December 26 - January 1, Darryl

After the excitement and build up of Christmas the days we had left in
the Rock Islands passed peacefully enough. We circled around to some
of the areas we had visited before anchoring one night not far from
Soft Coral Arch and the next in Coffin anchorage not far from Cemetery
Reef. We snorkeled a few more sites some that we had visited before
and some new. The rest of the time was spent exploring the narrow
winding channels by dinghy and kayak, on one such occasion Jonathan
and I managed to paddle the kayak faster than the dinghy could motor
with the throttle open wide. We eventually tired though and as the
trusty 2 hp didn't Lars caught us and added insult to injury by
drenching us with water on his way past.On another occasion Lars
located an underwater passage from with a substantial outgoing
current. We returned at a lower tide and found that the passage of
about 15 meters would be passable to what appeared to be a marine lake
on the other side if one were to dive under a small stone arch. We
floated with the current at the entrance of the tunnel and all agreed
that it was very doable if somewhat narrow and a little intimidating
then we all, promptly and in unison, went back to the boat without
trying it.

Kenhet has given me strict orders to mention the huge Napoleon fish
that everyone but me saw and also to include an "h" in his name as I
have been spelling it wrong. So there was a Napoleon fish, it was
pretty big apparently and I put an "h" in there though I am not
entirely sure it is in the right place.

These three days passed quickly and on the morning of the 28th we
returned to Koror intending to depart the country in fairly short
order. Some people were saying that we could do all our preperations
to leave in one day and depart on the next. I thought this overly
optimistic (and I like to consider myself an optimist) and said that
it would take at least two days for us to get ready to go. Turns out
even two days was wildly optimistic as we quickly found that not a
single one of the packages had arrived.

As a group we discussed the potential courses of action given this
news and resolved that the best way forward would be to go to Sam's
for a beer. This did not make the post move any faster but I felt
considerably better about it. I made a trip to the internet cafe and
caught up on almost a month of email generally putting my life in
order and then returned to Sam's to drink it back into chaos. Palau is
a terribly nice place but exciting and adventurous it is not, somewhat
bored at the prospect of more time there, quite optimistic about the
postal system and under the influence of more Red Rooster (the local
brew) than I care to mention I made the wager that if we were stuck in
the country for seven more days I would get a tattoo of a sea turtle.
This is the traditional badge of a sailor who had crossed the equator.
This was intended as a light hearted joke but thanks to Charlotta's
diligent efforts the news quickly spread and through shear force of
reference it became something rather more. Thus when the next morning
Jonathan managed to track down his package and inform me that it would
be arriving on the 4th of January I began to panic.

That night we had Leslie and Philip from Carina over for dinner the
intention of which was for Leslie to share with us some charts for the
Philippines as well as some for Japan that she had collected. By the
second bottle of wine this goal was abandoned in favor of simply
enjoying each others company (as well as the cheap but plentiful
California Red). It was not until the following morning that we
managed to do the exchange and shockingly early given the wine
consumed the previous night we managed to navigate the labyrinth that
is Lar's tablet's file format The fact that it is all in Swedish did
not help me with this task, and neither did the lingering effects of
the wine.

The next day was New Year's Eve and I had been charged with finding a
party for us to attend, a task at which I failed quite miserably. I
did hear mention of a beach party in the rumor mill but was never able
to track it down. There was some talk of all the boats in the harbor
getting together for a party but this never materialized either and as
a result it was just the five of us for that New Year's and we stood
on the bow to pop our bottle of Champagne and let off an unreasonably
loud air horn. Some brave (and felonious) soul set off a few red
flares and the reverberations of fireworks from Koror echoed over the
hills to us. A New Year had come, we were still stuck in Palau, and an
inky black sea turtle was creeping closer to me by the minute.

Darryl.

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