Saturday, 2 June 2012

The Maldives 2012

Maldives Surf Coaching Trip. Pasta Point / Surf Charter 

The Maldives
May 14th
Only 14degrees and a howling South West onshore wind on Phillip Island so really happy to be leaving. I have setup a coaching surf trip with my Russian friends through the guru of surf travel Ian at Atoll Travel.
I am meeting two surfers Alena and Artem who are flying in from Europe at Pasta Point (Dhonavelli Resort at Chaaya Atoll) we have planned five days surfing the famous left before six more friends meet up with us for a Charter boat cruise of the central Atolls on a boat called Thei. The normal trip from Melbourne is an eight hour flight to Singapore then a transfer for a four hour trip to the Maldives. A really simple and easy trip. Alena and Artem have their boards stored at Villa Casa in Bali so after flying to Singapore I jump on a plane to Bali and pick up their equipment, shoot the breeze with their friends Anastasia and Andre at the Villa till midnight then back on the morning flight to Singapore. I am only in transit but I have half a day to kill so a quick trip into the city for Indian Masala Dosai (my favourite snack) and a cruise around Little India. There is a department store called Mustafas and provided you don't get lost in side it has everything you could possibly need and the best price in town.
Singapore is a great town, well worth the stop. The airport has to be the most user friendly in the world and Singapore Airlines is my favourite airline.To be honest everything in Singapore is user friendly, train travel is a piece of cake and cabs are reasonably cheap. $20 will get you into the city from the airport.
I am on the 8.45 pm flight to Mali. The Atoll Travel boys meet me when I arrive and with minimum of fuss we walk out of the airport doors across to the dock and jump on a 20 minute fast speed boat that will has me at Pasta Point around 10.30 pm local time. 
I take my 6'3'' Simon XFC for the bigger more serious waves and a Bourton 6'0'' Little Zappa for the smaller fun softer waves.
Pasta Point

16th May
Sleep in till 7.30 this morning, Breakfast at the main dining room. You certainly won't go hungry here. There is an amazing buffet with a choice of excellent quality food. Feeling a bit more human I catch the 9am boat over to Sultans. The right is a bit inconsistent but every now and again nice long four foot sets roll through. Missed the early crowd and surf for an hour or so before the second shift gets there. Back to Pasta and the swell has built with inconsistent but fun sets. Pasta is off limits to all the charter boats so crowds here are usually a dozen or so guys. The air and water temperature are similar, the sun is baking hot and water is around 28 degrees Celsius. Crystal clear aqua marine ocean, post card stuff. I get a lift on the fast boat over to Male to pick up Alena and Artem who have arrived from London. The trip is only 20 minutes so we are back in time to sort out the rooms and enjoy a sunset surf. Dinner starts at 7.30 the biggest buffet you could imagine. Everything from Indonesian, European and Indian are spread out in a massive dining area just in front of the wave. Early to bed to ease the jet lag.

Maldivian word for the day is Keine' (How are you) response is rangalhu (Well Thanks) 

17th May
 We are up before day break for a surf, another good session with shoulder high sets. There is a massage service here but it is pretty expensive. Surf before a 5 course lunch. The wind has swung more offshore and we should go back in but need to rest up a bit.
Finish off the day with our third surf. There is a beach party tonight. $15 all the fancy cocktails you can drink. We buy tickets but are asleep before it starts. 

Maldivian word today is Shukuriya (Thankyou ) response is Maruhabaru (well thanks) 

18th May
Alena in the slot at Pasta Point
Up at dawn and Alena and I have a cracking session. Waist to shoulder high, clean as a whistle. Heaps of fun.  We are using Atoll Adventures video service and spend a couple of hours going over technique with Alena. Sea life here is amazing, sail fish and dolphins jumping. Fish are everywhere. We watched a Giant Trevally surf along in a wave today, looked amazing. Surfed again mid afternoon but the current was so strong the wave was unsurfable, if you could get one. We paddled in and 40 minutes later the current stopped and we surfed till sunset. The currents here are really hard to read, at a certain time of tides the water flow between the atolls raging like the strongest rip you have ever seen, then in a blink of an eye the current stops, the wave cleans up and conditions are perfect.

