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DREAMCATCHER - Asian Cruising
Back in the Big Smoke
03/29/2012, Ross Island and Port Blair

March 8/9
Ross Island is right next door to Port Blair and apparently a very interesting place, being the British HQ, a prison and Japanese holding in past years. We were given permission to anchor by Port Control but were knocked back from entering the island by the Forestry management: more Indian rules!! Despite phone conflabs with various officials we were turned back, on the basis it was the day before a public holiday. What we did see was the herd of spotted deer (some with handsome antlers) that populated the front lawn. Very odd seeing Christmas-card type deer in the middle of the tropical Indian Ocean. On our return to Port Blair, the wonderful Ravi met us at the dock and we did some rounds of shopping, lunch, more samosas etc. About half the shops were closed due to the Holi day, the Indian festival where they pelt each other with coloured paint. There were brightly coloured splotches all over the pavement and many of the younger men were simply technicoloured. We arranged diesel fuel with Ravi for delivery to the dock the following day, in preparation for our departure to the Similan Islands (Thailand). This is where the hassle started.
Pic shows bright paint splotches on the street, next to fruit vendor

In Cinque
03/29/2012, North and South Cinque Islands

March 2-3
We had a great 10 knot breeze when we exited the Chiriyatapu anchorage and put all sails up for the 14 mile sail south to North Cinque island. The pair - north and south Cinque's are the southern-most of the South Andaman Island group and are nearly joined together by a reef. All Andaman islands are surrounded by reef, and as mentioned before, some inaccurately charted and not showing the Tsunami shift effect of 2004, so every new anchorage brings a little uncertainty and stress along with it. We're fortunate that our cruising companions have been to many of these spots before and are able to give us some guidance. We dropped the hook in Minto Bay and settled in for the afternoon and ensuing evening on Rusalka: we've been sharing the hosting of dinners and doing the rounds of each boat. The host boat provides the party platform, all the drinks, the main course, the quiz for the evening (yes, really!) and the other boats bring a contribution of starters, desert or a main course support dish. We've had some truly outstanding feasts and really enjoyable evenings! The anchorage was a bit rolly as the wind has not been behaving and coming from its' promised NE direction. That triggered us to leave early the next morning for a 3 mile motor around the corner to South Cinque island. This anchorage was pristine, aqua blue water over pure white sand surrounded by heavily treed hills and yet again we had it to ourselves. One GT couldn't resist the urge to jump in and swam the 250 meters to shore, through an exciting surf break. It was nice to walk on the beach for an hour and I enjoyed the swim back to Rusalka who were happy to provide a beer and chat before the return swim to Dreamcatcher. Around 4pm, this lovely anchorage too became rolly and the armada made a quick decision to up anchor, accompanied by a dolphin pod, and motor 5 miles around the southern end of South Cinque and back up the other (eastern) side of North Cinque where Smystery hosted another lovely dinner and another great quiz. Time to return to our respective boats as the swell came up : we had a pretty scary boarding from Rascal's dinghy onto Dreamcatcher and spent the night rolling from side to side in a very uncomfortable seaway. Apparently earlier trips that our cruising companions had done were much calmer and dinghy landings on the beach were possible - not this time. Nevertheless, the morning was calmer and spent snorkelling over the reef sighting at least two dozen varieties of beautifully marked and coloured tropical fish. It is quite remarkable to be in a place of zero population, as are many of the Andaman islands. Also quite unique not to sight any other sail boats for weeks at a time. Mid afternoon, we set sail again, returning to Chiryatapu on the start of our passage north to Port Blair to start the wind-down and exit process from the Andamans. The Chiryatapu anchorage offered a welcome calm after the rolly Cinque's. We dined aboard Rascal, again, another great evening and all turned in early for a long, deep sleep.
While we don't want this adventure to end, a stores inventory revealed we're getting close the finish of our fresh goods: only 4 litres of drinking water, no bread and only 1 egg left, all veggies except the onions and garlics are all used up. So, Port Blair markets, here we come!!
Pic shows the "Adventurers" approaching Symstery after a snorkelling trip

A lovely calm anchorage...
03/29/2012, Chiryatapu, South Andaman Island

March 1
This was the culmination of a 36 mile sail/motor from Havelock 7. It was a lovely blue-sky day with some wind in our favour, some not. This anchorage is a big, accommodating circular inlet - likely the ridges of a very old volcano. As we turned in, the wind kicked up to 15 knots (now!!?). There is a low flat rock (about 10 meters in diameter) that is barely visible above the surface and we had a visual on it coming in, but lost it in the wind-waves - a bit concerning. The rock is on the Admiralty charts, but in the wrong place by about 200 meters, so, when we eventually sighted it again gave it a wide berth and anchored in 15 meters. This is a lovely calm anchorage off a small beach that was populated by half a dozen thatched huts and a collection of cars - Sunday afternoon visitors - as this location is reachable by road from Port Blair. We didn't go ashore, but watched the shoreline activities from the boat. It's interesting watching ladies wading in sari's! One thing we noted is that in all the Andamans, no women wear anything but traditional Indian sari or salwar kameez: unlike the cities on the mainland where some women (particularly business women) have gone for western garb. One noticeable feature of the beach here was a number of very large, dead, fallen trees. These are the same magnificent trees that line the waterfront and hills of many Andaman islands. They are truly handsome and we will try to find out their species when in Port Blair. As a result of the 2004 earthquake that caused the Tsunami, the southern Andamans dropped and the northern Andamans were lifted so now the whole chain tilts, so, these trees were tipped into the ocean's edge where they lie today as huge grey-white skeletons. There has been no attempt to remove them nor saw them up. Let sleeping trees lie. We liked this anchorage a lot and look forward to a return.


