Monday, April 27, 2009

Farewell Palau

Our passage was a gift that lead us to an even grander one here on Helen Island. We sailed under double-reefed main and alternately with a reefed jib that unfurled to its full 130% as the wind continued to decrease by the end of the passage. Leaving Koror after a swift check out our sails were filled with wind from the NE at 20-30 knots. The first day and through most of the first night we flew across the ocean on a broad reach sailing at 7-8.5 knots. The swell was small and the squalls sparse. Perfect ocean sailing. The moon filled the sky and threw light across the empty horizon almost as if it were twilight all night long. As the wind decreased we learned to appreciate slowing down as we had to arrive at Helen Reef in good light and favorable tide to clearly navigate the reefs. We have never really appreciated moving at 2-4 knots an hour but riding with perfectly set sails and a small swell with the moon shining through gossamer clouds and the squalls steering clear of us we did. I can't remember loving sailing this much or having a passage so peaceful.

It was a perfect way to come into Helen Reef, 350 miles away from Koror. After being guided through the maze of patch reefs by the Helen Rangers we fell in love with the place and our new friends. The light reveals Helen Reef in all of her beauty; reefs glow from the depths shimmering turquoise from the shallows, terns fly by the hundreds and turtles are everywhere. We spent our days fishing with the rangers who we are now grateful to call our friends, feasting on their catch, walking the beach searching for turtle tracks and watching the light change over the water. When night falls on Helen Island we listen to the black noddy terns and spent hours talking story and sharing meals with the guys, waiting for turtles to come ashore to lay their eggs.

We settled into a comfortable rhythm with David, Hercules and Paul and the island. They quickly became our new friends and the island our home. I could have stayed there for months it felt that good. And then it was over, we were overdue to arrive in Sorong with only 60 days to our visas and the weather looked good to go. It was with tear filled eyes we followed our track through the maze of patch reefs and let Helen slip into our memories.

Watch for a longer update with photos once we have internet connection again. (Unfortunately, it may be months)

***Sorry these last 2 blogs are out of order***

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