Reflections: Maldives

Here’s a post about our experiences travelling to the Maldives during January and February 2016.

From Thailand to the Maldives

It was hard to say goodbye to Thailand after five months, but we looked forward to sailing again on the open ocean. We celebrated our last night at Coconut’s in Phuket, with the chef/owner Phen and cruising friends. Hazel took orders and delivered everyone’s food. She loved helping out in the kitchen. We all miss Phen!


Jamie’s brother Richy, our neice and nephew Katie and Nic, and our friend Travis joined us for a 10-day crossing to Male, Maldives.

We blogged about the crossing in real time (Sophie is Wicked Fast Again, Sailing Along Quite Nicely, Bay of Bengal, Ohhhhh Halfway There, Crossing a Highway, Beneath the Subcontinent,  Current-aided Run to the Barn, and Made It!), so  here is a glimpse of the pictures from our adventure:


Land Ho!

We had one of the easiest and most fun passages of our entire journey. Even so, there is nothing better than the feeling of seeing land at the end of a successful ocean crossing.

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Male is a daunting sight with tall buildings covering almost every square inch of the island.

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After anchoring in the deepest waters since Jayapura harbor in Indonesia, checking in with our agent and the government authorities, and moving to a shallower and more protected anchorage for the night, we celebrated.

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After picking up a few veggie provisions for the weekend, we got an early start out to one of the nearby atolls for some snorkeling and sun while awaiting our formal cruising permit.

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Anchored next to a handful of super yachts, Sophie felt quite small. We didn’t mind the view, though.

The next day, we headed back to Hulhumale to pick up Jenn and a few more provisions before heading out in search of manta rays and some more remote anchorages.

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We only had a couple of days with Richy and Nic so we made the most of our time together, snorkeling, swimming, diving, a few games of Shotzee!, and Leo lost another tooth.

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It was so special to have Richy, Katie and Nic together on Sophie. Sigrid, Stephen and Danny we wish you could have been here too!

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After Richy and Nic departed, we sampled some local food and made a grocery run during a torrential downpour, discovering a broken jar of pickles on our way home, then headed out for a week of fun in the sun.

Resorts in the Maldives are beautiful, but appear to be quite the velvet prisons. The Maldives government encourages tourism to resort islands, where they grant exceptions to many rules such as dress code or alcohol, but tourists are generally separate from locals on village islands. As cruisers, we had more freedom to travel around, although we probably experienced the least amount of cultural interaction in the Maldives compared with the other countries we’ve visited.

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Water Sports

We spent a week island hopping through the Fulhadoo, Goidhoo and Male atolls and saw the most colorful fish since Indonesia and some early signs of recovering coral.

These photos hardly do justice to the incredible hues of blue and turquoise against white sugar sand beaches.

We encountered sea turtles nearly everywhere we stopped.

Discovering our own private sand island was another highlight of the week.



As with Richy and Nic, our time with Jenn, Travis and finally Katie ended too quickly. We loved every minute with you all.

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Quiet Family Time

For the final two weeks of our stay in the Maldives, we explored the Ari Atoll, focusing on Sophie School, preparing the boat for our crossing to the Red Sea, and a little play time too. Hazel and Leo loved riding the rapids on their castaway raft.

One afternoon, we had a bit of excitement watching a funnel cloud start to form behind us. The weather definitely shifted toward the end of our stay, with stronger winds and storms passing through more frquently.

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Back in Male, the Indian Navy came to town, a showing of friendly force in the neighborhood.



One month in the Maldives only allowed us a glimpse of all the beauty here. We wish we could have stayed longer, but the Red Sea weather window beckoned. We will fondly remember the warm days, crystal waters, deep blue skies, and white sugar sand. What an adventure! Have we mentioned lately how very lucky we are?


Reflections: Holly Bali

Now that Sophie School is on a brief holiday, I’m catching up on my backlog of photos and stories. Here’s one reflection about some of our adventures in Indonesia last year.

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Ambon, Indonesia

In February 2015, my cousin Holly sailed with us from Ambon, Indonesia to Labuan Bajo on Flores Island, and we also made a short trip to Bali.


On Holly’s first and only night in Ambon, we took her to our favorite restaurant there, Dua Ikan, to sample some local delicacies including Pepeda, which you are meant to slurp out of your bowl without using silverware.

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We had planned to spend a few days in Ambon in order to watch the Patriots win the superbowl, but our plans changed when the weather forecast changed by the next morning and a good window to cross west opened up if we departed right away and then there wouldn’t be another one for about a week. We said hasty goodbyes to friends on Per Ardua, Ocelot and Guruca Cat, called the Moore and Connor families by phone, and pulled up the anchor.

We had a great view on the way out of Ambon Bay.

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Even the dolphin helped to send us off.

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Sunshine, light winds and calm seas. This had the makings of a perfect day.

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Later that morning, while Holly and I were on watch, almost out of sight of land, two squall lines appeared on either side of the horizon and both appeared to be moving in our direction. The systems merged right on top of us, and within minutes, we were motoring into 40 knot white-out conditions. The storm lasted for less than an hour, but it took most of the afternoon for choppy seas to subside in its aftermath. Holly’s easy introduction to overnight passages ended up being a bit more aggressive than we expected, but it was the only weather we saw during this crossing. We had light breezes and calm weather the rest of the way there.


From what we read, we expected to be off the grid for our stopover in Wakatobi, but as soon as we anchoraged off Hoga Island, a small fishing boat with the local divemaster stopped by to welcome us and point out provisioning stops in the neighboring village, excellent snorkeling spots with moorings for our dinghy, and directions to find the restaurant on shore. We also had 4 bars of cell service. So much for cruising off the grid.

Hoga is one of the most beautiful islands we saw in Indonesia. It is fringed by white sandy beaches and has one of the most colorful reefs, teeming with little fish. We spent a couple days snorkeling, beachcombing and playing games.

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Leo and Hazel also practiced many dives off Sophie.

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We also watched some spectacular cloud formations.

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We experienced great weather at Hoga, and then we left just in time.

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We had almost a full moon for this leg of the trip which helped tremendously at night to spot FADs before hitting them. In this area, they were not small homemade fish traps, but 10 foot square floating platforms sometimes with small huts on them. We had a couple near misses, but managed to dodge them before it was too late. There is a good reason to avoid sailing at night in Indonesia, and we only did a handful of nighttime crossings during more than 3,000 miles sailing there.

Flores Island

We made landfall again in the 17 Islands Ruing Marine Park off Flores Island in the East Nusa Tenggarra region of Indonesia. This is an uninhabited national marine park with pristine beaches, coral reefs and very few visitors. We anchored in 25 feet of sand off a small island that the kids dubbed “Sand Dollar Island” after the thousands of sand dollars we found lining the beach.

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Flores Island

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“Sand Dollar Island” in 17 Islands Riung Marine Park

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On our second night there, Hazel developed a high fever and complained of body pains, so we made the decision to leave at first light for Labuan Bajo, the nearest city, 80 miles away. After an uneventful trip, Holly, Hazel and I flew on the first available flight to Bali while Jamie and Leo looked after Sophie. We took Hazel to the hospital late that night where she braved a very big needle for blood tests and a thorough exam before we checked into our hotel to await the results. By morning Hazel’s fever broke and we were relieved to learn she didn’t have dengue, malaria or other serious tropical illness. With one day left of Holly’s vacation, we spent a leisurely day at a resort.


We had so much fun together on our mini girls’ holiday and loved every minute of our time with Holly in Indonesia. We are such a lucky family!

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