Fourteen officers from the Artillery Water Sports Association (AWSA), the adventure cell of the artillery centre in the Indian Army, are setting sail on a 11 day 1,500-km journey from Ennore (near Chennai) to Gopalpur (at sea) in Orissa on December 18. The journey is being organised in association with the Royal Madras Yatch Club (RMYC) and Prakruthi in an attempt to create an awareness on eco-conservation.
The team will be using Hobie Cat, a sophisticated form of catamaran that has almost a nil chance of capsizing. A group of seven Hobie Cats will cover a distance of 150 km, or about 78 nautical miles a day through uncharted waters on the eastern coast and camping in beaches that are rarely visited by people.
Hobie cats will halt in Pulicat Lake and Thupili Palem on December 18 and will interact with the villagers there in an attempt to encourage the concept of offshore eco-tourism. During the halt, the crew hopes to provide a ride on the boats to underprivileged children and drive home the point that water tourism will benefit their community, given the fact that sailing is the most eco-friendly form of activity in the sea.
Two members from the Prakruthi Eco-core group, one of the pioneers in sea-turtle conservation efforts, will join the expedition in order to study the migratory route of sea turtles.
The Hobie Cat, acquired from Europe in 2002, has two hulls for supreme balance, with a trampoline mesh in the middle used by the crew as the seat. The catamaran is at ease in both the sea as well as the shallow waters, as it sinks only six inches, given its light weight.