Thursday, 9 April 2015

Cruising South Ari Atoll, Maldives

As you can see, the weather here has been dreadful ..... some boats (including us) complain about the heat in the afternoon, when its well above 90 degrees farenheit in the shade.

However the mornings are glorious and the sunsets are special.  The water is clear and the swimming is fabulous.

We're 210 miles north of the equator, which we plan to be well south of before the end of this month.  But its slow travel, a few miles each day.

We're re-adapting to cruising in coral reef areas - it has been a while for us.

Today we moved from Dhangethi to Dhigurah, choosing to stay inside the Ari lagoon instead of making the transit at sea.  Only a 10 mile transit, but Ley stood watch on the bow looking for coral patches and we navigated completely using charts made from Google Earth - they are the only accurate reference we have.

Each day we explore our new locale by dinghy, looking at sea life and the shoreline.  Today we saw numerous turtles, a beautiful grey crane, many bats and of course a lot of fish.  Ley was escorted on her beach walk by four small reef sharks - tracking her from the shallows.

Further off shore, our local friend Captain Najib took his guests swimming with the whale sharks, then brought them in closer to us to see the manta rays.

Najib captains Dream Maldives, an 82 foot catamaran that hosts just 12 guests (check it out here).

We've been fortunate to spend some time aboard with he and his guests, and to learn the whale shark locations from him.

Of course the swimming here is special, in brilliantly clear water most of the time.

That changes when the reef is spawning around the full moon, so for the past few days we've had "reef muck" on the water surface.  This mass evacuation of DNA from the coral is essential to the cycle of life, but what a mess it makes on the side of the hull.

The water temperature here, at 8:30pm this evening, was 28.8 degrees centigrade - just a little cooler than we had in Thailand.

Of course the waters off shore here are much deeper, and are fed by currents that range across the Indian Ocean.  It has to be cooler.

Some of our swimming is sight-seeing, with mask, fins, snorkel etc - but often its just a chance to cool off.

This morning we swam before breakfast, then showered on the transom steps while contemplating that first cup of coffee.  It's not unusual for Ley to swim three times day, its the only way to keep cool.

The sultry weather should change in a few weeks as we move south of the equator and the trade winds take charge of the weather pattern.  Right now you could cook eggs on the side decks for most of the day.

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