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Musings in the Maldives

March 1, 2015
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We are approaching Uligamu and all the trials and tribulations of the last 10 days will be behind us.

We’ve been drenched by a tropical rainstorm while picking our way between reefs and anchored fishboats10 miles off the east coast of Sri Lanka. We’ve been accosted by fishermen asking for fags or booze, followed and harrassed by large and intimidating fishboats from who knows where, swum around by pairs of turtles, led by pods of dolphins, let sea snakes slither along the hull and watched flying fish by the hundreds struggle to maintain their flight over the ocean waves to avoid their pursuer. Unfortunately, we haven’t seen the pods of blue and sperm whales that we had been  expecting and we haven’t caught any fish for dinner but our speed has been slow for catching fish and appetites minimal (I think that’s just to make me feel better!).

As we approach Uligamu we peer over the sides and into the clearest water we have seen in years. Shafts of torquoise shoot from the depths below seeming to so want to paint the deep blue ocean a different colour. The clouds on the horizon, we know from our weatherman, lie overtop of the atolls beckoning us forward. Reminds me of the Maori name for New Zealand which is Aotearoa, the land of the long white cloud. Has to be one of the most descriptive and beautiful country names.

For the last two days we have been motoring and for those of you who know me this is not something I like to do. It’s coming to the end of the second day and soon the engine will be switched off to give us some relief from the mechanical rhythms and a chance to enjoy a quiet dinner under the stars with the night’s menu of fresh baked foccaccia with pasta and a cold ginger beer. Then we will get a few hours sleep rising before the sun to probably motor the last miles into Uligamu.

0300hrs comes soon but no-one complains. The stars are out in full force and while we slept the drifter kept us moving in the right direction and shortened the motoring by 12 miles. We both slept well and with the lights of the atolls shining up into the sky we know we are close. Oddly enough it’s not only the visible lights shining skywards that beckons us but also the occasional, actually frequent, ringing of the cell phone welcoming us to the Maldives and advertising their company rates that are available. Where’s the romance gone?

To be honest we do enjoy the connectivity our modern technology has brought to sailing. It is truly astounding to be enjoying a morning coffee and a fresh fish breakfast while talking on Skype to someone in the more frozen parts of Canada (sorry to rub it in). The Maldives, due to its economy which caters to the very wealthy vacationers of the world has 4G connectivity along the entire string of islands and atolls from 7 degrees north to just below the equator. So for a while we journey through the playground of the wealthy at least being able to sample some of the benefits while munching on our local fare of processed cheeses, UHT milk and dahl!

There is, at times, an ‘other worldliness’ here that makes it special. For me this usually comes at sunrise and sunset with the call to prayer. Don’t get me wrong, I have not taken to being religious but last night it so struck me as we were sitting on deck watching the sunset and as the orange ball sunk into the sea the muezzin sang out from the mosque. Yes, amplified for which I hope never happens in Canada, but such a sound. I would never have said this for the many anchorages we had in Malaysia and Thailand where the muezzin screeched like a wounded cat from the mosque not only as a call to prayer but also to proselytize. Here the call to prayer was called out from someone who must have been trained at the prestigious Julliard School of music in New York. The call seemed to rebound off the clouds as they turned pinker and pinker and then rebounded off the pallet of the ocean. Having the call to prayer at this time just seemed perfect to slow the space of time and giving a contemplative mood. Our introduction to the Maldives and Uligamu in particular.

Now, the negative part of the call to prayer comes early in the morning – 0530hrs. Umm, I’m not so contemplative that early in the morning.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. John Middleton permalink
    March 1, 2015 23:06

    Sounds like a positively beautiful place. Glad you made it safely thru to the Maldives. If I’m not mistaken those are the islands that the cabinet held an underwater meeting to hilite rising sea levels and global warming. Hope they stay above the surface a little while longer for your visit.

  2. March 2, 2015 00:12

    Oh yes – as they say at home Gods-own country (pronounced God-zone) my birthplace Aotearoa – my birth place. Waxing poetic today, must be time for landfall! Stay safe and enjoy your travels. Nothing quite like the sunrise and sunsets aboard, they were also my favorite times, especially sunrise.

  3. cpbl permalink
    March 2, 2015 01:00

    Beautiful writing!

  4. March 2, 2015 01:49

    OK…let me get this straight…boring, boring, boring,TERROR!, boring, drunken pirates looking for homosexuals, boring, nice sunrise/sunsets, boring, boring, TERROR!, nice sunrise/sunset, clear water, boring, boring…
    Well, to offset that routine…and to bring you back to earth, we went to Tofino for a couple of very nice days…said hi to everyone for you…they said Connie and Tony who?

  5. Sue Donaldson permalink
    March 2, 2015 03:05

    Glad you made it over to the Maldives after what sounds like a passage twice as long as you wished! Was getting slightly, very slightly, aware of the time. I think you are going to enjoy gunkholing about, living the atoll life for a while, despite the monotonous diet– Sharpen up those mad fishing skillz xxxxx

    • March 2, 2015 05:04

      Fresh squid caught off the edge of the boat yesterday! Trying hard to up are fish-catch averages!

      Tony Gibb/Connie McCann Onboard SY Sage http://www.sageonsail.com +9609165820Sage

  6. jalnagibb permalink
    March 2, 2015 06:22

    Tony an Connie, Sorry I am slow at replying. I had a very busy week! I always print out your news for Richard and I get him to scroll through the pictures. Here is his reply to your last Blog.”Loved reading your letter and viewing the pictures of Sri Lanka. We would like to trade our 6 feet of snow and -30 degrees for your plus 30.Keep Sage seaworthy and catch a few great white sharks for breakfast! Love Rabbit” I want to commend you for your description of the call to prayer: clouds and pallets – very poetic! The slithering snakes I’ll pass on! Today I went with a friend to see Julianne Moore in Still Alice – (about Alzheimer’s) I had read the book before – the movie was well done – glad I went but it was pretty serious stuff – definitely not a movie for Richard. He’s dying to see American Sniper! Last night when I was typing looking out the back window – every half hour skidoos would roar by enjoying the fact that is was only minus 10 not 25. The weekends attract a lots of outdoor activity. For that reason I prefer the trail when there is no snow and the dogs don’t have to be on leash for safety reasons! Because of the extreme cold weather there are several hundred people in Collingwood who have been without water for about 10 days! Glad I live in a new home with decent insulation. Homes may be without water for weeks as there is such a backlog and it may involve replacing pipes out to the street! Yikes! My cruise looks awfully good! Hugs to you both! Jalna andRick

    Date: Sun, 1 Mar 2015 14:45:24 +0000 To: jalnagibb@hotmail.com

  7. March 2, 2015 17:38

    Glad to have received those good news . I appreciate your
    poetic style. Our very best regards from France.

  8. karen permalink
    March 2, 2015 20:07

    ‘let sea snakes slither along the hull’ – hmmmm, sounds like the making of a movie or perhaps just alliteration to make a good story. Hope so. But did you know we now have snow snakes here in the frozen North? – an aberration of nature, yes.

  9. Tim permalink
    March 3, 2015 23:46

    Hard to imagine all of that when you get stuck in a routine of trying to make your way through this thing we call life. I envy you and what you are doing, while years of working for federal corrections would have made me hyper suspicious of all those characters coming up to the boat I still am envious of your sense of adventure and lust for exploration! Safe travels and talk to you soon.

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