A boat trip to the Maldives’ Outer Atolls was a long, long time bucket list item for me, and eventually I got tired of all my surfing buddies saying “Yeh, we should do that!! Let’s do it.” So last year, after the very sad passing of one of my oldest friends, I could take it no more. And I was pleasantly surprised when so many friends quickly came on board, and even more so when almost everyone actually turned up at Singapore for the trip!
The trip was long and arduous, with the early start and then three legs of flying from Australia via Singapore to Male and then the inter-atoll flight down south, but made easier when I let my mind wander to warm, crystal clear water, surfing with friends in some uncrowded waves, and some great fishing. By the time we got to the boat we were all thoroughly exhausted but super excited to be on board Horizon-2; a six cabin charter boat which specialises in surf trips to the region.
We surfed the next morning at Café’s, close to the airport, it was an amazing way to start – we had the break to ourselves and it was 3-4ft and just GREAT. Everything I had told the boys about.
Madey the Maldivian surf guide told me that we had lucked out, and that there were NO other tour boats in the area at the time. And so, other than a pesky South African, privately owned vessel with five very talented grommets and their fathers, we had it to ourselves. It was incredible. We had nine days of 3-5ft and mostly good to excellent conditions and everyone had a ball in the surf; to experience perfect waves in warm tropical waters with hardly any other surfers is just so special these days.
I had bought two second hand game fishing outfits before leaving home, and a bunch of suitable lures and tackle. I took a small rod and reel to catch smaller fish. I set myself up straight away, and the boat was really well set up for it and the captain and crew very versatile fisherman also. Much to my shock, and probably everyone else’s, I had hooked a sailfish within the first two hours of motoring!! It was spectacular as it flew through the air. I lost it in the excitement and surprise but the enthusiasm was lifted to a whole new level, a level that was matched by the fish that we subsequently caught.
I got the other guys into it as well, and before I knew it many of them who never fish were spending some time at the back of the boat either trolling for the big game, reef fishing for snapper or grouper, jigging for those tasty little school fish, and using them for live bait fishing for tuna. We caught Skipjack tuna, Yellow fin tuna, Bonito, a couple of awesome Wahoo’s and were unsuccessful in hooking and landing a sailfish, despite a couple of close calls. I fished with my friends, the captain and crew, and on one night surrounded by local village fisherman. For a keen fisherman it was just sensational and I loved it. I sold the captain all the game fishing gear I had bought and he was absolutely delighted and it was a little less to carry home.
The boat was superb. It was comfortable, well equipped, and had a great feel about it. It was really well maintained considering that it is an older vessel than some I had looked at for our trip, but the Horizon 2 rarely disappointed. The gentle air con at night was welcomed. The seating and viewing arrangements offered us fantastic places to watch the surf while relaxing or eating. Obviously the fishing arrangements were very good for a non-game fishing boat. All our beds were comfy and everyone was happy with their rooms.
The boat crew were great, starting of course with Madey, but the captain Waheed was a real character. We all loved him. The chef Javinda put out some wonderful healthy food, and prepared all the fish that we caught. So we ate VERY well. The variety was excellent and freshness superb. We loved the beach banquet that the chef and crew put up on a deserted island one night. They went to so much trouble and it was a unique experience. The young deckhands kept everything clean and tidy and Sunny (Sohail) and KK were always enthusiastic fishing companions. Nothing was too much trouble for the two of them. They even made our beds each day – very unexpected – but nice.
After nine days of breath-taking surf and camaraderie we were making our way back home to reality. Another couple of spectacular fish caught, one, a good sized Bonito, on the way to the airport! More laughs coming home with a bit of fun at Changi Airport before the last leg and finally back to freezing Melbourne.
Then home to the reviewing, dissecting, filing and deleting photos and videos, but the more I look the more I realize that I shouldn’t wait twenty years to do it again…….
Thanks to Atoll Travel staff for their patience at the beginning helping us get it all sorted. In the end it was simply INCREDIBLE.