Adam’s Bridge with the SLN

The waves were choppy, and as our skiff was rocked roughly by them, the crew member operating the motor yelled in Sinhala to his captain that we had a bit of problem. Sheela had her eyes firmly shut in an intense I-will-not-vomit-concentration on our return trip from Adam’s Bridge, the 36km wide chain of shoals, islands and sandbanks that connects India to Sri Lanka. Faring better, I turned back to examine the problem, which was that we were taking on water.

The plug in the back of the boat had popped out (in this case, a crudely fashion cylindrical piece of wood). We weren’t exactly in danger of sinking, but I gathered from their conversation that the building water levels could swamp the lowly placed motor (this 40hp motor used a kerosene and petrol mix). Small skiffs have a plug that fits into the rear of the boat, which makes for a convenient way to drain water from them. As you increase the boat speed, the front end will rise off the water and any water in the boat will drain from the back. Eventually, at higher speeds, the boat will “plane” and become level again.

The captain asked me for a handkerchief to plug the hole, which I didn’t have, so he whipped out a pocket knife and started whittling away at the plug. Crisis averted.

Until 1984, there was a ferry that operated between the two countries, and for a few months in 2011, it reopened. Now, the Sri Lankan Navy offers tours of Adam’s Bridge going out 10km from their base in Talaimannar to the second island from the Lankan side. On clear days you can see India. The sailors were a good natured bunch and tld us in 2015 the ferry should resume.

The islands are beautiful, and it took us about 1hr to get to the second one. They are desolate, white, treeless and you really feel like you’re at the end of the world: the type of place that someone more spiritual than I would say they could “find themselves.” Enough with waxing poetic, I’d say the spiritual seeker would die of thirst. Some good photos later, and with Sheela impressing the Sri Lankan Navy seamen by spelling her name in Sinhala in the sand, we returned.

Traveler’s reports and lonely planet are sorely wrong on the details of the tour. You DO NOT get lunch, or water, and it DOES NOT cost 600lkr per person. The tours are priced instead by boat, at 3600lkr per boat. I had a bit of fun in helping them push the skiffs out to sea before we got on them. See, I can join the armed forces too!