Maldivian word of the day today is a cracker. Whatafukar (excellent) 

19th May
Pretty windy early this morning, only two guys out. We take a Dhoni, traditional boat over to Sultans which is the right hander on the next atoll, it has better wind protection but not good enough to surf so we return and snorkel in the lagoon. Heaps of fish. Spear fishing and line fishing are banned around the atolls. The Maldivians worked out pretty early on that tourism depended on the coral and fish which was a great move.Fishing zones have been setup to maintain the fishery stocks.
A traditional Maldivian Dhoni

Maldivian word for the day Gadha kaley (you are great guy)  

20th May
Still windy and almost no swell. Still have a couple surfs but it is really lame. I do a refresher course of surf lessons with Madey and shadow. I have been doing the ISA level one coaching course theory with surf guide Shadow at night. The Atoll Adventure team at Pasta have been doing surf lessons for the resort's non surfing clients since I trained them in 2010. They use an area inside the coral fringe on the back side of the point. I was really impressed with their act. They deliver great surf lessons with a Maldivian flavour which is cool. The head of operations are Ashley and Dara, Dara takes a great photo and has employed a video guy called Charlie, we check out his edited video packages after dinner (which included Sushi and sashimi). Charlie, a professional from India and has done a great job. 

May 21
Our last morning and no surf. We decide to head over to Mali to pick up the Charter boat Theia. Theia is the Greek word for Sea Goddess. All the other guys are on board. Andre and Anna, Penza and Ira, Tanya and two more Ira's.
The Thei
The Thei is a big charter boat over thirty meters in length it has massive sized cabins and ensuites. Another smaller boat comes with us, even that is fifteen metres, we tow a rubber Ducky as well. Unfortunately the wind and swell are not cooperating so we travel further than first planned. We anchor around 5.30 and the guys wake surf behind the rubber Ducky until dark.

No more Maldivian words as I have switched to Russian so words for the day are Kryto and Klass meaning cool.

May 22
The charter boats in the Maldives don't do much night travelling so we are off again early morning and arrive at Meemu around 10.30am. Everyone is keen for a surf. We find a small right and everyone is out, not very serious but everyone has fun, we call this place Pumpkin Point after one of our Ira's nicknames. She catches about 25 waves. When one of the girls gets back from her surf she grabs a mask and snorkel and before we can say anything she jumps off the back off the big boat. The current going out to sea is so so strong, within 15 seconds she is 50 meters away. I throw a board off the boat and by now she is 150 meters away. By the time the board reaches her she is 250 meters from the big boat. We telephone the Ducky which is out with the guys still surfing. They pick her up on the way back. Pretty good lesson on how different the currents work between atolls.
Atoll, by the way is a Maldivian word. They are proud it is has been accepted worldwide.
A lot of the Atolls are privately owned with resort setups. It is cool to check out a village island and see how the locals live.
The girls and I surf for an hour or so until Mikey the surf guide says a storm is coming. The big boat has moved to a sheltered anchorage around the back of the atoll. By the time we are all in the smaller Dhoni a massive tropical storm hits, torrential rain, lightning and ear piercing claps of thunder. The girls are all huddled together trying not to look scared.The rain is so heavy the Dhoni slows to a crawl trying to navigate through the reef and find the big boat. We have a depth finder and GPS on board but the second captain is really cautious. We get to the big boat and in another ten minutes the storm has passed.
We have setup up whiteboard with English/Russian/Maldivian translations. Everyone including the Maldivian crew are having fun with it. Sashimi for dinner is really good.

May 23rd
We steam further south to Laamu. The swell is still dormant with no waves anywhere. We end up surfing a place called mashinas at knee to thigh high. It is a magnificent reef and I am hoping to see some swell on it. Lazy afternoon with a few guys wake surfing and a few checking out the island. We are in the change of seasons and there is some rain around at night. It is really hot and humid. A fresh hand of bananas has made it onto the back deck. We crossed the Equator today. No one gets too excited but always like it. 
May 24th
#%?%*¥ !!!!! Still no swell this morning. Up at 6am but super low tide and tiny waves. When the reef gets covered the girls have a surf. Small inconsistent waist high sets. I swim with the Go Pro camera and get a couple of good shots. Artem and Andre join us after an hour and a half. Tanya goes snorkelling with Hussan and sees a lot of sea life. Turtles, Sting Ray, Barracuda and heaps of reef fish.  
Penza - Boosting over me on an Endless Summer wake surfboard
25th May
Because it is super low tide we steam three hours south to Yin Yan. The swell is still lame but it is worth a gamble given Mashinas won't be surfable to mid afternoon. After a three hour cruise we arrive, and the wind is up. (again!!) This reef is a big curved reef with three sections. Supposedly all lining up on a big swell. It is onshore on the first section, cross shore on the second and nearly offshore on the last. Today is really messy and after the girls have snorkel we give it a try.  

