by Des Ryan
Following the good news that the Maldives, strategically placed in the middle of the Indian Ocean, now allows yachts to stay for six months, the idyllic chain of islands becomes a very viable stopping point either for slowly circumnavigating sailors on their way to South Africa, or for sailors cruising a circle trip around the eastern Indian Ocean.
Maldives island pictures-best beaches to travel oumbrella sharing - Beautiful Maldives
The Maldives agent, something vital to easy travelling unless you are staying a very short time, has been given responsibility for such permissions.
So that means that choosing a good enthusiastic agent is very important, one that is prepared to deal with cruising yachts, not merely aiming at the superyacht market, with prices to match. Noonsite has a lists of agents, and the following information is based on one of these, who proved to be excellent for the cruising sailors that we have spoken to.
Actually, most of the charges are government charges, not cheap, and it's merely the agency fees that vary. It is anticipated that these charges will reduce in the near future as Maldives realises its potential with passing yachts.
Because most circumnavigating yachts these days will arrive in Ulugan, the most northerly port of entry, and depart from Gan, on Addu Atoll, the most southerly atoll, we have based the charges quoted here on that itinerary.
Asadhulla Mohamed, based in Ulugan, is a part of the Sea Hawks agency group, also operates in Male and Gan, so very convenient to 'keep it in the family.'
The agency fees for checking in and checking out are $75.00 each time and the rest is government charges, which range from their customs clearance, a cruising permit, sanitation certificate to a port state permit and VAT/GST.
One month will cost around $780.00 inclusive of the agents fee, two months $880.00, three months $980. As the recent increase to six months for cruising yachts is very new, we don't have numbers for this, but by the above you can imagine that it is not much more expensive at all.
Here's some recent information that can reduce the fees. If you have a good dinghy and let them know through the agent in advance, in Ulugan and Gan you can insist on collecting the port officers so that you don't have to pay their charges for the yacht to deliver them to your boat.
The other important point is that if you are are speeding through the Maldives, the first 15 days is free, and if you merely want to reprovision, the first three days can even be done without an agent. It gets more complicated than this, and some cruisers have reported that Sea Hawks can arrange a stop up to 8 days for only $168.00. But why would you want to stay such a short time, when the Maldives is so alluring?
About the Maldives for cruising sailors:
The Maldives consists of 19 atolls in entirely natural formation, with only a small number inhabited. The 19 are formed into a chain of islands.
On average, each atoll has approximately 5 to 10 inhabited islands; the uninhabited islands of each atoll number approximately 20 to 60. Some atolls, however, consist of one large, isolated island surrounded by a steep coral beach. The flat islands are formed from coral layers with the highest point rarely being more than 6 feet above sea level.
If you were asked to define paradise, you would probably imagine something similar to the Maldives - deserted white sandy beaches, gorgeous turquoise waters, fabulous marine life bursting with color, and a warm, gentle climate.
The Maldives holds the record for being the flattest country in the world, with a maximum natural ground level of only 2.3 meters (7 1/2 ft), though it has been raised a bit in areas of construction. Over the last century, sea levels have risen about 20 centimetres (8 in); further rises of the ocean could threaten the existence of Maldives.
Reefs are composed of coral debris and living coral. This acts as a natural barrier against the sea, forming lagoons of peaceful water that give the Maldives their famous calm and ability to build literally right on the water.
Maldives - North Miladhun madulu atoll - .. .
The barrier reefs of the Islands protect them from the storms and high waves of the Indian Ocean. The Indian Ocean has a great affect on the climate of the country by acting as a heat buffer, absorbing, storing and slowly releasing the tropical heat. The heat is further mitigated by cool sea breezes.
The Maldives are also protected from monsoon devastation by the barrier reefs and rarely suffer from major storms. The archipelago's miniscule coral islets of deep blue seas offer fantastic cruising adventures and the waterways provide the best and most natural of transport. Overhead the weather generally offers picture perfect sunlit days, breezy nights, balmy mornings and iridescent sunsets.
Long stretches of world-famous sugar-white beaches provide sanctuary to countless sea birds while extensive coral reefs host a seemingly endless variety of exotic fish and marine life. The islands are a way station in the annual migration of whale sharks and manta rays.
The Maldives is pleasantly warm year-round, varying from 27 to 32 degrees Celsius.
Store away this information for when you know you are heading for the Maldives, or pass it on to others: