We hadn’t had our anchor down in Port Blair too long before we received the news that Customs and Immigration were on their way to our boat to clear us into the Andaman Islands. No rest for the wicked! Our catch up on sleep after a three night/four day passage would have to wait.
Incoming! Another six officials approaching
Certainly the check in process went very smoothly thanks to Rathnam, organiser of the inaugural Andaman Island Yacht Carnival but why oh why did we have to have six people from Customs and then six people from Immigration on board for the entry process? It would be much quicker and more efficient if two people from each department could check in three boats concurrently.
These two felt a little seasick but still appeared to be enjoying themselves
The real answer I think, is that sailing yachts are still quite a rarity in the Andamans (we were only the sixteenth yacht to arrive in 2018) and many of the customs and immigration personnel were simply excited, curious and eager to look around each of the yachts at anchor.
Off they go to Beach House 57
A couple of them regretted their decision to come aboard as they felt extremely queasy – even though the anchorage seemed very calm to us.
The process was very smooth and painless and soon we were piling into the dinghy to go ashore to meet up with old friends and visit some of our favourite places from our previous visit in 2017.
Arriving at the dock we were greeted like long lost cousins by Uma who had done such a good job looking after our dinghies the previous year.
Uma who took great care of our dinghies every day
Then we became reacquainted with our favourite driver Vijay who had been appointed to be charge of all the drivers this year (probably to ensure the prices weren’t hiked up).
Vijay and his brilliant Ambassador car with the Yantaras
As we walked out to get in Vijay’s lovingly kept but rickety old Ambassador taxi, we were impressed by the poster heralding the inaugural Andamans Yacht Carnival and bearing the reminder “Incredible India”.
Proud to be part of the inaugural Andaman Yacht Carnival
Our first stop was to Rathnam’s new office where we caught up with Rathnam, his wife Sushma and their daughter Hansika. We also met Rathnam’s brother Manu who had come over from mainland India to help with organising the rally. Our next stop was a good meal at the restaurant at TSG Hotel where we were to return a few times as it was one of the few restaurants that served alcohol with meals.
The restaurant at the TSG Emerald View Hotel
As in mainland India, cows wander in the streets wherever they wish
As we tucked into our first delicious Indian food and our first bottles of Kingfisher, we reflected how great it was to be back in Port Blair with the colourful and hectic streetscapes: cows and goats wandering; saris of every hue – bright fuchsias, riotous scarlets, electric limes, royal purples and chemical limes; tuk tuks hurtling around corners and the rest of the chaotic traffic with horns blaring and smoke belching from trucks bearing the slogans “horn do” and “please sound horn “ on their rear ends.
There are plenty of goats wandering the streets too
We love all the colourful clothes that people wear
Incredible India indeed!
If you would like to read more about the inaugural Andamans Yacht Rally and our trip up north follow the link below: