guide me through the succession of evening waves. Finally, my kayak scraped the sands of the Alibagh beach, and that was a very successful and action packed day 1 - completed.

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Jehan, Praful and their team were already there, so it was extremely convenient. Someone helped carry the kayak to the jeep, and I set out to fold and pack the kayak into the bag. I used some of the fresh water I had to free the kayak of sticky sand. A crowd quickly gathered around me, and stayed till I had loaded the last of my gear in the shiny red Thar.

It was a quick drive to Jehan's apartment, and I dumped the kayak in the bathroom to give it a nice rinsing. An inflatable kayak is great for portability, but scores terribly on maintenance, because you need to get the saltwater out after each outing. Leave the saltwater in, and it will stick to the polyester covering the inflatable tubes. The resulting stench will make sitting in it unbearable. The other thing to watch out for are the seashell fragments which might puncture the kayak. So for the next two weeks, I religiously packed-unpacked-washed-dried-pack-unpacked every time I returned from the sea. Honestly, it was a lot of work. Once the kayak was washed with a lot of fresh water, I partially inflated the chambers, and let it dry in the kitchen. It would be ready for packing tomorrow.

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While I was washing the kayak, I suddenly smelt the acrid, burning fumes typical of plastic burning, and after a few seconds I was certain that it was coming from our apartment. I stepped out, and saw Sandy's room engulfed in thick, white smoke. She was shouting, 'fire!', 'fire!', 'fire!' What happened was this: there was an immersion heating rod hanging to a plug point, and it got switched on by accident when Sandy wanted to turn on the lights. Her dry bag was directly beneath the rod, and it caught fire. Jehan made quick work of the fire, but by then her only dry bag got completed damaged, having melted into an unrecognizable lump of plastic.

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That adventure behind us, we went out for a drive around town. All of ending up having the delicious Sol Kadi meal, the famed Konkan delicacy. Dessert was the equally delicious Chiku Ice cream.

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So that was it, end of the big day. Today was also an easy day, with a lot of support from Jehan and learning the ropes of expedition kayaking from Sandy Robson. From tomorrow, I was on my own.

Next Episode: Alibagh to Kashid. A vital piece of equipment fails, and interesting accommodation for the night.

Last edited by Kamen_rider : 30th March 2013 at 18:04.
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Old 30th March 2013, 17:43   #101
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Default Re: Day zero: Reaching the launch site, and an unexpected visitor!

Amazing inspirational stuff... There are a few more guys who did this trip on kayaks... Posting a link on two keen european anglers who did a trip from Mumbai to Goa on two fishing kayaks couple of years back.


My interest in kayaking is linked to another more important passion for me, "ANGLING", mostly saltwater angling. Seriously considering a rigid sit on top fishing kayak for my week end fishing trips.

All the best...

Note from the Team-BHP Support Team: Please avoid quoting an entire large post. It inconveniences our small screen & mobile readers.

Last edited by Rudra Sen : 31st March 2013 at 16:34.
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Old 30th March 2013, 18:07   #102
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Default Re: Going solo at 5 kmph - Mumbai to Goa in an inflatable kayak!

Keep it coming.
Reply to our posts later. Just keep it coming fast and furious.
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Old 30th March 2013, 18:37   #103
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Default Re: Going solo at 5 kmph - Mumbai to Goa in an inflatable kayak!

Incredible! I have to say, this is THE BEST travelogue I have EVER read.

Originally Posted by download2live View Post
Keep it coming.
Reply to our posts later. Just keep it coming fast and furious.
Fully agree ^^^
Can't wait!
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Old 31st March 2013, 15:51   #104
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Default Day 2: Alibagh to Kashid; first capsize and gear malfunction!

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Day 2, Dec 22nd: I bought the cheapest Samsung Galaxy phone for the trip, just because I needed Google Latitude and maps. It also happened to have the most annoying buzzer alarm, and it was to this unearthly racket I woke up to. I looked sideways at the clock, and it was 7.30 am. I muttered a mild expletive. It was late, and time to get ready. Since the apartment was used sparingly, there wasn't much food in the refrigerator. I dug into my ration, and quickly prepared a bowl of dry fruit loaded muesli with milk. My kayak had dried overnight, so I packed it in its huge duffel bag, and waited for other people in the apartment to wake up. Sandy was to stay back in Alibagh and wait for her kayak to be repaired, and also get a written permission from the Alibagh police to continue. But Jehan and Sandy would see me off at the beach after helping me transport the kayak and the gear.

When all my gear was loaded on the 4x4, we drove to a secluded section of the beach and I began to assemble my kayak - again. There was nobody around when I started to put my gear together, but there was a high school nearby and in a short while, I was surrounded by two dozen teenagers. At first they stood at a safe distance, not sure of what was happening. One of enterprising chaps moved forward to where I was, and it was an invitation for the rest of the group.

