[OcelotNews] Ocelotians returning across the Andaman Sea
KD7NDG at Winlink.org
KD7NDG at Winlink.org
Thu Apr 28 05:12:00 PDT 2011
Dear Friends & Family, 28 April 2011, at sea
Well, THAT was interesting. When we arrived in Hut Bay, Little Andaman Island, the officials at first were hesitant to let us stay. The Coast Guard inspectors were obviously looking for trouble. Luckily, the Police were very much on our side & smoothed everything over. It didn't hurt that some of our Chennai friends connections were pretty high up. We were told that, if the navy had been present, they would have GIVEN us the diesel we needed.
In the end, the officials decided not to throw us out of the universe. The police then went on a search for diesel, because the local station was OUT. We hadn't considered that. Most cars & trucks in India seem to be diesel powered, so we assumed there would be plenty of fuel for them.
But the police soon found that a "station" 18km out of town had the 425 liters (112 gal) of diesel we wanted. They even organized a flatbed truck for us. So we loaded our 15 diesel jugs onto the truck, climbed in the back, & took off for a delightful tour of the island.
Little Andaman got pretty flattened by the boxing-day 2004 tsunami, so houses were either pretty crude or government built. The road was really only 1 lane wide, but it was paved & in reasonable condition. We saw several beach-front parks which looked like they'd be fun to explore but nobody was using them as we went past. There were several schools, but again, pretty crude. Phone traffic has to go via satellite, so there's a noticeable delay, & internet access is only 2G but coverage is good. Little Andaman is pretty lush so habitation doesn't extend far from the road except for a few palm plantations. The island has a rather laid-back & relaxing atmosphere. But I wonder how they make any money. They don't export much, & every car or even a tank of petrol is money leaving the island.
The "fuel station" was little more than a shack with several badly beat-up 200L (55 gal) drums stacked around it. Fuel was siphoned into special 5L or 10L containers & then poured into a customer's tank. He measured out 25L for us that way, then pointed to 2 200L drums & said he'd fill from them, without bothering to measure. Not sure we got all that we paid for, but it was pretty close. The fuel *looked* reasonably clean, which was our main concern. We've never taken fuel that way before, & we weren't very happy about it but we run all fuel through a "Baha Filter" before it goes into our tanks. Several vehicles fueled up while we were there & Ocelot has better filtering systems than they have, so hopefully we'll be OK. And the price was only $.80/L ($3/gal) plus $6 for the truck.
After our first WONDERFUL night's sleep on a non-moving boat we wanted to leave, but ... now the Indian bureaucracy didn't want to let us go! We waited all day for clearance permission (which apparently had to be faxed all over India). This was probably good, as it gave us another day to relax & catch up on sleep.
At 7am today we pulled up our anchor & headed east across the Andaman Sea. The sky started bright & blue with a nice breeze & puffy clouds, but it's clouded up as the day's progressed. We were squall-dodging when we first left Little Andaman, but now the sky is completely clouded over & we've had a respite from the squalls for now. The wind is all over the place (we're constantly trimming the sails) but the squalls themselves seem to move NW, while we're heading basically east.
We're headed for the Surin islands of Thailand. These are ~50nm north of the Similan Islands (which are ~60nm NW of Phuket). Both the Similan & Surin Islands are reputed to have beautiful clear water & excellent diving.
At noon today we were at 10°32'N 92°58'E, or 25nm from Little Andaman with 300nm to go to the Surin Islands. As always, you can see our position at http://www.winlink.org/dotnet/maps/PositionReportsDetail.aspx?callsign=KD7NDG
Fair Winds & Calm Seas -- Jon & Sue s/v Ocelot
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