by Captain Bart de Zwart
It is already our last day in the Maldives. The Sun is just setting on the horizon. A few clouds make this one even more spectacular than the many others we had. Earlier we found a perfect anchorage in a pass right next to a barreling right hander and we had the whole place to ourselves! Three months in the Maldives, it is time for a reflection.
Although the first trip we had some challenging conditions, during most of our time here, we had better than expected weather. The SW monsoon has been treating us well, with mostly sunny days and an occasional squall or shower. Most trips we had around 75% of good kiting conditions, in the range of 9-14M. The windless days we filled with surfing and snorkeling. We really enjoyed our time here.
Provisioning has been challenging in the Maldives. In the capital Malé we could get all the groceries and produce we needed. It was the only place where we were allowed to go ashore, so we had to provision for 9 people for 10 days at a time. Our shopping list looked like this: 180 eggs, 10 watermelons, 10 pineapples… in the end it always worked out. In Hulhumale there is a great fish market with daily catch. We were always stocked with Yellow fin tuna and Mahi Mahi. That together with an occasional fresh catch of lobster or red snapper by our first mate Pierre – life was good on board.
12 years ago we spend 6 weeks here, but we didn’t see much of the atolls because cruising permits were not easy to get. Now the Maldives are more open and we were able to go to many atolls. We arrived in the South and worked our way to Malé where we picked up our first guests. For almost three months we sailed between the atolls, kited over the turquoise water, surfed the challenging reef breaks and wing foiled. For me the best way to travel the world is by boat. You just get to many places you would normally never get to – and in a very climate friendly way. We are just quite slow. What would be an 8hrs flight takes us 4 weeks. “It is all about the journey not the destination”.
We had wonderful guests on board, many became instant friends. We spend a great time together.
One small error we made was not knowing that it is not allowed to buy alcohol in the Maldives. Luckily we had bought just enough in the Seychelles to make it work.
We found the Maldivians very friendly and helpful. On a side note, a disappointment was the amount of plastic we found on some of the more remote beaches. Here the government has to step in and take responsibility to educate the population. Too many think it is ok to throw it in the water. Parley Maldives is organizing regular beach clean ups now through much of the atolls.
We are moving on now and starting our crossing to South Africa tomorrow morning. 4 weeks at sea, some extra time to think what we had and what lies ahead.