Beypore is another busy harbour. This time we anchored inside the river, next to the fishing fleet. Everyone was very friendly but we were happy to leave after one night as the fishing boat comings and goings were quite hectic at times. A coastguard patrol stopped us as we were leaving the river, coming aboard to inspect our papers and have a look around to check that we were not up to anything we shouldn't be. They are very professional and it's reassuring to have them around.
Starboard lookout - leading seaman Goldsteam?
We had just 80 miles to go to Cochin so had plenty of time to sail and arrive the following (Monday) morning. On the way we had various visitors, including a white egret that decided to hitch a ride for an hour or so. It amused itself catching and eating our resident flies. Later on we were approached by a fishing boat who wanted cigarettes, giving us a pomfret and baby hammerhead shark in exchange.
The winds were stronger than before and we ended up having to reduce sail in the night rather than arrive in the dark. We also had fewer fishing boats to avoid, making it a more restful passage. On approaching the entrance to Cochin Harbour we were overtaken by a warship who called us up on the VHF to let us know he would be turning in front of us (not that there was any chance of us hitting it).
Port building on Willindon Island
Cochin is a vast natural harbour with many islands and inland waterways. Our first stop was a temporary anchorage near to the port control buildings. Even before we dropped anchor we were approached by a customs vessel with some forms for us to fill in. An hour later we were approached by another customs vessel with even more forms to fill in and we regretted not having any carbon paper on board to fill in the multiple copies required. Two other yachts had arrived before us (Lo and crew on Mistral and Oren and Lesley on Chasambra) and we all went ashore to complete the formalities, which took up the rest of the morning.
We were then free to anchor in the main yacht anchorage off Bolgatty island but instead we wanted to go to the small boatyard off Fort Cochin. For this we had to do a further round of the harbourmaster's office and customs, this time not including Special Intelligence Assessment, to get permission to move there. We finally tied up at the end of the boatyard jetty on Wednesday morning, in between two other ex-rally yachts (Alondra and Tamata) that had spent the monsoon here. It's a comfortable spot with only a little movement from time to time caused by the bow-wave of passing ships. Our keel touches the bottom at low tide but it's not a problem as it's soft mud. It's nice to have electricity and water, and we've arranged to have a haul out just before Christmas so we can clean the bottom and re-do the anti-fouling.
In how many ways can we catch the fish? By punting canoe?
Cochin is preparing for a visit of the Volvo Ocean Race in three weeks' time. Workers are busy refurbishing the jetty, roads and various buildings but they've still got a lot to do. Our berth is directly across the river from where the racing yachts will be parked so we should have a good view of their comings and goings.
Or with Chinese nets?
Fort Cochin is a fascinating place, a trading centre for centuries, with a wealth of old buildings influenced by the Portuguese, Dutch and English. Churches, synagogues and mosques exist side by side, some dating back to the 16th century. We're gradually finding our way around, with the help of John, who runs the boatyard, and others. From here we can go by ferry to other parts of greater Cochin, in particular Ernakulum, which is a relatively large, modern city.
Or by snake boat - with all our friends?
Lynda arrived on Friday morning, so we're having a couple of days of local sight-seeing before heading off on a wildlife tour on Monday morning.