Small boat voyages
There are a lot of people out there who have made passages over the years in small boats against the odds. These are the people who decided you didn't need to go out and purchase a new 40-something JennyBennyBav or similar, who do not have boats full of the latest kit from the boatshows, and who have had some quite amazing adventures on the seven seas. This page contains a mix of some accounts of voyages, sometimes just a photo and a brief description, sometimes just a query. Few of the people featured here do that PR stuff to get their voyages noticed and some I have met are wonderfully eccentric and interesting people. Fair winds and following seas to all of them.
From the Skylax blog 11-03-08
This is not an April Fool
A single handed race around the world in ten foot boats
It has never been done before so these guys will be sailing into the history books to be the smallest boats to circumnavigate the globe.
The goal is to beat world record set in 1987 by Serge Testa in his 11ft 10in boat “Acrohc Australis”
Of the Vendée Globe the handyman escaping to his workshop or shed in the garden can only dream. With Around in Ten he can build and make his dreams become a reality!
I first met Sam in Colon out in the Flats anchorage. We had been on the same radio net on three transatlantics and yet until I rowed over to the present Ramprasad, we had never met. Sam is a wonderfully friendly soul and modest to boot. When he told me about his first Ramprasad below, I was intrigued. He gave me the bits he had written although sadly I can't get the photos up on here yet, though I will so the captions remain in place. Sam has a website at http://www.ramprasad.co.uk though it doesn't seem to be working at the moment.
Copyright Sam Coles
The First Ramprasad
In the autumn of 1979 I travelled overland to India and in November I agreed to buy an old Indian fishing boat called Ramprasad which was in the ex-Portuguese enclave of Diu. The name means "Offering to or from the Hindu god Lord Ram". It is not an uncommon name among Indian communities both in India and elsewhere - both for boats and people. There is a famous Bengali poet of that name as well as several cricketers. In March 1980 I sailed single-handed to Chapora in Goa - a passage of about 348 miles which I completed in just under 11 days; I then had the boat hauled out for the monsoon and completion.
Ramprasad after being hauled out in the village of Chapora in Goa - March 1980
I spent a year there. I completed the deck, did quite a lot of work to the engine - a handle start 15HP Bukh dating from about 1962, did quite a lot of repairs and maintenance to the hull, and built a canoe as a tender.
December 1980 - the refit is progressing well - in the right of the picture is one of the wooden trawlers built there and covered with coconut thatch - skilled shipwrights were easy to find there
In March 1981 I relaunch, then sail to Panjim, then make an 11 day passage to Munambam in Kerala. From there I motor through the backwater to Cochin, from where I leave India on 24th April to arrive in Ko Terutao (SW Thailand) on 15th June, a distance of about 1800 miles in 52 days. This was a slow passage on account of 2 extensive calm periods - both South of India and North of Sumatra - and rigging damage sustained in a squally period a few days after the onset of the SW monsoon. From there I sail to Langkawi where I repair the mast, Penang, Port Kelang, and then on to Singapore which I reach on 19th September.
On the beach at Pasir Panjang, Singapore
I leave there on 19th December and after a few days anchored on the equator on the East coast of Sumatra where I repair my rot-damaged Indian cotton sail, I sail through the rest of Indonesia to arrive in Darwin, Australia on 29th January 1982, a passage of about 1760 miles in 36 days.
At Dinah beach in Darwin - February 1982 - the white hull behind (Crash's boat) is I believe a ferrocement Hartley Golden Cowrie
"Ramprasad" - Diu to Chapora
An Account of a novice's single-handed voyage down the West coast of India in a newly-acquired 28ft Marathi fishing boat
On the night of 14th March 1980 at the start of the spring tide ebb, I pulled up my two anchors from where I had been moored just a stone's throw from the town square of Diu (known as Bunder Chowk in approximate position 20 43N and 71 00E) and I set my single lateen sail to run before the auspiciously favourable Westerley. I had planned to start my single-cylindered Bukh diesel but the Zephyr had rendered the disturbance unnecessary. However pulling anchors, spreading sail and steering all proved a bit much for this novice single-hander.I touched bottom a bare 150 yards downstream (just outside a run-down hotel in which I had once stayed). However I managed to pole her off towards mid-stream before getting properly stuck.. With bamboo pole at the ready (and a prayer in mind!) I safely sailed over reefs and past at least one dangerously incomplete navigation mark (whose steel starter bars were almost covered by the tide) to pass out of the Sesalkhada Creek to begin my first solo voyage.
