NZ Powerboat Earthrace battles Monsoon, and now Indian Bureaucracy (Follow-Up)

Since leaving Singapore just on a week ago, EarthraceEarthrace captain, Pete Bethune, on leaving Singapore, the forecast was for moderate winds only, but within 24 hours this had all changed to a full monsoon. As Earthrace rounded Banda Aceh, on the tip of Indonesia, it found itself head on into big seas and strong winds, and these continued for three days, all the way to Cochin, India, where the boat is now docked. On arrival all crew were exhausted from sleep deprivation.

Through the voyage, Earthrace suffered a number of mechanical failures, the most serious being 3 broken mounts on the starboard engine. This left just a single mount holding the engine down, and it forced Earthrace to complete the last day of the voyage, not for the first time, on one engine at reduced speed.

Within a day of arriving in Cochin, crew and the local Cummins Mercruiser dealer had repaired the mounts. All that remained was the delivery of biodiesel fuel, which was coming from Hyderabad, some 1000km away.

Bethune says that the ongoing saga of fuel delivery has been extremely frustrating. “ found itself engulfed in the Bay or Bengal’s first monsoon of the season. According to We were assured it would be here a week before our arrival, and then when the ground crew arrived to prepare for Earthrace, it became evident the fuel had not even left Hyderabad.”

After days of frustrating phone calls, delivery was again promised, and the truck left Hyderabad. It was then, for various reasons, refused passage through customs into Cochin province. By now Earthrace was arriving in port and waiting on fuel.

Some 3 days later, delivery of the biodiesel was finally made, however it was of such poor quality that crew were forced to reject it. This is despite the fuel apparently coming with paperwork indicating it meets quality standards. The crew is currently searching for a supplier of standard diesel to allow them to leave India, but even delivery of that is proving difficult to negotiate with local bureaucracy in Cochin.

To compound things, three team members, including the Captain, have become ill, suffering a series of symptoms including diarrhea, vomiting, muscle aches and lethargy. Or “Delhi belly” as it is more commonly known.

Earthrace is hopeful of refueling today, then leaving Cochin, but until the fuel is loaded, who knows?

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