From Nuwara Eliya we took the train back down to Kandy where we stayed at the Kandy Hills Resort again before being collected there by Sanju for the drive to Pipistrelle and Trincomalee.
So what were our impressions of ‘Trinco’?
Firstly, it was an interesting and worthwhile choice of anchorage for our three week stay in Sri Lanka. The alternative was Galle, in the south of the country, but past and current reports are not good, with poor moorings in a busy commercial harbour, where your boat is likely to be covered with cement dust from unloading ships.
2015 is the first time this huge natural harbour (one of the largest in the world) has been open to sailing yachts since the Tamil Civil War, and we were the 6th yacht to arrive. Last year just one sailing vessel put in there in an emergency situation. Consequently, no thought or planning had been given to the unfamiliar needs of yachts, and as the harbour is under military control, some aspects of life were not easy. When we first cleared in Pipistrelle’s hull was checked by naval divers for explosives and our 48 ft. vessel was being treated like a ship of 500 ft. with accompanying restrictions! For example the port authorities wanted to levy a fee for fuel and potable water deliveries to the quay. After a meeting between various officials, our agents, GAC, and Behan and Jamie from Totem representing the yachts at anchor, the subtle differences between a small yacht and a large vessel were acknowledged and many of the restrictions were lifted. These steps will certainly help those sailors who follow in our wake in future and make Trincomalee a destination of choice.
To help with orientation ashore, Connie and Tony from Sage, another Wauquiez, had produced a laminated map of the town, and arranged for rubbish to be collected on a weekly basis (there are no facilities within the harbour limits or in evidence in the town).
For more about Trincomalee formalities see the recent post on Noonsite at www.noonsite.com with the link to Totem’s informative blog on the subject.
There is a regular train service to Colombo. First class on the overnight sleeper is cheap and public buses go to many destinations across the country. The town itself appears poor, but most provisions can be bought here for prices on a par with the UK. Food City, part of the Cargill’s chain, is the best local supermarket; there are various shops and stalls selling an extensive range of produce, as well as the daily open market; hardware shops, chemists, bakeries, phone shops, tailors, laundries, the post office and so on all exist even though they may take a little effort to find!
As mentioned above, we used the services of Colombo based GAC, to act as our agent, and their local man is Ravi. He did his best to act as an intermediary between us and the authorities in the face of adversity, but we understand he is expensive for arranging other matters, like laundry or tours, and would advise opting for Sanju instead. See Sanju Tours.
Whilst we explored Trinco to a certain extent while Chris and Sophie were travelling, they came back from their week away, we celebrated Chris’ birthday together, left them in charge of Pipistrelle and off we went. They certainly got to know the vicinity extremely well and maximised their time visiting various attractions such as the Naval Museum, going for a boat trip across the harbour, Uppuveli & Nilaveli beaches, Dutch Bay, Fort Frederick … so a thumbs up from them!
With Pipistrelle ‘provisioned up’ and nearly ready for sea again, on our last full day we had a few hours to spare so went for lunch at the nearby JKAB Park Hotel and used their sizeable, clean swimming pool to cool off and relax.
To sum up, Trincomalee has a lot to offer. We are happy to have made its acquaintance!
Equally, we thoroughly enjoyed our brief travels inland from here. The Sri Lankans are charming, helpful, friendly folk though with some notable exceptions their driving is terrifying!