Day 7 Sailing to Sri Lanka – a perfect day and an encounter with Sri Lankan fishermen


Monday 29 February 2016

Passage to Sri Lanka Feb 2016 069 (Medium)

Day 7 dawned with sunny skies, a steady sea state of 1-2m waves and light winds. The parasailor had flown all night keeping us on course. The boat felt steady, we were no longer continually holding on and we could walk around comfortably. We were doing 5-6 knots, it was near perfect as we walked around on the deck admiring the deep blue sea as we crested through it. We even managed to get some fishing lures in the water that had been carefully prepared for us by Nigel Kittow when he and wife Dee visited us in Thailand. Alas, nothing was biting. It did save us from wondering how we would squeeze a fish into our full-to-the-brim freezer.

Mike Kefford had given us a recipe for cinnamon buns and Susie decided it was the perfect day to give it a go. They were very good, in fact they were exceptional. We enjoyed playing backgammon, we finalised our plans for Sri Lanka and we read comments posted on the blog that Susie’s brother had mailed to us. When we’re out sailing we never know if anybody besides Susie’s mum reads the blog and we always enjoying reading something from afar so thank you.

As the sun started to go down in the distance we saw a fishing boat. We had been expecting them, people tell you they like to trade, but as with the one we had met a few days ago this one was far from land. It took them a good thirty minutes to haul us in and already from a way back they were waving. We learnt a long time ago it pays to be friendly and we waved back. They pulled alongside keeping a safe distance. There must have been about ten men on board this big old wooden boat, brightly painted, all of them shouting hello and smiling. They waved empty water bottles asking if we had water. How can you say no when they are so far out? They asked if we wanted fish and held up a big tuna. At first we declined. They came around our starboard side a safe distance off and we threw some bottles to them. Fortunately they were good throws (not easy in the open sea) and they caught them cheering each one as it landed. Then they wanted us to take the fish with shouts of “Throw rope, throw rope”. So we did, they tied the tuna on, we pulled it back in and lifted it up high and cheered. The usual chat commenced and they wanted to know where we were from so we replied “England” to more cheers (not often you get that these days!). So it continued. Could they have photographs taken, phone numbers? They tossed a little bag saying it was a gift and inside were a bunch of neatly hand-made little Sri Lankan cigarettes. Of course they wanted some western cigarettes. We have them on board in case of ever needing to deal with officials and we have actually never given them out for that purpose. Being such a fun bunch of men out in the middle of nowhere we prepared two packets in a bag to throw back. It was all good fun.

Until then the helmsman had done a great job of keeping his boat at a safe distance. In a split second he got too close, we think a wave got him, he reversed quickly, it was too late and we were hit on our starboard stern. Our stainless steel metal work on the back corner was bent, our outboard which we store on that corner took quite a knock and is damaged. Fortunately they had a protruding bow so there is no damage to our hull. They came back and we told them the damage we could see and to their credit they were hugely apologetic. We knew then and there they could never pay up but we took their boat number for what it was worth. We were gutted. We had worked harder than ever before preparing Adina for the Indian Ocean both in Malaysia and Thailand. We had serviced her back to front, we had sweated for weeks to be ready. Now this. It was hard to take it in.

Should we have allowed them to approach? Maybe it was stupid, it’s known they like to trade, the helmsman until that point had done a good job leaving a good distance between us. We on our part have always tried to engage people, it has been one of the real highlights of our journey. We do not blame them, they had meant well, it was an accident.

We’ve already emailed ahead to the person in Mirissa who will look after Adina while we are sightseeing to enquire about stainless steel work and outboard repairs. It’s a very hard and bitter pill for us to swallow – Adina is damaged. But we have learnt many a time on this adventure that we have to stand together and fight, we have to come out fighting hard, there will be setbacks. We can only hope we can find the skills required in Sri Lanka. We suspect, indeed hope, it is similar to Thailand and Malaysia where people have a ‘can do’ attitude, they don’t discard things, they repair them. Fingers crossed the damage is not too bad. Once we are tied up in flat water we will do a full assessment.

During the night the winds moved north so we dropped the parasailor around 1.30am. It was poor Susie who had to wake from a slumber but it all went smoothly and right now the North Sails are enjoying a romp. This morning the skies are ironically grey. We should arrive in Galle tonight and we need to focus on that. Tonight we will anchor outside the harbour then tomorrow morning, Tuesday, at 8am we will call up the navy who will come to the boat, do a quick check and escort us into Galle port to complete all formalities. We had planned to then spend the day seeing the old town of Galle which is meant to be wonderful and we will still do that. Wednesday we will head the fifteen nautical miles (17.26 miles / 27.78 kilometres for Malcolm Keenor!) to Mirissa and get to work.

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7 responses to “Day 7 Sailing to Sri Lanka – a perfect day and an encounter with Sri Lankan fishermen

  1. Pam Cumming says:

    Hi Tom and Susie,

    Sorry to hear about the ding that Adina sustained, most importantly nobody was hurt but that’s not much comfort to you just now.

    It’s not just Susie’s Mum who reads your blog! I have been following your superb blog since your Mum told me about your adventure Tom. I cannot thank you enough because you have lifted my spirits through the 3 cycles of chemo I’ve had since you set off.

    I’m hoping to get fit in time to join Speedbird for 3 days in June. SOYC do a summer cruise each year and we are back in my favourite place, the West country, we will be based at QAB Marina in Plymouth. I’ve put in my bid to sail to Dartmouth, Salcombe and Fowey.

    You are both amazing (Adina too)and I’m so glad you’re taking the long way home, more blogs for me to devour!

    Big love from Pam .

  2. Kristie Gulbransen says:

    Love reading your blog. Nigel Kittow got me onto it. I was a vet nurse who worked with him in New Zealand.
    Thanks so much, its great reading g all your afventures .

  3. Roger Harris says:

    What very bad luck. I shall keep my fingers crossed for a quick and sound repair job. Meantime enjoy Sri Lanka.

  4. Sue from Haku II says:

    So sorry about your damage. Hope the trauma is balanced by meeting fabulous, friendly and brilliant boat builders in Galle. 🙂 S

  5. Laurie Watson says:

    Hi to you both, on the blog front you probably have more readers than you think. I for one really enjoy your jottings and really look forward to them. Sorry to hear of your damage but I think engaging with different cultures is a large part of travelling, just hope you get your repairs done. Look forward to the next instalment, regards

  6. Mike says:

    Shame Guys and the ding on Adina but, an ancient kiwi adage goes ‘shit happens and you just have to suck it up’. It’s a measure of a man. You guys are that. Deep breath and add to to the list of bed time stories you tell to tell to any wee kiddies in the future. Can’t believe that it’s been 2 years!! Seriously, do you ever want the adventure to stop? What would ‘normal’ London life be like after another year or 2? Kindest regards from New Zealand.

    • says:

      Welcome back Mike! We’ve been missing your blog comments – do hope all is well in New Zealand. Tom and Susie