Monday, 27 April 2015

Adoo Atoll, Maldives - Sailing South Of The Equator Again

After a very twitchy and uncomfortable overnight voyage south, Crystal Blues is anchored in 40 meters of clear water at Gan, in the Addu Atoll.  Turtles and dolphins swim around us and the environment seems pristine.

We did manage to sail for the entire passage, a rarity in this part of the world.  During the voyage we crossed the equator, sometime around the change of watch at 2:00am, but neither of us had the heart to celebrate - we were too busy just holding on.

We entered the atoll via the northern pass around 9:00am and were safely anchored within the hour, just before the first of many squalls bore down on us.

We have a 100 meters of anchor chain out here, but I'm always very watchful the first day or so after anchoring, specially when it repeatedly blows at 30 to 40 knots with little warning.

This is the most southern point of the Maldivian island chain, and will be our stepping off point for Chagos and then Mauritius.

Adoo Atoll is small, but heavily populated.  The British military ran an air base here until the 1970's (see the airport in the bottom of the photo above).  The old officers mess has been converted into the low key Equator Village resort, so we can go ashore for a beer if the need arises.  Right now the original runway is being extended, and the airport has recently qualified for "International Airport" status, though the only international flights so far are private jets delivering the rich and (sometimes) famous.

Culturally this atoll seems more relaxed in its observance of muslim protocols - many more women are bare headed here, and wearing western clothing.  We have a rental motor cycle, and are busy each day searching for fresh produce to replenish our stores onboard. Some supplies come by air, but the majority arrive on supply boats once or twice a week.  There is a scramble at the supermarket when the fresh vegetables hit the shelves.  Many local residents grow fruits and vegetables in small quantities and sell through local shops or via word of mouth - Ley has ordered two Papayas for delivery on Tuesday from one local grower.

Ley Getting ready For Chagos
Three other yachts are here in the anchorage, including fellow Ocean Cruising Club members Bob & Elaine aboard SV Pipistrelle.

The boat crews have been gathering in the evenings for food and refreshments, sharing information, rumour and gossip as usual.

Some here are experienced, others are new to the cruising game, but our common goal helps generate meaningful bonds.

Authorities here have two designated anchoring areas for yachts, one in the north and the more popular location in the south, which is closer to provisioning and re-fueling sources.  The southern location offers two choices - either inside or outside the lagoon that separates Gan Island from Feydhoo Island.

The lagoon offers shallow water anchoring and perfect protection, but the currents can run fierce and the flies and mosquitoes are a huge problem.  Outside the lagoon, safe anchoring can be found in 30 to 40 meters of water.  It is deep, but the holding is excellent and there are no coral heads to worry about.

Top Left Is Feydhoo Boat Harbour, Bottom Right Is The Lagoon Anchorage - Best To Anchor Just Outside The Lagoon

For boats following our path, some simple local travel and provisioning advice :

- After riding all over the four linked islands, we ended up purchasing the best produce here at nearby Feydhoo.  The large 3S supermarket is there, along with many good smaller stores on the back streets.
- There are two good restaurants in Feydhoo, reasonable prices, aircon.
- Take your dinghy into the boat harbour at Feydhoo for shopping convenience.
- Take your yacht into the boat harbour at Feydhoo for fueling.  There in no need to jerry jug the diesel.  The tanker truck will come to the wharf.   
- You can rent a motor cycle as we did for US$25 per day, from "Shey", call him on 798-8435.
- A good taxi driver is "Hosman", call him on 990-0083.
- If you want to pay an extortionate rate you can call "Moosa" for a taxi, on 743-7957, though we suggest that you don't....

Right now everyone is preparing their vessels and themselves for the next phase of the journey to South Africa, which involves a 300 mile run South to Chagos.

After that it will be a 1000 mile voyage South West to Mauritius. We plan to depart here early on the 29th - if all goes well in Chagos we'll be in Mauritius for our birthdays in June.

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