|MALDIVES - JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2007
Day 1 - 29th January 2007
OV with Richard Ferrand and Lulu Littleboy met BooToo at Male airport dock.
A relaxing afternoon for the guests and a chance for OV to meet his new captain Scott Mackenzie. Boo Too seemed to bear no ocean going scars since I last saw her in Falmouth and St Mawes as she left for her maiden cruise in the late spring of 2002.
Dinner that evening, cooked by Jo, was a 5 star feast and a great omen for the days to come: we would not starve!
Day 2 - 30th January
Departed Male at 08:00hrs, and on our way to the dock entrance with Olly at the helm. We got confused on the exact direction of a tug and container barge, some evasive action on our part was required!
We had not been going long when one of the trailing fishing lines caught a huge Wahoo. Hauled in by Luke and expertly gaffed by Scott the fish was decked. Weighing 24lbs it was clear that Jo would be trying every recepe possible for us to eat it all.
Past our first resort of Asdhoo Island then open sea and the usual swell \ roll. The last time I experienced this was on the original Boo although Boo Too, by being larger all round, negated the effect somewhat. However, our course directly north meant we were meeting the sea at the worst angle and a fairly uncomfortable 12 hours started. Soon after Midnight we could change course and then the seasickness left us and sleep arrived.
Day 3 - 31st January
I was raised from my bunk to see the 5* Resort of Dhonakulhi. It is one island but with a coral reef on the opposite side. We passed through a channel of deep water, no more than 75m wide. Looked just fantastic but at 08:30hrs there were few guests about. Only 43 rooms. Luke came up with the “one liner” that it was a relief not to see “thatched council houses”! These are bedrooms on stilts, being the popular way to provide rooms without using any land.
We arrived at Uligamu Island, the “capital” of the North. This is Ihavandhippolhu Atoll and is the most northern in the Maldives. We spotted a few other yachts moored.
The first activity was to try and snorkel with a school of huge Manta rays in the northern entrance to the atoll. Thereafter we went ashore and walked along the most wonderful beach. As a lover of beaches and warm shallow water I was in heaven. Olly and Lulu looked round the village; the remainder of us had insufficient clothing to be allowed to do so, in what is a very Islamic country.
We learnt that a new airport and resort would be built by next February so we were all glad to have seen this island prior to the 21st century arriving and ending the beauty of it. But the locals were looking forward to the development.
Day 4 - 1st February
Upped the anchor at 08:00hrs and made our way to Hanimaadhoo to collect Joni Knuuti the new engineer.
Almost stopped at Ultheem, which has a Palace on it, but Joni was on time and we had to press on. However we could see the gold dome and tower of what we assumed was a mosque.
With Joni on board we cruised to Filadu which is a horseshoe-shaped reef / island. Access was via unchartered waters and the dingy was used to navigate a route into the lagoon. We moored approx 200m from the shore. Lulu and I were very keen to get onto the sand and swim in the wonderful shallow waters.
Day 5 - 2nd February
Ohh the joy of no anchor chain to wake one! Slept in. Olly and Wendy apparently went for an early morning water ski, personally I heard nothing. By the time I surfaced Olly, Luke and Scott, with Wendy in the dingy, had gone diving. They reported back that there was not a lot to see.
Lulu and I were dropped off on the beach after lunch and had the most relaxing afternoon. There was a small fishing hut, made from tin panels, that was clearly still used as a day / night stopover. The older version, built in coral stones, was much the nicer but had lost its roof and been abandoned.
The absolute highlight to date was the BBQ on the beach organised by Jo and Wendy. It was just so memorable, with a full moon and candles sunk into the sand this really was being in another world. All the crew made a huge effort in the ship to shore journeys and Scott showed that the South Africans have lost none of their touch when it comes to making a fire and subsequently cooking a BBQ.
Day 6 - 3rd February
Anchor up at 08:00 hrs prompt. Olly in a hurry,
Sad to leave Dhapparu Lagoon, it was as perfect as one can get if getting away from the rest of the 21st century is your wish.
