North Male Atoll
Posted by yachtcamomile
After 3 days in Huhulmale Camomile and Norsa left to explore the north Male atoll. As we had come down the outside of the atoll we hadn’t had a chance to explore inside the atoll so the plan was to spend a week or two doing it together. On 23rd March, after a few last minute jobs, we headed north to Masleggihura island.
We anchored at
in 12metres of water on sand.
The overwater bungalows of the Four Seasons Kuda Huraa were just in front of us. It’s difficult to see in this photo but behind these bungalows are the surfing waves that come across the Indian Ocean hitting the shallows and bringing in a great right hander.
It was good to see our sailing buddies across the way from us.
The next day both yachts continued north for about 2 hours to the Asdhoo reef.
Once again as you can see from our track the charts can’t be relied on here. The anchorage was a bit of a horseshoe in the reef and fitted our 2 boats snugly. We anchored at
We were on about 6 metres sand but you need to look at it on google earth first before you go in. a few bommies around but otherwise good. If you don’t feel brave enough to go in there’s a more open anchorage to our west (little blue pin) but we didn’t look at it.
After lunch we took the dinghies across to Asdhoo island. We found a lovely little holiday village called Asdu Sun Island, a delightfully laid back resort without all the trappings of the luxury resorts you normally find in the Maldive BUT also without the costs. The tiny island has the most gorgeous beach surrounding it with little white painted concrete huts in among the trees. Very yachtie friendly they were quite happy for us to sit and have a beer (US$3.50) at their bar plus they were offering an evening buffet meal for $20 but as they didn’t serve it until 8pm we passed on that one. Our main objective was to check out the dive school to arrange a dive. We booked for the following afternoon.
We went back to the boats for sundowners on Norsa. We had a great view of Camomile in the sunset.
The bommie below the rudder
The next morning there wasn’t a breathe of wind and the water was so clear. This was the view from the bathing platform. It looked as though the reef was just under the surface but it was 3 or 4 metres below us and not a danger to us at all; amazing to see.
You can just about see the rudder at the top of the photo.
That morning Bill and Norman got their dive kits out partly to have a practise as it’s quite a few years since Norman has dived and partly because Norsa’s anchor chain had wrapped a bommie overnight and Bill and Norman thought it would be good chance to try out their kit before the dive in the afternoon. The water was nice and clear, all went well and the chain was freed. Sara also had a practise .
After lunch we went back to Ashdoo island for the dive. It took about an half hour to get everything sorted and loaded onto the dive boat and we were off. It was nice to be in someone else’s boat and not worry about where the reef was. The dive boat went around the back of the island and you can see the accommodation, it isn’t brilliant but good value for anyone that wants a budget holiday in the Maldives. It’s only about 2 hours on a ferry from Male.
After about half an hour we stopped by the Panetone reef. The island has a lot of Italians staying there and the dive master was also Italian. Panetone means cake in Italian and apparently that’s what the reef is like – round with coral all around the edge. Luckily there was only Bill, Norman and Sara diving with 2 dive masters so it was good for their first dive.
I don’t dive but had a bit of a snorkel over the top although it was a bit deep and the visibility wasn’t great. They all enjoyed their dive. After doing a circuit of ‘the cake’ they did a second circuit higher across the top and saw 4 turtles. I’d looked for them while snorkeling but hadn’t seen any. The cost was US$51 for Bill’s dive with his own equipment but Norman and Sara paid nearer $160 because they hired some things as well. When we got back Ken and Eiloo had arrives on Antares II so we all enjoyed a beer together at the bar.
It was such a lovely spot we stayed another day. On Saturday 26th, Easter Saturday, we had a wonderful snorkel. The boats were surrounded by reef on three sides so we were spoilt for choice. Wonderful coral.
This is brain coral because as you can see it looks like a brain! It was about 2 feet high.
Lots of fish around.
Unfortunately these beautiful starfish are the enemy of the reef. They are called Crown of Thorns because they are covered in spiny thorns and are impossible to pick up. They eat the coral and we’ve seen whole areas devastated by them.
There are more crown of thorns in this photo and you can see the white coral in the middle of the picture is being gradually eaten by them. This area is suffering enough with the bleaching of the coral caused by the warm waters of El Nino it doesn’t need these creatures too.
