Sailing off


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Surin Islands to Port Blair Andaman Isands India

1st day of crossing.
All travelling well with little wind mostly on the nose.
(delayed) The Crossing
After weeks of preparation for this trip and the few technical dissapoitments on both boats some health issues that were now resolved and a much longer lead up to finally the trip to Andamans we started our crossing to Port Blair - the major port,The clearance port and the everything else port in the Andamans.
Apsara with Chris and Barrie on board and us enjoyed a reasonable day sailing/ motoring with winds ...and dolphins keeping us company. It is such a delight when dolphins come I can't see that anyone would not smile at the depth of their soul seeing these amazing creatures far from  land on the open sea. One always gets a feeling of " you are safe" and it might be because of all the stories of dolphins as protectors of ships we have listened to when we were young and maybe not.
Our "bestest" dolphins....

Our distance 340 NM from Surin Islands Thailand just 7 NM of the boarder with Mayanmar(Burma)

Tinker still smiling and feeling rather sea sick.
The wires on the face...well sometimes one doesn't care...
Our plan was to travel 6.5-7 knots which would see us arrive in Pt Blair some 48+ hours later. One known obstacle on our way The Invisible Bank which is a massive coral reef mostly submerged and we planned to vear North to avoid it as we were going to sail over it at night. Not a comfortable feeling particulairly because this was a moonless night.
All went reasonably well except for feeling tired and me feeling sea sick unable to keep my eyes open for very long and unable to help all that much with the night watches. The only thing that woke me up was a couple of hours of going over some very confused sea water with waves coming from all directions and feeling quite wired like a washing machine a little scary even(for me). After a very long over 12 hours of dark the much awaited first still rather sea sick with tablets taking only the edge of for a little and with Robert rather tired. I tried to do as many night watches as I possibly could. The morning brought news from Apsara of technical problems with the wind in the16 knots range Barrie had to totally remove the alternator from the engine as it partly fell off and this was his only option mid sea. We take our hat off for him doing this and than to add to the insult their generator stopped. That left them with no ability to make power needed by the auto pilot navigational equipment and most important navigation lights at night. The whole day was spent brainstorming on solutions and trying different options to make power. After exhausting all ideas the new plan was formulated for us to stay as close as possible about a mile apart during the night for safety and on stand by just in case Apsara lost navigational abilitie due to power and get to Pt Blair ASAP so pick up speed as well. That we did.
Robert rather tired and kept on keeping on as he does so incredibly well...
 Night was long and there was 1 1/2 hrs time difference between Thai time and India which added to dark time. Staying so close together mid sea at night required close attention and both Robert and Barrie did a fabulous job at that. The most concern The Invisible Bank and loss of navigation...none of that happen. We went over the bank smoothly although I must say that it had a creepy and really bone cold feeling going over it. It probably is a mass "grave" for many shipsof the past...Shortly after we got calls from the Indian coastguard And saw the first lights of Pt Blair still very much in the dark even though it was already close to 6am and with Apsara speeding up we approached entry in total darkness. Not that comfortable and once again a time to trust your navigational equipment with one exception. Andamans have moved and tilted during the tsunami and it was questionable if these changes were reflected on our charts. To the best of our judgement - yes. It was incredibly CO L D and foggy.
Robert quite exhausted and focused...
 Entering a new port can be confusing particularly when exhausted and partly in fog and there is always something unusual that makes one remember the experience this time it clearly will be the moving rocks right in the entrance. I saw them clear as day Robert said good morning to them...again a case of perception change when exhausted. Rocks they were not and little fishermen in their little boats yes.
Cold foggy and  better visible fishing men "rocks"now that it's daylight 
 We also had an unforgettably funny "Welcome to India"moment from Robert and happy to share this one when we meet next...After requesting permission to enter and a series of probing questions sometimes hard to answer not to mention understand and comprehend we anchored safely in total fog.
Fog Fog and more fog

Apsara made it!!!!!!!!!!!Safely
 Happy to have made it safely and exhausted we rushed in our dinghy over to hardly visible Apsara surrounded by the heavy fog and saw a 1 1/2 crocodile just by their boat. 

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