That night I kept myself quite busy - rigging the tiller-lashing and bottom yard-brace, starting and running the engine with its predictable complications. I passed a solitary Ghoghla fishing canoe going home with its sail faintly glowing with the reflected light of its lantern. Shortly before dawn I saw the last of Diu Head lighthouse, the last positive sign of land that I was to have for nearly 10 days.
Day 2 - Morning broke to reveal scattered fishing craft. I manage to make tea on my primus and have breakfast. I get the noisy machine going again to pass through the fishing grounds in daylight and also to try to fix the engine water pump. My feeble attempt at the latter task failed, for in the afternoon I reconcile myself to a manual water circulation method. I try out my simple log-line and record speeds of 3 knots with the engine ticking over and 2 knots by sail in the light breeze. In the first 3 days of the passage the breeze gradually shifts from West to the expected prevailing Northerley varying in strength from Moderate at night to very light at mid-day.
I prove to myself the presence of fish by losing one valuable imported fishing lure and hook very soon after casting it. I look at the chewed end of the line and decide that I should have used the stronger trace. So I make do with a vegetarian supper and as the breeze freshens and the waves get bigger I look aloft and wonder for how long the old coir halyard will hold such a heavy yard.
Day 3 - With a bit more of a breeze all night and consequently larger waves I get my first spasm of feeling seasick when collecting my morning tea and bread from the galley below the deck just forward of the mast. I manage to get a noon sunsight and find my latitude to be 20 07N having made 36 miles Southing in approximately 36 hours - an average gain South of 1 mile an hour using sail and motor. Not very impressive you may think but I was not bothered so much with speed as to the fact of progress.
Day 4 - In the morning the inevitable happens to the halyard and the heavy lateen yard comes crashing down into the sea along the starboard side. I manage to get it inboard and I choose to cut a piece off my main anchor cable to be a replacement halyard. Then I consider the problem of going aloft to thread it through the single sheeve at the top of the mast. The mast is solid timber, unstayed, with a locating tenon at its foot, securely lashed to the thwart and at least only 17 foot high in total. The previous owner's son Prakash had had quite a job getting up to thread the original halyard. I was happy that I had had the wisdom to go against his advice and given it a coat of glue and sand to make the job easier in the future. Nevertheless my first couple of attempts fail for the frequency and amplitude of the roll was so great with a short heavy mast and appeared greater and more frightening as I ascended. But I come to the decision that there is no alternative to shinning up the mast and I must at least partially ignore my fear of the wilder motion. I rig part of the old halyard as a "ring ladder", that is tied around the mast with clove hitches. This gives me at least something for my feet to push against as my head and hands approach masthead height. By this method I reach the necessary height and manage to thread the new halyard before coming down. I can then secure the new halyard to the yard in same manner as before, then I re-apply the protective cushioning around the lashing and then eventually I can hoist it back up and get under way again. Since it seemed important for the prevention of chafe to have the halyard tight, I spend part of the night planning tensioning methods.
Day 5 - I try securing the halyard to a point further aft but this has the unfortunate effect of fouling the hatch which must be opened to crank the engine, but it has the important advantage of making the halyard act as a backstay. To have the yard tight up against the mast seems to be important so I tension it more with a line secured near the foot of the mast. In the afternoon I get the yard down and re-serve the halyard as a precautionary measure, and after rehoisting I play about with the tiller lashing to try to get her sailing straight downwind since the winds are now Northerley. I eventually decide that this is impossible. If I try to get her sailing any further from the wind's eye than say 140 degrees then the boat starts to gybe. So with a wind slightly East of North I can either steer WSW or SE. I choose the latter since I have some Easting to make even though I want to be very careful about approaching the coast.
