Monday, August 24, 2009

Blogs from the Boys


We have already finished our sail from Dubai to Seychelles. We have been too Muscat and Maldives then the Chagos and now we are at the Seychelles. In the Maldives my Dad and my brothers did some diving while I played at the boat having chocolate cake! The Maldives had lots of milo in plastic boxes. We met a very nice guy called Hassan who helped us out a lot and he was a cool surfer. We also met Chon on the Black Pearl which had a big TV that we watched our movies on when the boat was getting fixed in the big storm. His boat was a very big motor boat. The Chagos was not inhabited – it had no people living there but it had lots of yachts. The islands were like rainforests that we explored and we had fires on the beach to cook fish. We saw lots of colourful fish and coral and the snorkelling was amazing!!! We met Tiffany and Bruce and Soli on Vixen, Cherry and Alec on Rainbow Gypsy, George and Colleen on Affirmation, Sten and Dannicker on Mattarea and John and LJ on Dancyn. Soli was a nice little girl who came to our boat to play and eat our apples and bananas. I had a great time at the Chagos and actually it’s my favourite place. When we were going to the Seychelles it was very rough and we were all very seasick. When we finally got there we were all starving and very happy. We have stayed at my most luxury place in Eden Island its so good !! We met Josh and Matthew from ‘Obsession’ and we made friends. My Jiddah and Grandpa came to stay and we went sailing with them. We did lots of walking and bike riding in the rain.


I have always dreamed of going to the Indian Ocean, seeing the dolphins, diving on a coral bed and barbequing fish on the beach. I have always wanted to drive around the Serengeti, climb skeleton gorge and shake hands with a monkey. I have now been giving these opportunities and I didn’t plan to miss them, so I took them.
We first set sail on Wednesday 8th of August, we then cruised along the coast of the U.A.E until we reached the borders of Oman, and then we cruised to Muscat. We met my friend Zac from school as he was leaving the sailing club, we spent some time with him then he left, I felt quite sad at seeing the last of my schoolmates go. Then the next day the Browns were here and we spent all the time with them there, and then left. Muscat has lots of ruins so we spent most of the time driving around looking at museums, driving around ruins and provisioning for the journey.
We finally got to Uligan in the Maldives after 10 boring days of lots of motoring across a flat and hot sea. The best part of each day was when we did exercises on the deck and had a salt water bucket bath plus swimming in the middle of the ocean. Then we slowly made our way through lots of islands and met lots of very friendly people down to Male, the capital of Maldives. Once we got there we were greeted with rubbish weather and gale force winds, I felt so scared because maybe one of our 3 anchors may lose its grip and we’d drift onto the island and sink. We were anchored in a completely unprotected spot with no sea wall or anything! Once we got there we met Hassan who organized all of the permits so on so on... Then we met some of his friends on a charter boat called ‘Black Pearl’. We went to the Sea House restaurant many times for great pizza and brain freezing juices plus we met Egan at the art gallery and bought one of his cool paintings. After the storm the generator broke down because the water had entered through the exhaust because we had bobbed up and down so much the water just flowed in. So badly in fact (the guys trying to fix it did more harm than good) that we had to buy a petrol generator instead of fixing it, apart from that Male was an amazing area and we were invited to many locals houses and tasted many delicacies. Then we got to Gan and me, my dad, and James did a dive course at the Gan resort. I felt fascinated as I went diving and awed at what nature can offer to us. We saw 1 manta ray on a practice dive, another much bigger one on an actual dive and many coral trout on the same dive. On the next dive we saw, 3 rare spotted eagle rays, 1 octopus, 5 rare leaf fish, 1 napoleon fish and numerous amounts of other fish.
We then spent 4 sickening days at sea trying to reach Chagos, we did in the end, and at one time we even considered turning back! I hoped to high heaven that I would feel better and that it was worth it, because I was sicker than a dog with rabies! When we got there I was amazed at what I saw, lush green islands with massive coconut trees and long golden beaches with beautifully clear water, it was heaven. I absolutely loved my stay at Chagos; we were alone with a few other yachts in a land that’s inhabited by no one but an army base 250miles away from where we were. I felt very unhappy that all over the world forests are getting demolished for building homes. I absolutely loved doing the fishing every night with my Dad, although I only caught 1 big Benito and a medium sized needle fish. I also loved climbing up to the top of the palm tree, cutting a few coconuts off and storing the juice in a bottle and looking at the view.
We then left for Seychelles. Half way there our engine broke down and we had to sail the rest of the way, another 550miles to go. When our engine broke down I felt so depressed and I thought we may have to call the coastguard to tow us there. I felt even more sick than on our way to Chagos because we rolled, not bashed, like on our last crossing. When we finally got there I felt so relieved because the torture was over and we were in a protected spot. Then we got a boat to tow us over to ‘Eden Island’ to stay at Kez’s apartment. We then spent a few days there and met some really cool kids Matthew and Joshua from Obsession. I loved playing with them because they were so active not like other kids who look at a computer all day. Then once they left to Chagos, Jiddah and grandpa came, and then Kez a few days later. I felt so glad when Jiddah and grandpa came because I loved being with them. We spent some time sailing around Seychelles and staying at Praislin and La digue. We stayed at this place called Anse Lazio (a bay) in Praislin, we spent the first few days surfing on the beach, and then we went on a long walk to a beach on the other side of the island, then the day after that day we did it again, but we took the shortcut instead. We then went into town 3 days later, we spent some time there, then we took a bus to Valle D’ Mare and saw some amazing wildlife ,and the coco de mare palm trees were amazing. On La digue we rented some bikes and went riding all over the island, then we walked up to the top the next day. After that we sailed to Beauvallon and met Matarea again (we met them in Chagos). So we then went to the Beauvallon night market with them. The next day we sailed back to Eden Island and Jiddah and grandpa left.
So now here we are, getting ready to backpack in the Serengeti – I am so excited about this new land adventure but still feeling sad at leaving Muneera.


