Monthly Archives: March 2016
It took us 2 more days to get to Male.
On the 18th March we left Viha Faru reef and motored to the island of Kaashidhoo. This is an image from google earth. You can just see the entrance to the reef on the west side. We spent a very scary half hour motoring slowly up this channel in about 3 or 4 metres of water with broken coral under us. We dropped the anchor as soon as we got into the anchorage at
Would have liked to have gone ashore but we needed to press on.
The next day we carefully motored back through the reef at 06.00. By 09.30 the wind started to blow so up went the sails in time for my SSB net and we sailed for the rest of the day. Norsa had reported they had arrived at Hulhumale but were having some serious electrical issues.
We had a wonderful sail and went further south than we had planned. At 15.00 we took the sails down and put the engine on to motor across the bottom of North Male atoll. The plan was to stay in Male for 4 or 5 days then do a circuit of the atoll with Norsa and hopefully meet Tintin and Inspiration Lady on their way down.
The waters around the island that Male is built on are deep. Male is a check in port but it means anchoring in 30 metres plus while waiting for the officials. Most people just hover, no one wants to anchor that deep. Uligan in the north is best for your check in. Once checked in or if you are arriving from the north the only place to anchor is off the island north of Male called Hulhumale. This island is the future of Male. It’s been created to relieve the pressure of growth on Male. The anchorage is at 04 13.14N
073 32.17E on sand and about 10 metres.
It was great to see Norman and Sara on Norsa again. The next day Bill and Norman managed to get Norsa sorted out and it wasn’t as bad as was first thought.
Looking at the screenshot of Hulhumale again there is a dinghy dock right next to where Camomile is anchored (red arrow) and 100 feet from that is the ferry into Male. It cost about 50p and is the only way to get into Male. You can’t take your own dinghy, there isn’t anywhere safe to leave it.
On 21st March the four of us headed for the ferry to take us into Male. It was a bit of a scramble for seats but we all got in and sat down. Note the motorbikes at the back of the ferry.
No – there wasn’t a safety briefing!
The chairs were just plastic garden chairs screwed to the floor.
Once it was loaded it took about 20 minutes to make the passage. It was quite a nice way to arrive in the capital. There were some nice views of the city as we approached. Back in the 1920s the population was estimated as just 5000 but as tourism grew from the 1970s the growth emerged as a problem. Male has been extended as far as it can with land reclamation so now Hulhumale is being developed to accommodate the overspill.
The first job was to find a hardware store – can you believe that?! Although Norsa’s electrical problems were sorted out Norman wanted to get a spare engine start battery. We had been given various addresses and eventually we found one. There’s a surprising amount available in Male. There were lots of hardware stores, a couple of chandleries and several really good supermarkets. The fantasy supermarket sold lots of western products although it was a bit expensive.
We also got the dive tanks serviced and filled during our stay.
This photo shows the contrast between some of the buildings. A lot of Male has been rebuilt or in the process of it but there are still some old properties around.
Motorbikes, motorbikes, motorbikes everywhere! This line of them seemed to go on for ever. They are a real problem but just imagine if the owners all owned cars.
There were several good markets on the north side of Male. A fruit and veg one….
…..and a huge fish market next door. The local boats backed onto the quay in front of the market and unloaded their wares straight onto the stalls. Fishing and the fish market is a man’s world here, woman don’t usually venture into these areas. Very wise the sight of all the entrails was a bit disconcerting. Surprisingly it didn’t smell. I don’t think you would be able to buy fresher fish.
Male has been referred to as ‘The Venice of the South’. I’m not sure I would go that far but it’s an interesting city. This is the great view of the boats in the harbour from the Seahouse, a very nice cafe above the ferry terminal. They do a very nice and reasonable buffet lunch Sunday to Thursday and reasonable evening meals. It’s not cordon bleu but for good value local food you can’t go wrong. It doesn’t have windows so it can get a bit breezy but as far as I was concerned that was a plus.
After our busy days shopping we took the ferry back to Hulhumale. The island/reef in between Male and Hulhumale to home to the international airport. Must be a great place to land if a little nerve wracking because the runway is literally right on the edge of the reef. We watched the planes coming and going from the ferry.
Back in the anchorage the boats were waiting for us.
Wednesday 9th March we weighed anchor and left our beautiful island passing the Waldorf Astoria resort on our way out of the Ihavandhippolhu atoll and heading in a southerly direction from now on. They had certainly made good use of the mother island. There were over water bungalows coming out of the north and south sides of the island and jetties coming out of the east and west, it probably depends on the weather on how they land their clients or there’s always the bright red sea plane that was sitting there waiting for passengers. How the other half live!