Leap Day
03/29/2012, Havelock #7 – again

Feb 29 - Leap Day
The other 3 boats swung into Laccam Harbour (north end of Havelock) again, for lunch and provisions, but we chose to go straight to Havelock 7 as we weren't keen on the Laccam anchorage: squeezy, reefy and noisy with local ferry operators. Plus it would have meant a beach landing for Henry, whose ankle still had an open wound and was looking angry, albeit improved from two days prior. We anchored at Havelock in 8 meters of deep turquoise water, GT had a swim, clean up and we stared at the amazing forest on the beach once again. We were dining aboard Smystery, having all agreed on not going ashore, given the all-too-exciting dinghy landings. We were up early the next day, around 0630 (it's light here at 0500) and to our delight saw an elephant bathing with his mahout, in the shallows! We knew there were elephants on Havelock as we'd had to step around the dung piles enroute to the "resort" on our first visit, so seeing this one frolicking - if you can imagine an elephant frolicking - was a real treat. He was medium sized, with well developed tusks and spent nearly an hour in the water, sometimes doing a complete 360 roll - it was funny to see 4 legs and one trunk pointing skywards from the sea! It really was a magical sight - pale blue dawn sky, a forest of magnificent trees, aqua blue water, and one very happy elephant.
The flotilla weighed anchor soon after breakfast, bound south to Chiryatapu.

Buttoned Up!
03/29/2012, North Button Island.

Feb 28

There are 3 Buttons: north, middle and south. The latter two are not navigable for anchoring but do provide good visual waypoints. North Button is about the size of 3 tennis courts and as pretty as a picture. Rascal approached from the west, we from the east, giving the extremes a very wide berth. We found our way into 11 meters of bright acqua blue water and dropped the hook facing a heavily treed white limestone cliff, backing a bright white sand beach. Absolutely lovely! GT went ashore with the Rascals and swam and beach-combed a bit until the sand flies took a liking to us, then it was back in the dinghy, enroute to Dreamcatcher where we hosted dinner for the fleet that night. Another great evening, happily passing out about 2200. Everyone's wine/booze stocks are holding up well despite us giving them a good bash each night and we seem to have the best ice-cube system so are happy to supply ice blocks to the hosting dinner boat. We are not lacking for anything - this is a 5-star cruise, particularly in the F&B department! We are humbled by the culinary skills of the other 3 boats (read, Ladies aboard same) and hope we just got a pass mark on the cocktail/dinner delivery. We reluctantly followed the other boats when they departed the next morning: we could have stayed another couple of days swimming and simply staring at this idyllic tropical island.


Lovely Alves Island
03/29/2012, Maya Bandar (second time around)

Feb 27/8
Enroute into this generous bay, Carol caught her first fish. This small fleet are expert fishers - particularly Susie on Smystery - and many fishing tales were exchanged and photos proudly shown. Rusalka had also caught about 4 : Dreamcatcher remains fish-less at this point. Rascal and we stopped at Alves Island (the recommended anchorage we found untenable earlier in the week) on the way in. The wind was less than before and the island was very pretty: acqua water, inshore reef, white sand and a semi-commercial coconut plantation. There were two occupants - older men of very small stature - not Indian Indians, but likely origins from one of the Andaman tribal groups. We had a short chat with them, a walk along the beach and a lovely swim before returning to our prior anchorage.
By now, we and Rascal were the "experts" on Maya Bandar, having spent 3 nights there enroute north. Also, by now, Henry's ankle had shown some improvement, but not enough and it swelled and reddened again badly after our arrival. Both the drugs and the general fighting of the infection made him listless, and it was very hot. The Rusalkans spurred us into going back to the hospital and getting another course of anti-biotics. On arrival, the hospital was deserted - a contrast to our last visit. Deserted, that is, except for two holy cows who were happily grazing undisturbed in what was the cross between the garden and a construction site (for the extensions). We eventually saw another very good doctor who gave Henry much more powerful anti-biotics than the first lot and instructions to rest and elevate the leg for the next week. Hmm. In Henry's own words "they knocked me on my arse"!
GT visited the town again with Smystery, shopped for veggies and eggs and enjoyed a samosa and local soft drink with them. Samosa's have been our staple snack on much of the voyage and we are now experts on pastry and fillings of same!
Pic shows GT walking along the beach at Alves Island - what did we say about "deserted"?!

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DREAMCATCHER
Who: Henry & Glen (Taylor & Mellegers)
Port: Singapore
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