“I wanted to make sure that I complete this journey with ultimate honesty. I didn’t set out for a destination, it was the journey that mattered to me the most. So my contention was to make sure that we go by the rules of circumnavigation which say that you don’t have to use any auxiliary means of repulsion and you don’t have to take anybody else’s assistance, I grasped that completely,” said lieutenant captain Vartika Joshi, who skippered the crew of five women and circumnavigated the world, to SheThePeople.TV.

She added, “Whenever the winds dropped, it wouldn’t have taken me even a fraction of second to switch on the engine and say let’s go one mile ahead. But inside of me something poked me and said that you have to be honest with yourself and this expedition has to be done with honesty. I am glad that we are able to finish it successfully without the use of engine at all.”

First time in Indian navy’s history

Indian navy for the first time in its history sent six officers all women on a voyage to circle the globe on board INSV Tarini in eight months. The women—Joshi, Swathi Patarlapalli, Pratibha Jamwal, Payal Gupta, Vijaya Shougrakpam, Aishwarya Boddapati—returned after completing the journey of 22,300 miles successfully on 21 May.

While the women kept the country updated on social media as they posted their smiling pictures aboard the 55-ft long sailboat, it is only now that they are talking about the challenges they faced and overcame during the voyage. The crew faced three major storms and still sailed through them spiritedly.

Patarlapalli spoke about social media and the country’s expectations, “We knew that the entire country was watching us and praying for us so we never wanted them to have a single day thinking that we are in trouble. We knew that it is going to happen but for the people out there did not know what kind of challenges we were facing so that was one of the motives that we kept in minds that we did not want to frighten them. We decided that once the circumnavigating was over, we are going to show what we have actually gone through.”

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The Teamwork

When asked about the teamwork that required each one of them to support each other, one of the crew members Payal Gupta said, “When you are out at sea, teamwork is most important in the middle of the crisis. Even during the storm when three people would be out on watch, then the three who would be inside wouldn’t be able to rest. Somebody would heat the water, the other person would heat the gloves because it was raining also. So team effort actually helped in navigating through the 20 hours long storm.”

“I feel that if I was alone then it would have been a nightmare to deal with the challenges that sea throws at you.”

“We knew that the entire country was watching us and praying for us, so we never wanted them to have a single day thinking that we are in trouble.”

Circumnavigating the globe is no mean feat. And the fact that these women sailed through the toughest of waters like the Pacific ocean and made it look so smooth is truly commendable. This voyage is historic for the navy. For the common woman, it has proved that if women take on a task, then they would achieve it without a doubt.

Defence minister’s support

One of the many empowering moments of this trip was when the country’s first woman defence minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, went to receive the women on-board INSV Tarini at INS Mandovi in Goa. “When we started our journey, Sitharaman was there to flag it off but it was only three days later that she joined her role. She followed us throughout our voyage. We spoke to her when we were in New Zealand. You always need that kind of support from back home. It felt like our own mother was encouraging us.”

During circumnavigation, the crew members also picked on some hobbies and kept posting pictures of delicacies like golgappas and cakes. They told us that they also read books when the weather was pleasant and did some quilling and craft work. While team leader Joshi read comics and Ramayana during her journey, Patarlapalli indulged in baking. “I liked crafting a lot, so I used to make lampshades and I loved cooking as well. I love it when I cook and people appreciate the food so I gave my crew members the best dishes that can be possible on land with the limited resources that we had on the boat,” Patarapalli said.

Congratulations to Team Tarini!

More Stories by Poorvi Gupta

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