We sailed, or motored, back into the deep water and on towards the Thiladhumathee Atoll. The numbers on the chart are depth of water in metres. Once we go over the edge our depth gauge won’t pick up depths much more than 150 metres and just flashes in a ‘computer says no’ sort of way. Coming back into the next atoll is a bit unnerving but the reefs are quite clearly visible as we approach. The straight black lines are our planned route and again the yellow line is the track we took.
The islands are just basically sand bars and don’t have any height so you don’t see them until you’re quite close. It would be dangerous to do a night sail around this area.
The island just above where we stayed is called Kelaa and was the northern British base during WWII.
This local fishing boat had come from there. Unfortunately there’s no way in for a keel boat drawing 2 metres so we continued on to the lagoon in front of Dhapparu. Where we found Inspiration Lady and Tintin. Our position was
073 13.6E in 10.8 metres sand.
Not sure I would recommend this anchorage because the snorkeling wasn’t very good and the beach is full of mosquitoes but Inspiration lady and Tintin had a nice visit at the village on the island of Filladhoo to the south east of the anchorage.
Thursday 10th we left Dhappura and headed southwest to the Rasfari reef. There was a gentle breeze from the north east so we put the twin headsails out and sailed there. So far we haven’t come across any uncharted reefs and the charted reefs are easy to see with the change in the colour of the water. Some of the islands have been a bit off set according to the radar.
This photo shows our track over the edge of the Rasfari reef, the green area is reef which means we shouldn’t cross it but you can clearly see our track takes us straight across it. I had checked it out on google earth which showed a clear passage through the reef plus we had some waypoints from other cruiser that had already visited. When we arrived I stood on the bow looking out for the deep water. The passage was narrow but there was plenty of room for us. It is a deep anchorage but we managed to find one of the few 18 metre spots there.
We anchored in position
It was a stunning spot. We were over two miles from the nearest island but the reefs were giving us protection.
There was a reef to our port and starboard sides and a few hundred metres in front of us. So the dinghy was lowered and off we went.
WOW the snorkeling was amazing. I have so many photos and found it difficult to choose which ones to post on here so I’m just going to post lots of them.
All of these photos were taken at the reef to the east of us.
The next day we went forward to the reef to the south and west of us and the fish life was astounding. Snorkeling along the edge of the dropoff was the best. The fish hang around waiting for the nutrients to float off the reef. So many fish.
Then we spotted this big boy lurking under the rocks – a moray eel.
Quite lucky it see it because it blends in with rocks and it was quite a way down, about 4 or 5 metres. He came out of his hiding place and slithered under the next rock. It was a good metre and a bit long.
Some of the little coral heads are so pretty and colourful. This one was mauve, pink and white.
Then we spotted a big 3 metre nose to tip of tail sting ray. This wasn’t one of those tame ones you can feed in the resorts but a real wild one. A bit scary really.
Back in the dinghy and motoring to the reef to our south. The colour of the water here is astounding The bommies were further apart in the middle of the reef. While motoring over the lagoon we could see a spot where we could have anchored in 3metres in sand but getting over the reef is the tricky bit. I think we’ll leave Camomile where she is. She’s quite happy watching us have fun.
For the boats coming behind us. From the anchor spot look to the south west you’ll see a red dinghy buoy which the fisherman often use with a white buoy near it (hope it hasn’t gone) when you’ve travelling in your dinghy on the west side of the reef keep those two buoys in line and head directly south. You’ll come across another buoy just before you get to the reef (it’s difficult to see) that reef in front of you is the best. An amazing drop off.
When you’re swimming along the reef looking over the edge it feels like flying as you look down 10 to 20 metres into the deep blue. It’s a divers paradise.
Saturday 12th we left the Rasfushi reef on our way to Kulhudhuffushi where we were meeting up with Inspiration Lady and Tintin again. After an early morning start we got to the harbour at roughly the same time as Inspiration Lady. It’s possible to tie to the wharf but Bill wasn’t happy doing that so we went in and dropped our anchor. Unfortunately we were drifting too close to the shallow area by the wall. Bill tried to bring the anchor up quick but it jammed and wouldn’t go up or down. Gary was planning to go up against the wall and suggested we tie alongside them which we did so Bill was able to sort out the anchor chain. Tintin came in about an hour later and also tied to the wall.
