A little slice of heaven and drums into the night

There’s nothing like pulling up the anchor after a week or so of land time. As much as we had enjoyed our stay in Port Blair, capital of India’s Andaman Islands in the Bay of Bengal, the crews of the yachts participating in the inaugural Andamans Yacht Carnival were all excited to be heading out to explore some of the 300 surrounding islands.

The major islands of the Andaman Group

Most of the yachts were first heading South for destinations like the gorgeous Cinque Islands but as we had spent a few weeks enjoying these and other islands to the South on our previous visit the year before, we decided to head North and go “over the top” of North Andaman Island with rarely visited Interview Island as our destination.

The jetty at Havelock Island

Before heading northward though we had date to keep – a return visit to the restaurant Something Different on Havelock Island. We had enjoyed a couple of meals there in 2017 and had promised to return. Although the restaurant itself is in a rather characterless barn-like building the food is wonderful and the service superb. The waiter and manager remembered us and were delighted to welcome us back – even the chef was brought out to greet us and discuss our requirements.

A golden glow as the sun sets on Havelock Island

The chef and our waiter at Something Different

Funky lights at a resort on the beach at Havelock Island

Before leaving the next morning we had a lovely swim round the boat and after requesting permission to leave the Port we headed for beautiful North Button Island with a stop at a favourite spot Inglis Island for lunch.

A quick stop at one of our favourites-Inglis Island

We anchored in 7.7 metres and the water was so clear that we could see right down to the bottom.

Difficult to demonstrate the water clarity but we could see to the bottom

For lunch we enjoyed some delicious tuna – just caught by the skipper of Beach House. Eating delicious fish surrounded by turquoise sea and a gorgeous white sand island to gaze on, we were in our very own little slice of heaven.

Turquoise sea and white sand – a slice of heaven

That night we held a competition for the best Salt and Pepper mushrooms (using the tinned variety) on Yantara. We had ordered and enjoyed these at almost every restaurant we went to in Port Blair and wanted to see if we could find the ultimate recipe. We all agreed that there was a tie for the three entries and they were soon polished off.

Our mushroom extravaganza

We were all having such a wonderful time at North Button Island that we thought we would stay an extra night so before turning in, the skipper of Yantara was able to text a message to Rathnam, organiser of the inaugural Andamans Yacht Carnival, to ask him to let Port Blair Port Radio of our plans.

The end of a lovely day

Despite the fact that we were meant to call in on our High Frequency radios every evening to report our position, we had very limited success getting through the previous year and our local SIM cards didn’t work anywhere except Port Blair and even then very ineffectively. So it was a great help that Yantara had the technology capable of sending a text message.

Dusk at North Button Island

After a great day of relaxing, swimming, snorkeling, beach walking and for some, fishing, we set off the following morning for the town of Mayabunder on the Northern end of Middle Andaman Island. The small town of around 5,000 inhabitants is home to a large minority of former Burmese (Myanmar) Karen tribes, who were originally brought in as cheap logging labour by the British.

Diving off the back of Bali Hai

Waking up to perfect calm and clarity

We had an uneventful trip to Mayabunder spying nothing much more than a turtle and a whale spout. There was very little to see on land – no habitation to speak of except for the odd fisherman’s hut.

Leaving North Button Island

When we were approaching our destination we radioed the Harbour Master who was most helpful and welcoming and told us the safest place to anchor where we could be relatively close in but not in the way of the large ferry that was ready to depart at the wharf.

Arriving at the port in Mayabunder

Anchored safely away from the large ferry at the wharf

Just after we had anchored and were enjoying our “DOAS” (drinks on arrival) we were paid a visit by a rubber ducky containing four young coastguards who were covered from head to toe in brightly coloured powder paint of every shade and hue. We had completely forgotten that it was the Indian Hindu festival of Holi! Fortunately, as it was late in the day they didn’t have any paint left to douse us in.

Later we had sundowners and dinner aboard Beach House. We were very spoilt – Sashimi, fresh tuna steaks and Frangelico affogato – a five-star meal.

Sundownerson Beach House – thanks for a great evening!

Dinner – freshly caught

Our sashimi couldn’t have been fresher

A delicious end to the night

Meanwhile the Holi celebrations on shore went on late into the night and when we woke slightly bleary eyed the next morning we discovered those d****d drums were still going!

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

https://dotsailing.wordpress.com/2018/06/23/when-bali-hai-received-a-tow-and-later-sailed-onto-an-anchorage/

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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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