Panaji: They exemplify grit and courage, proving that nothing is impossible for the fairer gender. And now these six valiant women officers of the Indian Navy are back from their gruelling sea expedition from Mauritius.
On Thursday evening, they anchored their craft INS Mhadei on Goan soil at the INS Mandovi. It was part of the practice run ahead of their voyage across the world scheduled next year.
They appeared a bit done in by the tricky turns of the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea riled up by the monsoon, which repeatedly assaulted their craft day in and day out. But according to team leader lieutenant Vartika Joshi, this was just the kind of trial and challenge they were looking for.
"We chose this time of the year so that we could encounter the rough weather during our training and therefore are prepared for it during our circumnavigation. The sea was quite rough and it was very heavy, but that was the aim," Joshi told IANS soon after the sailors docked their craft.
Besides Joshi, the all-women crew of the boat included Lieutenants B. Aishwarya, P. Swati, Pratibha Jamwal, Vijaya and Payal Gupta.
The voyage from Port Louis in Mauritius -- where they had gone for training and conditioning, across 5,000 nautical miles -- took 16 days and nights. The nights, Joshi claimed, were particularly challenging.
"At night, when you have a problem with the boat, you try to repair that. Finally when things work out, you get that relieved feeling," Joshi said when asked about the team's trials during the journey.
But it's the next big journey which the team has set its sights on -- the circumnavigation of the globe. The feat is so rare that a fewer number of adventurers have accomplished it, as compared to those who have conquered Mount Everest, said Joshi.
But there's in-house experience at hand.
Commander Dilip Dhonde, who a few years ago circumnavigated the globe using the same INS Mhadei, was there to see Joshi and her team off the sailing boat and offer them the much-needed tips.
"It makes me happy and proud to see this young team of officers attempt the feat," Dhonde told reporters.
But there's still one sailing race which the team is expected to participate in before the global circumnavigation in August next year.
Earlier, the team had also sailed in 2014 from Goa to Port Blair and last year from Goa to Vizag for the International Fleet review and back as part of training for the final circumnavigation attempt.
According to Joshi, adventure is one thing but serving the Indian Navy and sailing are their way, and the navy's way of promoting women's empowerment.
"Navy backs women empowerment. The women in the armed forces are best examples of empowerment. This is a great way to show the world that women can do all this," she said.
All one has to do is "follow your dreams".