May 26th
Still no sign of any rise in the swell so around 6.30 we head back up to Mashinas. It only takes two hours because we are travelling with the wind and current. It is pretty clean by the time the tide covers the reef. We get a few guys out while I swim with the Go Pro camera. The girls and I decided to surf but the current is really tricky and hard to find the line up spot in the inconsistent conditions.

One of our three Ira's
May 27th
We are up at 6am trying to take advantage of the earlier high tide. A storm comes through as we are travelling to the break by Dhoni. The wind is strong but the high light is seeing a pod of dolphins spinning out of the water. We only surf for 45 minutes, the wind is blowing up the face of the wave and the water is rushing off the reef. Not much reward for the risk of getting scraped over the coral. The wind changes a lot here with no massive land mass around. It tends more offshore and we are out. With cleaner conditions, fuller tide and a slight increase in the swell, Mashinas starts to show herself. A local guy from the island paddles out for a surf with us. Everything is great until one of the girl’s gets hit in the forearm with her longboard. She goes back to the big boat but after an hour she realizes the pain is really bad. Hussan the boat manager calls us in and she heads to the hospital about seven miles away. We are all hoping it is not a fractured wrist. She returns around 10.30pm. She has dislocated her wrist. The doctors have strapped it and given her some good pain killing tablets. 

May 28th
Up at 6am for another go at Mashinas. The swell has risen slightly and we get some good waves before the wind strengthens and the tide drops. We check out the left around the island but nothing doing. We wait until the afternoon and surf mashinas again, there a few solid sets coming through and it turns on for about 40 minutes. There seems to be only a small window for good waves when the swell direction and wind aren't right. Ira gets a smack in the mouth with her board and with a bit of blood we around we are worried she has damaged her teeth but all is good. Keeping safe on a charter boat is really important. 

The team watching the surf photo slideshow
May 29th
Up at 5.30 hoping for a last surf before any wind but it is really strong we wait and take the Dhoni out but it is really bad. We head back for breakfast instead and some of the guys have a wake surf session while we pack. When they return we head for the Kadhdoo airport. We take a small flight south and then continue north to Male. We still have eight hours to wait for our international flights. We store our luggage and take an express speed boat over to the capital. It only takes three minutes. We find a good coffee shop with WiFi and try and catch up with the world.
It has been a tough trip surf wise, certainly not the picture post card stuff like some of the days we had at Pasta but still a great experience. Surf charters can be tricky when conditions are average. You need to keep your sense of humour and be aware of everones needs and expectations along with a close eye on safety. Being badly injured miles from nowhere is not a good thing. There are always positives when searching out and surfing new destinations, wave conditions vary so much. There more different wave types and locations you experience the better surfer you become. 
Pasta Point is a super fun long left
May 30-31
Arrive in Singapore early, find a hotel and sleep. I really enjoy Little India in Singapore, great food and bargains. I contact Ajill from the Surfing Singapore Association. We cruise over to Newton's Circus for an awesome meal of jumbo size prawns and stingray. Makan Enak!! Ajill runs the association here in Singapore, it is pretty much a one or two man band. Everyone here is busy making a buck working long hours so it is hard to get volunteer help. The boys are doing a great job promoting our sport of surf and skate. I really enjoy supporting them.
I spend time cruising different areas, Arab Street and Beach Road during the day and Orchard road at night.
Had a great trip but always good to head home to Phillip Island.  

Translations: English Russian Maldivian

Thankyou.        Spasiba       Shukaria

Great guy.         Klassniy.     Ghada Kaley

Hello.                 Privet.          Kihine'

Let's go.             Davai.          Dhanvi

Good.                Harasho.       Baraabaru

Great.                 Klass.           Watafaka

Cool.                   Kryto.           Salhi

Wind.                  Ve'ne            Vai

Goodbye.           Paka.            Dani


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