We motor until 1300 hours the following day, and there is quite a swell. 17 kts of wind comes up forward of the beam, so we can sail with the headsail and mainsail up averaging 7 kts. This lovely sail lasts for 6 hours until the wind drops out and the current is against us. Later during night watch the wind comes up on the beam averaging 9 to 12 kts, we have the current with us and have the foresail up, motoring with minimum revs, averaging 7 kts boat speed. The swell has subsided and it is wonderful to watch the fine red-tinged moon drop below the horizon in the early hours of the morning. The rest of the crossing is uneventful with calm weather and so no complaints.

One of the nights I struggle to keep awake with night watch. The weather was very hot and humid in Galle, and so tiring. If there is something to do it is easier so I keep myself busy writing up crew lists for customs. We need 9 of them in the Maldives. Also an engrossing book helps, eg. The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie Farrell, and Nine Summers by Rina Huber - It’s about a couple sailing in the Mediterranean. It is also lovely to be out in the cockpit in the fresh air and just take in the beautiful night. I always enjoy the feeling of peace and space out there.

The Maldives is a very welcome stop in our journey across the Indian Ocean. We still have over 1200 nautical miles to go. We drop anchor at Uligan at 9am. This is the northern-most atoll of about 1300 small coral islands. We can see the concerns of strong tidal surges here seeing that all the islands are low-lying, none rising more than 1.8 m. above sea level.
We call the coast guard but because of a holiday they can’t come out to check the yacht in until 3pm. Apparently, we are unable to go ashore until we are cleared. This maybe an excellent idea as we can catch up on some well needed sleep.

The 4 young men who come out to the boat are immaculately dressed in their white or khaki uniforms. It is so relaxed here too, with no guns or machine guns! We are relieved to hear we can buy fuel here, as we heard differing reports about this.

Their rules are relaxing. The dress code to go ashore was strict (as written in the pilot book) but now they just request you don’t wear a bikini. The locals still wear Muslim dress. You can now go ashore after dark, not that there is anything to do there, and you are requested not to take alcohol ashore.

For yachties there are 2 dinner options ashore. (It is rather delightful there are no cafes or restaurants). One is on the beach and each yacht can bring in their favourite dish from their country to share or, secondly, the locals will put on a dinner for a minimal cost. There are several other yachts anchored here and we all book for the second option on our second night.

When we arrive the crystal clear waters are as we imagined, and just the most beautiful shades of blue. The following day is, unfortunately, overcast with a slightly choppy sea. We are booked to receive fuel at 9am. They eventually come to our boat at 3pm after starting late at the boats anchored further away. So we have a quiet day dealing with boat issues while we wait. We are disappointed to hear the dinner is cancelled due to the weather. We probably have to leave tomorrow so will miss it. The weather forecast is for a tropical depression coming through in 3 days, so if we leave tomorrow we can stay ahead of it. We have also been so looking forward to snorkeling here. We hoped to go out with some local lads but the weather isn’t suitable.

We go ashore several times. The population here is only 435 and everyone is very friendly. The teenage girls are stunningly attractive and have lovely, smart clothes still in keeping with the Muslim restraints.

We have several lovely walks along the pristine beaches and through the centre of the island, which has luxuriant growth of coconut palms.

There are hundreds of crabs everywhere of different shapes and sizes with their multi-coloured shell protection on their backs.

The village is spotlessly clean. Stone built fences surround their neat homes which are built on sandbanks. The sand surrounding the homes and throughout the village is pristine white.

The tranquillity and ambience is about to change here. This week they begin to build a new marina, resort and airstrip.

Delivering fuel

Some people are interested in our work at home. It has been rewarding to be able to help a few people with some basic physio.

Apparently, Sri Lanka is one of the poorest countries in the world. Its economy is improving, especially with the increase in tourism.

The Maldives were first settled by Buddhists in the 5th Century BC. This dominance was followed by the Portuguese, later the Dutch and then the English, which is the pattern seen in Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia, East Indies and Malaysia. It must all be linked to the spice trade.