04:10.94N 73:29.95E

Andrew Smyth
Sat 4 Oct 2008 12:35
The Maldives: a really strange place, but a welcome refuge after 14 days and
nearly 2,300 miles against contrary currents across the Indian Ocean. We had
little wind on the passage from Kenya and had to motor much of the way, and
at times we thought we wouldn't have enough diesel to get us there.

Boats are now officially discouraged from visiting these islands, for
reasons that are not clear. As a result we are only allowed to anchor in a
small lagoon by the airport runway, so it's not very attractive. We can take
the ferry into the capital Male, which ressembles a sort of 21st Century
Miami Beach. Most of the buildings are new, with countless others under
construction, and most are at least 10 stories. Although the country's main
industry is tourism, few tourists visit the capital which seems content to
keep at a distance and live off the income they generate. The worse thing
about it, however, is that the island is completely dry and not even the few
hotels serve alcohol. Stocking up with wine and beer is totally impossible.

That visiting boats are not allowed to cruise the outer islands without a
minimum $400 dollar payment is not necessarily a disadvantage since it seems
that few resorts on these islands welcome visiting boats anyway. I was told
this results from a visit on a chartered boat by Tom Cruise during one of
his honeymoons. Apparently all the resort owners were so outraged that he
hadn't stayed on one or other of the islands that they blamed the charterer
for taking away their business and got the law changed to prohibit
chartertered boast form visiting without without payment of massive fees.
There are nearly 100 resort islands now and the few that we passed seemed to
be in to a high level of development with running water, elctrcitiy, docks
and jetties - one was even completedly surrounded by man-made breakwaters. I
prefer them a bit more simple and natural.

We're now on our way to Sri Lanka.