01/06/10 Thought I would insert this
YouTube video of the Vasco da Gama Rally........just to remind
everybody of what it was like when trying to maintain 5 knots over
Now wasn't that good? Who wants to go
sailing again now?
I finally capitulated and followed everyone else's
lead, and bought a small (big for my boat) air-conditioning unit.
Not because of the stifling heat although a cool interior will be great,
but because we've seen several Roland Rats about on the pontoon - and
last night I chased one off my boat on three separate occasions.
With air-con I will be able to keep all the hatches and doors shut,
thereby preventing the 'orrible creatures from gaining access to the
interior of the boat. We are also having to contend with
cockroaches too.........welcome to India!!
02/06/10 The fitters eventually turned
up after 5pm to fit the air-con unit, so it was dark by the time they
finished and the boat started to cool down. Then what happens?
The monsoon bursts and the temperature plummets!! The night sky
turned to day with almost constant lightning flashes (more light than
dark), the winds strengthened with an accompanying sea swell from astern
and I got soaked while running additional lines to the bow.
03/06/10 By 2am the wind had dropped but
the rain continued well into the night. However, I slept much
better with the boat interior nicely cooled to 25oC. My
American neighbours, Dan and Mary of Still Dreaming, left in the
early hours to return home for a few months and unfortunately I didn't
get to say goodbye to them. They will be missed from our little
08/06/10 Very little happening at the
moment......except rain most days! We've been to Nazar's house for
lunch of chicken biryani (a whole group of us), visited St. Francis
church in Cochin - where Vasco da Gama was originally buried before his
remains were removed and taken back to Portugal in 1539. Why
was/is Vasco da Gama so well remembered? From all accounts he was
a nasty piece of
09/06/10 We've continued to search for a
reasonable source of food supplies. There isn't much to be had!
Supermarkets are small and in the main only sell Indian types of food.
There is a better, larger supermarket in Oberon Mall (a more western
type of shopping) which is some distance from our area of Ernakulam, but
even they have very little stock of anything. Today, for instance,
they had only ONE box of tissues and when asked if they had any eggs,
they replied they had sold out for the day (that means the whole dozen
had gone!) Toilet rolls are only sold as a single roll unless you
are very fortunate and kitchen rolls are scarce. There is no
ordinary Nescafe coffee - and meat, when available, is very dubious.
Other non-food shopping follows a similar pattern......only stock the
minimum amounts of anything. Today, my sandal sole came off again
(I've glued it back many times), so I had it stitched on by one of the
street tradesmen for pennies, then found a shoe shop which was modern
and well staffed, chose a new pair of sandals and asked for my size.
When I tried them on, they felt as if they would start to hurt very soon
and when I looked at the size, they were two sizes too small, a fact
which I pointed out to the salesman. His reply was, "well we don't
have any in your size." It really is an unbelievable system here
Unbelievable in the UK is the story that Labour MP's
who lost their seats in the election are to get £65,000 each to help
them 'adjust to life outside.' I'm speechless!
10/06/10 Yesterday, Astrid and I booked a
trip (for today) into the backwaters of
mainly to suss out whether a longer trip there would be worthwhile.
This is an area of inland waterways connecting local settlements, a sort
of mini Venice which was the only means of transport in days of
yesteryear. We caught the 8am ferry to the High Court Jetty in
Ernakulam, were collected by mini-bus and driven some 40 kilometres
south to Poothotta village. Here we boarded a small houseboat - a
converted rice boat - for a four hour cruise through the wider canals,
lakes and waterways busy with mussel fishermen in their small canoes and
others precariously loaded with sand for the building industries.