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After a photo session of my launch, I paddled forward into the shallow waters near the Kulaba fort. It was low tide, which meant no waves, but the flipside was lot of exposed rocks and stones. I surveyed the depth for a few seconds, and turned my kayak to where I thought I could pass through. When I reached there, it was too shallow, and I could feel the stones scrape the bottom of my kayak. I stepped out and dragged it till I found enough depth. It happened a few more times, and then I was helped by a local, who saw that I had difficulty navigating the stretch around the fort. He showed me the path, and I was out of the shallow waters, and on my way to the open sea.

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Today, I had be a little far out at sea, around two kilometers from the coastline. The reason was that I was going to cut across the point where the Kundalika river met the Arabian sea, and there would be strong currents flowing outwards to the sea (the Google Earth image in this post). At times, these current flow strong, and can take small, manually propelled water crafts such as kayaks several kilometers into the ocean. So my plan was to be further away from the coastline, where it would be easier for me to paddle through the current.

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I left Kulaba fort behind and paddled steadily towards Kashid. The color of the water was already changing. I remembered it to be muddy brown near Mumbai and Mandwa, and it had gradually transformed to murky green. Good sign. I knew that the color would progressively turn into azure blue further down the coast. There were a lot of fishing boats; some of them passed close by me, and I waved at them. Some of the boats were docked near shore, having laid their fishing nets. A few boats were trawlers, catching fish in their nets as they chugged slowly forward. Alibagh-Kashid-Murud stretch is a popular tourist destination, so for people who craved a little beyond the ordinary, high speed motorboats helped launch para sailing tourists. I passed by one of these boats and I saw a man presumably to be in his mid thirties hanging from a tethered parachute looking down at me. I saw him take my picture; that would made for a nice Facebook photograph.

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Revdanda harbor came into view. And then I saw the a red port side marker a kilometer away. I had never seen a port marker up close, so I paddled to it. These markers guide ships into the harbour, and the ship has to keep the marker on the 'Port' (left side) as they enter and exit. Starboard (right side) markers are green in color. A Seagull was sitting on the marker, and flew away with a screech as I drew near. The red marker bobbed up, down and sideways, anchored down to the seabed. White bird droppings were all over the marker, giving it a speckled appearance.

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There was another fort on the hill which touched the waters of the harbour. There wasn't much left of the ancient Korlai fort, its ramparts visible on the hill, but several of its sections missing. Just below was a lighthouse and a small beach. I paddled by just below the lighthouse, hoping I could find someone I could wave to, but I saw no one. But being up there in December must be beautiful. Perched on top of a lighthouse, looking down at the vast expanse of the Arabian sea. That would be a great job to have till it became too hot in the summers. I wonder if these small places are air conditioned. I doubt it.

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Around noon, I was feeling thirsty and slightly hungry, so I poured some water from my MSR water bag into the bottle. I mixed a packet of rehydration salts in it, and took a swig. Tasted like salt and sugar mixed together, and that's exactly what it was. But it kept any possible cramps away, so the foul taste was a sweet bargain. The sea was relatively calm, so I opened a packet of MTR Pongal, and like a tube of toothpaste, I squeezed the soft food upwards. So that was lunch, and I had a lot of energy bars for the next few hours ahead.

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India is a land of amazing contrasts. Obscenely rich and desperately poor. Delhi summers and winters. The freezing Himalayas and the Thar desert. The brightest engineers and strangely deformed flyovers. Irfan Khan and Shahrukh Khan. A population of over a billion and yet, as I paddled along the coastline, I barely saw anybody. One might as well be paddling in Iceland.

By 5 pm, I was ready to turn left toward the Kashid beach, and I made my approach cautiously. Jehan had warned me about Kashid's beach, which was a shore dump. The beach quickly dipped into the sea at a steep angle, which meant the sea would drop large amounts of water at the last moment. Sure way of capsizing a puny kayak. Jehan also showed me video's of kayak 'wipeouts' on this beach, so I kept that in mind as I paddled closer to the shore. When I was a hundred meters away, I stopped to read the wave conditions, and I selected a seemingly calm place to land. I paddled quickly towards the beach, trying to reach dry land before I got caught in one of the waves. When I was just 50 meters away, I felt the sea push me from behind, and that is when I knew that I was going to capsize. I will try my best to explain how that went down on the evening of Day 2.

I ended up riding a huge swell, and I was paddling frantically, trying to keep ahead of the swell before it broke. But I was fighting a losing race. The swell kept on growing in size, carrying me with it. After sometime, only half my kayak was in contact with water, the front section precariously perched in the air, as the wave reached its peak and started breaking. I tried to lean back to keep the weight in the rear , but it was futile. The front of my kayak suddenly dipped three feet down, and the entire weight moved forward. Meanwhile, the wave was still breaking with a massive amount of force, so it pushed the bottom of the kayak forward, literally throwing me and the kayak over, upside down. I took a deep breath, and waited.

