Canadian family circumnavigating full time aboard a 2001 Leopard 45.

100 Days of Lockdown in the Maldives Part 3 of 3

Team Uligan

Cruisers in general are very independent. We alone are responsible for the safety of our yacht and crew. We usually carry 3-6 months of dry provisions. We generate our own power, make our own water and are very familiar with living 'off grid' for long periods of time. We follow the tradewinds and make our own decisions of where and when to sail and anchor safely.

Group dynamics can make or break a cruising community. One of the issues we ran into during our 100+ days of lockdown was that although we are all independent and responsible for our own yachts, we were being treated by the authorities as a group.

When the wind changed in the anchorage it was necessary for several boats to move around the corner to a more protected spot. It took hours of communication and back and forth to explain this to our agent (who was relaying everything to the Coast Guard Commander via another agent based in the Southern Maldives). They wanted all the boats to move 'as one' and didn't understand that the boats were all different weights with different windage. Some of us had great anchor holding already and others didn't. Risk and experience was a factor also. Some sailors felt safe where they were and had enough room to swing and others didn't.

Not all boats and crew are the same and at the end of the day a Captain will do whatever he/she thinks is best to ensure the safety of his yacht and crew regardless of fellow cruisers or authorities.

This individual independence caused a bit of a rift within Team Uligan and the 14 boats stuck in paradise. There was a fair amount of disagreement about how our eclectic group was represented. Each captain needed to make his/her own decisions but there was a also a fair amount of judgement about how other boats behaviour would affect the group as a whole.

As an example, near the end of our tropical convalescence, after more than three months without our feet touching land, a few boats went ashore on the beach of a very small uninhabited atoll to stretch our legs. Some Captains saw this as humanely necessary for the sanity and health of their crew, especially those of us with children. Others saw it as the ultimate defiance of the collective group & authorities. (We had not been given specific 'permission' to go ashore because the atoll was not owned by the government; for the same reason, we had not been 'prohibited' from going ashore)

Conversaions (read: arguments) were had, punches were almost thrown and to this day there are a few yachts who won't share the same anchorage as others.

We all learned a lot about cruising and social dynamics in those three months. Absent from our typical land communities, sailors depend on each other for a lot of support. We share information, advice, boat help, food and medical aid and definitely social support but we also have to be highly respectful of our risk and experience level and consciously make an effort to not piss each other off.

Despite getting to know some cruisers too well, we made lifelong friends above that reef and the photos bring back some of the best memories I have of cruising with friends.