Day 140 – Minicoy Island

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Mon 2 May 2022 08:47
Noon Position: 08 03.1 N 073 39.1 E
Course: ESE Speed: 5.5 knots
Wind: W F3 Sea: slight
Swell: SW 1.5m
Weather: overcast, hot, humid
Day’s Run: 130 nm

We rounded Minicoy Island, our northern most point for this voyage, at 0330 last night. Being dark I could not of course see the island apart from the bright light from the lighthouse flashing its warning out to all the passing ships, of which there were many. As we approached the island we were called by the local coastguard on VHF, They asked pretty much the same questions as the naval base at Cape Horn and were equally nonplussed by my answers to some of their questions, in particular how many people were on board and our last and next port of call. On the other hand, this time they asked an additional question that I initially had difficulty comprehending, namely what security I had on board. Eventually they asked me whether I had a security guard on board, to which I replied, “Just me.”
While the call made for a nice bookend to the Cape Horn call, marking the southern and northern most points of our voyage, it does occur to me that if there were any pirates in the area it would be a simple thing for them to listen out on VHF and work out what the easy targets were based on the information provided. I confess to spending some of the night after the call listening out for loud outboard motors. So far, all quiet.
As alluded to yesterday, it would also seem Sylph and I have a connection with Minicoy Island that we were not aware of until a couple of days ago. One of my sailing friends, Jan from Holland, has circumnavigated the world single-handed twice. The first time he stopped once, in Hobart as I recall, and the second time he did it non-stop, as I am attempting to do now. I met him in my travels in the delightful harbour of St Johns in Newfoundland where he had sailed in his beautiful black-hulled ketch, ‘Bastaert van Campen’. This was back in 2007 while I was stuck there replacing engine mounts and the flexible coupling to the shaft (engines!). Jan and I made a connection and have stayed in touch with one another since then. I was and am an admirer of his boat (unfortunately since moved on to another keeper) and his achievements and he has been part of the inspiration for this voyage. He has also provided some very helpful advice. I think the connection with Minicoy Island is perhaps best expressed in Jan’s own words:

“Just after the war (WW II), my father (1909) joined the MS Oranje on a repatriation voyage organised by the Red Cross, to Indonesië, former Dutch colony, in order to repatriate Dutch families who had been kept prisoner by the Japanese.
This was 1946, me just 4 years old.
He did not bring the promised monkey back, but had much to tell of course, most of which left my memory, but not the name of that small island that was sighted on the homeward bound voyage: Minicoy.
A year later he had our first boat being built (by Huisman, nowadays a worldwide famous yacht yard), a small river sailing sloop, teak, which was named Minicoy! On which the seed was set.
So after 76 years you will be the second person I know to see with his own eyes the island with for me a magical name.”

All is well.