Day 136, Year 5: Passage to Maldives, Day One
Date: Thursday, March 12, 2010
Weather: Sunny with Hazy Blue Sky; Winds 8-10 SW
Latitude: 09 degrees 45.586 N
Longitude: 075 degrees 47.329 minutes E
Miles Traveled to Date: 35

Ah, the magic of a little wind. We left the Bolgatty anchorage at 7:45 this morning and by 10 am the sails were raised and we were sailing. We didn’t expect any wind, but the last thing I said to Lynne was that I wanted her to work her magic to make this passage as good as the one from Thailand to India. She did and we are sailing a close reach toward the southwest with 8-10 knots of wind from the southwest. Since the wind is coming from the direction we want to go, we sailed a little west today and just tacked to put a bit more southing in. After six weeks of sitting in a city anchorage with very little wind, this feels WONDERFUL. So now it’s all about our next destination, the Maldives.

The Lakshadweep Islands (formerly known as the Laccadives) sit just to the west of Cochin and head southward. The Maldives look like an extension of the Lakshadweeps and actually they are as both are part of the submerged Laccadive-Chagos Ridge. As the name would indicate, the Chagos Archipelago is also part of this chain. We will travel about 270 miles from Cochin to the northern most atoll in the Maldives. After spending a few days in absolute tropical paradise, we will then sail 500 miles to the southern most atoll in the Maldives, the Addu Atoll. And then from there about 300 miles to the Chagos Archipelago. The Maldives area includes of 26 atolls with islands to numerous to count. Ihavandhippolhu and North Thilahunmathee Atolls are the northern most and our destination is the island of Uligan (Uligamu) in the Ihavanhippolhu Atoll. The atoll names are all impossible to pronounce, so the government divided the 26 atolls into 21 administrative districts and named the districts by the letters of the Thaana alphabet. So from now on I’ll refer to the northern most atoll as Haa Aliff-much easier than Ihavandhippolhu. I read some statistics about the Maldives in the Lonely Planet today. The Maldives are 99.9 per cent water and that water is pristine and is dotted with some of the world’s most beautiful white sand beaches. The statistic I liked the best, however, was that the number of shark attacks since 1976 has been zero. The Maldivians joke about having the world’s friendliest sharks. I like that.

The bad news about today is that the brand new $1,500 auto pilot drive arm that Ed and Lynne had shipped to India is not working. Not having a freezer is an inconvenience, but not having an auto pilot to cross the Indian Ocean would be devastating. So Ed spent his morning upside down installing the old drive arm. By 1:30 this afternoon, he had it working. We can only hope that it holds.

A final note about India: I totally forgot to mention in last night’s log that we had dinner at the Bolgatty Palace and Island Resort. Ed and Lynne went with us. The Bolgatty Palace sits next to the island resort and looks like it might be used only for large gatherings. It is the oldest Dutch palace outside of Holland. We enjoyed our dinner, but found the food to be not quite as good and four times as expensive as our little vegetarian restaurant that we have been visiting regularly in downtown Ernakulam. But it was lovely to sit in the air-conditioned splendor and enjoy our last evening in Cochin with Ed and Lynne. Unfortunately, the air-conditioning didn’t keep the mosquitoes out. And going to the Bolgatty for dinner gave Ed a chance to get one more gerry can of water. The Bolgatty graciously received our mail for us and provided us with unlimited water for washing and showers. So thank you to the nice folks at the Bolgatty who help make life for cruisers in Cochin just a little easier.