We parted company with Quintessa, Yantara and Beach House at Havelock Island where we had enjoyed all the facilities – the shops, the restaurants etc – a real contrast to our previous stop, Inglis Island with its magnificent gin-clear waters, beautiful beach and a backdrop of pristine rainforest.
It is always wonderful to have friends and family with us on Bali Hai but it is a particular joy when one of our offspring joins the crew. So it was with excitement that we headed to Port Blair to prepare for our daughter’s arrival from Delhi for a snatched few days over the Holi holiday (Hindu Spring festival).
After an uneventful trip to Port Blair we spent the afternoon restocking our fruit and vegetables and other provisions and submitting our new itinerary to our agent Rathnam, for approval by the Harbourmaster and then to be sent onwards to the Port Blair coastguard.
It was an early start the next day as our daughter had caught an overnight flight from Delhi. We had allowed far too much time to get to the airport as it is situated only 15 minutes from Chatham Jetty where we leave our dinghy and where the car waited for us.
Being before 7am the temperature was still cool so we decided to go for a wander while we waited for the plane from Delhi to land.
As we wandered out of the airport precincts we had a quick chat with a policeman who was standing in the middle of the road, on point duty (despite the very small trickle of traffic). He wore a smart khaki uniform, white gloves and a large white helmet on his head, similar in shape to the familiar traditional helmet worn by English policemen.
Thinking nothing of it, we carried on walking to the airport entrance gate and noticed another policeman in the middle of the road dressed in the same way but this time there was another official looking person with him.
We strolled down the road and had just walked across the intersection to take a closer look at an interesting looking building when we spied yet another white helmeted policeman in the middle of the small roundabout.
Just then he stopped the sparse traffic and a cavalcade of seven cars zoomed passed us. Once the cars had disappeared in a cloud of dust the policeman strolled away from his post and several khaki clad, gun bearing officers slipped out of the shadows and also leisurely walked away. We later learned that the big display was for the Governor of the Andaman Islands. Our daughter and the Governor – two VIPs in one Day!
By then it was starting to get extremely hot even though it was barely 7 am so we made our way back to the airport terminal to wait in the shade.
We were back at the boat, had breakfast and were ready to leave before the Harbour Master started work so we had to wait a while before being given clearance to leave Port Blair. It was irritating to have to wait to leave as our daughter would only be with us for such a short time and we wanted to make the most of every minute. However, after a couple of calls to our agent, Rathnam, we were eventually on our way just before 10 am, heading to Neill Island so we could catch up with the other boats in our small fleet for an evening.
After an exhausting term of being a class teacher for the first time, coupled with a gruelling night flight, our daughter fell into a deep slumber pretty well as soon as we exited Port Blair.
She didn’t hear the change in engine tone as a wayward fishing net wrapped itself round our prop shaft about an hour and a half out. She didn’t hear a thing when we put the engine in neutral and lowered the dinghy. Nor did she awake to the sound of her Dad doing his Bear Grylls impersonation, jumping over the side with goggles on and a large knife in his hand..nor did she hear him dive down five times before freeing the offending net from the prop shaft!
In fact she slept through the whole drama only waking up in time to witness our arrival at Neill Island after a lovely sail for the last hour of our trip.
We had a great evening on Beach House with a delicious paella cooked by the chefs from Yantara. We were glad to have caught up with Beach House and Quintessa as it was their last night out in the islands before returning to Port Blair for a couple of days before leaving the Andaman Islands to return to Thailand.
Our daughter was particularly glad to have caught up with the crew on Beach House as she had spent some time getting to know them in Phang Nga when she visited us in early November 2016.
If you would like to read more about our adventures in the Andaman Islands go to my next blog entry:
Or to the previous update at: