Friday, 26 December 2008

Captain's blog - visit Port Blair

Once alongside I met our agent Salim Jadwett and his nephew Ashraf that was the “action man”. Well, we started tackling the publicans and first were the Custom officials, lists were filed and stamped then whisky was given for lubrication of the process. After Customs we had the Immigration, same thing there, after them it was the Coast Guards turn. Once all was clear it was already 2pm. 

Port Officials & me

After this we started contacting our contractors, the centre engine and wing engines needed attention as well as the AE exhaust and our A/C plant and Bow thruster. The Cummins workers were refused entry as they came without ID’s to the port so they had to travel back to their homes to get ID’s, when they tried again gate security refused them due to that they did not have Company ID’s. Needless to say they did not work the 1st day. At least we managed to get started on other jobs. In the evening I went out with Vivek, Sunil, Richard and Jyothi and had dinner at the Lighthouse. Nice food but a restaurant with no ambience, seemed recently painted, except at the wall below A/C unit, that looked rotten.

M/v Harsha Vardhana, the Islanders mainland contact

Ashraf, me and Salim Jadwet, our agents

8th Dec was as unsuccessful with Cummins people, Vivek was calling them every 30mins but they still had problems with their ID’s, finally they came late in the afternoon. Centre engine was opened up and it was discovered the turbo charger was totally gone with heat plate melted and vane wings broken. There was no spare turbo on the Island so the hunt for a new turbo started and a service kit was ordered.

Haddo wharf where we were alongside, all ISPS ready

I did the last official visit and went with Ashraf to the Harbour Masters office to present documents. He was not in but instead I met the Chief Port Administrator, Mr. Anantha Chandra Bose . He was sitting behind a “U” shape table in the middle of a huge wood paneled office well cooled down to an arctic temperature by A/C. We had a nice cup of tea and chat about Port Blair, its history, tribes, 2004 Tsunami and current affairs (Mumbai 26/11).

Ashraf Jadwet and CPA Anantha Bose

After the final red tape sorted I visited the anthropological museum that displayed the various artifacts and characteristics of the inhabitants of Andaman’s & Nicobar Islands (A&N), earlier and later settlers. In general it is stated that Andaman’s was originally inhabited (and still is) by people of Negrito pygmy descent and the Nicobarese with Mongoloid descent. Today 6 tribes (Shompen, Onge, Nicobarese, Sentinelese, Jarawa and Greater Andamanese) still exist.

A police Royal Enfield

Many has been very largely introduced into the main stream “civilization”, only one tribe, the Sentinelese, still remains reclusive and hostile to the outer world and refuses any contact. After the 1st settlers a multitude of people was introduced to the Islands when it became a penal colony for the British Raj, these are generally referred as the 2nd settlers or nowadays just “local born”. They became the 1st casteless group of people in India as intermarriage was done between convicts that were incarcerated on the Island.

Gandhi statue in Port Blair

Port Blair "Kali-Peeli" taxi

Spice trader in Port Blair

9th onwards went bickering and pushing the Cummins people as in 4 days the effective work effort was about 12hrs in total. We strongly suspected that they had earlier worked at the Wavemaster shipyard in Langkawi. The BT was repaired, in the end it proved to be a bit dusty contactors that had failed due to moisture and corrosion. Also FCU motors were renewed where they had given up earlier. The A/C plant was re-filled with gas and we could sleep cool again. The AE exhaust silencer had a large hole in it due to corrosion (after 2yrs use) and it was taken out and welded.

Farewell party for Rusiel

Then it turned out that the contractors repairing the silencer had been sitting on it 1 day after completion of repairs and again we had to keep calling them to bring it onboard. The centre engine was still pending and turbo was not forth coming. Vivek looked into how to run the engine without a turbo and finally they came up with a solution that would take us on the road again. It was not until 13th though when the engine was boxed up and assembled and then it was interrupted by a broken torque wrench.

The cellular jail Port Blair

Cellular jail Port Blair

On the 9th I had dinner with Vivek and Saini at the New Lighthouse, nice view and airy atmosphere that was unfortunately disturbed by a very smelly toilet down stairs and mediocre but pricey food. I would not recommend it to anybody.

On the 12th we had a farewell party for Rusiel, she had completed one year onboard and went home as her Indian single entry visa had been used up. It was a great dinner at Hotel Driftwood.

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