How about a memorable cruise on the pristine Lady M that gives a glimpse of the beautiful hinterlands as we sailed along the verdant landscape dotted with riverside villages, temples, churches, coconut farms and dense mangroves. Visibly bowled over, you will be amazed at how this unforgettable experience is off the radar for most travellers to this laid back state.
The Lady M is a French-built, three year-old luxury yacht that can be chartered for a short cruise or an overnight experience on the tranquil waters of the Mandovi River. As is the tradition in the yachting world where vessels are often christened after someone special, Lady M too is name after the owner’s wife, Mamta Sharma. We are pleasantly surprised at the level of cleanliness on-board. She is completely shoe-free and the cheery crew makes it a point to scrub it clean immediately after every journey.
It is a fact that Lady M has hosted many celebrities.
Most cruisers have been as enamored. Many visitors have been found coming back with fancy cameras, hoping to capture images of varied wetland birds that reside in the under grove. Some really lucky ones have spotted a mugger or two.
Visitors embark at Aldona, a village in north Goa and board at the river bank adjacent to the landmark St. Thomas Church. The cruise begins on the Mapusa, a tributary of the Mandavi, often described as the lifeline of the state. As we sail past imposing churches into quieter areas, there is a calmness all around. The mossy green water takes you on a different hue. The ripples created by our catamaran are glistening, and its promise of a glorious sunset is looming.
Lady M purrs silently along, without braking the magic of the moment. This 44-foot long luxurious catamaran boasts of the twin 315 HP engines, state of the art navigational equipment, three cabins with attached baths, a fly bridge with sun beds, a forward deck, aft deck, life rafts and a swim platform. Amaral tells us that they can host up to 20 guests in the day. Special meals, high tea or cocktails with snacks are prepared as per the guest requirements. Fishing trips can also be organized. The excitement of dropping a line, catching crabs or mussels and getting it freshly cooked, is perhaps why these cruises are popular especially with foreigners.
Those that get mesmerized by the quietude can stay on board and charter the yacht for an overnight experience. Dinner on-board under a starry night is a tempting though but alternate celebratory planjs await so we decide to save that our another time.
The overnight charter follows a longer route, with the yuacht sailing southwards onto the Zuari River through the Cumbajua Canal. It includes a stopover at Grande Island or Sinquerim Beacch and also allows kayaking in the still waters. Unfortunately due to the paucity of the time, we head back to Aldona.