Palau to Woleai
13 August 2011 | Woleai
The last few days in Palau were spent stocking up on tinned food etc. and fresh fruit and vegetables on the last morning. Our cupboards/lockers are full of tinned food etc. as the likelihood of being able to purchase fresh vegetables throughout Micronesia until we get to Kosrae will be NIL. There was only a certain amount of fresh vegetables and fruit we could take as in the heat here they do not last that long. Customs and Immigration arrived down at the Palau Yacht Club at 1pm to give both us and Sari Timur Port clearance and stamp our passports, along with a $70 charge. We up anchored at 2.15pm and slowly motored out through the reefs to the open sea where we found we had a lovely 8-10 knots SW breeze which held for 24 hours and in that time we did 124 miles. We had a mixture of wind so at times just plodded along trying not to do too much motoring as we only have 500 litres to last us 1700 odd miles. We certainly had a good run in the first 24 hrs and then the wind died and we ended up motoring from 5pm on Tuesday (2nd) until 8am Wednesday morning. For most of the day we just bobbed around doing anything from 1.6kts to 3 kts and then the wind kicked in at about 3pm and we had a good breeze and sailing all night but then it died down the next day but we did not turn the motor on, other than to charge the batteries. We had a very sloppy sea and on the Tuesday so we pulled all the sails down while motoring as they were just flogging. Thought we were going to get a bit of a storm late in the afternoon but it went around us but our speed picked up a bit. We only did 96 miles in our second 24hrs and 101 miles third 24 hr period. It drizzled with rain most of the Wednesday but the following day was a nice one.
Funny thing happened on the Monday night - was lying in bed when something appeared to flutter in and land at the end of our bed. I crawled down to see what it was and grab it and it was a big sea bird. I nearly jumped out of my skin. Called Dave and he grabbed it and it bit his finger very hard and he threw it out. A few hours later, still dark I was down at the wheel while Dave was adjusting sails and looked down and there was the same bird. I had thought I heard it flutter in the cockpit but did not think anymore of it. He sure got a good free ride.
The next few days were a mixture of good winds and very little wind when it changed direction every few minutes and at one point we just dropped all the sails and motored under bare poles. However the last 48 hours we had predominantly good wind from behind but it did change from SW to NW and then back to SW. However we just sailed with the genoa and/or staysail. While Dave was on watch early Saturday morning (6th, 4.30am) the wheel steering autopilot gave up the ghost so now we are going to have to hand steer until Kosrae which is 1200 miles away. The following sea became too much for it. We had a big following sea on the Saturday night and I did the 1am to 4am shift and was surprised at how I managed as usually I have not managed to steer with a following sea. Good having an Ipod which Rachel & Leith gave me for Xmas to listen to music and certainly helps keep you awake. Had heavy rain during my watch and had about 4 storms during the day. At 4am we stopped and drifted as we were only 11 miles from Woleai and we did not want to enter inside the reef in the dark. We waited until 5.15am in a big rolly sea when we then took off again and ended up dropping anchor at 9am (10am local time) in beautiful water with a sandy bottom surrounded on 3 sides by reefs.
We had breakfast and then high tailed it to bed as over the previous 2 days neither of us had had much more than a couple of hours sleep each day. We slept for 3 hrs, had a late lunch and then went ashore to meet the Chief. We had a welcoming party ashore and were both presented with headbands made out of flax and flowers. Thinking that we had to wait ashore for the Chief we talked to one of the local guys (Francis) whose English was good but nothing seemed to be happening so then suggested that we go to the Chief's place. We had a bit of a misunderstanding and it turns out the Chief is an 80 yr old plus woman who is bedridden and what we were waiting for was the interpreter but she came when we were at the Chief's house. She was lovely and guess we will see more of her over the next few days.
Have asked Don & Linda (US) to get us a new linear drive for our main autopilot and are having it sent to Kosrae. Wish now we had done it when we were in Palau as we did debate about getting one.
On Monday afternoon we went ashore and had a little walk around the island that we are anchored off and met a few of the locals, more of them speak English than we first thought and those that do either went to school in Yap or Pohnpei. They are so poor and it is nearly 6 months since a ship has come in with supplies - there is one due in on 15th September. Their main income is from copra, other than those who work for the Federated States of Micronesia Government, such as teachers, a nurse. The primary school on this island has 25 pupils from 6yrs to 14yrs old. They go to a neighbouring island for secondary school. There are probably about 1000 people living here, spread over about 10 islands. We met up with one of the teachers, Tony, on Monday so on Tuesday morning we paid a visit to the school and he had us give a talk to the 3 14 yr olds on New Zealand. Dave has also been repairing one of the local's dugout canoes. We have been inundated with coconuts, limes and bananas - have two huge bunches with about 150 on each waiting to ripen. Can see I will have to be busy making banana loaves, muffins etc.