Llantrisant Sub-Aqua Club
www.llantrisantdivers.com

 
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MALDIVES 2011
aboard
MV Sea Queen & MV Sea Spirit
September 24th to October 8th


 

Trip Report

We travelled to Heathrow Airport by 24 seater coach on Friday 23rd September. The bus picked us up at around 4:00pm and The journey to Heathrow went without incident and we arrived there at around 6.30pm.

We stayed overnight in the Park Inn Hotel, at Heathrow Airport.

The Park Inn Heathrow is a 4 star hotel located minutes from the airport terminals . With 895 stylish rooms, two restaurants, three bars, a swimming pool, fitness centre and spa, the hotel is the ideal choice for travellers.

With a plasma-screens displaying live flight schedules and service to all Heathrow terminals, we were able to relax with easy access to all travel necessities.

After we we checked into the hotel we made our way to the Three Magpies pub directly across the road from the hotel which is a traditional English pub with a warm, friendly atmosphere offering
a great choice pub food as well as good quality traditional ales and lagers. We all had a meal and a few drinks there before returning to the hotel for the night.

By special arrangement with the pub management we were all back there the next morning for a full cooked breakfast and drinks while we watched games from the Rugby World Cup on the large screen TV in the bar.

We needed to check in to our flight at 11:15am so we used the shuttle bus from the hotel toterminal 3.

We flew with Emirates via Dubai where we will had approximately two hours transit before boarding the flight to Male.

The flying time from London to dubai was around 7 hours and the flying time from Dubai to Male was around 4 hours.

Between London and Dubai were aboard one of the new A380 super jumbos. Between Dubai and Male we were aboard a Boeing 777. The seating arrangements for all the flights was arranged beforehand.

The flight timetable and seating allocation for the flights outbound and inbound are shown on the table.

On arrival in Male we cleared immigration then collected our luggage and proceeded to customs. The dive guides from both boats (Sea Queen & Sea Spirit) were there to meet us and transfer us to our respective boats.

The full story is taken up by Phil Dewhurst below:

Flight Timetable (Heathrow Terminal 3)
Flt No.
From/To
Dep/Arr
Date

............Outbound

EK002
London/Dubai
1415/0005
24/09/11
EK658
Dubai/Male
0320/0830
25/09/11

............Inbound

EK659
Male/Dubai
0955/1255
08/10/11
EK003
Dubai/London
1415/1840
08/10/11


Aircraft Seating Allocation
Name London
to Dubai
Dubai
to Male
Male
to Dubai
Dubai
to London
24/09/11 25/09/11 08/10/11 08/10/11
P. Rees 76K 24K 24K 75K
P. Walker 76J 24J 24J 75J
H. Jones 76H 24H 24H 75H
D. Hughes 77K 25K 25K 76K
M. Jones 77J 25J 25J 76J
P. Swarfield 77H 25H 25H 76H
D. Rees 78K 26K 26K 78K
P. Morgan 78J 26J 26J 78J
S. Ady 78H 26H 26H 78H
P. Gray 79K 27K 27K 77K
M. Sanders 79J 27J 27J 77J
P. Dewhurst 79H 27H 27H 77H
G. Berntsen 78G 28K 28K 78G
G. Jones 78F 28J 28J 78F
A. Pipien 78 28H 28H 78
A. Griffiths 78D 29H 29H 78D
C. Bryce 77G 30H 30H 77G
G. Jewell 77F 30J 30J 77F
A. Wicks 77E 29J 29J 77E
A. Wicks 77D 29K 29K 77D

Useful web sites:
Park Inn Hotel
   
The Three Magpies
   
Maldives Booklet
Maldives Scuba Tours
   
The Travel Doctor
   
Sea Queen & Sea Spirit
   
 
Sea Queen
  Name
1 Peter Rees
2 Phillip Walker
3 Huw Jones
4 Samantha Ady
5 Gareth Jones
6 Gillian Berntsen
7 Andrew Pipien
8 Andrew Griffiths
9 David Walker
10 Ella Statnik
11 Andrei Rodionov
12 Andrei Rodionov
Sea Spirit
  Name
13 Mark Jones
14 David Hughes
15 Phil Dewhurst
16 Peter Swarfield
17 Martin Sanders
18 Paul Gray
19 Paul Morgan
20 David Rees
21 Gregory Jewell
22 Colin Bryce
23 Allan N Wicks
24 Allan H Wicks

Our trip to the Maldives
by Phil Dewhurst

It's that in between period, you know, Christmas has gone and we're all waiting for New Year's Eve. I'm back in work, selling stamps for late Christmas cards going to Australia, America and other far flung destinations; taking bill payments for people who don't like to be in debt going into the New Year and taxing cars for people who can't do it online. I suppose you're still at home, don't go back into work until the New Year. Lucky you. I'm jealous!

