Sailing to Palau
29 March 2009 | Philippine Sea
Our Ngulu anchorage was not the best last night. Like so many reef protected anchorages, it was good at low tide and not good at high tide. Coral never grows past the low tide level, so, unless you have some affect raising the reef over time, high tide sends several feet of green water over the reef in most places. We had a good 4 feet washing in on us last night. Not directly of course, but the island was small and round, allowing a lot of wrap around.
The setting was beautiful but without a nice anchorage we decided not to stay to explore more. We had all been reading up on Palau and were pretty excited to see it as soon as possible. We raised anchor around 10AM and headed across the lagoon.
Ngulu is about 15nm north to south. Our chart was not bad but it showed a lot of shoals and even some small islands that didn't exist. Our track through the interior of the lagoon was free of hazards. We saw two very conspicuous wrecks on the barrier reef, both good radar targets, high and dry, neither charted.
We exited in the southwest corner of the atoll in a wide opening with charted depth of 60 feet or so. It was even deeper than charted and very easy to navigate by eyeball. On the exit the sounder went from a steady 125 feet to no bottom instantly. Atoll drop offs are always impressive.
We had some rain roll through last night and in the morning but once out on the ocean the weather was lovely. Lots of fair weather cumulus to weather and a big ugly black multi-layered thing to leeward. The day was blue and lovely over the boat but we had little wind. Little enough that we ran an aux most of the day to keep the average speed up. Much slower and we would arrive in the dark tomorrow.
The wind was dead astern or there abouts and showing 2-3 knots apparent for much of the day. We had the main hard to starboard all day and from time to time we were sailing by the lee a bit. The nice thing is that in light wind with the sheet in tight on the traveler you actually get lift from the main (like sailing upwind). With the boom on the traveler there's no real jibe risk and we were picking up a half knot versus the same wind over the weather rail.
In the afternoon Miki announced that she had never been deep sea fishing. She suggested that we hire a boat in Palau. I said that we would do no such thing and proceeded to take Miki deep sea fishing. We put two lines out and Miki promptly caught a Yellow Fin Tuna. What a treat. We discovered that not only had Miki never been deep sea fishing, but she had never seen anyone kill a fish and fillet it either. We are still trying to get her over the trauma.
We had a light rain in the late afternoon which turned into a big squall several miles past us. It made the sunset spectacular. It is a rare day that does not produce a few small squalls as the pressure drops at sunset. The radar is clear now at 20:00 and Miki is on watch. It is a beautiful starry night.
We are looking forward to a good sleep and landfall in Palau tomorrow.
Hideko Says: I am so excited to have fresh Hamachi sashimi tomorrow!
Miki Says: I caught my first big fish, and my favorite fish of all too!
136nm to Palau