Blog Number 2 MALDIVES
This blog is all about our trip through the Maldives, from manta rays to broken generators, from Uligan to Male’ to Gan. The country in the middle of the Indian Ocean.
When we sighted our first island of the Maldives, we became very excited that we were seeing land for the first time in 10 days. This island we saw was covered in palms that seemed to almost tip the sky (this is because on our 10 day voyage the tallest thing we saw was the top of our mast and these were taller!) and there was nothing but green. We went into the atoll and past this island (it was uninhabited), and went to our first stop-Uligan. The water looked-and was-amazingly clear, like pure crystal. Soon after the coastguard fixed everything we went on the island. It was a beautiful small town. We also met an agent who helped us through the customs and we met everyone in the local school. We soon left the area and island hopping down to Dhidoo, Uteem, Manadhoo and Kudufari, each one an amazing experience.
Now that we had finished the northern atolls our next stop was Male’, the capital of the Maldives. This place was completely different from the rest of the islands. It was like a mini Hong Kong, with many thousands of people living on top of each other, on a tiny island. Despite the fact it may sound disgusting, with nothing in it but concrete, metal and rock, it was in fact a very nice city, with a certain feel to it. And there we met the person who had helped organise all the permits for our time in the Maldives-Hassan. He was really nice, showed us around Male and we met his family. Now for the bad news. Our generator broke down. We were running out of time on our permit and good weather. Soon things got worse and worse, with having to pay bucket-loads of money in permits, disappearing mechanics, delivery problems and 40 knot gale winds in an unprotected harbour. We had spent 3 weeks there! Finally we left Male’ (with good weather). Down on south.
We missed out all the southern islands because we barely had time. Nothing except for the most amazing sunrise I’ve seen in my life. Indescribable, like an oil painting.
For the whole of the Maldives trip Mum and Dad had been promising Tom and I that we could learn how to dive in the Maldives. And in Gan, at the bottom of the Maldives, they did so. Gan was yet again different from everywhere else. It had pine trees and felt more like Rottnest Island (Western Australia) than anything. It once was a British navy base and the resort there, Equator Village, uses the barracks as their rooms. It was here that Dad, Tom, me and another person staying there, got taught there by one of the diving instructors in the resort: Masood. He was really nice and taught us really well. When we started learning how to dive we didn’t even go into the pool, it was straight into the sea with the diving equipment on our backs (except Tom, who couldn’t carry all his equipment across the field). We started out in the shallows, for our first breath fully underwater. It was absolutely fantastic (apart from the very dry air)! Almost immediately after getting used to being underwater we went onto the local house reef. It was amazingly beautiful, with fishes, coral and even an eagle ray! It was a totally new world, its beauty, matched only with Uligan. After 2 dives in the same place he each gave us a textbook to study. For the next 5 days it was the same, 2 dives, learning new things and the rest of the day preparing for the tests by studying. On the fifth day our final day, we went out around the atoll for 2 dives not on the house reef. The first one was in the northern part of the atoll, which had stunning coral, in many shades of purple and a gigantic manta ray. The second one was the better one (in Tom’s opinion), which had leafish, stingrays and, the highlight of diving in Gan, was a turtle close up. By the time the day was over I did not want to stop. We said goodbye to Masood and went on our way to finally leave the Maldives.

