Second Tree on the Left

Standard
White Tern, Addoo Atoll

White Tern, Addoo Atoll

Gygis Alba, the White Tern of Addoo Atoll

Gygis Alba, the White Tern of Addoo Atoll

 

At Anchor

At Anchor

The Gluten, local bakery shop.

The Gluten, local bakery shop.

One of two Island Roads

One of two Island Roads

 

Rest Awhile on an Island pavement swing.

Rest Awhile on an Island pavement swing.

Ibrahim and his wife outside their home.

Ibrahim and his wife outside their home.

 

Gan to Feydoo

Gan to Feydoo

 

Island Home

Island Home

The Gluten

Hawwa Dhiye

Hawwa Dhiye

 

On an early morning walk through Feydhoo village,Addoo Atoll, Maldives Archipelago we met Ibrahim. We were observing a small, lazy white bird with a sharp, black beak and a notable forked tail, in a tree. Ibrahim explained that the bird is only found on Addoo Attoll and that if we wanted to see one close up, we needed to walk to the village of Gan ( next village, but only 300 metres away!?) and then continue past the fuel station, after which “You go on and then the second tree on the right you will find nest”. The bird is called a Dandalo?! (Spel). Ibrahim explained further that if we wanted bread, we must go to the bakery (of course!), “down that road over there and turn left, it is called The Gluten”.
The Gluten?! Anywhere else we would call the bakery “The Gluten Free!”

Addoo Atoll is interesting. It is the only Atoll of the Maldives Archipelago which lies in the Southern Hemisphere, it has a population of 35 000 people spread over a few small islands connected by causeways. It is the most populated of the Atolls of the archipelago. The Maldivians are educated in English but speak their mother tongue amongst each other. As a Muslim country, Arabic is also spoken. We have learnt that the island has subterranean water which is accessed by wells. I speculate that it must be seawater which is filtrated through the lime layers under the island as the islands are only 3 meters above sea level. They do catch rain water, “During rainy season which is July and August” reports Massood, our “Agent” . All visitors must have an appointed agent who takes care of every possible thing you might need. ” You need air tickets? Laundry? Fuel? Food?” Offers Masood, who is clearly the man about town in his slick black car. Massood appears to have some Portuguese heritage somewhere, which he confirms on my asking. We listen to the latest Bollywood “James Bond” type music as he gives us a tour around the islands by car. Addoo Atoll also boasts the longest road . . . 16kms of Cornish.
Electricity is provided to the villages by generator and rubbish is taken care of by each householder by digging a hole below the high water marks, throwing the plastic rubbish in and then burning it. The next tide takes the remains out to sea. This practice is an unsatisfactory solution to waste, but I am not sure what the alternatives could possibly be? It felt simply wrong to give our plastic rubbish (1 bag full) to Masood, making it the islands problem?
The Seafront, amongst the villagers, is something that is found in the “backyard” as opposed to the western ideal of orientating it as part of the front yard view. The Seafront is where you work (Fishing, obviously is a big part of the islands income) and where one deals with plastic waste.

Gan, the first island of the Atoll was an RAF base until 1976. The airstrip which from the sea, on Jerrican,  cannot be seen since it appears to sink below the waves (making it appear as though each flight is a disaster) is busy with 5 flights a day from the capital Male. The flights bring very wealthy tourists to the outer islands of the atoll where there are very expensive resorts. Many of the tourists are Italian leisure seekers. We are asked, often, by the locals if we are Italian. The super yacht anchored near us is Italian owned with Italian crew.

The locals are conservative and alcohol is not allowed to be consumed on the island. Bikinis are also not welcome so a space is maintained between the local villagers and the resorts, which are reached by ferry from the airport. We are anchored off the village of Gan, which I personally find very interesting as we can take the ARK duck over to the wharf and walk through the villages of Gan and Feydhoo to find an iced coffee at local prices. The locals all know who we are, before we meet them! We are, apparently, only the second yacht to arrive here this year! As Masood says “The whole Atoll knows you are here”.

