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The Sailing Adventures of Dave & Joanne on "Pied A Mer"
Palau to Woleai
Joanne
08/13/2011, 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.

Rock Islands
Joanne
07/07/2011, Palau

Thursday, 28th July 2011 Well it is time to update our blog again before we leave here on Monday 1st August, as our Visas expire on 2nd, unless the weather is atrocious, like it is today. We do not want to renew at a cost of $150 for just a few days. In my last blog we had Derek & Janet, along with Pauline & Mark from Sari Timur and I cooked a roast of pork which was enjoyed by all and Pauline did the dessert. Unfortunately pork roasts here are not like we are used to and there was certainly no crackling! We have been catching up on the never ending list of maintenance plus a few other jobs that are not essential but good to get done. Two weeks ago the husband of a couple (Jeff & Jules) who are living here for two years took us to see a waterfall which is in the Palau Eco Park. In the last few weeks they have opened a mono rail to the waterfall with an extension to a scenic area of the park. We actually walked down to the waterfall as well as part of the way back up and had a ride on the mono rail on the steepest part up. However it was a good bit of exercise for the day and I certainly had sore calves for a few days afterwards. That night we had dinner on Sari Timur. We finally got the first of our raw water pumps back from being reconditioned so on Friday 15th after getting our Jellyfish Lake Permit in the morning we took off down to the Rock Islands for 10 days. The first of the Rock Islands are only about 6 miles from Koror and these islands are just that, rock islands which are covered in jungle. We did a 7 mile trip and anchored in a bay called Nagasan which is named after a Japanese ship that is sunk there. We snorkeled at virtually all the anchorages and saw wonderful coral and hundreds of different types of fish. The next day we moved to a place called Sunset Bay where we spent two nights and on the second day went by dinghy to the Soft Coral Arch which had lovely different sorts of coral and is a popular place for the tourists who only snorkel. Also dinghied over to see the Natural Arch. The anchorage is a beautiful spot with islands right around and was just like a coliseum. We also snorkeled right around one of the islands there. From there we moved on to a place called the Salad bowl where we spent another two nights and dinghied over to a well known snorkeling spot, Cemetery Reef where there were also about 100 Taiwanese tourists who had come in half a dozen tour boats. As this was a big bay with lots of little bays off it we did a bit of tiki touring in the dinghy. From there we went to Ulong Island and decided as it was high tide to go through the narrow 1.5m deep channel into Swiflet Lagoon. This was a very sheltered anchorage and after having lunch got in the dinghy to go through a couple of shallower lagoons to the other side of the island to look at some of the sights on that side. On our way we met up with a couple of Belgian yachties (Mark & Marianne) and Mark told us that we were in for a nasty bit of weather so had thought we were going to have to spend the next three days sheltering there. We carried on to the other side of the island and then the wind got up and the rain came so we hurried back to the boat. However the next day the weather was okay so the four of us decided to head off to Mecherechar. We had a few coral reefs en route to dodge but they were clearly visible. Mecherechar is a large horseshoe shaped island with a collection of rock islands surrounding the main island and filling the interior. There are reefs, shoals, rocks scattered everywhere so one has to be on the ball when navigating around. However we found a good anchorage just inside and spent three nights there. One of the main purposes to go there was to snorkel in Jellyfish Lake which requires the Jellyfish Lake permit which is $10 more than the Rock Islands permit. In the afternoon we went in Mark's dinghy (he has a 15hp motor) the mile down to Jellyfish Lake. We had a short walk up and over a rocky path to the lake and once again there were lots of Taiwanese tourists there. These jellyfish are quite different to the normal looking jellyfish. Jellyfish Lake is one of about 70 marine lakes found in the Rock Islands and is a marine basin surrounded by a limestone island but connected to the inner lagoon by small and large tunnels that course their ways through the rock. These basins are closed ecosystems because of their isolation within the Rock islands, which means there is little connection between environments other than the saline water pushed by the tides seeping through the rocks. These jellyfish are of the Mastigias species and wandered into their particular marine basins thousands of years ago as either jellyfish or larvae. Once they populated the basin they became isolated from their ancestral counterparts , Mastigias papua. The jellyfish adapted to a completely new environment with no predators. As a result of not having to defend themselves they drastically reduced the number of stinging cells. Consequently people