How long can we go:
With our victuals on board
Won’t the water soon run short
Or will our ship succumb to mighty storms?
Are we in to this too deep?
The doubts go after me right in my sleep
So, how long can we go?
– ‘How Far’ by Coronatus
Madivaru Island to North Male Atoll
I’ve often written about the joys of provisioning (ha!) but to put it into perspective for landlubbers, the last time I did a major shop was in Thailand two months ago. Since then I’ve basically only bought fresh produce from Galle and again in Kulhudhuffushi. Much of the food we bought in Thailand is canned or packaged and will be used over the coming few months until we reach South Africa. As you can imagine, it’s important to keep what food we have edible. With Male as the next reliable place to stock up on fresh supplies (which are reportedly expensive due to the isolation) it’s important to make sure we have enough food to last through to Rodrigues or Mauritius in June.
With a westerly breeze of around 10-15 knots we anchored on the eastern side of Madivaru for two nights out of the swell before leaving at 7am for a 36nm trip through the south of the Faadhippolhu atoll passing the island of Kaashidhoo on the way. We decided not to stop here as our charts are way out and we had no reliable entry information for our 2m draft. The depth between the atolls is astounding with depths over 1000m in just a short distance from the edge of the atoll.
Once again the winds were light, having to motor-sail to reach our destination before the sun gets too low on the horizon to see the coral outcrops. Gaarafu is a falhu, that is it a circular coral reef rising up from the atoll, with a sandy bottom and filled with potentially dangerous bommies.
The north east entrance has no markers, except for the glowing aqua coral banks on either side reminding us to stay within the deep water. Staying close to the eastern side to avoid the large bommies in the channel, we then continued east until we dropped the pick in 15m sand at 4deg46.150N 073deg28.265E. There is an island a couple of miles south of our anchorage, but essentially we are unprotected from the elements at this exposed anchorage, merely protected by the shallow coral bank. It’s quite strange really to be anchored in the middle of nowhere.
Leaving on low tide at 9am the following morning, we retraced our tracks, although the entry is clearly defined and surprisingly our CMap charts were accurate for this small atoll. Once out and heading east we had a 3.5knot current against us, which eased to 2knots once we headed towards the entrance to the North Male Atoll, entering through the Kagi Kanduolhi passage.
Our anchorage at Asdhoo is superb, particularly as there’s no wind. A small resort nearby but far enough away to not bother them, or us. Anchored at 04deg27.686N 073deg39.276E with nice enough snorkelling and crystal clear water. It’s like we’re anchored in a massive swimming pool!
In this climate, keeping food we’ve bought last as long as possible is a task in itself. To make sure food doesn’t go to waste, I regularly revisit the basics of preserving with my stained and well thumbed ‘Cookery the Australian Way‘ from Miss Uebergang’s year 8 home economics class. This book is a little dated but still useful for basic cookery. I also look for other good recipes on the internet. I’m not a great cook so any information is good. Ideas welcome!
So, as the on-board domestic goddess, every few days in this steamy humidity I make sure my eggs are turned, green beans are blanched and vacuum sealed as needed, potatoes are inspected for nasty signs, any dodgy ones are cooked and eaten. My sole pumpkin still looks good enough for a few more weeks. The other day I preserved 10 large beetroots in vinegar and I’ve got four cabbages gently swaying in a net in the fore cabin. With a fresh pineapple I made a yummy pineapple and chicken curry, and I made a tub of pineapple chutney, plus banana pineapple muffins. (If only I could make wine!). Today I decided to have a go at drying bananas. Sliced up and sitting between sheets of flyscreen, they should be nice and dry in a few days. I have fresh garlic and ginger, and quite a few USA apples that are keeping pretty well.Sadly no fresh herbs.
On the way from Galle I had a disaster with my carrots (as one does). The day I purchased them it was raining and the carrots were damp and dirty and after a few days the began to get soft spots. While sailing to Maldives I managed to peel, blanche and vacuum seal 5kg of carrots! The hardest thing to keep is meat. Chicken is all we can really buy and that usually clumps together in our tiny freezer. I’ve been known to use a hammer and screwdriver to break the portions apart. As you can see it’s not as simple as driving down to Woollies!
But of course we’re eating well and there’s no chance of the crew suffering from scurvy or malnutrition, ‘not on my watch’, as they say. We’re even getting better at squid jiggin’. I Skyped my sister today and towards the end of the call I had to quickly say goodbye as Wayne had been jiggling for squid and caught a beauty and I was needed to grab a bucket while the little fella started squirting all over the place. One of his mates joined him soon after so we had a nice entree of salt and pepper squid and a glass of red.
We’ll stay here for a couple more days of swimming and jiggling for squid, then head down to Male only 20nm away.