Why would they go sailing, if not to Instagram it? We descend on to a massive, private floating platform and I already feel like I'm part of a James Bond movie, with a naval helicopter circling in the sky before landing at the harbour
Sailing (Outdoors), Gateway of India
Sailing sounds so glamorous. Standing atop a hotel near Apollo Bunder and seeing the Arabian Sea dotted with mysterious white yachts complete with sundecks and sails, I think, "This, we must do." Water sports is the one thing my children and I haven't done. I ask the kids and find to my surprise that one child wants to go right away; the other wants to bail.
But eventually, one early morning, Apollo Bunder is where I head to with them and their best buddies, all armed with caps and bottles of water. Sailing. What can go wrong with sunrise, blue water, white sails, sea gulls and morning breeze? It's the stuff that poetry is made of, right?
Ah, but then we haven't accounted for sea-sickness. But let's dwell on that later. The teenagers have all come armed with their phones. Why would they go sailing, if not to Instagram it? We descend on to a massive, private floating platform and I already feel like I'm part of a James Bond movie, with a naval helicopter circling in the sky before landing at the harbour.
A small boat comes along, and we get into it and are taken to the yacht. Sunil Lobo is our sailing master and he engages with the kids immediately — asking for names, throwing questions at them and pointing at things. It is a lesson in the life sciences — latitudes, sea breeze, the depth of water that different water vehicles need, the history of piracy, the kinds of sails that are used and the advantages of each, port history, marine life and pollution, tides, the rotation and revolution of planets and how they affect tides. Only, it's so much more engaging.
In the distance, we are shown the hills of Uran and Karanja on the mainland. The abandoned Dolphin Rock lighthouse, which now looks like a battered giant boot, was built in 1856 to guide ships into the harbour, we are told. We hear sailing stories, of children competing in the sport and all the adventures that come along with it.
Mid-way, the sailing hand lets out a shout. And there it is — the thing we weren't promised, the thing we never expected — a pod of dolphins. It's surreal how close they are. And I am not exaggerating when I say that it seems as if they are following our boat. They circle us, flipping out of the water, dolphins of all sizes. There is at least one baby dolphin in the pod. And yes, they are as shiny and smiley and cute as you see them in pictures.
But Vani, my teenage daughter, is violently sick all through. It is such a pity because for some reason, I forgot that she had motion sickness and for some reason, the sailboat does not have sickness bags or pressure bands. I cling on to her throughout the trip because she nearly passes out with sickness, and that is the only thorn in a most beautiful trip. Schools, take your kids. Mommies and daddies, it's totally worth it, with or without dolphins. Do this with your children.
Safety tip: Be prepared for seasickness.
Where: Arabian Sea
Best for: Boys and girls from age five upwards, accompanied by a caregiver or parents.
How to reach: We sail from the Gateway of India
Timings: You can opt for sunrise or sunset sailing. If the kids are young, go during sunset as the sun is less oppressive.
Budget: Depends on the size of the yacht and number of people. We sailed with Trip360 and there were eight of us who paid '600 per head. Otherwise, a sailboat for two hours can cost up to '4,900 per boat.
Food: Carry light snacks.
Rest Room facilities: None during the trip.
Where else to go:
Elephanta Caves, or the sea fort of Alibaug.
Parent Poll: Loved the experience, wish we were prepared for sea-sickness.
Kids' Poll: My son, sitting out on the hull, loved handling the sails and the sight of the dolphins.Enjoyed the trip.
What's Good: It is a huge learning experience for the kids. The dolphin sightings were simply brilliant. The sail master was good with information and engaging with the kids.
What's Not So Good: The organisers were not prepared
with first-aid kits or sea-sickness bags.
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