This incredible and world’s first expedition is inspired by Homer’s Odyssey, one of the oldest epics in Western literature, that tells the story of Odysseus (Ulysses according to Roman myths) and his adventurous ten year journey back to his kingdom Ithaca, after the end of the Trojan War.
This expedition is certainly expected to be adventurous, even if not ten-year long, or nearly as intense as that faced by Odysseus.
Rowing across oceans is a relatively new adventure sport and is certainly intense. Just to give an idea, less than a thousand people can lay claim to have crossed oceans, and less than 150 have managed to do it solo. In fact, more people have travelled to space, or have stood atop Mt Everest than have rowed across any of the three mighty oceans – Atlantic, Pacific or Indian.
We plan to add our name to this very short list of ocean rowers, by paddling the entire length of the Indian coastline, over about 7,500 km, a route that has not been rowed or paddled by anyone, ever before.
The Indian Ocean is the third-largest of the world’s oceans covering and area of more than 70 million square kilometres or almost 20% of the Earth’s surface water. To its North lies the continent of Asia, Africa lies to the West, Australia to the East, while Antarctica forms the Southern boundary. It is the smallest, geologically youngest, and physically most complex of the world’s three major oceans.
All of the Indian Ocean lies in the Eastern hemisphere and is delimited from the Atlantic Ocean by the 20°E meridian, and from the Pacific Ocean by the meridian of 146°49’E, running south from the southernmost point of Tasmania. The northernmost extent of the Indian Ocean is approximately 30°N in the Persian Gulf.
The Northern Indian Ocean also is the most important transport route for oil as it connects the oil-rich countries of the Middle East Each with Asia. Every day tankers are carrying a cargo of 17 million barrels of crude oil from the Persian Gulf on its waters. 40% of the world’s offshore oil production comes from the Indian Ocean, mainly from oilfields of Indonesia and the Persian Gulf.
Called the Sindhu Mahasagara by ancient Indians, it has been called Hindu Ocean, Indic Ocean, etc in various languages. The Indian Ocean was also known earlier as the Eastern Ocean. In ancient Greek geography the Indian Ocean was called the Erythraean Sea. There are current attempts to rename the Indian Ocean as Asian Sea and Afrasian Sea.
The world’s earliest civilisations in Mesopotamia, Egypt and the Indian subcontinent all developed around the Indian Ocean. The earliest known maritime trade between Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley (c 2500 BC) was conducted along the Indian Ocean. In the second or first century BC, Eudoxus of Cyzicus was the first Greek to cross the Indian Ocean. Hippalus is said to have discovered the direct route from Arabia to India around this time. During the first and second centuries intensive trade relations developed between Roman Egypt and the Tamil kingdoms of the Cheras, Cholas and Pandyas. The Indian Ocean being calmer, opened to trade earlier than the Atlantic or Pacific Oceans. The powerful monsoons also meant ships could easily sail west early in the season, then wait a few months and return eastwards.
In 1497, Vasco da Gama rounded the Cape of Good Hope, and became the first European to sail to India. The European ships, armed with heavy cannon, quickly dominated trade. The Dutch East India Company (1602-1798) sought control of trade with the East across the Indian Ocean. France and Britain established trade companies for the area. Eventually Britain became the principal power and by 1815 dominated the area.
The opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 revived European interest in the East, but no nation was successful in establishing trade dominance. Since World War II the United Kingdom has withdrawn from the area, to be only partially replaced by India, the USSR, and the United States.
On December 26, 2004, the countries surrounding the Indian Ocean were hit by a tsunami caused by the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake. The waves resulted in more than 226,000 deaths and over a million were left homeless.
Rowing the North Indian Ocean expedition starts in the western tip of India, at Koteshwar in the state of Gujarat, located just North of the Tropic of Cancer. The paddle hugs the western coastline and continues South, to take a northern turn at Kanyakumari and travels along the eastern coast to Sagar Island, and continues up the Ganges river to end in Kolkata, West Bengal.
