Apologies for the lack of regular blog posts lately but was Maldives Local as opposed to Millers Local for a while. Spent some time over there getting our new baby up 'n running. Been a long time dream of ours to have our own yacht in the Maldives and finally the dream became a reality. Pretty damn stoked about that! All thanks to an amazing husband who worked his butt off to make it happen.
Nothing about owning a boat is simple. Or cheap! But yrrr, it's all worth it when you wake up in the morning, look out the window and see a kiff lil runner peeling off about 50 m away. That's my kinda front yard!
We didn't get much surf time in the first month cos was just full-on boat fixing, fiddling and tinkering mission. At least learnt some boat terminology along the way so what we called the cocktail deck to start with we now know is actually the fly-bridge. Yip. We were that clueless.
I finally pulled the pin on the "all work no play" situation when spotted a dik swell heading our way. What klaps JBay gets to Maldives in about 5 days time. So it was all systems go for a strike mission down south. Did my first night watch, which entailed sitting glued to the radar in varying states of terror hoping I would avoid smashing into an unlit fishing boat.
The 20 hour sail was worth the effort as we got rewarded with some really fun waves at our favourite possie. It isn't a secret spot anymore unfortunately (up until 5 years ago we could sit there for weeks and not see another surfer) but we still scored days when we had it to ourselves.
Nothing beats diving off the back of your own boat and paddling over to the line-up. Had to keep pinching ourselves that it was finally real. The daily routine entailed waking up as the sun rose, sticking your head out the cabin's hatch like a meerkat to see what the surf was doing, and if it looked good off you went. Else just drop back down into the cabin and catch some more zzz's.
Normally a surf or two before lunch, grab a bite - the whole time watching fun waves peeling off going - arg - I should be surfing not eating! Then another surf in the arvo. After a week or so of that your body is pretty much screaming at you. Ribs are bruised, hips are bruised, shoulders ache, nose is sunburnt. Life is good!
When the surf backed off for a few days it was time to snorkel and explore the island. It's unfortunate that garbage disposal in the Maldives generally means "chuck it overboard", so there is a bunch of trash that collects on certain parts of most islands. Doesn't help that the surfari boats also just go dump their black bags on the island - thinking that some miraculous "garbage fairy" will come remove them!
Our philosophy is you pay to play - so if we were there enjoying the surf the least we could do was clean the place up. Spent plenty of hours collecting and burning rubbish til we got it pretty much cleaned up. Chatted to the locals about trying to keep it that way, and also gave all the safari boats we saw a lecture about not just dumping their stuff there.
Fishing was a bit like feast or famine this trip. Usually we catch something decent every coupla days and it keeps the freezer full. Had precious little to show for our efforts the first few weeks, when luckily a crap situation threw up a very silver lining.
Despite the governments webpage stating we could extend our 30 day tourist visa by another 30 days, when the time came for the extension is turned out to be a no-go. Which meant we had to do a visa-run to Sri Lanka. Mission of note. Basically fly to Sri Lanka - walk in through customs, get stamped, walk out the door and 100m to the Departure terminal - and fly straight back to Maldives. We were in SL for about 40 minutes.
We'd thought of leaving the boat down south and just grabbing a local flight back up to Male (the capital) to do the visa-run, but then had to get the air-con fixed anyway so decided to sail back north. En route we hooked into a seri-ass fish. That kiff sound of the ratchet screaming had hubby sprint out the saloon and hit the deck running. Slips on the mat and nearly goes flying straight off the back of the boat. Rule no 1. Don't run on a boat.
A hour of blood, sweat and tears later - actually an hour of moaning cos we didn't have a fishing bucket and the substitute cushion wasn't quite as effective - and a beautiful big marlin was brought in. Had hoped to release it but it had been foul hooked and the fight had exhausted it and so we decided to keep it as it was going to die anyway. A bitter sweet scenario. Stoked to catch it but sad to have to keep it.
However, 90 kgs of meat meant we weren't going hungry for a while! Marlin steaks. Marlin curry. Marlin fishcakes....
Speaking of steaks. Best damn buy for the boat was the Weber braai. Cos if you a Saffa you have to have a braai. It's the rules. So it got air-freighted over from SA (along with a bunch of other essentials. Like an inflatable pink flamingo). Double bonus was we found a supplier of South African meat in Maldives, so could get awesome steaks, boerie and chops. Happy as!
Despite knowing that reef sharks are supposedly harmless I still get freaked out by them. Haven't ever seen them whilst surfing, but a coupla times whilst wading out in waist deep water fishing, or just walking between sandbanks, have had one swim by.
Feel safe enough with a fishing rod in hand cos at least can poke him if he comes to close, but the one day I had been exploring a sand bank and whilst wading back to the dingy saw a big black shape out the corner of my eye. Luckily he was only about 1m long, but I decided that mommy and daddy might be nearby and was outta there in a flash. I'm a total ninny when it comes to sharks.
We met a bunch of great peeps on the trip. Surfers are generally cool and interesting people. Generous too. We were running low on beer supplies - basically down to the last 2 Tigers, and a nice Saffa and Kiwi on a surfari boat donated a case of Heini's to us. It musta been "our stars have aligned" kinda day, cos earlier another chap we'd been surfing with for the past few days paddled over with a bottle of Taittinger for us - which is a kick-ass French champagne.
Getting alcohol in the Maldives is a mission - being a Muslim county you can't exactly pop over to your local bottle store to grab a few drinks. We do have an alcohol licence for the yacht - which allows us to purchase liquor via our ships agent in Male, but that's the only place you can get it.
Finally we had to start thinking of going home. That annoying thing called work. Wasn't without some sulking cos had seen a really solid swell on it's way and was doing my best to plead and nag that we could stay for it. Got veto'd unfortunately so we started our trek north. Guess we had to pull the plug sometime else we'd never leave!
Thankfully we have a fellow Millers Local and his missus looking after Shantaram whilst we home for a while. Gonna be so hard seeing a swell on it's way and not just jumping on a plane straight back. But hopefully get back there sooner rather than later. Much as I love Millers, Maldives is pretty damn fine too! Blessed to now be a local of both.
Check out our yacht here www.sailshantaram.com