Our last few days in Port Blair, capital of the Andaman Islands, passed in a blur.
We had a good trip over from Havelock Island and arrived about midday. That afternoon we had lunch at our favourite spot- the Megapode Hotel and as always relished the beautiful view over the water as well as the Kingfisher beers and the good food.
The following day we hired a couple of cars to take us to a fishing village just round the coast from Port Blair which other boats in our company had visited during our previous time in the Andamans in 2017.
It was a heartwarming and fun afternoon. The Beach Houses had brought a cricket set with them to give away to one group of very fortunate cricket mad kids who had -up until then – been playing with an old piece of wood as a bat and a line on the ground as the wicket. They couldn’t believe their luck and happily posed for photos with their new gear.
We wandered down to the wharf where we saw some fishing boats – some of them in the process of being made. Then we went in to the fish markets but the business of the day had been completed and the fishermen and the market workers had settled down to relax and play cards until the next round of work started.
There were lots of cricket games going on – ranked, it seemed, according to age so the older boys and youths had the largest pitch and the very youngest had just a small area in which to play.
Somehow some of us were persuaded to bat and bowl. My attempt was pretty bad but was greeted with hilarity and a great sense of fun.
That evening a party was held to mark the end of the rally. This was a lot more casual than the official reception at the start four weeks earlier.
Held on the terrace off the conference room at the Megapode Hotel, the party consisted of some fun games, a great meal, music and a bit of dancing. Young Andrew from the Ukraine amazed us with his expert Break Dancing.
Suddenly it was our last day. One final lunch with our cruising buddies and friends from the Rally at the TPG restaurant, some last minute food shopping and boat preparation, refuelling at the local garage etc.
As there were a few of us leaving, Customs and Passport Control came to us (organised by Rathnam) and set themselves up in a shed at the dockside. It was all so easy.
The next morning at at 6am we called into Port Blair Port Radio and were given immediate permission to depart for Rebak Marina in Langkawi, Malaysia. We thought we would be asked to standby and have to wait for half an hour which is what happened the previous year so when we were given the immediate go ahead we had to rush around getting ready. Rathnam had really done a wonderful job organising the authorities for the rally participants.
By 4.15 pm we had passed the fearsome looking Black Rock (we were a long way off it but surf around the rock was still visible to the naked eye). We put up our sails after a radio sked with Asterie who were heading for the Similan Islands.
We had a beautiful sail in 10 knots of wind and were broad reaching between 5 and 5.5 knots. The wind increased just a little and soon we were humming along at 6.3 knots per hour.
Soon after dinner the Skipper took the first sleep – 9 pm to 1pm. It was very peaceful and quiet. Just a crescent moon and the stars, calm sea, steady wind. We didn’t see one other boat all night. At around 5.15am we put the engine on to help us through a couple of areas of disturbed water caused by currents that were running at least four knots. As the wind turned a bit more east it had a huge impact and we only needed engine for a short time. During our first 24 hour run we covered the distance of 137 nm.
Later on that morning we turned the engine on again and motor sailed until early afternoon when we went under sail alone again. We were on course all the way to Langkawi via Koh Lipe!
We caught sight of MV Tropic Star on our AIS (Automatic Identification System) not long after we left Port Blair – it was a long way off but was the only boat we saw in the first two days.
My watch on the second night was very uneventful although a mysterious creature (I’m thinking a giant octopus or maybe a large seabird with a stomach upset)) squelched big purplely brown splotches all over the boat – in the cockpit, through the open porthole into a bathroom, and all over the deck and windows on port side. Yuk!
During his watch the Skipper encountered two cargo ships and two fishing boats so we were definitely getting closer to land.
By the third night, the conditions were less easy and the sea was messy and the wind was quite brisk and changeable. We had to put a reef in to the main sail early on and then we couldn’t get the auto helm to go well tracking our course. Finally the boat settled down but as always it was a relief when the sun came up.
During the day the wind was blowing consistently at over twenty knots and the sea got up a bit so waves were crashing over the bow – the decks certainly had a good wash! Occasionally we went over an extra high wave and poor Bali Hai thumped down the other side with a bang. It wasn’t anything we (or the boat) couldn’t handle but it was noisy and uncomfortable for a few hours. By the middle of the day the sea and the wind had calmed down considerably and the boat only fell off the occasional wave with a bang.
We arrived at Koh Butang, an island belonging to the National Park, close to Koh Lipe, around 2 pm Thai time and as we were very tired decided to stop and rest and make for Langkawi the following day. After ten and half hours sleep we woke up extremely refreshed and set off again after a small hiccup with the engine which decided not to start. It didn’t take long to find out that the air filter was blocked and once it was cleaned we were off again.
Just a few hours later we arrived in Langkawi ready for our next challenge – but more of that in the next update.
We felt that the inaugural Andamans Rally had been a great success and would thoroughly recommend it to other yachties keen to explore these remote and fascinating islands.
If you would like to read more about our experiences in the Andaman Islands follow the link below: