A couple of days anchored in the blue waters of Nolhivaranfaru at 6deg 41.400N 073deg 06.900E before heading the short distance to Kulhudhuffushi, the second largest populated island from Male, with around 10,000 people.
The entrance to Nolhivaranfaru is from the south west corner of the coral and a short mile further motoring between large bommies to find a good patch of sand to drop the pick in around 5m.
This island village has up to 700 people; a noisy bunch of fully clad locals decided to spend a fun filled day laughing, shrieking, and splashing at the nearby beach. What else would the locals do in the Maldives on a Saturday afternoon? We spent our couple of days swimming and reading; what else would yachties do on a Saturday afternoon in the Maldives?
One day a boat of local fishermen came alongside Blue Heeler and offered us two octopuses (octopi?) much bigger than the inadequate squid specimens we’d jigged a few days prior, but we declined the kind offer. Before they left one guy threw Wayne a plastic bag containing dried smoked fish, which was actually quite yummy.
The weather here is between 28-30C during the day and around 22C in the evenings. It’s certainly not as humid as Thailand or Sri Lanka at this time of year, but of course it’s always a little nicer at anchor with the breeze blowing over the boat. The sky is a strange shade of blue contrasting against the aqua of the water.
Internet is available through provider Dhiraagu, although we’ve mostly had the lower strength of Edge with stronger signal 3G available closer to the large antennas and villages. The other day we sailed by an island with a strong signal so I took the opportunity to call my folks back in Australia using Skype, followed by a bit of online banking and a forex transfer! It’s amazing! The sailors of long ago would be floored by this technology.
As it turns out, the charts for this area are not accurate, probably because they havent been updated since the British mapped the area a couple of hundred years ago. For that reason the method for us is to use iMaps on iPad, which shows our vessel against Google images. The coral reefs and entrances are clearly identified.
And by all accounts accurate. Our CMap and Navionics charts are way out and unreliable, but we mainly use them for route/distance planning.
With so many islands, bommies and coral reefs, all information is absorbed by us and ultimately our eyes are the decider. Until the sun rises the water conceals the dangers beneath the water and only when the sun is overhead can we see the bommies and begin the move through them with some level of caution.
If a bommie looks yellowish there’s a fair chance it’s near the surface and to be avoided, while others much deeper may appear as dark blotches, but we still try to dodge these just in case. To do otherwise is risky. I’ve compiled a list of our favourite and most used apps here.
Kulhudhuffushi is a lovely place to stop. The commercial port was apparently built in 2008/9 but is too small for large ships, so it doesn’t get used much. The water is clean but the concrete dock could be dangerous in a W/SW breeze.
The Muslim community keep their island tidy, orderly and peaceful. You can walk to the top of the island in 30 minutes and see both west and east coasts in the process. Our walk after midday call to prayer had us in a mix of mums and dads picking up junior(s) from school. Some kids were whining, as kids all over the world do, but mostly they ogled at the tourists (us) walking by. Kulhudhuffushi is not
one of the tourist islands and not many westerners come here. Needing a bit of local currency, I Googled the location of the Bank of Maldive’s address then finding the street on Google maps, the only ATM was easy to find, mind you it took a few goes before the ATM recognised my card. I had to go into the bank to make sure my cards we’re okay as the ATM rejected them a few times. Pressing the automatic queue button to be allocated number 3022, while number 3004 was only being served looked like a long afternoon. A lady was called to the counter and on the way gave me her extra number 3010! Within no time I was questioning the teller about my cards inability to withdraw funds from their ATMs. He gave me a phone number to call, but after a couple of dismal attempts, I tried my two cards again, and hey presto, I managed to get some local currency. A closer ATM is being built near the hospital not far from the port, which will be more convenient. After the bank, we decided to top up our prepaid internet to ensure we have good signal throughout the Maldives for the duration of our stay. The Dhiraagu shop was conveniently opposite the bank.
We’d decided to top up our fuel here, and thinking we’d have to lug jerry cans, we spoke within the guys at the Ethumaa Fuel supply who said they could deliver to the dock. Perfect! That meant we didn’t need to empty the jerry cans and will only need to top up again at Male.
While the boat was being filled with diesel, I walked back into the village and stocked up on frozen chicken, bananas, pineapple, apple, pears (who’d have thought, pears!), cucumber, carrot, sliced bread, and potato crisps. I’d read that fruit and veggies are very expensive here, but in fact I was pleasantly surprised at the variety available and given the location I thought the price was fine. I compare everthing with the price in Australia so I’m always prepared to pay more. They also have cabbage, beans, paprika, garlic – you name it – but I already had stock of those. When I bought my load, the shop assistant gave me a big smile and a small chocolate! How nice!
When I returned to Blue Heeler the fuel had been delivered and the guys were packing up. I offered them an apple and they politely took one and left. Kulhudhuffushi is a pleasant place to visit. With fuel and food aplenty, our next destination is another island some 35nm away. Bye for now.