Posted by: catamarantwooceans | January 3, 2013

Sailing the Andamans–part 2

Suddenly – on the last day in Port Blair, the snail internet revived itself! Do read the previous posts!

29.12.12 – Saturday – Out of the Neil anchorage at 0630, we motored with very little wind towards Port Blair, Which we reached at 1100. We planned to stock up on some food-stuff, especially fruit and veg and hopefully find an internet café with fast performance; I needed to publish the blog which is lagging behind terribly and arrange visas for Sri Lanka.

The first internet café we went to, the sign of which proudly proclaimed "Hi Speed Internet" was closed; a man in the garage next door said it will open at 1400. In the next one we went to the owner smiled sadly and said there was no electricity.

We went to Ananda restaurant for lunch, its sign said "Hi Class food". The chicken tikka masala tasted as last day’s leftover, the lassi – watery. Down to the market place we went through a typical Indian town scene.

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When the power returned we went back to the "snail" internet café where downloading the 192 kb weather forecast took about 7 minutes. The "Hi Speed" café which opened in the meantime had no suitable cable for my laptop, so I could accomplish none of my IT wishes.

Back to the boat, we took two jerry-cans ashore to add some 50 liters to our tanks. The port control people directed us to the sink in their toilet where a thin plastic pipe which Mupardee, the boat boy held fast to the tap, was utilized in the filling up operation.

Today was not one of the best days of our trip.

30.12.12 – Sunday – Destination of the day – North Cinque Island; you can anchor but not go ashore unless you spend a day or two in the Forestry department which has control of that island and pay a few thousand rupees. We sailed south with the wind from behind trolling again, thinking about accumulating enough fish for the trip to Sri Lanka. Five miles to the island we caught a nice yellow-fin tuna.

When we brought it into the cockpit, Sven hurried inside to bring the rum bottle and anesthetize the fish. I was watching him performing his mission of mercy when I noticed that he was actually pouring liberal quantities of our good whiskey into the tuna gills! The drink did not calm the fish, on the contrary, it went berserk, jumping out of the cockpit, hitting the dinghy and almost going back into the sea.

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We put it in the freezer and sailed into the bay south of the island, which had a very nice view and a sandy beach.

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We anchored on sand filled with coral rubble and put two anchors out to feel secure. Sven made lunch and after it I dealt with the fish, cutting big steaks and other pieces which will be enough for a whole week.

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In the afternoon we wanted to take the dinghy to look for a nice reef to snorkel; I then noticed that the right tube of the dinghy needed air. Was it possible that when the tuna hit it, the hook, still lodged in it, pierced the tube? Should I call this post "The revenge of the Yellow-Fin?" We’ll have to wait and see.

Checking the waters around the bay we found out that all the area was dead coral with almost no fish. We went back disappointed and decided to compensate ourselves by declaring it "Movie Night" and watching films.

31.12.12 – Monday – The wind blew up to 20 knots all night long. We decided to spend the last day of the year in North Cinque and do some jobs around the boat. Number one was the dinghy repair; Sven, with his excellent hearing and a soapy sponge found the tube’s puncture which we quickly repaired. We checked the forward bilges, found some water in them and pumped them dry; I also finished fiber-glassing the dinghy’s oars. The only thing that we couldn’t fix was the automatic shower discharge in Sven’s head; he’ll have to press a button after each shower.

At 1200 o’clock we had visitors; a police boat with a load of uniformed and plain-clothed men anchored close to our port. They put an inflatable into the water and came to us. The atmosphere was very friendly and after checking our papers they stayed awhile, chatting and having their pictures taken. A good piece of information that we gleaned from them was that the Cinque islands had nobody, not even the forestry people, on them. They said that the bay on the south island was beautiful and that we could stay there.

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Once the police were gone we motored the 2.8 miles to the bay on the west side of south Cinque. The view wasn’t that great and the bay, while well protected from the northeast wind had a northwesterly swell going into it, making "Two Oceans" pitch up and down continuously. Back to North Cinque!

