Monday, February 28, 2011


When I first got my KINDLE I had to decide what book to first download into it. Since there are literally hundreds of thousands of books to choose from it could be a daunting decision. It could also be an expensive one too. Because even though books bought for e-readers like the KINDLE are cheaper than their printed editions they still represent a negative cash flow to ones wallet. Each one should be purchased with that in mind. But, in my case the decision was made easier because there are a large number of books in the public domain that can be downloaded free of charge and in my book (no pun intended) "free is good". So when I started searching for my first book to download it was a from the free public domain down load choices that I made my pick. It was the classic SAILING ALONE AROUND THE WORLD by Joshua Slocum. It's the autobiographical account of the first man to sail around the world whose epic journey begins almost nonchalantly:

 "I had resolved on a voyage around the world, and as the wind on the morning of April 24, 1895 was fair, at noon I weighed anchor set sail, and filled away from Boston, where the Spray had been moored snugly all winter. The twelve o'clock whistles were blowing just as the sloop shot ahead under full sail. A short board was made up the harbor on the port tack, then coming about she stood to seaward, with her boom well off to port, and swung past the ferries with lively heels. A photographer on the outer pier of East Boston got a picture of her as she swept by, her flag at the peak throwing her folds clear. A thrilling pulse beat high in me. My step was light on deck in the crisp air. I felt there could be no turning back, and that I was engaging in an adventure the meaning of which I thoroughly understood."

What follows is a very interesting nautical read written by a sailor who felt more comfortable on the water than he did on land. A voyage made in the days before VHF radios, GPS and satellite EPIRBS. It is truly an account of someone sailing alone around the world. Even better: You can down load it for free for the KINDLE here. But, if you don't have a KINDLE it is still a book worth reading on paper too! I recommend it no matter what form you read it on. Even though I own and have read a paperback copy of the book. It is a book that I think most sailors will want to read more than once. I know I do.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


  When I bought BIANKA in 1995 it came with a four stroke Honda BF2 outboard for the dingy. I still have it and use it occasionally to propel my 8 foot Porta Boat. I never had a problem with it. In fact I've never had much of a problem with any of the Honda products I've owned. Thank you Dr. Deming! But, the Honda is showing it's age and a bit of corrosion so at some point it is going to have to require some repair or replacement. Since I converted my 30 foot sailboat to electric propulsion I find that in spite of  the Honda being a four stroke it is still rather loud and more of a gas guzzler than the Honda 2000i generator that I use for the main electric propulsion system. If it should die I am leaning toward an electric alternative. I have been looking at something like a  Torqeedo. But, I just recently came across another  new electric outboard that may fit my needs very nicely. It's called the ELECTRIC PADDLE:

 While I mostly row my Porta Boat there have been times when the wind was really blowing that I put off going to shore because I did not want to row into the strong headwinds. I also did not want to pull out the Honda outboard fill it with gas and hope I did not drop it overboard while trying to manage it's awkward 27 lbs into the dingy. The Electric Paddle at just 8 lbs just makes a whole lot of sense to this sailor. It's also made in the United States. You are not going to get up on a plane in an inflatable but, having a lightweight electric propulsion outboard to get you to a dock or assist when rowing into head winds just makes a lot of sense. Also a plus  the two hour battery pack weighs just eight pounds and floats too! All these features make the Electric Paddle just to good to ignore as a possible replacement for my Honda BF2.

Here is a more detailed video on how to setup the Electric Paddle:


Sunday, February 20, 2011


I came back from the Maldives having missed two snow storms but, still had a foot of snow in the driveway to deal with. I had just finished shoveling that when another storm hit the next day putting another 18 inches back on the ground. Needless to say all those plans for winter projects on the boat have taken a back seat recently.  Yes, welcome to Winterlude 2011:
Somehow this winter seems worse than others of recent memory. Especially when I go check on the boat and see how bleak and barren the harbor looks this time of year:
But when I look back to  WINTERLUDE 2010 well it does not seem all that bad and the good news is spring is just a month away.  Though somehow I still have that  waltzing winter tune of Bob Dylan  playing in head.

Sunday, February 13, 2011


Woke up at dawn and had breakfast and then it was time to head back to Hulhumale the airport island located next to Male for or flight out. Ibrahim docked the boat next to the Departure terminal:
Talk about convenience nothing like stepping off a boat and walking into the airport departure terminal. Not many places in the world where you can do that I imagine. We said our goodbyes to Ibrahim and Issac and sadly had to leave the beautiful Maldives. Getting some last looks at the reefs as our plane climbed into the sky:

It was about a four hour flight from the Maldives to Doha Qatar. I dozed off a little and as the plane was landing in Doha I had the sultan of swing, Frank Sinatra playing in my headphones as the wheels touched down. We had an overnight stay in Doha before our flight back to Washington D.C. the next morning. Checking into our hotel room near the airport I noticed this disk with an arrow in a corner of the room:

Qibla is the ahrab word for direction. The arrow in this points in the direction of Mecca. By the way there is a prayer rug in the room too.

Since it was early afternoon we decided to take a car and visit the waterfront of this desert city. We are a few miles away from the center city of Doha. But, the skyline of downtown Doha is pretty majestic from this location:

I'd say it rivals New York from this waterfront view. And like New York it is still growing as construction cranes are all over the city. Pretty impressive. I think an ad I saw in a magazine says it all:
"Without ambition this would all still be desert."

