Monday, August 10, 2015
In the days of the British, a trip to Andamans was usually a one-way ticket to the dreaded Kala-pani, the cellular jail at Port Blair. These days, the dread is reserved for the mode of transport, not the point of arrival. The Andaman & Nicobar Administration (with a well named website - and.nic.in) determines the schedules for the three ships that connect Port Blair with 3 points of mainland India: Kolkata, Visakhapatnam and Chennai. Those ships are MV Swaraj Deep, MV Campbell Bay and MV Nancowry.
Of these, the Nancowry works the hardest. Swaraj Deep and Campbell Bay run two round-trips a month, the former alternating between Kolkata and Chennai and the latter running exclusively to Chennai. The task of connecting all three of these mainland ports to Port Blair is left to the Nancowry. The ship takes three days to run from Port Blair to Chennai and then has to spend four days catching its breath. It was in the dock yesterday, having arrived on Thursday.
If there is anything that really put you off the idea of a sea-voyage, it is the sight of this rust-bucket. The Nancowry was built in 1992, which makes it close to the average age at which a passenger ship is decommissioned. Surely, no one will shed any tears at this rust-bucket's retirement!