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Journal of a Seaplane Cruise Around The World
Part Three: Asia

Friday, October 26

Karachi to Bombay 836 LAND BOMBAY (Flying time 5 hours, 30 minutes)

Four days of flying have brought us from Basra to Bombay, a distance of about 2,000 miles, through some of the most trying climate in the world. The sun has blazed hotly on us, and the cabin temperature has often reached 110. The engine has been on the verge of overheating throughout the distance, but the oil radiator, which was installed in New Haven just before leaving, has undoubtedly saved us a breakdown from this cause. We had set our hearts on flying to Beipur tomorrow and to Colombo on Sunday, anticipating a good rest in the mountains of Ceylon, but have now decided to lay over a day in the comfortable quarters which have been offered us by officers of the Royal Indian Navy.

Today's flight from Karachi to Bombay was hot and bumpy, and the dull flat country made the trip tedious. The delta of the Indus is an amazing wilderness, the largest expanse of mud that I have ever seen, and one can easily sympathize with those early Greek navigators who ran afoul of the great Rann of Cutch. Kathiawar Peninsula, last remaining stand of wild lions in India, proved to be flat on the coast, with infrequent farms breaking away into its unproductive soil. It was with considerable relief that we finally caught sight of the city of Bombay, crowded within the confines of an island. It is an impressive city, with a tremendous system of docks and shipyards, and with important buildings lining the maze of crooked streets. By way of diversion I shoved the nose down into along dive which brought us out just in front of the Gateway to India, swung around directly in front of the government dock to land, seaplane style, without much regard for wind or current, and then taxied on the step straight into the berth behind the breakwater. The last maneuver nearly caused us a collision with a power launch which I failed to see until the last moment. The buoy was easily found, and the Royal Indian Navy rowboat, its motor launch, and the police craft were all alongside in a moment, and soon afterward Mr. H. Born came out with a load of Burmah-Shell gasoline from which we poured 150 gallons from two gallon tins!

The Royal India Navy has its headquarters in Bombay and we were invited to be guests in the officers, quarters by Commander C.J. Nicoll, who greeted us on board the Dalhousie. It was a short walk through the dockyard to the Mesa, and we were soon settled in cool comfortable rooms on the top floor, with native bearers prowling in and out to serve tea and run errands, etc. The dockyard is one of the most famous naval bases. During the past 300 years it has built and conditioned whole flotillas of fighting ships, and is equipped with machine shops, drydocks and wireless equipment, as well as training facilities for naval students. Until recently it was known as the Royal Indian Marine, but now has been elevated to rank with the world's "navies". The officers are English, but the personnel is largely, recruited from native Indians. A new class has just been started on its way, young Punjabi's of 17 or 18 who will be given a three year course. The Dalhousie, which was built about 1882, has had her engines dismantled and is permanently moored to the jetty to give the students their first instruction in seamanship. English officers have been transferred from the Royal Navy to this service, and it is incumbent upon them to learn the Hindustani language during their first service in India. Every so often they return to England for a year, to pursue advanced studies. There is a strong move on foot to supplant the English by native officers, and undoubtedly this will be carried out, but the change-over will be slow. The Indians do make good sailors, however . . . We have met some delightful chaps this evening and have joined in a game of billiard bowls which showed us up to be true dubs.

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