It was only US$12 to go into the harbour which was very reasonable and saved us anchoring in the deep water outside. The town wasn’t very big but had an ATM so we were able to get some local currency. It also had some groceries stores and a couple of places to eat. It was Jackie’s birthday and we all went out to celebrate (camera left behind).
The tide dropped overnight and unfortunately Inspiration Lady’s rub rail managed to get under the big rubber fender that is permanently attached to the wall of the wharf and as the tide was coming back up it ripped part of it off. The fenders had bounced out of the way. Poor Gary. Bill helped him remove the old wood but he has a serious repair to do.
We stayed there two nights then headed out on 14th March to continue south and into Miladhunmadulu atoll.
One last coral picture.
Our last 24 hours at sea was motoring the wind died completely and we took the sails down. It wasn’t so bad because the water maker was on so we could have showers and clean the boat when we arrived. It was exciting seeing the first islands during the day although they are made of sand with jungle covering them and aren’t very high. Some of them have villages on them but a lot of them are uninhabited.
The last part of the journey saw an amazing sunset. Not so good because we wanted to be anchored before it got dark. We came into the anchorage as the sun went down. There’s a ‘shelf’ inside the reef to anchor on but as we were approaching I could see coral over the bow. It was far too late to play that game so we anchored in 18 metres further out. Bit exposed but we could move in tomorrow when it was safe with the sun overhead.
We were anchored at
07˚ 04.71 north
072˚ 55.13 east
Our journey of 715 nautical miles had taken 5 days 8 hours giving us an average speed of 5.58 knots not bad considering we were travelling at 2 or 3 kts the first few days with the current against us. Our agent Assad brought the customs, immigration, etc out to us to check us in along with a tub of ice cream! How good is that? Check in took about half an hour then it was showers and bed. We were tired. The next day Bill raised our Maldives courtesy flag.
As the next day was Friday we stayed on the boats. The Maldives are 100% Sunni Muslim so Friday is their Sunday. The fact that they are muslims also means there’s no alcohol sold here, only very expensively in resorts!!! Now you can see why we stocked up. Assad came out to the boat to get our sims sorted for the phones and to set it up as a modem. The internet seems quite fast here so that’s a change.
On Saturday Inspiration Lady, Tintin and Camomile crews went ashore for a tour of the little village. There are only 500 people on the island and they basically belong to one of two families. There aren’t any cars. This is the main road through the village.
Some of the villagers have lived on the island all their life.
This was her house.
The land is mostly sand so not very much grows here but they do have some wonderful trees. This banana tree was laden with fruit. Take a look at the wall, it’s made of dressed coral which means they cut it and shape it before using it to build houses and walls. It’s not allowed any more but there are still some beautiful pieces around.
A beautiful bread fruit tree with another lovely coral wall.
This was the end of the village. Just jungle beyond here.
Right next to the end of the road is the generator housing.
Pumping away 24 hours providing power for homes of the people.
There are 2 shops on the island, this is the bigger one of the two. It seemed to have a fair sized selection of goods but very little in the way of fresh stuff. I’ve ordered some bread which is coming on the supply ship on Monday. I still have quite a lot of supplies from my Sri Lanka stock up but I could do with some lettuce and apples. Will be interesting to see what else turns up.
I found these adorable little girls at Assad’s house the one on the left is his daughter. They were like a pair of dolls. So sweet.
Assad took us to see the village school although being Saturday no one was there. It was in very good condition but being run like the schools were 50 years ago. Ages 6,7 and 8 in one class room, 9, 10 and 11 year olds in a second classroom and a couple more classrooms for the older children. At 16 they take a Cambridge exam like a GCSE if they pass the government will pay for them to go to Mahe and at 18 they take further exams, A levels, for a place in University. There are also Btec courses for the ones who don’t pass the exam.
There isn’t much for them to do on the island and I think most of them would probably stay on in Mahe once they had finished their education. That means the island will slowly die out if the young people don’t return but we’ve seen that so much in our travels.
We walked back to the jetty and the dinghies. Assad invited the 6 of us to a meal at his house that evening to try some local food.
Meanwhile Bill and I still hadn’t been in the water and we’ve been here for 2 days so we headed back to Camomile. Two of the other boats had left leaving two spaces on the ‘shelf’ so Camomile and Inspiration Lady took them.
We are now anchored in the most stunning aquamarine colour. It’s like being anchored in a swimming pool.
Our position is
072˚ 55.18 E
take a look on google earth.
