I Am Sailing. East Coast Sri Lanka
The catamaran bobs gently in the sea. The sky is overcast, the wind is dying down and the evening is pleasantly cooling.
We are anchored out at sea, at the foot of the Koneshwaran temple in Trincomalee. I am onboard the Emerald CeyCat 53, a custom built, six-cabin catamaran belonging to Sail Lanka. This is just day one of our three day cruise along Sri Lanka’s renowned east coast.
This afternoon, having traveled from Colombo, we arrive at the Dutch Bay Trincomalee by 3:45 p.m.
Three Sail Lanka vessels are anchored off site waiting for their next passengers.
A dinghy leaves our catamaran and speeds towards the shore and we board, four at a time. I have ventured out on this cruise with trepidation as I am not sure about my sea legs, nor am I certain about how my head and tummy will react on this trip. But my fingers will be crossed at all times!
At 15,50m in length, this catamaran is impressive. Down a narrow flight of stairs are four cabins (two on either side) to accommodate eight people. The cabins are small but clean and each has an en suite toilet. There are shelves and a small cupboard for bags and clothes but little room to move around. But that’s ok. I do not intend spending too much time in the cabin anyways. On the upper deck are two more cabins with bunk beds, the chef’s galley, a sit out where we have our meals and a lookout deck.
Above this is an open air deck with plenty of space to sit, read, chill, sunburn and look for whales and dolphins. This is good enough for the eight of us.
After leaving the Dutch Bay we navigate along the east coastline and anchor at Back Bay with the imposing statue of Lord Shiva overlooking the entire peninsula.
From this point we see Ravana’s Cleft. According to the epic tale Ramayana, Ravana, an ancient and mythical ruler of Sri Lanka, and his mother worshipped at a shrine of Shiva at Koneswaran temple. However, when his mother fell ill and was unable to visit the temple, Ravana attempted to lift the temple and take it to her. But Lord Shiva disapproved of this and struck Ravana’s sword, which went spinning into the sea, smiting the rock in half.
Against this mythical backdrop, we watch the sun go down, enjoy our wine, music and dinner before retiring to our cabins.
Day two starts off early; an overcast sky, a star-class breakfast, and a steady head and tummy. We leave Back Bay and sail off to sea in search of whales and dolphins. While IP, our amiable captain steers the boat and keeps the sails upright, his keen eyes scour the seas. Suddenly we hear him shout “Whale”! I scramble to my feet and look in the direction of a single fin jutting out of the water. This is a rare sighting of the whale shark!
This particular chap is a young adult and is unperturbed by our presence, swimming around the catamaran. Considered to be the largest fish in the sea, it is harmless yet, feeding on tiny plankton. Boy! What absolute luck!
During the rest of the journey we see lots and lots of dolphins. They gambol in the water, race us, smile up at us, and exude a sense of happiness in me.
Tonight we anchor off the coast at Lanka Patuna, south of Nilaveli.
We take yet another opportunity to get in the water, paddle board, kayak, swim and just float in the emerald green waters of the Indian Ocean.
Day three also starts off early as we head back to Dutch Bay.
Along the way we stop to gape at the grace and size of the Blue whale as it spouts water into the air. “Tail up!” yells one of the crew as the whale gently dives back into the waters. Just amazing!
Closer to the Bay, we stop and dive in to the water to do some snorkeling. The coral reef is beginning to come alive again which is a good thing.
All in all, it has been an incredibly fun weekend. I am glad my head and tummy survived the journey. However, I can boast of a tan and some super memories.
Good to know:
Take lots of sunblock and a wide-brimmed hat
Drink plenty of water
Wake up early to catch the sunrise
Pack light, as cabin space is limited
The food onboard is excellent
Do not throw litter overboard
Respect your crew