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November 2017: Shamal is on the hard in Guatemala.Mum and Dad are home in New Zealand till Jan. 2018. *ATTENTION PLEASE* if you are still interested in receiving the posts, could you please subscribe to the Blog following the two step process in the right hand column, so that new posts are emailed to your inbox. As of next year the reminder emails that are being sent out will cease. Thanks to all of you for following our Adventures.

01 April 2010

Galle to Panaji - Goa - India

This is only the Commander
Hello again

Yes It's Team SHAMAL Here Again

As I start this note we are about 60nm south of the Indian Port at Goa – Panaji – where we hope to stop for a night or two before heading out across the Arabian Sea to Muscat – Oman. No we don’t have a visa but have found out through our son ‘The Shore Manager’ that New Zealand is one of only five countries which can gain a visa on arrival. The other four are Finland, Luxembourg, Japan and Singapore. Time will tell. We have used a bit of diesel on the run up the Indian coastline and it would be nice to be able to fill the tanks and jerry cans before we make the crossing of about 975nm. Winds are a little light and variable, but in saying that we have had lovely runs every afternoon when the sea breeze kicks in sometimes well into the night.
 We left Galle with winds up to 20kts and were cruising along at 9kts for a few hours which was a nice push out across the Gulf of Mannar towards the south western tip of India. In Galle we met one of sailings characters who had left Sri Lanka 28 days earlier to cross the Indian Ocean to Salalah in Oman, but had returned due to poor winds and strong currents taking him in the wrong direction. He says he did just over 2000nm and ended up where he started!! He had enough stories to tell which would be enough to keep anyone in port, but Alec could see he was feeling quite stressed from this unsuccessful trip. He told us he had been boarded by Indian fishermen at the bottom of India and had nearly all his diesel siphoned from his tanks. He had been rammed by the fishermen but there was no sign of damage to his boat. He had sailed northwest out towards the Nine Degree Channel which is above the Maldives and was hoping to head to Salalah but ran out of wind and drifted back to the Indian coast off Cochin. He called up the port in Cochin and asked if he could come in for fuel but they told him to go away and ask the fishermen for fuel as he did not have a visa. He is from Australia and they are not one of the five countries on ‘The List’. Poor guy if half of what he said was true it was not much of a trip as his average speed was only 1.4kts!!!

So with Robs stories and advice from him that we have left it too late in the season wind wise, off we set. To date we have had a good run if a little slow at times. We have done a lot of tacking when the breeze has been on our nose, but that’s all part of sailing. As for the fisherman we have had no problems. The Indian Cruising Guide stated there have been reports of fishing boats off southern India coming up to yachts and stealing items, in fact at one time the advice was to stay 80 miles off shore. This is the rumour-mill working at its worst. Only about four or five fishing boats have approached us for something. The first wanted diesel and held up a jerry can. Alec went out and gave them a friendly wave but with the flare gun pistol strapped around his waist, and they headed off in the opposite direction all smiles and waving. Anyway the sea was too rough for them to get too close. Two other lots we gave biscuits, coca cola and cigs to and they were quite happy. The one we found really rather funny was at dawn one morning and I was asleep and Alec had gone down to the loo. I was woken by this guy yelling out wanting me to make him and his four crew cardamom tea would you have. Again it was too rough so he moved on. Some come up very close to SHAMAL but so far have none have been hostile or threatening. There have been hundreds of fishing boats about, and night of course is the busy time, but with the radar on we have picked up most of them. One guy did cross over our bow last night with no lights on only a few meters in front of us. For the first three night we were also in the main shipping lanes but again they all have AIS which as I told you about in a past letter is wonderful as we know how close they will pass us etc. These ships have been great and if very close it is always them who have changed course a few degrees as we have been sailing. So ‘no problem’!! as the Indians say. It looks like the 800 or so nautical miles will take us just on 7 days. Yes a bit slow but it has been quite relaxing. We are cruising not racing.

We have been cruising anywhere between 5 -20nm off the coast but have seen hardly anything of the mainland due to the haze. You can smell India at times!! The only annoying thing is that we have been inundated with bugs. Flies, mosquitoes and other buglets.

Thursday 18th March.

Well we arrived in Goa yesterday morning at 1030 and have dropped anchor up the Mandovi River opposite the town of Panaji. All the way in we were calling up Port Control on the radio, but no one was talking to us. Also once we arrived we called and called but all ‘not knowing’. So we waited for the customs boat to come out, but again ‘not knowing’!! So we took the tender ashore and Alec set off to find the Harbour Master and Customs etc. He asked around everywhere but everyone was ‘not knowing’. So he headed off to the Police Station. He was directed to the Police Sub-Inspector who was not in the office but would be back in half an hour. One hour later Alec left the office having seen not seeing him, but saying he would be back in the morning. He had changed some money so we proceeded to fill up with diesel which was simple enough.