Norman and Sara swam over to join us. We stayed in the water for a long time. The coral was very pretty with lots of fish but nothing big today.
The next day we heard on the net that Tintin and Inspiration Lady were arriving in the North Male atoll and, more importantly, Jacqui had mini easter eggs on board.
Originally we had planned to go to the resort at Helengeli then into the Maa Haa atoll then over to Himmiya but plans are designed to be changed so Camomile and Norsa went across the atoll to Himmiya instead.
As we arrived I stood up on the bow watching the coral under us. The dark patches are coral, the light patches in between is sand. Fortunately nothing less than 6 metres and all good.
We anchored at
It looks as though all of the northern area is open but it isn’t. There was a semi circle of coral right around the top and we crossed the reef just as we turned to port. There was an area there that was deeper than the rest. The chart is out again.
Norsa arrived just ahead of us. Inspiration Lady just behind them. Norman and Sara haven’t seen Jackie and Gary or Jacqui and Kevin in almost 2 years. After the anchors settled we all headed across to a nearby resort for lunch.
Great to have everyone together again. The resort was very nice and allowed yachties in (a lot of them don’t) but it was fairly expensive with beers at US$6 and that was only a can. Jacqui treated herself to a cocktail but we just drank water. We shared a club sandwich and even that was $20++ I can buy a lot of groceries with that sort of money.
The resort was very relaxing though and we sat and chatted for the afternoon.
When we got back to the boats Kevin and Jacqui came round all the boats with Jacqui doing her Easter bunny impression and handing out Cadbury’s creme eggs. As I haven’t had so much as a sniff of an Easter egg this year or even any chocolate, it was very welcome and gone before they got back to Tintin!
Thank you Jacqui.
The next morning we were all going about our jobs when not one but three different pods of dolphins came dancing through the anchorage. I was out there watching for about an hour. So wonderful to see.
Later that afternoon we all went snorkeling and as well as the usual fish darting about we spotted this big sting ray laying on the seabed trying to pretend he wasn’t there. It must have been 2 metres nose to tip. It’s difficult to make out but it’s laying across the picture with his nose and eyes on the left and his tail to the right. It didn’t seem to bother about us swimming around him.
Tuesday 29th March Camomile and Norsa joined Tintin and Inspiration Lady to continue on their journey south to Male but we had one more stop the rasfari reef to see if we could see the Manta rays. Inspiration Lady and Tintin decided to keep going but we wanted to give it a go. We found a tiny patch of sand at
073 21.557E (you can see the size of the sand patch around us)
If anyone is following behind us the weather needs to very calm to stop here because there’s no protection. There was only room for one boat on this patch but there were some more sand patches a bit further south. Once Bill was happy our anchor was holding Norsa came to tie onto us.
The area is a well known ‘cleaning station’. The mantas come into the shallow water so that the little carnivorous wrasse fish can eat the small parasites that live on the surface of the mantas.
We took the dinghies north of our position and got in the water to drift snorkel back towards the boats. We were almost back to the boats when we saw our first one. Among the most dramatic creatures in the ocean, mantas are cartilaginous fish – like flattened sharks.
With a wingspan of about 4 metres these were quite formidable in the water. They are quite harmless although the barb on their tail is what you have to watch out for but you can’t get close enough for it to be a danger.
There were several of them swimming around us.
I managed to get several really good videos but Bill was worried they were getting too close so we got back in the dinghy and they continued to swim around us. We counted 4 altogether, several around us and one by Norsa’s dinghy.
We spent about an hour watching them then headed back to the boats and left.
We carried on down the west side of the Rasfari reef in open water – away from dangers. We gave the southern reef a wide berth because it came out further than charted, and anchored south east of the little Rasfari island at
there were a few bommies around but plenty of sand to anchor in.
The little island is home to the local phone mast. There are an assortment of generators surrounding it and about half a dozen men maintaining it.
What an amazing place to work. The island was tiny but beautiful with a scenic sandspit on the southern end. a great place to take a 360 degree panoramic shot.
We walked back through the middle of the island along the little path the men have created out of plastic containers. They had rabbits and chickens running about although I’m not sure if they were pets or if they were going to eat them – everyone said it was the latter.
Inspiration Lady had headed on into Male but Tintin, Norsa and Camomile stayed one more today. It was a lovely spot.
On the 31st March we arrived back in Male for more shopping, washing and general jobs.