We left Chagos to a resounding farewell from all our cruising friends on a blustery day, and crossed the reef into the ocean to be greeted by a long slow swell. Absolutely perfect, we thought, until the shelter of the islands passed and we were out on a VERY lumpy, bumpy sea indeed. The wind was a constant 25 knots and we made spectacular time for us, three days to do 300 nm. Fantastic. Only a little seasickness to spoil it and then we arrived in Gan.
Addu atoll is the southernmost point of the Maldives,and in fact is the only atoll south of the equator. and Gan is the old British army base at the southern tip of the atoll. Gan is joined to the other islands in the atoll by a two lane causeway and the little harbour is very sheltered.
Here we met up again with our friends George and Colleen from Affirmation, (Tanga, Seychelles and Chagos) Henry and Ina on Seute Dern (Tanga and Seychelles) and Berndt on Chimane (Chagos). The socialising never stops. We have a more active social calendar than ever we did at home in Kloof.
While cruising we can all keep in touch via SSB Radio on “skeds” (radio schedules) set up ahead of time on a daily basis. This way we keep track of each other, the weather and are able to offer moral support or advice (and receive it) should an difficulties arise. The skeds were very well used by Affirmation and the yacht Munera who both developed engine problems while on passage and had long consults with Mata’irea (Sten) who is a diesel fundi.
Maldives was a real eye opener. Clean and neat, not overrun by tourists and provisioning is surprisingly inexpensive considering the fact that all basic foodstuffs have to be imported. This was also the case at Seychelles which we found exorbitantly expensive.
The people here are friendly and welcoming, everyone seems to be gainfully employed and there are no beggars and hawkers. Alec has been able to find stainless steel screws, nuts and bolts and specialised light globes for our navigation lights.. The “supermarkets” are small and poorly stocked, but by going from one to another, one can find almost everything one needs.
Our agent (it is compulsory to appoint one) is extrtemely good. His name is Ahmed Rasheed, and he can literally arrange anything at all. Even to fixing the buckled wheel on Alec’s folding bike and getting a new tyre. This was a very pleasant surprise as the wheel is not a standard size and we really thought we would have to wait until Sri Lanka to get it fixed.
He also managed to find an electronics expert who has repaired our Pactor Modem which is a huge bonus. We were so thrilled with being able to contact the world again that we celebrated by finishing off the last few drops of Drambuie which we had been saving for a special occasion. We reckoned there is nothing more special than being able to email again.
There is no public transport here so Cherry has been forced to use a bicycle!! The skills which every kid in the world have , have passed her by and she at the age of 69 is trying to learn to balance on two wheels. So far she has had two falls, one very minor and one a bit more painful But she is perservering (under protest) She is convinced that the bike KNOWS that she is a beginner and delights in biting her.
Yesterday (26th July) was Independence Day and a holiday for the Maldivians. Rasheed invited us to his home, together with Henry and Ina to share a traditional Maldivian feast to mark the day. “Feast” was no misnomer! What a spread Ayesha put on, and what incredible kindness and hospitality to total strangers. She must have worked for hours to produce the buffet. It was a wonderful day and we felt honoured to be taken into their home as friends.
After the gargantuan meal, we took a walk along the seafront back to our yachts. In all the time we have spent here in Gan, we have not seen one cross face, heard one raised voice and no children crying. Everyone seems to be so very relaxed and happy and so proud of their country.
For a few photos PLEASE CLICK HERE