Diving in the Maldives with an Inspiration rebreather

 

Back in January 2006 I posted a message on the Inspiration list, asking for recommendations for rebreather friendly dive centres in the Maldives.  Of the dozen or so replies that I received, around half were for Prodivers on Kuredu Island.  One of the replies was from Jean-Marie Tholl, a dive guide working for Prodivers.  Jean-Marie assured me that the centre catered for Inspirations, having both 797 Sofnolime & boosted O2 on-site.  This looked promising, O2, 'lime AND an exotic sunkissed maiden all on one site!  All we had to do now was get there.

 

The bookings were made & on the 1st of April, 3 of us arrived at Manchester airport with 1 Inspiration in its plastic crate, 1 set of OC scuba gear in a "Gear Gulper", 1 large suitcase (heavy) & enough clothes for 3 people for 2 weeks, hmm! 

We were flying economy with Emirates, via Dubai.  We had contacted Emirates prior to departure, & asked if any extra luggage allowance was available for divers.  They gave us an extra 10kg each there & then which increased the standard allowance from 20 to 30kg each, VERY useful & well worth the phone call.  We purchased a carry on cabin bag each in which we managed to pack all our clothes, toiletries, insect repellant, Immodium, teabags & all the other gubbins that you need for 2 weeks in paradise. 

Emirates now have the facility for on-line check-in, this means that you can check-in to your flight, reserve your seats order special meals etc. All from home before you leave for the airport.  When you arrive there is a special desk for you to check-in your luggage & pick up your boarding cards. 

Due to the size of the gear crates we had to go to the oversize baggage desk at Manchester, where each box was X-rayed.  The Inspiration cylinders caused a bit of a stir & I had to open the crate & prove that they were empty (hint:- don't seal up the boxes until they have been examined at checkin) Another thing to remember that the maximum weight for any single item of luggage is 32kg, anything heavier than this & the baggage handlers will refuse to load it on health & safety grounds.

We were flying out to Male via Dubai, we checked our baggage straight through from Manchester to Male & were issued with our boarding passes for the Dubai - Male leg at Manchester, all very slick....so we thought!  The 7 hour flight to Dubai is quite civilised, even in cattle class.  The leg room was ample, the seats reclined further than usual & the personal entertainment system has over 500 on-demand channels.  I managed to stay awake through the film "The Cave"  Those Meg rebreathers are the bees knees, you can shoot 'em, blow them up, use the O2 cylinder as a flame thrower & STILL get 24 hours out of the scrubber if you use Lithium Hydroxide, phew! 

We arrived in Dubai & presented ourselves at the gate for the Male flight, this is where it got interesting "Ah, Mr Harrison, there is a problem with your luggage & the police would like to see you"  before you could say "rubber glove" I was whisked of in a police car with 2 of Dubais finest into the bowels, (that rubber glove thing again) of the airport to the baggage handling area.  The crate containing the Inspiration was sat on an inspection table, apparently it had been X-rayed again & the cylinders had got the locals excited.  I opened it up & once more proved that the bottles were empty & off they went & so did we, to Male.

The arrival in Male & transfer to Kuredu was surprisingly smooth.  Immediately outside the arrivals hall is a row of desks & each resort is represented.  We were whisked off to the Seaplane terminal for our 45 minute transfer to the island.  If the Seaplanes are busy you are only allowed to take hand baggage on the flight, your main luggage is transferred by boat & may not arrive in the resort until the next day.  However we were lucky enough to be on a quiet flight with just 12 passengers aboard the Otter 21, so all our gear accompanied us.