Before sailing into the blue yonder

Typically Yacht rallies and carnivals take you to some exotic places where apart from all the wonderful sailing and socialising, you also have the opportunity to learn a little about other people’s lives and culture.

On the tour bus!

So it was with the inaugural Andamans Yacht Carnival.

Before setting sail for the many beautiful islands, we were taken on a day trip around South Andaman Island and drove through villages, farms and salt laden agricultural land inundated by the 2004 Tsunami. Heartbreaking for the land owners. Little comfort to them that this terrible disaster has provided thousands of water birds with a new home.

Arriving at the school

Our first stop was at a small public school where the children were bright and cheerful and anxious to sing to

us, show us their work and speak English together.

The school children (joined by young yachtie Andrew) greet us very politely

The school students were all very excited

These girls put on an impromptu concert

We were intrigued to see the stipulations of the “Children’s right to free and compulsory education act 2009” on the wall. It is shocking that before this time there were thousands of children in India who didn’t get to attend school.

Children’s rights to education as stipulated by the Education Act of 2009

Our next stop was to a Government run vet farm where goats and chickens and other animals were bred and then sold to local people at a subsidised rate. The breeding programme ensured the animals were disease free and would breed well into the future. The programme helps local unemployed people into small business.

Cute little goats at the vet farm

And some good looking chickens

Rally participants and hosts at the vet farm

A short drive away and we were at a community centre where we met a group of women who were participating in an embroidery and needlework programme.

Off we go again

One of the programmes available

Some of the women at Namunaghar

We were told that this was all about empowering women by helping them to gain skills in order to get employment. Micro loans were available for new start ups. We learned that India has developed many government programmes relating to women. The philosophy behind these is “Make your house strong then the country will be strong.”

Programme participants showing us their work

Once the women complete the programme they receive a certificate that guarantees them a micro loan. Most of the women go on to train others coming through.

The day wasn’t over yet! Our final stop was at an organic farm where we learnt all about making vermi compost – a process that uses worms and cow dung, dead leaves and other materials to produce nutrient-rich organic fertiliser and soil conditioner. We were also able to wander through the crops and at the end of our visit, buy fantastic, fresh and organically grown vegetables.

Vermi compost

Strolling through the organic farm

Getting the ferry back to Chatham Island , Port Blair

That evening we had farewell drinks on Yantara for their friend and crew member (and fisherman extraordinaire) who was reluctantly flying back to the “real world” in Australia the following day while the rest of us were sailing off into the blue yonder.

Drinks on Yantara before heading into the Blue Yonder

If you would like to read more about the inaugural Andamans Yacht Rally and our trip up north follow the link below:

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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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