Passage from Port Blair to Maldives Days 1-4

So far this passage has been smooth and pleasant. Since we left, winds have been light, but wind speed and direction have been erratic. Of course, all that matters to us is that the winds are light, but we do feel sorry for the poor sailors, who must be going crazy from constantly changing their sails. Thanks to light winds we have had calm seas. The swells are four feet, coming at long intervals, and there are virtually no wind waves. It is really nice. It just doesn’t get much better than this. We are making good time, too. We have been consistently running at the relatively low 1600 RPM but averaging 6.25 knots. Flat seas help with speed, as do currents going our way.

We are quite pleased to report that we have seen no fishing platforms and very few fishing boats, which is a huge relief. It makes watch much nicer when you don’t have to keep an eagle eye out every second you are on duty for fear of hitting a platform that comes out of nowhere. We are spending most of our time watching videos and reading, and with the calm seas, Christi has done some work on her arts & crafts project.

On Thursday, Mike saw a pod of about 20 dolphins playing at the bow of the boat, but, sadly, they didn’t stick around very long. Also on Thursday, we watched a flying fish jump onto the deck, and Mike bravely picked him up and threw him back into the ocean, saving his life. Mike is a hero!

On Friday we found out some information that is hugely disappointing for us. We had emailed our agent in the Maldives to let him know we would be arriving next Friday. He emailed back to let us know that government offices are closed on Fridays. Shoot. What were we thinking? We knew the Maldives is a Muslim nation and we knew that Friday is the Muslim’s Sabbath. For some reason, though, it just didn’t register with us when we were planning our itinerary. The irony is that we pushed hard to leave when we did because we were adamant about arriving on Friday. The good news is that they do offer check in on Saturdays, so in theory, we only have to wait one day. However, after spending 9 days at sea, it will be one very sad day of staring longingly at the shoreline.

On Saturday, we had a squall pass over us and got a nice, hard rain. It was much needed. We miss our daily heavy, but short, rains that we had in the South Pacific. Kosmos rarely needed a bath when she got a daily rinsing. Since arriving in Malaysia, rain has been intermittent, and it just isn’t raining enough to keep her clean. We had an especially beautiful sunset, too.

Early this morning we rolled up 15,000 miles on the odometer. About 13,230 of those miles are since we left in April. Since leaving, we have spent a total of 96 days at sea, which is 31% of our total time away. This morning we also had a spectacular sunrise.

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And on to some blog questions:

Q: What is involved in bringing animals into foreign countries?
A: Each country has different rules, and some are more strict than others. Most places require proof of vaccinations and good health, along with some kind of quarantine period before allowing the animal on shore. Some countries, like New Zealand, will not allow you to bring a pet on shore at all, meaning you have to anchor out and cannot stay in a marina.

Q: Why was it mandatory per the Australian government that you get the bottom painted while you were in Australia?
A: Australia’s ecosystem, both on land and in the sea, is fragile. They don’t have many of the bad things that are common place in most of the world, for example, they don’t have rabies. When a disease or pest of some sort is brought in, it disrupts the ecosystem tremendously. They have had a problem in the past from ships bringing in marine pests, which are transported on the bottom of the boat and in ballast water. To try to prevent these pests from being brought in, Australia requires that you have bottom paint (toxic paint that marine creatures can’t live on) that is less than a year old AND you have had your bottom professionally cleaned very recently. If your bottom paint is more than a year old, you have to get it done in Aus. This policy is ridiculous, because if you arrive in their waters with old paint, you may very well have brought a pest in with you.

Q: As in the “Goodfellas” movie, did you/do you have to give the locals some payment to “watch your car (dinghy)” when you leave it parked at the pier?
A: In Kupang, Indonesia, our agent, Napa, hired a little girl that lived in a near by house to keep an eye on our dinghy for us. In Port Blair, you have no choice but to pay someone to “park and watch” your dinghy for you since there is nowhere to tie up. Those are the only two places we have had anyone actually watching the dinghy for us.

Q: Why don’t you back into a slip when it is too short?
A: In Port Douglas it didn’t seem worth the effort to back in because it was such a short stay. In Bali, backing in wasn’t an option since our aft is too wide for the dock designed for bow in. In Singapore we could have turned around, but the small slips got the most roll from passing cargo ships, and we wanted to go a slip with less roll.

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