9:30 a.m. (4:00 a.m. UTC) Saturday, March 13, 2010 5 55 N, 80 15 E, 6 miles from Galle, Sri Lanka
Looks like we’ll be get in to Galle in about an hour or two. We’re about six miles from port, and coasting in on a light wind. We tried the engine a moment ago, to ensure that it would be ready for the fine maneuvering in harbor, and it turned over OK.
Sometimes, after long passages like this, we think about the way we’ve gone about our sailing trip, and wonder whether next time we wouldn’t go about it a different way. Like become pig farmers in West Virginia instead.
In actuality, it hasn’t been that bad of a passage. Sure, we had some failures, but for the most part the wind was steady and good. It could certainly have been much worse, say, with stronger winds, or from an adverse direction or worse, in this situation, no wind at all, leaving us to our balky engine. We haven’t had winds as consistent and steady as this since we were in the trades before Tonga, more than a year ago. Despite all the drama, we did a lot of reading and relaxing as well.
Galle, Sri Lanka, is notorious for the difficulties presented in clearing in. The customs officials, in particular, are reported to be corrupt, and will confiscate goods that they want as a demanded bribe, under the threat of tearing the boat apart to look for contraband if they don’t get it. Well, we’ll not put up with that, and although we may give a bottle or beer or two as a gift, if he threatens to take any thing more than that, it will become confrontational. It won’t be the first time that this situation has confronted us, and, with the Middle East in front of us, surely won’t be the last.
The place is also supposed to be “tout” happy. Tout’s are fellows who crowd around tourist areas, trying to perpetrate scams on unsuspecting tourists. We’ve seen them before, of course, but they are reported to be famously persistent here, following foreigners from place to place, with offers and deals.
We’ll see what it’s like. Almost always, the stories are much worse than reality, and we often find that places that are reputedly terrible to be actually quite enjoyable, Papeete, Tahiti, and Penang, Malaysia, being two prime examples.
But mostly this is a business trip, and we’re not really feeling like tourists anyway. The goal is to get our boat back in shape and get across the remainder of the Indian Ocean before the winds change.