Blog Number 3 CHAGOS
The Chagos. A place isolated and uninhabited, with coconut palms, reefs, birds and more. A place nobody knows except the U.S.A military and yachts. The place this blog is about.
Getting there was terrible. Lumpy seas, high winds on the bow and rain the worst 4 days we’ve ever had. Enough to make anyone sick. When we finally got there the place looked almost identical to the Maldives, except there were only coconut palms, it was uninhabited and there were lots of yachts. We soon met the people over the next three days through them coming alongside us, us coming alongside them and dinner barbeques on the beach with mountains of fresh fish. These are the people we knew best in the whole of our time in the Chagos: George and Colleen on Affirmation, Cherry and Alec on Rainbow Gypsy, Tiffany and Bruce and their daughter Solie on Vixen, Dannika and Sten on Mat’irea and John and LJ on Dancyn. We spent our days snorkelling, fishing, reading, walking at low tide and visiting other yachts. I was the main ferry service for Muneera and waiter at the beach BBQ’s, Thomas was the fisherman and coconut hunter and Sam the expert coconut juice and copra extractor! The wildlife was truly amazing with the incredible and ancient coconut crabs bigger than my forearm. There were masses of birdlife with boobies, frigate birds, noddies and tropic birds – my favourites were the frigate birds as they are so big and graceful despite their feeding habits, which are forcing other birds to give up their food. The sea life was a whole different chapter in itself. I have never seen anything so amazing underneath the water not even Gan matched it! No wonder BIOT have banned diving to protect the beautiful coral and fishes – snorkelling is enough to see all the wonders. My highlights were swimming close to Manta rays and turtles with babies and seeing all the amazing fish in general to make a rich tapestry of the reef. By the time we left I didn’t want to go. I hope to return one day with my own yacht seeing the wonders again.

Blog Number 4 SEYCHELLES
Now I am exhausted with all this writing and reminiscing! The journey from Chagos to Seychelles was very bad. The sea was even lumpier than on the way to Chagos (though not as choppy) and instead of 4 days it was 9! And to crown it all our engine broke down! At least the wind was going our way and we had the petrol generator to keep us powered. When we finally woke up in the morning (we had arrived at night), we were in for a shock. The tallest things we had seen for 2 months were coconut palms, yet in front of us were mountains 800 meters high! After the customs and immigration people had been on board another boat came to tow us into Eden Island. The berth we went to be in was too small so we had to go into somewhere else and then a few days later a grumpy lady chased us out and we then found a spot right in front of the apartment we were staying at. Soon the mechanics came to fix up the engine. Luckily near us there were some other kids our age called Matthew and Josh on their boat Obsession. We had a great time playing with them, riding the scooters and swimming in the pool at the Wharf where they were berthed. Soon we went out to Victoria, the capital of the Seychelles that isn’t far from Eden Island. Victoria is a tiny small town and is regarded as one of the smallest capitals in the world. It is a very nice place with a great market and feel to it. Jiddah and Grandpa soon came to visit us and a week later after they arrived we went off to the outer islands. Kez who owns this apartment also arrived and we all went to Prasline Island.
Prasline is the second largest of the Seychelles islands and there we berthed in a bay called Anse Lazio. It was very nice but the snorkelling wasn’t anywhere near as good as the Chagos or Maldives but lots of nice fish and a few turtles. We hiked to Anse Georgette 2 times the first time getting lost and the second time successful. Then we went to the Valley De Mare which is the sanctuary of the coco de mare which is the palm with the largest seed in the world. I absolutely loved it learning all about these amazing plants.
Our next stop was La Digue where we did lots of bike riding and eating ice cream! The island had a similar feel to Rottnest Island (this is the second island we have visited that was like Rottnest).
Then we left La Digue and returned to Mahe Island at Beau Vallon our favourite beach in the Seychelles. This is because of the great waves, beautiful water and lovely pizzas. There we also met up with Sten and Dannicka on Matt’irea from Chagos. We next moved with them to Anse Major which is probably one of our favourite bays with nice fishes and great views and a great beach where we spent lots of time building cities and forts.
Then we returned back to Eden Island to Kez’s apartment and said goodbye to Jiddah and Grandpa - this was a sad farewell but we will see them soon after Christmas. Dad then left and went to Dubai to do a bit of work 8 days ago, leaving just Mum, Tom, Sam and me alone. We have spent most of the days doing schoolwork. The only highlight was when we met John and Sue on Ocelot, who made the Hacking Family website, which we have used a lot and are going to go hiking on the mountains tomorrow with them.
Now over the time we’ve spent here at Eden Island (the second time), we have been thinking about where we are going to next. We have come up with the plan to sell or leave the boat here in the Seychelles and spend the rest of the year backpacking from Kenya down to South Africa. I am feeling very sad about leaving Muneera who has carried us safely across the Indian Ocean from Dubai to Oman to the Maldives and Chagos and finally to the Seychelles. She has given us a wonderful journey that will be unforgettable. So instead of the sailing weights we will become the backpacking weights! I hope that everyone out there has enjoyed learning about our journey - we sure loved doing it!!!

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