Mar 07, 2012 at 10:49am IST

Pirates leave Kochi Marina high and dry

KOCHI: The threat of Somali pirates along the Gulf of Eden continues to have  adverse impact on Kochi. Signs are still ominous for Kochi International Marina, the country’s first and only marina. With only one yacht having called at the Kochi Marina during the past six  months, the Rs 8.21-crore facility is struggling to ward off the offshoot of  the pirates’ attack on sailors.
Express, in November 2011, had reported about the poor traffic at Kochi  Marina. “The grim situation continues. We cannot expect the arrival of seafarers at least till the monsoons are over,” said Commander (retired) Jose Varghese, the head of operations, Kochi Marina.
Soon after its inauguration in 2010, there was a huge flow of visitors from UK, US, France, Italy, Germany and Switzerland. Mumbai-based Ocean Blue, the  company which operates the marina  on contract, was expecting an average of 10-15 yachts a month and the response from the tourists during the initial  months offered much hope.
“But the number has fallen to an alarming figure since early 2011,” said Jose. The number of yachts that called at Kochi Marina during June-November 2011 was a mere four. After November, it came down to one.
“Though the Naval forces of various countries are keeping vigil in the area, the sailors are not confident of reaching their destinations safely. We think they are stuck in marinas in other countries and are waiting for a favourable situation to continue sailing to India,” Jose added.    
Beckoning adventurous seafarers, the Kochi International Marina, set up by the Kerala Tourism Development Corporation (KTDC) on Bolghatty Island, was  commissioned on April 24, 2010. The marina has a capacity for accommodating 34 yachts. But most of the jetties remain vacant. A three-storeyed Marina and Recreation House, among other facilities, is a major component of the Kochi Marina.