I don’t really care to describe the rest of our time in Yap. Except: we eventually got our passports after I told the Immigration agent I would call the US Consulate if they didn’t return our passports and issue our exit papers. Within 20 minutes they were ready. Fantastic, that wasn’t so hard. In any case, we had a pretty lame New Years, it was just like every other night in Yap, except the fireworks were incredible, I mean, incredibly digital on a screen, which I thought was cute. We left Yap on the 2nd and had a fast transit to Palau.

Palau is incredamazetastic, I can’t say enough good things about it. This is the sort of place were cruisers get stuck – for years. There are a few here who have been here a long time and are residents now. The ex-pat community is very friendly and the locals very welcoming. It is sort of sleepy for how big it is but you get over that once you make some friends, which takes about ten minutes at Kramer’s Bar (recently voted one of the best dive-destination bars in the world). When we came in, one of the other cruisers who has been here well over a year, maybe two or three, I forget, came out and showed us to a mooring. We aren’t paying for it, it is just gifted to us until there is a storm when the real owner will use it for his boat. Then we joined the Royal Balau Yacht Club which gives us a discount at Sam’s, the local yachtie hangout and massive dive operation (recently voted one of the best dive operators in the world).

It is really easy to relax here and just hang out. But we can’t just do that so we rented a car and drove about the island of Babelbob. This quickly became a very expensive tour as the nation of Palau is made of 16 states and we were driving through 8 of them. In each state you had to pay a new $5-10 park fee so this added up fast, and it wasn’t even to see much. The Bai (Men’s House, sort of) was pretty cool as was some of the terracing. The rest was not so interesting except the giant obscene new capital that was paid for by the Chinese (in exchange for fishing rights I am sure). The building rivals the white house in appearance but is really cheaply made. There is no possible reason that Palau needs a capital like this so I guess it is interesting because of it’s irony.

Well, I know why everyone really comes to Palau though, and it isn’t for the capital or anything else besides the diving. Palau is a divers paradise, perhaps the diver’s paradise. There are massive operations here and the reefs and islands are numerous and the water clarity is pretty good too. I think SCUBA magazine summed it up by rating Palau the best overall diving destination in the Pacific or Indian Oceans. Better than Fiji or even the Red Sea. So, well, I guess in typical Slick fashion we had to set our dive-site standards pretty high and we decided to get PADI Certified for open water. It was pretty easy and the dive instructor was pretty comfortable with us, so rather than keep us in the pool we did all the dives out in the sea.

It was pretty fantastic and the life and clarity do not disappoint here. I am sure we will be very spoiled divers after staying here a little longer that’s for sure. I certainly wish I would have gotten a dive ticket sooner, but I think if I had I would already be out of money. Diving is really expensive and this is going to add a new dimension to the cost of cruising. Diving is very mellow though, it is like crawling, as opposed to free diving which now seems like sprinting.

Next week we will finally leave the mooring (after ten very comfortable and fun days of Red Rooster) and head out to the islands. We will only get a week out there before we need to get a new permit. So I don’t think we will get to see as much as I would like. Just zooming buy them in the dive boat is gorgeous so anchoring out out to be great. There is also a lake of non-stinging jelly-fish that is, I guess, a very unique experience, so we will try that too. And of course, there will be more diving, like the famous Blue Corner – allegedly the very best dive site in the whole world, however you can rate that remains to be seen, and then we leave. Well I hope we leave, or maybe I don’t. I am sort of stuck on being stuck.