February 19th, 2007 – by: bede17
second fish we caught
Soâ€¦ here I am in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Well, not quite in the middle. Weâ€™re almost to the Maldives by now, just passing the bottom of Sri Lanka to the west. Iâ€™ve sort of lost track of the days, I think we are on day 9 at sea?? Weâ€™ve had an absolutely amazing passage so far, really quite peaceful and uneventful, which doesnâ€™t make for good blog stories though. This is probably the calmest the Indian Ocean has ever been, ten knots of wind, a couple foot swells, and clear skies and sun every day. Weâ€™ve been on a broad reach the whole time, so the wind is coming from almost behind us, leaving us with a bit of tricky helming but in general flat sailing compared to what it could be. Besides the rocking and rolling in the swells it is pretty easy to walk around and sleep, although we really have to watch where we put our food and water bottles.
Weâ€™re on the standard watch schedule- three on and six off. Which means that you never get any more than roughly five hours of sleep at a time, but weâ€™ve all gotten used to it and take naps when we can. My favorite watch is the one from midnight to 3am, you can sleep a little before and then a good chunk from 3 to 9, waking up in time for a normal day. We havenâ€™t had to do a whole lot of sail handling as the wind has been pretty steady, but weâ€™ve all taken the sails up and down a couple times and even reefed them once. Besides a few times of no wind weâ€™ve had a good ten knots and the current in our favor, so sometimes weâ€™ll average 8 or 9 knots for a couple days at a time. Our record is 195nm in 24 hours, and we are itching to hit that 200 mark.
If the wind holds up for us for the next couple days, we should be at the Maldives in about two days, completing our 1600nm passage. Our big first from this passage is that we finally caught a fish. More than one actually, but the others we had to throw back because they were either too small or the wrong kind. But we did cook the first one and it was pretty good. Unfortunately today we lost our only bucket, which is sort of a big problem. That means we donâ€™t have the means to get the salt water into our dish buckets, onto the deck to wash it, or just for people to shower with. So this afternoon we had shower time with the fire hose. Someone held it in place while everyone filed through in a line to get sprayed down. The highlight of my day was that one of the shipmates let me use his fancy camera.
Itâ€™s a digital SLR and has a 75-300 zoom. I think Iâ€™m in love. I spent about an hour taking pictures of everybody and got some really good ones. Except that somehow something went wrong and when I went to view them on my computer there were no images to be found L Iâ€™m trying to be a good sport about it and remind myself that I can always get more tomorrow, but really I take this stuff with pictures really personally and am kind of crushed. I just keep thinking of how good they were. Oh well, I guess Iâ€™ll just have to take more. But now I really want my own digital SLR! Iâ€™m trying to think of anything else that has been excitingâ€¦. Not a whole lot really, itâ€™s been a really nice, quiet time. I find myself sort of torn between responsibility and personal wantsâ€¦ like the part of me that likes sailing wants to say â€śwho cares how long it takes to get there, lets go four knots if thatâ€™s what the wind wants, I just want to be out at sea.
â€ť But the provisioning side of me gets nervous every day for the amount of food we have onboard and stares at our ETA on the computer for minutes at a time, secretly hoping to get there early and not risk running out of any food. But I think weâ€™ll be fine on both ends. Ok Iâ€™m going to go search for pictures now, hopefully I can send this from the Maldives in just a couple days.
double reefed main
Ok so now itâ€™s a bit later, and weâ€™ve spent a couple days in the Maldives already. The rest of the passage was relatively uneventful, and we cleared into Male fine and I went off in search of a grocery store. I was pleasantly surprised by what I found. They had the most random things, like dunkaroos, fluff, and pastaroni.
