The manta barrel

I was asked to come and help on a liveaboard in the Maldives for a few months because the current cruise directors had to disembark with a medical emergency. The head office in England indicated that I should not only take over their work, but asked me to examine the organization on site and improve it where possible. What a super challenge and all that on a dive ship in the Maldives, well as if I would say no to that, haha. And so I flew at short notice to Male from Egypt on my way to a new adventure and then boarded via domestic flights deep in the south of the Maldives. 

finally open board

I can imagine that one day I will go on such an exciting adventure. A few years before that I was still at the office every day and now I not only work as a guide but I also get to go to one of the most beautiful locations I could imagine. Diving in an ocean, large sea creatures, strong currents, azure blue water, fantastic colleagues, an insanely pleasant ship, delicious curries and much more was waiting for me, gosh how exciting is that! 

Once in Male I meet a colleague who takes care of all the paperwork that comes with the boat and he takes me from the airport to the capital by boat because they are both on an individual island. The bustle of the harbor, where the countless boats arrive and depart continuously, as scooters fill the narrow streets of Male while a continuous melody of bells and other buzzez fill my ears. Wow! After the first evening I continue to the deep south of the Maldives and fly in a small plane just above an ocean filled with all the familiar images of small islands with sandy beaches that together fill the many atolls. After a few hours I land on an Island with only 1 runway, a building where I can pick up my suitcase and nothing else but sand, tropical plants and palm trees and a fantastic view over the blue water. Wow again!. I try to reach the boat and repeatedly call the number given to me by my colleague in Male, but no one picks up the phone, hmmm. What to do other then stand alone in a paradise hoping that at some point I will still be able to find the boat? So I ask left and right and even though everyone is very friendly and helpful,nobody knows anything about my boat and where I should go, hmmm. I can give up, but let me just enjoy the things that are good, namely the beautiful view, the wonderful temperatures and simply the fact that I have embarked on this adventure. In the meantime I look for a place where I can eat and drink something and I am eventually brought to a white building by a friendly lady who does not understand me but understands my hand gestures and I take a seat on the porch. It didn’t look like that to me at first but now see that this is a kind of family restaurant and it smells fantastic. No idea what it is, but with such a wonderful scent it must be tasty, so I order a plate. This is how I get through the first hours and I jump into the air when finally my phone rings, yoohoo. They were not far from me and would come quickly to pick me up, but it was difficult to explain or understand where they could find me. I started walking in the direction of the water and on the horizon I see a white spot that looks a lot like a large luxury yacht, but it is lying still and so my hopes are gone again. Where am I supposed to go? Then I see a much smaller ship approaching and someone is waving madly at the bow. Instinctively I wave back to the man and see that they are now sailing straight towards me. It turns out to be the Dhoni of Voyager, the ship I am supposedto travel to and I climb aboard the dhoni with a pleasant surprise, full of expectation and amazement.

A manta behind the boat

How those guys found me is still a mystery to me but I’m really happy as my long journey is almost over. By the time we arrive at Voyager it has become dark and on deck I am not only welcomed by the guides and crew and the, but also by the guests who have been on board for 5 days. They all ask me questions, offer me a delicious fresh pineapple juice and in that cozy crowd of about 30 people an older gentleman approaches me. He whispers in my ear, ‘so this is your first time here? Well then I have a nice surprise for you! And he takes me by the arm towards the stern of the boat. As soon as I look over the railing to the water I see huge lamps just above the water surface shining in the water and just say ‘what is that for’ when the first huge white belly appears and I get my answer. Manta! What?!? Some fantastically large rays doing back flips’ s just below the surface of the water and the gentleman who I now know is Peter explains to me that they call this the Manta Barrel, well I understand that. These huge fish were my first in the Maldives and what an amazing welcome aboard an amazing new adventure.

Love life… Blow bubbles…