Sri Lanka to Maldives Passage – 17/3/2015 – 23/3/2015

“Live your life by a compass not a clock.”

Stephen Covey

We left Trincomalee, Sri Lanka with Totem on the 17th of March headed for Uligama for a 5 day passage.  There was very little wind throughout the passage and most of the time we motor sailed. 

One interesting thing that happened on this passage was a water spout.  Never heard of one?  Well think tornado but over water.  Technically its a vortex column that occurs over water and is connected to clouds above it.  Water spouts are generally weaker than tornadoes and most do not suck up water, that being said we have heard stories of boats being overturned.  Apparently they usually occur in tropical and sub-tropical areas.  While it was very cool to watch it form and grow we did give it a very wide berth.

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Andrew also caught a large mahi mahi on route which will provide a few meals.  There were no waves and it was so calm we baked bread and cookies and no one felt sea sick.

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Our passage from Sri Lanka to the Maldives took us to the top of the archipelago at the Haa Alifu Atoll to a small island called Uligamu.  It is also where we checked in to the Maldives.  We spent two months cruising the Maldives moving between the different atolls and islands within.

We spent a few days here anchored off the island, where we enjoyed the local hospitality of this little village. We were invited and went to one of the officials homes for afternoon tea, before wandering around the village and watching a local soccer match and having a look at a local school. Andrew, along with some of the other yachties were taken fishing with the locals, who then barbecued them on the beach for dinner that night for us.

Today houses on the island are made from cement or bricks, but some of the older homes were built using coral shaped bricks which you can still see.  The roads around the island are unsealed and are made of a mixture of sand and broken coral. 

Frequently over the two months in the Maldives, Andrew, Josh, Jamie and sometimes others would go off spear fishing.  Suffice to say there was plenty of fish and frequent grilled fish BBQs on the beach for everyone. The beautiful clear water and plentiful supply of fish made it an amazing place for fishing.

These are just a few of the fish caught during our time in the Maldives

Abandoned Resort

Our friend Behan received an invite to come ashore and have a look at a resort/turtle sanctuary.  So we all tagged along for a look around.  First stop the turtles.

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The resort has a number of pools housing turtles according to their size.  When they reach a certain size they will be released back into the water.  After everyone washed their hands, the kids and adults were able to hold the turtles.  Which they loved.

They were very keen to get a group photo of us all visiting.

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The luxury resort was pretty close to being completed when they ran out of money, they are now looking for a buyer, are you interested?  There are bungalows built over the water or little units on land with their own private pool. The adults all eagerly walked around the resort accommodation, the kids not so much, but it seems a shame for it to be sitting empty.

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On one of our many short hops between atolls we spotted some dolphins who joined us for part of our journey to the next stop.  We all eagerly watched them up on the bow.  We are not sure what type they were, as they looked so different from others we have seen.

Interesting Anchorage

We stopped at a random little inlet and had no sooner arrived when we spotted dolphins.  Andrew, Josh and I grabbed our snorkeling gear and hopped in the dinghy to take a closer look.  The dolphins were happily playing.  We jumped in to watch them.  They wouldn’t come too close to us and would swim away if we got too close, but they were very curious about us.  Its amazing how much their clicky noises echoed through the water.

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Josh with the dolphins

After the excitement died off we decided to snorkel over the reef.  The water wasn’t particularly clear and had a fine sediment throughout, but what was unusual was that the sea cucumbers who normally lie flat where all standing vertical.  The other odd thing was the starfish, who also usually lie flat on the sand or curled around rock or coral but they were standing on their legs.  We all surfaced and talked about it.  Behan new some one at the Smithsonian and sent some pictures she took and apparently it was the once in the year time when the coral was spawning.  It was an amazingly, unique experience, not sure if we will ever get to see again.

We ended up spending a few days at the inlet and the kids loved it when Totem got their hookah out.  A great amount of time was spent playing with it.  I loved the mermaid tail that Siobhan is wearing.

