Learn to steer a sailboat and feel the wind in your hair as you transform into a captain, with a little help from the Pelican Sailing School. Their Start Sailing Course — comprising six sessions of 90 minutes each — includes lessons on sailing terminology, knowing how a sailboat moves, knowledge of the Mumbai harbour, safety and basic boat lessons. All sessions are conducted on a vintage-style 21-foot Seabird class sailboat. “The intent is to get people to the level where they can take a boat out by themselves,” says Sagar Kudale, software engineer-turned-sailor who founded the school. “We put a lot of emphasis on safety and discipline.”
After you have learnt to say, “Sail la vie”, you can look up memberships for clubs that promote sailing in Mumbai — Royal Bombay Yacht Club (RBYC), Bombay Sailing Association (BSA) or our favourite and the most reasonable, the Colaba Sailing Club (CSC). But if the hassled Mumbaikar in you doesn’t allow time for lessons, sign up for leisure sailing with Sagar, and watch the sun go down and the city lights go up in a two-hour-long sailing session with your sweetie.
Contact Sagar from the Pelican Sailing School on 9820557063.
West Coast Marine (www.westcoastmarine.co.in) and Club Aquasail (www.aquasailindia.com) conduct sailing programmes too.
If you own a snorkeling kit (check out the Dive Shop at Bandra if you don’t) and are a strong swimmer, just strap on a life jacket, hire a boat to take you a little away from the chaotic coastline and plunge yourself into the waters around. For inexperienced people, touts near the Malvan area will sell you a fabulous snorkeling experience for as little as Rs 250 for half an hour. We rue the fact that there are no precautions to make sure the callous tourist doesn’t step on corals, but we hope you do your bit by being careful. And while you’re at it, wave to the many schools of fish for us too, please.
In the last couple of years, Kolad has emerged as the winning destination for rafting, even though the rapids are generated by the rushing water released from the Mulshi dam (unlike the real Ganges deal), and despite the fact that the names of the rapids are far more exciting than the rapids themselves (our favourite being the Johnnie Walker rapid). But what makes rafting on the Kundalika river so much fun is that the instructors here do crazy things to pump up excitement —driving your raft up a tree spouting from the middle of the river because of which the person sitting at the rear end (yours truly, actually) falls out, or better still, turning over your entire raft so that its contents are flung into the river. The latter part of the river is gentle, which means that you are encouraged to dive into the waters for some lazy swimming. The Kundalika expedition comes especially recommended if you are a rafting virgin. Ask if an instructor by the name of Raju is around — he is mighty fun. And very cute too!
Empower Activity Camps (www.empowercamp.com) and Pooja’s Farm (www.poojasfarm.com) are excellent places to stay overnight or for a day. They can organise your rafting expedition too (Rs 1,200 per person). Ideally, you should stay overnight and go rafting early the next morning (begins around 8.30 am), and then drive back to the city.
Whenever we have spotted those tanned firangs hitting the waves on their surf board with a large controllable kite propelling them, we have been quite envious. After all, we boast of a coastline of 7,517 km, and we must be putting our proximity to the sea to some good use, right? It’s a certain Jehan Driver who is the harbinger of good news in the form of Kite Surf India that teaches you this sport on the Mandwa beach that lies to the north of Alibag and is easily accessible from the Mumbai mainland. “This sport is a new entrant in the adventure scene,” says Jehan who runs Quest Expeditions. They have brought down Fred — an instructor from the International Kiteboarding Organisation (IKO) — who will help you master this hybrid mix of paragliding and windsurfing through lessons that total up to six to eight hours. “Equipment is available in the city itself and if you have your own kite you can surf at any beach in the state without permissions,” explains Driver, who got his kitesurfing training in Thailand. The good news is that the equipment is significantly cheaper than the one needed for paragliding. Plus, you don’t have to go around looking for the right cliff to jump from.
Call: 9930920409/ 9820367412
Log on to: www.kitesurfindia.com
Cost: Rs 2,500 per person per hour in a group of 4; Rs 3,000 per person per hour for private lessons
Head to Vasind — just an hour’s drive from the city — for moonlit kayaking. As the crickets start buzzing around you, the instructors will give you a briefing in kayaking before setting you off on your own two-hour paddle. Get frisky with your lover or have water wars while you take a swim break. We love the fact that when we spoke to Regan Rodricks from Blue Bulb which organises this event, he insisted that everyone who goes kayaking gets equipped with life jackets and helmets, swimmers and non-swimmers alike. And we couldn’t help but sigh when he told us that “you and your gang will definitely be the only ones around this part of the river.” Privacy, here art thou. They also organise morning and evening kayaking ‘safaris’, as they put it. Safari is only a fancy word, we promise. Your bestie will be the only animal in the area to be afraid of.
Cost: Rs 1,200 (includes kayaking, a meal and tea)
Contact: 9821423448 Log on to: www.bluebulb.in
If Goa is too crowded, Alibag too dirty and Kashid too dangerous to wade in, we suggest you keep an eye out for Maharashtra’s lesser-known jewels. We hear Vengurla — a teeny town just north of Goa, in the Sindhudurg district — is one. Though a temple town, its crowning glory is the long stretch of iridescent sand that lies on its beaches: Vayangani, Sagareshwar, Mochemad, Sagarteerth and Shiroda. Modest on its tourist trappings, the town is close to the secluded Nivati Beach Cove which is almost fully enclosed by rock structures wading deep into the sea at both sides, making it your own private beach. We have sat on the hillock here contemplating life and staring at the ocean that surrounded us on three sides. Don’t forget to make a trip to the Vengurla lighthouse that offers a Facebook-DP-like photo of the sea around. Yes, we know why most of you take pictures.
Where to stay: MTDC Tent Resort (09423859750/ 09423880986) on Sagareshwar Beach; The Sagarteerth Beach Resort (09822133231).