Saturday, 4 April 2015

Cruising In Malé, Maldives


Ley, Diving At Last In Clear Water, Just A Few Miles From Malé                                                     





Malé was a surprise to us - certainly more sophisticated and "switched on" than we expected.  From a cruising sailors perspective it is an excellent place to provision before exploring the atolls and offers a very complete range of boating support services.

Arrival Formalities

You should appoint an agent well before arrival, agreeing on fee's and charges at the time.  If you are clearing in at Uligamu in the north, Real Sea Hawks provide great service through Assad, one of the business managers.  Unfortunately that same level of confident service is not always provided in Malé.  So if you are clearing in to Malé you will need to "manage" the local representative somewhat more.  Alternately you could utilise Antrac, a competitive agency in Male who provide outstanding service here, though at a more expensive price.

Clearance here is simple enough - call Harbour Control on approach and advise them who your agent is.  Anchor at the nominated location and wait for the visit from Customs, Immigration and Coastguard.  They will all come together, along with your agent.  Calling your agent on arrival will speed things somewhat - in the end we waited four hours, anchored in 42 meter water on the northern side of the island.  The arrival inspection location, provided by Real Sea Hawks, can be downloaded here.  All of the officials were perfectly professional.  There were a brace of forms to be completed, and they did want a complete schedule of all drugs and medicines on board - we keep that document on file and updated, so it was simple for us to print it and hand it over.

Hulhumale Anchorage

After clearance yachts are required to move to the lagoon anchorage at Hulhumale.  The new entrance there is shown accurately on iPad / Navionics, and the lagoon is generally 6 to 8 meters deep throughout. Anchorage at the northern end is suggested to keep away from ferries and commercial traffic.

SY Morning Glory Loads Diesel From The Fuel Barge In Hulhumale Anchorage
This is a busy place, specially on Friday's and Saturday's when the expedition boats discharge and reload with passengers.   Aircraft and construction noise also make a contribution during daylight hours.

 The water is clean enough to run your R.O. plant, and potable water can be delivered by barge or taken on-board at one of the docks (south of the ferry terminal).

Diesel fuel can also be delivered by barge - we paid US$0.72 per liter for excellent quality fuel.  The contact details for fuel and water are included in the Cruising Services Guide you can download here.

Hulhumale Island

Hulhumale Island is a dormitory suburb, growing rapidly and housing many airport workers.  A causeway now connects it to the airport, and a regular bus service is available.  Local taxis are available, and shops near the ferry terminal offer a basic range of goods, including some restaurants.  However the real action is across the water on Malé.

Out & About In Malé

A compact but busy capital city that can be toured on foot or using fixed price local taxis (25Rf per ride).  Most business people have reasonable English.

ATM's will serve your cash along the western waterfront, close to the ferry terminal.  Internet services are fast and reasonably priced, with good coverage.  We purchased two SIM cards, one from each of the two service providers.

The Maldives is a maritime nation, and there is no shortage of marine service providers, mechanics, and chandlery stores in Malé.  Try Seagull Marine or D Blue Marine for starters.

Here you will also find all the fresh produce, dry goods, frozen meats, cheeses and specialty items that you could want - except of course pork and alcohol.  Fresh produce at Fantasy supermarket or at Seagull Foods is excellent.  The produce market on the waterfront also provided great quality fruit and vegetables.  The local delicacies are also worth trying - delicious tuna cakes (a small flat pancake with lime and chili seasoning), the local "chocolate" that is shredded coconut with chocolate wrapped in a banana leaf.

For dining we recommend the Jade Bistro, on the waterfront not far from the Hulhumale ferry terminal, or (better still) the Seagull House Cafe, in the heart of town on Chandhanee Magu.

Use the map in the Cruising Services Guide, learn that "Magu" means "Street", and you're away.  By the way, "thank you" here is "Shukria".  Enjoy Malé - both the people and the city are very welcoming.

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