Thursday, 24 October 2013

Dolphin Escort

Just never get tired of these!!!  For some while, we had an interesting bioluminescent phenomenon.  Instead of some blue green sparkles, we saw large blobs glowing just to the side of our hull which would light up en masse making the ocean look as though it was boiling with an eerie green glow. 
If it couldn't get any better, a pod of dolphins darted in and out of the glowing boiling waters. We couldn't see the actual animal but we could see torpedo-like wakes that also glowed as the dolphins played on our bow. Of course, we couldn't film that, so everybody at home will just have to settle for a 'regular' bow shot!

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Arriving & Departing in Male

 It's been a blissful few days cruising the archipelago of the Maldives.  The reefs are surprisingly healthy & abundant (at least on the outer atolls) and who can complain about good food and good company?  Male is quite a culture shock from the more serene places that we have been.  There is open burning of trash & so much of it is floating on the surface of the water (even in the most remote of places).
I've seen cola-cola bottles, water bottles, flip-flops, dish detergent bottles, plastic bottles and more plastic bottles.  We went ashore while we were in Chagos and filled two large trash bags with plastic bottles that had washed ashore on the ocean current.  It is depressing to see so little concern for the very thing that gives us humans so much. 

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Clearing into Addu, Maldives

 Per usual, we had to clear quite a few hurdles to clear before allowed into the country. We had health officers, our local (very expensive) agent, the military, immigration officers, the police, harbour master and customs. It was a proper party!!!
We then cleared out the crew from leg two and cleared in the new crew. We had a familiar face: Joe Grzymski from leg 1.  Joe is also one of the founding fathers of the Indigo concept and  great fun to have aboard. We also have aboard Jay 'Iron Man' Cullins, Ruth McCance, Trent Goldsack & Diane McDougald.
Off we go to do some Maldivian cruising before we head east to Phuket!

Maldivian Coral Reefs

We got our new crew settled in & are looking forward to cruising northwards to Male, Maldives.  We visited some beautiful and relatively untouched atolls with some surprisingly stunning reefs.  Its hard to compete with Chagos, who sees perhaps 50 people a year, but I got some really nice shots anyway.
S/Y Indigo V Team
Indian Ocean Expedition

Friday, 4 October 2013

Crossed The Equator

We crossed the equator and in keeping with maritime law, we had to punish the pollywogs for their crimes to King Neptune.  Joe Podvarek was "Cookie Wog" who had to atone for the crimes of repeatedly walking into the boom and splitting his head open. His punishment was a random shaving event.
Jasna Zarkovic was "Barbie Wog" who paid penance for falling out of bed.  Her punishment was grease tattoos.
Mike "Show-Us-Your-Warface Wog" Givskov  was held accountable for the grave sin of incomprehensibly rambling like a Swedish chef.  Punishment: grease tattoo and random shaving event.
Jacob "Sparky Wog" Senstius also sinned by incomprehensibly rambling like a Swedish chef and he too paid dearly with a random shaving event.
Gayle "Frilly Nickers Wog" offended the great King Neptune by continually applying sun cream. She was forced to get adorned with winch grease tattoos. 
And lastly Rach "The Admiral" Lauro was also in good company having never crossed the equator before.  Neptune took issue with me threatening other green horns with violence for possible damage to our precious vessel.  And so I joined Barbie Wog and Frilly in the winch grease tattoos department....
S/Y Indigo V Team
Indian Ocean Expedition

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Squally World

When the world's two great counter-flowing wind currents converge in the equator zone...sparks will fly and not a dull moment, nor a proper nights rest, can be found. We had to bail out Peros Banhos (Chagos/BIOT) after a little Trojan Horse came round for a visit bringing a very welcome cold air front, then blinding sheets of rain and 30 knot gusts.  
That turned out to be just a little teaser for squalls to come. The other night, a 60 knot beastie formed on top of our heads, dogged us for 6 solid hours, ripped up our  newly repaired sails and send a nice torrential downpour down the back of our necks!  It was such a persistent menace that at one point, we considered 'heaving-to'.  Fede, myself, Trent Goldsack and his charming wife Ruth McCance sorted things out on deck while Indigo, ever the champion, handled the situation like the seasoned professional she is. Bad things always happen at nightfall and so the worst of it was that I was not able to get any footage but here is what an approaching squall line looks like during the day!!
There must be some sort of seafaring law that says, 'If something bad is to happen, it will happen during the small hours of the night.' F Scott Fitzgerald called that the 'three o'clock hour' when the abnormal becomes normal.  Anyway, I now watch the routine setting of the sun with my customary wonder, but also with a prick of foreboding until we reach higher latitudes anyway!
Between George the grumpy autopilot, Matilda, the cantankerous water maker and Squally World, we've been thinking about renaming our expedition to National Lampoon's...

1 On The Road Again

We are on our way again, this time to sail up to Adoo Atoll in the Maldives for our change of crew.  Once the new crew boards, we will cruise up the Maldivian Archipelago to the largest atoll in the world (Huvadhoo Atoll), then Kolhumadulu Atoll, then finally up to Male to reprovision.
The reefs in Chagos, Saloman Islands in particular, are a coral reef wonderland with fish and sharks aplenty. The sandy shores of the small deserted islands are literally crawling with crabs of all types, including coconut crabs, and the corals themselves are very healthy.
Not even when I was studying the protected reefs off Bermuda have I seen such a vibrant ecosystem. I remember my advisor told me that studying coral reefs was just writing their obituary. Considering the reefs I had seen thus far, ocean acidification, warming and other stresses our oceans face, I suppose there is an element of truth to that; but in the meantime, we do have reefs in this world that are recovering, alive and flourishing.  Long may that continue.  Goodbye to one of the prettiest places on the planet!
S/Y Indigo V Team
Indian Ocean Expedition

George...Down For The Count

Well, today marks the fourth and final inexplicable breakdown and despite our discovery that George the grumpy auto pilot runs "Windows 98" our attempts to reboot have failed and so we are back to basics here on board. The good news is that we are saving electricity. The bad news is that I'm due on deck tonight at 2am!
Trent, the electrical engineer aboard, and I will make a few last ditch attempts today to revive The Grump before we give up entirely and resign ourselves to the fate of having to hand steer the rest of the way to Phuket...and onto Singapore... Lest we can't fix the problem. George, we love ya, but you are a monumental piece of crap!!! 
S/Y Indigo V Team
Indian Ocean Expedition

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

To Hooka or Not To Hooka

Fede & I had some long discussions about how we were going to diving on these reefs out in the middle of nowhere.  The problem with dive rigs is that air supply is limited to the number of tanks we could carry aboard (not very many it turns out!)  So we looked into a hooka system; which is surprisingly useful!  We can't go very deep and the hoses are a bit of a pain, but the system is rechargeable and we can dive on it, basically until the sun goes down or later. 
Here's a picture of yours truly in action.  The only trouble is coordinating with your dive buddy!
S/Y Indigo V Team
Indian Ocean Expedition

George strikes again

George, the grumpy Jefa autopilot, stuck again late last night.  He started steering us off the face of the planet at the very inconvenient hour of 11pm; which meant we all faced a long night of hand steering.  Why doesn't he ever act up in the middle of the day?!
This marks the third inexplicable breakdown, and subsequent recovery, of grumpy George since we left Mauritius 3 weeks ago.  We dug around for awhile and couldn't find anything untoward.  We looked at the mechanics; they looked fine.  No blown fuses or anything.  So with very few options remaining we decided to reboot the system and now George is back to being happy.  We decided that George must be running Windows 98 or something (perhaps even Windows Seven)...what else could explain it??