Day 1 12PM 28/2/18
The passage to India should take about 5-6 days depending on the weather. We had good winds when we set off, north easterlies 15-20 knots but it was raining hard which was affecting visibility. After about 5 miles, we hove to and Ian jumped in to clean the props. They were covered in barnacles from our month in Sri Lanka and we hadn’t been able to clean them there because of the dirty harbour water and jelly fish. Unfortunately because of the swell he was only able to clean the port prop – he was being bashed too much to attempt the starboard one, so he decided to just go and finish further round the coast. There were no other boats at all – no fishing boats, no yachts and no commercial boats.
As usual that evening we checked in with our Sched (all our gang crossing the Indian Ocean) on the HF radio. We have all left at different times and are heading for different locations, and this night we had eight of us – Soul (Red Sea) Grasshopper (Maldives) Muck (Sumatra) Tehani Le (Andamans) Indian Summer (en route to India) Amandla (en route to Sri Lanka) and Max (en route to Maldives) Its amazing that in this technological era with all our communication systems, we can still all talk to each other over thousands of miles still using the old HF radio system …..
Ian was not feeling well – he had an ear infection which was causing him some pain. I gave him some antibiotics and hoped that it didn’t get any worse. We had another 5 days to go. By early evening the wind had picked up to 30 knots. With a double reef and a reefed jib we thought we may be in for a rough night but by 10pm it had quietened down and my watch was uneventful. We were lucky on this run as we had a full waxing moon – a great bonus for sailors as it enables you to see. Not only was it a full moon but it came up about 7pm – perfect..
Day 2 1/3/18
We run our night schedule in two sections. I do from 8pm – 2am and Ian takes over from 2am – 7am. This gives us both at least 5 hours good unbroken sleep (unless there’s a drama of course) and with a nap during the day we both function very well. The first night is always the hard one as we have been up all day but after that is becomes quite easy. We have breakfast about 7.30-8.00 and then Ian has another hour or so sleep. We then watch alternatively during the day.
I made some yoghurt and washed the sheets and towels. We ran the engine to make some water and Ian then ran the generator so that we could use the washing machine. Conditions were calm as we neared the bottom of Sri Lanka- a distance of about 165 miles. First 24 hours we did 142NM. Average 5.9 knts. We rounded the bottom late afternoon and then the wind completely died. I made a roast pork dinner which was well received by the Captain. A dragonfly has hitched a lift – we are a bit far out now for him to fly back to shore so he will probably come to India with us. Ian’s ear still painful and he is having trouble hearing.
Day 3 2/3/18
We made really good time overnight and came into Mirissa just after dawn. We had intended to arrive here early in the evening but were late leaving so the timing all went wrong. Our intention was to stay the night here to break the journey but in the end we just anchored in the bay for a few hours. Ian jumped in and cleaning the Starboard prop and sail drive. That can’t be good for his ear infection – which is still causing him problems. The days sail was painfully slow – no wind and the current against us. I made a spaghetti bolognaise for dinner and listened to the BBC world service until the sched.
Day 4 3/3/18
Still no wind – this is painful. Had to have the engine on to motor so we made more water. We have been told that the harbour at Cochin is really dirty so we have to arrive with full water tanks. Got bored during the day so I polished my saucepans!! We both read, played soduko, read up on India, and checked the charts. Made pizza for dinner – and had ice-cream with chocolate sauce later on. Ian in bed by 8pm but we still have the moon so its a pleasant night sail.
Day 5 4/3/18
The night had quite a bit of traffic on the water. I woke to a sunny but calm day – with no wind again. Ian’s ear is still sore – we will find a dr as soon as we arrive. Defrosted the freezer today – our freezer is a portable one so I just put it in the sun for 10 mins! I can now smell India – a musty smell that catches in the back of my throat. We have been travelling up the west coast of India now for a few hours and can see nothing – just a think haze in the distance. A fishing boat came by wanting whiskey and cigarettes – we gave him a coke. Grilled pork with ginger & garlic, baked potatoes and salad for dinner.
Day 6 5/3/18
Had a crazy night. There must have been about 90 small fishing boats out from the Indian coast. They had no AIS (obviously) and some of them had no lights. I was literally dodging them for hours. There are no fishing lanes and all the traffic was local so a yacht sailing through was a bit of a novelty – I swear some of them were unanchoring and coming over to be nosy. It was worse than the Malacca straights – At one stage I got Ian up because there was a wall of them in front of me and I couldn’t pick a passage through. We eventually seemed to get away from them and from about 3am onwards we had a smooth run. Luckily the moon was still bright enough to see them.
India smells! We have been smelling it for hours but still can’t see it! There is still no wind and it is getting very hot. Made some bacon sandwiches for breakfast.
About 10am, because we have had to motor for 4 days, we ran out of diesel in the tanks. Ian had to decant some from the jerry cans. Luckily with the calm conditions it was not a messy job but one we would rather not do at sea. 100 litres in the tanks later and we still have no wind.
We still have our little stowaway – the dragon fly. He seems to appear during the heat of the day and disappear for the rest of the time. He must have a cool place to escape to. Eventually we spied land. Its always very exciting to see your first sight of a new country – especially if it is during the day and you watch it getting bigger and bigger. We put the quarantine flag and the Indian flag up and we called Port Authority on Ch 16 to ask permission to enter the harbour. They were very friendly and even said ”Welcome to India” which was a first. We had a few fishing boats escort us in but they didn’t hassal us and just waved. Cochin harbour is enormous and we hadn’t even got the anchor down when the customs boat turned up with 5 customs officers. They boarded and checked our papers. They wrapped another piece of paper round our sat phone, stuck that down with duct tape and declared that it was now bonded! It had already been taped up by the Andamans but these guys wanted to do a double job.
It had taken 5 days 4 hours to go 635 miles but we were here. We tried to clear in but have to return in the morning to complete the formalities. They allowed us to go ahead to the marina and we had a small welcoming committee when we arrived. With only 7 boats here they were pleased to see another come in. Tied up in our own pen, electric cable plugged in, authorities satisfied – now time for a cold beer and watch the sun go down.