Pursuit of Happiness

Gallant seafarer

While most of us would spend our leisure time in the lap of a hill, Scientific Precision’s MD Ravi Mariwala masters the tides on his yacht

Faisal Magray

When you think of a perfect getaway, what comes to mind — the vast seas or the tall mountains? Who wouldn’t want to just nestle in the lap of nature or get so lost under the blue sky that you leave all your worries behind? You’d check flights or trains to take you to that desired destination, decide what suits you best and book the most convenient ticket. But that’s not what Scientific Precision’s MD does. When he needs a break, or even when he doesn’t, all he has to do is check the weather and board his yacht! You could find him cruising the length and breadth of the world to discover the most beautiful seashores and port cities. “I have had my Vasco da Gama moments; sailing to places I had never seen before,” says Mariwala and shares that he chanced upon Jaigad port and Vengulra in Maharashtra during his expeditions, places he had never seen before.

Much like the ancient mariners, the man with 45+ years of sailing experience prepares well before setting long sails on his gorgeous Beneteau 34.7. He sails across the Indian coast with his two young boys or friends at least twice a year — from Maharashtra to Karnataka or Goa. And when he’s feeling adventurous, he even cruises foreign land. “We stack up lots of food, fluids and other essentials because long sails typically last for four to five days. One should also have a compass, GPS tracker and sea route maps handy,” he explains. Mariwala has also hoisted his sails on San Francisco Bay, Turkey, Greece, Croatia and Bay of Biscay among others. “We generally rent cruising charters with skippers to sail overseas,” he says since law for offshore sailing mandates it.

Mariwala’s tryst with sailing is not limited to his sea voyages. As a member of the Royal Bombay Yacht Club since 1990, he partakes in various sailing championship leagues. He has been participating in the Bombay Merchants’ Cup for six years now, which starts every year after monsoon ends in Mumbai and goes on till May. The races take place every Saturday near the Gateway of India where Mariwala competes against Ashish Hemrajani, Bharat Kewalramani, Ramesh Venkat and Frank Hancock among others. “You’ll see around 15-20 boats on the sea during the race — a pretty eclectic group of sailors,” Mariwala quips.

Not just during the races, Mariwala’s yacht can be spotted near the Gateway even on Sunday evenings when he is in a leisurely and relaxed mode. “I have always been at the sea. I belong to a family of sailors,” he claims. His father introduced him to the sport when he was seven years old and a family tradition turned into a passionate hobby. He attended the Training Ship Jawahar coaching school in South Mumbai for eight years and bought his first personal yacht 11 years ago. “We were taught everything from scrubbing and painting the boat to fixing the sails and masts,” he explains.

Even after all the training, one can’t really avoid mishaps on the sea. Mariwala recalls the time when his boat capsized on New Year’s Eve and he was stuck in the water for two hours with two of his friends. “One of them was not a sailor and started panicking. I had to jump into the water to keep him company until the rescue officers reached us. The night was cold and windy,” recalls Mariwala.

Despite the few accidents, the 53-year-old does not fear the deep waters. He also encourages his sons to sail and has passed on his fearlessness to them as well. “Sailing is a very exhilarating experience. The interplay of the winds, tides and the sails is complex and the sailor has to be very alert. This exercise has made my senses very sharp and kept me hooked to the sport,” he shares.