WELL bugger me! These strong man crackdowns always happen at the worst possible times.
Just hours out of the Maldives and looking forward to a three decade delayed reunion with my Maldivian friends, the skipper of Nautica executes a change of course from south-east to south-west and we’re headed for Mahe not Malé.
It seems that yesterday the usurper president Abdulla Yameen (pictured), who tossed out a democratically elected leader a couple of years back, declared a 30-day state of emergency ahead of a planned anti-government rally by the country's opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).
The declaration gave Yameen’s security forces sweeping powers to arrest anyone they don’t like, er, who they think may be a suspect.
"President Yameen has declared state of emergency to ensure the safety and security of every citizen," a spokesman tweeted without regard for the indefinite article.
There was also the mandatory cache of firearms and explosives discovered. There were also plots. On Monday, gendarmes said they had defused a bomb planted near the presidential palace.
And two weeks ago vice-president Ahmed Adeeb was arrested in connection with an alleged plot to assassinate the president by blowing up his boat.
It was all rather peculiar. The United States FBI investigated the blast and said it found no evidence it was caused by a bomb.
In March 2013 the former democratically elected president, Mohamed Nasheed, was convicted under the country's terrorism laws for ordering the arrest of an allegedly corrupt judge and gaoled for 13 years.
It was a widely criticised conviction and last month Nasheed appealed to Indian prime minister Narendra Modi to “disentangle” the Maldives from the “mess we are in”.
The European Union, USA, United Kingdom and United Nations said his rushed trial was seriously flawed and the UN has called for his immediate release.
But instead Abdulla Yameen is administering a general crackdown to bolster himself in power.
I have just received a communication from a Maldivian contact:
“Just now the travel agency of Nautica in Malé informed us that the ship will not come to Malé due to the situation here! A big disappointment for us.
“The government seems to be taking great care in not disrupting our tourism, so we were quite sure that there won't be any danger to you. But the agency has to make extra precautions and I understand their decision. It's very sad we cannot meet and all our plans failed.
“Please except our sincere apologies for this incident.”
None required, my friend. Our reunion will just have to wait.
It seems that – despite the president’s wishes - tourism is, for the moment anyway, off the agenda in the Maldives.