Kochi, Ashore for Paperwork
We anchored off The Malabar Hotel and within minutes two Immigration Officers were dropped off by a cutter. “Welcome to India”, I was delighted that the first words I heard were of ‘welcome’. Handshakes and settled in the cockpit, first part was done in minutes, Passports taken and a smiling officer bade us come ashore for the next bit. Bear readied Baby Beez and off we went.
Rounding the corner, we ducked in front of one of the two cruise ships, behind a Pilot and water taxi where the smiling Immigration Officer pointed to where we could park Baby Beez. Getting out and hobbling along the short pontoon reminded us so much of stepping ashore in Barbados – awfully unsteady, the ground seemingly moving and the staircase swimming – oooo land sickness. Our sympathetic man accompanied us to his office and left us with a lady in a pretty blue sari who issued Bear with a pile of papers to fill in.
We decided we could both still feel Beez engine beneath our feet and hear the thrum. Bear looked up and smiled every so often, I was happier staring at the map behind him as it fluttered in the fan somehow providing a little equilibrium......
I had telephoned Nazar (local tuktuk driver and go-to for help through the various offices of authority), he appeared at the door and leaving Bear to his fifteenth form I went to greet and shake hands. Eventually our Officer came in flustered “Sorry, Sorry” all officers had had to attend the two cruise ships and he was apologising for having left us. Passports stamped we followed Nazar from Immigration to The Harbourmasters Lair.
Bimbling down the road we chatted as we passed the impressive Port Control building. I asked if later we could go to an ATM “later”, SIM cards “tomorrow”, how much is a taxi to the airport “Mmmm”. Blood and stone came to mind.
Settled next to another crew (already checked in through Goa but needing to clear with the Harbourmaster for Kochi – their catamaran already in the marina), we waited. The two captains were whisked away by Nazar to guide them through the procedure at a local bank to obtain a £9 cheque to hand in as an anchor fee for twenty four hours. I sat for an hour, the desk pitching and bucking. I think the Harbourmaster knew what was happening and gave me three sets of papers to fill in, “Can I see”, not signed, I’m not the captain, “You sign, it will be fine”. Sadly, that had only taken ten minutes. All the rest of the time he had been on his mobile and giggled incessantly. I went to do some stomps around the garden. Took in the sleeping gardeners, some pretty frangipani blooms and saw how far Beez Neez looked away from the shore. Several more minutes, Bear returned, many more forms, I kept stomping and soon we were heading to Customs. Here we hit a brick wall. “Cannot issue forms until you have been boarded, go back and wait”. Two thirty back on Beez, we settled to a light lunch and a game of backgammon.
I looked up as I saw a movement behind Bear. OOO. Costa Luminosa on her way. This decade old cruise ship cost four hundred and fifty million Euros and weighs in at 92,720 tons. A crew of 1050 look after a maximum of 2,826 passengers.
What’s left for us now.........Yellow arrow to red arrow to ‘Close the Circle’. Through the Maldives, BIOT, Madagascar, Mozambique Channel, South Africa, round the corner to St Helena and the short hop of 3,900 from St Helena to Antigua. The first chunk though is the 4,669 to Cape town from Kochi, India........So far we have managed to cover 1,818.75 miles since leaving Malaysia. Maybe ten countries left to do....... For now, a win at backgammon......Huh.
Bear went ashore at four thirty and just as the chap in the Customs Office was going to fill in an exemption allowing us to move to the marina on the morrow he managed to speak to the Inspector who promised to fulfil his visit.....
Early supper and we see this girl leaving – backwards. We met her years ago during her Thompson days when she was called Splendour of the Seas. Since October 2017 her name has been Marella Discovery, (Marella is Celtic for Shining Sea). Built in France in 1996, she underwent a huge fifty-three million overhaul in 2011 and has been titivated since. She weighs in at a gross weight tonnage of 69,472 and her vital statistics are 264 metres in length, 32 metres wide and her draught is 7.9 metres. She can carry up to 1,830 passengers and her crew varies from 720 to 750. She is now off to Mumbai and is due in to Dubai on the 11th at breakfast time, easy as she can pump along at 24 knots. Oooo most impressive – she can make 1,100,000 litres of water a day (we can make 960)........
Customs did not show up and we have taken the decision to move on the rising tide on the morrow – blow sitting here until Monday, too many jobs to ready Beez Neez for us to fly to Delhi on Wednesday for our road trip, but we did raise the anchor and move in a little, all the better to watch the floor show at the hotel..........
ALL IN ALL RELATIVELY PAINLESS SAVE FOR CUSTOMS NO-SHOW
HOOPS TO JUMP IN A CERTAIN ORDER