Mumbai: Sea and the City

Mumbai: Sea and the City
Photo Credit: Ritesh Uttamchandani
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Viewing Mumbai from a sail boat gives a new perspective on the city

Taneesha Kulshrestha
May 02 , 2016
07 Min Read

It is interesting to pass lesser-known Mumbai landmarks like the unused Dolphin Rock lighthouse, built in 1856 to steer ships safely to the harbour. Then there is the Indian Navy managed old heritage site of the Gun Battery on Middle Ground isle, about 300 metres from the Gateway of India. It was built by the British in 1682 to curb piracy. A little further on, we sailed past the heavily fortified Oyster Rock island, owned by the Indian Navy. The fortification is also visible from the Sassoon Docks, among the oldest docks here. Kasliwal said that it was a treat to see the navy exercising in the harbour or conducting short races and competitions for its sailors at times.

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With the sea gently rocking our boat, we just drifted for a while and sat listening to the strains of soothing music playing in the boat, enjoying the breeze on our faces and views of the Mumbai coastline. No one spoke for a while. It was indeed a rare moment in Mumbai when one couldn’t hear the myriad noises of the city that never sleeps. We tried to savour it while it lasted.

I fancifully asked Captain Heerjee if we could sail in the boat to Goa or other far-off shores. He took my question seriously and said that he knew someone who heroically sailed to Malaysia in a similar sailboat! That sailor apparently ran into a storm which filled his boat with water. So, for the next few days, he ate, slept and sailed with water. We had no such heroic streak. After being soaked wet in sea sprays during the two-hour tour, as the sun began to set, we turned from the still in use but unattended Sunk Rock lighthouse, about three kilometres from the Gateway of India.

As we approached the Harbour, the diminishing light from the sun made it possible to imagine other evenings from an era gone by. Sailor’s hearts must have gladdened as they spotted the light from the Mumbai Harbour lighthouses, sig­nalling they were close to home.

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Kasliwal saved the best story for last. In April 1944, there was a massive explosion at the Bombay docks when the freighter SS Fort Stikine, carrying over 1,400 tonnes of explosives, exploded, killing over 1,000 people.

The ship was also carrying a secret cargo of 31 crates each containing four gold bars weighing 12.70 kg each. As the ships exploded, the gold rained all over the harbour and the city of Bombay. That gold is being discovered even today. As recently as 2011, Gammon India employ­ees building a dredge found gold bars from Stikine near Victoria docks. Who knows what more taking a sailboat tour might yield.

The Information

The Tour
Weigh Anchor: The Mumbai Sailing Tour starts from the private dock entry opposite the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, at Apollo Bunder, Mumbai. The tour lasts 1.5 hours, starting at 7.30am, 8.35am, 3.30pm and 4.45pm. It costs Rs 2,500 per person, including taxes.

Must Bring
Identity proof and address proof along with a scanned copy of the same on mail.

To Book
Address: 61-A Embassy Apts, 46 Nepean Sea Road, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400026.
Contact:+91-9820025496, +91-9769187580; mumbaiwalkingtours.com

What To Wear
Sunscreen! Also, expect to get wet. Bring a change of clothes in a waterproof bag if you plan on changing afterwards. Or else, wear shorts or trousers in material that dries easily. Get a cap if you are worried about salt water in your hair.

Raconteur Walks
It’s a young dynamic start-up that started about 2.5 years ago with the idea of offering tourists and Mumbai buffs opportunities to experience Mumbai in richer and more unique ways, going beyond guidebooks. It has done over 2,200 tours with more than 15,000 guests from across the world including some legendary names like world famous director-producer Steven Spielberg and eighttime academy award-winning music composer Alan Menken. It offers 12 walking tours, city tours by car, open air bus tours, cycling tours, sailing and flying tours.


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