Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Manadhoo, Kudafari, Male

Friday 8 May 2009-05-08

Manadhoo – Noono Atoll
It is Friday morning and so lots of kids on the water in various floating bit s of wood, old boards, a canoe and blow up lilos milling around the boat and being intrigued with the familiar muslim name, ‘Muneera’. Funnily enough, when we were about to leave Dubai, the 2nd owner of the boat who originally rebuilt her after being abandoned on the creek, brought some photos down and we found we had the spelling wrong. The original Kuwaiti Sheik who owned her had named her after his wife and there in the photo is the original spelling with Kuwait registration ‘Muneerah’!! He hoped that perhaps the slight change in spelling would bring the boat good luck as she had not had a very happy sailing history with the previous owners and name spelling!

Manadhoo Island on the Noono or South Miladhunmadulu Atoll has been a great place to hang out for the past few days. Again lots of really friendly locals and was great to be invited into homes where we were treated with fresh coconut milk and papayas. There has not been as much rain this year and so growing of fruits and vegetables not as productive. We were lucky that the supply boat arrived yesterday so again a chance to stock up though have been eating most nights at Lateef’s ‘Bikini’ cafe. The food is very simple here – either rice or noodles fried up with a mix of chopped vege bits, sometimes a bit of chicken added with a heavy dose of chilly on all and always served with eggs. Sam and Tom have taken to ordering steamed rice and eggs with soya sauce for every meal as cannot cope with the chilly which appears in all dishes. Fish of course is everywhere but we of course haven’t caught any so far.....except for the famous blue marlin catch! We have bought from the locals and enjoyed on the BBQ off the back of the boat and in the restaurants it is covered in chilly.

We were meant to leave for Kudafari yesterday but got out of the harbour to find a bad water leak in the engine. So back in we came and had mechanics come on board to help fix it up – poor Rob is so grumpy with the original mechanics in Dubai who really did not have the engine sorted as they should have......what to do though when we are in the middle of the Maldives!! With spending another day here we took the opportunity to do more washing – we are not changing clothes too often to avoid the big hand wash and conserving of fresh water. We wash first in salt water and then just rinse off with the fresh – lots of rinsing and wringing and then looking like a Chinese laundry. We have now just pulled up alongside the harbour wall to fill up with water which will cost only $1/100 litres and it is potable which is great – we have been drinking it for the last few days and no illness yet. Various nieces and nephews of Lateef’s have finally got the courage up to come on the boat today and they are all intrigued and fascinated with the ‘house on boat’, with the leggo and the various other games on board. James is being his usual social self and teaching them all to play UNO which I think they may have got the hang of. Checkers seems to be found anywhere in the world and so they have found common ground there and Tom has just been beaten in chess!

Will sign off here – we will be in Male in a few days time but plan to be there after the elections are over tomorrow. The electioneering and music blasting from the loud speakers has really been something else and we find ourselves now singing along to the tunes! This is a very exciting time now for the Maldives - after 30 years of a very corrupt dictator there was a new leader elected last year and now all islands and atolls around the country will have the own democratically elected members as well. There are a lot of excited and hopeful people around and all looking forward to the reforms and freeing up of their country.

Tuesday 12th May

Kudafari – Noono Atoll
Well after thinking we could post a blog the other day we instead headed for the very magnificent and untouched island of Kudafari where there was definitely no internet let alone shops or restaurants or any other such thing. But what we did find was paradise!! Through the wonderful Hassan in Male, we met Amir and his family and had the most amazing couple of days joining into local life. The boys played football (soccer) with the local kids, we fished and snorkelled off the beach with Amir and his family, were given octopus from some older kids who had speared them out of the reef and had a fantastic seafood BBQ Maldivian style’ in Amir’s lush garden surrounded by coconut palms. We were there for election day and there was a 3 day holiday to mark the occasion – no loud rallying and music in Kudafari. Amir brought his wife and girls out to the boat one evening and we enjoyed being able to return the hospitality though the girls were not too taken with the pasta bolognaise I dished up! We spent the evening having lessons on how to fish in the Maldives and had great success with the netting of a beautiful large red snapper. Even though alcohol is very much a no go zone in this country being strictly Muslim, Amir was very happy to enjoy a whisky with Rob, had great English and am sure his wife understood more than she let on but was very shy to talk. We finally left Kudafari and the northern atolls and headed south having so enjoyed such a magical part of the Maldives.

Male^- Male Atoll
Our overnight sail to Male started off very rough and lumpy as we passed through the very deep Kaishadoo Kandu (channel) and then was filled with wonderful wind as we headed for Male. Unfortunately as the morning broke we had to beat straight into the wind to make it into Male, the engine overheated (an airblock in the sea water hose from all the bouncing and heeling overnight.....the brilliant live aboard mechanic rob fixed as usual!), then Rob rescued the dinghy which snapped off the one davit arm (Mathew Brown note!!) as we foolishly had left the engine on her instead of securing off the back......and then we arrived!!

We are at anchor off another island near to the airport island amongst all the safari boats, yachts, gin palaces etc....we suddenly look very small in comparison! Hassan was there to welcome us in and had us anchor alongside his friend’s fantastic dive safari boat, the ‘Black Pearl’ and has been a great pleasure to finally meet him. He is a friend of the Browns in South Africa and is married to Lara who is Finnish with Younis (4yrs) who are now both back in Finland. We had a great evening with much talk of hopes for the ‘New Maldives’ and life here and his amazing plans with his new eco safari boat that he is currently building. Today we left ‘Muneera’ being looked out for by the ‘Black Pearl’ and came onto the island for the night, to take a look around and enjoy the chaos that Male is. This tiny island (circumference 5 km) is wall to wall, tall, spindly buildings built on tiny plots with everyone living up and down on top of each other. The roads are teeming with scooter style motorcycles and cars competing for space, lots of hooting and amongst this the poor pedestrians who are trying to avoid the traffic and the puddles from the regular rain showers that have started falling today. It all feels very safe and bustly and the ‘plastic fantastic’ of china has well and truly found its’ way here making it feel a lot like Karama or Satwa in Dubai. Here the shops work around the 5 daily prayer times so they open and close regularly throughout the day and the boys were most excited to find a book shop that sold a few Astrix!! Unfortunately after a great meal in a local restaurant with Hassan we returned to our hotel room to find a call from the ‘Black Pearl’s captain saying that a big storm was coming and they were worried about the boat. So now poor Rob has had to go and catch the local ferry back out to the boat and will spend the night keeping Muneera safe whilst the boys and I enjoy the airconditioning and a hot shower with cooked breakfast tomorrow.....faithful skipper! The weather looks to be set in for the next few days so will have to sit tight and still hoping to organise the dive course for James and Tom before we head further south.


  1. Dear Rob
    The joys of being Captain and mechanic and dishwasher and boat watchman fixer and repairer and a lot of other things. Your trip sounds just like all of mine days of absolute bliss puntuated by days in the engine compartment with tools in hand. Cecile Gabby and myself are following your progress trials and tribulations with mutch interest.
    Regards to Kate and all your crew.
    Neville Montgomery

  2. Hi Gaby here, love the pics!Mum very jealous and we all wish we were there!At the moment I am extremely hyper-active and ''jumpy'' because my birthday is on Thursday, YAY! Got to go! Short-and-sweet! Regards Gaby

  3. Hi Eloise here,
    missing you guys loads down here in dubai. Tom, were still reading Michael Morpurgo Born to run at school. Got to the bit when Brighteyes has gone to Mr Tatty van (joe) and his name is now Paddywack. Maldives sounds great!