Our adventure Andaman Islands starts in Krabi, Thailand, where we ferry our crew through a swarm of
angry buzzing hornets (deafening longtail-excursion boats) towards our boat. Two of our crew during the voyage 2012 - Elke and Martin - are again joining us on board. Since we can not leave before Monday, due to immigration working hours, we are watching the flying foxes (Pteropus vampyrus - see movie) on Chicken Island. Thousands of those big bats vacate the island at sunset to go find fruits, there favourite food, on the mainland.
Finally our big trip starts. First towards the Similan Islands, with a quick dive and short meeting with Catamaran Felix, and then two days on the Invisible Bank, a rocky shelf off the coast of the Andaman Islands. There we did some dives full of action during a strong current and high waves. We saw lots of big fish like tuna, Napoleon wrasse (Cheilinus undulatus) and even a sleeping shark in his cave.
During our voyage we saw a big manta ray who, as a farewell, jumped out of the water behind our boat, as well as lots of big Venus girdles (Cestum veneris, Ctenophora - comb jellyfish) floating by in the water. Also really big groups of long-snouted spinner dolphins (Stenella longirostris - see movie) crossed our way once in a while and usually played for a time in front of our boat.
Our six accompanying sailors took 2-hour-turns to keep watch during our trip - so everybody had at least 4 hours of sleep in a row. Tom was always on duty and Keanu and I looked after ourselves and that there was enough food for everybody ;-)
In the early hours of the morning on the way to Port Blair the gaff vang of the main sail wrapped around our short-wave radio antenna and snapped it. Also our washing machine and a water pump didn't make it. But thanks to our two MacGyver's on board - Gunther and Tom - they could repair everything except the washing machine. Without our short-wave antenna it would have been impossible to make our round-trip because you have to report twice daily and submit your coordinates. Before we started our trip we made contact to an “agent” on the Andaman Islands, who mailed us everything we need to bring and fill out before check in. Aside from five copies of each passport and visa for India we needed to fill out and prepare approximately 150 pages. With information about our personal belongings, the inventory, the provisions, the equipment, the water supply and also the safety measures on board. Finally we had four piles, one for each - immigration, port health, harbor master and coast guard. Luckily we prepared everything in advance because all of them came on board quickly and looked at our paperwork and the boat. The coast guard even took a picture of us - whatever for - and thanks to our agent (Rathnam - www.andamanholidays.com) all was finished within two hours. Thanks to all the paperwork not a lot of yachts visit the Andaman Islands. During our stay only app. 20 more sailing yachts were visiting in an area as big as Croatia. Therefor we only saw no other boats after the first few days.
Finally we were allowed to go on land and step on Indian territory where we at once set out to buy fresh vegetables and fruits at the local market. Port Blair is a typical small Indian town. All women wear saris and it is wonderfully crazy on the streets. We took a tuk tuk around town which rushed like a madman through the traffic at high speed. In the evening we enjoyed good authentic vegetarian Indian cuisine in a restaurant recommended by our agent.