Outside, it's grey and cold and miserable. Typical December weather. But if I close my eyes I see blue sky, turquoise sea and tiny islands with white sandy beaches and in my mind I'm back on board Sea Spirit, or Sea Queen, wearing shorts and a tee-shirt and scorching my bare feet on a hot deck. I'm scanning the horizon for dolphins or jacks chasing fry across the reef top or maybe just maybe a glimpse of the big 'un. Please God let me see a whale shark before I go home.

The trip had been two years in the planning. There was the usual drop outs and a panic to find replacements but on the day we were all prepared. Twenty four members and friends of Llantrisant Sub-Aqua Club off to enjoy two weeks live-a-board cruising around the northern atolls of the beautiful Maldive islands.

Everything went with almost military precision: the bus taking us to Heathrow was on time, the overnight stay went without hitch and the flight in an Airbus, 380, well, what can you say? There was enough of everything. Enough legroom for tall Paul, enough food for Paul the gas, plenty of choice of films to watch and enough beer even for me.

We changed planes in Dubai for the short leg through to Male and arrived on time 9-30am Sunday 25th September to be met by Matt and Anne Marie our dive guides for the trip. The luggage was loaded onto a dhoni and we were off across the harbour to join Sea Spirit and Sea Queen anchored in a lagoon just around the corner.

Once on board we were allocated cabins; they were functional but small...with an even smaller toilet/shower...

I was to share with Peter Swarfield and thankfully he decided he was going to sleep on the sundeck. I had a cabin all to myself. Thank you Lord. Our party was a truly international one and whilst we waited for some to arrive from Moscow and some from America we did a check dive to add or remove weights. In my case it was all addition...

Our first dive was at Lanakan Corner, a well known cleaning station frequented by Mantas. We clung on at 25 metres and waited and waited. Some drifted further down the reef but three of us decided to stay. And we were rewarded when three huge mantas came out of the blue; they barrel rolled, pirouetted and skimmed our heads before pausing to be swept clean by little blue wrasse. This is what we had come to see.

You'd think it couldn't get better, but it did. Throughout the two weeks we visited magical sites with magical sounding names: at Finger point we saw eagle ray, grey shark barracuda and sting ray, at Nelivaru Thila we saw blue striped snapper octopus, even a leaf fish. And at Hani Faru lagoon we saw manta, lots of manta. Manta feeding in the bay, manta on the cleaning station and manta posing for what seemed hundreds of Japanese tourists, all equipped with Nikons and all screaming at once. It was without doubt, manta heaven.

At a mark known as the Ship yard, a good portion a wreck was out of the water. But underneath, the structure was coated in the most fantastic coral growth. It was a photographer's delight. At Kuredu we swam in and out of the caves trying hard not to disturb the giant green turtles resting up with their eyes closed. At Longridge we hung on as the strong current threatened to rip our masks off our faces. We used finger ends and reef hooks to hold our ground as twenty big grey sharks circled around us.

The diving was fantastic as was life on board Sea Spirit. As I look out of at grey turning to drizzle my mind drifts to those early mornings, sat watching the sun rise out of a calm sea. I think about the meals we enjoyed, all around a big table on the foredeck. It was amazing the variety of food we were served. But most of all I remember the camaraderie and the evenings spent with a cold beer orthree or maybe a rum and coke. We certainly put the world to rights and we discussed the rugby world cup and when we ran out of things to say we watched fantastic video shots of our dives taken by Matt or Anne Marie, and shown on a wide screen telly. The boat crew were marvellous, nothing was too much trouble. They even let me have a go with their fishing gear, but somehow they always managed to catch more fish than me. Even the weather played ball allowing us to get to most marks. It only rained once and that was at night.

All too soon it was time to leave. On the last night we went ashore to enjoy an evening in a local hotel and say goodbye to our friends from the USA and Russia.

Back in Heathrow the weather was remarkably warm, the coach turned up on time and just before midnight we were back in Llantrisant. Thanks to Peter Rees for organising the trip, collecting the dosh, checking folks passports, generally looking after everybody and providing us with the photo shot of the week with his bum showing through his shorts which were more hole than material. Thanks to Matt and Anne Marie, they were fantastic guides. Thanks to the boat crew and finally thanks to God, for not granting my wish. We didn't see a whale shark. The crew tried hard but Mr. whale shark wasn't anywhere to be seen. But hey, what the hell! That's just another good reason for wanting to go back there again ....
and soon.

Phil. Dewhurst.

phillthepost@yahoo.co.uk


The Picture Gallery
photographs by Peter Rees

 
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