We made our way to Goidhoo using the engine as there was not a breath of wind but this made for a very comfortable ride. Some prevarication over where to drop anchor but settled on the Western end. The dive party went and returned. Apparently there was more to see but not fantastic.
Lulu and I were back on a new beach and had some great snorkelling on the edge of the reef. Lulu in particular had never seen anything like this and was amazed. Good coral and colourful fish. We then walked along the beach and by the jetty met some local fisherman / traders. There was a boatbuilding shed and it was a joy to see what we had been taught at prep school still very much in use - making joints and holding them together with doweling.
We walked into the village down the main street and, yes, there was a post office and telephone kiosk. The buildings were up to date with a very new blue coloured mosque. 400 residents. Clearly the majority of the locals had not seen many westerners and we were a bit of a “show”. Hence a few became a crowd and we were followed everywhere. There were two “smooth” lads who had worked in the resorts and acquired themselves a small motorbike each. “Cruising” the High Street was the “cool” move!
Eventually the hand radio came to life with Olly asking for our presence back on board and threatening that if we were not “damn quick” the tide would be so low we would have to stay for 3 hours until it had turned. Very kindly the two lads offered us a lift on their bikes back to the beach where Luke was arriving with the dingy. On bidding everyone farewell I was given what I thought was a Coconut, and was very effusive in my thanks, until Lulu quietly mentioned it was a Water Melon. Oh dear, a certain amount of back peddling!
We both hugely enjoyed meeting all these people and we will no doubt be talked about as those strangers for some time!
Jo cooked a delicious chicken curry for dinner, a perfect end to a great day.
Day 7 - 4th February
Great morning sail and Olly very exited that we were making 11 knots. So exiting was all this speed that we arrived at our next turn rather sooner than expected and somewhat closer to an island we were supposed to be avoiding than was the plan. Oh the joy of sailing!
We arrived at Hulhudhuffarru, which looked busy but without any tourists. We were met by a local sailing boat (see photo) and Lulu and I were encouraged to go for a ride. It was a great experience and the person who owned the boat was very charming. Olly gave him a large photo of him on his boat.
We had caught a Dorado in the morning. Jo produced a tagliatelle with the fish in it for lunch that was to die for!
Olly, Scott, Luke and Wendy went to dive where the guy in the sail boat had said to go. He was right they came back with “best ever” to “best in the Maldives”. At last happy divers. The dive was round a small island and the reef was very clear with a good drop and some caves. On the way back we saw lots of fish jumping in the water which Scott said meant there was a significant predator in the area.
We all went ashore to a town the sailboat guy had said housed 4,000 people. It had been smaller but was enlarged due to refugees from the Tsunami being sent here. It looked very up to date and peaceful, that was until the school came out and what had been a deserted street became full with hundreds of children. They were immaculate in white clothes.
The final excitement was the catching of a very large Barracuda at about 8:00pm by using live bait. Scott was in his element (see photo). It was decided to let it go and everyone hoped it would survive the ordeal. Claims to the biggest fish caught on Boo Too are being checked!
Day 8 - 5th February
Departed early again, Olly now on Maldives time and 06:30am is not soon enough to get going. Jo unkindly points out that comments on the early starts in this log are somewhat irrelevant to the writer, who has difficulty appearing much before 10:00am.
We sailed to a place called Kureda Express Channel, within sight of two resorts. The diving book had highlighted this as a place to be, so Olly, Scott, Luke and Wendy all went to have a look. At the same time Lulu and Joe went snorkelling taking the small dingy otherwise known as Tara’s boat.
The divers had a great dive and, yes, best yet!!
