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  june 2010


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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 ground!!  



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 group.

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 work.

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 in India!

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 Kerala, 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 today.

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 his family.

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 anchorages visited. 

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.


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