Visakhapatnam, Feb 14: A boat or the sea doesn't differentiate between a man and a woman and there are no shortcuts to the physical and mental fitness required to sail the open seas, says Lt. Commander Vartika Joshi, who is set to lead India's first all-women crew to sail the oceans.
Lt. Commander Joshi, along with a crew of five women, will soon go globe-trotting. Their adventure is likely to start in 2017. The team stood out at the just-concluded International Fleet Review (IFR) where the crew was on INSV Mhadei, a sail training boat of the Indian Navy on which they are currently training.
"We are training every day for the sailing and it requires a hard level of physical activity. You have to be physically and mentally very strong and there is no short-cut to it," Lt. Commander Joshi told IANS in an interview.
"It does not matter whether you are a man or a woman, you have to do what you are required to do," said the sailor, who is a naval architect by training.
The crew is being trained by Commander Dilip Donde, the first Indian sailor to circumnavigate solo across the globe on INSV Mhadei.
Commander Donde, in the same tone, said a sailor is a sailor, irrespective of gender.
"The sea does not differentiate between a man and a woman. A sailor is a sailor," Commander Donde told IANS.
Asked about his guru mantra to the team, the commander said: "Never let your guard down... You have to be on your toes all the time."
Riding the open seas in a sailing boat is not an easy feat to pull off.
The crew needs to be aware of every inch of the boat, which they may need to repair themselves in case of damage. Weather in the open sea also remains unpredictable, and smaller boats face more challenges.
Lt. Commander Joshi was confident.
"This is certainly Mission Possible. We have been taking special training on circumnavigation since (last) April. The course included navigation, equipment, managing a crisis or distress situation and communication courses," she explained.
The team sailed to Visakhapatnam for the IFR from Goa, and is now on its way back to continue the training.
The boat on which the journey will finally be undertaken is at present under construction in Goa, and the crew has to familiarise itself with every inch of the vessel.
Apart from Lt. Commander Joshi, the team includes Lt. Pratibha Jamwal and Lt. P Swathi in the core group, besides Lt. Vijaya Devi and Sub Lt. Payal Gupta. A sixth member is yet to be named.
INSV Mhadei had been used by Commander Abhilash Tomy for his own solo, unassisted, non-stop circumnavigation under sail.