Dec. 4th, 2009
This letter finds us safely anchored off the Royal Belau Yacht Club in Palau. We are sooooo happy to be here! I hugged the ground when we got in! The passage took us 15 days. After I wrote the last update, we got slammed by more gale force winds and high seas, our reefing line chaffed through while it was blowing 35 knots and Clint had to go out on deck at night to fix that. Our stainless support pole for our wind generator popped all the rivets and came crashing down, so he had to play acrobat and climb on the back of the davits to rig lines to support what was left of that also. Clint is amazing! He really had an exceptional attitude through the whole passage and made excellent decisions at every turn. I am so thankful that he's the captain of this boat!
Palau is fabulous! The rock islands are so surreal. It's like being anchored in some kind of mythical fairyland. There are all these secret little coves to anchor in that are hidden amongst limestone puffy rock islands. There are hundreds of private little "blue lagoons."
The first day in, I took all our dirty clothes to the laundry and had it washed, dried, folded for less than $2 a load! We went to the grocery store and were blown away by all the choices! Palau is a republic in assoc. with the US. The US dollar is the currency, but it is definitely more valuable here than in the US. The infrastructure here is very good. The postal system is the same as the US which is so nice to finally have access to needed parts and supplies within 10 days! It's got the best of everything as far as I'm concerned. It's in the tropics, gorgeous, best diving in the world, tons of fish, the people are very wonderful, it's neat, clean, well-supplied, diesel and gas are around $3 a gallon, it's not crowded, only 20,000 in the whole country, very little crime, great cruising ground, the yacht club here is the friendliest we have met so far.
We met up with some more cruisers from last season. They gave us a great reception when we arrived and have done everything they can to orient us and serve all our needs here. Two of the couples have been going to a local gym 3 days a week. They swung by our boat and picked me up to go along. I had a great workout with them. The gym cost $1 per use!
We rented a car yesterday and drove through all the islands which are connected by bridges. We hiked to one of the large waterfalls. It was spectacular. Abbey loved it! It felt so good to stomp around on the ground and get tired out using our legs!
The winds are blowing steady out of the West which is the direction we need to sail on to the Philippines. The seasonal transition is late this year because of the El Nino effect. Tropical depressions are still developing in this area. We will not be able to move on for at least another week according to the weather data. So, we will enjoy the diving and exploring while we're here!
That's all for now. I just wanted to let you know that we got in safe and sound. We are enjoying good eats and good sleeps! We just want to kick back and recoup for a few days at least.
Love to all, Janet and the fam