Rocking the Rock Islands

I was starting to get worried about Palau. We’d been here for two weeks and I had yet to be impressed by the place. Besides the (mostly) good provisioning and general convenience of the place it had failed to inspire the awe that everyone talked about. And after our way-longer-than-expected passage and a non-existent New Year celebration I was really in need of a little inspiration.

Anchorage in Koror

Anchorage in Koror

The big destination in Palau is the Rock Islands. Located just south of the main town of Koror they are a cluster of uninhabited limestone island that are designated National Park zone. The area is home to the few white sand beaches and pretty much all the prime dive and snorkeling sites found in Palau. If you’ve seen a photo of Palau – verdant green, odd-shaped islands surrounded by sparkling blue water-chances are it was taken in the Rock Islands.

Being a National Park there are, of course, national park fees to pay. A cool $50 USD per person will buy a 10 day pass for the island group. This one-time fee is perfect for the usual fly-in tourist who only spend a couple of weeks here but a little inconvenient for those of us who are upwardly mobile and like to dilly-dally a bit. Tack on another $40 USD for a boat permit for the area. Add to that that you cannot extend your stay in the islands without returning to Koror and the logistics of exploration are both a little expensive and frustrating. Nevertheless we put our money on the table and were excited about getting out of “town”, and away from the constant roar of the power plant, for a little while.

The Rock Islands are beautiful, dramatic and full of surprises. We found flat calm anchorages tucked into intimate coves surrounded by nothing but chirping birds and splashing fish. A few nights the boat sat so still that I actually woke in the middle of the night to check that we were actually still afloat. Continue reading

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POV in PNG

One of the things I like most about living on a boat is that it gives you the ability to change your point of view…literally. Sometimes it is just the wind swinging the boat around a little while resting on anchor, offering you a slightly different angle on things. Sometimes you to move to a whole new neighbourhood and all the problems and tensions of the previous week suddenly come into perspective.

Although we enjoyed our time in Rabaul I didn’t realize how much being “in town” was stressing me out until we left. While we were there I was enjoying trolling the second-hand clothing/book shops, the interesting rides on the cheapo buses, the hum of the crowd at the local market, the faster-than-we’ve-had-it-for-a-long-while internet. Despite all the stories we’d heard about PNG we felt safe in Rabaul. In fact we felt safe enough that when Steve had to go away on business for 10 days I had no hesitation whatsoever staying on board by myself.

OK, I had a little hesitation but an audible motion detector in the cockpit (that scared the bejebus out of me when I got up to check the boat in the middle of the night and totally forgot it was on) and a baseball bat in bed seemed to soothe me.

But when Steve came home he knew something wasn’t right. He made it back for Hallowe’en but I hadn’t even mustered enough enthusiasm for my self-professed “favourite holiday” to even search the market for pumpkins. In fact I hadn’t even mustered all that much enthusiasm for his home coming.

I figured I was just completely drained. I had spent my time alone on board writing and completed two long articles and a solid proposal while he was away. Intense bouts of creativity like that often leave me feeling empty and I thought I just a needed a couple days to recharge. But almost a week came and went and I couldn’t find the reset button. I seemed to be falling further down the “difficult mood” rabbit hole, causing all sorts of troubles between us as I plummeted.

With the boat fully stocked and all the online work done we dropped our mooring and pointed the bow towards the Duke of York Islands, fully expecting to motor the 18 or so miles as there had been no wind for a week. But a light breeze filled in and we put up all the sails and suddenly were trucking along at 7 kts. Which felt ridiculously fast because we haven’t had enough wind to make more than 4kts in a very, very long time.

I felt myself lighten, slightly.

Continue reading

How to find the Perfect Anchorage, Just Squidding

What constitutes a great anchorage?

Everyone has their “must haves”, for some it is a WIFI signal, for others it is easy access to a resort or restaurant ashore. Some people choose an anchorage because the guidebook recommended it, some like to anchor where other boats are. Some people are into kite boarding or windsurfing and anchor close to prime beaches and shallows, the surfers pick spots within reach of all the great waves.

Here on Kate when searching for that perfect place to throw the pick we look for a spot that is: Continue reading