Mel Thunderbolt | We’ve made safely to Palau!
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We’ve made safely to Palau!

I am pleased to announce that we have made it safely to Palau.  All in all, it took two weeks, sailing through the Philippines islands and five days in open Pacific Ocean water to get to magical Palau, our exact location is

7.9” North, 134. 27’9” East.

Sailing through the Philippines was absolutely incredible.   What an amazing, beautiful country that is far too understated for its kind people and incredible landscapes.

Exploring the little islands

We anchored most nights in phenomenal bays along the way.  We would spot a really stunning looking island and go off course slightly to check it out,

Secluded Bays

dropping anchor just off the beaches and we would snorkel ashore for sunset or to meet the locals.

We had many squalls along the way which is normal for this latitude.  We had head on winds most of our journey which made sailing impossible so we motored most of the way.  There was a weather system north of us which gave us 2 – 2.5m seas for two days, and so poor Jane was very seasick due to all the rocking and rolling and didn’t say more than two words in 4 days.  I tried to cook a few nights because none of the crew were wanting to go down below deck.  My cottage pie was a huge success but my pasta salad another night ended up on the floor due to a sudden wave.

We had two fishing lines trawling behind the boat all the way but we only managed to catch three fish.  Two were Barracuda, Carrie caught the first one and I caught the second one.  Mine was about 12 kg and I found it quite a challenge to bring it in.  It was the first fish I had ever caught so I was pretty chuffed with myself, but there was no way I was going to hang around for the slaughter – the boys took over and we had tasty fish in batter for dinner – delicious.

Don managed to catch a huge Sail Fish by surprise and after bringing it in he kissed it goodbye and set it free.

One day watching the sunset, with the water flat calm like glass, we saw an extra smooth patch of water just beside our boat.  It was a whale!  Right there! It’s early for whales to be so far north and it looked like a mother and her calf.   The whales all migrate north from the Antarctic and many are found in Tonga around the same time that we will be there.  I cannot wait to swim with them.

Sailing with gratitude

There was amazing phosphorescence in the water the entire way, with a full moon rising up on the horizon to light up a pathway in the ocean for us.  One night when I came up on watch to relieve Don he told me that the Phosphorescence was flying into the air and into the Wheelhouse, I thought he was losing the plot, but sure enough – there were the little glow in the dark pieces – but they were moving too slow, I turned on the light to see that they were actually fire flies, hundreds of them, flying in and around the boat.  It’s the first time I’ve seen them too.

Being out on the open ocean again after many years of being constricted somewhat in the Mediterranean makes me realise why I actually started sailing many years ago.  All the beautiful things that I’d forgotten to look out for were once again in sight.  When you are rushing around, trying to get from A to B, things become mundane and you take for granted what is right in front of you.

Back-cracking duties

Being out in the Pacific Ocean with no land in sight does wonders for the mind.  Time becomes: Night or Day and “On and Off Watch”, that’s all.   Hearing the wind howl, seeing the seas change, watching flying fish try to break their flying records, watching the full moon rise and fall, sunrise and sunset and of course the stars – so many shooting stars!  I am starting to run out of wishes.

Now that’s what I do this for!!

We are now in Palau and it sure is Paradise.  We should be here for another three weeks.  The whole area is surrounded by Reef and so it has a closed marine environment.  This makes its marine life so unique with so much to see.  It is known as one of the top five dive destinations of the world.

There’s quite a large expat group here, they consist of the Dive Instructors and the Circumnavigating sailors that have stopped here to restock and refresh and there are some sailors that love it so much, they have never left.  It is nice to meet new people again from all over the world and there is quite a big social scene.

Lots of jungle and waterfall exploring to do.  Let’s Go and Explore!

Jungle time

Melissa Van Der Walt