Thursday, 10 March 2011

Voyage Mumbai - Agatti Island

On the 8th morning we depart for Agatti with pilot onboard. We have only permit to land at Agatti probably due to security reasons keeping in mind the two recent piracy incidents at Lakshadweep. Our agent had told us that the Somalis and rescued Thai fishermen now sit in the yellow gate police station in Mumbai where crew is signed on/ off ships. Leaving the busy metropolis with its dust and pollution behind we set course for Agatti Island and get briefed to keep a vigilant anti piracy watch as well as we double the navigation watch with regular patrols on decks.

Dawn in front of Gateway

I have the 00-06 watch so I am up all night. The seas are calm and the traffic is quiet, nothing out of the ordinary takes place. We arrive Agatti Island late afternoon and we pass the Tinakara and Bangaram Island that is north of Agatti. The Islands look the same as in Maldives, low profile with coconut palms growing in the middle and pearly white beaches. We end up anchoring off the North Point of the Island after a failed attempt near the cargo jetty. They jetty itself would be able to accommodate us length and depth wise but the prevailing swell would damage the ship, badly.

Bangaram and Tinakara Island in the distance

Once we've anchored the local dignitaries come aboard, police, immigration. customs, PR photographer, dive guide and Director General (I think). The clearance is done in a leisurely manner and finally it is done but by this time it is getting dark already so no reconnoitering is possible prior to guests arrival.

Local fishermen

Fortunately, I get to pick the brains of the dive guide and we also go ashore to pick up the police security team onboard. Ashore while waiting for the Officers I have tea and paan at the local teashop just by the jetty. The infrastructure here is authentic and original, not like the artificial resorts in the Maldives. While sipping my tea I also meet the local postmaster but his English is pretty perfunctory so we just smile politely to each other. Finally the police comes and we get back to the ship.

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