Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Keeps on Giving

Palau keeps on giving. Last week our new instruments arrived. Dreamkeeper is getting a few upgrades. Gar successfully installed a new wind gauge and anemometer and tri-data giving us speed, wind, and depth, and he got to know our boat even better with his valiant but unsuccessful installation of our brand new autopilot. Why did we need new instruments? Sadly, neither the anemometer nor the autopilot can be fixed again. Both were serviced but without success and we like to be in control.

Our anemometer has been off and getting progressively worse. It must have been at least 7-10 knots low in high winds. So we apologize to all of you sailors we thought were telling tall tales with wind speeds of 38 knots rounding Tahuata, and, Far Niente, we definitely saw over 30 knots in the Pacific. What will I do now when I know the true wind speed? A wise man said knowledge is power. I hope he is right.

We have to get the gremlin off of our boat. The autopilot is possessed. It has a habit switching course 180 degrees at will or taking over completely when the wind vane is on. An out of control autopilot is dangerous let alone maddening. We replaced the old fluxgate compass and the "brains" were diagnosed once and they couldn't find anything wrong so we broke down and bought a new one. Unfortunately, after hours of trouble-shooting Gar finally called the service department and got one more test to do, nothing. This one's brains aren't working right either. So, they've been returned to be fixed or to be replaced by a new one. We're sitting on our hands. Fingers crossed.

It's been raining all week. We've both been on the Internet ordering last minute parts and goodies before Gar's parents arrive. I helped Gar run wires and a new topping lift when the clouds broke. The most rewarding part of my week was getting the satisfaction of winning the fight on mold on our salon cushions after soaking them in seriously magical Nappy San and scrubbing them with a soft brush. I don't think Nappy San exists in the States but you've got to find something similar maybe Oxi Clean comes in second. The stuff is magic on mold and is reputed to be good with wine too. Our cushions look brand new. Now I'm merely battling mold everywhere else it grows: on the fiberglass, our lines, the wood... The sacrifices of living in the glorious tropics.

Nothing is ever fast but we feel really lucky we are here where things are easy. It can't get much better. Sam's offers free moorings, free dingy dock, free mail service, free water, fuel and internet right at the end of the dingy dock, a bar to quench our thirst or dull the frustration and tasty eats to fill our bellies after a long day, let alone dive boats to take us away. Don't misinterpret, we haven't turned into bar flies yet.

We consistently broke our days up by paddling or swimming under rain-studded skies. One day we paddled around the headland of Pincher's and found 10 black and white banded sea snakes cozy in their holes. Usually we don't mess with nature but when we saw a baby sea snake being eaten alive by a crab tail first we had to do something. Paddling further around the undercut island we found a few more snakes tucked into holes in the sharp limestone cliffs. The consistent patter of rain was only broken by the swell being sucked under the cliffs and spit out gurgling.

We celebrated the end of our week with a day of diving with Sam's at Ulong channel and Siaes Corner. Slipping into the water everything seems to float away. These days when we go diving I feel like we are returning to see old friends and yet we consistently see something new on every dive or snorkel as long as we are looking at the world with open eyes. This time we saw 7 juvenile grey reef sharks no longer than 2 feet long. Also we spotted juvenile Pompano's, a silver fish with streamers we have been wanting to see since entering the Pacific. Turtles swam lazily beneath us and a juvenile spotted eagle ray flew by at the end of our day. Like I said, Palau keeps on giving.


KevinTodd said...

I’m shaking my hangover off this morning by reading some Dreamkeeper adventures. In Michigan I woke up to 8 inches of new snow. I think about you guys daily.

Kevin Todd

adrian korosec said...

So Gar and Nicole! We finished our Pacific Crest Trail thru-hike and now are working again. Billy and Stephen joined us for a wonderful 70 miles in three days. Now we are reading your blog and wondering what vessel to purchase?! Seriously. We'll keep following you. Thanks!