February 17 & 18, 2000

 Our agent, Mr. Remmeriz, from Maldives National Shipping, Ltd. came out to  the boats with all of our clearance papers.  They are sticklers here for regulations and papers and Mr. R will probably be glad when we are all gone.  We were supposed to come and go through customs each time we went ashore.  This would entail going  to the other side of the island, and taking your life in your hands to get through all the commercial traffic in a rubber dingy.  We caught commercial taxi boats and most of the time the harbor patrol turned their heads while we went in to town for supplies and to do our errands.  Remember not to ask the question, if you do not want the answer. 

 We bought provisions for the two week trip to Djibouti and were fortunate to be able to get a good supply of fresh vegetables.  Jeannette did a lot of the shopping while I went to the Cybercafe and she did a good job of picking good vegetables and fruits.  At Charlie's request she got A STALK OF BANANAS!  Here we are, back in the banana business.  I did make a banana pudding yesterday because Charlie found some cookies that are "almost like vanilla wafers." 

 We had a big job cleaning the scum off the dingy so that we could deflate it for the trip.  Can you anti-foul a dingy bottom?  In Thailand the dingy got barnacles, here it was moss.  Anyway, it was a job but one that we did in bathing suits with a swim afterwards.  Jeannette is a big help and not afraid of diving in full tilt, for even  tough jobs.  Charlie put on some good loud rock music before we started and all three of us worked on the job until it was clean enough to dry and put away.  We took our last swim in the airport lagoon, and hoisted our anchor at 16:00 to leave Male', and the Maldives.  The weather was good and heading out we had a good sail until we had to change course and head into the wind.  We waited to leave until we knew Stampede would be leaving within twelve hours or so. They are faster than we are so they will be able to catch us.  The rest of the fleet will assemble at pre determined location before we get into the dangerous area. 

 We will have the support of the French Navy for the last part of our journey into Djibouti.  We must stay at least one hundred miles off the coast of the island of Socotra.  There have also been recent incidents off the coast of  Somali and Yemeni.  Our positions will be given to the French Navy twice each day and they will monitor our progress.  We have unofficially been told not to use navigation lights or the VHF.  I will be relieved to have this part of the passage behind us.  So far the sail has been beautiful.  The sea is smooth, the sky blue and all systems are functioning and all three of us are well. We have communicated with the fleet this morning and will again this evening.  Until later. . . from Sea Gem as we rock along  across the Arabian Sea. . .