My bilge pump has by now stopped working and I am having to bale the bilges with cup and bowl - a rather tiresome operation. Also my supply of ready-to-eat food is finished and going below to prepare food starts the approach of sea-sickness. I tried a noon sun sight in good time for local noon but I find the sun to be sinking already. Perhaps I have not anticipated how far East I have come!
Day 6 - I look at another watch and I decide that the first one had somehow lost more than an hour. This is in the early days of the cheap electronic wristwatch! I get the bilge pump working again with a piece of inner tube rubber and I get a mid-day latitude of at least 18 30N.
Day 7 - Perhaps a more accurate mid-day latitude is obtained of 16 53N. This shows me that I have made 230 miles of Southing and I am at about the latitude of Ratnagiri - I am approaching the point at which I shall turn East for my approach to the coast. That night the halyard parts again and the heavy lateen yard comes crashing down into the sea alongside. I secure it on board, I caste out my makeshift sea-anchor and wait until daylight to start the repairs.
Day 8 - (21st March 1980) In the early morning light I find a small flying fish on deck. I consider this to be suitable as bait and so I secure my largest hook with steel wire trace on to a lead weight and some stout synthetic string. I then bait the hook with half of my flying fish and drop it over the transom to accompany the sea-anchor. I then get to work at the rigging repairs and this time I find it much easier to climb the mast, having done it once before.
In a couple of hours I get the boat sailing again and when I look back to haul in the sea-anchor I'm rather surprised to see the fishing line at such a angle to my direction of motion. So I pull it in and am quite astonished to see a 5ft long dark grey shark swimming along with the hook in its mouth looking just as tame and obedient as a city-trained dog on a lead. However I am not taken in by this placid behaviour and the home-made landing net being insufficient in strength, I plan to lift it up by the line and dump it straight into the amidships space. This I accomplish and I stand well back while it wriggles and writhes, and I give it an extra five minutes after it stops before I go at it with the knife. I cut into its belly and caste the unwanted entrails over the side until I find the liver which I know to be a delicacy. I put that into my frying pan, I get the primus going and I fry it lightly on both sides before my appetite gets the better of me and it seems to dissolve in my mouth. This seems to give me immediate strength. The flesh of the fish I cut up and some I fry immediately to fill my belly with concentrated protein but the majority I fit into my large saucepan to await another day. The skin is very thick and tough, its head seems to have the purpose of only supporting its jaw which mounts an array of small and very sharp teeth. Its backbone is cartilaginous and supports no bony skeleton and the flesh is ready to break away from the backbone in large nourishing chunks. Not being a trophy collector I caste the useless parts over the side keeping only those parts from which I expect to gain nourishment.
Day 9 - (22nd March) A rather bumpy and windy evening - The halyard breaks again at about midnight - I stream the sea anchor and it remains very rough for the rest of the night. I see one ship rather close in the early hours. I repair the halyard at first light in rough and windy conditions. By evening the rest of the shark in the saucepan is smelling very strongly so I throw it over the side. It remains windy and bumpy.
Day 10 - (Sunday 23rd March) It's a lot calmer by morning - I'm hoping for a sight of land soon. My noon sight gives me a latitude of 16 23.7N which is approximately the latitude of Devegargh. So in 48 hours we have gained about 20 miles Southing and gone a long way East. ( I am using old-fashioned pre-chronometer style astro-navigation - the sort of navigation that led Sir Cloudsley Shovell to wreck a whole fleet of ships in the Scilly Islands in the early 1700's - a disaster which actually led to the development of the chronometer in order for navigators to determine their longitude). My proposed destination is Chapora at 15 36N 73 44E so I want to go 50 miles South and then go East.
Day 11 - (24th March) We went South sometimes very fast (at over 3 knots!) with a SW breeze until midnight and then turned East. In the morning calm there is still no sight of land. The halyard breaks again - so I repair it again - it's almost becoming routine! In the afternoon the SW breeze restarts and I steer East. My guess of yesterday's longitude must have been wrong - I must have sailed further West than I had supposed.
