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Conditions for Women in India have changed throughout these years, credit goes to all those women who have fought for their freedom and set an example for other women to get inspired. Women have accomplished to a great extent and occupy almost all positions in society. One such achievement is the All-women Indian Navy crew who travelled around the globe for 254 days all by themselves in a sailboat called INSV Tarini.
Indian Navy never had an all-women crew and this was the first-ever to navigate in the sea with a total number of six women in the crew. The chapter is about those six women and how they survived for 254 days, it is based on the interview that was taken after they completed their voyage and returned to India.
INSV stands for Indian Naval Ship Vessel. Tara-Tarini is the patron deity for sailors and is worshiped for safety and success at sea. INSV Tarini is the second sailboat for the Indian Navy which is a 55-foot sailing boat built in India by M/s Aquarius Shipyard Pvt. Ltd, located in Goa. The boat was authorized to the Indian Navy on 18th February 2017 and named after the famous ‘Tara- Tarini’ temple in the Ganjam district of Odisha.
The word ‘Tarini’ means ‘boat’ and in Sanskrit, it means ‘Saviour’. The sailboat has an advanced Raymarine navigation suite and an array of satellite communication systems for perfect navigation around the world. The special feature of the boat is that it encouraged the use of environment-friendly non-conventional renewable energy such as wind; collected and updated meteorological, ocean, and wave data on regular basis for accurate weather forecast by Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) and also collected data for monitoring marine pollution on high seas.
Navika Sagar Parikrama
‘Navika Sagar Parikrama’ is the name given to the project in agreement with the National Policy to empower women to achieve their full potential. The motive of the voyage was to showcase the ‘Make in India’ initiative by sailing on a boat that is made in India and promote promoting ocean sailing activities in the Navy while Government of India’s thrust for Nari Shakti.
Indian Navy’s Six women crew
It was the first time in the Indian Navy that all-women crew was going to circumnavigate the globe. The journey started on 10 September 2017 from Goa, flagged off by the Defence Minister of India which was a historic day and would be marked in the navigation history and globally.
The journey was divided into five legs with stop-overs at four places i.e., Fremantle in Australia; Lyttleton in New Zealand; Port Stanley in Falklands; and Cape Town in South Africa for reloading of food and repair, as necessary before returning to Goa in April 2018. However, it took 254 days to complete the Voyage and they reached Goa port on 21 May 2018. The women broke many stereotypes in their record-setting sail.
Before The Voyage began
The women were trained for three years as none of them had sailed before because women officers weren’t allowed in combat platforms. The training started with theory on navigation, communication, and weather prediction and later learned to repair things, deal with emergencies like when the weather gets rough or medical emergency but the training was needed in strategic aspect as well.
The women underwent a basic sail training course in Mumbai at the Indian Naval Waterman ship training center (INWTC) and also some other schools in the southern base in Kochi, they even sailed on INSV Mhadei to Mauritius (in 2016 and 2017) and also to Cape Town in 2016 which was a tutorial for them to manage in difficult situations during the big voyage.
Only six out of thirty women got selected and were mentored by Commander Dilip Donde. The family members of these women had a hard time as four out the six came from mountains and their families had never seen an ocean but once they visited, they were quite supportive.
Teamwork is an important factor
It was a good thing that everybody had their own way of dealing with situations as they could discuss different ways of solving a problem and choose the best one. Teamwork is the most important factor in the middle of the crisis. During a storm when three would be out on watch, inside the other three would do chores such as heat the water or heat the gloves and that is how they had survived a 20 hours long storm in the sea.
Life in the sea
Living in the sea can get really tough when the winds start picking up, it is when they had to predict what could happen next. In the South pacific the storm would be up to 60-70 knots (1.852km/h) which is almost like a hurricane wind on land which is normal in the sea because there is no landmass to stop the winds.
It was an amazing experience because when something broke down they would give a lot of effort and work hard to fix it together. It was such incidents that gave them the strength to overcome challenges. While crossing the Tasman Sea they witnessed the brilliant Southern Lights which is rare in those months that too from the sea. Everyone was awestruck to see the entire sky lit up in green.
They even saw bio-luminescence (production and emission of light from living creatures), dolphins, and various other sea creatures near their boat. Once they spotted a dead sperm of a whale that seemed like an island but since they were not experts they had to google whenever they spotted something on the sea.
Since there were six women, they always kept themselves entertained. They watched movies, listened to music, made different mouth-watering dishes, even celebrated birthdays and festivals at sea and also specific occasions like crossing the equator, the International Date Line, and such. They knew the entire country was watching and praying for them so they never wanted to let everyone know the challenges they were facing then as it would worry everyone more.
The motive was not to frighten the people watching them and decided to share their experience when the voyage was over. The sea does not discriminate among genders, it is always gender-neutral and gender does not play any role in sailing. But it is important to build confidence in the country and inspire women to take on adventures like sailing. It was great that an all-women team was formed to undergo this journey.
It is incredible to see women in all fields. There was a time when women were supposed to do household chores and remain indoors only but today, things are not the same anymore. She landed on the moon and she is out in the sea venturing around, she is brave and strong, no number of obstacles can stop women from reaching heights. So, women get motivated and bring out the best in all that you do.