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Tokomaru2

Website of sailing yacht Tokomaru2's circumnavigation of the world

Crew: Nick Thomas and Liz Vernon
 

India and Sri Lanka cruising notes

(date of infomation: Jan to March 2006) 

India

Andaman Islands 

These are slightly off the direct line across the Indian Ocean from Thailand. However they are well worth a visit and despite the paper work involved the welcome will be warm and gracious.

Formalities

These islands are part of India and it is absolutely essential  to have a visa and a restricted area endorsement before arrival. The only port of entry is Port Blair. It has been said that it is helpful to fax in advance boat details but in practice it does not seem to matter. Especially as information sent to one department is unlikely to be shared with any others. India has no system for cruising permits so yachts are supposed to call in by radio twice a day to give their location to Port Blair radio. Again nothing seems to happen if this is not done.

Two hours out one should call port Blair radio and then again just before entry and they will tell you where to anchor. The anchorage is 1 mile west of Chatham Island. The anchorage closer in indicated in the "pilots" is no longer available due to the extension of the Haddo wharf. Port radio will call customs and immigration and they will then tell you when and where to pick them up in your dinghy to be taken out to your boat to complete formalities. They are friendly and courteous. Customs in principle should seal up your drinks locker. A gift may help them forget this duty. Immigration in addition to stamping passports will issue a permit, 30 days, to allow you to stay in the Andaman’s it will say which islands can be visited. The coastguard will then come out in their own boat and issue a clearance certificate. When all this is done call up and inform port radio who will then make an appointment with the harbour master. Take the clearance and copies of the immigration permit and copies of ships papers to the appointment with HM. One is also supposed to submit an itinerary at this time. However the obliging Captain Mukerjee told us to submit this when we checked out. 

Checking out is the reverse process visit the HM to pay harbour dues he will issue an NOC - no objection certificate, take this to customs who will issue the port clearance, take this to immigration. You have to leave on the day you are stamped out. The rest can be done the day before.

Just before we arrived a yacht had anchored at Car Nicobar without authorisation. It had evidently sailed on before officials could check it out. However the HM did politely quiz us to see if it was us. Nobody could explain why tourists are not allowed to visit the Nicobar Islands. North Sentinel, an Andaman island, is also out of bounds as the indigenous population do not like outsiders. A month after we left we heard that some local fishermen went ashore on this island and were killed. When the Indian police went to recover the bodies they were driven off. The bodies were eventualy recovered by the Indian Navy, who have a big presence in Port Blair. What they did to exert their authority we were not told. By March, 24 boats had visited the Andaman’s in 2006.

Places to Go 

We visited Havelock Island famous for its beautiful beach and unique swimming elephant. There is a small resort here who are very welcoming. So much so that the manager who paddled out to see us invited us to lunch meaning it was on the house! They also have a pleasant bar. Snorkelling is good at the north end of the beach but not as good as the Similans.

 

COCHIN

Cochin is a large attractive natural harbour. There are two main parts: Fort Kochi which is the old colonial era town at the harbour entrance. Ernakulam is the modern high rise city.  Kochi is very popular with Indian tourists; some have described it as the Southend of India.

Formalities 

It is essential to have a visa before arrival. These are normally valid for 6 months from date of issue. You have to leave India before the 6 months is up. A multiple entry visa is preferable. On arrival call the harbour radio on vhf 16. They will direct you to the clearance anchorage by the Taj Malabar hotel. The more imposing building next to it is the new harbour office. Customs will come alongside in their launch to conduct the first round of formalities. The skipper will then be taken ashore and a customs officer acting as a minder will escort you round the offices. First to the harbour office. Then to accounts to pay harbour dues 350 Rupees (£5). Next to customs who will take the port clearance and ships papers and issue a receipt for the latter. Then by tuk tuk to immigration for passport stamping. Back to customs to pick up the NOC (no objection certificate -  for permission to shift anchorage) take this back to the harbour office who will issue the permission to move and you are free and clear. All this takes about 2 hours. The officials are unfailingly polite and courteous.

At the Malabar anchorage you will probably be met by Nasar of boat 72. He is the self appointed yachtie Mr Fixit. He is very helpful and speaks reasonably good English. He can fetch diesel and petrol for a mark up of 10 rupees on pump prices which are 35 and 45 Rupees respectively per litre. (£1 = 75 Rupees mar 06).

Facilities 

Boats are directed to the anchorage off the Bolgaty palace hotel. There is no anchoring fee but the hotel charges 100 Rupees per month per boat for "yacht services". This includes water by jerry can, drinkable after Chlorox treatment, rubbish disposal and use of their bar and restaurant. The pool use charge is 250 rupees per person per day.

Dinghies can be left on an old jetty near the "high court" ferry jetty. This is a burned out water side restaurant. There is a 24 hour caretaker who will happily look after tenders for a small tip. Once ashore you are in the centre of a large busy noisy city. There is a small market close to the jetty with fruit veg bread newspapers. The street directly up from the market is Banerji rd. Book stalls, hardware, photoshops and the liquor shop are along here. We found 4 supermarkets in Cochin none of them as good Food city in Galle. The nearest to the jetty is 50 metres along marine drive on the Banerjee rd side. They have a butcher with fresh and frozen meat.


 

Sri Lanka 

Galle

Formalities 

No visa is needed here. Call up port radio an hour or so before arriving. They will direct you to wait while a navy launch is summoned to check you out. While waiting you can engage your agent, which is compulsory, Windors on vhf 69 or GAC on vhf 72. After naval clearance you will be directed to a berth and lines will be taken by the agents "runner". The choice of berth is either stern to the "Lego" pontoon just inside the breakwater or rafted alongside the north jetty. The former has no facilities and a long walk to the harbour gate, the latter has an ablution block and a water tap too far away to be reached by hose. The harbours main business was importing cement and is correspondingly dusty.

The agent's man will take you his office the charge (mar 06) was $170 at Windsor or $200 at GAC. The Windsor breakdown was $100 harbour dues, $20 customs, $50 for their fee. They like this to be all in US$ and insist on at least $100. Passports will be taken to immigration by Windsors for stamping but you have to visit customs to fill in a form. Customs will later visit the boat the purpose of this visit is solely to steal whiskey. However they can usually be fobbed off with a few tins of beer. 

Facilities

Contrary to what is indicated in the corrections to the pilot book. Mikes yacht services is still in business he is just a bit dificult to find. He will probably come out to the boat with his pricelist. He has a large selection of groceries and can fill gas tanks at a good price. In town the "Food city" supermarket has a reasonably good stock including fresh meat. At the harbour gate a variety of tuk-tuk operators wait for custom. Dee Dee speaks some English and can arrange tours inland. The Klosenberg hotel restaurant is up the lane to the left immediately outside the port gate. It is not as bad as some have suggested. However, coming from India or Thailand it will seem expensive and not such good quality. Other eating places are the Rampart hotel in the old city or in the tourist beach area 5km to the east of Galle.



Website © Nick Thomas and Liz Vernon 2008