[151215, 0544 UTC, Christmas in Koror, Palau, 0720.38'N / 13427.10'E]


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Dear Friends;

Another Christmas rolls around and we find ourselves aboard Carina bobbing away in the equatorial tropics while missing our families and friends at home in the chilly USA. Of course, home is where your heart is and many friends are also in far flung anchorages or in their homes abroad and plan on making merry wherever they are. We too, now snug and safely ensconced in the Republic of Palau on a RBYC mooring at Sam's Tours after what seemed like an interminable sail from Sorong Indonesia, will make make sure the season is bright.

Sam's Tours on Malakal Island in Koror State, Palau is a dive operation run by affable, US ex-pat, Sam. A few years back, Sam established the Royal Balau Yacht Club and we are once again members in good standing with all the privileges: showers, trash receptacles, dinghy dock and the camaraderie of interesting ex-pats and Sam's employees who hail from all over the wide world. Our YC privileges also includes parking for our new bikes; simple, one-speed comfort bikes that give us mobility and healthy exercise in a place where public transportation is unknown and a tourist taxi will set you back about $5 per mile.

As for making quite merry this Christmas, we suggested to Sam that the RBYC might like to host a holiday potluck and he thought it a capital idea. In the early evening next week after all the divers and kayakers have been put snugly to bed in their hotels, Sam - as commodore of the RBYC - will serve up turkey and stuffing. Contributing to the feast with home-cooked goodness will be a smattering of yachties now here, some of Sam's employees and friends, and a few assorted other characters. It should be a jolly caloric and convivial time and we're looking forward to it.

Palau is a relatively new republic of fewer than forty years in the western Caroline Islands of Micronesia and is party to a compact agreement with the USA. As such, as USA citizens we share with Micronesia and the Marshall Islands greater privileges than afforded other nationalities. Upon arrival, Immigration gave us a permit to stay a year. Palau is also very small with most of the states (there are 16 of them, some with fewer than 100 constituents) contained within a single barrier reef. Though small, Palau has a wide diversity of healthy and beautiful habitats for flora and fauna, both above and below the waves that the local governments are keen to preserve and exploit for tourism. And tourism has exploded here; we even notice a change since we sailed away sixteen months ago. A fellow yachtie told us that every single hotel room is booked and room vacancies are unheard of. We can believe that.

The beautiful islands and waters that make up Palau are also here for us to explore and we plan to do just that in the coming months. But right now, as we write, we're battening down the hatches because there is a rotating tropical storm brewing - a baby typhoon - that is scheduled to pass just to our south some time early tomorrow morning. Given the expected intensity when it passes, it will not be a real big deal, our mooring is secured with two stout lines and we've weathered much worse weather than what is predicted.

We would like to wish all of our family and friends a very merry Christmas and a New Year that brings good health, true love, continuous learning, tolerance and peace.

Your friends of the yacht Carina,

Philip, Leslie and the not-so-fat cat, Jake