The banks were lush and green, and water buffalo grazed happily amongst
the coconut and banana plantations. We made a couple of stops and
tried out the mussels (fresh water variety) and also tried 'toddy', a
drink made from the flower of the coconut, which is first a fruit juice,
six hours later turns to alcohol of around 3%, six weeks later becomes
42% and after 3 months is vinegar - it was OK but I wouldn't want to
drink a lot of it! The mussels are cooked with various herbs and
spices and presented to you in a wrapped banana leaf. They tasted
OK although I'm not a shell fish aficionado. The shells are saved
until they have 12,000kgs of them and then they are fired in what I
initially thought was a disused factory, and three grades of calcium are
extracted for toothpaste, whitewash and fertilizer. After
lunch, which was a typical Kerala type of dish, we transferred to a
small canoe (seven of us, plus guide and the 'punter') and ventured into
the narrow canals amongst bananas, pineapples, jackfruit and spices such
as nutmeg, tamarind, curry, peppers, vanilla and cinnamon. We saw
water-snakes, kingfishers, birds of prey, egrets, heron, water buffalo
and any number of goats and cattle. Women washed clothes or dishes
by the banks, or worked making string from coconut coir - and everywhere
was so quiet and peaceful - a very welcome change from the cacophony of
car, bus and lorry horns of the cities - to which we sadly returned
around 5.30pm. It was a good day out (and we missed the rain of
Cochin!), but I think maybe a day was enough and I don't think I will be
booking any overnight houseboat trips. The day trip was excellent
value for money, around $10 US per person, including all transport,
guides and lunch.
12/06/10 The view from the cockpit this
morning! Practically nil visibility beyond eeyore's bows -
and it's been like this all night......with no sign of it changing
It's a shame about this weather because Roger, Astrid
and the children have caught the morning train down to Alleppey (aka
Alapuzzha) for a couple of days sight-seeing. I am Mutley
minding whilst they are away!
13/06/10 No let up of the rain
yesterday, except a brief, twenty minute interlude at 6.30pm.
Mutley and I got soaked on a couple of occasions walking across the golf
course. The weather matches the England squad performance
against the USA in the World Cup - wet and miserable!
14/06/10 Sad news from Paul and Gaby in
Marmaris Yacht Marina this morning, who have e-mailed me with the news
that Demokan, Mr Bilgin's son and Manager/Owner of Yacht Marin, was shot
and killed in Fethiye last night. My condolences to Mr Bilgin and
20/06/10 Father's Day. And
as it happens.......my birthday! Thank you to all who remembered
(I didn't) and for the birthday wishes sent via e-mail, guestbook, text
and YBW Forums.
I forgot because each day tends to roll into the next and I often know
neither date nor day - everyday is Sunday. How did I ever find
time to go to work in my previous life? I celebrated today by
raiding some of my 'precious' food stocks and had English smoked back
bacon, Indian eggs and Spanish plum tomatoes for my breakfast, with
plenty of bread and butter, washed down with coffee - lovely!
Apart from being a year older, everything else is much the same, the
weather continues wet and hot, and I wake each morning to the sounds of
tropical wildlife, the sort you've all heard in 'jungle' films,
bullfrogs and crickets, birds and cicada's, although I haven't yet seen
any tigers in the marina! Birdlife is abundant, various types of
kingfisher, crows, birds of prey (Brahminy Kite, also known as
Red-backed Sea-eagle, pictured right), stork, heron, cormorant - and
others of which I have no idea unless I ask Tony of Full Flight,
who is our resident expert 'twitcher.' During the early
evenings, we see flying foxes heading from the buildings of Ernakulam to
the fruit trees of Bolgatty Island.
Roger and crew are back from their travels and
seemingly had a good time despite the leeches and spiders encountered
along the way. While Roger was away, I repaired his
shore power cable which was shorting out the electrics to his boat and
blowing the trip switch on the pontoon, maybe as a result of the recent
heavy rains combined with the age of the cable.
Although there is always a considerable amount of weed floating
around the marina, the rains seem to have brought more downstream with
each tide, the water around the pontoons and boats often a green carpet
of lily type plants - solid enough to fool Mutley into thinking he could
walk on it - a mistake he soon regretted! Strange tide here
too.......3 hours of flood, then 9 hours of ebb and currents run at 2
knots or more. Onboard I'm having problems with the rear cabin
bilge pump, which has ceased to work - there is power at the switch and
fuse but not at the pump, which suggests a break in the wiring somewhere
behind the pilot berth panelling........it's all going to have to come
down yet again! England continue their abysmal performance in the
World Cup series in South Africa and couldn't even beat Algeria the
other night. The matches are screened here in the Bolgatty Palace
Hotel, mostly at midnight local time (time difference) but as yet I
haven't bothered to go and watch any of them. Maybe the next
England game.......as it will probably be their last?
