We didn’t clear the Equatorial Counter Current as soon as we had hoped. In fact, it remained with us till about 6 North, and it was strong, as much as 3 knots in some places. The trade winds filled in nicely though and even became reenforced. This meant that we were sailing through the water pretty fast, 8 and 9 knots was not uncommon. Unfortunately, with the counter current that meant 5’s and 6’s over land. So not as fast as we would have liked. Also we had massive squalls. At first we tried to avoid them and sail around them, sometimes we would spend half a day trying to avoid a squall making little headway towards our destination. Eventually we realized they where at most 40 knots of wind and so we started just taking them on. This resulted usually in a miserable wet experience but at least we could stay on course, and sail fast through them. We pretty much rolled everything up but the cutter sail and would still hit 7 knots running. That may not sound like much but it seems fast when it is pitch dark and there are occasional 20 foot waves slapping you around. The truth is, this was the most miserable passage I have had in the Pacific. It would have been the most miserable overall except the water was nice and warm and that made it almost pleasant to get wet. We also broke tons of stuff – a couple of bilge pumps, lost a batten out of the main and the starter solenoid failed. This was not good and I now had to engage the bendix by hand and then hot-wire the starter motor to get it to work. Well I have since installed a button and the bendix is stuck in the engaged position. Works for now but it needs replaced for sure. Good luck finding that part.

On our final 20 miles or so to Yap birds were flying around Jocylin. They always come and hang out by her and I don’t really know why. They cannot possible think she is another bird. In any case we had one land next to her. I am not sure what sort of bird this is exactly, so if anyone recognizes it, please let me know. The bird stayed there though till we were clear of the Yap channel and then flew off. It was funny watching it try to balance on the small bar with its webbed feet that are not designed to hold onto things with the seas pitching and rolling us about. We approached the very narrow channel through the fringing reef at about midnight. Lucky for us the moon was nearly full and highlighted the breaking surf on the

fringing reef. Plus the channel was the best lit and marked that we had seen in a long time so we had no problems getting though. We anchored in the harbor and passed out after a 1200 mile 11 day shaking, happy for it all to be over. What we didn’t realize though was that we might be staying a little longer than we would like.

We checked in the day after Christmas, which naturally, is a holiday. There are 7 individual agencies you must check in with here. This country has a free compact with the US and used to be an overseas territory. So when the US left I am pretty sure they gave FSM all the American bureaucracy as though it was required to manage a tiny island nation. Great, this took pretty much all day. But the real pain comes with immigration. At first, they came and said to stop by their office tomorrow. OK no problem. When I went in to the office, the man behind the 2 inch thick glass asked for the passports as though he was to stamp them. Then he asked for our cruising permits. Well, I don’t have it yet. This was a problem and he then refused to return the passports. Uh oh. In FSM you must apply for a cruising permit ahead of time. No problem we did it before we left PNG. The problem is, no one ever actually gets the permit till they get here. OK that’s fine, or at least seems like it should be. This would be OK if we were staying for a month, but we only wanted to stay a couple of days. So when he took the passports he said he would return them and give us clearance to leave when he gets the permit number. I wanted to leave the next day to make Palau by New Years. They said to come back and check later. After two days of this there was still no progress and we are pretty much stuck. Apparently the main office in the capital won’t even answer the phone. And these guys won’t let me leave, even though I never want to come back. We met a pilot on the pier and he explained that the state of Yap will get fined by FSM if they let me leave without having first issued the permit. I don’t know if there is any truth to this but in any case, I have decided that if I am not given my passports back and the permit by Monday then it is time to call the US Consulate and see what my options are.

Yap is pretty boring and sleepy. I think if you were a diver it would be different, but we are not and can’t afford to be. We rented a car and drove around the island. It was kind of interesting. There is a crashed jet and tons of WWII stuff out by the old airport. They use stone money here, which are these giant round stones with a hole cut in them to signify wealth (I am trying to put one in my pocket in the picture above). So you can see the “banks” of those. Which are really just places to put them out in the open as they are too heavy to move anyway. There are also “Men’s Houses and this is just a place for the men to gather, huts really. And then there is, um, we saw, uh… not much else.

The reality is, there is nothing here for us. We have made some boat repairs and finally found a 110V 60hz inverter, so that is replaced. It is interesting to see lawn mowers again and they even have a coin laundry mat here (takes quarters, not stone money). But none of that really serves as grand attractions that would make it in the Lonely Planet. Most of the time we hang out with the other cruisers who are also stuck here for one reason or another. There most redeeming part though is a pretty tasty micro-brew and we have been drinking entirely too much beer. I will spend my New Years there, resolving to have my passports back and never return to FSM. I hope everyone has a happier New Years!