Posted by: catamarantwooceans | April 25, 2013

Sailing the Maldives part 4

19.4.13 – Friday – We left Alimata heading to Rakheedu on the south of Felidhoo atoll. When we got there we saw that the only place to anchor was open to the wind. The time was noon so we decided to go further south to Vattaru, a small atoll with only a tiny island on the east side of the single pass into it; the rest was reef, just below the surface. Again, the anchorage was open to the wind but that was not strong and we felt comfortable anchoring between two reef lines, depth 12 meters on sand. (3 13.622 N 73 25.482 E).

20.4.13 – Saturday – This was a perfect sailing day. We went out of Vattaru at 0730, our destination the Chaya Lagoon resort in Mulaku atoll, where I hoped to do some diving. The wind was directly from behind and we sailed wing and wing until we reached the northeast tip of the atoll and turned south south west to the Kandu (pass) near Muli. We continued on the inside along the lagoon stretching between that town and the resort. Still traumatized by the 1 meter deep entrance in Hulmale, I looked at the channel leading to the resort with trepidation. I think I already mentioned the tongue in cheek saying:   "He who was scalded by hot water, is careful with frozen yoghurt" so I called the resort trying to find somebody who will enlighten me as to the depth of the channel.

A lady in reception said it was low water and the depth was less than 1 meter. A man in the dive-club, Pion – if I got the name right, said there was no problem getting in. I decided to prefer his opinion and turned towards the entrance.

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Stressifull stuff, but nothing below 2.1 meters at mid–tide. We anchored off the resort’s long dock, 6 meters on sand, great holding. (2 51.609 N 73 32.234 E) Some coral clumps nearby offered nice snorkeling and had a lot of fish around them.

In the evening we went to reception to meet Sebastian, the dive club manager to arrange my diving for the next day. We also spoke to the receptionist about getting some water; he called some higher echelon for authorization, which was granted. When we asked to walk around the resort another phone call was made and this time the answer was negative. We went back for dinner on "Two Oceans".

21.4.13 – Sunday – The dive boat, a local Dhoni, went out with Sebastian, a crew of three, a German couple staying at the resort and me. The first dive was on the ocean side of the pass near Muli and was very nice. We saw a few sharks, rays and turtles. The second dive was inside the atoll, near one of the Giris, those coral formations rising steeply from the atoll’s bottom reaching just below the surface. The coral was damaged and there were not a lot of interesting fish. Stefan, the German guy, took my picture.

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We came back to the resort at 1300 and immediately set out towards Kurali island, 11 miles away. Trying to find a secure place for the boat without damaging the coral was not easy. It took a few tries until we found a spot quite far from the island, in the middle of the wide pass, at 5 meters on coral with sandy patches.

Ishay tried his hand in fishing and took out his first fish ever, a red snapper.

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22.4.13 – Monday – With only 18 miles to our next night stop we had enough time to explore the island of Kurali and stretch our legs a bit; a break in the reef was marked by three smallish poles and we went in, tilting the outboard to prevent the prop hitting the bottom. There were a few deserted buildings, two concrete wells and a few ditches, possibly for irrigation.

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Right on the beach we found a fluffy toy duck on which somebody put a bra. Remember the movie with Tom Hanks, the one he is surviving on an island after a plane crash with only a basketball for a friend? Here someone had other ideas.

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Back at the boat we turned south towards Kolhumadulu atoll, where an island called Olhugiri beckoned. Once through the pass, we followed the reef line and saw that the nice bay we set our sights on was practically blocked by coral. We circled it until we found a spot to anchor at 16 meters, sand and some coral, good holding.(2 29.995 N 73 14.633 E) There was good snorkeling on the reef with lots of hard corals and reef fish.

23.4.13 – Tuesday – Strong current in the anchorage made us skip the planned snorkeling; we made our way to Veymandhoo, which is a town of 1100 inhabitants. It looked good on Google Earth, which we use increasingly now, having a protected lagoon into which a pass 3-4 meters deep led. First we skirted some giris and then turned towards the entrance. From afar we could see a breakwater and motor vessels inside;  Did they build a port in part of the lagoon? I was pulled in that direction but Muki grasped the situation and pointed to the area of the pass.

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                   The pass – looking from the inside

We went in seeing minimum depth of 3.4 meters and anchored. The pass’ position – 2 11.477 N 73 05.438 E.

Now we had a dilemma; some bloggers found this place to be very welcoming, but this was quite a long time ago; should we go ashore? I was specifically cautioned against going ashore on inhabited islands, we decided to see whether any local would drop by so we could perhaps communicate with the island’s chief and arrange a visit. Nothing like that happened, fishermen who anchored near us showed no interest in "Two Oceans" and its occupants. We stayed on board.

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                  old dock in Veymandhoo lagoon

24.4.13 – Wednesday – Our next destination lay in Huvadhoo atoll, about 95 miles away, requiring an overnight trip. Hanna will leave the boat on Friday and fly from Kandudu to Male and then Istanbul and Israel. We found a nice place 8 miles from the airport, an island called Meradhoo, in which we’ll stay on Thursday night.

The forecast was for light north easterlies and motoring would surely be our mode of locomotion. 95 miles should take about 20 hours, so to get there in good daylight we should have left at noon. Sitting in Veymandhoo lagoon with barely a breath of wind and the heat increasing by the moment made us leave, planning to adjust our speed for the suitable arrival time.

As we were motoring along, Hanna suddenly shouted:" A whale!" Sure enough a huge humpback surfaced, slowly and majestically he dived down, his tail raised high until he disappeared from sight. No one was quick enough to capture the whale on camera. We waited to see him to go up for air but were disappointed. We saw tuna hunting, jumping clear of the water, chasing its prey but non took our lure.

25.4.13 – Thursday – It was a beautiful, moonlit night; the three guys did a watch each from 2100 to 0600 with no special events.

We came up to the Meradhoo pass at 0830; the sun was high enough but still some reefs surprised us. Another surprise was that the island was inhabited; it looked like a resort, although "Lonely Planet" made no mention of it. The only reasonable place was on their dock, all other areas were too shallow with coral reaching the surface. We continued to another island and then to another one but found that everywhere the reef encircled the islands, falling down to depth of 30 meters, inhibiting anchoring.

We ended up anchoring near Kandudu, the island where the airport is located. There was a nice reef nearby so we could snorkel a bit. Frankly – I’m looking forward to leaving the Maldives…

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Kandudu – all the islands in the Maldives look the same.*

*Except those around Male.

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