Friday, February 20, 2009

Havelock #7

19-20 February 2009 - Yacht Millennium anchored at Havelock #7, Andaman Islands, India. Day #4-5 in the Andamans. Havelock #7 is the only touristy beach in the Andamans.

We anchored at Havelock #7 in the dark, as usual, because we never seem to set sail at the scheduled time (John is teaching us all to go with the flow.) Thus, we’d not seen the beach at all when Penny rousted us from bed shouting “elephants on the beach!” By mid-morning we were having our usual after brekky lazy spell – Penny reading on deck, Alyssa swimming, Fiona walking around in a bikini, Nat nowhere to be found, John making a cupper in the kitchen, and I was probably in my cabin slathering on gobs of SPF 50. It appeared that someone was swimming to our boat from the beach, but we dismissed the idea because we’d anchored so far off shore and no one would do that. Many minutes later, the swimmer got close enough for Fiona to wave him in. I climbed out on deck to invite him in for a cup, um, I mean cupper…and they laughed at my American attempt to use that phrase. Turns out it was the traveler guy we saw at a restaurant our first night in Port Blair. Over tea we learned his name is Chris, he’s 31 and has a gardening business in Bristol, UK, which allows him to travel for two months each year while the grass isn’t growing. He’s a hilarious, fun, outgoing guy and was happy to be onboard to catch his breath and get our story.

Everyone always wants to know our story and they always look a bit dizzy from details as we explain three Australians, a Thai, a Brit from Japan and an American from London… no we didn’t know one another when we climbed aboard in Phuket: John’s the skipper, Nat’s his Thai girlfriend, Fiona sailed with John before, Alyssa knows Fiona, Penny and Ali each found John on the internet (through and flew to Phuket on a vibe. The novelty has worn off for us, but new listeners never cease to be amazed. John takes it all in stride; he’s a quiet guy with no ego, gets the humour but doesn’t make much of a fuss about it. Though one of his favourite jokes is to tell strangers that Nat’s his girlfriend, Penny’s his wife, and the remaining three of us are his daughters.

After tea with Chris the Bristol Gardener, we made our way to the beach to meet the girl with whom he’s traveling. Lia is a gorgeous 30 year old dark haired Austrian girl who has worked for ten years as a flight attendant for Austrian Air on a part time schedule of 7 months on, 5 months off, which she spends traveling all over the world, usually by herself. She and Chris met each other traveling 30 days ago somewhere in India and, as Lia explained in her adorable Austrian accent, they discussed and decided “I am a girl and you are a boy, so let’s go to the Andamans.” They arrived the same day we did so their 15 day permits expire the same day ours do. Chris and Lia had another acquaintance, Olivier, a French athlete with a rock hard body, smoldering blue eyes and an endless supply of flirtatious smiles. Olivier lives in Italy but hopes to move to Japan some day. The entire lot of us made our way up the road to the row of huts of nearly identical restaurants. We ate a big lunch of samosas, chai teas, chapattis and veg thali, after which handsome Olivier rode his bike into the sunset never to be seen again.

We girls spent several hours with our new friends on the beach (John and Nat went back to the boat). Chris amused us by describing his disbelief as he approached Millennium that morning, spotting Penny, then Fiona, then Alyssa and thinking to himself “oh my gosh, a boat full of chicks?!?” Another acquaintance of Chris & Lia’s, a guy named Sacha, came over to join us for the first time. He was unassuming and I didn’t notice him expressing any interest in joining the crew…but Alyssa told me later that he’d approached her while she was surfing earlier that morning and inquired all about the trip. That day, I had only heard Sacha remind Lia she couldn’t leave without him because her bike was chained to his, after which he politely shared a packet of chocolate biscuits among us – which was so nice because there are no food stalls near the beach.
It was a nice long lazy day and we all agreed that the best part of a long sea passage is getting to civilization and meeting new people when you get to the other side.

posted by ali's assistant in the U.S.