Last night we cruised into Male, passed the airport terminal and moored about 30 minutes away.
In the morning, we have our breakfast, move to the quay right outside the terminal with trolleys on the quayside and say goodbye to the crew.
There’s the room boy Ahmed – nice hair!!
The waiter Assadh who kept an eye on me from the inflatable cause my mask kept leaking when in the water – nice eyes, eh?!!
Bablu the cook, from Bangladesh, who worked wonders in his little galley – the one with the white T shirt.
And Captain Laray
And this was our route –
Leaving Fulidhoo we start to make our way back to Male. On the way we meet up with & snorkle alongside 3 manta rays like huge beating carpets & a large pod of dolphins who are clever enough to lead us on a merry chase around the boats.
The Embudhoo reef & sandbank was a bit scarey. Whilst some snorkled along the reef a group of us were off loaded from the small boats to explore the small sandbank for an hour. The single feature was this 2 metre high cone of dead coral. From the sandbank 3 reef sharks were spotted gently swimming around about 3 metres from shore. Each was about 3 metres in length. Needless to say none of us chose to go into the water at this juncture.
The pace of life on Fulidhoo is like on all these isalnds: very laid back with lots of sitting around, fishing & chatting.
The boys are in town!!
School sports’ afternoon on the beach including high jump
After a day spent eating & cruising & snorkling, as dusk approaches, we anchor beside a large inhabited island called Maduvvari with school, police station, magistrate’s court, mosque and a population of 1,000 or so people. By large I mean it takes 15 minutes maximum to walk very slowly around the island.
Not a lot to do here but sit around & pass the time of day – husbands with wives, men with men, women with women, children with children & mothers, boys with boys and girls with girls.
And the high spot – watch the sunset:
I wake up to watch local snorkling fishermen at work in the dawn sunlight. A spotter goes down and raises his arm when he spots fish. The other four each grab a corner of a square net and swim around the shoal and drag it to their open backed boat and its contents are hauled on board.
After breakfast we are on our way across turquoise coral seas surrounded by darker reefs and the wider blue of the deeper ocean. The Maldives consists of 12 or so atolls. These are separated by channels of open ocean with proper surf. Atolls are like cut off mountain/volcano tops and vary in size but can be up to 10/20 miles across. Around the circumference (a maths’ term) are dotted up to 100 or so islands which vary in size from sandbars which may just protrude above the surface or are hidden underneath & only given away by the turquoise water which covers it and allows the lightness of the coral sands to show through, to small unihabited islands with a few scruffy trees/bushes, to larger inhabited islands that take all of 10 minutes to walk across, where a small village may be rooted in the middle.
On a private sandbar a game of cricket takes place. Is Lords like this? What a grand seat to watch the game from. They kept losing the ball though!!
During the morning we follow a small pod of dolphins.
In the afternoon snorkle 3 giant sting rays are spotted on the sands beneath the boat.
We stop that night beside, you guessed it, another unihabited island! Just peace, quiet and the gentle motion of the boat in a small swell (another nautical term!!).
Well two boats actually, one with 6 people the other with 10, both with crews of four. You’ll see lots of pics of the other boat at sea as it is rather difficult to take photos of own boat in its entirety. For instance here is our sister ship arriving at our first night’s mooring beside an inhabited island called Gulhi on South Male Atoll
My lovely little cabin.
Looking into the galley (sailing term for kitchen!!) from the table where we eat.
Of course we all need masks, snorkles & flippers.
Having spent a day snorkling and cruising & cruising and snorkling, we come up to a sand bank in the middle of nowhere with nothing on it but a very trendy sculpture made of drift wood – 30 paces long! (the sandbank that is). Yes, we drop anchor, snorkle, eat dinner, do some night fishing and watch the sunset before settling down for our second night on the high seas with no sign of land in any direction.
Have snitched these as I did not have an underwater camera and I saw them all.
Line caught tuna & a Jack fish were landed & consumed later in the week.
With no wifi (but surprisingly mobile phone reception in the middle of the Indian ocean many miles from land) this part of the blog is retrospective and all took place last week.
A short flight from Colombo to Male, the capital, takes me to the Maldives. The airport is perched on one island. Immediately outside the airport there are water buses to wizz passengers across the waterways to the main island a bit like a far eastern Venice. A night in a hotel and then a morning to explore the small, bustling centre of this muslim country – fish markets, vegetable markets, stores loaded onto boats from stores, water buses, freight barges, speed boats, luxury cruisers & diving vessels.
Water buses moor up before passengers cram in along with boxes, cases, bundles & crates – oh and the 3 guys who ride their motorbikes down the gang plank and park them at the end of the bus behind the seats.
Then off by water bus to a jetty where we transfer to our boat. The luggage goes first in the inflatable.
Then we set off and cruise for a couple of hours to our first night’s stop.