Day 12 - (25thMarch) In the night I approach the light which I identify as Vengurla Point. I go about to gain sea room and I take down the yard and stream the sea-anchor. It really is a hairy night from start to finish! By morning there is nothing to be seen, so I resolve to continue on my Easterly heading until land is seen. I should look out for Redi Rocks.
My noon sight gives me a latitude of 15 26.8N which is about 9 miles North of the latitude of Chapora. From a couple of minutes before local noon we have a Westerley breeze. Still no sight of land but plenty of ships. After lunch I catch sight of more ships but these are at anchor. Could they be anchored outside Marmagoa or Port Redi? Also I see sailing craft. The ships must be off Port Redi. I start the engine to speed my approach to land. I identify Tiracol (the old Portuguese fort at the Northern edge of Goa which I had visited some two years previously). Chapora seems to be further South along the coast from Tiracol than I remember as I motorsail South-Eastwards. It's approaching dusk as I lower the yard, furl the sail and motor into Chapora. I drop anchor among the fishing boats and then I can at last sleep ... and I do sleep soundly!
I subsequently work out that based on the positions of Diu and Chapora that the straight line distance between the two is 344 nautical miles which I completed in 10.75 days. And so I averaged 32 miles progress per day. However I did not sail in a straight line and probably sailed more than 600 miles through the water considering that I reached almost the right latitude on 21st March.
I end up getting the boat hauled out on to the beach and staying in Chapora for almost a year (excluding a few land trips). By making this trip without customs clearance from Diu (the requirement for which I was not aware) I have by now got on the wrong side of the authorities - so I have to go to considerable effort to make amends - for as many of you may be aware dealing with bureaucracy in almost any country can be a very time consuming process!
December 1980 - the refit is progressing well - in the right of the picture is one of the wooden trawlers built there and covered with coconut thatch - skilled shipwrights were easy to find there
"Ramprasad" - Betim to Munambam
A second long voyage for a novice single-hander further down the West coast of India
Sunday 29th March 1981 - Early this morning I tried several times and failed to start the engine for a departure from Panaji. For many of the early attempts just a little more speed and persistence would have started her/it (the machine). Then she seemed to stiffen up as if she'd been put in gear when it is really not possible to get up sufficient speed for a one-man start. (Those of you who have struggled with handle-start diesels in the past will have some idea of the difficult relationship which developed between me and this engine so many years ago). So when it got light I put off my attempt at departure for a day, packed everything down and went to sleep. It's a breezy day so it has perhaps not been for the worse My anxiety remains as to getting away tomorrow morning. After several further attempts the machine is still stiff and at the moment I can only envisage sailing with the favourable morning tide to the marine workshop on the other side of the river to seek help in starting the machine. The delay in my departure could have serious consequences but I must keep in mind the total uncertainty regarding all of my plans, hopes and ambitions. For example if the breeze is absent (as it was this morning) or unfavourable, I can't see how I could reach the marine workshop. Further I cannot reasonably hope for useful help from the people that I see around here. Most of them will never have started a diesel engine by handle in their lives before. Even experienced engineers may not have much more of an idea.
Thursday 2nd April 1981 - Departure from Betim with the tide at about 10 or 11pm. Extrication made less problematic by the previous departure of the neighbouring fishing boat "St Francis Xavier". Unintended three-point turn is made but then a safe exit of the Mandovi river. The engine is working well to get through the anchored steel ships (off Marmagoa) and then I turn it off.
Friday 3rd April - 1st thing I overhaul the pump - there is some broken bamboo so I do some sawing - I feel seasick so I sleep - I have 2 meals but I sick them both up.
Saturday 4th April - I don't have the appetite for breakfast but I am not physically sick - I take a seasickness pill which seems to work well. I enjoy my evening meal with no hint of seasickness. The bread is finished.
