In many ways the last trip started over 10 years ago. I was sitting in a pub on the SW corner of Vancouver Island near the Juan De Fuca Straits with a guy who’d just completed a circumnavigation. It was the spring of 1999 and other than commercial fishing in the Bearing Sea I’d never been offshore and had no idea how it all worked. This guy’s stories of adventure kept me rapt for hours and I furiously scribbled notes about all the places he reckoned were “must sees”. One in particular seemed more enticing and yet elusive than any other. Chagos. I’d never heard of it and remember pulling out a map later that night just to make sure it was real.
Knowing the trade winds would be long gone by April we planned this 10 day adventure around surf. The southern atolls in the Maldives are exposed to reliable swell from the south Indian Ocean, which culminate in some of the worlds best reef breaks. Our plan was to leave Male and cover the distance to arrive well before the clients’ flight into Huvadhoo atoll, one of the largest atolls in the world and only 20 miles north of the equator. But on the day of our planned departure I learned 8 time world SUP champion Jamie Mitchell’s signature Surftech board had not arrived. As SUP boards aren’t the easiest things to travel with we’d made plans weeks in advance to have it shipped to Male so we could carry it south with us on Discovery. Instead of departing I spent a full night with our agent Abdullah at the airport trying to clear the board from customs. This would not be the last problem on the trip.
I’ve never been into drugs. But I imagine “coming down” would feel a lot like I do right now. A bit dizzy, a bit confused, a lot tired. The last 15 days played out like an eternity and somehow also disappeared in a flash. When I look back it all seemed to start ages ago because there’s no way you can fit into each day all the things that happened, but it also seems like the clients just stepped on the boat. My body and those of our guests show signs of genuine abuse. I’ve got a serious limp after smacking my calf into a Kiteboard while rescuing a sinking mask; the guests thankfully are unhurt, but they may want to have a skin exam in the near future. The sun has crisped their skin like burnt bacon.
In the Honeymoon destination of the Maldives you find many wonders, but get off the tourist route a bit and you find pure paradise. Join us as we are the first ever to paraglide over these magical waters.
I try not to get too excited about any of the locations on our itinerary. Most of them are places I haven’t been to in the past, just like our guests. But I’ve found if you allow yourself to romanticize and dream too much, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. Readers might recall this was the case with Myanmar, where the guidebooks and the crazy costs to get there conspired into hype which got the better of me (see “Long Days in a Strange Land“). So as we sailed, well motored west from Myanmar across the Bay of Bengal to the Andaman Islands I left the guidebooks on their shelves, and kept my mind buried in the engine rooms, which needed attention, rather than the horizon.
Burma, or Myanmar is very, very difficult to sail due to the time consuming and exhorbitant expense of obtaining permits. Our hope was that this meant we’d be sailing an area that was pristine and wild. We find it anything but.
We celebrate the New Year with a full moon for company in the Mergui Archipelago in Myanmar.
A rough and extremely scary solo passage through two of the busiest shipping routes on earth puts skipper Gavin McClurg through the ultimate test.
Come aboard the Best Odyssey with superstar Ben Wilson for the swell of the decade in Sumbawa.
Scoring wind and waves in the heart of the Indonesian archipelago…