Trip Reports

Ceylon (22-Jan-2002-09-00):
9:00 AM local time, Tuesday, January 22 (0300 Jan 22 UTC) 06 02 S 080 13 E. Temp. 83, Humidity 76%, Cloud Cover 0%. At a dock in Galle Harbor, Sri Lanka (Ceylon).

Greetings from the crew of Maverick. As planned, we departed our marina in Phuket at dawn on Tuesday the eighth and headed for Phang Nga Bay, a three-hour journey. We set our anchor near a hong (which is, to review, an island with a hole in the middle), where lots of tourist boats were unloading their charges for a paddling adventure. We launched the dinghy to head in after them and enjoyed that flush of superiority with which a person who has sailed his boat across an ocean gets to entertain himself, at the expense of whomever is in range. The tourists were herded around on a schedule, while we beached the dinghy and strutted provocatively about the hong's interior to in our wanton guidelessness, with a haughty and menacing laugh. We drove wherever we wished, whenever we wished, and commandeered a deserted beach, to the disgruntlement of resident crustaceans. After the tourist boats left, we had Phang Nga Bay, which ranks right up there with the most beautiful places of the voyage, all to ourselves. We sautéed some prawns and steamed a lobster bought from local fishermen, and in general amused ourselves by ruling all that we surveyed.

The next day we had a pleasant sail down the east coast of Phuket, and when we were abeam of the island of Hi, we turned our bow west toward the open sea. We crossed the Andaman Sea in about two days and left Pygmalion Point on Great Nicobar Island to starboard. The passage was notable primarily for two things. One was its speed. We made the 1132 miles from Phuket to our waypoint off of Sri Lanka in 164 hours, an average of 6.9 knots. We broke the 200-mile barrier in one particularly quick 24 hour run.

The second was that we again lost the use of our computer. A large wave broke over the deck one night, and as the main hatch was just cracked open to give us a little air in the cabin, a couple of bucketfuls found their way below. Most of it fell harmlessly on the sleeping Mr. Shrode. Had his howls and yelps been amplified by the Grateful Dead's sound system, however, they would not have been heard by the Captain, who was staring at a wet computer and a blank screen.

The job of replacing this and recovering the data on the hard drive here in Sri Lanka has been very odious. I have so far made the trip to Columbo, three scary hours each way, four times, and while the data has been saved, the new, quite expensive computer will still not communicate with the radio or GPS. I have been able to see almost none of this country, which superficially at least seems nearly as beautiful and unusual as Bali. The road from Galle to Columbo holds some interest in itself, as drivers stop at Buddhist temples to quickly give prayers and an offering, a sort of supernatural toll, which they certainly need on this road. Among the travelers they dodge at terrifying speed are pedestrians, bicycle riders, tuk-tuks, buses, trucks, dogs, goats, cows, and the occasional elephant.

One thing I did see, while dining at a fancy beachside resort, was a local mother carrying her child, about twelve years of age, along the beach so he could hear the surf and see the birds dive in the blue water. His atrophied limbs hung uselessly from his torso, but although he was grown nearly as big as she was, she carried him with an ease that gave evidence that she probably has carried him in the same way since she arose from the birthing bed, and one imagines she will continue to do so until she can no longer walk.

So the Captain's whining about the problems with his laptop were interrupted by this image, changing quite dramatically his mood to one of gratitude for existing on the same planet with this woman, and her son.


It seems we may have been premature in declaring Oceans Free to have had the worst of it on the passage from Bali. Three boats that left before us are yet to be accounted for.

In our discussion of navigation lights on local boats I should have mentioned that the most flagrant violators have been cruisers. One person at the Chalong Bay anchorage was showing a blue strobe as an anchor light, another had a flashing yellow light.

Osama bin Laden and the Taliban are hated here, but it has nothing to do with September 11. They are Buddhists and were horrified when the Taliban destroyed the ancient statues of the Buddha in Afghanistan.

I hear from modern dad Peter Siegel that pony rides are still available and the kids still get a thrill from them.

Thanks again to all who have written letters of support, or remonstrance.

Next report from this location: Hell On Wheels

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