As we walked along the water front we came upon this giant Pearl monument:

Qatar was once known for it's pearls. Which were gathered from it's waters by free swimming divers. Of course that changed when oil was discovered in the country. Though there still seems to be a pretty robust fishing industry still operating here judging by the scene in this area:

Along with some boats that judging from their bright work look like they are more for pleasure than fishing:

Looks like there is some business being transacted on this boat too:

After spending some time on the waterfront we wandered across the street to a nearby Souk. The Souk is a fascinating place to wander around. It is the Arab version of a mall or probably I should say the mall is an westernized  version of a  souk. Personally I'd rather shop in a Souk. It's alleys are filled with delightful small shops.

If you just looked at some of the architecture of the buildings you might think you were in the desert southwest of the United States:

But you would be mistaken:

It looks like you can get just about anything  you would want here from rugs and carpets:

To pots and pans, spices, food and clothes:

To exotic pets a long way from home who seem to enjoy the passing scene too:

You could even find a dugout canoe or two (needs work):
If that's too much to carry home. The fellow working in the shop would be glad to build you a hand made model: 

Or something larger like a cross section of one of the dhows that sail these waters:

Since Capt, Mike likes things of a nautical nature I of course had to visit this shop. The owners proudly told me they had been here for twenty five years. They had just about everything a fisherman or sailor could need in their small shop: 

 Need some line they got it:

A hand line setup or fishing line? Sail twine? What color do you want?

Sinkers? Check! 

 Need a new bait net? Again what color? 

The Souk is a pretty overwhelming place and one could spend hours wandering all the little back allies looking at the small shops. Happily, there are many comfortable places to sit and relax too:

and enjoy a cup of tea or a hookah smoke if you want.

Well, that's about  it for Capt. Mike's adventure to the Maldives and Qatar. One of the top ten experiences in my travels. Now it's time to head back to the United States and rejoin the winter which is already in progress. Hope you enjoyed the trip as much as I did.

Saturday, February 12, 2011


There was a beautiful sunrise for our last full day in the Maldives. We wasted no time getting our last few snorkels in. On our first one another turtle graced our vision. Our second stop was the house reef of the Bandos Island resort the second resort island developed in the Maldives:
We had an excellent snorkel along it's reef and spent near an hour just checking it out. 

Then it was back to the boat to head for our lunch anchorage 04 14.678N 073 32.038E:  

After lunch we went for our last snorkel in the Maldives at Banana Reef that small banana shaped spot just south of our lunch anchorage:

You can see some Dhoni's and snorkelers in the Google Earth photo above as it seems to be a popular snorkel spot. Unfortunately, our timing was a little off. As the reef sits at the entrance to one of the cuts that leads to the Indian Ocean the current was running quite strong and did not allow for a leisurely snorkel as it carried us along. Oh well, so it goes...

We got back on board our catamaran and headed for the island of Male (pronounced mal lee) the capitol city of the Maldives.

Even though it was Friday and a Holy Day in the country (much like Sunday in more Christian countries) Ibrahim had arranged for us to have a little tour by one of the guides who work with his company. I had mixed feelings about getting back to "civilization" so soon after spending twelve days on the water in secluded anchorages but, since we were here might as well see the city.

As we headed toward Male (pronounced Mal Lee) we headed through a number of boats and ships anchored around the city. There were what passes for tugs bringing barges of shipping containers out to and back from the dozen or so cargo ships that are anchored off the island:

 Ships like the Motor Yacht Queen K:

Which is rumored to be owned by Oleg Deripaska Russia's youngest billionaire. It's 238 feet long has a beam of 44 feet and a draft of 12.5 feet. There were other yachts around spending the winter in this part of the world. Like this one with an "aerial dingy" perched on the back:

Impressive as these boats are I am drawn to the simplicity and practicality of the smaller Maldivian craft we've come across in our travels. Like this local fishing boat:

  I especially like the platform on the back which can be used for whatever needs to done. Including unloading the days catch easily onto the docks. Then there are the really big boats. Like this Costa cruise ship which towers over the city of Male:

As we approach the city the gold dome of the citys newest Mosque clearly stands out from the other buildings of Male:

Soon we are in the dingy heading to the entrance to one of the many man made harbors that ring Male:

The harbors are busy places even on this Holy Day with all kinds of ferries coming and going all day long:

Luckily, we we able to find an easy place to land on the along the concrete quay:

Our personal guide was escorting us through the streets of Male. Where things were pretty quiet on some streets:
It's almost painful to see the trees bend to try and get their leaves into the sliver of sun on this block. Also notice the prime mode of transportation in Male (besides boats) the scooters lined up outside the building. We soon come upon the Hukuru Miskiiy which is the oldest Mosque in the city built in 1656:

The outside of the mosque is covered with coral stone:

Hand hand carved in the 17th century:

Also nearby is the ancient well where the worshipers cleanse them selves before entering the mosque. Note the dipping ladles in the right of the picture:

And the tower where the call to prayer is made 

Well, there have been a few improvements made to the mosque over the years including this PA system:

Meanwhile back on the streets the the local woman look rather elegant in their head scarves. Though they wear more western wear here in Male than on some of the islands we visited earlier in our trip:

We then head to the fruit and vegetable market: 

Various fruits and vegetables can be bought here:

Just beware of the peppers!
They are very hot and being an Islamic country there is no beer nearby to cool your tongue.

Just outside the market is where all the fishing boats come to dock. The big ones:

and the smaller ones:

All delivering a variety of fresh seafood to the fish market across the street:

While some may consider the fish above to be fresh as they came right off the fishing boats. I keep thinking back a few days ago when we had some really fresh Red Snapper that came on the boat and never got off.
But, this may be the only place you can get a barrel of Yellow Fin Tuna if you are really hungry:

Soon it was time to head back to the quay as our catamaran awaits just outside to take us back on board for our last night night in the Maldives:

But, the journey continues tomorrow...