I came onboard on the 15th Feb and met with Saini and we expedited the handover. Nothing much to say as we both know the boat very well, merely I was updated on ongoing works, the accounts and local customs. We discussed the future plans of the drydocking in Sri Lanka for April. Then I cooked a Thai spicy curry for Saini before he left and then I was left in charge.
My first thought was what to do in Maldives to keep oneself from sinking into apathy and fatigue. You can't walk around as everywhere is water, the surrounding Islands are discovered in a day by foot. Shopping has never been my hobby and is not worth here either. The locals are very isolated and keep to themselves and I have never been very active in socializing with complete strangers. I'm more of an observer and I participate in discussions when I know what I am talking about.
There are no bars or restaurants close by, with the two exceptions of the Hulhule airport bar and Bandos Island. I have in 2007 been to the airport bar and did not recall anything that would keep me going there night after night. Bandos Island I prefer to call "Bandit" Island as they charge 20USD only for entry to the Island, then depending what you want they charge you through the nose for mediocre food and drink. No thank you. Besides, Maldives is not really a party place, most tourists here are couples and newly weds that have come here for own privacy and R&R.
So, that left me with the remaining options, fishing and diving. I was mostly working daytime and did not have the interest to go fishing in the mornings although I had done this a lot during summers when I was a kid. This left me with diving that is one of my passions, the underwater world. In addition it also gave me much wanted exercise that I was in need of as I had decided to lose some unwanted weight that had accumulated lately.
Said and done I gave my instructions to Dubey and every morning almost without fail we explored one of the dive sites explained by Tim Godfrey in his dive book or just by looking at the local chart and trying out "unlisted" sites. During the time here I have now clocked 25 dives in total. The crew is also trained/ updated for surface support as well as are knowledgeable of the current situation and locations of different dive sites around Male' as it seems next high season will be Maldives for Kalizma. It has also been an educating experience for myself as well trying to identify the different species of fish I have trapped in my camera lens as well as working out techniques of getting the best picture by using flash.
Some of you may wonder which place was the best and it is hard to say. Every site had it's good points and highlights, it all depends on what you are looking for. I am usually going down with no expectations but keep my eyes open and my camera ready for anything spectacular the nature may want to throw at me. My favorites were definitely the Kuda Haa thila, Club Med corner and Maagiri caves if I'd have to name a few places. Of course the Maldive Victory wreck is awesome too.
Divesites in red and Kalizma in blue (BA chart 3323)
16th February Warm up dive S of Banana reef
17th February Furana South
18th February Kudakalhi channel
19th February Banana reef
20th February Hulhumale North
21st February Wreckdiving
22nd February Club Med corner
23rd February Banana reef
24th February Bandos Island
25th February Kalizma bottom
28th February Black Coral reef
29th February Furanafushi West
1st March Maagiri caves
2nd March Maagiri caves
3rd March Wreckdiving
4th March Hulhule
5th March Hans Hass place
6th March Club Med corner
7th March Lions Head
8th March Kuda Haa thila
9th March Nassimo thila
10th March Reef West of Aarah Island
11th March Furana South
12th March Driftdive down Club Med corner
12th March Nightdive S of Banana reef