From India To The Maldives

Saying goodbye to friends is hard enough. Saying goodbye to friends we’ll probably never see again had me choked. It caught me by surprise but as I hugged Gladwin, my Indian brother, I was lost for words and my eyes welled up. The pontoon at Kochi marina was a hotch-potch of our close friends, our Indian ‘family’ and the marina staff. They all waved us off as Esper slipped her lines and it was at that moment it struck me exactly how much I would miss India. Surely a passage to the Maldives was just the tonic we needed. If only!

Gladwin, Maureen, Tazani and Zukina

Gladwin, Maureen, Tazani and Zukina

Nazer and his entire family came down, an unexpected rarity. I’ve only ever seen his wife, Zukina, in the kitchen, and it was even more of a shock to see his daughters Tazani and Nizani join their brothers Nisam and Nizar.

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They brought us sarongs, dhotis and snacks. Gladwin accompanied Maureen (Bryan was too hung over from our night out to get out of bed), and she presented us with cupcakes and the ingredients to make flapjacks (I have never seen Golden Syrup for sale in India but Maureen knows a man). Each of the marina staff trooped down in turn, including Alex the manager, so by the time we left we had 15 or so people waving us off. There were so many more people we never had a chance to say goodbye to (so if you’re reading this Ravindran, Capt Jolly et al, we didn’t forget you).

Finally, after three years, Esper slips her lines. Photograph by Gladwin Oa

Finally, after three years, Esper slips her lines. Photograph by Gladwin Oa

An added treat was Skyping my parents as we left Cochin port. With great connection on the Galaxy I was able to give them a birds-eye view of our departure, from dolphins to fishermen to day-tripper boats and, finally, the famous Chinese fishing nets themselves. It was a fitting end to a wonderful three years here.

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PaperCamera2013-03-04-17-34-16The 270 mile journey to the Maldives wasn’t so much fun. There was the usual fun and games passing over the 20 and 30 metre contour lines as we wheedled our way through Indian fishing fleets with no regard for official Colreg lighting configurations! A couple of detours were required to avoid nets marked with flashing disco lights, but we expected this. With no wind we had to motorsail the whole way across. This wasn’t so bad until we blew the engine blower, the thing that keeps the engine compartment cool. Unaware of this mishap the engine compartment overheated so much it set off the heat-sensitive fire-extinguisher, covering the contents of the engine compartment in a dirty goo. From that moment on we had to motor with all the covers off the compartment, making the second-half of our journey an ear-splitting, sweaty decibel hell.

We had (have) other issues too, with the starter battery not charging, a positive cable connected to a negative (that’s my current theory, excuse the pun), a starter circuit that doesn’t work, meaning I have to start the engine using the old screw-driver across solenoid trick. At least our newly installed tiller pilot took control of the steering for most of the journey so I tried to put these matters to the back of my mind as, on the morning of the fourth day, the northern Maldivian islands presented themselves in the rising sun.

The very first sighting of the Maldives. Exactly what I was expecting!

The very first sighting of the Maldives. Exactly what I was expecting!

Finally, the view from the cockpit we've been waiting for!

Finally, the view from the cockpit we’ve been waiting for!

Finding our anchorage on the south west of Uligamu, desperate to drop hook and take a snooze, the uncharged engine battery struggled, whilst the rusty, unused-for-three-years chain played havoc with the windlass. It took half an hour to drop 60m of chain! Still, the sight of huge manta rays and the soft golden shores of Uligamu were enough to put our minds at rest.

Within the space of a couple of hours, Mr Assad, our agent from Seline, clambered on board with customs, immigration, health, harbour master, the army and a couple of other unidentifieds. In one fell swoop our entire entry paperwork was done in the space of 20 minutes! To think in Turkey it would take at least two hours whilst in India it could take two days!

Liz hosts Mr Assad (hidden behind the helm) and various officials. What's the collective noun for a group of Maldivian officials? An efficiency of officials, perhaps?

Liz hosts Mr Assad (behind helm) and various officials. What’s the collective noun for a group of Maldivian officials? An efficiency of officials, perhaps?

Bowled over by the efficiency we chatted to the immigration man who bemoaned the problem of piracy. “We used to have yachts coming through all the time”, he explained, looking out at the empty anchorage, “but now the piracy situation has killed off the yachting tourism”. We encouraged him, telling him the piracy situation is improving and that, sometime soon, people will find the confidence to leave Asia and pop in on the Maldives once more. With this level of efficiency and stunning anchorage views to boot, who wouldn’t want to come here?

They all left, with Mr Assad kindly leaving behind his Galaxy with internet connection (you can thank him for this immediate blog post) and an invite to his wedding in a couple of days time!

We may have left behind great friends in India but I can see the Maldives isn’t going to be a bad place to crack on with those boat maintenance jobs!

Massive thanks to Mr Assad for the loan of his Galaxy, for bringing us a sim card and an internet 3G card; and apologies for the bad images. I’m editing photos on the ship’s computer 😮





40 Comments on “From India To The Maldives”

  1. Dad

    Excellent news that you have arrived safely. Shame about the passage problems but you can tackle them one at a time. We are sure THAT view from the cockpit compensates for the crossing. Much Love-Mum & Dad

  2. Caroline and Richard

    Great to hear that you’ve made it safely to the Maldives! Good luck with the jobs; hope you get things sorted out quickly. Love from us both.

  3. Chris & Yulia

    Well done on making it.

    All sounds a bit hairy though!

    Chill out and soak up some of that poo free paradise!

  4. Chris

    Well done for making it. . . all sounds a bit hairy though!

    Chill out and enjoy some poo free paradise!

  5. Nance

    Fantastic that you made safe passage. Sounds like some trip!! The new views though….fabulous already. Hope you’re enjoying a rest now. An efficiency of officials made me chuckle. A refreshing change I’m sure.

  6. helen moat

    Really enjoyed reading this account. It was moving to read about your departure from India (and lovely to read that Nazar turned up with his whole family – knowing the story from Liz’ anthology story.) Hope you get your technical boat problems sorted soon – and that you have a great time in the Maldives.
    I’ve never done any sailing in my life – but have always loved sailing books, so I’m really looking forward to reading your tales – especially feeling I know you both (albeit a virtual friendship!)

  7. Varun Raj

    Am very glad and happy that you guys made it safely to Maldives. May your stay be blessed and you have a great time in there 🙂

  8. Jude

    So pleased you’re there safely, despite technical hitches. I’m not surprised the local officials were so keen to help – smiles beget smiles. Love from Jude and the Boys x x x

  9. Kat

    Glad to hear you arrived safely. I can’t believe it’s been three years! Sounds like it’s time you got into the habit of checking the weather/wind reports so you can do some “sailing”! Ha ha ha *smug grin*.
    But seriously, hope you get it all “ship-shape” again. God, this is awful – I need to get out more. And I will. We move to Stockholm in 5 days!
    Take care x

  10. ~connie Lockwood

    Great! Glad you have arrived at a new destination safely despite your challenges with your boat. It must have been extremely difficult for you both to leave the wonderful friends you made in India – such is the life of a sailor, right? Those whom you have left behind are so much richer for having met and known both of you wonderful people! Someday I hope to also meet you but until then I look forward to a new perspective on this stunning world from your viewpoint Jamie! Hopefully you both can relax as things are repaired and enjoy your new destination. Cheers!

  11. Louise Heal

    Sorry you’ve left Kerala Liz, but very glad you’re both safely in the Maldives. Will you be snorkelling or diving?

    In my competitive sailing days, I once spent a long afternoon at the port in Goa trying to get several container loads of dinghies through customs. So I feel your pain on that front 😉

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