text: Natasha Fernandopulle
For Jeremy Bolling sailing around Sri Lanka was a dream that became a reality when on February 19 this year, he set sail from Galle on a journey sailing around Sri Lanka. The journey took 30 days and ended in Galle on April 5.
Upon getting clearance from the authorities in December, a plan was set to get the ball rolling. Sailing can be a challenge especially if the winds pick up, “The first three hours are easy going,” Jeremy says adding, “When the winds increase in the afternoons the sea gets rougher which can make it mentally and physically tiring.”
Upon reaching Trincomalee the journey had taken its toll on Jeremy and his crew, so a much needed break was taken. They were meant to take a break in Kankasanthurai (KKS) but with Poya coming on, they continued to sail.
Jeremy is incidentally the first to do such a sailing trip in a non-motorised sailing boat. He adds that most of the sailing fraternity was sceptical about this move as the conditions of the sea are unpredictable. In spite of the obvious obstacles, Jeremy says, “I have given a lot of inspiration to many,” and he hopes that others will follow suit.
They were expected to do 35 kilometres a day but on average, they managed to cover between 40 to 60 kilometres a day, which resulted in them sailing for six to eight hours. The winds can reach over 40 kilometres so the waves can go beyond six to eight feet. “It was amazing to be so close to the elements,” Jeremy says adding, “The sights are fantastic and seeing the country from the ocean is really something special.”
Jeremy says that they usually sailed about one to two kilometres from the coast and at times they went out to around eight kilometres with the furthest being 35 kilometres out.
“Crossing Adams Bridge was amazing,” he says. They were 18 kilometres from Thalaiman and they had four hours to clear Adam’s Bridge which resulted in them being loser to India than Sri Lanka at one stage, “Residential seagulls and two dolphins guided us through this stage!” Jeremy explains adding that it was such a wonderful moment.
The stunning views and the sea life aside, Jeremy says it was a privilege to have met so many Sri Lankans. “From the laid back lifestyle of fishermen to the true Sri Lankan spirit of sharing and the essence of the Sri Lankan smile,” Jeremy says the whole experience was very humbling. “I am a changed person, and I guess I’m more confused now than I was before!”
The KKS harbour is a tiny cement harbour, he explains and when he saw around 70 people at the harbour clapping and cheering him on, children waving with excitement and even the Navy gun boat saluting them he says, the memories will be engrained for a life time. “We showed the children the photos of our journey on our iPads and cameras,” which he says brought broad smiles across their faces.
He explains that they travelled in absolute faith especially when they reached the northern side as the sea was rough. They missed a few storms but got caught to two.
His crew included Rob Moore, Rohitha Amarasekera, Krishan Bandara, Andrew Sawka and Mini Trepte. The main sponsor of Jeremy’s journey was Land Rover while North Sails gave them a set of sails. Land Rover even gave them two Land Rovers for his support staff. “The Land Rovers went along the North Eastern Coastline which had been a challenging but great ride,” he says adding that the Sri Lanka Navy and Coast Guard were extremely helpful.
So what has Jeremy got to say about all this I ask him, “Go ahead, conquer your dreams!” and adds, “Our country is open, our people are so nice and they like to have other people from other parts of the country sharing their challenges by both land and ocean so my final story is, we’re one ocean, one nation. ”