So it's been a while and seven countries have passed us since we last wrote to you. I can honestly say that I have learnt a lot in the past few weeks. We have sailed a catamaran across the Laccadive Sea with no autopilot, spent and interesting two weeks in India, surfed a bit, and amazingly, have only been sunburnt about three times since we arrived in the Maldives.
The weather has been crazy with winds and thunderstorms nearly every day. We spent the past two weeks in Thulusdhoo which was a tiny but beautiful local island with wonderful, friendly and helpful people. The anchorages were good and the mooring was free.
We have just left Thulusdhoo and are moving down to Vaavu Atoll and are beyond excited to explore some waves and shipwrecks! On Saturday we spent the afternoon on Malé on a supply run and with a storm pulling in and evening approaching we needed a safe spot for the evening. Chris found a small bay called Gulhi Falhu, and while it may not be the most scenic spot, it was great protection from the wind and swell.
The most valuable asset we have had these past few weeks has definitely been OvitalMaps. We have used it every single day. Its accuracy and interface are fantastic and it really has been so valuable to us.
On Sunday night we learnt how truly important it is to have accurate data. It was pitch black and the middle of the night. I woke up with a jump as the boat jarred against a wave and the anchor alarm turned into a constant buzzing and the engines started. The wind was wrapping itself through every single crevice of the boat at about 70km/h. We had put down our main anchor and reef anchor between two reefs just before it got dark as it was the only place we could find. Everywhere else went from 2 meters to 30+ in the space of a meter, maybe two. Before we had gone to sleep we had done our best to make visual markers and coordinate ourselves for the utter blackness that was around the corner. The rain had been relentless for the past 5 hours and had still given us no respite as we swayed in the monsoon around us. Chris worked at keeping us in one place because our anchor was slipping and our reef anchor had buckled and come loose. I took over the helm and Chris pulled up the reef anchor that was now bent. We made the call to lift anchor and keep moving instead of swaying blindly, closer and closer towards the reef.
Dave (the engineer) and I got to work pulling the main anchor up. We had lifted 20m when the windlass fuse blew and we had an extra 20+m to pull up by hand. We got it up, tied it down and moved off while feeding the rest of the chain through the gypsy by hand.
The rain and wind didn't stop all night and with a big swell running, the seasickness was a pretty real cloud over my head. I couldn't sleep when Chris was on watch and he couldn't sleep when I was on watch so eventually, after being soaked completely, we fell asleep at 5am.
The next day was much of the same and we kept moving until we reached a little bay and anchored there for the night. With more protection from the wind we were happily anchored next to two fishing boats for the night.
Tuesday we moved down to Laamu atoll and found a newly built harbor on an empty but soon to be resort, island. We found the channel leading through the extremely shallow reef and got the lines and fenders ready. I was on the roof spotting for bombies while Chris neatly navigated us into the harbor and against the wall where a few of the resort builders kindly caught our lines.
That evening Chris went ashore to ask the resort builders if there was a place that we could dump our rubbish. They said of course and the three of them, smoking Maldivian cigarettes, proceeded to walk him off into the jungle. They insisted on showing him the bridge they had built between two islands and the four of them stayed chatting on the harbor wall for ages. They told Chris how their boat had been damaged by the monsoon that had given us so much grief.
Despite the weather, the atolls are absolutely exquisite. The small islands are mostly deserted, leaving you feeling as if you are a pirate from the 1700s. The wind has calmed down a bit and we are hoping that the waves will be in top shape this week. We are craving some surf!!!