Male, Maldives to Port Salalah, Oman Day 1-4

We left on Sunday evening. On Monday, early in the morning, winds were light and seas were pretty nice overall, despite the fact it was head winds and head seas. By mid-morning, the first of many squalls rolled through. With each squall, there has been a lot of rain and wind, with gusts as high as 38 knots. The squalls sometimes come from the forward port or forward starboard (an angle that hits us in the front right or left corner). In between squalls, winds drop to about 10 12 apparent knots on the nose. Needless to say, as the day has progressed, the seas got progressively bigger, lumpier and confused. Conditions were in the uncomfortable category and we were definitely feeling the washing machine effect. Given that it was almost as uncomfortable in the anchorage, we still think we were better off out here, making forward progress towards calmer weather, than back in the anchorage, waiting for the weather to cooperate.

On Tuesday morning, we found out that a storm has formed at 5N, 82E (Male is at 4-13N and 73-32E). The rough weather we are experiencing is the fringes due to that storm. We just need to keep moving to outrun its impact. The good news is that the wind stabilized at 16 22 apparent knots on the nose, and thanks to the stable wind, the seas were no longer confused. It was still a mildly uncomfortable ride, thanks to sharp waves at rapid intervals, but it was better than Monday night.

Yesterday, conditions were identical to Tuesday. The most exciting thing that happened was we watched a flying fish jump aboard and then manage to throw himself back into the sea.

Today the winds dropped today to 15 16 knots, still on the nose. Man, just a few less knots of wind really makes the ride so much better! In the afternoon, something incredible happened. Spots of blue appeared in the sky and a bright light shone from above. With all the inclement weather we have had since arriving in the Maldives, we had almost forgotten what blue skies and sunshine looked like. Tonight, the moon came out and it was full and bright. The clouds had been so thick the last couple of weeks that they had completely hidden the moon.

And some answers to questions:

Q: Please tell us about your fuel consumption, and refueling adventures.
A: Overall getting fuel has been pretty easy. First time in Nuka Hiva was probably the scariest. We have reported on each fueling experience.
Special Blend and Getting Fuel (in Nuka Hiva),
Getting Ready to Leave Tahiti,
Welcome to Navadra & Vanua Levu,
Thursday Island,
Australia to Kupang, Indonesia “” Day 1
Exploring Sanur and Getting Fuel,
Chores, Errands and The Kilim Karst Geoforest Park,
and Getting Fuel and Hulhumale High Winds.

With regards to consumption: Winds, seas, and currents have a big impact on our miles per gallon. So far our range is between a dismal 2.0 nautical miles per gallon (nmpg) and pretty nice 3.2 nmpg, with an average of 2.8 nmpg on our trip through the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Also our nmpg varies if we are trying to arrive at a desired time, because we will increase or decrease RPM accordingly. The message here is real world conditions can make a difference in our overall efficiency/range. However in practice we do not worry about it too much. We always plan to arrive with plenty of fuel. In contrast sailboats often have to micro-manage small fuel supplies, and generally they think in terms how much time can they run their engine. In many cases they can only run their engine a fraction of their overall passage time. As such sail boaters find it easier to use the measurement of gallons per hour (gph), and often ask us our gph number. We usually say “about 2″. Yet knowing gallons per hour is only part of the equation to overall range. The trouble is gph is a very precise number. In fact we have not yet seen it change for a given RPM. But, that highly precise number has to get mixed with less precise number of speeds through sea conditions. So more accurately we try to convey that given a full load of fuel, we can do between 2400 and 3800 nautical miles depending on conditions, and we usually go about 6 knots on average, but speed can vary to 5-7 knots, sometimes more or less.

Q: I have been reading up on Karimata, and it appears that it is Malaria paradise. Did you take any Malaria precautions?
A: We took preventative malaria medicine in Flores and Timor, Indonesia, but stopped when we got to Bali since there isn’t a Malaria problem in Bali. We were not expecting to get off the boat in Karimata, so we had not taken any preventative medicine. However, the same medicine (Malrone) is used to both prevent and treat malaria, and we have a sufficient supply on board to have treated it if the need arose.

Q: Would you say A/C is essential out in the tropics?
A: Air conditioning is a very nice to have luxury. The air conditioning dries out the boat, keeping mold from being an issue. Mold is a major problem on boats without air con. Also, it gets unbearably hot and stuffy when you have to shut windows and hatches in rough seas/rain. And it rains very hard and very often in the tropics.

Q: How is it working out for you to have cabinets on the port side saloon instead of a couch?
A: Love having the cabinets on the side instead of the couch. It was a good choice. There is a lot of storage space on the boat, but most of it is difficult to access. We put our kitchen appliances and tupperware in the cabinets. Most appliances are too big to fit in the kitchen cabinets, and it would be a pain to always have to tear apart the couch every time we needed to use the blender or coffee maker. Yes, it would be nice to have a couple more seats for when we have guests, but for us, the storage space is more important than the seating. [76-79]

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