22 December 2019 | Christchurch, New Zealand
16 December 2019 | Christchurch, Canterbury, NZ
28 November 2019 | Christchurch, SI, New Zealand
19 November 2019 | Picton, Marlborough, NZ
04 November 2019 | Collingwood, Tasman, South Island, NZ
04 November 2019 | Collingwood, Tasman, South Island, NZ
29 October 2019 | Nelson, South Island, NZ
22 October 2019 | Christchurch, Te Waka o Māui, New Zealand
15 October 2019 | Scarborough, Queensland
05 October 2019 | Scarborough marina, near Brisbane, Australia
16 August 2019 | Southport Spit, Gold Coast, Australia
06 August 2019 | South Stradbroke Island, Gold Coast, Queensland
15 July 2019 | Boatworks, Coomera River, Gold Coast
25 May 2019 | Biggera Waters, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia
12 April 2019 | Coomera River, Gold Coast, Australia
02 April 2019 | Southport, The Gold Coast, Australia
16 March 2019 | Southport, Gold Coast, Australia
09 March 2019 | Currigee, South Stradbroke Island, Gold Coast
21 February 2019 | Santa Barbara, Coomera River, Gold Coast, Australia
04 February 2019 | The Broadwater, Gold Coast, Australia
10 February 2010 | Cochin, Kerala state, India
Geoff and Alison Land and seabreezes
We actually intended to come here, so arriving by sea was quite magical. Stepping out onto the huge land mass of India. Cochin harbour no longer has the traditional touch. It is a huge container port amidst a myriad of islands joined by bridges. However, the area called Fort Cochin in the outer harbour smells of the spices that made India famous. The trading merchants small shops are littered along its streets. Seemingly, the old town is popular among foreign tourists.
Grotty yachters are directed to an anchorage set aside for them in the lee of Bolgatty island and the mainland town of Ernakulum which is neither modern or old. M.G. Road houses silk and gem merchants and bustling Jew St has just about everything known to man spilling out of owner operated small shops. No sign of McDonalds or KFC here. It is a wonder there aren't a lot of limping people on the streets as the tuk tuks screech and honk their horns narrowly missing the pedestrians' toes as they ferry passengers up and down the narrow streets.
We took a public bus up into the Western Ghats to Periyar national park . known for its elephant population. That 6 hour journey was a challenge in itself as the bus tore along single lane roads, dodging and overtaking pedestrians, dogs, cows, tuk tuks, cyclists and much more and travelling at breakneck speeds around hairpin bends. Oh well! It makes ocean sailing seem like a breeze. We leave on the next stage of our trip on Friday : about 12 to 13 days sailing.
Overland in Sri Lanka
26 January 2010 | Sri Lanka
Geoff and Alison
Against advice, we decided to hire a self drive car for three days from Galle and had a great time. Our visit coincided with the presidential election so there were a lot of military and police around with guns, especially around the polling booths. We were amazed how many people in Sri Lanka walked everywhere or cycled, so the roads were clogged on election day with all the voters as well as dogs, chickens, cows, buffalos and buses.
Most people we talked to claimed that all they were interested in was peace, but how this translated into candidate support wasn't very clear. The main two candidates were the incumbent president who seemed to wear very flash clothes and had the most poster advertising and the general who led the military campaign against the Tamil Tigers.
On our first day, apart from getting lost a few times, we followed the coast Eastwards and passed through Bundala national park. There were huge numbers of birds in the wetlands and a lot of elephant droppings. An electric fence had been erected on one side to protect the local villagers against hungry elephants. We stopped at Tissamaharama (Tissa for short) where we had visited nearly 30 years previously and saw the same lily covered reservoirs and white Buddhist temples in the bright green padi fields.
The next day we were up early and took a jeep trip into Yala national park. We were lucky enough to see a large male leopard waking up from his sleep on top if a granite rock, lots of deer, pigs, wild buffalo, mongoose, peacocks and a couple of lone male elephants. We were in a hurry so had to press on through a narrow, rutted road to Ulu Walawe further North West. A long electric fence stretched for nearly thirty kilometres south of the national park to protect the sugar plantations growing on irrigated land to the South.
Ulu Walawe has one of the highest concentrations of elephants in the whole of Asia and we saw several lone males patrolling the inside of the fence. Some of the farmers were so relaxed about their presence that they entertained their kids or grandkids by feeding the wild elephants with corn or other vegetables.
We spent a few hours touring the thick bush interior of Ulu Walawe in an open topped jeep and counted about 70 elephants : about 7 or 8 separate herds of females and young and the rest lone males or small bachelor groups. All the elephants were very relaxed and we were able to spend a lot of time watching them move around at close quarters.
Our last day we drove back to Galle over a mountain range. We actually got rather lost and the road we were following deteriorated into a tiny track just wide enough for the car which also had one slow puncture. This was pretty interesting as we had to share the road with buses and tuk tuks from time to time while winding up and down hairpin bends. The road passed up and through tea plantations with colonial names and rough looking tea plantation workers' quarters : we almost felt we had gone back a century.