The Maldivian currency, the Rufiyaa is slightly weaker than the Rand so food is affordable for us South Africans and we find the area much cheaper than Mauritius.

So here we are, in this beautiful area after sailing 4600 nautical miles from Cape Town, virtually non stop (apart from the busy repair stop in Port Louis) to meet our charter group. We were only one day late! Our charter group, however, with all the sophisticated means of travel available to them and their busy schedules, have been delayed and it looks as though they will only arrive in a day or two which suits us perfectly!

 

Last Day in Port Louis

Standard

 

 

 

 

 

Fresh Produce Market, Port Louis

Fresh Produce Market, Port Louis

Grant and Fruit

Grant and Fruit

 

 

 

 

Jummah. Masjid Mosque  Port Louis

Jummah. Masjid Mosque
Port Louis

 Dry. Produce, Vanilla, Beans, Rice, Legumes.

Dry. Produce, Vanilla, Beans, Rice, Legumes.

Small market gardeners sell their produce directly to market.

Small market gardeners sell their produce directly to market.

 

Typical Architecture, Old Port Louis

Typical Architecture, Old Port Louis

 

The Modern Le Caudan Waterfront Development, Port Louis

The Modern Le Caudan Waterfront Development, Port Louis

Flora

Cape Town to Port Louis

Standard

“This is the most difficult of Oceans to sail through, especially during winter” claims our skipper Jeremy, quietly and calmly during the chaos of our third night out. A provocative statement to a wife who is gripped with fear and remorse! I asked myself what on earth we were doing on this bloody ocean? It has been an interesting journey, confronting despair, anger, fear and then acceptance of the inevitable discomfort which we were to endure for the next 2 weeks. I simply could not contemplate three weeks, the brain rejected that number. It did end up being another week on top of the two and we found a rhythm. How easy it is to shift blame to someone else when in an uncomfortable situation. I blamed Jeremy for everything , the sail slides that popped out of the mast track, the colour of the Genoa sheets which were too blue and the staysail sheets which were too green. the bumping and thrashing, being tossed and thrown became all his fault. At some point in the trip I reached an “aha” moment. We are ALL IN THE SAME BOAT . . . We all have emotional challenges to face on this journey and I DID choose this life. Rationality came with a starfilled calm night watch. During the long 2 hours of night steering, chanting mantras and singing, practicing yogic breathing, it all became so small and so irrelevant. Ah, the power of nature!

We were blown in to Port Louis on a 30 knot gale 25 days after leaving Cape Town. A few hours before reaching the lee of the island a rogue wave smacked the side of the boat, and dumped itself and what felt like thousands of liters of water into the cockpit. I sprung out of my bunk expecting to find an empty cockpit only to see Jeremy sitting quite cheerfully soaked to the bone behind the wheel. Nothing, absolutely nothing was going to keep us from getting to land now!!

Some of the highlights of the Passage through the Southern Indian Ocean included
1) Being rushed at by a small whale which played in our wake and then “Spy hopped” meters from the cockpit to see what we were.
2) The glacial blue of the tips of huge waves during the teeth of a storm.
3) Pelagic Seabirds in the morning sunrise. Albatros, Petrels, Skuas, Gannets, Shearwaters (I think?)gracefully, fearlessly and calmly flying over our transom and then swooping down millimeters above the waves. So very beautiful.
4) Our two crew, son Grant and friend Garrick, their enthusiasm in the midst of absolute chaos! Playing guitar, singing, graciously getting up to stand their 2 hour watches every 4 hours and steering in exceptionally difficult seas.
5) Observing the excitement as the boys caught first an Albacore and then later a Dorado. I quietly thanked both fish for the fresh protein they provided and the cheer given to the crew.
6) “Life of Pi”skies and phosphorescent seascapes.
7) The tiniest of little black southern ocean sea birds ( Shearwater? ) which calmly floated by on a massive wave as we sat hove to. It swung my fear around. If this tiny little thing can simply accept and embrace the power of the storm, riding it out on the wave, wings folded then so could we.

20140807-082657-30417576.jpg

20140807-083435-30875125.jpg

20140807-083550-30950146.jpg