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Crossing the Indian Ocean was a nerve wracking experience.  The nearly two weeks spent crossing it wouldn't have been that big of a deal were it not for all the Tsunami related debris floating in our path.  The winds were favorable and seas manageable, but the debris was terrible.  When we finally made it through the last of the debris field southwest of Sri Lanka, we were ready for a break, and what better place to take one than in the Maldives.

We pulled into the Maldives in the early afternoon and put our anchor down in sixty feet of water.  We chose to stop at the northernmost island of the Maldives called Uligamu, and it was a great choice.  Clear water and calm seas accompanied us wherever we went in this patch of Indian Ocean paradise.

We spent our first night at anchor getting caught up on sleep.  Sailing through a debris field is the recipe for sleepless nights, and it would take a couple of nights before we felt rested once again.

Our first Uligamu sunset was spectacular; orange skies reflected on silver water.  It was one of those sunsets where the horizon disappears as the skies meld seamlessly into the sea.

The Maldives are low lying island just a few feet above sea level, and you can't see them until you are only a few miles away.  It's easy to understand why tsunamis and melting icecaps are a worry to the people living there.  A twenty foot tsunami would wash right over the islands destroying everything in it's path, and global warming with rising sea levels could easily put these islands under water. 

When the sun rose the next day, customs and immigration came out to Exit Only and checked us in.  There's nothing grandiose about officialdom in Uligamu.  They have one small runabout that carries the officials over the reef and out to the anchorage where anchored yachts await their arrival.

Uligamu is suited to yachts, but not to ships.  A shoal bottom and shallow reef extends out from land for at least half a kilometer.  The pier is several hundred feet long by necessity; the water is simply too shallow close to shore for big delivery vessels to bring in supplies.  There are larger islands to the south that can accommodate ships, and it's up to shuttle craft to bring in supplies from other islands.  The cell phone comes into its own in the Maldives; cell phones form an electronic bridge over turquoise waters.  When you need supplies, you call in your order to the big islands, and later in the day the supply skiff shows up with your stuff.

Uligamu is a one stop oasis that contains almost everything cruisers needs to restock their panty on the voyage across the Indian Ocean.  Fresh fruit and vegetables may be a bit pricey, but they are available, and believe it or not, they have unlimited stores of diet coke to quench the cruiser's thirst.  Diet coke is ubiquitous.  It's like air, it's everywhere.


Turquoise water is also in unlimited supply.  In some areas, the water is so clear that you can see the bottom at sixty feet.  Fish are in abundance and if you like fresh squid, you simply put your squid lure into the water, and before you know it, you can have all the squid you want.

Fuel and water are readily available as well.  The fuel was expensive, but good quality.  I can't say the same for the water.  Rain water and well water were both available.  We paid for rain water, only to later discover that it was full of green algae that didn't make it's appearance until several weeks later in Oman.  By the time we were in Oman the interior of our water jugs were stained green by Uligamu algae.  We treated our water tanks with bleach and used the remaining jerry can water for showers.


We could have spent months exploring the Maldives, but had to move on because we needed to start our journey up the Red Sea before the weather turned hot.  After a week in Uligamu, we reluctantly raised our anchor and sailed north into the Arabian Sea.  In less that a week we would be in Oman.

Life is good.

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