The wave finally broke, and when it did, it churned me sideways several times, and I could hear the sound of the frothy seawater all around me. Though my eyes were clamped shut, I could feel the evening sunlight filtering through my closed eyelids, depending on which side I was at any given instant. After the wave was done with all the splashing, I exited the kayak and resurfaced, taking in huge gulps of air. I saw my kayak floating upside down a few meters away from me. I got it back upright, and waded to the shore. All my luggage was secure, and nothing got away - thanks to lessons learnt during my first test run.

But there was serious damage - my primary GPS was out. The so called waterproof, submersible, and float-able (yes, it did!) $300 navigational tool was down. The shore dump of Kashid proved to be its nemesis. I quickly dried it and put it away in one of the bags, hoping it would wake up later. For now, I had a more pressing problem. I was on the Kashid beach, with heavy, water soaked luggage, weighing at least 70 kilos. And I had no place to stay. The place was too busy to camp, which meant I needed sheltered accomodation. For around 10 minutes, I just stood there, not knowing what to do, since I could not leave my luggage unattended to look for a hotel. I was half expecting Jehan to come in his jeep and whisk me away, but that wasn't going to happen. I was on my own today.

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I saw a young boy of 14 walking on the beach, and I called out to him. He walked to me with tentative steps, a little wary of the stranger on the beach. Just behind me, the last rays of the evening sun glistened on the shaft of my 8 foot paddle, giving it a somewhat sinister appearance. No wonder the boy was spooked.

'I need a place to stay nearby. Do you know of a place?", I asked. The boy just mumbled about checking and coming back and then he hurriedly walked away. I waited for 10 minutes, but I never saw that boy again. I was losing daylight fast, and I had to be aggressive if I needed accommodation. Kashid is Maharashtra's Malibu beach, with private beachfront villas dotting the length of the shore. A weekend getaway for the rich. But most of the time, these seem to lie vacant and its only occupants are the staff who keep the place in order. They have nothing much to do, so they roam around the beach in the evening. I saw a group of seven coming towards me, so I decided to seek help from them.

'I need a place to stay the night and also someone to carry my stuff, can you help?', I said. The group looked at me and my luggage, not knowing what to make of me.

'We will help you, but how do we know that you will not tie us to a tree and beat us?', answered one of the men. 'Why do you say that?' I asked. 'Because you have so many odd looking objects, and we don't even know what's in there.'

I almost burst out laughing, but I saw that none of them laughed, but only managed faint smiles. So I wasn't sure whether he meant it as a joke. After a few minutes, they reluctantly agreed to help, and they started lifting my gear in two's and three's, heading to the village nearby. It was a fairly long walk, and we saw some small guesthouses, but most of them were full. The group stopped to catch some breath, and we came upon a young chap of 17 standing near a Paan shop. 'Do you want a room?', he asked. He told me the room rate, and it was ridiculously low. I did not even try to bargain. He led us through a dirt track, leading to the last house, an unpainted cement structure with two floors. We went upstairs, and soon I was staring at a small room with a cement bed, a mattress and a decently sized bathroom. 'This is good', I said, and tipped the group five hundred rupees. They went away happily, this would mean a good meal for them tonight.

Going solo at 5 kmph - Mumbai to Goa in an inflatable kayak!-kashidroom.jpg
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During my entire kayaking trip, I realized that I now had no 'wants' anymore, but just two basic needs - a flat surface to sleep on, and fresh water to wash the salt off your parched skin. This room offered both, and that was all I needed. I was hungry and ordered some food. The meal arrived thirty minutes later, and it was delicious. Hot, piping, home cooked meal. Beats sucking Pongal out of a silver packet anyday.

I dragged the kayak into the bathroom, and hosed it liberally with fresh water. Soon, the marine smell of the seawater was washed down the drain, and I lay the kayak in my room to dry. Sleep came easy, knowing that tomorrow had to be an early day. The cement platform was hard and the mattress thin, but I had the best sleep - ever.

Next Episode: Day 3:, Kashid to Murud, the city of a formidable fortress.

Last edited by Kamen_rider : 31st March 2013 at 16:21.
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Old 31st March 2013, 17:25   #105
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Originally Posted by Kamen_rider View Post
India is a land of amazing contrasts. Obscenely rich and desperately poor. Delhi summers and winters. The freezing Himalayas and the Thar desert. The brightest engineers and strangely deformed flyovers. Irfan Khan and Shahrukh Khan.
This perhaps describes India. This describes your flair for writing. You were mentally, probably prepared to write this entire episode somewhere. It just happened to be TBHP in your case.

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