Thankfully, there really was a 0700 bus and it dropped us off at the dive shop at 0735. We were relieved when we met the dive master, who is fluent in English. The dive master is an interesting character. He is Continue reading Diving at Havelock – Elephant Beach and The Aquarium
First thing this morning we set of for Havelock Island, where the amazing diving is supposed to be. The wind was on our nose and we were in head seas. We felt like we were on a hobby horse, but it wasn’t bad, just a little bouncy.
We pulled up to Radha Nagar beach (known as anchorage #7) on the middle of the west side of the island around 1400 (2:00 pm). It looks just like what you would expect a South Pacific Island to look like. The water is a clear turquoise and there is a long white sand beach with jungle behind it. It is stunning.
We situated Kosmos, got Kosmopolitan down and headed to shore. Beach landings are always tricky. You have to carefully time it so the wave brings you in, then you have to jump out fast and pull the dinghy on the sand before the wave sucks the dinghy back into the ocean. Eric is getting to be pretty good at the landings these days. Fortunately, there were no rocks at all and the beach is an incredibly soft, fine sand, which made the landing painless. We dragged the dinghy up to the edge of the jungle and tied her to a tree. The birds were happily singing away. This is the nicest beach we have seen yet. There were several people playing on the shore, so we headed their direction, figuring they could point us to the road. No need to ask the road became evident as we got close to it.
On one side of the road is a small hotel that consists of several weird little domes. The other side is lined with a dozen or so small lean to shacks made of wooden planks with corrugated metal roofs. They look like they are all small restaurants. As we started on the road Continue reading Welcome to Havelock Island, Andaman Islands, India
Continued from yesterday”¦ When the British first arrived in the Andamans, they put the prison on Viper Island, established personnel housing on Ross Island, and put the hospital on Chatham Island in the middle of the two. The islands can all be seen from one another. Ross eventually had a population of 500 and was a very nice town with many amenities. There was a large Anglican church, a bakery, general store, post office, water making plant, tennis courts, swimming pools, library, flour making plant, and more. It was once considered to be the Paris of east. Shortly before World War II, there was an earthquake that scared some of the people off Ross. When the Japanese captured the islands, they lived in the housing on Ross and built bunkers using materials taken from the existing buildings. After WWII, the British never went back to Ross and instead moved across the way to Port Blair. Anything salvageable from the buildings on Ross was reused in Port Blair and the shells of the buildings were left to deteriorate. The British also built a new jail in Port Blair. The tsunami in 2004 did even further damage to the already partly destroyed buildings on the windward side of the island.
At first glance, the area near the ferry terminal looks like a park, with scattered brick red buildings and lots of neatly maintained grass. On closer inspection, though, you realize there are a lot of decrepit old buildings set farther back in and amongst the cheerful red buildings. It looks like a few selected buildings have been restored, but most are in the process of being reclaimed by mother nature. We walked down the neatly landscaped dirt path towards the ruins. There was a small herd of deer just hanging out on the grass. They stared at us as we passed. How cool!
We were kind of amazed by the Continue reading Ross Island, The Harbor Master, and Andaman’s Cuisine
This morning, Eric called customs on the radio at 0830. They told Eric to come and pick them up in 10 minutes. Woo hoo! Off to a good start today! They agents explained the mega yacht pulled in shortly before we did with 19 people on board and it took them a long time to do the paperwork, which is why they didn’t get to us yesterday. The agents wanted a complete inventory of all the personal items we had on board, which kind of made us feel weird. The coast guard’s questions had focused only on equipment. Other than the personal item inventory, all was status quo and by 1000 we had a customs clearance. Eric dropped them off and made an appointment with the harbor master at 1500 (3:00 pm). He also found a taxi driver to give us a tour.
As we were getting ready to head to shore, we noticed the mega yacht had pulled up anchor. It was heading straight towards a tiny fishing boat! The yacht clearly saw the boat because they honked at him, but they didn’t change course. The poor fisherman was terrified and paddled as hard as he could to get out of the mega yacht’s path. The fisherman had the right of way since he had no engine. We were astounded by the mega yacht captain’s behavior.
We left for shore at 1100. We noticed the whole bay has a diesel sheen on the surface. Yuck. We pulled up to the rock pier at Chatham Island. There is no place to tie the dinghy up to, so the standard operating procedure is to Continue reading Checking in with Customs, Andaman Cuisine, and Ross Island
Sea conditions remained the same (thank God!) and we arrived at Port Blair at 1030 local time. We anchored in a bay surrounded by a series of small islands, some with low hills, some taller mountains, all green and beautiful. There are a couple sailboats and a mega yacht anchored near us. Port Blair’s wharf is full of commercial containers and warehouses. Farther back, you can see lots of buildings on the hill. East of Port Blair is Chatham Island, a tiny island with more commercial vessels in front of it attached by a bridge to Port Blair. The surrounding islands are all dotted with buildings here and there many along the shore, a housing development of some sort at the top of the hill on another island , a smattering of houses on the hills, but the majority of the land is undeveloped. It looks like pretty dense forest. In some ways it reminds us of the Thursday Island area in Australia.
Mainland India has a long and rich history, but we are going to focus Continue reading Welcome to Port Blair, Andaman Islands, India