The past few weeks we have been exploring all the little nooks and crannies of this beautiful island paradise. I braved a cave/tunnel swim through that is only visible at low tide, about 30 feet long, 3 feet wide, 3 feet deep, with only a couple inches of an air pocket for a snorkel to catch a few breaths. It opened up into a small lake. The water inside is a mixture of fresh and salt, much cooler in temperature. It is a "secret garden" of the sea. It was so cool being in there all by ourselves; who knows how many people have ever been able to find this hidden spot. We didn't stay very long. The tide was rising and our air pockets would be gone. I don't like that tunnel business; it's just a bit too constricting for me. Abbey and Clint love the tunnel part.
Abbey is getting certified by a cruiser friend of ours who is a dive master. "So, where did you learn to dive?" "Palau." "Oh, really, I learned in Lake Mead. The visibility was about 1 ft." "The visibility for my check out dive was about 100ft. Yeah, it was ok, I saw a few thousand fish, hundreds of species of corals, some cool things like sharks, turtles, mantas." At 18 years old, Abbey continues to enjoy experiences that boggle anyone's comprehension. It really is great getting to share these experiences with her. She continues to make new friends wherever we go and gets invited to join in lots of fun.
Recently, she has been wake boarding and water skiing. Clint got some fun video of her.
We successfully repaired the dinghy and she is working like a champ. Our running rigging is all sorted out and fine. The radios are working well. No more critters to report. Clint has not had an allergic reaction since his last one, but we haven't fed him any peanut butter or nuts since then either, so I am highly suspicious that those may be the source of it.
Well, the news is that the auto helm has gone the way of everything else on earth, "Store up your treasures in heaven where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt!" We have not been able to locate any parts. So, for any of you cruisers receiving this, if you have parts or know of someone else who has an old Robertson 300 auto helm laying around some place, please let us know. This means that we are not making any passages any time soon. We either need to find these parts, buy a new auto helm, or buy a wind vane, or Joel and Colin need to come back aboard and help us to hand steer! We are looking at getting a wind vane right now, a hydrovane if we can, so put that on the message board too. Meanwhile, we continue to hand steer around the islands here and wait it out. This has cut into our plan for making the Philippines and Hong Kong as we had scheduled. We will have to fly to Taiwan and Japan for some previously scheduled conferences that Clint is speaking at and then return here afterward. Kairos will continue to enjoy the warm lush waters of Palau! Stranded in Palau, oh shucks, how awful, I hope we survive!
Speaking of survive, we have been to the place where they filmed the Survivor Palau series. Please, fresh water in abundance, easy shelter, fish, coconut crabs, fruit bats, even rats. We hung out there with some native Palauans who had no trouble rustling up a quick lunch of jack fish and land crabs then started a pot of fruit bat soup. But, it is understandable how one could imagine the drama and adventure of being marooned on a deserted island. It's always been my dream since I read Swiss Family Robinson for the umpteenth time.
We've spent some fun days snorkeling and kayaking. There are endless places to explore. We didn't get to see the lunar eclipse, but we did enjoy a moonlight dinghy ride over the reef and were able to see down about 40 feet through crystal clear water illuminated by the midnight glow. It was an awesome union with the underwater world.
We had a Christmas feast at a local beach. I roasted a turkey on board with stuffing and gravy, others brought mashed potatoes and salad. It was nice being together but quite a contrast to the gathering we had with our family last year.
We miss all of you and wish you well. May your new year be blessed with greater love, joy, and fullness from our gracious God. Clint, Janet, and Abbey
PS Here are some pictures that our friends Wayne and Duane took of us from their helicopter tour. We were anchored enjoying a beautiful quiet morning when they obnoxiously buzzed us in our anchorage! The pics are their peace offering.