Beloved Wives Day today (husbands in China must shout out declarations of love to their wives). And I am taking my beloved wife, Lori, for a quick escape from English wind, rain and cold. Down to the French Riviera for some friends’ New Years celebration and a quick stay in Monaco. The sunny Med shores have made them a magnet for yachts from all over the world.
One yacht that won’t be straying quite that far from home is Soneva Fushi’s new concept “suite” – “Soneva In Aqua”. A sort of mobile “water villa”. Great to see this concept revised every since the demise of The Rania Experience and Dhoni Island. Of course, the resort will provide the crew you need. Not the only boat villa in the Maldives (eg. Conrad Rangali’s “Goma”, LUX Maldives “Kokomo”), but the distinctive in its modern styling and spacious accommodation..
“Soneva In Aqua will further elevate guest experience by offering the option of a boat villa which will combine all the benefits of this iconic resort’s services and amenities with the freedom and exclusivity associated with a private boat charter.”
LORI, MY LOVE FOR YOU IS AS WARM AS THE MALDIVIAN OCEAN BREEZES AND MY PASSION AS HOT AS ITS TROPICAL SUN!!
If you prefer your bar on the water rather than your (coconut) water on the bar, then Velaa’s “Dahna” only (moving) boat with bar on it. And yes, it absolutely is a “party boat” with aquatic festivities hosted on it regularly. Yo ho and a bottle of rum (not to mention tequila, cognac, whiskey, etc.).
Olympic Day today. Celebrated since 1947 to promote the ideals of the Olympic movement of sport bringing people together from across the world. The day also focuses on getting people to try new athletic endeavours. If you are looking to exploit the calm Maldive waters to just try your hand at the Olympic sport of Windsurfing (aka Sailboarding) or want to ride the waters to an Olympics standard, the the Anantara resorts provide the best windsurfing kit around.
I conferred with Maldive veteran and expert Catherine Watkinson who is both an active contributor to the TripAdvisor Maldives Forum and whose son is an accomplished windsurfer. The genesis of this post here was a posting she made to TA commenting on the troubles her son had finding top grade kit. Most of the gear you find in the Maldives is designed for beginners. That post prompted an investigation by us to find the best kit out there. The tops came out as Anantarta who described their inventory…
“We do offer a big range of top brand equipment, sails from North Sails and Neil Pryde and boards JP Australia and Mistral. Having sails from size 1.9 to 7.3 and board sizes from 094 to 205. Different harness sizes also available, gloves and booties. New equipment has been ordered from the brand Starboard.”
Catherine and her son comments, “These are good quality brands and would suit all levels of windsurfer from beginner (including children) up to the experienced wave sailor or free sailor. If we had been visiting these islands with our son we would not have needed to have flown windsurfing equipment out with us – he would have been very happy with what these [Anantara] islands have to offer.”
The most discreet boat captains moor up at Royal Island. One of the least natural parts of any resort island is the marina. They need some place to park the boats. The marine craft laden jetties here are often the unsightly nook of the house reef.
Not at Royal Island where they have taken advantage of a nearby island with its own cove to park all their boats in their own sheltered mini-harbour (see photo above off shore). As a result, zero boats clutter the shore and a circumambulation of the island is unspoilt by such infrastructure.
International Women’s Day today celebrates the inspirational achievements of women around the world. One such woman is Aishath Rizuna “Rizu”, the Maldive’s first female boat captain trained and appointed by Kurumba…
Rizu herself comes from a line of strong and active women. Her mother and grandmother are very practical and very sporty. Her mother fixes electrical issues and out swam all the boys while her grandmother still climbs trees…
“From her background, Rizu was born and raised in Funadhoo, Shariyani Atoll. Her father is a fisherman so Rizu has sweet memories about the time when her father taught her how to swim, snorkel and fish in a traditional Dhoni boat. At the very young age of four, Rizu’s father taught her how to drive a small boat, and by the time she was a teenager she was selling small boats in the lagoon of Funadhoo. Rizu’s father (Mohamed Nazim) curiously also worked in Kurumba at a young age thirty years ago and has been a great support to Rizu’s evolving career. We are delighted with the support of our twelve male Captains, who certainly gave her all the necessary help needed for her practical training as well as her theory course. Rizu is still developing her skills and knowledge of the Maldivian oceans, which will take some time. Whilst she will continue her role as Majaa Recreation Supervisor, these additional skills can be used in the future from time to time when guests are looking for a female crew.”