Lunch was on the move as we made our way to Maabinhuraa Island on the Faadhippolhu Atoll. There was no way into the lagoon so we anchored about 1 mile from the beach. The shore party, Olly, Lulu and me, departed. At a distance it looked idyllic with a long sandy beach and a few fishermen’s huts. On arrival the fisherman’s huts were clearly used and the beds in the “dorm” annex were all in a line like at school! (see photo). A long avenue of palm trees ran through to the east side of the island and as we looked out Olly mentioned the next stop out there in a straight line was Malaysia.
So far we had had the best because the walk along the beach was completely strewn with washed up rubbish. Some in piles was of the locals making but the majority was simply what the sea had dumped. It’s a terrible shame and not a sight any resort visitor would see. It makes one appreciate the work the resort islands have to do every morning to get their beaches cleaned at first light in order to retain the “idyllic” vision we all have of the Maldives.
Back on the boat and Luke is soon hauling in a Jack fish. Huge great mouth with razor sharp teeth. It’s decided we should keep it and Jo used it for dinner. She did a great job on what was tough old meat. Olly commented that the texture was exactly that of a good steak.
Now for the day’s highlight. We were anchored out of sight of any electric light or the effects of light pollution. Luke switched the lights off in the rigging and the sight of a clear sky without the moon was awesome. Later the moon appeared and lit up vast areas of the sea. Personally I enjoy moments like this because we find ourselves too rarely in places with no light pollution.
Day 9 - 6th February
This early start is becoming a habit! Sympathy for the crew is my only thought whilst remaining in my bunk.
However arriving on deck to see the spinnaker up was an impressive sight.
We arrived at Gaafora Atoll with the view to spending the rest of the day and all tomorrow at what on the map looked an “ideal” place. We got into the lagoon very easily and motored the few miles to the far side but then it all became very difficult trying to navigate our way through coral heads and reefs to the island. The dingy is sent out to find a way in but all to no avail. So, with the best laid plan not looking so good, a tactical retreat was made. The next available stop was 2+hrs away and it was going to be a rush to get to an anchorage before dark.
It is at this point the engine decided to take a break from the action. So, under sail only and with not enough wind, we set off. Joni had all the spanners out in what was probably sooner than he had expected on his new boat. Something to do with exhaust alarms and lack of cooling sea water I was told. To Joni’s great credit the engine was back to life within an hour and we made Makuudhoo island in North male Atoll with 15 mins to spare.
As they say, “a day all at sea” in every sense.
Day 10 - 7th February
Olly and Luke found a 5* dive site in a guide book that is conveniently located on our route. The usual gang to dive with Lulu snorkelling on the surface. This time the conclusion was that the book’s description was better than the real thing.
We moved a short distance to Asdhoo island, which is a 2* resort owned by locals. We went ashore to request access to the beach and possibly dinner for everyone. The place was 100% full of Italians and dinner was not possible, but the beach was and Lulu and I had a wonderful afternoon in the sand and sea. Meanwhile Olly was perfecting his one ski starts and Wendy showed everyone, including the shore party, that wake boarding for the first time is perfectly possible.
Jo played a wonderful practical joke in pretending that she had not been told of the lack of dinner on shore. So there we were drinking on deck with no table laid and clearly no sign of any food. She and Wendy kept this going and I have to confess to being totally had. Dinner was prepared and delicious and the chocolate mouse was to die for!
Day 11 - 8th February
Oh dear we have to leave, all off by 11:00am are the orders!
It’s so easy being a guest with crew like those on Boo Too who are so willing and make a big effort to ensure we are comfortable. Every day was different, a complete contrast to a “resort” holiday, and that made this trip very special.
So it’s congrats to Luke, Scott, Joni, Jo and Wendy for a very memorable time. It’s also farewell to Luke who leaves the boat after two and a half years. We all wish him every success for the future.
END OF PART 1 OF LOG
Days 12/18 – 09/15 Feb
Boo and children arrived in Male, jumped onto a sea plane and flew down to the little island of Dhiffushi on the north side of Thaa atoll to join Boo Too. The crew had sailed there overnight from Male.
The following week was one of great fun and the photo library attached to this log spells it all out