Socotra to the Maldives, 3rd Sept. - 12th Sept.

david and margaret ritchie
Fri 15 Sep 2006 10:58
Arrived in Male at last after 16 days at sea. Our longest trip so far - 1850 miles and never less than 200 miles from land after leaving the Gulf of Aden. After the scary pirates in the Gulf of Aden and unpleasant weather at Socotra, we expected an easy time but that was not to be.The winds died down to 25 knots but we were left with a bumpy sea and many squalls which shot the wind speed up, then drenched the poor crew, who rushed to reef the sails.We tried reefing before the squalls but then they did not come! Luckily there was some sun at this stage and we could dry out. A highlight was Margaret practising the sewing skills she learned as a child and has seldom practised since although to my knowledge she has never had to sew outside in 30 knot winds. A rip in the mainsail would not repair with a glued-on patch, so up she got on the coach roof and sewed the patch on.For over an hour, she had to sit in a most precarious position and patiently sew away and she was pretty stiff by the time she got down. Not as stiff as the gin she downed though!!
After the first four days, there followed a really miserable 3 - 4 days of total cloud, almost continuous rain and squalls, and we, like the boat, became wet and miserable. Everything we wore was wet, and, if you opened a hatch, a sea would see it and come deluging in. We had quite a few drenchings.
At last this cleared and we got below the 10 degree north line, and we got back our warm sun and the squalls became much softer and more manageable. The last few days were spent in high spirits racing towards Male, while every article of clothing and upholstery got its turn to air in the cockpit. We still got caught by the odd lumpy sea spotting an open hatch but so what , it was sunny, warm and we were sailing at speed.
The approach to the Maldives was a bit nerve wracking. We approached from the west, making landfall after dusk, and trying to read up on how to navigate in coral. Basically, do not make landfall at night is the gist of it.Armed with multiple G.P.S., chartplotters, radar and the most up-to-date admiralty charts, however , we were undaunted.As skipper (  ha ha ), I tentatively mentioned to my lady-wife crew, that I was a bit concerned but she was on her way to bed , so I was told in no uncertain terms not to be so stupid,  just get on with it and see you in the morning and not before. She was as always right and it was a very pleasant night, with a full moon and no clouds. The atolls were lit up like beacons and I spent most of the night trying to identify the multitude of marks on the radar screen. Totally beyond me but let's hope that B.S.C. runs a course soon!