- The entire journey rowing the North Indian Ocean is expected to be completed by rowing in excess of 5 million paddle strokes
- The journey starts each morning at day break, continues through the day and ends in the late afternoon back on shore
- Water consumption is estimated to be 10 litres per day
- More than 5,000 calories are expected to be burnt per day
- Expected to lose more than 15 kg of body weight by the end of the expedition
- Tackling claustrophobia, boredom, cabin fever, hallucinations and fatigue
- There is no way one can go take a walk to clear one’s head
- Home will be a twelve foot inflatable piece of PVC that is rocking and rolling every day, every hour, every minute, every second … an experience described as being inside a washing machine
- The watercraft being used in the effort is a twelve foot long, 32 inches at its widest and six inches thick inflatable stand-up paddleboard
- A seat will be affixed to turn it into a sit-on-top kayak … or as we call it, a YAKASUP
- Training for Odyssea will be conducted off shore West Bengal, between Bakkhali and Sagar Island. Additionally, we will also train on the Odisha coast near Puri
ODYSSEA is not a gentle paddle on a river, lake or other enclosed body of water. Nature is unpredictable, particularly the sea, there is no hardware store one can walk into, and the closest piece of solid land is under the boat, on the ocean floor. Even though the watercraft will always be in sight of land, the ocean can be unpredictable and a rogue current or unexpected wind can carry it way out into the sea, making getting lost at sea a distinct possibility … not something that is at all welcome.
Even though the Indian Navy and the Coast Guard will be appraised of the daily route and expected location, in case of an emergency, it might take days for a rescue vessel to reach. The journey has to be self-contained and self-reliant since there are a lot of things that can go wrong and we need to prepare for as many possible exigencies as we can. Safety is paramount and we will not risk our lives due to either not equipping ourselves, not taking the necessary precautions, or simply being foolish, stupid and foolhardy. We need to equip ourselves adequately for any issues that might occur.
Also, we will need to hit land well before sunset. It is no fun being out in the open water drifting along with the wind and the waves, without any sight of land, or lights on shore to guide us.
Some of the safety gear that will be on-board the watercraft are:
Personal and boat gear
→ Boat repair kit
→ First aid kit
→ Garmin GPS
→ Camenga Tritium compass
→ Satellite tracker
→ LED strobe
→ Handheld VHF Radio
→ Rugged and waterproof smartphone
Prior to the expedition
→ Social media campaign to increase visitors to the expedition and social media pages
→ Press meet in Delhi and Mumbai announcing the expedition (organised by sponsors)
→ Speaking tours (organised by sponsors)
During the expedition
→ Daily blog posts uploaded on the expedition page
→ Social media posts hashtagged with the sponsoring brand’s names
Post the expedition
→ Press meet in Mumbai and New Delhi talking about the experience (organised by sponsors)
→ Visits to schools to talk to students
→ Publication of a book (print and Kindle editions) on the expedition
→ Full length video documentary uploaded on YouTube and Amazon Video Direct
→ Launch of the book and preview screening of the documentary to a select audience
→ Social media promotions to increase viewership of the video
→ Access to the adventurer, photographs and videos for brand promotions
ODYSSEA is not only painted on a unique canvas, but brings with it some challenges. The degree of difficulty is fairly high and without the help, support and participation of well-wishers, associates and sponsors, it will be impossible to conduct this expedition.
This also provides the opportunity to associate with an expedition that will put the adventurer in a very short list of less than 1,000 people who have rowed across an ocean … in history. There are many opportunities for generating positive and extensive public relations for the associating brands.
Even though the expedition is scheduled for the last quarter of 2021, time is of paramount importance and we need to close the sponsorship associations by the summer of 2021! Do let us know of your interest in an association by filling the form below and we can take it from there.
To embark on an expedition as stupid (and dangerous) as this one, I at least needed to know some people who had done it before and had lived to tell the tale. There aren’t too many, but there are enough people crazy enough to have done this over the last few decades, and some of them daft enough to have done it multiple times. Roz Savage, for one. The first woman to have rowed the Pacific Ocean … solo. And someone who has also rowed the Atlantic solo. And the Indian Ocean. In fact, the only woman in the world to have done so. Then there is Aleksander Doba who rowed solo across the Atlantic THRICE, the last when he was 71 years old. Below are a few videos on some people who have inspired me to undertake this journey. You can also check out my YouTube playlist with more videos on ocean rowing.
Meanwhile, you can watch a few videos of ocean rowers who have inspired me to undertake this arduous expedition … Odyssea.
“I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning to sail my ship.”
– Louisa May Alcott
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