So it was good to find a lot of packaged food for our next big passage, and at pretty decent prices too. Except they had almost no fresh food, so that was a bummer. I had to send the guys out to look for more stuff, and they managed to round up a sack of potatoes, a sack of onions, and a crate of tomatoes. I guess lettuce was over five dollars a head and the melons were going for twelve dollars. So weâ€™ll just make do this time with a little less fresh food. They had good frozen meat though, so I really have nothing but compliments for the Maldivian provisioning situation. We spent that night at an anchorage near the city, and then the next morning moved the boat to a pretty area a little farther away. Did I mention the city, which is the first thing you see because you have to clear in there, is the total opposite of everything you expect the Maldives to be? Itâ€™s apparently one of the worldâ€™s most densely populated areas per square foot, which says a lot.
more pretty light
They certainly havenâ€™t wasted any precious space, everything has something built on it. But anyways, we headed away from that after clearing in and everyone went for a snorkel in the crystal clear water. I stayed onboard because I was chef and had big plans for Eliotâ€™s birthday, and when I was down below Chantale heard a boat come along side and asked me to go take a look. It was a powerboat that said â€śNational Securityâ€ť on the side and had four uniformed army guys with guns. They pulled up alongside and kindly informed us that we had to move the boat within thirty minutes because there was a high speed something operation about to be conducted. Turns out we had anchored next to a military base. So I went in the dinghy to round everybody up and they followed us around, making sure we were getting everyone.
me at the helm
They also told us that there were unexploded mines on the islands that everyone was snorkeling around, so that was pretty good motivation to leave. We had to clear a five mile radius around the island, so we ended up motoring around calling resorts on the phone and asking if we could anchor in their bay. Itâ€™s kind of an unusual thing here, each island resort has sort of a monopoly on the waters around them. They can restrict access to their beach and bay, which is sort of understandable, but they can also restrict access to the waves that break nearby. Which means that you canâ€™t surf on a lot of the good places unless you are staying at the resort. Weâ€™re not sure how you can own waves, but I guess you can, and it was more difficult than we expected to find an anchorage.
But we found one that would take us, and it turned out to be a pretty sweet deal. The next day we rented two catamarans from them and all the shipmates had their sailing class out on the small boats. We also had free run of the resort pretty much, so we could go in and use the pool, beach, or internet. I spent about a half hour on shore walking around the pretty grounds until I got bored and sat on the beach waiting for the dinghy to come get me. It sure was beautiful though. That night we went ashore and had dinner at their restaurant, which was on a huge deck built over the ocean. We had a beautiful view of the ocean, the sky, and of course Argo just a couple hundred feet away. The sunset was gorgeous. The next day I think we spent repositioning ourselves to a good dive site, and then the next day we went diving and snorkeling at an area known for manta rays.
I sat surface for the first group of divers (waited in the dinghy while they dove) and at the end of the dive we were about to head back, a bit bummed that there were no mantas to be seen, when we happened across a dive boat that was snorkeling with three of them. So everyone jumped in the water and spent a while snorkeling with them. Since they stuck around for so long I even got a chance to get in the water, so I spent fifteen minutes in awe of these great creatures. They were all about twelve feet in wingspan, absolutely huge, and just swimming peacefully a few feet below us. We could dive down and come within inches if we wanted, just as long as we didnâ€™t touch them. It was pretty cool. So that afternoon I opted out of the dive and instead spent about another 45 minutes snorkeling with them.
we're officially here, this boat says so
The marine biologist we were with said he identified twenty of them throughout the day, so there were a bunch, but I think three was the most that I saw at one time. It really was incredible. The next day we moved the boat and I got to go aloft and be the lookout! I was hoisted in the bosunâ€™s chair to the second spreader, where I sat for over an hour with a radio and my camera, ready to warn the helm of any shallow reefs in our path. It was gorgeous up there and I was happy to finally make it up the rig. We anchored at a beautiful atoll and spent the day diving there. I dove later on with Mike and we saw two lobsters and a shark. It was pretty cool. We set sail again on Feb. 20. Look for more updates maybe then if I get time in Oman, but definitely a few weeks later when we are near Egypt.
sunrise over Male
resort at the Maldives