Maldives Complete had the opportunity for an exclusive interview with Rizu. Special thanks to good friend and fellow blogger Eileen Brown who helped with the questions. Eileen herself was the first female to be employed as a Deck Cadet in shell Tankers (UK) Ltd and is currently one of the leading promoters of women in the UK technology sector…
- What is the best aspect of your job? – It’s always been a dream to travel around, being a boat captain allows me to fulfil my dream and that’s the most enjoyable part in my job.
- What were your biggest challenges as you trained to become a boat captain? – The biggest challenge I had was that every single part in the boats were so new to me. I felt like I was back in school, where I had to learn everything from A to Z, but with the help of all the people around me I overcame all challenges and I am so thankful to everyone.
- Were there any physical obstacles that you needed to overcome? – I would say it’s more mental challenges that I had to overcome more than physical ones.
- Did your lack of physical strength hinder you much? – The thought “I am a woman and I can’t do that” never even crossed my mind and most importantly everyone around me never tried to put it in my head either.
- What were the attitudes of your classmates as you progressed through your training? – Very helpful and positive comments from the start, from the moment I told them that I am going to take the training as a boat captain. These comments pushed me forward and it’s always great to know how much people appreciate your hard work.
- Did you have anyone that championed and supported you? If so, was it a big advantage? – Honestly and to be fair I have to say everyone, but I am particularly thankful for the support of my Family, the Kurumba Management team including our Fleet Manager Mohamed Shameem and the whole Kurumba team for being with me.
- Did you encounter anyone that was very against you progressing in your career? – No! Only positive feedback.
- Now you are a captain, what are your plans to encourage other women to follow your path? – Well, it’s a choice. This opportunity came to my doorstep, why would I wait? My dream is waiting out there. There’s always one thing I would like to say now and I will always say it: “follow your dream until you reach it, never give up and take your chances”.
- What next for you in your career after your captain job? – It’s a bit too early to decide anything right now. I am enjoying driving the boats around and working towards my dream, which is visiting each and every island in the country.
Aye, aye, Kurumba!
Another aquatic portal to add to the Maldives flotilla is Bandos’ glass bottomed boat. This one with a more playfully youthful quality decorated in marine critters. More “Finding Nemo” than “Captain Nemo”.
If portals to the underwater wonderland that is the Maldives is your thing, then Velaa’s mini-sub experience provides both the vista and the mobility to explore this aquatic paradise (dolphin escort optional)…
“To add to guests’ ability to experience the deep waters of the Noonu atoll Velaa Private Island provides ambient pressure submarine tours for two persons, operated by a trained skipper who offers an informative narration on this exciting adventure.”
Speaking of Internet transfers, one of my most productive surprises travelling around the Maldives was the One & Only Reethi Rah’s in-boat wifi service. Transferring between resorts on tour is one bit of interstitial time that I put to good use preparing notes and posts on the tour. Having access to the web en route was a huge windfall for me to make use of this downtime. It wasn’t that long ago that getting Internet in your room was a big deal. I still struggle to get reliable Internet connections (3g. 3G or Wifi) when I travel in Europe on a train or plane never mind a boat in the middle of the Indian Ocean.
Alternative title – “Best High Speed Connection”.
Of all the yachts, there is a special fondness in our family for the doubly-sleek, but twice as stable catamarans. Our brother-in-law took us on his 30 foot cat the “Nauti-Gail” (named after Lori’s sister Gail) and recently they custom-built a 54 foot floating palace (“Nauti-Gail II”).
Reethi Rah’s fleet has a bigger cat, but I prefer their styling of LUX Maldives’ “Kokomo” which it offers up for cruises with some very experienced hands…
“[LUX] have an amazing Maldivian captain that has been sailing boats for past 20 years (believe it or not there are very few Maldivians with sailing experience!) and he combines the charters with a lot of local knowledge. He teaches guests the basics of sailing, shows guests secret snorkeling spots or shows guests old Maldivian recipes when cooking the freshly caught fish on the boats BBQ.”