Meanwhile in the water …..
I tried to get a photo of Camomile with the coral underneath but it didn’t quite work but close.
This is our keel under the water.
and the anchor in about 5 metres of water. So clear.
That evening we went back ashore for our wonderful meal.
Position at 10.00 Thursday 3rd March
24 hour run from 10.00 2nd to 10.00 3rd 145 miles average 6.04 kph 54 miles to go
It was a really good sail yesterday 15kts of wind on the beam. It means we were heeling quite a bit but we made good progress. The ships have stopped passing us finally, as they go further north, and no more fisher men asking for booze and cigarettes. They were quite harmless but when you see a fishing boat motoring directly at you it’s very worrying. It happened twice and each time we put the engine on and motored away from them as fast as we could, they soon gave up.
The wind died completely at 7.45pm and we were down to 3kts. We’ve sailed that slow before but it would have meant we wouldn’t have arrived until the middle of the night which isn’t wise so the engine went on and we’ve motored since. At first, as there wasn’t any wind at all, the sails came down because they flog badly which doesn’t do them any good but this morning the wind picked up a little and we decided to raise the sails again. That’s when we noticed the boom vang was broken.
The boom vang or kicking strap holds the boom in position and is essential for sailing. Without it the boom can’t be pulled down and the sail flattened when necessary. It also holds the boom up and stops it crashing down on our heads or the bimini cover because it has a gas strut inside it. Yesterday I had noticed some black stuff on the deck at the bottom of the mast and had blamed the Tanna volcano dust again (we still find traces of that even though it’s almost 4 years since we were there). Bill managed to disassemble it and bring it in. When he took it apart he found the gas had escaped from the gas strut because the seals have failed on one end. So for the time being the boom vane will be a passenger and Bill has rigged up a rope kicking strap temporarily. The black stuff on the deck must have been bits of the seal.
We continue to motor sail and should be in the anchorage this evening. Tintin are ahead of us so they’ll have to buy the ice creams again!
Position at 10.00 Wednesday 2nd March
24 hour run from 10.00 29th to 10.00 1st 137 miles average 5.7 kph 24 hour run from 10.00 1st to 10.00 2nd 152 miles average 6.33 kph 198 miles to go
Firstly apologies for not writing my report yesterday. I only get about 2 or 3 hours spare during the day when I’m not on watch or sleeping and it was write a report or make a banana loaf – the banana loaf won, and it was yummy!
Going back to the 29th there was great excitement as we passed the southern tip of Sri Lanka and got a signal albeit for about 15 minutes. I was able to read my lovely messages from everyone – Thank you.
The southern tip of Sri Lanka also had a lot of shipping, it reminded us of Singapore although not so many ships anchored. However there were a few ships anchored or hovering by the port of Galle and we watched several of them being loaded with personnel and goods. Then we realised what they were doing, they were loading mercenaries and weapons onto the ships that were going up the Red Sea. We have friends heading that way this year because they think it’s safe, if it’s safe why were these big ships going to the trouble and expense of taking guards on board? It also reminded us that we are heading into troubled waters and even fishing boats are looking suspicious. The Maldives have been taken out of the HRA (high risk area) so should be safe.
Once clear of Sri Lanka the wind started building and we were able to sail properly with 15kts of wind from behind so the twizzle was up again but this also built the sea up and there were 2 metre seas following us.
The night of the 29th saw lots of lightening flashes but none near us thank goodness. We sailed through the night with the twizzle rigged but by morning the wind dropped and we had to motor for 2 1/2 hours while the wind filled in from the north east giving us a beam reach. Deep joy every time I want to go to the loo now!
As I said I made a banana loaf on the morning of the 1st which isn’t easy wedged into my little galley but I seem to have got used to the movement of sailing again. Tintin and Inspiration Lady are ok and reporting their positions to me each day on the net. Inspiration Lady had a lot of trouble when the wind was building off the coast of Sri Lanka and managed to shred their code zero (big sail) getting it tangled with their genny halyard in the process. All is sorted now but Jackie will have some sewing to do when they get in. Tintin is about 14 miles away from us but Inspiration Lady is now about 80 miles behind us as they slowed down trying to sort out their rigging problems. They are sailing now so should be only a day behind us.
We’re making good progress and might be in tomorrow afternoon but the wind is forecast to drop later today which will slow us down. If we arrive after dark we’ll have to wait outside over night. We won’t go through the reef in the dark it would be very foolish to try.
We sail on.