Our final day at sea proved to be one with good winds in the 20 knot vicinity and lively boisterous seas. There don’t seem to be many of us crossing the Indian Ocean this year compared to last year but a month ahead of us are three boats, two of whom we’d met in Malaysia, and we knew they were in Trincomalee on the north-east coast of Sri Lanka. Much to our surprise we heard the one boat, Inspiration Lady, attempting to call the other boat we’d met, Camomile, on VHF radio. That meant they were close by so we duly called them up and had a good catch-up as the three boats are now en-route to the Maldives. The wonders of radio, we were able to also speak to Bill and Sue on Camomile using our long range SSB radio. We won’t bore you but it allows us to talk to other boats a long, long way away. It wasn’t long before we spotted Gary and Jackie on Inspiration Lady coming south as we headed west and we sailed in company all day. Tips were passed on and it looks like our Sri Lanka plan is a good one but we may wish to think again about using public buses for long journeys!
Best news of the day came from Alex of Sail Lanka Charter who are looking after Adina while we are here. Via email he assured us they have a boatyard with a very good stainless steel worker and he will come to the boat when we arrive in Mirissa. This may all sound confusing so just to repeat, we check in at Galle and then we move Adina down the road to Mirissa where she will stay on a private pontoon.
The winds for the day decided to shift this way and that way and Susie and I played on the wobble board otherwise known as the foredeck repeatedly swapping the spinnaker pole from side to side as we tried to hold our course. It’s funny how after a number of days at sea it becomes second nature. You still don’t take it for granted and lines still become tangled but your body copes with it and we have to admit we get a thrill out of it – well, Tom does. That said, after several manoeuvres we were getting tired and fed-up of it. Lots of shipping traffic to keep us amused but they were well clear of us as they had to file through a TSS (Traffic Separation Scheme) south of Sri Lanka.
We were doing great guns averaging 7-8 knots (the odd 10 knots) and surfing down waves ready to turn into Galle come 9pm. We edged our way into an anchorage continually scanning the water with torches looking for pesky fishermen on a very dark night. A quick tidy up and we went to bed and were asleep within seconds! Exactly 1100 nautical miles logged in the logbook.
We rose at dawn looking out to a new country! From the anchorage we could smell the incense, it lifted the spirits.
We duly called Port Control at 8am on the dot and were asked to be ready at 8.30am. 8.25am we were called again asking us to stand by on channel 14 and they would call in 5 minutes. We were impressed, this was organised and we were ready. Then nothing. We radio them at 9am – we need to wait, please be ready at 10am. Nothing. And so it went on and on and we mailed the agent. We always cc Alex from Sail Lanka Charter and he jumped into action. Long story short – the harbour was full, the only option was to tie onto another boat (a tug boat), get clearance and then dash over to Mirissa. And that’s what we did. Trick is we needed three hours to get to Mirissa, and that is what we were left with by the time everything was completed – exactly three hours before sunset.
As we left Galle the heavens opened, and of course the sea and wind were against us. Bang, smash, bang. 5 knots, bang, smash, bang. 2 knots, sea spray literally everywhere. Any sniff of wind we got the sails out to speed up. We weren’t going to make it but Alex mailed to say they will wait for us, it will be ok. Bang, smash, bang, here comes another fisherman wanting to trade. Sorry, no can do. Bang, smash, be friendly, wave, keep going. The sun started to set as we entered the bay, but the seas died. 6 knots, go Adina, go. In the fading light we made it and tied onto the little pontoon in colourful Mirissa. Five minutes later it was dark.
Alex welcomed us saying we are the first foreign flagged vessel to visit and he hoped there would be more! Wow, what an honour! We have our own man, Chandana, who will help us with anything we need. Alex has lined us up with a tuk-tuk (so we don’t get taken to the cleaners each time we need to go anywhere) and then took us into town, got us a simcard, lent us some money and dropped us off in a restaurant. What a nice welcome! We tucked into the local curries, sipped a beer (slight understatement) and our eyes grew heavy. Back to Adina, off to sleep, neither of us could sleep! Dreaded watch cycle has affected our body rhythms. Maybe because all was still?
Mirissa looks great. Full of colourful fishing boats and also whale watching is a popular activity so lots of boats doing that. We first need to prioritise some chores and then we will head off to explore Sri Lanka. New sights, new cultures, new foods, friends to be made, haggling with the tuk-tuks, this is why we do it. Thank you for following our little trip – it was definitely one of our favourites.