Dodgy charts and swimming in gin

We had sailed over the northern tip of the Andaman Islands in the company of Beach House and Yantara, and were heading south down the western side of North Andaman Island towards the rarely visited Interview Island.

Rarely visited Interview Island inaccessible via the Austen Strait between Middle and North Andaman Islands

Farewell to Reef Island

After a brief overnight stay at Reef Island on the north-west side, we set out for our next anchorage at North Reef Island which ironically was south of Reef Island.

Bali Hai anchored in company with Beach House and Yantara

We left at 9am and carefully picked our way through the reef following the Navionics chart. The water was crystal clear which was very fortunate as the chart was completely out! At one spot we were meant to have 9.5 metres under the keel but our depth sounder told us that in reality we were only in 1.6 metres. Thank goodness we could eyeball our way through!

Thank goodness for the crystal clear water

Once clear of the reef we settled in for an easy passage. At last we were heading south and we had what wind there was behind us. Great! We were able to launch the MPS (multi purpose spinnaker) for the first time in ages!

Hoisting the MPS

We had a beautiful sail for a couple of hours and arrived at North Reef Island around 2 pm. We anchored in deeper water than the pilot suggested as we just couldn’t trust the charts. This time our iSailor chart was way out – the chart said we should be in 3.5 metres when we were actually anchored in 12 metres. In this instance Navionics was more accurate.

Gorgeous beach at North Reef Island

The coral at North Reef Island was amazing and prolific and there was some great snorkelling and fishing to be enjoyed. The beach was gorgeous too!

Enjoying the beautiful beach

Although a very long way from any village or town we discovered a group of fishermen resting on the beach who had caught some beautiful coral trout and red snapper. Instead of requesting money to purchase these beautiful fish the fishermen asked for fish hooks. By the time the crews of Beach House, Yantara and Bali Hai had finished they had a load of fish hooks, some hats and a warm blanket.

Some of the fabulous fish we “bought” from the fishermen

The coral trout were particularly delicious!

A lovely walk on North Andaman Island

The following morning the crews of the three yachts had a lovely walk along the beach followed by swim in the amazing gin-clear waters. We saw some interesting sea life including an amazing octopus that looked like a piece of seaweed.

A piece of seaweed?

No it’s definitely an octopus!

The water was glorious- like swimming in gin!

The next morning we set off for our final destination, Interview Island, we once again made our way out through the reef cautiously. We used iSailor but once more the chart was inaccurate but again, the lovely clear water allowed us to navigate by eye.

Beach House picking her way through the coral

We had a great sail and even managed another spinnaker run – bowling along for a couple of hours between 6 and 6.5 knots.

Wonderful to have our MPS up!

Interview Island is absolutely massive – covering an area of 101 square kilometre, but not officially inhabited although a number of fishermen use it for a base from time to time.

Approaching the anchorage at Interview Island

Until 2015, there was a wildlife station to monitor birds, with permanent inhabitants, located on the west coast near the lighthouse. The station also had a manned lighthouse keeper but this was stopped by the end of 2015.

Interview Island

The most important inhabitants of Interview Island are a herd of 80-90 feral elephants which were brought to the island originally for forestry works, and apparently still remain but much to our disappointment we didn’t catch sight of them.

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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