Sailing on the Vembanad lake

There is nothing more challenging than nature. The wind, the current; it all possesses energy that is truly immeasurable. To the lay man, it is nothing but a mere phenomena. But to an adventure junkie, like myself, there is no greater competition than competing against the power of the lesser known. Hence, this time I chose to be part of an adventure back home, in Kochi.

It was a bright yet unexciting Sunday morning. While I sat in room wondering about the many ways in which I could spend the day, two friends of mine had mooted the idea of sailing in Kochi. No sooner had they proposed the idea, than I decided to get to work. On of them had agreed to sit beside me while I drove to the Sailing Club at Panangad, Ernakulam district. This place is located approximately four kilometres away from the residence of the Cochin Royal Family situated in Thripunithra. Not to mention that it is a quiet and lesser known zone for adventure.

To our surprise the club also provided the option of kayaking on the Vembanand Lake. My friends decided to kayak while I chose to ‘take on’ the wind.

As soon as I had adorned the life jacket, my instructor named Yadav had begun conducting a crash course in sailing. From unfolding the mast to adjusting  the boom as well learning how to maneuver the rudder; the lesson seemed quite interesting.

Soon after, we decided to set out to sail. As the sailboat began floating, Yadav had also taught me how to rescue myself in case the boat topples over. This appeared to be a scary lesson, but a most crucial one. Minutes later, we began testing the strength of the wind. It was only now that I had realised how tricky it is to sail on the backwaters.

We followed a zig-zag path while on the onset. During which, I was expected to listen to the instructions given by Yadav at various junctures. Each turn requires one to be quick an agile. The rudder is said to be a sailor’s best friend for it determines the direction in which the boat has to turn. A sailor is also expected to change sides while sailing so as to maintain a certain degree of balance during the course of the journey. This requires utmost co-ordination, speed and a lot of common sense.

The return journey was easier due to the straight route that Yadav had chalked out. As we let the wind push the mast of the boat in the direction it pleased, the scenery was truly mind-blowing. Coconut palms surrounded the lake with a faint view of the Venduruthy bridge that connects Fort Kochi with the rest of Kochi city.

All in all, the experience was one of a kind. It was indeed an eye-opener to an adventure enthusiast like me. Not only did I fall in love with the wind, but I also learnt to appreciate those who spend their lives protecting our coasts.

Quick glimpse

Where: Sailing Club, Panangand, Ernakulam District, Kerala, India

Closest railway station: Thripunithra, Ernakulam North, Ernakulam South

(You could even board a bus up to Panangad and hire an autorickshaw till the Sailing Club. It is wiser, though, to make arrangements for a vehicle at your disposal)

Cost: Rs. 600 for half-an-hour