can swim among thousands of them and not be stung, hurt or irritated. They are absolutely amazing and all different sizes from little wee baby ones to much bigger ones. That night we had dinner on board Mark & Marianne's boat. The next day the wind did get up and drizzled on and off most of the day but we did a mile trip further up in the dinghy to snorkel at Clam City where we saw clams as big as a meter across, however they certainly don't have the lovely colour that the smaller clams have. The following day did another snorkel over a reef that we had seen a lot of tourist boats go to and then when we got back to our anchorage I did a snorkel around the bay and saw a turtle, who I followed and he was keeping a pretty close eye on me and then he took off - never realized how fast they could actually move with their front legs going flat out. That night Mark & Marianne came to us for dinner. Sunday was the last day of our 10 day permit so as we had not seen the Yap stone money at Ulong we headed over to there. A bit of excitement, we actually caught a lovely Spanish mackerel. We anchored off at Ulong and went and had a look at the stone money, had lunch and a swim there and then headed back to Koror, arriving back at about 4pm. We had Mark & Pauline over for a fish dinner that night which we all really enjoyed and we also had another meal of it as well. We finally got the second raw water pump back on Tuesday so we are now back to two good ones and on Tuesday we biked into town and did a big meat shop to stock up the freezer. Also had to get some money to pay the guy for our water pump repairs! Pauline and Mark on Sari Timur were to leave yesterday and heading for Guam but the weather forecast was not looking good so Pauline had to go and renew hers and the boat's visa as they expired yesterday. Mark being US has a year. Just as well they didn't go as we had a pretty rough night from the early hours of this morning and has continued on today. We had also gone out for a farewell dinner on Tuesday night!!. I have been wanting Dave to shift one of the GPS/chart plotters from the Navigation table up into the cockpit for years and it finally got done yesterday, but not without its problems and was a bit of a mission but by last night it was up and running fine. Just after we left Kudat in Borneo we had a fuel blockage which Dave cleared and while we were out in the Rock Islands it happened twice in a week so we decided we had to do something about it before we took off, so today was the day! We have to unscrew the table and then lift the floor to get at the inspection plates and unscrew the lids, all a bit of a mission. Fortunately we were low on diesel so we pumped the diesel into 20 litre containers so Dave could wipe the tank completely out. We had about 35 litres left. Unfortunately since we did the job it has been continually pouring with rain and haven't been able to put any fuel back in. We will put that diesel through the Baha filter to go into the tank. On hindsight we should have done it while the inspection plates were off. Dave has also been changing the oil and putting a new oil and fuel filters in - a good job to do on a wet day. Once we leave here we have an approximately 600 mile trip to either Eauripik Island or Woleia where at the latter or Ifalak (30miles east from Woleia) we will wait for Fran & Dave Chown from Te Kauwhata on Melric 11 who are presently on the hardstand at Kudat doing anti fouling and other repairs which are all taking longer than anticipated. Some of the other islands and atolls we may stop at are: Toas Island, Puluwat, Luckunor, Ngatik Atoll, Kosrae (where we will have to refuel), Juluit Atoll, Mili Atoll, Makin, Tarawa, Tabiteuea, Nukufetuea, Nukulaelae and through the Yasawas in Fiji to Bekana Island off Lautoka. All in all we have close to a 5000 mile (nearly 10,000km) journey so by the time we arrive back in NZ I think we will be feeling a bit shot!! Our friends, Don & Linda Jenkins from the US are going to join us in Fiji and I have booked a timeshare at Fiji Palms at Pacific Harbour from 12th - 19th November which hopefully we will be in Fiji by then to join them. Don is going to do the passage from Fiji to New Zealand with us and Linda will fly to NZ. We hope we will be able to set sail from Fiji to NZ on 22nd or 23rd November if the weather looks favourable. Linda and Don will spend some time in NZ, see the South Island and have Christmas with us and hopefully do a bit of sailing with us after Christmas before they head home. We will be on Sailmail while on our journey and hopefully it will work better than what it has here in Palau using the HF Radio. From here we connect through Brunei Bay Radio and the whole time we have been here I have not been able to make a connection which has been most frustrating, although going ashore I can get emails etc. through sailmail by connecting to the internet. It was even a battle getting connected when we were coming across from Suriago to Palau. However, the further East we go we will then connect through a station on the New South Wales coast in Australia. I can update our blog via sailmail as long as I can get connected. I think the problems all have to do with propagation.

