Day 150, Year 5: The Continuing Freezer Story
Date: Thursday, March 25, 2010
Weather: Another Beautiful Day
Location: Gan Island, Addu Atoll, Maldives

A thousand Rufiah is the equivalent of 78 US dollars. We went to the bank on Monday and withdrew 2,000 Rufiah, spent that, and went back yesterday get another 1,000 Rf, spent that, and that meant another looooooong walk back to the bank today. I was planning to go alone, but at the last minute we found out that the refrigeration guys were not coming at 10:30 am but rather at 12 noon. So Mark went with me and started the trek north. Amazingly, once again our Sri Lankan friend Lal drove by and picked us up for part of the trip. But he was not going very far. We then started walking again and a taxi driver tried to convince us that we need to ride with him. But we convinced him that we needed to walk. Just as we were getting ready to cross the causeway to the third island of Maradhoo, the same taxi driver stopped and offered us a free ride to the ATM. His name was Moosa and we were hot and tired and got in. He took us to the bank, was very helpful, and we decided to have him take us back to the second island of Feydoo to a pharmacy. There is a cruiser in the Chagos who is having a very bad back problem and Ed and Lynne’s friends that are there asked them to pick up some medications. They gave us the list since we were going north today, and Moosa took us to the pharmacy and made sure we got the medications we needed. We then walked back to Gan. We got back to Windbird in time to have lunch before the Riyadh and Ali returned with our compressors.

Now for the “freezer story” for today. Basically, they believe both compressors work fine but there is still a problem. So what we think we know is that we spent $1,000 on a new compressor we didn’t need, but still don’t have a freezer. Riyadh thinks there might be a problem in the cold plate, so we removed that and he took it back to his shop. Tomorrow is a holy day here, a non-work day, but Riyadh and Ali left their equipment here and said they would return tomorrow with the cold plate. If things don’t work then, we are going to say that we gave it our best shot and simply forget about having a freezer until we get back to the US.

When the refrigeration team arrived at the dock, Mark went in to pick them up and drop me off for a little Gan Island adventure. I just wanted to walk around the island and see what was there. I also wanted to go to the Post Office to send early birthday presents to Jo and Heather. Prior to 1956, Gan Island was a community of Maldivians. But in 1956 when the British could no longer use Sri Lanka as a base, the British built a Royal Air Force base in Gan. All of the people living on Gan were moved to the next island north, Feydoo. Causeways were built to connect the island of Gan to Feydoo to Maradhoo to Hithadhoo. But then in 1976, the British pulled out leaving Gan as a military base ghost town. Still no one really lives on the island, but many of the barracks are used to house resort employees. The Equator Village, a truly affordable Maldivian resort, is a resort of refitted barracks. The resort has used a mass of tropical plants to hide the fact that the housing is really barracks and they have done a good job of this. I went there to see if we could join one of their daily snorkeling trips and found that we can for $10 US per person. On Saturday we will definitely do this. I found the Post Office and mailed my packages and then headed back to Windbird.

When I arrived, Riyadh was still working hard below and Ali was sitting in the cockpit relaxing. I think his main job is that of an interpreter as he speaks very good English, but Riyadh does most of the work. I learned from Ali that the most beautiful women in Addu Atoll live on the island of Feydoo and the most brilliant men live on Hithadhoo (which is where Ali lives). On the serious side, I learned that young people in this atoll that want to go beyond grade 10 must pass the Cambridge test. It used to be the Oxford, which Ali says was easier, but now it is the Cambridge. You can then go on to grades 11 and 12. If you want to further your education you can either go to the capital of Male and spend about 15,000 Rf ($1,100 US) per month to live or you can go to Sri Lanka and get a higher education for about $300 US per month. So most young people go to ‘Lanka’.

So our saga will continue tomorrow when Riyadh and Ali return. If the freezer system does not work with this newest fix, then we are going to hang it up. In the meantime, we hope to get in an early morning snorkel here in the anchorage and the pass leading in. We are seeing turtles and rays in the anchorage, and locals are diving and coming up with octopus, so there must be something here to see.

We were successful in talking to my sister and brother-in-law via Skype with video tonight, and then we got a call from sailing friends Ken and Jean on Renaissance 2000. They were calling from St. Maarten in the Caribbean. As always, it was great to talk with them and they gave us tips for our upcoming year of cruising. We love the cruiser network.

100325 Day 150 Maldives–Gan Island and Anchorage
Day 151, Year 5: The End of the Freezer Story
Day 149, Year 5: Food, Fuel, and Internet