Male:13th - 16 September

david and margaret ritchie
Mon 18 Sep 2006 14:29
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 boat.
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.