Thursday, 12 March 2009

Captain's blog Feb 2009

Feb started with works related to our commercial certification and then on 1st Feb Boss came for a short visit and he probably would have liked to stay longer but unfortunately the small boat curfew was still valid so there was no landing possibility after dark. Soon enough we got orders to sail for Goa on 3rd Feb.

River Princess wreck at Candolim Beach that has eroded the beach by several meters

The trip was uneventful, when we came closer to Goa we saw the anchorage full of cargo vessels waiting to load ore at Mormugao port. At night it looked like a small town in the horizon with all the decklights visible.

Kalizma in Goa

Once in Goa on the 4th we made our clearance, met Augustine, our Company contact in Goa and Kenneth Pereira, our Agent. Funny enough the officials did not want bottles and I soon discovered the state of Goa has cheaper liquor so they can buy it themselves compared to the officials in Maharashtra. Later on I also met with Govind Tiwari, GM for the local Kingfisher brewery in Ponda and we discussed some arrangements to cover for any possible eventuality.

Anyway, Goans favor their own local liquor, fenny, that is either made of coconut or cashew. Depending on the skill and equipment of the distiller it can be a pleasant drink or a one that feels like you are swallowing a cheese grater.

Following days went cleaning and polishing the ship up as well as getting stocked and decked out on flowers in anticipation of the Boss. He came 7th late PM and stayed until 8th. On the 9th we shifted in front of Baga beach and prepared jet skis with Augustine but eventually nobody came.

On the 10th crew continued routine maintenance and I went out with Richard to Panaji (capital of Goa) for some shopping and we had a terrific lunch at the Zest, there were not many customers and the service was impeccable and the food delicious.

Crew at Ponda spice garden

On 12th We visited the brewery in Ponda and also the Spice Garden close to it. Poor Raja Ram was elected to stay onboard and look after the ship.

Our spice guide

15th-16th Boss came again and we had party at anchorage. Our sailing plan to Mumbai was cancelled and left open. We carried on.

Richard in front of Ponda brewery

17th I was invited to attend Abroe’s sisters wedding in Goa. Abroe used to work as deckhand on Kalizma before but is now a part of the ground crew in Goa looking after Bosses boats and jet skis. We were me, Vivek, Raja Ram and Sunil that was attending from the ship.

The vows had already been exchanged and we arrived to the reception party. A band was playing old classics and people was dancing in the superheated hall, the atmosphere was really captivating. Due to the heat the canteen was ferrying out glass after glass of Kingfisher and RC. I know, I had a few.
After the dinner we all paid our respects to our hosts and gave them an envelope for the future and wished them long happiness together. It was time to get back to the ship.

On 18th I went with Richard and Martula to Anjuna Beach for some shopping (Wednesday is only day). The back of the beach is lined with millions of stalls selling stuff all over from India. One could see pashmina shawls from Kashmir, copy CD’s, hippie clothing, spices, coffee beans, silver ware, paintings, carpets and antiques among many things. Many vendors were addressing me in Russian as they seem to have taken a liking towards Goa and are nowadays a main tourist here. I just browsed on a lot of things and prices appeared inflated but in India you are expected to haggle for your purchase. Eventually I settled for a tin set of Hindu God figurines of their whole God pantheon (or the most of it) for a measly sum of 1000Rs. I’d say it was good deal. I got almost same set 200Rs cheaper in Mumbai’s Chor Bazaar two weeks later.
After our shopping spree we finally entered the beach and found our way to the “Loodhi CafĂ©”, it is perched on a cliff a bit up from the beach and gives you a good view. Best of all they got a live band. We managed to secure ourselves chairs at the bar as it was jam packed. At first there was a band playing blues and then they changed into rock, very good stuff. They called themselves “The Essence”, when the sun started to set the band was changed into another outfit whose leader was a Frenchman called “Paco” and he had a Rajastahani on tablas, a Keralaite on drums and an Israeli and Japanese on didgeridoos while Paco himself played an electric sitar. The group performed a most interesting fusion chill out music that really fitted into the atmosphere that was by now consisting of the sweet burning smell of charas. We just relied on Kingfisher and enjoyed the music and atmosphere, by 10pm it was time again to head back to the ship.

On 21st Boss arrived at 1am onboard and I was told of the Grandi Island cruise. We did the needful and made things happen. Luckily Saini joined us this day back from UK from his OOW studies, the extra pair of hands was very welcome.

22nd Boss left and gave me sailing instructions for Mumbai.

23rd was Martulas birthday and Richard arranged a farewell party for the ground crew and Martula. In the morning we went with Richard to Calingute in search of a birthday present for Martula and also to pick up her birthday cake. There was so much stuff available and e.g. the silver being sold I have no idea if it is fake or not. I all got stamps but it seemed fake, who knows, I did not buy anything. Finally we settled on a small “Happy Buddha” figurine. Once onboard we do up a small birthday card and prepare some beverages for the ground crew. We go ashore at 5.30pm and meet Augustine and we set up some tables and music. Unfortunately the Ashena crew couldn’t join us as they have guests onboard. We sit down and have a few and soon enough it is time to get Martula’s birthday party on a roll. We all load into cares and go off to the Flambee restaurant at Aguada. They already know us and we start ordering drinks and food. Martula is given presents, we all are having a ball. Once the dinner is eaten it is time to get out the cake, it tastes marvelous. After this we have some more music and dancing and closer to midnight we start heading back to the boat.

24th morning we say goodbye to Kenny, our agent and Augustine. I get paperwork done and we start heaving up anchors so off we go.

25th morning were approaching the hustle and bustle of Mumbai and we get our pilot on time at Middle Ground and sail straight into Victoria Docks where we tie up at berth #15.

Following days are hectic preparation for the pending surveyor visit from MCA. I will let you know about that next month.

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