More on Palau
Joanne
07/07/2011, Palau

Another 3 weeks has gone by and we are still here in Palau. When I last updated the blog we were actually receiving the edge of another typhoon which was heading northwards over the Philippines and we had several days when we could not leave the boat as we needed to be on board in case we dragged which we did and had to do the re anchoring in pouring rain. There is a Chinese lady, Charlie, who comes to Sam's tours with fresh vegetables etc. for sale and also provides the supermarkets with vegetables so one day which happened to be in the middle of this terrible weather we went with her, along with another yachtie, Ariana to visit her farm. On the way to shore in our dinghy the heavens opened and we got soaked, even though we had rain jackets on but by the time we got to Charlie's farm the rain had stopped but we sloshed our way around the farm which probably covered an area of 100 acres in total, although not all planted. The soil was volcanic and everything looked very healthy. All work is done by hand and most of the workers are Philippinos, although she has a brother and a cousin who work for her as supervisors. She pays all the living expenses as well as food for the workers and they get paid $US300 per month so there are no living expenses to come out of that wage. If they stay a second year they get an increase in pay. Charlie grows cucumbers, eggplant, local spinach, long (snake beans), pumpkin, water melons, sweet corn, okra, chill peppers, pineapples and also has papaya and bananas. Charlie is married to an American here who has a charter boat business so when they have a charter Charlie goes with him as the cook and also the dive instructor. She said when she first arrived in Palau she could not even swim and she came here as a school teacher. When the bad weather finally cleared up a group of us (9 altogether) finally did a dive trip with Sam's Tours to the German Channel where all the others, except me as I don't dive, went and dived near what they call the mantaray cleaning station where they all come in and get cleaned by the little cleaning fish. There were also big grey tipped sharks cruising past plus various other fish. I just snorkeled over the coral at the side of the channel and the coral was beautiful along with all the fish life and also a turtle. The channel was dug about by the Germans when they owned the country as a short cut through to the lagoon. From there we anchored off an island and had lunch which was provided on the trip and then we went out to the outer reef for the divers to dive what is world renowned, the Blue Hole and then drift dive down to the Blue Corner on the outer reef. I snorkeled along the top and followed them and it was an amazing sight watching them but then they hooked on to the wall to watch all the fish life, which included various species of sharks and numerous other varieties of fish, but of course I kept drifting down so then the boatman came and picked me up. There were two dive masters/guides with them and they were great. All very professional and Sam's Tours is one of the few dive companies here in Palau that has never had a fatality. All in all a great day out and I wish I had an underwater casing for my camera. However I put some photos up on facebook that one of the other divers took. I pay $US50 per year to be able to put photos up on our blog and the $50 was due at the end of May and is automatically paid by Paypal, and charged to Dave's credit card but as his wallet etc. was stolen in China, and even though I have loaded the new credit card it won't accept the payment, so as we are on our way home and will not have internet for several months have decided to forgo the photos on the blog and I just put them up on facebook as I think that most of our friends who read our blog are joined to me on facebook. If not my facebook website is www.facebook.com/joanne.booker The new Autohelm computer arrived on Monday so is now installed and we had to get the alternator rewired so we were without a motor for charging for a week so were in power conservation mode! We are presently waiting on the raw water pump parts and repairs and then we will head off to the Rock Islands for 10 days. Since leaving Australia in 2008 our motor has done thousands of hours of motoring so it is only natural that things like alternator, raw water pumps etc. need rewiring etc. Most centre cockpit yachts have big generators and it appears to us that they cause no end of problems - friend Mark here has had to spend over $4000 on his here and it is only 2 years old! Most yachties actually find that getting parts in from the US is great with the US postal system and certainly miles cheaper than using the likes of DHL, FedEx etc. if one has somebody that can send parts on. To non yachties it might appear that we have lots of problems but compared to most ours are only small. Reading other friends blogs makes us realise how lucky we have been. In Palau you get a cruising permit for a month which cost us $40 ($20 for a 12m yacht), $20 for months fishing license and then to go diving or snorkeling each person has to have a permit which is $25 and if you include Jellyfish Lake it is $35 and this permit is for only 10 days. All visitors (except US citizens) get a months visa, with right of renewal for another 2 months, so we had to go and renew it for another month which was $50 each plus another $50 for the boat which expires on 2nd August and we will have left by then. Americans get a 1 year visa which includes the boat but if it is registered in another country they have to pay $50 per month for the boat. Last Friday morning we went and got our cruising and fishing permits and before we got out of the building the heavens opened - I have never seen rain like it, along with cracking thunder and lightening - scary stuff. The ranger very kindly took us back to the Yacht Club where we met up with Pauline & Mark and once the rain stopped the four of us got a taxi to town and went to the Taj restaurant for their Friday Indian smorgasbord special. That was the second time we have been there and it is great food and is one of the better eating establishments in Koror. We seem to eat out 2-3 times a week, depending on what's happening and meal prices range from $9 - $15 a main. Monday was 4th July so most of us yachties went to Kramers for a special American Independence day barbecue special for $20 per head plus free beer until it ran out. It was well patronized and was a good night but we were home by about 9.30pm as it started at 5pm but Dave reckoned he heard some of the yachties arriving back at 2am! Tonight we are having Pauline and Mark and a Canadian father and daughter (Derek & Janet) whom we met on Monday night, for dinner. Derek & Janet are in Palau for 3 weeks, ostensibly for diving. I think that about covers the news for the time being.

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