26 January 2013 | Andaman Sea
Michael and Jackie
We made it to Indian Territorial Waters! We're safely anchored in Port Blair, the main town in the Andamans. We arrived in convoy as Storyteller and Kalypso caught up with us by first light. A perfect entrance. We were surprised to find how much commercial shipping is based here. There are tugs, passenger ships, ferries, bulk carriers and general freight ships. A lot of the freight ships and ferries look a little dilapidated. The harbour is a deep inlet, rather like Falmouth with lots of watery fingers cloaked in trees and vegetation. With the exception of the dockside and town to the East of us there is relatively little inhabitation, although one peninsula has a lot of prefabricated housing. The temperature is less extreme than Phuket, mellowed with a pleasant see breeze. We now have to wait for customs, immigration, the navy etc to clear us in, a process that can take two days. A good opportunity to rest while we wait for them since it was a surprisingly tiring passage.
Our theory is that a short passage - three nights and two days is worse than a long one because after three days you get into the routine of 3 hour watches. Our last day saw us attempting to even up the fishing stakes unsuccessfully. Three strikes from large fish and one catch of a tiddler which was swiftly returned to the sea. We did though see lots of dolphins and hopefully will manage better fishing around the islands.
Most of the final day and night we were able to sail without engine assistance as a pleasant 15 knot trade wind powered us towards the islands. The slight hitch was that our engines would not start. Eventually we got one going. A nifty device called a pathmaker had seized so that power only went to our house batteries, not the engine start batteries, so the engine batteries were dead. Hopefully we have a solution, but overnight it meant that we kept one engine running so as to be sure that we had at least one engine to anchor with in the morning.
Our friends on Storyteller had problems with their VHF radio. Someone modified their aerial to add a fancy identifying device called AIS. The effect was that their radio had a distance of 1 mile not 20 which the Harbourmaster here did not appreciate.
Anyway all three boats are anchored together next to a couple of super yachts and a small cruising boat waiting for permission to explore the glories of the Andamans