West Coast Marine, the parent company of Sea Waif Yacht Services, was founded in 1994 by Aashim Mongia, World Champion and Asian medalist in the sport of Yachting, to serve the growing interest in leisure boating in India. Sea Waif, a member of AYSS since 2005, is a prominent voice for the yachting industry in the region providing marine agency services in Mumbai, Goa, Mangalore, Cochin, Pondicherry, Lakshadweep Island, and the Andaman & Nicobar Islands. As a founding member of APSA and part of the Confederation of Indian Industry and the Indian Marine Foundation as well, Sea Waif is the only agent in the region dedicated exclusively to assisting visiting yachts in the region.
If you have some time to explore India this year by yacht you won’t be disappointed by its unique blend of diverse cultures, local food and cultural traditions, and scenery. Let’s take a look at some of the highlights that you won’t want to miss along the way.
You could easily fill several days here with visits to historic towns, Ayurveda spa treatments, local kathakali dance and kalarippayattu ancient fighting demonstrations. This is a major port city in the south-west coast of India, part of the Kerala region. Referred to as the Queen of the Arabian Sea, it was an important spice-trading centre starting in the 14th century. From the Dutch Palace to the Jewish town, the city is filled with a fascinating mix of antique shops and local boutiques. Take a visit to Fort Cochin and St. Francis Church and visit its eclectic blend of Medieval Portuguese churches, Dutch architecture, and English country villages.
Start with a visit to the famous old Goa churches before heading south to visit the Menezes Braganza Mansion and Palacio Dos Deao. Have a family lunch at the Palacio or drive to Zeebop for a local beach seafood feast. The many grand mansions in the area were a stronghold of the Goan elite, which were formed by landowners, and service personnel of the Portuguese regime. Their grand ballrooms are open to the public. Here, the Goan cuisine is the easiest way to learn about the real Goa culture. The spices that go into making their flavourful fish curry or vindaloo are world famous, and a hands-on cooking experience starting with a visit to the local fish, fruit and vegetable markets is a great way to learn about local traditions and food culture first hand.
The port city of Mumbai is perhaps the most exciting starting point to begin cruising in India and is undoubtedly the country’s nerve centre and financial capital. The bustling metropolis with its 20 million inhabitants offers all of the opportunities you can imagine in a major city to discover its glorious history. Visit the Gateway of India, Rajabhai Tower, Bombay High Court, and the Marine drive before dinner at the Masala craft Indian restaurant at the Taj Mahal hotel. On day two, take your guests via private boat to the Elephanta islands to visit the caves, a UNESCO World Heritage Site famous for its sculptures of various deities. On board, this would be the place to welcome a celebrity Indian Chef to prepare a spectacular candlelight dinner for your guests. Don’t miss the Prince of Wales Museum, Jehangir Art Gallery, Church Gate, and Victoria Terminus (or called the CST – Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus). The Pench and Tadoba Tiger Reserves are also a big draw.
• Visas are a must in India; however, the expedited E visa is currently available on arrival in Kochi, Goa, and New Mangalore’s seaports in addition to all major airports. Before arrival, it is prudent for captains to make contact so that any documentation can be processed accordingly. It is mandatory to do customs and immigration clearances in all ports of call. It is a process that can take 2-3 hours (more if proof of the E visa must be supplied).
• If Lakshadweep Island is on your itinerary, it takes 60-70 days for processing formal permission therefore, advance planning is a must. This is also the case in terms of provisioning and supplies as the area provides no yacht logistics support including freshwater, bunkers, and garbage removal. Seven to ten days are required to process the permit to cruise the Andaman Islands.
• Mumbai, Goa, and Kochi are the best locations to get all of your logistics sorted (including provisioning, fuel, water); in addition, they are the easiest points to coordinate guest arrival and departure.
• October to May offer the best cruising weather. Avoid June through September during their Monsoon season.