Sunday 17th April 1652 Local Time 1152
Mission accomplished! For the last couple of months
now the shadow of the passage west to catch up the conveyor of favourable
weather and seasonal currents has been hanging over us. Trish at times had
really reached the bottom and had not intended to be making this passage. I was
not certain how my back would handle the eight or nine day passage. However all
was well and as I previously told you I would not consider myself fit to
continue unless I could go up the mast and under the keel. I am fit enough to do
both now and have been at least part way up and down to both quite comfortably.
However while Donald was here he did the honours on both counts so as to
minimise the risk to my stainless steel clashing with the aluminium of the mast
and lead of the keel and causing electrolysis ......... or worse! Murdo
looked after the physical and mental requirements of the patients and as usual
gives of himself to feed to others well being.
Our two day passage from Sri Lanka was uneventful
and we arrived in Male atoll in the Maldives on Friday afternoon and were
immediately met by our agent with all neccessary officials in tow.
The whole process was very efficient but one of my
spear guns was taken into custody as an "illegal firearm". They must have heard
I was coming! Male is a bit of a shock to the system and not at all what the
brochure pictures of the Maldives would have you believe you were going to see.
The island and capital, Male is very built up and very commercial, with a
lot of ferry and commercial and fishing traffic all around. In fact the whole
harbour area is fairly chaotic and you certainly need to have your wits about
you. The town is very busy and narrow streets are congested with bikes, mopeds,
motorcycles, cars, trucks and people. The fish market and fruit market are both
excellent and really do feel other worldly.
The Maldives, situated 300 miles south west of
India, are an independent republic with a population of 220,000 people.
The people are almost all Sunni Muslim and I am sure more than half the
whole population live in Male atoll. There are however 1,190 islands which make
up the Maldives and only 200 of them are inhabited. Of these between 80 and
90 are "resort islands" which most certainly are the exotic turqoise watered
idyllic spots you will see in brochures.
After a day or so of formalities and trips ashore
to get the lay of the land which again I surveyed from the back of my
agents motorcyle, we had had enough of busy Male and upped anchor from
underneath the flight path.
We headed south on a gentle beam reach, at one
point gliding along majestically at six knots in just over six knots of
breeze, to the north end of South Male atoll and found a reef bound
anchorage with an open aspect and anchored a hundred metres or so off the
most incredible expanse of turquoise water you could dream of. The back
drop was a couple of reef bound resort islands with their over water stilted
bungalows and golden beaches.
None of that really mattered though and aboard
Rhiann Marie in our own space and time underneath starry skies and an almost
full moon we had a dellicious dinner of steak and roasted potatoes with salad
and yes...... a delicious bottle of red.
Last night for the first time in many months I
breathed a deep sigh of relief and know that amongst the reefs and islands here
for the next month or so, my back and now Trish's foot can
further strengthen and we can hope to find again the magic of the
remote islands and reefs which we have already visited and will never forget.
Also I hope we can do a wee bit of fishing you see ........ only one of my
spearguns is under arrest. Don't mention a word about it though in case I
find myself sharing a cell with it ...............
Today we just took it easy and after only
one repair job, fitting a new throttle cable to the RIB we slipped of
into the turquise to just snorkel and shoot fish, though only with Trish's new
underwater camera. Some images are attached