Posted by: catamarantwooceans | April 4, 2013

Sailing from Cochin to the Maldives

31.3.13 – Sunday – Because of the tide we could only leave at 1150 and even then the boat was plowing in mud, the depth meter showing 0.7 meters (we touch bottom at 0.9) and the props raising black goo from the bottom. Once in deep water we followed the channel out of the harbor; a pod of dolphins surfed the bow wave of a dredging ship that just went out and we were both happy to finally  be on our way.

Uligamu, the port of entry in the northern atoll of Ihavandhipolu (such are the names in the Maldives) is 265 miles from our point of departure; the forecast was for northwesterly winds of less than 10 knots. Gili is not keen on long distance voyages and finds it difficult to stay awake during her watches, so I promised her to reach land in two sailing days, knowing that I will have to use the engines.

It was motorsailing until the wind got up to 12 – 14 knots and we could shut the engine down but this only held for a few hours and the noise of the motor came back. Gili, who was a bit seasick, insisted on doing the first watch, 2200 – 0200. "Don’t hesitate to call me for any reason" I said, before retiring.

1.4.13 – Monday – I woke up feeling that I overslept; the time was 0137. Gili has endured her watch admirably. Wind 5 – 8 knots; YUK! I may have to run both engines to reach Uligamu in daylight.

Remember the witches in Shakespeare’s Macbeth? Their curse reached across centuries to haunt us. You may think they chanted "Double double toil and trouble" but the real verse was:" double, double, TOILET trouble" and that exactly what happened to us. The port head became blocked and the holding tank overflowed. Trying to investigate the cause turned ugly; let’s not go into details, we just started using the starboard one. As I came to my watch at 2200 I discovered that the other tank followed the example of the first one, wetting the tools locker in which it is situated.

I worked three and a half hours clearing the mess, jumping out to the cockpit from time to time to look around and check the operation of the boat. Something was blocking the outlet of of the tanks and the only way to check was to dive and take a look; this will only happen when we get to Uligamu.

2.4.13 – Tuesday – On the last four hours to destination the wind cooperated and we sailed in, dropping the anchor at 1345 on what we thought was a sandy spot opposite Uligamu village. Once the anchor dug in, I jumped into the water; both outlets were blocked by some unrecognizable substance (mud? marine growth?) that found them to be the best habitat around. Dislodging it with a screwdriver was quick and easy and we had our heads again.

Hammadh, the representative of our chosen agent, Antrac, called on the VHF to say that the authorities will come in 20 minutes. All the functionaries came on board and although there were a lot of forms to fill, it was all concluded rather quickly and efficiently; we had to prepare five copies of crew list and one copy of our registration.

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                        Hammaadho Abdulla

After they left, Hammad stayed with us and together we took the dinghy to the village small port. First thing we noticed was the extremely white sand. We walked around a bit; everything there seemed to happen in slow motion. People were walking slowly, many standing quietly in small groups in the very clean alleyways. We saw no motorized vehicles save for one car, an ambulance near the hospital and a single light motorcycle.

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When I asked two young women, dressed in the traditional Muslim attire, to take their picture, they shyly turned away giggling. The modern world has a presence here in the shape of the cellular system and I was quick to buy a local SIM card.

So, we are finally in the Maldives! We have high hopes for the cruise here!

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