2019 Year End in India

30 December 2019 – Year End in Cochin Kerala India

Its almost the end of the year. As I’ve done many times before, I’m posting a year end snap shot of our travels. In 2019, we broke free from South East Asia, sailing from Thailand to Sumatra to India, a total of about 1800nm. 

As planned over 6 months ago, we were invited to Varghese’s home for Christmas dinner. With fellow cruisers Marcel and Joana (and their dog Nikko), we were treated to a festive Indian Christmas dinner featuring many dishes and treats we’ve not had before. Marcel and Joana brought the wine, and Diane brought the turkey. We ordered this 4kg turkey from FarMeats a few weeks ago. We figure that every year since we left Canada we have always cooked a Christmas turkey, this year – on our wonderful Weber BBQ. 

This is what the turkey looked like before cooking. All dressed up and ready to cook.

These are some photos of our time at Varghese’s home.

As we are preparing for our next journey, getting the mast and rig inspected is all part of the process. Here in Cochin, there is no sailmaker or rigger, but Nazar’s son Nizar is happy to go up the mast, have a look at the rigging and take photos – and that satisfied me. Here is a photo from the top of the mast looking down. You can see our 10 solar panels giving 1360W, as well as the grey Sunbrella shade covers that we had newly made in Thailand.

We continue to meet interesting people and chat with them. One day while waiting for the ferry, we chatted up these 4 girls (age 15-16). When we learned that they were headed to LuLu Mall for an outing, we gave them 500 rupees to buy their lunch at KFC. They were absolutely thrilled at our generosity, and were certainly not asking for money. They were all school friends and a mixture of Christian and Hindu. 

One day when going to Nazar’s home for lunch (we have been there many times), I had to ride “shotgun” sharing the driver’s seat with him. This is a good photo of us both, riding in his auto-rickshaw or tuk-tuk. 

Exciting things are going to be happening on Fort Kochi island soon. Thousands of people will flock there for New Year’s Eve to welcome the New Year by burning the massive statue of an old man named, Pappanji. Burning of this 35-foot huge Pappanji that stands tall amidst the crowd, just like a skyscraper symbolizes the welcoming of hope and harmony. A grand party is planned with music and dance till dawn.  It looks exciting, but we probably won’t go because of the crowds. 

There are other things happening, some during the day, and some at night. These elephants are getting geared up for decorating and a procession/parade on New Year’s Day.

The Cochin Carnival is a cultural reflection of the hybrid past of Fort Kochi. It has its origins rooted deep in the Portuguese and British rule. The Portuguese New Year celebrations during the colonial era gradually paved the way for the Cochin Carnival.

We came across this display of Indian wrestling at the beach. There was a large crowd watching and competitors from many weight classes were ready to wrestle.

Our crew (Mariona and Gabriele who sailed with us from Thailand) will be joining us again on 2 January, as we finalize our preparations for departure. We expect to depart 15 January 2020, or thereabouts – for the Red Sea.

Getting Closer to Departure

4 December 2019 – Getting Closer to Departure

One day when we were out and about with Nazar sourcing supplies and things, and we decided to follow a lead for a good hamburger. When we picked up our frozen meat at FarMeats last month, we asked them where we could buy a good hamburger. Neither McDonalds nor Burger King actually have hamburgers on their menu, probably due to sensitivities with Hindus. They sell chicken burgers and veggie burgers, but no beef burgers. FarMeats told us that they sell beef to The Burger Junction, so we kept that in the back of our mind. Well, we finally went there, and it was fantastic. It was real beef and very tasty. All three of us had cheeseburgers, fries and lemonade. It was, of course, the first time that Nazar had ever eaten a hamburger.

The last time we bought wine was in Langkawi Malaysia, duty-free Australian wine. Since our supplies were getting a bit low, we bought some Indian-made wine, comparable to a Pinot Gris. This wine was very good, certainly as good as many of the Australian or NZ wines we have had. It was 370 rupees, or about $7.20 CDN per 750ml bottle.

We were treated to a CO2 party on SV YARA with our friends Robert and Ursula. Like many cruisers we have met, they use SodaStream to make carbonated beverages. Like many cruisers with SodaStream, they have had difficulty getting their CO2 cylinders filled as they move from country to country. It is impossible in Muslim countries to find a SodaStream vendor because this is an Israeli company. Usually, if there is a Paint Ball venture in the area, its workable. Here in India, Robert and Ursula resorted to buying “dry ice” which is solid CO2. If you just let this stuff sit on the ground it will gradually turn into a gaseous form, bypassing the liquid phase altogether. If you toss a few cubes in the water, they will bubble and make fog. Robert and Ursula own 18 SodaStream CO2 cylinders, and needed to refill 15 of them. So, they bought approximately 10 kg of dry ice from a local supplier (this stuff is used by the medical industry for the transport of organs) and basically just chipped it up, and dropped little shavings into the cylinders (with the valves removed). Each cylinder was weighed so that it contained nearly 400g, then the valves were quickly screwed on. A few years ago, after following this procedure but not quite as accurately, one cylinder exploded about 12 hours later because it was filled with more than 400g of CO2. For any cruisers that have SodaStream equipment, this is a sure-fire way of getting the cylinders filled.

Here is Robert chipping away at the dry ice. Later, both Diane and I took over this role because Robert was occupied with filling and weighing.

Now, Robert is filling the cylinder with small CO2 shavings, maximum 400g.

The last stage is to weigh the cylinders, with a good digital scale.

Recognizing that we didn’t have the right courtesy flags for our journey West, we had some custom made here in Kochi. Although it was easy to find SE Asian courtesy flags in Thailand and Malaysia, finding them for Djibouti, Eritrea, Sudan, Egypt, Cyprus, Turkey, Greece and Israel (in advance) was another issue. So, we had some custom made on silk.

We had the local SCUBA diver down to give the hull a scrub. The water here is incredibly silty and dirty with floating debris and garbage. Its bad, so bad that I don’t want to go in the water, if I can pay somebody else to do it. We will get it done again, just a few days before we leave.

Our fuel tanks are topped up with 900L of diesel, but in consideration of our upcoming Westward passage through the Red Sea, we decided that we wanted to carry “extra” diesel on deck in jerry cans, just in case. After much deliberation, we bought 15 23L jerry cans (for about $4 CDN each), that are now filled to 20L each – giving us an additional 300L on deck. We don’t intend to “cruise” with these additional cans, just tie them on deck and give them away (empty) when we get to Cyprus.

The weather has cleared up a lot, and it only rains occasionally at night. The daytime temperatures are about 30-32C and at night-time it is usually about 26C, although the humidity is still high. Our second A/C unit (bought in Malaysia two years ago) finally died and we won’t bother fixing it. The big portable A/C we bought in India is doing the job, cooling and dehumidifying the whole boat. Our aft cabin is a little warmer than we’d like, but we’re OK.