This morning we both ventured out again to see our Sub-Inspector. This time he arrived within 10 minutes of us being there. We have discovered this whole process may be much easier than we thought. Alec saw on his desk that visiting ships are issued crew shore passes and not visas. Later this afternoon he is coming out to the boat so we will see how things pan out.

Oh dear all a little too much for our Sub-Inspector to arrive today. He went home for his afternoon nap and must have fallen into a very deep sleep!! I phoned him and we are to call into his office first thing in the morning. Never mind we had a wander around the town for a bit of a look and had a meal.

Friday 19th March.

Another trip to see our friend the Sub-Inspector. Wonders never cease. All done in under half an hour. No stamps in passports, no money changed hands, no bribes paid, we got to keep our cigs and whisky, and no visit to see SHAMAL. We were cleared in and he asked Alec when do you want to leave so Alec said now, and we were cleared out – ‘No Problem’!! May have taken a day and a half but no hassles so we were very happy.

So today at 1400 after a quick tour round the town in a Tuk Tuk to see the sites, and a trip to the fruit and vege market we headed back to SHAMAL, raised the anchor and headed out into the Arabian Sea for our leg to Muscat.

Goa/Panaji – Impressions – This is a hard one to sum up. The water front of any busy waterway is never the best face of a town/city in this of part of the world, and each time we go ashore here we feel like a disinfectant shower when we return to SHAMAL. The waterways are used for everything! Oh I mean EVERYTHING. Even the poor fish have to jump up for fresh air. I am quite sure we could nearly walk over to town. Our fist trip out in the tender we had only gone fifty metres when clunk, the outboard stopped dead. Alec lifted the motor to find a plastic sack bag around the prop. You could not see it in the murky waters. Last night as I was standing in knee deep water as we were loading the diesel into the tender, things were floating by including flower wreath things. When we got back to SHAMAL the flowers were stuck along the side of her hull plus this brown scum!! Yes, well there just may have been a funeral or two up river!! We both had a scrub out on deck, then showers. Our Murray said he hoped we put Grandma back into the river and advised us not to suck her up in the water-maker intake. Thank you very much Murray, we will NOT be making water while in this Port!! At night on the river the place comes alive with three floating Casinos operating and then seven disco boats, all with flashing lights and the works, which cruise up and down till nearly midnight each with music at full volume and each with different songs and deejays calling out. Good thing we were so tired we just dropped off to sleep. Even though the main commercial port is in the next bay around there are a huge number of ships anchored just outside the bay as this is also India’s largest iron ore port. Barges go up and down the river all the time carrying the ore out to the waiting ships.

This area is known as the ‘Phuket’ of India – it’s jewel. Well it ain’t no diamond and that is for sure. The town does have a charm of its own as the Portuguese have been here which is evident everywhere with all the lovely old buildings. Again not quite like the Portuguese left them. There is a lovely park/gardens and the main road around the waterfront is lined with beautiful old trees which give fabulous shade during the hot afternoons. No doubt the beaches further out will have more to offer but we won’t get to see them. The fruit and vege market is wonderful with a great variety and good prices. We had lunch out at a vegetation restaurant which was also very cheap. Trouble is in this climate you are not hungry at lunchtime we just find we want drinks. We were unable to finish what was served up to us, and were sitting by the window. Next thing a wee child’s hand holding a small bowl comes through the bars on the window so we filled it up with our left-over’s.

So to all our boatie friends who were interested to see what we thought of coming this way. Yes we are glad we did. It may have been a little challenging, but again one of life’s experiences, and it is always good to see new places. Well isn’t this what this whole adventure is about. Also it has been nice to have a break before heading out across the Arabian Sea to Muscat a thousand miles away, and to pick up diesel and freshies. We met some crew and guests off a Super Sailing Yacht this morning who were also obtaining shore passes and they had come from the Maldives, saying they had had a good run wind wise from that direction. They were heading out for the Port of Salalah in the south of Oman again saying that Goa is also a good angle wind wise to leave from. Perhaps you could obtain your visa before coming especially if you want to head off Inland and do some sightseeing, and also for peace of mind, but with the different immigration departments being miles apart, and if you only want to restock and have a quick look like we have done, I think the shore pass idea would be a lot easier. There is also a TLP [Temporary Landing Permit] which can be obtained for a maximum of 72 hours and your passport is held for that period at a cost of US$40. Do check these things out on the internet before heading out as things are always changing. We are still meeting yachts that are heading for Salalah and then the Red Sea. The crew off the Super Yacht mentioned they had to make Salalah by the 24th to join a convoy to the Red Sea which is the way yacht’s do that leg these days.

OK will sign out for this letter.

Hope all is well with you all

Lots of love from

The Admiral and The Commander


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