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The beautiful and breathtaking adventures

von | Jul 2, 2024 | English, Indischer Ozean, Malediven

Turquoise water. Palm trees. Diving. Nice people and delicious food. Thinking about the most beautiful and breathtaking moments of my sailing trip has been an important motivator for me over the last months!

Especially the last four months have not been very easy. And the question „Why am I doing all this to myself?“ popped up in my head more often than usual.

I am talking about lack of sleep, loneliness, financial bottlenecks, boat repairs, hard, physical work while it is 30°C in the shade, storms, calms, pirates and setbacks of every conceivable kind.

It’s not always easy for me to answer this question. But a look at my photo album on my cell phone usually brings me the enlightenment I was hoping for: a traditional dance in Melanesia, a campfire under palm trees in the South Pacific, crossing the Indian Ocean with my buddy Jannis and my father or diving with rays and sharks in the Maldives.

Yes, these are the moments and memories that make all the effort, hardship and despair worthwhile. They are hard-won and therefore even more precious. That’s why this article is about two such memories, the crossing from Malaysia to the Maldives and the subsequent stay on the islands:

Jannis and I have been moored in the marina on the small island of Reback off Lankawi since Christmas. It is very sheltered, relatively cheaply priced and offers sailing guests full access to all the resort facilities: gym, beach bar and especially the pool!

We were able to relax, do nothing and as a side hustle, we prepared the boat for the upcoming 1800 nautical mile crossing to the Maldives. Repairing sails, servicing the engine, cleaning the winches – the usual stuff. We got to the main island on a free shuttle boat and were able to do the necessary shopping easily.

My dad, the third in the group on the way to the Maldives, landed on a Friday. We wanted to cast off on Tuesday, so he only had three days to adjust from the wintry January temperatures in Germany to the tropical climate. – With plenty of fried rice and a short but juicy hike up Lankawi’s second highest mountain, Gunung Machinchang, that was no problem at all!

After a final shower, we cast off!

The first three days, until we had sailed south past the Nicobar Islands and left the influences of the landmasses behind us, were a bit tough: lulls alternated with small thunderstorms and rain, it was insanely humid and to eventually get into open water we had to keep the engine running

A fishing boat that would have sailed far past us suddenly changed course and headed straight for us! The area is known for occasional pirate attacks and I was already in the middle of my preparations for the Red Sea and the thought of already having to deal with pirates made us all a little nervous. Slingshot, harpoon and machete were ready in the cockpit.

The boat was barely ten meters away from ours. With my few words of Indonesian, I called out to them: „Stop! What do you want? We’re sailors and we’re going to the Maldives!“

The boat was so close that we could now see that the boys were up to no mischief. – Their grins were too big and hearty! „Water! Water! Have you got a drink?“ they shouted back to us over the noise of the engines.

It was a load off our minds. We quickly got a canister of water out of the bilge and were able to continue our journey with peace of mind.

We were hassled twice more by fishermen on the way. We never had any serious problems, and the guys were only hoping for a few cigarettes, coke or beer. Nevertheless, our hearts were pounding every time an unknown boat, with men on board whose faces were masked to protect themselves from the sun, set off on a collision course for no apparent reason and pulled alongside just a few meters away!

To refresh my memories, my dad sent me his diary from the crossing. I didn’t remember all the events in such detail and had to laugh a few times while reading it! The three of us were a great team! We worked well together and supported each other.

But above all, we were able to talk some pretty good bullshit: Waking up in the morning, drop a stupid word, making coffee. On the 11th day, my dad wrote:

„The two boys start with their stupid jokes as soon as they wake up. Really funny with these two! Great team, lots of fun and we’ve never been in a bad mood for a minute. But I must resocialize myself at home and get my vocabulary back to ’normal‘.“

Everyday life on board consisted of reading, listening to audio books, changing sails, cooking and fishing. We caught two tunas along the way and my dad caught his first mahi mahi! We ate sushi, fish cakes, rice with vegetables, curry, noodles and, for a change, a salad or pancakes. Home-baked bread, dips and soup were also on the menu.

