Friday, January 23, 2009

Arrival in Male'

We had the perfect start to our last day at sea when a large school of dolphins swam with us for a good twenty minutes. It was as though they were an advanced welcoming party increasing our anticipation of our imminent landfall. We also saw large "flocks" of flying fish skimming across the water promising larger predators beneath the surface and for a while it looked as though we'd arrive with the fridge stuffed full of fresh fish. We lost the first fish as we reeled it in, the second was a monster, quickly running out all our line against a high drag and finally disappearing with the short-lived but successful squidski. Unfortunately re-rigging the line with a new squid failed to lure any more fish.
From a few miles off, Male' looked like a mini Singapore, densely packed high-rise buildings appearing to emerge straight from the water. The feeling was enhanced as we made our way to the packed anchorage on the more sheltered west side of the island; reminiscent of the busy anchorages on the south coast of Singapore.

With our tripping line readied we were prepared to try our luck on the 15m coral patch we'd learned was the only viable option for yachts, but as we approached the shallower water, we spotted another yacht further north in the anchorage. Hoping to glean valuable inside information about the check-in procedure we headed towards them. Unfortunately when they spotted us, they were hoping we might be able to help them! The Italians on Kiribati had arrived early that morning and were struggling to find an agent who would manage the check-in procedure for them. They'd tied themselves to the back of a large Omani fishing vessel and offered to take our lines.Once we'd strung ourselves behind Kiribati they filled us in on the situation. The next two days, Friday and Saturday were holidays, if we didn't manage to check-in today we'd have to wait until Sunday unable to leave the boat. It was now 4pm and as they'd been trying to wake up the bureaucratic machine ashore since the morning, the situation wasn't looking promising. We attempted to make contact with the authorities via the VHF, but couldn't raise any response. As we discussed the situation, over our first beer since leaving Thailand, the situation started to improve. With much Italian gesticulation Marco eventually contacted a couple of agents ashore via his mobile. Initially they quoted eye-wateringly outrageous figures for their services, but eventually we settled on a merely ridiculous price, although we doubted that they'd turn up as promised at 18.30. Incredibly the arrangement worked and after much form-filling and stamping - the Kika stamp being a requirement here to validate crew-lists and ship's papers copies - we were free to go ashore.

It was Marco's birthday, their dinghy had a puncture, so I offered to take the four of us (David staying onboard to catch-up on sleep) ashore for celebrations. It hadn't really sunk in before, that the Maldives are a strict Moslem country, so no alcohol is served, (unless in a tourist enclave) with the law appearing to be particular rigorously applied in Male'. Still we did our best to toast Marco's birthday raising our glasses of water over our Maldivian feast.

Position @ 15:00 (GMT +5) 22/1/2008: N4deg 10.7' E73deg 29.8'
Distance covered from Thailand to Maldives: 1550
Total time: 10days 0hours
Average speed: 6.45knots
Engine hours: 0.5hours

1 comment:

Jim Brockett said...

Hi Nick, Just caught up on your blog - Congraulations on reaching the Maldives and the plan to cruise around them. We're very jealous, its cold and snowy here and we'd love to be fishing, swimming and scuba diving off yachts. If you need a crew at anytime, just drop us a line - without a job to hold us back we'd be out quick as a flash! Love Jim & Ged