Sunday 5th April - The longitude of Chapora is 73 14E. Say we are at about 75 00E - this means that local noon will be 5 hours before Greenwich noon. Therefore noon should be around 0700 GMT = 1230 AIT (All India Time) - I have the Nautical Almanac for 1980 and that being a leap year I have to make some adjustment for the sun's declination in 1981 at this time. I work it out to be 6 04.1N. I observe the sun's maximum altitude at 0705 GMT and work out my latitude to be 13 37.8N and consider this to be my Southernmost possible latitude considering the uncertainty of the sight. So in 3 days we have made about 120 miles - I see that I have gone well South of a big rock island - I look at the chart and realise that this could be Netrani or Pidgeon Island which is almost 10 miles off Bhatkal - so I should look out for the many rocks which are within 3-4 miles offshore. In fact there are many rocks all the way to Mangalore so I should avoid closing the coast any closer than 5 miles until then. After Mangalore there seems to be little obstruction apparent from my chart with two minor exceptions. After 12 N a cautious approach to the coast may be permissible. But from Beypore to Cochin there will be little to be seen and so the final approach may only be advisable when I am near 10 N. After Cochin getting out far enough to get to sail to Quilon and Trivandrum will be critical if the South-Westerleys have started. The pilot book suggests that for April South-Westerley's are only predominant nearer to Colombo. There does not seem to be full agreement between the Admiralty pilot and Stanfords charts. But in any case an early departure from Cochin will be advisable with a view to getting as far SW of Ceylon as reasonably possible - thus avoiding an approach to Galle.
Monday 6th April - Yesterday afternoon, evening and night we had light and very light airs - a pleasant contrast to the preceeding two nights so I had a good meal in the afternoon and a good breakfast this morning. However I have somehow picked up a cold with symptoms mainly in my nose - so I speculate as to whether this could be a side effect of the Stugeron anti-seasickness pills. Compared to my trip from Diu the previous year I have less work to be done in the rigging and to the boat and so more time is available for navigation and general maintenance. I do a noon sun-sight and get a latitude of 13 degrees North. I am somewhat concerned about the errors in my Ebco plastic sextant. My index error changes a lot when I use 2 dark shades compared to using no shades. However when taking the sight I am using just one shade to dim the sun's rays and I wonder if there is any way I can check for shade error for one shade only. Anyway in one day I have progressed about 40 miles South and perhaps some miles East or West and we are probably in the latitude of Mulki or Mangalore. If this was a bad day as far as speed is concerned, it has been a good day with regard to comfort. It certainly beats cycling 40 miles a day as I had been along this coast of India some 2 years previously. In an average day we might hope to approach 60 miles of progress which would put us within 3 or 4 days sailing of the latitude of Cochin. I continue to be concerned with how the sextant index error varies with the shades used but conclude that I should continue to check the error before and after each sight.
Tuesday 7th April - (My sister Dixie's birthday!) I should like to do a sun forenoon sight to get some indication of my longitude but fail - perhaps an afternoon sight instead. The index error seems to change with the slightest bump or jolt and so the greatest of care must be taken in ascertaining this error as soon after the sight as possible. My latitude I measure to be 12 23N and it appears that we are going much slower than hoped. The last 24 hours has been as slow as the previous since it appears that we have made only about 40 miles Southing some of which can be attributed to the Southerley set. Perhaps there's not enough Westerley breeze or I've spent too long going off in the wrong direction. If the breeze were much stronger it probably wouldn't help all that much - it's the consistency that really matters. However we are now South of Mangalore and approaching the latitude of Mount Dilly and so at this time tomorrow we can hope to be South of the lat of Telicherry and approaching that of Kadalur. This also means that we do need to have a better idea of our longitude since it is around the lat of Cannanore that the Lakshadeep archipelago starts. I shall assume my longitude this afternoon to be 74 deg E. The coast at this point (Kasaragod) is at about 75 deg E. Kottu Kunnar is at about 75deg20mE