We spent a week in the Maldives and snorkelled every day. The first day snorkelling was a bit of a farce. It was cloudy and windy and the current was strong. The snorkelling boat took us to the house reef, about a 15 minute boat ride offshore. There was a big group of people from China with us, many of whom wore lifejackets and did not speak English. One young woman had on long black leotards, another one wore a matching pink bathing suit, pink snorkel gear and pink floaties!
We arrived at the reef and the local guide jumped in the water to tell us which way the current was going. He gave instructions (in English) to follow the current to the left and keep the reef on the right. The water over the reef was shallow – we were to be careful not to touch or damage the reef.
The kids and Michael jumped in the water, they are strong swimmers. I got caught up behind a few people. Finally I jumped in and started swimming towards the reef and to the left. But then I hear “Help, help.” One of the people wearing a lifejacket was panicking and obviously couldn’t swim. Her husband was holding onto her, yelling for help.
I saw the guide jump in from the boat and because I was close I turned back towards them. He got there first and got things under control so I turned back towards the reef. I looked up briefly and what do I see but about eight people from the Chinese group standing on the reef all huddled together. One of the first rules: “Do not touch or stand on the reef.”
The current took me away from them and I started looking for the rest of the group. They were too far ahead so I started to enjoy the fish and snorkelling. The current was really fast and I quickly moved away from the boat and the rest of the people.
By now the boat really should have moved down current in order to pick up snorkellers. But the boat wasn’t moving – they had to stay there to rescue the group stranded on the reef.
I continued on enjoying the snorkelling but realized I wasn’t going to catch up to Michael and the kids cause they were moving just as fast. I saw a buoy up ahead and thought I would hang onto it for a bit and stop moving. But the next time I looked up I was way past it. There was no way I could swim back to it, the waves were getting bigger and the boat was getting smaller.
Eventually I decided this wasn’t fun anymore so I waved both my arms towards the boat and someone saw me and waved back. Good, I thought, they will come and get me. So I snorkelled a bit more and looked up and the boat hadn’t moved. I waved again and this time they came to get me. When I got onboard, many people from the big group were already back on the boat. Their legs were scraped up pretty badly from the reef – I could only imagine the pain.
Now I thought the boat would go towards Michael and the kids who I couldn’t see at all at this point. But the boat went in the opposite direction, to the drop off spot. There was still one couple standing on the reef, waiting to be rescued.
When we got close the guide jumped out of the boat and swam towards them. The boat turned around to find the others. We finally found five of them including Michael, Craig, and Alanna all hanging onto the last buoy in site. I swear if they didn’t grab ahold of it they would have ended up on a current to Australia like Nemo. There was nothing in site but the horizon!
Picked them up and then back we went to pick up the last couple. I’m sure their pride hurt as much as their scrapes from the reef, but they were all safe and everyone else was too. A bit of a crazy first snorkelling trip but each day thereafter got better and better. The sea calmed down and on the last day we even saw a turtle. Hey, now that I think about it Michael agreed to give anyone 500 rupees if they found a turtle – where’s my 500 rupees?