17 July 2007 | Phuket, Thailand
Preparations for the Andaman Rally from Phuket to Port Blair went well. After a two year hiatus, the event was scheduled for 14 to 28 January, 2007. Bucephalus was registered and had a great trip over and back. My crew of two, Colin and Robert, are the same two friends who had planned to join me in 2005, when the event was cancelled due to the tsunami.
It is popluar belief that starting a trip on a Friday is bad luck and thus, as captain, I decided we would leave port the following day which, unfortunately, was Saturday, 13 January. The accompanying photo shows just how far we made it out of Boat Lagoon Marina. This is not an easy marina to enter or leave in the best of times and the fact they were dredging a new channel and had not marked the "dredged" part did not help matters. Fortunately, the bottom was mud and the only damage was to my ego. We were certainly popular with the tourists on the dive boats as they passed by on their way to the islands.
The race started with more of a fizzle than a bang as there were very light winds. Of the three days over to Port Blair, we motored two and half of them. It took us a day and a half to get checked in but after that a visit to North Cinque Island and Havelock Island was well-worth the wait; great diving and beautiful beaches.
After five days in the Andamans, we checked out in one day and set sail that evening. We had chosen to use an agent to assist in the check-in and check-out formalities and this proved to be beneficial. A few bottles of Johnny Walker doesn't hurt either.
The trip back to Thailand was almost all motoring with the wind dead on the nose. Still, we made it to the Similan Islands in three days and found the water to be clearer and the fish to be more spectacular than in the Andamans.
After two days in the Similans, we headed south and arrived in Phuket in 26 hours. The end to a great trip and my first blue water passage but certainly not my last.