You can tell from our position that we have moved a
long way since the last Blog from Asia to Africa or to be precise Phuket to
In the last Blog we were on our way to Galle in Sri
Lanka our passage started with virtually no wind,nothing new there,and then
becoming quite exciting with 30knts of breeze and then the last 80nm
None of us new what to expect from the country
originally known as Ceylon and famous for its Tea.When we arrived after 7 days
on passage we had very specific instructions as to anchoring and to the
formalities to be observed from the security forces,immigration and customs
before we would be allowed to enter the inner harbour,these formalities have
plagued us all round the world.The difference here was that this was a country
at war with the Tamil Tigers as you will have seen on the news at
What we did not expect was the blatant demand of
bribes from all three groups of officials that came aboard our boat mainly
Whiskey and Cigarettes several bottles and cartons.
Having been forewarned of the demands by radio
before we were boarded I had decided to give only a token gesture of a packet of
20 cigs to each official and after a few words they accepted that.When we
finally entered the inner port via a heavily reinforced curtain we were due a
visit from customs.Having had enough I told the official that we were giving no
"gifts"to anyone else so don't expect any.
I did relent and let them have one packet of cigs
between them but we ended off giving the least to any of them.I don't mind
bribing,its a way of life in many of these countries,in fact its the way they
get paid but I just objected to their blatant demands.
The day after we arrived several naval personal
were court marshalled for taking bribes.Seeing it from there eyes,there are few
visitors by boat because of the war and we arrive seemingly rich to them so they
felt we could afford to give them something when they had nothing.
Remember in Indonesia the people had nothing but
they were willing to share with us,not steal and we in turn gave sometimes over
the odds for services received.
Anyway fortunately the ordinary people of Sri Lanka
were very much like the Indonesians in manner but slightly better off.The
country is absolutely beautiful with elephants rice fields tea plantations and
turtles.The roads are possessed by manic drivers who at times seem quite
suicidal in there attempts to get from AtoB at the speed of light despite all of
the roads being crowded with trucks and cars.
On our first visit outside the port and having been
subject to these forced bribes we did not know what to expect but we were
quickly adopted by Andrew (Adura) a "tuc-tuc" driver who owned the most
dilapidated taxi we had ever seen but he proved to be a little gem.
From the outset he had decided that he would be our
personal "do it all" man from train tickets to vegetables,clothing to precious
gems he had a friend and this wasn't an expensive friend like some we got some
excellent deals on everything.
It fact when we went on a 6hr train journey (it
stopped at every station) to Colombo he gave us toasted sandwiches from his wife
,we were jolly glad of them on that trip.We saw his his house and family,he gave
us an insight to the normal world of the Sir and he was respected by everyone we
met even the other "tuc-tuc" drivers respected him.
We spent 5 days travelling round the island from
the tea plantations of the highlands to the religious temples of the
lowlands,most people are Buddhists and we went to the "Temple of the Sacred
Tooth" which is the Buddhist equivalent of Mecca.I think most of us were
impressed with the teachings and application of Buddhism.
We also managed to see many examples of local life
in the rural communities and the part played by the tea plantations and the
elephants of the forest and evidence everywhere of the three main religions of
Buddhism,Hinduism and Islam.
On our arrival in the tea planting area we stayed
in the original "Planters Club" which is like a relic from the 1930's with his
and hers bars and service to match,dinner was a really 1930's British affair and
during the day, walks,afternoon tea and cucumber sandwiches.
In all whilst our first impressions of Sri Lanka
were somewhat soured by our treatment on arrival by the time we left we were all
impressed by the country and people.
While some of the yachts decided to go to the
Maldives we decided to be more adventurous and go to Cochin in India.We arrived
in Cochin after a very enjoyable 3 day sail only 400nm (we use to think a 100nm
sea voyage in the UK was adventurous)Asyou would imagine an Indian port to
be with its mass of population that was how it was together with a massive
building program which put the whole town in the state of a
huge building site unfortunately I only spent 22hrs in Cochin having
arrived at 0500 leaving for the Uk at 0300 the following morning.Mind you in
between time I say part of the town plus the immigration ,customs and persuaded
the Harbour Master to let us move the boat to a better anchorage in 24hrs
instead of waiting 3 days plus book Jenny and myself into a hotel for the night
and arrange dinner for us all that night before I left
Everybody on board then had a week or more to
savour the delights of Cochin and experience the sights and sounds of
India whilst I came back at in the later part of January to -4 deg wearing
sandals because I had torn the nail out of one of my toes on the quayside in
Siri Lanka.I did say OUCH as I left a trail of blood over the decks of several
yachts getting back to ours.
I returned to the boat in Salalah which is in
Oman.From what Jenny and Alan have said the 1300nm trip was very pleasant and
great sailing.Most of our time in Salalah was spent preparing the boat for our
trip across to Djibouti bearing in mind the obvious dangers relating to Pirate
attacks.But we did mange one day out to visit a few of the sites which are not
many,we did see something of the desert and lots of camels in their proper
environment as ships of the desert.
Our 700nm through the shipping zone policed by the
coalition forces although it produced a few anxious moments we took all the
precautions that we could and arrived safetly in Djiboutly,however one merchant
ship about 40nm behind us were not so lucky as they were captured by pirates and
the forces could not help fo fear of having the hostages injured.I must say it
was pretty difficult to keep the 6 boats in formation and in order as we were
the lead boat.
Well Djibouti so far is very expensive and not good
value for money but that is only the first impression,with a lot of Somalian and
Ethiopians around and everywhere beggars and dirt.But it may get better ,it
From here we will bo proceeding up the Red Sea and
into the Suez Canal some 1300nm against wind and tide most of the time.
What fun we shall see.
That's all for now.