and Cochin is about 76deg15mE. There are no islands E of 74degE but there are 2 shallow banks off Calicut at 11deg20mN 74degE and 11deg20mN 74deg20mE. The 2 islands furthest East are Androth at 11deg20mN 73deg40mE and Kalpeni/Cheriyam at 10deg04mN 73deg45mE. Since we do not expect to have got as far West as 73degE we should not have to worry about Chetlat, Killam, Kadmat, Amini, Kovaratti or Suhili Par. My afternoon sunsight gives me an intercept of 4.4 miles towards based on an assumed position of 12deg20mN 74degE giving a revised longitude of 73deg55mE if the latitude is right. In this area of longitude we might expect discomfort from the reported bank (35m) at approx 12deg0mN 74deg12mE. However tomorrow afternoon we should ascertain our position with respect to the two shallower banks at 11deg20m 74deg & 74deg20mE) and the island of Androth (11deg20mN 73deg40mE)
Wednesday 8th April - Sun's maximum altitude at mid-day is 85deg20m at 0703GMT. The sight was not particularily good on account of the waves but this gives a latitude of 11deg 31.6mN. So we might be around the latitude of Kadalur and so we may have covered 50min of latitude rather than 40min. So at this rate we might be at the latitude of Cochin the day after tomorrow. So we should do an afternoon sight for longitude and it'll make sense to go East a fair now to get nearer the coast. My afternoon sun sight gives me a longitude of 74deg24minE depending on the accuracy of the sight and my chronometer, so I should be close to the deeper of the two banks off Calicut with a depth of 18m. However my calculations may be wrong or my observation inaccurate in which case we may pass nowhere near this bank! The island of Androth should be about 40min to the West. Tomorrow afternoon or evening we should get the engine going to increase our rate of Easting since Cochin is now almost 2deg East of us and it seems not easy to sail downwind but it may be easier with the engine ticking over. In any case it seems silly to be a much longer way West of our destination than we are North of it.
Thursday 9th April - Last evening a ship approached to within a quarter mile just before moonset - I shine a light and send morse. Some response since it seems to have stopped and then restarted - could it have picked up a radar echo from my aluminium-framed canoe on deck and thought to investigate? How about using the canoe as a radio aeriel? All this morning and half of the afternoon has been very calm - I have dried the big sail and rigged the jib to the yard in addition to Mohan Bhai's sail so that with a decent breeze I shall hope to be able to sail downwind. Also I have fitted a couple of bilge-water sloshing stops under the floor of the main cabin and done a re-stow there. In the evening I get a BBC radio time signal and see that the error on my principal electronic chronometer is only 8 seconds fast.
Friday 10th April - In the morning I try 2 sails going downwind - the balance is not perfect. I have breakfast with mango pickle and Amul cheese. After several attempts I start the engine - it runs unevenly for at least a minute before smoothing out. The water pump belt breaks immediately - I repair it and try to fit it with the engine still running - no good. I stop the engine to fit the belt but it breaks as I am levering it on - I make a new belt with 3 pieces - I hammer my thumb when doing the first link! A line of ships pass, I have lunch and then with a little breeze I try rigging a couple of blocks for downwind self-steering but it doesn't really work. The wind backs to SW'ley and so I can do a beam reach on starboard tack with 2 sails up. I get no noon sight since I'm too busy but I must find my position tomorrow.
Saturday 11th April - In the morning I see fishing boats - I have a coconut breakfast - I start the engine - the belt breaks again - I speak to a fishing boat - they say that Cochin is South - I wait to do the noon sight which gives me 10deg 39minN a latitude about 40 miles North of Cochin so that at least confirms the fisherman's information. Now I can just see the coast so I don't need to do an afternoon sight and I should close the coast and hope to make an entry tomorrow morning. This is indeed a happy landfall! I try to learn a little Malayalam (the language of the state of Kerala). I steer in the afternoon and then lash the tiller for my afternoon meal. One lateen sailing coaster sails past sporting 7 sails all full and drawing nicely - it has 3 masts with the third being gaff-rigged. I keep my course along the coast until after moonset (at around midnight) when no more coastal lights could be seen. I lash the tiller for a safe course and sleep until well after dawn.
