SRI LANKA, February 2006
We only saw 4 fishing boats on our approach to Galle - others had problems with the fishermen.
We went into the outer harbour at night and anchored off Watering Point -a beautiful bay. We anchored in 10m of water at 06 01.216 N 80 14.177E. We also stayed there for a few days after we checked out. No problems either time. The east channel in is clear, but C-Map is a little out. You can see the large gold Buddha that sits proudly on the top of the hill. If there is any swell, it would be our suggestion to go from Watering Point to the inner harbour via the main channel as there can be breakers in the east side of the bay. This was the case on our departure. You need to get permission from Galle Port Control to enter the inner harbour. They send the navy out to clear you in. A net is placed over the inner harbour entrance at night and patrolled due to the threat of the Tamil Tigers. The navy let off depth charges periodically! You get used to it. You don't need to worry about security!
As for Galle, inland Sri Lanka is sensational. We were there during the peace talks, but even so, the fighting is so isolated and is not likely to affect you at Galle. However, having said that there was a bomb that did go off in the harbour in 2007, toward the latter half of the year. We had lunch at a Tamil village on the way to Kandy and they were not involved in the conflict. We stayed for the whole month.
Checking in is an interesting experience!! Corruption with the Windsors is rife. The oldish man who checks the yachts in asks for a 'present' as do customs. He tells you not to declare any liquor, only for customs to then search the boat and confiscate the liquor and share it with the Windsors! We declared everything, gave the old guy a beer and that was it! It took us 2 days to clear customs because we refused them a present. You don't get much for 180 USD for clearing fee.
The worst was that DHL are in cahoots with the Windsors. One of the yachts had ordered a window and were told by DHL that they would only release it to the Windsors, who would charge over 400 USD for it. After much discussion, and threats of exposure of the rort, Leel (our faithful guide/assistant) organised for the window to be released from DHL. Best not get any parts delivered to Sri Lanka.
We were against the pier and sustained minor damage being pounded against the pier in a swell that came in from somewhere! We did have showers there and access to washing water. An alternative is the floating pontoons where you Med Moore. Holding is not good and you have to watch others who come in next to you. The pontoon is not actually connected to shore and the jump can be a challenge!
A new dock was built by 2007 to accommodate the rally yachts. Organise to be there at a different time!
A guy called DIDI in cahoots with the Windsors is the only person allowed on the docks to welcome yachts. He gives you a sim card so you call him for taxi, tours etc. If you walk out to the road, catch the bus into town for a few cents! We used a guys called Bannet, Leel and Batu who work together to provide assistance/tours. They were excellent - very honest and helpful and go the extra distance to ensure you are ok. We did our tour with them. Leel took us to off beat places and not where the tourists go..although we did visit the wonderful ruins of Sigirya, which are fascinating. Mike comes along and gives you a provisioning list and collects your gas bottles for re-filling. His prices are same as in town. He will also deliver fuel to the boat. Good guy.
Having said all of this, traveling Sri Lanka was sensational! The people are wonderful. Be aware of the milk scam! You will find out.