The First Indian

The First Indian Solo Circumnavigation Under Sail

Dilip Donde

An engrossing account of how Dilip Donde earned his place in India's maritime history becoming the first Indian to complete a solo circumnavigation under sail.
Date Published :
May 2016
Publisher :
Fernhurst Books
Series :
Making Waves
Illustration :
28 Halftones, color
Format Available    QuantityPrice
ISBN : 9781909911499
Pages : 304
Dimensions : 7.75 X 5 inches
In stock


An engrossing narrative of one man’s struggle to achieve his dream against all odds, this is both a fast-paced adventure and a telling commentary on how heroes are often made despite the system they operate in, by dint of sheer perseverance and commitment to a chosen path. Above all, it’s a paean to the power of self-belief that serves to inspire, motivate and exhilarate. On 19 May 2010, as he sailed INSV Mhadei into Mumbai harbour, Commander Dilip Donde earned his place in India’s maritime history by becoming the first Indian to complete a solo circumnavigation under sail, south of the 3 Great Capes. The feat, successfully completed by just over 200 people in the world, had never been attempted in his country before. In his own words, the book chronicles his progress over four years, from building a suitable boat with an Indian boat-builder; weaving his way through the ‘sea-blind’ and often quixotic bureaucracy; and training himself with no precedent or knowledge base in the country, to finally sailing solo around the world. During this gruelling task he was mentored by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first man to sail solo non-stop around the world.

About The Author

Commander Dilip Donde graduated from the Indian National Defence Academy and was commissioned in the Indian Navy on 1st January 1990. He specialised as a Clearance Diver and held various command, staff and instructional appointments before volunteering to undertake a solo unassisted circumnavigation under sail in an Indian built boat in 2006. He is a recipient of a number of prestigious Indian awards including the Tenzing Norgay National Adventure Award; the National Maritime Achievement Award; the Shaurya Chakra (Armed Forces peace time gallantry award); and the Macgregor Medal (valuable military reconnaissance).





Chapter 1: A Path Less Travelled

Chapter 2: An Invaluable Apprenticeship

Chapter 3: A Suitable Boat

Chapter 4: Apprenticeship Again

Chapter 5: Finding a Boatyard

Chapter 6: Training on Old Sameer

Chapter 7: Humour in Uniform

Chapter 8: Training Boat

Chapter 9: The Eldemer Episode

Chapter 10: Training Sortie That Wasn’t

Chapter 11: A Womb for the Boat

Chapter 12: Finally, Some Sailing

Chapter 13: Robin’s First Visit

Chapter 14: The First Hurdle

Chapter 15: Our Boat Building Guru

Chapter 16: Adieu Sameer

Chapter 17: Mhadei

Chapter 18: Mhadei’s Baby Steps

Chapter 19: Colombo Calling

Chapter 20: The Mauritius Adventure

Chapter 21: Charting My Course

Chapter 22: The Final Checklist

Chapter 23: Down Under

Chapter 24: First Taste of the Southern Ocean

Chapter 25: A Little Town with a Large Heart

Chapter 26: The Everest of Ocean Sailing

Chapter 27: Hop Across the Atlantic

Chapter 28: Home Run




“The First Indian launches you into ‘Sagar Parikrama’, a five-year mission that built the Mhadei from scratch in India and primed it for the conquest of the ‘Everest of the Seas’, her skipper Commander Dilip Donde’s incredible voyage around the world. His account of the voyage is riveting and unputdownable. This nautical page turner drips with old-school man-versus-the-elements adventure.”

- India Today

“With so many odds stacked against him, Dilip Donde’s achievement is an inspiration to anyone attempting an expedition. There are many life lessons in this candid book, but what stands out most is that besides grit, determination and strength, what one really needs to go through any pioneering journey is patience, a sense of humour and a dedicated team of supporters.”

- National Geographic Magazine India

“A riveting tale of enduring conviction and grit. Cdr Donde’s evocative rendering of his intrepid path breaking voyage has the reader vicariously live through the whole experience in its measured advance, unforeseen intricacies and iridescent afterglow. The maverick seafarer, who survived bureaucratic lulls on land and daunting gales at sea, is equally adroit at telling tales.”

- The Hindu

“Cdr Donde’s wry wit makes you forget just how daunting the experiences described in this book must have been. Such tales of courage and pioneering adventure are rare in our times, when there are few firsts left. For an Indian to accomplish this, given the many constraints, is even more extraordinary.”

- Hindustan Times

“A solo sailor is solo, cut off from the world and outside assistance and dependent upon their own character and resourcefulness. This book is a tribute to Dilip’s determination to achieve the objective and become the first Indian to ever sail solo around the planet.”

- Sir Robin Knox-Johnston

"A delight to read"

- Little Ship Club

"An entertaining read."

- Flying Fish

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