As evening started falling we had another encounter. A fishing boat, towing two small boats came into the bay. They came close, shut their engine down and drifted nearby watching us. When the wind made them drift away, they started up, came back and anchored near us, too close for comfort.

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They were seven on board; they squeezed into one of the small boats, came over and held onto our stanchions and lifelines. They spoke only a few words of English, enough to ask for drinks and beer. Sven thought they asked whether we had a woman with us. They wanted to come on board, which I refused. After some broken communication, when I made my wish that they go away clear, they still hung on; this was becoming unpleasant.

After a few exchanges they went back to their boat. Although this could have been just an innocent curiosity it made us uneasy. This was no thing to take a chance on and when darkness fell and we saw that they were not leaving to go fishing we decided to leave.

It was 1800, complete darkness, the moon was due only in about 3 hours, when we motored out. Our only reasonable option was to go to Port Blair, where the entrance was well lighted and which we now knew well. we started by motor-sailing into 20-22 knots northeasterly which gradually decreased to 15-17, not a pleasant trip. At 2357 we dropped anchor; while I was tidying ship Sven was pouring the whiskey and as the New Year came, I called Gili to wish us another happy year. Sven and I raised our glasses, with all the ships blowing their horns and fireworks exploding on shore, welcoming the new year.

1.1.13 – Tuesday – A quick dash with Vijay into town to buy a new starting battery for the port engine and at 0945 we went out to resume our planned itinerary, sailing to the south bay of Rutland Island, some 25 miles away. This is actually a bight with a very long beach, described by some bloggers to be "the best beach in Andaman" and "glorious beach".

As we anchored in 7.5 meters on sand I looked towards the shore and told Sven: "We’ll swim ashore, not go with the dinghy. I see some waves there". Later, on dry land we blessed that decision; the waves rose and broke near the shore with incredible force, throwing us forward and then pulling us back, threatening to snatch mask and fins away from our bodies. No way we could have made it with the dinghy without flipping over!

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We left our snorkeling gear near some bushes and walked along the beach; behind it the tall trees of the forest rose majestically. Going further west we reach an estuary of a river and followed it inland. Impressive view!

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There were a lot of mud-skippers around the water edge, here’s one who hitched a ride on a live shell.

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Going back through the surf was again a bit of a scary affair as the backwash broke into the incoming waves; after some frantic swimming, we were glad to be in calm water.

2.1.13 – Wednesday – The night was not a calm and quiet one; even though the anchorage is very well protected from the wind, swell and small waves came in, making the boat jump and bump as if it were under way. After breakfast we raised the main, motored around the corner of the island and took up a heading towards Chiriatapu. a village on Middle Andaman, just inside Macpherson strait. Sailing close-hauled on relatively flat water with 14 knots of true wind was great fun.

Going ashore with the dinghy was not a simple matter; we had to put a stern anchor, judge the right rode length so that when we tied the bow to the seawall, the dinghy will not be pushed into it by the swell.

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Chiriatapu turned out to be a very small place; we were surprised to find a dive club, which took divers on the yellow boat in the picture above. A resort belonging to the government was the biggest and tidiest establishment around, its gate closed with no apparent activity at all. A sign led us to a Biological Park which we gladly entered. A trail went around the rain forest, where trees were marked by signs giving their local as well as scientific names. There were a few signs saying: " Location for Aquarium" "Location for Butterfly House" but the main attraction were two pools, in one they had sea monitor lizards and the other saltwater crocodiles, which in nature can grow up to 6 meters and 1000 kg monsters.

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A speck moving slowly in the water, which the camera could not discern even at full zoom was a small croc.

Going on we saw the endemic wild pigs and some spotted deer. Back to the boat and after lunch and a short rain shower, we decided there was no merit in staying the night there and motored out to go back to Port Blair.

Tomorrow we’ll do the check out procedures and leave the Andamans for Sri Lanka, a 840 miles trip, on Friday.

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Responses

  1. Fantastic!!! I have such a good idea of the experience. So many stories to be told. Sven, it sounds like more than expected. Yes? Await your return. Mel


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