Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Christmas in Palau

As you might have guessed from the title, we did make it to Palau yesterday, 24 December in the morning, yeah, it was a happy xmas on Sophia after all :-) 9 days in total for 830 miles, although in reality we did sail quite a bit longer than that. Phew, I'd say has probably been our worst (rough and rolly wise) passage, although a close second to the previous one from Kavieng to Hermit Islands, but at least that one was shorter.

We called up the harbour on the vhf to announce our arrival and request permission to tie up to the main dock, which we had read is what's expected of yachts arriving. The person that replied was sooooo hard to understand, basically impossible. The only thing I kept picking up was something yacht club. We though they wanted us to go to the yacht club instead, which we were really keen to do as well, because there it was blowing pretty hard right onto the wharf and we weren't keen on Sophia banging up against that. But it finally became clear that we did have to go onto the dock. Luckily it wasn't too bad, but one person did have to stand and help the fenders. It was quite uncomplicated checking in and after an hour or so we could motor over to the yacht club anchorage area around the corner.

There are maybe 15-20 yachts here already, the far the majority American. They are allowed to stay here as long as they like, whereas all other nationalities only get 30 days, extendable up to 3 months. As it's supposed to be clear-ish from typhoons (although far from guaranteed) some (Americans) stay for a while and also leave their boat here. They were super friendly though and several came to say hello and introduce themselves. Everyone had also heard our exchange on the radio and no one else had understood what they were saying, so it wasn't just me. We were told that there are two Danish boats here, but they are out cruising at the moment, but I really hope they come back here so I can meet them. They would be the first Danish boats we have met.

We had already been invited for Christmas dinner (24th) onboard Jenny, a Norwegian boat we met way back in Malekula in Vanuatu and had stayed in touch with via email. They had also invited the only other European boat (besides one UK one), a German/Russian couple, so it was a very international Christmas. It was a traditional Norwegian xmas dinner, which is surprisingly different from a typical Danish one. Lamb (supposed to be racks, but was a leg) was cooked for a long time and very salty with a root vegetable mash and melted butter. We also had a roast pork, potatoes and gravy. Phil was in heaven :-) I had made ris a'lamande, slightly 'funny' because the whipped cream does not behave well in +30 degrees, but it was liked nonetheless, the Norwegians also sometimes have that for xmas dessert. Today we're invited to the German/Russian boat (we don't even know the boat name yet, but they are called Andreas and Ana) for more traditional Christmas food, so that should be interesting.

Palau is a country on its own, but has some ties to US (can't remember exactly what it's called), so we were looking forward to checking out the supermarkets here. We didn't go into town (45 min walk away) but just went to a small mini mart and oh my gosh, it was amazing! Lots and lots of choices (mostly American and some Asian) and prices werent' bad at all, we even found it pretty cheap! Definitely the best we have seen since Port Vila. We're really looking forward to checking out some of the big supermarkets!

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