Uncharted Waters: How to Circumnavigate the Globe

In 2013, Commander Abhilash Tomy of the Indian Navy etched his name in the history books by becoming the first Indian to solo circumnavigate the globe in his feisty sail ship Sagar Parikrama 2. This unique feat was a test of gritty human resolve, extreme courage, and self-reliance. Earlier, Commander Dilip Donde of the Indian Navy had also successfully attempted the feat in 2010 with four stopovers, Tomy then had served as Donde’s shore support crew, helping Donde stock up supplies at the four ports.

This year, 24-year-old sailor and Delhi-based yacht master Ishan Roy is hoping to undertake the same journey through the great capes — Africa’s Cape of Good Hope, Australia’s Cape Leeuwin, and South America’s Cape Horn in an attempt to become India’s first solo civilian circumnavigator. Ishan approached TheVibe to help make his case as he sets his ambitions high. These are the reveals…


Our first interaction with Ishan Roy offers a sprightly and friendly youngster with an easy smile. Three years through Hindu (the college), and Ishan had his epiphany, “to pursue my true vocation — to roam the world forever.” So he bought himself a one-way ticket to the Andamans. He took refuge at Chidiya Tapu, where he started diving with Lacadives, a scuba diving school, as a dive-master. Soon enough, sea-borne adventures came seeking. He turned to surf and kiteboarding, before setting off on a sailing trip for the first time. This trip would rekindle his chase to pursue his dream.

The bug had caught on. “I applied to every sailing school in India. I finally heard from the Pondicherry Sailing Academy and took up their offer to move to Pondy. Here I learnt marine carpentry, basic seamanship and plotted my future adventures.” But life like the sea is tumultuous, and money must be earned to become self-reliant. “Life was hectic; I would sometimes sleep on the beaches, sometimes on the boat. I soon started working as a member of the safety crew on various sailing trips, earning about 500 bucks per trip. On the weekends, I would teach children how to sail. I was steadily aligning myself.”


Life on the sea is different. Ishan entered a boy, left a man. “I moved to Mumbai as a deckhand on a catamaran, where I trained under a yacht master for six months.” Here, the young sailor learnt how the yacht master meant being more than just the captain — a yacht master must know everything, from the engine and electric repair to cooking and plumbing.

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Ishan would soon bag his first big job — to work as crew on a boat sailing from Pondicherry to Kochi, some 1,200 miles of the Arabian Sea. “My ship was caught in the Okhi storm, and it was terrifying. I was puking my guts out,” he remembers. Sailing under a short-tempered veteran naval commander would turn out to be another shock. “This wasn’t a school, life was getting real.” Ishan explains, the experience as ‘quite heavy’ as first-time experiences go, but it left him angling to become a yacht master himself.

“I applied to multiple sailing schools all over the world, and was admitted to Cape Town Ocean Sailing Academy to learn the art of offshore sailing,” he reveals.

There are three yacht master qualifications, depending on one’s ability and competence — the yacht master coastal/offshore/ and ocean. The examination involves a demonstration of skippering skills, boat handling, radio, radar, collision regulations, meteorology, and signals, to name a few. “During the course, I sailed around the Cape of Good Hope to Madagascar, adjusting to this wet and constantly-moving life on a boat.” Once you are used to wrinkled hands and wet beds, you are a true sailor. “I got my first job as a captain delivering a sailboat from Chennai to Goa, the same boat, I once puked on.” As history repeated itself in such a fashion, his confidence tanked up again.


The earth is round. Flat-Earthers would vehemently disagree. So too would the skeptics who scoff at this 24-year-old sailor’s dream. In the last five years, Ishan has set sail over 20,000 nautical miles. With just a final 7,000 nautical miles spread looming in front of him, he is supposedly just around the bend to cover the whole circumference of the earth at sea.

“I started a campaign called Project Anicca, named after my own boat, for which plans are coming together now. My dream is to become India’s first civilian, and the youngest Indian sailor to circumnavigate the earth,” he gushes. As all ideas which develop in time, Project Anicca started too as a quivering dream, before taking a life of its own.

“My objective while on this journey is also to experiment with living sustainably at sea. My hope is to pursue the development of alternative solutions to problems of a world growing, perhaps too fast for its own good,” he says. His fear is justified, environmental sustainability is a big problem humanity is coming to grasps with today.


Ishan makes a commitment to chasing his dream with untamed passion. As he sets to host his crowdsourcing campaign in a bid to actualise his dream, he reveals this is only the start. The seaman sets sail through these uncharted waters now, and we too wish him luck. Godspeed his unreasonableness.

As G.B. Shaw once pointed, after all, “All progress depends on the unreasonable man. The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists to adapt the world to himself.” Set sail to create history, Ishan.

Photos/ Videos Attribution: ISHAN ROY.

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