The Alba Chronicles
Neville Howarth
Sat 28 Jan 2017 03:26



26 January 2017    Port Blair, Andaman Islands

It was India’s Republic Day, so we were up early to get into town to see the celebrations.  We jumped in the dinghy at 06:45, but the outboard broke down when we were half way towards the jetty  - it’s 0.8 miles from our anchorage to the jetty.  I immediately suspected that the carburettor had blocked up again and could see water in our in line filter.


We started to row back to Alba, but “Mahili” spotted us and came to our rescue.  They took us back to the boat and waited for fifteen minutes, while I removed the carburettor, cleaned and replaced it.  Unfortunately, it still wouldn’t start, so we cadged a lift ashore with “Mahili”.  Being a public holiday, there weren’t many tuk-tuks about, so we ended up squeezing all four of us into one tuk-tuk, which was tight.


It was very busy in town, with the main road blocked off by police and thousands of people milling about.  It was a noisy, colourful scene with horns tooting, vendors shouting and ladies dressed in brightly coloured saris.  We walked to the sports stadium where policemen guarded the gates, frisked everyone and searched bags.  I even had to take a photograph with my camera to prove that it was real.  They appear to be on a very high alert for terrorist activity.


We found a concrete seat, which was partially in the shade and waited patiently with the hundreds of locals. Eventually, there was a parade with five units of soldiers, who looked very smart, marching in their dress uniforms.  We then had an hour of interminable speeches and a helicopter flew past with the Indian flag suspended below - it was mind numbingly boring.  The local people sat around us were very shy and I couldn’t get anyone to interact with me - very different to Indonesia where we would be surrounded by chatting kids.


They then had a long parade with various groups marching around the arena - army, navy, coastguard, schools, etc, etc.  After twenty minutes, there seemed to be no end to it, so we ran away.  It was much more interesting watching the locals haggling at the shops back in town.  After a really tasty curry for lunch in a Hotel Green Park restaurant,  we caught a tuk-tuk back to the boat.


I immediately tackled the outboard.  My first job was to empty all of the petrol out of the fuel tank because I suspect that it has phase separated.  I now have 10 litres of bad fuel, which I’ll have to dispose of somehow.  I then put new fuel in to the tank and pumped the new fuel through the pipe work all the way to the carburettor.  I then stripped down the carburettor, cleaned and reassembled it.  Thankfully, the outboard runs okay.  No doubt we’ll be very nervous about breaking down for the next couple of weeks.


In the evening we went over to “Mahili” for a beer or two.  It’s funny how sometimes you just seem to “gel” with some people.  We’ve only met Mike and Jennifer 48 hours ago, but we feel like we’ve known them for ages.