Sailing Around Maldives: there and back again

Haveeru Daily: Abdul Ghafoor officially carved his name into the history of the Maldives as the first person to have sailed solo around the archipelago, as his Catamaran smoothly glided into the lagoon of capital Male to dock at the presidential Izzudheen Jetty late Tuesday afternoon.

Izzudheen Jetty, from where Abdul Ghafoor had first embarked on his “Sailing Around Maldives” challenge on January 31, had been colourfully decorated with national flags to welcome home the veteran sailor to his finish line. Gathered at the dock were Sailing Around Maldives’ main sponsor, Alia Investments’ staff along with representatives of other sponsors including Atoll Sailor, the organiser of Sailing Around Maldives, local telecom company Dhiraagu, reporters, Ghafoor’s fans and a smattering of parliamentarians. 

Alia Investments’ had also hired popular local boduberu (traditional drums) group, Harubee, to perform for the welcoming ceremony. Water sports such as jet skiing and flyboarding were also in full swing in Male’s lagoon to celebrate Ghafoor’s return..

Ghafoor had set sail from the island of Huraa in Kaafu atoll around 1:30 p.m. Tuesday afternoon. He had spent two days in Huraa, in keeping with his schedule to arrive at Male on Tuesday.

Ghafoor had received a warm welcome from the crowd gathered as he guided his Catamaran to the jetty, bringing his historical undertaking to an end after a journey of 37 days. In a show of gratitude for finally having achieved a dream he had harboured since childhood, Ghafoor had prostrated on his Catamaran as he drew near to Male.

MALE, MALDIVES, March 8, 2016: Abdul Ghafoor's son Aali leaps onto his Topcat Catamaran to welcome home Ghafoor upon completing his Sailing Around Maldives challenge. HAVEERU PHOTO/NISHAN ALI

The first one to meet him was his son, eleven year old Aali Abdul Ghafoor, who had leapt down onto the Catamaran to embrace his father enthusiastically. Awaiting his return on the jetty with joyful smiles were his wife, Aminath Fileeshiya, and his relatives and friends.

MALE, MALDIVES, March 8, 2016: Abdul Ghafoor embraces his wife and son Aali after coming ashore at Izzudheen Jetty after completing his Sailing Around Maldives challenge. HAVEERU PHOTO/HUSSAIN SHAYAAH

With his first step ashore, Ghafoor had embraced his wife and son. However, the tears finally came as he embraced Jochen of his sponsor Water Sports World, which had granted him the state-of-the-art Topcat Catamaran so he could achieve his dream. 

MALE, MALDIVES, March 8, 2016: Abdul Ghafoor cries with happiness as he embraces Johan of Water World upon his return to Male after completing his Sailing Around Maldives challenge. HAVEERU PHOTO/NISHAN ALI

“Praise be to God. I can’t describe the happiness I feel,” Ghafoor told reporters as he stood in the middle of the gathering. ‘This is a huge achievement, one I achieved with the love of all Maldivians.”

The ocean lover had visited 50 islands on his adventure around the Maldives. He had been received at each island with welcome ceremonies of national standing with hundreds of island residents gathered at the shores to greet him. The sight at Male’s presidential jetty, however, was not as colourful.

MALE, MALDIVES, March 8, 2016: Abdul Ghafoor prostrates in gratitude upon his return to Male after completing his Sailing Around Maldives challenge. HAVEERU PHOTO/NISHAN ALI

It was originally planned for the youth minister Ahmed Zuhoor to welcome Ghafoor home. However, the minister was not present at the jetty, nor were any officials from the tourism ministry, which had partially organised Sailing Around Maldives.

“The support from Male is very small compared to the other islands,” noted Ramon Kamaldeen of the Atoll Sailor team that had accompanied Ghafoor on his long trip. “But still, we’re ecstatic to have accomplished something as great as this.”

Ramon and the rest of the Atoll Sailor team had photographed and videoed Ghafoor’s entire journey and all of his destinations. Their photographs andvideos have been shared on Atoll Sailor’s Facebook page, and the team will also prepare a documentary on the whole journey from the footage they have recorded.

Report on Abdul "Gabbe" Ghafoor's "Sailing Around Maldives"

Though his journey had taken longer than the first target he had set, which was to circumnavigate the Maldives in 23 days, Abdul Ghafoor has still gone down in history as the first person to have sailed around the archipelago in a Catamaran. 

To celebrate his return and the completion of his journey, Ghafoor had taken his family aboard the Catamaran for a ride around Male.

MALE, MALDIVES, March 8, 2016: Abdul Ghafoor takes his family aboard his Catamaran for a ride around Male after completing his Sailing Around Maldives challenge. HAVEERU PHOTO/NISHAN ALI

Islands visited (Travelling south along eastern border)

  • Start: capital Male in Kaafu atoll
  • Kaafu atoll Maafushi 
  • Vaavu atoll Keyodhoo 
  • Meemu atoll Naalaafushi 
  • Meemu atoll Kolhufushi 
  • Thaa atoll Guraidhoo 
  • Laamu atoll Fonadhoo 
  • Gaafu Alif atoll Villigili 
  • Gaafu Dhaal atoll Vaadhoo 
  • Gnaviyani atoll Fuvahmulah 
  • Addu atoll Hithadhoo 
(Travelling north along western border)

  • Gaafu Dhaal atoll Fiyoari 
  • Gaafu Dhaal atoll Thinadhoo 
  • Gaafu Alif atoll Kolamaafushi 
  • Laamu atoll Maavah 
  • Thaa atoll Hirilandhoo
  • Dhaal atoll Kudahuvadhoo
  • Dhaal atoll Hulhudheli
  • Faafu atoll Feeali
  • Faafu atoll Bilehdhoo
  • Alif Dhaal atoll Maamigili
  • Alif Dhaal atoll Dhigurah
  • Alif Alif atoll Ukulhas
  • Baa atoll Goidhoo
  • Baa atoll Thulhaadhoo
  • Baa atoll Dharavandhoo
  • Raa atoll Alifushi
  • Haa Dhaal atoll Makunudhoo
  • Haa Alif atoll Thuraakunu
  • Haa Alif atoll Uligan 
(Travelling south along eastern border)

  • Haa Alif atoll Dhidhdhoo
  • Haa Alif atoll Utheemu
  • Haa Dhaal atoll Kulhudhuffushi
  • Haa Dhaal atoll Kurinbi
  • Shaviyani atoll Feydhoo
  • Shaviyani atoll Funadhoo
  • Noonu atoll Velidhoo
  • Lhaviyani atoll Naifaru
  • Kaafu atoll Kaashidhoo
  • Kaafu atoll Dhiffushi
  • Kaafu atoll Thulusdhoo
  • Kaafu atoll Huraa
  • Finish: capital Male in Kaafu atoll
Ghafoor had declared earlier that he had successfully achieved the objectives of Sailing Around Maldives, which were to document the diverse natural beauty of the archipelago, its rich heritage and the resilient friendship and relations that have endured between its people for aeons.

The map of Abdul Ghafoor's route on his Sailing Around Maldives challenge provided by local telecom giant Dhiraagu.

Sailing Around Maldives was organised by Atoll Sailor and the tourism ministry as part of the Visit Maldives Year 2016 campaign to promote the Maldives’ tourism.


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