Thursday, March 19, 2009

March 17, 2009 - Havelock Island, Andamans, India

We spent three nights anchored off of Havelock #7 - a rather unassuming name for a 2 km stretch of fine, white sand backed by old growth trees. Walking among the trees was like walking in a park. The canopy was so high and the undergrowth almost non-existent. Each day, we saw elephants strolling through the park, down the beach. We had heard that there was a grand old guy who liked to go for swims on the beach, but the surf must have been too high for him as we didn't see him swimming during our stay in Havelock.

Havelock has the most tourist facilities of anywhere in the Andamans outside of Port Blair. Our first order of business was to find a local dive shop and replace my fins, which, after several years of hard use, had cracked in the Similans (terrible timing - for a day we talked about turning back to Phuket to buy a replacement). With the help of some friends of Ravi, I was able to get a replacement set from Barefoot Divers. They are used, and they don't fit quite right, but they'll due until I can find something better or Sten macguivers my old pair.

The swell rolling into the beach at Havelock #7 made getting ashore challenging, but getting back out to the boat through the surfline was where the real excitement was. After nearly flipping the dinghy, we decided that we'd seen enough of the island, and spent the rest of the time there exploring the waters around the island. There was more than enough interesting coral and fish to keep us occupied.

The highlight of our stay in Havelock was a Giant Trevally (GT) who decided to make our boat his temporary home. Our first night at Havelock, we cooked up the rest of the blessed chicken from Port Blair. Sten was fishing with a piece of chicken liver drifting out behind the boat. The first time he reeled in the line to check the bait, the GT was following. He was too smart to take our baited hook (thankfully - what a fight he would have put up!) and Sten set about trying to make a friend out of him by feeding him the remaining bits of chicken neck and liver. My first shadowy glimpse of the GT was a shock. He was very large at approximately 60 pounds and with his sleek shape and powerful tail, at first glance he looked more like a shark than a fish.

The next afternoon, upon our return from the dive shop with my replacement fins and some free-diving weights, we were anxious to try out our new gear. We were piling our snorkeling stuff into the dinghy when we noticed the GT swimming around us. So we quietly slid into the water to have a look at him. He had absolutely no fear of us. We had soon named him Tonic and were rooting around in the fridge and veg bins to find things to feed him. Chicken continued to be a big hit. He liked cucumber, but filtered the seeds out through his gills. He kept Sten company while he cleaned Mata'irea's bottom. While hanging out with Tonic, we got some good still pictures and video. But Tonic wasn't loyal. As soon as another boat entered the anchorage, he was off to see what goodies he could con out of them.

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