Mar 28 - Fares - Maathodaa (Uhehuttaa)

Pos: N00deg12.431min/ E073deg11.556min The thunder and lightening began at 0300 and didn't let up, although the heavy rain didn't start until later. The wind shifted to the NW, and we were a bit concerned as we had anchored in a "V" shaped indent of sand between two reefs; if the wind shifted west, our stern would be on the reef. So...I kept an anchor watch when the winds picked up to 25, watching our depths go all over the place, from 46' down to 19.9 feet when we swung, which is when I got a bit concerned. Fortunately, no mid-dark drama occurred, and we raised anchor at 0715 and headed off south. Shortly after, the heavier winds and rain, all from the NW, began, and it wasn't much fun dodging reef and islands in near white-out conditions. It blew a steady 22-25 knots, but Sue saw one gust of 30 knots. I finally put a double reef in the main; probably should have done it waaay earlier. We approached our selected anchoring waypoint with a bit of trepidation; another narrow pass thru the reef into a sizable lagoon. We shouldn't have worried. Sailing directions are as follows: approaching the pass, the outside wpt is located at N00deg12.4min/ E073deg11.4min. The entrance is between two rocks, awash when we entered, but the western most rock also has a marker, which is kept to starboard. The second marker noted is also kept to starboard, and the channel shows as a bit different color; we were told minimal depth thru the channel is 3m (9')....we saw 13'. Follow the channel until past the third marker, which is kept to port, when a gradual turn to port is made to find protection behind the reef. All very clear in good light...Avoid the numerous bommies and dark patches; anchorage is in about 20' of sand. As we were anchoring, a bunch of guys came out to see if we needed any assistance, and we chatted with them for about 20 minutes. After Imagine anchored, they went over to say hi to them also and arrangements were made to go into town. We met Shifan, Hussain, Iman and Aslam and got a tour of the fishing vessel Fishman from stem to stern. This 107' vessel is characteristic of the type of fishing vessels found in the Maldives, and we really enjoyed learning about the intricacies of the boat. After, we walked the town, and Shifan (also known as Capo) gave us a wonderful history lesson about Fares-Maathodaa as well as a botanical tour, pointing out every edible plant and fruit on the island! We stopped at Hussain's family house, bought some mangoes from another local, and just all around had the most fantastic afternoon. Walking around town was like walking around Sigiriya; we were told that the history here goes back 800 years; there are ruins, an old grave yard and plenty of old, coral-walled buildings that seem to support that. Another sticky place.

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