21/06/10 I'm extremely sorry to hear
today that my ex Mum-in-law passed away last weekend. Contrary to
the popular misconception of mothers-in-law, dragons breathing fire
etc., my Mum-in-law was a lovely woman who would see no harm to anyone.
I'm upset that my closest 'relatives' didn't see fit to tell me of her
demise and my thoughts go out to my ex-wife Chris, her brother Sid and
stepdaughters Kathryn and Julia at this saddest of times.
22/06/10 We may have a problem with our
visa's! We all have 'tourist' visa's which last for 180 days - the
maximum allowed (unless you are a US Citizen, then you can have a twelve
month visa). These tourist visa's are not, under any circumstance,
extendable and currently expire on 30th September - which is only two
weeks after the official end of the SW monsoon, and could present us
with problems of residual bad weather at sea. The only way you are
allowed to stay longer is to leave India and get a new visa dated one
month from the expiry of the old, i.e. the 30th October, when you
could then return to India. That is not an ideal solution!
Had one or two beers last night, then a couple or
three rums before having an experimental Indian dinner aboard eeyore,
followed by a roast pork dinner onboard Storm Dodger. I
think we were all quite 'full' by the end of the evening!
23/06/10 Anniversary of moving onboard!
It's now four years since I became a full time live-aboard during which
time 9,543 nautical miles have been covered and some 112 ports and
Budget news of a 2.5% hike in VAT for the UK (what a
surprise), and a freeze on public sector workers salaries for the next
two years - that really annoys! Joe Public assumes that all public
sector employees are vastly overpaid and underworked which is not the
case. What of the public call centre operatives who daily endure
verbal abuse, the job centre clerks abused by yobs who have no
inclination to obtain gainful employment, the driving examiners (my old
job) who daily risk their lives being driven around by numpties who
think they have a God-given right to a licence - then attack, either
verbally or physically when told they can't have one - all these workers
are underpaid when equated to comparable jobs in the private sector.
I don't suppose the MP's will slash their grossly inflated salaries or
their expense fiddles, address the immigration costs or curtail foreign
aid? After all, who ever heard of an MP interested in the
well-being of the nation rather than lining their own greedy pockets?
Bunch of hypocritical parasites the lot of 'em! Rant over!
At least England beat Slovenia in the World Cup!
Good to see Cillian (ex Cobble), who
has been visiting us all for a few days before continuing his travels to
the north of India, having left Maurice in Sri Lanka. Good luck on
your travels Cillian.
25/06/10 Spent the day doubled up in the
engine compartment! Rhumb Do is fitted with an Eberspächer
heater unit (I think it's a D5W model) which is used for central heating
(certainly not required here!) and hot water heating. In Hurghada,
it started to belch clouds of white smoke from the exhaust before giving
up entirely and refusing to ignite the fuel.......so today I tackled the
almost impossible job of removing it and stripping it down on a fault
finding mission. Whoever installed the unit in the boat had
overlooked the need for maintenance, and had fitted it with the notion
of "it's never coming out again." Anyone who knows the Warrior
boats will appreciate the difficulty of accessing anything in the engine
bay - and the unit is fitted there, under the non-removable decking
where the helmsman stands! It was an all day job to get the unit
out and into the cockpit. Pulling it apart revealed serious
deposits of carbon and soot in the combustion chamber and a totally
annihilated air filter. I got as far as cleaning the carbon out
before calling it a day, the rest will have to wait until later.
I bet the Aussies are all reaching for their XXXX
today......."Strewth cobber, we've got a Sheila as Prime Minister - and
she's a whinging Pom too!"
30/06/10 The end of a shitty month
- the Eberspächer is still not working, the wind instrument is still not
working, the depth sounder is still not working, and England couldn't
beat a team of four year girls - though it has to be said that the
referee in their last game against Germany was a blind moron who
should be, and is, totally ashamed of himself. At least he
admitted his mistake and the German goalkeeper admitted that he
'cheated.' Claims of revenge for 1966 cut no ice......the ball was
over the line on that occasion too.