Sunday 12th April - The breeze has changed to Northerley. I change tack, have breakfast and then am becalmed with no sight of land. The most sensible thing to do would be to sort out the water pump belt problem, start the engine and make progress towards land but in fact I have a faily lazy Sunday morning. I do a noon sight and get a latitude of 9deg 58.1minN about that of Cochin. Now the coast is just in sight so it's away with the sextant and out with the binoculars to see if in the next hour or so we can pick out the entrance. No sign of a port without binocs - no sign of shipping, only some fishing boats to the North. Should I ask them or perhaps follow them into their harbour? There is a NW'ley breeze so I start the engine. I seem to make rather slow progress and don't seem to go past 2 houses on the beach or be getting much nearer the fishing boats. Then the engine cuts out - the fuel tank tap is blocked. The wind is still NW'ley - I eventually have to tack and sail back. I signal one fishing boat and speak to him. He says Cochin is still South. What is wrong with my sight and calculation? The engine seems to know what to do anyway! The fisherman said Cochin is 10 o'Clock - maybe this means 10 hours for him, so maybe 24 hours for me. Did I read the position of Cochin wrongly off the chart? Have I been using the wrong date for declination? Having run out of onions I have a fairly simple afternoon meal and continue South. I have a good sleep but am then woken by thunder and a violent rain squall. I get soaked but start to sort things out. I see 2 shore lights which are a bit close. There's no wind - I can't see to start the engine - I take a sounding - 18 metres ( = 10 fathoms) - I drop anchor and get the yard down. It's a rolly night but no more rain.
Monday 13th April - At dawn the wind is in the South - I hoist the yard - a few minutes later the wind's shifted to the East - I pull up the anchor and go off through fleets of small trawlers. Before dawn I had seen the loom of a lighthouse to the Southward. It looked as if it was Fl(4) 20s and so is probably Cochin. After breakfast I clean the fuel tank blockage and bleed the engine. From before noon there's an onshore breeze which is a little South of West. Sailing slowly with the tiller lashed is OK. I approach a black and white tower around which there are many fishing boats and I see that there is an entrance to the South. I get a signal to follow one of the boats. I get the engine started (a blessing that it did start) and make my approach watching very carefully what the others are doing. I go between the buoys even though I can see that waves are breaking there too. As I enter one biggish wave breaks underneath me, carries me forward on its surf very fast - (an incredible sensation after the sedate progress of previous days) before nearly pooping me and then passing on. It was quite a job trying to keep her straight. After that one it's a bit smoother and I carry on helped by the incoming tide and eventually drop anchor opposite the ferry jetty of Munambam. Within minutes I am surrounded by almost dozens of dug-out canoes filled with interested men and boys. I try out some of the Malayalam I have learned and this causes guffaws of laughter! At least my attempts are recognisable! Some of my visitors help me get the yard down and sail furled - I understand that this village is 25 km North of Cochin which is easily reached through the inland waterway with only one high bridge to go under. I eventually encourage my visitors to leave me in peace but of course there are many more potential visitors. Kerala is one of the most densely populated states in India and there are an awful lot of inquisitive people. I manage to discourage some of these further potential visitors and get ashore to stretch my legs, have a meal and search for the hardware necessary for my water-pump belt. I find that eating out here is excellent value ( - rather better than Goa) but that the inquisitiveness of the population is rather tiring. The odd words of Malayalam that I have learnt are immensely useful but being so limited only can have so much effect. I look up expressions like "Go away!" and "I am alone".
Hunk in Puerto Ayora Galapagos
We first met Hunk and its crew of two Swedish lads (yes, quite hunky Lu says) in Colon. They are on a 27ft Albin Vega with an outboard for an auxillary. We met them again in Puerto Ayora in the Galapagos where they left a couple of days after us as the Swedes were playing in the European Cup the next day and the boys sisn’t want to miss it. We didn’t hear from them for a while although I checked up around the radio net and found they had arrived in the Marquesas.
Now we have just met up again and the little Hunk did the Galapagos to Marquesas in a startling 22 days. The guys are a good example of how you can take a tried and proven old boat like the Albin Vega and have an immense amount of fun getting around the world … and not so slowly. Why Hunk? When I asked them they said ‘you know, like those thick body builders or male models, all aspiration but small in the head at the same time’. And a little ironic humour as well as fast passages....