Our arrival concluded an 1100 nautical mile passage, in 8 days and five hours from Langkawi, Malaysia. Already in the port here were six other cruising boats and one very large ocean research yacht. Until just last year, a sailboat hadn't been seen in this harbour for 27 years. All boats had to berth in Galle in the south, under military control, where conditions were less than ideal. What changed ? Our friend Larry Mimms changed it all .... last year he sailed to Galle and there approached the authorities to allow him to sail up here to Trincomalee. It worked, and the rest is history. This year, as one of the first arrivals, Behan Gifford from SV Totem has done great work liaising with the local authorities and helping them understand the cruising boat culture.
So we are anchored in one of the best protected harbours in the world (seriously), only 300 meters off shore in Town Bay, with the city at our doorstep, but can barely hear the traffic .... there just isn't any. A few buses, a few cars, tractors, tuk-tuk's and motorcycles. Lots of people walking, beautiful coloured sari's on the women and smartly dressed young men. Trincomalee is like a smaller version of Port Blair in the Andaman Islands, very relaxed. It is different though - there is more awareness of the outside world here, more people speak English. Every one is friendly, keen to get ahead, tourism is starting to grow.
The 26 year Sri Lankan civil war finished only in 2009, and while no one here will forget those terrible times (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sri_Lankan_Civil_War), the population is getting on with life in a very positive way.
The ships agent here (the amazing Ravi) can solve most problems and has made the check-in process very simple. All the authorities are co-operative and friendly. We expect to stay here a couple of weeks and will do some local touring.