As we rounded the southern tip of Sri Lanka with a distance of about 50 nautical miles, the wind was blowing strongly from the north and the strong current kept accelerating us to a record-breaking six, seven or eight knots. And indeed: after 24 hours and a „catastrophic night“, we had covered a distance of 157 nautical miles! That was an average speed of 6.5 knots and therefore a new record for WASA!

Although we were incredibly exhausted, we were of course delighted with the exhilarating trip and reached the island of Uligan in the northern Maldives two days earlier than expected. After just 14 days at sea, we dropped anchor.

Unfortunately, we only could spent two days here. Then we had to head further south, to the main island of Male, so that my dad could catch his flight home.

On the way down, we stopped again for two nights at a small, secluded atoll, where we anchored all by ourselves and snorkeled in the pass with countless fish, manta rays, eagle rays and a small reef shark. – Male, on the other hand, was the complete opposite: a large, loud, hot and busy city. Lots of hustle and bustle.

 At the airport there was the only restaurant on the island where it was allowed to sell/buy alcohol. Of course, that was where we celebrated our farewell dinner, right?

My dad flew home and Jannis accompanied me for a week to Thulusdoo, an island 13 nautical miles north of Male. I wanted to do the certification for my next diving level, the „PADDY Andvanced Open Water Diver“, there.

The course teaches new skills in underwater navigation, fish knowledge, diving in currents, and diving to depths of 30 meters.

And there are probably few areas better suited to this than the Maldives! Over 1000 individual islands stretch over a length of 800km, from the northern to the southern hemisphere. They lie in the middle of the Indian Ocean and are usually the destination of honeymooners or celebrities.

This journey is my dream! If you want to support me and keep the journey going, please feel free to invite me for a symbolic dinner!

Thank you so much!

But giant manta rays, eagle rays and sharks also feel at home among the corals and volcanic rock. The current-rich passes between the islands ensure a constant exchange of water and food supply. Although conditions are becoming increasingly difficult due to the warming of the oceans and the Maldives are also affected by massive coral bleaching events, many different representatives of their species still feel at home around Thulusdoo.

My decision to go to Tulusdhoo was pure coincidence. And as it soon turned out, an absolute stroke of luck!

Jannis and I anchored in the lagoon in front of the island and every morning I was picked up from the boat by the Seastardiving team. Captain Abba brought the traditional „Dhoani“ alongside and my diving instructor Akash helped me to get on board with my rucksack. From there we went straight to the dive spot.

I don’t really have to mention that the diving was just awesome, do I? – But I will anyway: it was just awesome!

Being weightless, going down in complete silence – only the crackling of the water and your own breathing can be heard, diving into the world of fish. Gliding past corals, driven by the current, being kissed by a turtle, searching for the tiniest worms and snails on the reefs or exploring a wreck: There is nothing that comes close to making me so relaxed and happy!

But everything around it was perfect, too! I got on really well with the Seastardiving team. We quickly became friends and went out to eat together, spending the afternoons together. Hallim, the founder of Seastardiving, told me a lot about life in the Maldives. Culture, way of life and about life on the Island.

We also talked about the diving school and his attitude to tourism in the Maldives: he is not primarily interested in earning as much money as possible as quickly as possible, but would much rather contribute to ensuring that the entire island can benefit from tourism.

He trains young people to become diving instructors, negotiates with families and rents out their apartments to his diving customers. Together with the island community, he creates a contrasting program to classic resort tourism, from which the locals have little benefit.

The aim is to move from a „five-day vacation in a resort bunker, all inclusive“ to a more sustainable form of soft tourism: getting to know the country, culture and people; eating out in local restaurants; experiencing nature and enjoying it to the full. But also being active and understanding how fragile the system around us is.

Website Seastardiving: Sea Star Diving Maldives 

Watch me diving 😉