|Queen of the Oceans|
Part 2: Destination Mombasa
By Capt. Ian van der Watt—February 2002
Our destination was Mombasa, and the voyage down the coast was calm and uneventful until a raw-water pump on the main engine blew the seals and flooded the engine with salt water. And thus it was that we ended up "enjoying" a much longer than scheduled stay in Mombasa, having [to do] a total rebuild of the engine concerned.
Although you will hopefully choose to stay there for other reasons, Mombasa actually has a great harbor. However, you must hire 24-hour security, as the abject poverty has forced people to be very brazen in their attempts to steal anything possible. Mombasa is a very convenient place to go on safari and a good location for owners to join their vessel for a cruise of the Indian Ocean islands.
The weather was so hot that we had to build ourselves a shaded lapa using thatch and local poles, and a 55-gallon drum cut in half to use as a barbeque to cook the tiger prawns or Thompson gazelle for dinner. We had some other interesting experiences, including meeting a U.S. Air Force crew who were flying aid into Rwanda. We had Thanksgiving dinner with them on the boat, and they showed us `round their enormous Globemaster III aircraft....
After continuing on in early 1997 to Zanzibar, Madagascar, and the Seychelles, QOD went island-hopping in Southeast Asia in the spring and summer. A short leg of the overall journey, it provided some fantastic experiences:
Our expectations of the first port of call, the Maldives, were not that high. We'd done our homework but, in our experience, most travel writers who visit these exotic areas cater to a different crowd, and their comments are rarely a good basis for setting a yachting agenda. Yet the Maldives turned out to offer an altogether different challenge--finding the right superlatives to do justice to the wonder of these islands.
I'll have a go, though, for the Maldives are nothing short of magnificent. There are 1,192 atolls, fringed with coral reefs. The atolls themselves are covered in palms and the most beautiful white, sandy beaches lapped by the clearest water you can imagine. No one seeing this scene for the first time could fail to be taken aback by the splendor of the most idyllic beach environment in the world.
The experiences of the first few hours set the tone. We found an atoll near Male' to anchor in. The water approaching the atoll was so clear that we felt obliged to put a crew member over the side in a PWC to sound the entrance. Although it was in fact 14 feet deep, the bottom looked as if it was only inches below the surface, with the water magnifying the fish to make it seem as if we were in a shallow pond.
Anchored off a spectacular beach resort, we spent the weekend snorkeling. The stunning tropical fish seemed delighted to see us, and the giant clams and spectacular coral formations were a wonderful distraction. The water was so calm that after anchoring and looking down on the anchor and chain, we observed that QOD had barely moved.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.