We ended up staying in Palau another week and left two days ago, Thursday the 7th. The Delay was caused by a last minute wave prediction of 20-25 feet. It is a good thing we didn’t go because according to the buoy data this prediction came through. Too bad, wait, no not really, this gave us more time to enjoy our most favorite place some more. But it also meant that our new crew, Karen, was not able to join us.

We accomplished two things that I didn’t think we would get the chance to do, dive Helmet Wreck and watch the Superbowl. The wreck was really amazing. It was our first wreck and it didn’t disappoint. It was small but full of artifacts including unexploded depth charges and hand grenades, sake bottles, 0 engines and more. It was shallow enough to be a pretty easy dive and the clarity was great. We didn’t penetrate it though because of a warning about the ordinances. It was a pretty long dinghy ride out and back, but well worth it. As for the Superbowl, well, the last time I saw it was in Jamaica so there has been a lot of water under the boat since then. The fun part about it for me though was that it was at 830 in the morning and our favorite bar, Kramer’s, had a breakfast special just for the big game.

Otherwise we just hung out and did the small chores to get the boat ready. But mostly we were trying to figure out how to stay in Palau as we would have needed very little convincing. In fact Zach was convinced and I only needed maybe one reason more. I had considered a number or different jobs there and Zach was even helping out at Kramer’s just for the experience the last few days. We (Slick and I) really need a break, and it seemed like the perfect place. The only problem was that once the winds change in the summer it becomes impossible to leave there. So if we stayed three more months we would have to stay another nine. After a week of last nights, we finally left along with many other boats.

We stayed in Palau for 5 weeks, the longest I have stayed in any one archipelago, let alone a 20 mile radius. Leaving was truly a sad experience for us. As we were on our way out the rain was pouring and Klara and Jeremy, two of the dive instructors, told me three cliche’s of travelers which are “I will email you”, “I’ll come visit” and “I’m leaving tomorrow.” These are all true for us, especially since we are perennially leaving. Sam said that the rain was because the island gods were sad. Probably the hardest part to say goodbye to was the bar Kramer’s where the locals treated us like, well, locals. The owners, Rene and Jane became friends and we felt at home. I haven’t felt this attached to an establishment since the Teiva and Jessica and the Mai Kai in Bora Bora. Palau felt so natural to both Zach and I that we really wanted to stay. Leaving we just needed an excuse to turn around. But at the same time, we had so many last nights that we would be a cliché, so in the end, even though Perky is now overheating at anything over 1200 RPM, we decided it best to continue out the West Passage and into open waters. Doing so we felt

miserable. We had made so many good friends and even just casual acquaintances that it just did not seem right that we should really be leaving. It was like saying goodbye to Evergreens in Fakarava, Nathan in Tahiti, leaving Baten Anna in Nande, Obelisk in Vanuatu or Joep in Honiara. Except Palau was a place and people instead of just people. I am certainly leaving a piece of my heart there, but I am not sure if Palau would be the same when I ever return, it will still be the place, but probably without the people. This is the nature of traveling though. I felt that our visit to Palau was the right time and the right place, something I am always searching for. We had to leave though, as the song says, we “got to keep on movin’.” Zach and I barely spoke with any high spirits as we watched the lights of Koror disappear over the horizon.

Now we are on passage out in the Pacific. There is more to leaving Palau than just Palau and its wonderful inhabitants though. Palau was also the last stop for us in the Pacific. The last of tiny,unique island nations. We are headed to Cebu in the Philippines, a city that has more people in it than everywhere I have been in the last year combined. That’s scary. In the last 12 months and 12,000 miles we have made so many great friends and had great experiences, It is hard to think that the smooth sailing will be different, and the island feel will be traded for Asian cities and crowds and everything else that will be different and I am not particularly looking forward to it. I lamented as I changed the chart pack from the Pacific Ocean to the Indian Ocean and SE Asia. I think that the last year of my life, despite the 1’s and 0’s of cruising has been one of the best chapters. It closes with this passage and I start a new one soon, I just don’t know if it will be as good or even can be as good. The trip is at least 1/3 over now.

We are moving fast now, 7-8 knots with a knot of fair current, with any luck we will be in our first anchorage in 48 hours. We started in a knot of counter current but that is gone now. Also gone is our autopilot, so we are hand steering. Jefe went on strike last night when he realized we were not returning to Palau and were actually leaving the Pacific, so Zach got his first real helming lesson at 1 AM, not a fun time to drive. We rotated in 1-2 hour shifts over the night and also tried trouble shooting the system. No luck for now. Fortunately it is easier during the day but we still have two more nights of it, and we are already exhausted. To bad Karen didn’t make it, but we do have her potato chips!