The rest of our time in Galle was a lot less interesting as we had to fix the usual few boat problems before setting off for Cochin on India's Kerala coast. This was only 3 to 4 days sail away from Galle, but the gap between Sri Lanka and India was always very windy and the boats that had passed the gap either heading for Cochin or the Maldives had all suffered heavy winds and big waves so we needed to be prepared ourselves.
Sri Lanka diversion
25 January 2010 | Galle, Sri Lanka
Alison and Geoff, calm
We arrived in Galle two days ago after a 7 day passage from Port Blair in the Andamans. We were able to sail nearly all the way with consistent North Easterly winds. The first night out we had up to 30 knots in a squall, but generally winds were only 10 - 15 knots, but swells were sometimes uncomfortable.
As we neared the South Eastern corner of Sri Lanka, the wind accelerated to over 20 knots and with a 2 knot current we raced along through the moonlit night at over 8 knots at times. Although intending to continue to Cochin in India the near presence of a safe and interesting harbour decided us to call in for a week in Galle.
Formalities were over quickly and we explored the quaint old city inside the ramparts of Galle fort and are now planning a three trip to two of Sri Lanka's national parks - Yala and Udu Walawe to hopefully see wild elephant herds and leopards. Planning to cross the notorious Gulf of Mannar between India and Sri Lanka next weekend.
Leaving The Andamans
15 January 2010 | Port Blair
Geoff NE wind 10-15knots
We finally arrived in the Andaman Islands late on Christmas Day after a relatively easy three day crossing from Thailand's Surin islands. Port control at Port Blair kindly allowed us to drop anchor off Ross Island at the mouth of the harbour. We were up at 5am on Boxing Bay and were promptly called to enter the anchorage half a mile past Chatham Island. They courteously informed us when immigration, customs and coastguard officials arrived. The two former groups we had to pick up in our tiny dinghy after dark in a rain squall which was an interesting experience. They weren't concerned and the paperwork was completed. Pretty good for Boxing Day and at no cost.
It was a bit late to go ashore. No problem as Port Blair is a peaceful harbour and well organised so that no one boat group disrupts the other and is also well sheltered from swell and wind.
On Sunday we thought we had better track down the Harbourmaster to get our itinerary approved. We did this by getting his mobile phone number from the Port Control office. His office was closed but he invited us to his house to complete the formality over tea and biscuits. A very pleasant ex Indian Naval Officer.
On Monday we decided to head for Havelock 7, a sweeping beach on Havelock Island's west side. The infamous surge was not present and we went for a walk along the road and the beach. Plenty of Indian tourists were enjoying the beach as well as an elephant.
Next stop was Port Havelock between Havelock and Peel islands. This was well sheltered. Sadly there was a large rubbish dump on the beach. Surprisingly, it was never burnt. The tiny foodstalls / restaurants lining the waterfront served paratha for breakfast, thali for lunch and samosas late afternoon. Padi and cows took up the surrounding coutryside. "Holy" cows get right of way here as they do in mainland India. Plenty of dahlek looking tuktuks and boneshaker buses were ferrying tourists around.
Next stop was Outram Island, uninhabited, with deer on the beach.
The next day we caught up with "The Southern Cross" and two American yachts for New Year at North Button Island. A small, beautiful island with a hill and clear water with eagles in the sky, tiger cowries, large humpbacked parrot fish and clownfish.
Next day we sailed to South Button island. This had the clearest water, but it was a bit turbulent for anchoring in 25m. We anchored at Henry Lawrence island's southernmost bay for two nights which had reasonably clear water and a stunning array of coral fans.
Anchoring off Port Havelock again, we walked to the small market in the tiny township of Havelock 3.
Havelock 7 again for the night. The weather changed from what had been relatively benign trade wind conditions. It started to get wet and stormy so we set off for Port Blair via Neill Island. This would have been OK for the night normally but the wind was not coming from the east. We arrived off Ross Island again about 7 at night and then for real shelter and a night's sleep into Port Blair.
The weather improved the next day so we headed for Chiryatapu, a lovely protected bay off the south eastern tip of South Andaman island. Ashore there were walks to the village through rainforest and the new lighthouse. To the Southeast was a long sweep of reef with a stunning variety of fish including a school of huge bumphead parrot fish.
We finished our Andaman cruising with a circumnavigation of Rutland island sailing past the Twin islands and South and North Cinques. We anchored for a night in the huge bay on the western side of Rutland : dense green jungle ashore, stunning white sand beaches criss crossed with animal prints, plenty of coral and nobody else : this was a snapshot of the Andamans.
We are now back in Port Blair making final preparations for our next leap across the North Indian Ocean. We should be leaving tomorrow, on the 16th January, with a good weather forecast.