On board MV Chowra: A sea voyage (4/5)

Part 1/5: Beginning of our sea voyage 

Part 2/5: The beautiful island of Car Nicobar

Part 3/5: My only complaint about the ship journey

And now, part 4, my journey continues…. Oh and the year was 2017.

Car Nicobar to Chowra AND Teressa

We had departed from Car Nicobar at 5pm the previous evening and we landed near Chowra Islands the next morning at 6am! Teressa, we reached 3 hours later. Chowra and Teressa Islands were like no other. The remoteness of the islands could be seen by the view you had from the ship. Check out the locations of these islands on the map.

Image: Location of Chowra and Teressa islands.
Ignore the blue-dotted line.
(Map Courtesy: Open Street Map)
Image: Relative location of Chowra and Teressa with respect to mainland India and A&N island groups.
(Map Courtesy: Open Street Map)

The ports on these islands did not support a ship as large as MV Chowra. Several islands of Andamans and Nicobars harbour coral reef ecosystems [1] and if so, ships would not dock or anchor close to the island. Chowra was probably one such island. Ships do not go close to the island as it risks damage to ship and reef. So passengers who need to alight here, are ferried in small boats that were sent by the islanders.

Image: From Chowra port, two small motor boats made their way towards us.

The seas were rough here and the small boat’s motor had a difficult job making its way till the ship. Once close by, they came as close as possible to the ship. A precarious steel ladder slid down from the ship.

Image: The steel ladder that hung just above the water surface.

Young, middle aged and old men held the boat in place and the ladder in place, while passengers alighted and goods were offloaded. Their experience of doing things in the sea was awe worthy.

Image: Left- Keeping the boat stationery; Right- Offloading luggage which included cycles.

They effortlessly passed on luggage and livestock from the ship to the boat. Once the boat was full, they made their way to the island and the other boat aligned itself with the ship to pick up the second batch of people.

Image: Offloading livestock and crates on rough seas

The young boys particularly enjoyed the sea and liked the attention they were getting from tourists like us who watched their way of life with our jaws open, in awe and wonder. When the final people and goods were on the small boat, the young boys who had climbed the ship up, whistled and leapt out of the ship and dived into the deep sea! Wooohooo!!!

Image: It was like watching a scene from a movie. They called out happily and loudly as they swam to the boat. We waved them all goodbye and off they went, to their homes.

Chowra and Teressa were truly like no other islands. Like Car Nicobar, one requires special permits to visit these islands. We only got to see these islands from afar. Geographically, they were small islands, like a speck in the vast ocean. It was fascinating yet scary to think how life would be on these isolated islands.

As we headed to Katchal which was a couple of hours away, we spent our time catching up on our sleep. The sun was now intense. We had found out the best shady spots for sleeping.

Image: As I explored the ship, I stumbled upon Ashwin’s secret sleeping location!!!

We also had found the best spots for watching the sea. I must admit, we spent almost 80% of our time on deck watching the horizon. We never got bored! Secretly, we wished we would see a whale or something. But truth be told, we were equally ecstatic watching flying fish, jelly fishes, sea snakes, dolphins and turtles!

The account will end in my next post: Reaching Campbell Bay via Katchal and Nancowry

Further reading:

[1] Srivastava, R.C. (2012) Ecological Threats to an Islands Ecosystem due to Climate Change: The Andaman Experience. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., India, Sect. B Biol. Sci. 82, 335–340.

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My name is Adithi Muralidhar. I am a nature enthusiast based in Mumbai, India.

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