Nicobar Expedition: Rowing & Wind Sailing (1992)

SEI scripted marine history with its Nicobar Expedition, an audacious voyage from Calcutta to Indira Point, the southernmost point of India, on an open glass fibre boat powered only by sail and oars. The boat, christened Indira, measured only 27 feet in length and six feet in width.

The explorers were all veteran sailing hands, Arindam Bose, Ranjit Karunakar, Subha Ranjan Saha, Bishnu Pal, Bimal Karak and Susanta Das from the Institute and Lt. D. Pant of the Indian Navy. Bose led the crew from Calcutta to Port Blair, whereupon Karunakar took the helm till the end of the journey at Indira Point. D. Pant shared the leadership with both in the two phases.

The journey was flagged off on New Years Day of 1992 by Prof. Satyasadhan Chakroborty, Minister-in-Charge of the Department of Education, Government of West Bengal. The crew reached Sagar Dwip, 157 km from Calcutta on January 4th and received the last replenishments at the pilot ship on January 13th. From then on it was water, water, all around as the Indira cut through the tricky waters of the Bay of Bengal. The voyagers navigated in classical style, by the position of the sun, the stars, the planets and the moon, using primitive manual equipment like the sextant. They sighted land on January 24th  Landfall Island of the Andaman group of islands  and reached Port Blair on 27th January, having covered a distance of 920 nautical miles (1,656 km) on the high seas. There they presented the expedition flag to Vice Admiral S.K. Chand of the Indian Navy.

After a brief respite, the crew cast off from Port Blair on January 31st and sailed over a distance of 300 nautical miles. They crossed the treacherous Ten Degree Channel to reach Campbell Bay of the Great Nicobar Island on February 6th. They were received by Mr. Virendra Kumar, Assistant Commissioner of the island.

There being no suitable landing place for the boat near the shore, the team travelled 51 km by road to reach Indira Point on 8th February, and presented the expedition flag to the lighthouse men.

This sailing and pulling expedition, organised jointly with the Indian Navy, marked a high point in the Institute’s career. The primary aim of the venture was to fire the youth with a fervour for adventure sports and establish stronger ties of friendship with the youth of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The mission was crowned with success as the Nicobar Expedition was judged the best Offshore Adventure of the Year 1992 by the Yachting Association of India and was also awarded the prestigious Admiral Ramdas Trophy.