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Category: Beginnings

Out on the water alone

Out on the water alone

A lot of people ask me if it’s lonely out on the water paddling for hours.

No.
As the evening sun began to sink and I was into my 9th kilometre of the day. I looked up at my watch to see how far out I was.
Out of the corner of my exhausted eye I spotted the tell tale signs of something making its way back under.
And my evening was about to get infinitely better.

I made for the spot which my fellow mammal had so recently vacated, and stood still. I was rewarded as 1,2,3 dolphins made their way to the surface 30 metres from where I stood (or floated presently). And what a playful lot they were. The water was warm and, like self aware actors that enjoyed their craft, they loved the audience.

Sitting right between me and swiftly dimming light on the horizon, they rose and fell, ever so gracefully. And it was clear they weren’t coming up just for air. As the first came up, the second had his snout out and playful nuzzled him, pushing him out and over the side.
One can only imagine how playful they were under the water.

I sat the for a full three minutes lost to the spectacle. Then I kayaked back.  Knowing I was not alone on the water.

Meeting with the Governor

Meeting with the Governor

Raj Bhavan sits on the edge of Malabar hill and looks out on to marine drive. On a 3 km run I stand facing the whole of it, with a Mumbai Police buoy to give me company.

On Thursday, the 20th, after a long afternoon of training, I found myself at the house I’ve spent many a kayak session outside. (Albeit on the water.)

In conversation with Ch. Vidyasagar Rao
An evening with the Governor

The Governor of Maharashtra, Ch. Vidyasagar Rao, was exceedingly polite and made allowance for the traffic in Bombay. Rushing in, the ADC gave us a sharp reprimand about the time, but the Governor didn’t bring it up even in passing. His only concern was his evening conversation he had to have with his daughter. Terribly humbling.

Our conversation took place overlooking Marine drive, with it’s soft yellow lights and the soothing sound of waves lending a tranquil setting to the evening.

I informed him of my kayaking, and my representing India at the Dragon Boat race in Thailand, 2012. I told him about the secular team we at the event, with people from Kasmir, Haryana, Chattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala and how often our practice used to bring us far out enough to see his house. The boys had all been curious about it, and it was a point of discussion of many a training.

The hospitality offered was exquisite and extended well after our meeting. The PRO was prompt in giving us photographs as memories of the evening and lent a ear to my coming expedition.

Next step – try to get the governor on the water?

No one knew who I was till I put on the mask

No one knew who I was till I put on the mask

The most important things leading up to the expedition is training. As Pradip Patade, my kayak guru, has been saying – train, train, train. Be on the water.

Given the limited time, I’m experimenting with some different techniques. So I brought in an Altitude Mask to simulate a high altitude environment. I trust this will help me work on low oxygen and build on stamina.Altitude Training Mask

The reactions today were fun. The mask itself is rather fun to look at. And it wasn’t lost on the people at the gym today, who for better or for worse, gave me very confused looks.

Take Control.

A good day to paddle hard

A good day to paddle hard

Mumbai was overcast today. Lovely weather after the days of may heat.

Optimist Sail boats at Marine Drive
Wind in the sails

Conditions were perfect to take a kayak out and I didn’t need a dry fit with the cloud cover. Slapped on a little sunscreen and after a quick warm up I was out with the wind behind me and the cool water rising over the sides of the kayak.
Heading out to the yacht was a breeze and I pushed it a little further to break the 2 km barrier. (I often do this to gauge my speed on runs to and fro) But you turn back to the shore and I could feel the strain on the arms and the wind hitting you square in the face.

I completed 3 trips. Covering a little more than 12 kms in an hour and a half.
It’s a steady beginning.

Solo Kayaking is a Team sport

Solo Kayaking is a Team sport

I wake up at 4:30 in the morning and rummage around for a phone who’s alarm never went off. I’m an hour early. I have a thin smile thinking that my subconscious didn’t want me to miss training today. I turn and get some sleep.

Thailand Laurels
A Team effort

An hour later I’m up. I hit the scales while finding my spectacles. (I’m watching my weight a little cautiously)
A quick check on the messages and I weave my way to the kitchen.

