With all the formalities completed, our wallets full of rupees and fruit and vegetables purchased, we departed Port Blair on Friday 3 February, heading for Havelock Island.
We had been warned that the anchorage in Port Blair was very muddy so we raised the anchor to a certain point to allow the gluggy mud to fall off but fortunately when it came to it, we had none on the chain and a mere trace on the anchor.
We had an easy trip out of Port Blair but there were quite a few ferries to avoid on the way out – otherwise our exit was unremarkable. Unfortunately the wind was coming straight out of Havelock Island so we had to motor from 11am – 1pm but that was fine as we were able to make some water. We had a great sail for the last hour under headsail only in 15 knots of wind and making 6.5nm on a close reach.
Along with Yantara, we were joining Quintessa, Beach House and Smart Choice who had been off Number Two Beach at Havelock Island since the previous day.
There was a hostel on the shore that -judging by the noise coming from the beach – catered for school camps or other groups of young people. They were having a great time playing beach cricket and other games but as the sun went down there were whistles blowing and horns sounding and everyone left the beach.
It turned out that a few year’s previously a young (newly married) woman had been taken by a crocodile so at dusk each day as a precaution, everyone is shooed off the beach.
I had dived off the boat earlier in the afternoon but on reflection might have chosen not to do so had I known about the crocodile story! However, I thoroughly enjoyed my swim in the beautiful, turquoise, gin clear water.
On the way over from Port Blair the previous day Beach House had caught two large tuna so it was everyone (12 of us altogether) over to their boat for smoked tuna to start followed by BBQ tuna with mango and tomato salsa and mashed potato. Delicious!
We were up at 6am the next day to a beautiful morning – the sea was so clear that we could see ten metres down to the sea bed. Watching the fish swimming around our boat we could clearly see bigger fish chasing little ones.
At around 7.15 Quintessa and Beach House left, heading for the Homfray Strait which runs between Middle Andaman Island and Barantang Island and then on to Long Island to anchor for the night. Despite getting up early we weren’t quite ready pull up our anchor. After getting sorted we eventually left at 8 am, leaving the anchorage empty.
As instructed we contacted Port Blair Port Control Radio between 8am and 9am and managed to get through with no problem to report our position. This was one of the only times we managed to get through on the required morning and evening schedules. The rest of the time we texted our agent (if we had connectivity which was probably less than 50 per cent of the time). Rathnam would then let the authorities know.We found this level of bureaucracy irksome and intrusive but in the absence of the sophisticated electronic tracking systems that countries like Australia, Thailand and Malaysia have, understood why the Indian authorities were so insistent that we let them know where we were. Having said that, we were never once questioned about the times we didn’t radio in or hadn’t let our agent know where we had anchored.
If you would like to read more about our fabulous trip to the Andaman Islands go to https://dotsailing.wordpress.com/2017/04/16/straight-down-the-strait-and-boarded-by-police/
Or read my previous update at: https://dotsailing.wordpress.com/2017/04/09/thank-you-for-the-music-paper-paper-everywhere-and–fascinating-tribal-people/