Diving and Snorkeling

We did a lot of diving and snorkeling during our two months.  The water clarity is amazing and the water temperature very warm.  The coral was beautiful and plenty of stunning tropical fish, as well as large pelagics.  Not too many photos to share as I find it difficult to get good underwater photos and often didn’t bother with the camera.


We went to Male twice during our stay in the Maldives and it is quite amazing to see it as you sail towards it, the buildings look like they are sitting on the water.  Male sits at sea level and with water levels rising the country has had to come up with ways to protect the island and have built a large breakwater.  Unfortunately there isn’t the money to do that for every island in the Maldives, but they seem to be proactive in looking for ways to protect the islands.

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After being in such remote locations for weeks, I was very glad to be back in civilization.  We enjoyed catching the ferry over to the main part of the city and shopping in the markets, Andrew particularly like the fish market where you could select your tuna and then take it to a guy and for a dollar he would quickly skin and fillet it for you.  Very little is actually grown on the Maldives and most is imported from India or Sri Lanka.  The disappointing thing was eggs.  Half of the eggs we bought would be rotten, as they had already spent days on ships getting to the Maldives.

The Maldives is filled with so many beautiful islands with white sand beaches and crystal clear waters.  The kids enjoyed playing together on the beaches, boats and water.

Photo on the left is Totem at one of our anchorages and the photo on the right was taken by Behan while up the mast looking down on Utopia.

We did our last minute provisioning ready for our month in Chagos in Gan.  Gan is located in the Addu Atoll, which is the southernmost Atoll in the Maldives and final place that you can check out before leaving. 

Thank you to Behan off Totem as she has given me the photos of the kids with the hookah and the lovely photo of Utopia.

Links to check in and out in the Maldives

Check in/out information for Uligamu:

check out in/out Information for Gan:

check in/out or renewing for Male:

Dirty Jobs

Most blogs tell you all the positives of a place or a lifestyle, they don’t show you the negatives.  If you have ever seen the TV series ‘Dirty Jobs’ with Mike Rowe, well this is Utopia’s version.

Most people think when you say you live on a boat that it is luxurious, a holiday or an easy life, but it is busy and there are lots of unpleasant jobs.  Here are some of the jobs you have to do on Utopia, that you may not like doing, ranked in order according to the kids.

8. Cans/bottle disposal – If you are on a long passage out to sea, you can’t store all of your rubbish.  That means somebody has to fill up the cans and bottles and sink them overboard.

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7. Finding the rotten eggs – a relatively simple task fill a jug and see which ones float or sink.  If they are rotten they will float.  If they are fresh they will sink and lie on their side.  If they are a few weeks old they will stand on their end at the bottom.  Unfortunately its the ones that are a few weeks old that have caused us problems.  There is nothing worse than making a cake and adding the egg only to have to throw it out the batter as we found in Chagos. 

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6. Water filters – If you live on a boat, chances are you will have a water maker that has water filters.  Somebody has to clean those or you don’t drink water.

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5. De-weeviling – Crossing the Indian Ocean and staying in a remote place like Chagos, you can’t nip to the shop to replace your rice when it has weevils.  This requires someone to sieve the weevils out.  All rice, pasta and four contains weevil eggs, but in normal society they would be sold and replaced before they hatch, not so in remote locations.

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4. Re-filling dive tanks – You want to dive then you have to refill the tanks using the dive compressor.  That means somebody has to stand on deck with the noise, fumes and in the sun to do it, while you disturb everyone in the anchorage.

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3. Jerry Jugs – Sometimes there is no fuel dock and you have to either walk jerry jugs to a petrol station or to a car to drive to a petrol station.  The hard part is carrying them back when full.


2. Finding the right screw – The kids hate this job.  Even though the screws are roughly organised according to size you can never find the right one to fit.  The kids spend ages trying to get the right match.

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  1. Fixing Toilets – toilets get blocked or the masurator breaks and somebody has to squeeze into a small space to pull the toilet apart and fix it.  You don’t want to know what your going to get covered in.

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Well there you have it the list of dirty jobs and that doesn’t even include the washing, dishes, cleaning bathrooms or emptying rubbish.  A busy life, but a good one.