At 6:50 am the Kingfisher flight with the Young Explorers touched down on the Andaman Islands. The contrast must have been a shock for them, as they had left their daily routine from all corners of the world and entered into the bustling, crowded city of Port Blair.
Excitment was in the air as the Young Explorers were transferred by dingy one nautical mile offshore to where Mike Horn and Pangaea awaited them. Wide eyed with incessant chatter, the Young Explorers discovered their new home for the next 17 days.
Cathy finished the fresh produce shopping and Pangaea and her crew lifted anchor. Before midday, with the Indian bureaucracy done, Pangaea was able to hoist her sails and leave the hustle and bustle of Port Blair . They could now head out and experience the beauties of India – an experience that would most certainly be a life changing one!
Soon we were cruising south at 11-12 knots towards the Loha Barrack Crocodile Sanctuary, 40 NM from Port Blair. Coming around the southern corner of the Andaman Islands we sailed into a channel with very strong currents that pushed us along at 14 knots. Up-swelling currents created spectacular glassy circles on the surface of the ocean and wanting to take command. The wind became stronger with gusts of up to 30 knots. Waves splashed over Pangaea’s bow. Our Young Explorers got the first taste of this most amazing sailboat. Finally Pangaea was alive again and doing what she was built for.
At 3pm, Pangaea arrived in a calm bay surrounded by mangrove forest. On the beach stood a man and he was waving to get our attention. Humeed was from ANET (Andaman and Nicobar Environmental Team) and it would be with him that we would spend the rest of the day. The Young Explorers took their first stroll onto the white sand beaches as Humeed explained to them the flora and fauna of the Mangrove ecosystem and the effects of the tsunami which rocked this part of the world in 2004.
It was low tide in the forest so Humeed could identify various plant, insect and crustations that thrive in the region. Unbeknown to us before but the forest was alive with creepy critters. As sunset came the youths were able to appreciate the magnificent beauty and colours of the forest – an ideal time for a photo shot.
Along with the sunset, the tiredness crept in. It had been a long day for the Young Explorers who were already exhausted with the jetlag. Nothing could be better than the inflatable mattress laid out on Pangaea’s bow. What a perfect spot for the youths to experience their first night sleeping under the stars!