final.gif (20762 bytes) Trishna millennium expedition – VSNL sponsors sailing expedition viainm_logo.gif (1830 bytes)

Capt. Kapoor making a call via Inmarsat Mini-M terminal

Mankind from time immortal has been lured by the charms of nature. This has led many bold people to give mundane and routine life a backseat and romance the wide open seas by scaling lofry peaks, soar high into the skies, blaze trails into virgin jungles and cross the most inhospitable deserts. In modem times such activities got named as adventure sports.

When it comes to adventure sports, the Corps of Engineers of the Indian Army is second to none. Right from its inception roughly two and half centuries ago, the Crops of Engineers or Sappers (as they are fondly referred) have introduced quite a few adventure sports into its fold. Be it mountaineering, sailing, rowing, car-rallies, hang gliding or constructing stations at the Antarctic, to name a few. Having been the pioneers in Inland and Offshore sailing in Indian waters, the Sappers left an indelible mark in the Country’s Maritime history by Circum-navigating the World in 1985-87. This was done on the Sailing Yacht ‘Trishna’.

Trishna’ spawned a whole generation of intrepid sailors from the Corps of Engineers who have successfully undertaken many sailing expeditions on the famed yacht. Besides some smaller expeditions from Mumbai to Goa, Diu, Lakshadweep, Kochi and Andmans, there have been voyages undertaken from UK to Mumbai in 1984-85, around the world in 1985-87 to Singapore in 1994-95, Middle East and countries around the Arabian sea in 1996-97. Continuing with the legacy, the Sappers have launched another Expedition to herald the New Millennium. This time ‘Trichina’ set on a voyage to the SAARC and ASEAN nations. Named as the ‘Trishna Millennium Expedition 1999-2000, the yacht visited the ports of Male (Maldives, Galle and Colombo (Sri Lanka), Penang and Port Klang (Malaysia) Singapore, Phuket (Thailand) Port Blair and Campbell Bay (Andaman) besides Kochi and Goa.

It took seven long days going along the Western coast of India to reach Kochi. Sea and wind conditions being favourable, the yacht did not encounter much difficulty. After a brief halt at Kochi during which minor repairs were carried out and the yacht thoroughly checked once again, Trishna set sail into the high seas for Male, the capital of Maldives.

The voyage from Maldives to Galle (Sri Lanka) and then on to Campbell Bay (Greater Nicobar Island) saw Trishna encountering the unfriendly conditions that the mighty seas offer to mariners. The receding South Easter lies let loose a volley of thunder.

Storms. Squalls and high winds were routine. Braving such inhospitable conditions the undaunted sailors of Trishna carried on with their voyage. It is worth admiring this feat, if the statistics of the yacht is considered. Trishna is just 36 feet six inches in length and is 10 feet 9 inches feet at its broadest. She has got two sails and is without an autopilot. She has to be steered all the time that she is in water. There is a small motor used only for entry and exit into harbours and no charge the communication batteries.

There are six crewmembers on board at any time, although the expedition comprises of twelve members. Four of the members are permanent while two get changed at the various ports. Of the six members on board, two are on a four hourly watch duty, taking alternate turns at the wheel. Besides the Skipper, one is on mother watch i.e. the cooks the three meals, cleans the yacht and keeps the crew happy. Except for the skipper, the other duties are rotated on a daily basis.

An Engineer making call during Trishna Expedition

Interesting incidents during the voyage:

All the expectations of greeting the first rays of the New Millennium at Katchall Islands were ruined when the sky got overcast and the sun did not appear for the first four days of the New Year. But the rains and high winds did not make any dent in the spirits of the crew and the New Millennium was celebrated in style on the high seas.

Flying fish and Dolphins were a common occurrence and on coupe of occasions spouting Whales were sighted. Schools of playful Dolphins gave merry company to the crew of Trishna and delighted then with their antics.

A number of merchant vessels were seen, especially when Trishna was near the shipping channels, and radio communications was established. Besides greetings and good wishes they bid each other Bon voyage.

In the Malacca Straits, where the traffic is one of the busiest in the World, Trishna had a narrow escape. In the early hours and with poor visibility because of fog, a huge merchant ship could not be sighted as it came up from the rear. It was only the deafening blast of the ship’s fog hom that made the crew take evasive action and get out of the way at the last moment.

At all the foreign ports, the Indian community welcomed the crew with lot of warmth and love. The Trishna crew was overwhelmed by the hospitality shown by the Indians staying in these distant lands. The crew got all the help required from the Indian High Commissions of Maldives, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.

During their halt at Campbell Bay, the crew got the rate opportunity to meet the Shoimpen Tribe, aborigines of the Greater Nicobar Island. They were also witnessed a number of Leather back turtles visiting the beaches to lay eggs.

Trishna-Homeward bound:

A grand welcome awaited these adventurous sailors, who returned 115 days of the elements of nature were eagerly looking back to return home.

Trishna-A Saga Continues...

Nothing can defeat the indomitable spirit of Trishna for taking to the seas again and again. And the Sappers will keep encouraging their men and officers to undertake many such Expeditions.

VSNL sponsors Trishna Millennium Expedition

VSNL sponsored the ‘Trishna Millennium Expedition 1999-2000’ of Corps of Engineers of Indian Army. The crewmembers carried one Inmarsat Mini-M terminal for Voice Communications and one Inmarsat-C terminal for telex communications facilities. VSNL management approved the waiver of airtime of these Inmarsat terminals on board of ‘Trishna’ during sailing expedition period.

A sail-in ceremony was presided by Dr. P.C. Alexander, Governor of Maharashtra as a Chief Guest at Gateway of India, Mumbai on March 26, 2000. Shri Hardev Singh, Chief General Manager (Marketing), VSNL had attended this ceremony to receive mementos on behalf of VSNL as one of the sponsor of this expedition.

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Revised: November 12, 2000.