28 April 2011, Andaman Sea
11 miles up the "road to nowhere"
Dear Friends and Family,
Well, THAT was interesting. When we arrived in Hut Bay, Little Andaman Island, the officials at first were hesitant to let us stay. The Coast Guard inspectors were obviously looking for trouble as they inspected our documents. Luckily, the Police were very much on our side and smoothed everything over. It didn't hurt that some of our Chennai friends connections were pretty high up. We were told that, if the navy had been present, they would have GIVEN us the diesel we needed.
In the end, the officials decided not to throw us out of the universe. The police then went on a search for diesel, because the local station was OUT. We hadn't considered that. Most cars and trucks in India seem to be diesel powered, so we assumed there would be plenty of fuel for them.
But the police soon found that a "station" 11 miles (18 km) out of town had the 425 liters (112 gal) of diesel we wanted. They even organized a flatbed truck for us. So we loaded our 15 diesel jugs onto the truck, climbed in the back, and took off for a delightful tour of the island.
Little Andaman got pretty flattened by the boxing-day 2004 tsunami, so houses were either pretty crude or government built. The road was really only 1 lane wide, but it was paved and in reasonable condition. We saw several beach-front parks which looked like they'd be fun to explore but nobody was using them as we went past. There were several schools, but again, pretty crude. Phone traffic has to go via satellite, so there's a very noticeable delay, and internet access is only 2G but coverage is good. Little Andaman is pretty lush so habitation doesn't extend far from the road except for a few palm plantations. The island has a rather laid-back and relaxing atmosphere. But I wonder how they make any money. They don't export much, and every car or even a tank of petrol is money leaving the island.
320 litres! Our fuel station, outside Hut Bay.
The "fuel station" was little more than a shack with several badly beat-up 200L (55 gallon) drums stacked around it. Fuel was siphoned into special 5L or 10L containers and then poured into a customer's tank. He measured out 25L for us that way, then pointed to a pair of 200L drums and said he'd fill from them, without bothering to measure. Not sure we got all that we paid for, but it was pretty close. The fuel looked reasonably clean (not that we could see much) which was our main concern. We've never taken fuel that way before, and we weren't very happy about it but we run all fuel through a "Baha Filter" before it goes into our tanks. Several vehicles fueled up while we were there and Ocelot has better filtering systems than they have, so hopefully we'll be OK. And the price was only $.80/L ($3/gal) plus $6 for the truck.
After our first WONDERFUL night's sleep on a non-moving boat we were ready to leave, but ... now the Indian bureaucracy didn't want to let us go! We waited all day for clearance permission (which apparently had to be faxed all over India). This was probably good, as it gave us another day to relax and catch up on sleep.
At 7am today we pulled up our anchor and headed east across the Andaman Sea. The sky started bright and blue with a nice breeze and puffy clouds, but it's clouded up as the day has progressed. We were squall-dodging when we first left Little Andaman, but now the sky is completely clouded over and we've had a respite from the squalls for now. The wind is all over the place (we're constantly trimming the sails) but the squalls themselves seem to move NW, while we're heading basically east.
We're headed for the Surin islands of Thailand. These are about 50nm north of the Similan Islands (which are about 60nm NW of Phuket). Both the Similan and Surin Islands are reputed to have beautiful clear water and excellent diving.
At noon today we were at 10°32'N 92°58'E, or 25nm from Little Andaman with 300nm to go to the Surin Islands (see a Google map of our positions here).
Fair Winds and Calm Seas -- Jon and Sue Hacking
29 April 2011, Andaman Sea
We take down the Indian flag, again!!
Dear Friends and Family,
We left you yesterday with completely overcast skies and squalls all around us. Yesterday was an overly active day for us, difficult sailing in the shifting winds as we dodged around squalls (mostly successfully, but not always). Being the dark of the moon, we were not looking forward to nightfall.
We were quite worried that we'd have to fight the weather all the way to Thailand, as a closer examination of our GRIB weather files showed a circular storm brewing out to the west of the Andaman Islands! That is apparently what was responsible for our inclement weather.
Luckily, as the night progressed, the clouds started dissipating and some stars came out. By morning the clouds had taken a decidedly more friendly attitude, being more of the "light and fluffy" variety instead of the "dark and angry" variety, and that has progressed throughout the day.
Nevertheless, because of the storm in the vicinity and because we don't know how much protection there is in the Surin Islands, last night we decided to head for the Similan Islands directly. There are several anchorages in the Similans and we can choose where to go based on the local conditions.
Winds today have been very light so we've been motor-sailing slowly, so we don't arrive in the dark. At noon today we were at 9°46'N 94°46'E, or 143nm from Little Andaman, with 182nm to go to the Similans (see a Google map of our positions here). "Noon" is a bit nebulous today, as we've changed our time-zone 1.5 hours to that of Thailand (GMT+7).
Fair Winds and Calm Seas -- Jon, Sue and Shantha
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