Saturday 30 April 1632 Local Time 1332
If you get a chance to google our anchorage at this
location you should - if not I will try to do it justice with a couple of photos
Yesterday was a threshold for us and we were
delighted to be leaving the anchorage at Hulemale. It was far from the
impression we had of the Maldives and was very uncomfortable with waves spilling
over the coral reef to the west and reflecting off the piled wall of the
reclaimed land to the east. Just topping up the reef with rock armour would form
an excellent year yound anchorage and could be an excellent international
I have been worn out recently and to my great
disappointment I have not really fully recovered from my accident eleven weeks
ago. My weariness has been reflected in Rhiann Marie too. All the normal
jobs I would be doing have slipped down the priority list and have just had to
wait. The dingy painter is frayed and foreshortened needing replaced, genoa
sheets need whipping, a new St Andrews Cross needs hoisting, decks need
scrubbing, lazarettes need emptying and re-stowing, the leech line on the
mainsail needs easing, stainless needs polishing, a pump needs changing, the
mast needs draining of ingressing water, the genoa furler needs rewiring to
reverse the direction of the controls (since refitting a new motor in Thailand),
the fridge ... etc etc. There are some major jobs too. The furling foil in
the main needs opening up again and my temporary repair, which to be fair
in my own hands will problably last quite some time, needs to be
Anyway as always in life when things are getting a
bit away from you, or on top of you, the only solution is to get up earlier
put your shoulder to the wheel, dig deeper and work harder and
So it was yesterday we got up early and hauled
anchor out of Hulemale anchorage (should it be re-christened Hole of Male
anchorage?). I got a couple of small jobs off the list first just so the jobs
list knows who is boss. I then decided I would grap it by the throat wrestle it
to the ground and keep there under my heel!
Now with PMA out of control we barely cleared the
channel from the anchorage when we hoisted main and jib and set a Rhumb
line course for the commercial dock where we were due to rendevouz with the
coastguard and our agent to clear us through Male, get our cruising permit
and .... yes .. get my speargun back out of the Coastguards custody. It was
however to be placed under a restraining order.
We had a swift sail across towing the RIB and at
the entrance to the Port Docks I jumped out the back of Rhiann Marie into the
RIB while Trish circled with Rhiann Marie in the traffic in 50 metres of water.
I was also under instructions to go to the bakery to get some pastries and
bread as we were an hour early arriving at the dock. I landed on the deserted
dock and headed for security, only then remembering that it was Friday,
Prayer Day and everything was closed down.
While waiting for the agent to come to the dock
security I got chatting to a guy at the gate who told me to jump on the back of
his motorbike (there must be 20,000 of them in Male and I have now been on
a good percentage of them) and he would take me to a small local bakery he knew,
which obviously did not close for prayers, to get my daily bread. This kind
of help and kindness has been repeated many times since we arrived in
So to the formalities. Abdullah arrived .......
with my elusive spares ....... and a gift of another bag of baking which he had
procured at a back door somewhere I guess!
Straight into the Coastguards we went and due to
Abdullah's insistence we were to get our spear gun back though we were to spend
another four weeks in the Maldives. The cunning coastguards however disarmed it
with four cable ties. The blighters.
Getting up with the mindset to attack the day was
paying dividends and we were under way under sail with all formalities
completed before 1000 which was the designated rendevouz time. This was a good
start and the day just got better and better.
The seasons are changing here now and we now have
wall to wall westerlies. Yesterday they were 12 - 15 knots and I was heading
south - under clear blue skies. The speed built in flat waters on the easten
side of south Male Atoll, no more than one or two hundred metres from the reef
but still in one to two hundred metres of depth!
Boom and genny all the way out at first with wind
at 150deg which gradually backed as we turned slightly west of south,
trimming to the wind all the way, following the reef and eventually
switching to the jib to enter the reef at the south of the atoll.
Feeling on top of the world I hardened the main and
jib and BEAT my way up through the channel into fifteen knots. Oh good
grief I forgot just how beautifully Rhiann Marie sails when in her stride. It
was sublime. While Trish slept I put in tack after tack bringing our bow right
up to the, oh so turquise - and brown - reef, while the keel was still in
30metres of dark blue. I swear on some tacks the resident guests of some of
the water bugalows must have thought I was going to join them, in their
This short sail of a few hours was one of the best
sails I have ever had. Speed peaked at 9.5 knots and I sailed her right up to
the anchor setting it in 30m of water and falling back without the use of the
engine. Nothing broke - bloody marvelous!
At our anchorage we set off on a snorkelling
mission and had a great trip sighting at close quarters the
largest Moray eel I have ever seen. Fearsome. Trish was shooting
everything in sight with the underwater camera which had not had a restraining
order put on it. Last night for the first time in several nights I slept
This morning it was a slow start but off we went
under sail, beating upwind to the western fringe of the atoll, and boy were we
rewarded. Sailing in 30 - 40 metres of water right alongside - not close to,
right alongside the reefs - the sailing again was sublime tacking away to my
hearts content sailing around checking out reefs, anchorages and islands. When
we found one we thought we would anchor at, again I rounded up under sail
and started dropping the anchor when ......... down to the south I saw a narrow
strip of golden sand at the edge of the western reef....
Out with the jib and main again and we charged off
weaving in and out of the turquise and brown reefs jutting forty metres off the
atoll floor to offer us countless landing pads.
When we arrived I can honestly say that
the scene will rank among the ten most beautiful places we have seen since
we started our journey. I doubt photographs will do it justice but we were so
struck by it Trish went sixty foot up the mast to snap the scene. When she
came down I was despatched to the top of the mast to have another
After that we went for a snorkel and Trish
surpassed herself on this trip, following a flying Spotted Eagle Ray and
filming it and also getting one or two excellent shots. I had one or two
excellent shots too.
It was a truly excellent day and while it has been
a long time since we have been to the reefs, we were reminded of just how
fortunate we are to be on such an incredible adventure and that these
moments are what it is all about, even if sometimes they seem rare.
We enjoyed a beautiful fish curry for dinner