We approached Male at first light and had to carefully select which channel
to take as a number of quite recent wrecks showed how easy it would be to
make a mistake and what the consequences would be.
Male itself was a very unusual sight - an island tightly packed with modern
architecture, resembling a miniature Manhattan.There was shipping anchored
everywhere, and the channels buzzed with ferries of all sizes, all coming
and going at break-neck speed.
Aileen had found an agent in Male for us from the web, to organise all the
official paperwork necessary for clearing in and out of the Maldives, and we
hailed him on the V.H.F.when we were about a mile off, and were directed to
the north-west harbour.There a troop of officials came on board - police,
immigration, customs and health, all of whose main concern seemed to be
welcoming us to Male.
Following this, to our surprise, the agent took us for a familiarising walk
around the town, pointing out the fish market, supermarkets etc and then
treated us to a lovely lunch at a Thai restaurant.Then, while he took away
the laundry, we did some shopping before meeting up again when he piloted us
to our anchorage at the Hulule lagoon, where a fuel barge was waiting. We
could not believe the friendliness and efficiency of the officials, our
agent and even the fuel boatmen were so meticulous in their care of our
After a long lie to recover, we spent the next couple of days carrying out
minor repairs on the boat and the rest of the time, we took the 15 minute
ferry from Halule to Male to explore the town, and enjoy the restaurants,
which were incredibly good and cheap, although no alcohol was served!
Many of the shopkeepers were Indian and seemed intent on selling you all
sorts of necessities that you didn't know you needed, all at bargain prices.
Luckily our training sessions at a certain chemists had prepared us for all
this, and we emerged relatively unburdened.
Our final meeting with the agent to get clearance papers and settle our
account, was again so unexpectedly pleasant, with everything meticulously
completed and the final account being much below the skipper's expectations.
On Sunday morning we set out on our final leg, only 1600 miles to go. Our
intention is to keep just a few degrees above the equator thus avoiding any
cyclones in the Bay of Bengal , then round the north of Sumatra before
crossing the top end of the Straits of malacca to Langkawi where we hope to
find a safe berth for the boat.