The Indian Naval yatch Mhadei departed from Cape Town on Saturday and rounded the Cape of Good Hope on Tuesday, in the final leg of the solo circumnavigation of the world – Sagar Parikrama, under the hand of Commander Dilip Donde.
For a voyage to qualify as a circumnavigation, it should start and end in the same Port (Mumbai, in this case) crossing all the Meridians (Longitudes) at least once and the Equator at least twice and the distance covered should be more than the length of a Meridian (in this case 21,600 nautical miles or 38,880 kilometers). The boat should also not pass through any Canals or Straits, where the use of engines or towing would be unavoidable and should round the three Great Capes, Cape Leeuwin, (Australia), Cape Horn (South America) and Cape of Good Hope (Africa).
According to a statement by the Indian Navy, Commander Donde planned a wide berth to the Cape of Good Hope, with the treacherous seas in the area having the moniker the graveyard of ships in maritime circles. The navy says he intends to sail well south until hitting the 40 degree latitude, also known as the roaring 40s for the gale force winds that blow in the region, before turning north east.
“With a distance of 6500 miles to go, the last leg from Cape Town to Mumbai is also longer than any other leg of the project. Sailing from 40 degrees South to 20 degrees North would also ensure a wide variety of sailing conditions – from the roaring 40s in the south to the frustrating doldrums close the equator, the steady trade winds and the not very comfortable monsoons. Yet the timely setting in of the Monsoons is important as Commander Donde is relying on the South Westerly winds for helping him cross the equator and his home run thereafter. Increasing instances of piracy as far east as Maldives is a cause of concern,” said the navy’s statement.
Interestingly, the Mhadei has also volunteered for the South African Weather Service and will be deploying two weather buoys at designated locations along her track. “These buoys will form a part of chain that will help in gathering met data for accurate weather forecasts,” says the navy.
Mhadei is scheduled to arrive at Mumbai in mid-May.