How Things Have Changed
09 February 2021 | Uligan, Maldives
You're maybe as tired of reading that last lockdown year we walked over one thousand miles as we were walking them. Two point eight million steps apparently, an average of 12,000 a day. Wow! On the other hand, we sailed all of a miserable five hundred miles, mostly going back and furrit' to Kuah or Penang.
In the eight days (and ten hours) it's taken to get sixty eight miles out from Uligan at the north end of the Maldives, (at the time of writing) we've walked all of, well, seventy, maybe eighty steps a day. Exhausting! On the other hand, we've sailed over 1,600 miles. 'Aard miles, especially when you've been veg'ing in a marina for a year. And justice has been served. Having poked fun at the weather on the west coast of Scotland, it darn well serves me right. It pretty much didn't stop raining since we left. We'd a day and a half of sun but after that, grey, wet and squally. It was awf'y familiar. The Sound of Mull without scenery. Reefs in. reefs out. Sails furled, sails unfurled. And therein lies one of sailing's mysteries. How come, an hour after yer missus says, "shouldn't we reef?" that you finally succumb, muttering about "it's only twenty apparent" and ETA's and other sad excuses, you finally stick in a reef, and often two, and....... you go the same speed...... and have to ignore the smug, "I told you so" look, and off you go into the murk and wet, under reduced sail, in more control and less stress. And proved wrong. Again. That's stressful!
At the time of starting this composition, (these masterpieces take a few days. They're not just cobbled together you know), we were reaching, in both senses, for the shipping lanes at the bottom of Sri Lanka in the no doubt misguided hope the ships would keep the fishing fleet at bay and chop up any nets laid in our path. A specialty of Asian fishermen. And, of course, we arrived in darkness.....and twenty knots of breeze. And rain. Nonetheless, all the reaching gave us good speed. Noisy but fast.
The really bad news readers is that having achieved the bronzed, honed look of weathered, fit yotties from stottin' about in the mid-day sun for months, by the time we get the to the Maldives the tanned and honed look will once again have been defeated by days in the drizzly murk, gravity and lasagnes. We'll be as peely wally as every other just landed Covid tourist but at least we'll blend in.
On the whole, it wasn't that breezy overall, mostly "Yachtsman's Gale" type mid twenties. It was the squalls up to mid thirties, accompanying two to three metre seas and surfing well into the 'teens that kept us off our beauty sleep, and, as YouTubers will know, I really need it. That and one of us at the helm with a cheezy grin going "wha heeeeyyyy" and the other, not looking so happy going, "don't you think we should reef..... now?"
But we're here! The Maldives. The vacation capital for honeymooners, and nowadays, the rich and famous, preferably with a private jet. Earlier today, nine days, five hours and one thousand, six hundred and forty six miles after leaving Rebak we dropped anchor in a patch of sand between the coral, off the settlement on the island of Uligan, the northernmost island of the Maldives. Completely knackered.
Before leaving we had the local Doc stick pointy Q-Tips up our noses and make several valiant attempts at making me puke all over his cheap Walmart blue plastic Dr Who space suit by sticking a two foot long probe down my throat. All this pointless nonsense allowed us to leave three days later with a wee Covid Clear / Negative certificate to show the Maldivian authorities.
The fact we'd been in several shops, three or four Grab taxis and Billions the supermarket at least twice over these three days seems not to matter. As an aside, this "Tourists must have a negative test three days before arriving" is typical of a special Covid symptom to me. It's one unique to government officials and policy makers. It's virulent and globally spread and was one of the earliest symptoms, yet one strangely ignored by those in authority. Irrespective of geography, these poor government workers were the first Covid victims, their long term symptoms being a complete loss of logic and common sense. In comparison, the Maldivian authorities have developed a sensible, practical and logical entry and control system. Maybe our Boris should pay a visit and see what he can learn. Phwaaaw.
And so, earlier, we welcomed alongside the Maldivian authorities, perhaps better described as the Welcome Committee, they were so pleased to see us.
First up, the mandatory temperature check. While we didn't want to be awkward with our new hosts, Anne insisted this check was reciprocal before allowing anyone onboard, after all, we were the ones with the Certificate!
The guys were a bit surprised at this request. Unfortunately, the only thermometer we could find in Langkawi was, well, let's say, bending over in all their work clothes and masks on a wobbly tender was neither a particularly welcoming nor aesthetically pleasing proposition. Selling the alternative idea of them simply turning their own thermometer gun on themselves was easy.
Onboard, all smiles and welcome, however, in this Covid sensitive climate, everyone's a bit sensitive. Suspicious even. I mean, look what our forebears in their square riggers brought to the world's island communities. Not to mention tourists in 747's. And I've a bit of a cough. It's only an asthma induced tickly cough and one I get every Christmas and after most flights, however, and despite the certificate, any symptom in front of the Covid police, is a bit of a liability.
How things have turned upside down. Remember the days when it was polite to cover the sound of a fart with a cough!
Stuart & Anne
SV Time Bandit
YouTube: SV Time Bandit
For those interested, here's the numbers.
Distance sailed - 1651nm
Max speed - 16.3kn
Avg speed - 7.6kn
Max wind - 40.4kn
Motoring - 2.5 hours (the flat calms between 40k squalls off Sri Lanka)