My mom is, as always, shocked to see me. The frenzy she gets into when she realises that I might not get a full breakfast is simply cute. I get some milk ready for cereal. By the time I’m done with my wash, I have a bowl of cereal, fresh fruit, a packed box of nuts and a banana to-go on the table.

Mom is furtive though. Then she steps out and says – “kaustubh,  how much time do you have? I can make some cutlets.” When I shake my head, she asks when I’ll be back and what will happen to her cutlets.

Dad is usually up just in time to ask about my day. And what time I’ll be back. Having asked me to call it a night at 12, he ignores my limited rest, for now. Somehow they never fail to ask me to be careful. Today it was about the local train.

And so, I’m off to practice. My team sport. Knowing fully well I have the best team one could ask for.

The man who crosses Oceans

The man who crosses Oceans

Álvaro de Marichalar.

Jetski route from Rome to New York
Rome to New York

Up until yesterday afternoon I had known madness in the form of Bear Grylls and Freya Hoffmeister. Sandy Robinson and our own Lt. Cdr. Abhilash Tomy.

Yesterday I met someone who has crossed the Pacific Ocean on a JetSki. He’s done a 18,000 km trip from Rome to New York on a 3m Jetski. To say that it’s madness is an understatement. To say that it’s being free is an even bigger one.

At the Royal Bombay Yacht Club, he gave a modest audience a 30 minute lecture on his expeditions, what motivates him and what the sea is to him. I spoke to him of my expedition and he was happy to meet me today morning.

I met him at 9:30 this morning, after navigating some good bit of office traffic. He was full of ideas and things to share. And from his wealth of experience, I gathered some important insights –

  • Water, water, every where; Nor any drop to drink.
  • Navigating with the wind, setting it behind you as far as possible
  • Trust in fisherman. Not the weather guy.
  • Wear a white cotton t-shirt. If any clothing at all. (You are out in the wild, aren’t you?)
  • Maps and Navigation
  • Logging the event

He’s promised to help out with any questions I may have. And I probably will have more.

But the important question that he answered yesterday itself – Sharks are like Pitbull. If you don’t give them a reason, they won’t bite you.

More on his exploits – www.pacificdiscoveryexpedition.com

About Me

About Me

My name is Kaustubh Khade. And I am a Kayaker.

To say I’ve always been in sports is to call a shark a fish. I dabbled in a host of sports (still do) and was sports captain at school, vice-captain of the football team at Junior school. In 2009 I graduated from IIT Delhi and shortly after I took up kayaking. In 2012 at a national championship for Dragon Boat racing, I got selected for the national team to go to the Asian Championship in Thailand. In our maiden tournament we won 6 silver medals and 3 bronze.

The national anthem plays for the country that wins gold, standing on the podium awaiting silver, it hurt us deeply not hearing it, .

Subsequently I focussed on kayaking as a solo sport. A year later, I found myself in Thailand again, but this time for the Asian Sea Kayaking tournament. I represented India in the 13km race and finished 5th overall.

The mission here is simple. Promote sports.

I’ve been lucky to take up sailing, archery, football, rugby, swimming, and track. And it’s taken me ages to find a sport that I truly excel at. There are many out there that are far from it.

You can reach me at k3kayaking@gmail.com and follow the journey on www.facebook.com/PaddleHardIndia

What lies ahead

What lies ahead

This brings us to the present and the mission at hand.

I’m going to do a solo kayak journey from Mumbai to Goa. The trip itself will take me about 20 days to accomplish and I’ll be covering over 500 kms of water on the trip.

The idea is to paddle 6-7 hours a day and spend the nights under the stars or fending for myself.

I’ve had to take a leave of absence from work, thankfully I have a great boss, and over the next two months, I’ll be training dedicatedly in Goa.

Paddle Hard!

Paddle Hard!

“One cannot find new oceans until he loses sight of shore.” – Christopher Columbus.

I’m Kaustubh Khade. And I plan on finding new shores.

Get trophy. Continue Smiling
Sailing at Khadakvasla always brings smiles.