Day 139, Year 5: Arrival in Maldives
Date: Sunday, March 14, 2010
Weather: Partly Sunny, ENE 4-5
Latitude: 07 degrees 04.685 minutes N
Longitude: 072 degrees 55.223 minutes E
Miles Traveled to Date: 281
Location: Uligan Island, Haa Alif Atoll, Maldives

The wind never returned so we ended up slowly motoring through the night and early morning to reach here about 9:30 am. We were a bit surprised to see an Australian boat anchored off the southern tip of Uligan, and to find another boat in the main anchorage. This one ended up being a French boat we knew from the Bolgatty anchorage that is traveling to Chagos. So we have company here.

Uligan is a low island like all islands in the Maldives and is covered with green vegetation and ringed with beautiful white sand beaches and aquamarine water. Unfortunately, we have to anchor out in deeper water so that we don’t damage the coral and it doesn’t get a chance to damage us. Shortly after arriving, the Customs, Immigration, Public Health, and Coast Guard representatives (seven in all) boarded our boat and took their places in the cockpit. Check-in was quick and efficient and all of the young men were most pleasant.

We haven’t been ashore yet, but we have been snorkeling. The 1998 El Nino year sun bleached all of the coral here, but it is coming back and we saw a wonderful array of different fish. We saw loads of Powder Blue Surgeonfish. This is a fish we have not seen before and it is beautiful. But most other varieties of fish were not as numerous. We saw one of this and one of that, but that was fine with us. It was just such a wonderful treat to be able to jump in the clear, beautiful water.

Low tide is early in the morning, so if the sun is shining I might snorkel the reef again to try and get some photos. Then around 10 am we will go ashore and arrange to get fuel delivered and see the town of 480 people. There is a small store here that sells a few essentials, but there is no bank or ATM. The currency here is the Rf or rufiyaa. Somehow this is attached to the US dollar so that the exchange rate between the two always stays the same. So we will have to spend some of our precious US dollars to buy fuel and to pay for anything else we decide to do. The price of diesel here is very high, $1.20 per liter or $4.80 per gallon. We thought $1 per gallon in Cochin was expensive, but Uligan prices are higher. After we get some fuel, we will spend a couple of days here and then head south to the southern-most atoll in the Maldives, Addu. Both Constance and Windbird need help with repairs, and we are hoping that reports we have from other cruisers are correct. They indicate that the level of workmanship there is very good. Constance really needs someone to take a look at their malfunctioning generator and we would love for someone to take a look at our freezer compressor. The trick here is to get permission to anchor in a second Maldivian port without paying the $500 US cruising permit. We just can’t afford to do that.

100314 Day 139 Passage to Maldives