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Adventures of the Lone Kayaker

Note: This article is, in most parts, a summary of one of the most eventful days (day 12) during the 18-day solo kayaking expedition from Mumbai to Goa by the international level kayaker Kaustubh Khade, from his own point of view. Yes, he made it to Limca Book of Records for the Longest Solo Kayaking by an Indian! \m/

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Don’t miss the end, which talks about his next BIGGEST adventure plan!

Ratnagiri to Pawas

A good night’s sleep, some breakfast, a few selfies with the helpful locals and I am on the waters again.

  • It was 6:45 and I intend to make it to Pawas before 9, else the paddling will get harder owing to the scorching sun. My gopro also needs recharging for the 22km long stretched planned for the afternoon. My safety boat caught up, though I didn’t see mom on it.
  • At 2 hours and 11 minutes, I have done 17.5km, heading straight for Pawas beach. This is when the safety boat tells me the jetty is just beyond the hill.
  • It’s already past 9 and I have to paddle 8km, rounding a couple of rocks, in this heat and glare! We have a good beach to land on but we are running after a jetty. I am not happy, and yet I appreciate the beauty of the landscape on either side, especially once I am able to spot the jetty, after some struggle.
  • I have done 27 km, and reached Purnagad, adjacent to Pawas.

Purnagad to Godavne

kayak6Meanwhile, dad has already somehow got us invited for lunch at the local Sarpanch’s house! He guides me in, and I immediately get busy with my laptop, camera, watches and hard drive. Once we have the brilliant chula-made chapattis and Bangda, I give in to the drowsiness for 45 minutes. As I wake up, I am pleasantly surprised on being gifted a coconut and a shawl by the lady Sarpanch. She says it is for the journey ahead and that she is proud and happy. I head for the beach. It is 3:45 and I am planning to do 16km in 2.5 hours, landing next at Godavne beach.

After the first few km, I feel the going is tougher than I had thought, as the waves are surging all around. It gets worse as I get close to Godavne. The safety boat tells me it’s too choppy for them and they are going to Ambolgad. We part ways at 6:15. I look for a good spot on the beach to line up my approach, avoiding the rough waves, when one breaks just behind me and knocks me out of the kayak. Once I battle the waves and get back on the kayak, I realize that my glares and the contact lens of left eye have bid goodbye. I make it to the beach and do some surf photography, enjoy the sunset. It has been over 30 minutes, getting dark, and I don’t see the headlights.

I do not have a torch or phone and the GPS has been out of juice for some time, while the beach is being overrun by crabs.

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It is 7, I pull up the kayak and secure it as best as I can, and I walk south towards Ambolgad, hoping to get to a phone.

By 7:50, my calves are sore. I come across four guys sitting on a push cart with booze, catching a breath of relief, and sudden exhaustion kicks in. From one of their phones, I try calling mom and dad but can’t reach them. So I call Shanj, she is relieved and tells me that mom-dad are worried but fine. She will keep trying their numbers. Within minutes, a man on bike comes looking for me, it takes both of us a minute to realize we found each other! This is Santosh (one of the guys on the safety boat).

The Rescue

Once I reach the resort, I realize how worried mom is. She has been told that the place I landed is utterly uninhabited for miles, except for a few packs of leopards, and inaccessible by road.

It is now my turn to worry, my kayak needs rescuing, and within 2 hours, before the tide gets to her. A fisherman is called to help while I take a hot bath and devour some sandwiches. Rescue through water does not seem possible due to winds, waves and lack of light. Within minutes, six of us are in a car driving to the beach, followed by almost an hour of painful walk on loose sand, marked with unpleasant sightings of dead turtles. Once we are close, one of the guys points out that the place is called Vethye, infamous for thieves that pick up anything of value on the beach. I almost panic, but then I see her – the kayak! After an arduous journey back, we reach the resort at 11:45.

I’ve travelled 43 kms by kayak. And 18 by foot.

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The Way Ahead for Kaustubh

Kaustubh has quit his job to take up another expedition, and this one is bigger and more exciting than ever. He will be kayaking along the whole Indian coastline while his girlfriend will be cycling along on the coast.

To invite him for an inspiring lecture, talk or interaction session: Click “Invite” on his profile here.

 

Source: Paddlehard

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