Straight down the strait and boarded by Police

“Closing the gate” at Number two beach on Havelock Island we followed Quintessa, Beach House, Smart Choice and Yantara north to the Homfrey Strait – Bali Hai’s second anchorage (apart from Port Blairi) in the Andaman Islands. 

Smart Choice about to haul anchor at Havelock Island
The sea was so calm that you could see the clouds reflected on the water
After about a four hour motor on an uncannily calm sea, we arrived in Elphinstone Harbour at the head of the Homfray Strait which is, according to our cruising guide, “a unique experience, the waterway dwarfed by towering trees on either bank”.  

Heading for the Homfray Strait
Meandering up the Strait
As we meandered our way up the passage we could see tall trees further inland, but the banks were mostly covered in mangroves with hardly a tall tree to be seen. 

The mangroves in Homfray Strait

The only explanation we could think of was that the 2008 Tsunami must have inundated this area and left it devastated. 

Power lines can be a danger to sailing yachts

Because the Homfray Strait has some shallow areas and also power lines that could have restricted some of our yachts due to mast height – and also just because it was a fun thing to do – we were all invited to cruise down the Strait on the good ship Quintessa. So after anchoring in Elphinstone Strait and a quick lunch we all hopped aboard.  

On board Quintessa

We had a lovely afternoon but didn’t catch sight of any of the promised large and numerous saltwater crocodiles. We did see a few boats and went past a couple of jetties where ferries ply the passage between islands to link the main trunk road that traverses the Andaman island group. 

A local row boat
The ferry terminal
The car ferry
On our return journey we were stopped by a police boat with four officials (not in uniform) aboard. They boarded Quintessa and after checking our course and the credentials of our Captain and taking some photos, left us to return to our anchored boats. They informed us that because the Strait runs close to a protected tribal area, we weren’t allowed to enter it. Fortunately, there were no repercussions for having done so! But the Cruising Guide was right – it was a unique experience. 

The police boat approaches
We nervously wait to be boarded!
Waiting for the Police checks
We arrived back at Elphinstone Harbour and decided to stay the night as it was such a calm and picturesque anchorage. We had Sundowners on Quintessa and some delicious Sashsumi prepared from another beautiful tuna caught by the skipper of Beach House. 

Beach House at anchor
Bali Hai in Elphinstone Harbour
Unbeknownst to the crew of Smart Choice,  House had kept a piece of the fishing net that the Smarties had become snarled up in – way back on the first leg of the Sail2Indonesia rally. 

The Smarties receive their trophy
The right piece of driftwood to display the net had been found recently and the momento was ceremoniously presented with much hilarity in memory of this hair raising event. 

Another highlight of the afternoon was perpetrated by the mischievous sister of Quintessa’s skipper. She told us to all freeze when she said the word “police” (a Mannequin Challenge). This we did very effectively and to Andy’s obvious mystification but he dealt with it very gamely!


And so ended another great day in the Andaman Islands. 

If you enjoyed reading this blog about our experiences in the Andaman Islands go to: 

https://dotsailing.wordpress.com/2017/04/20/the-magical-experience-and-an-aggravating-itch/

Or read my previous update at: 

https://dotsailing.wordpress.com/2017/04/13/havelock-island-crocs-gin-clear-water-and-fresh-tuna/https://dotsailing.wordpress.com/   

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Salty tales from Bali Hai

In 2015, after a break from cruising of almost 30 years, my husband and I sailed off into the sunset - this time to the wonderful Islands of Indonesia and beyond. Three years passed and we swapped sails for wheels driving through Scandinavia and Europe in a motor home. Now we are on the brink of another adventure - buying a Lagoon 420 Catamaran in Athens. This is our story.

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