Location: Malakal Harbor, Palau
Today was a very special day!
We arrived in Palau!
This is a Seamester first!
Never before has SY Argo graced the shores of Palau– an island nation so tiny and obscure that the Google-Fi Global Coverage plan doesn’t even have reception.
And on this momentous day in Seamester history, the leaders were the students! Student-led passage! Chart your own course! You are your experiences! On that note, if you are the friend, parent, or loved one of Caleigh (Chief Mate), Caroline (Skipper), E (Engineer), or Ky (Navigator), then you should be especially proud! They were the team that led us to Seamester history. Great job, guys!
Our first landfall in Palau was at a commercial dock. Our nearest neighbor was a thoroughly rusted bright blue barge ringed with ratty old tires and bearing a tiny hand-made sign declaring “GAP 750”. Besides the one van labeled “Republic of Palau,” our welcome committee consisted mostly of slightly bored and slightly overheated-looking dockworkers in hardhats. There were even two guys on their break chilling barefoot in the shade of an enormous stack of shipping containers with “MATSON” written on the side in big black letters. When we finally tied onto the dock, we treated the slightly baffled-looking dockworkers to a real show with everyone cheering and laughing and hugging each other.
The piles of shipping containers rose 30 or 40 feet. The corrugated steel boxes on top of the cement dock looked bizarre and out of place against the background of lush jungle. It was weird to look at one side of the boat and see islands overhanging with lush tropical forests (a lot of the small islands in Palau have a deep undercut eroded into the rock, which together with the almost sideways curtain of vegetation gives them the strange appearance of a small head wearing an enormous green wig) and look to the other side and see a forklift drive by 20 feet from the boat. Kind of like seeing a rebellious teen with a grimy steampunk aesthetic sitting at home in the living room of their aging hippie parents’ suburban home full of natural lighting and lovely houseplants.
After filling out customs papers, we left the dock, found a pretty anchorage, and plunged into the Palauan waters for a swim. The swim was good. We loved it. There were screams and backflips and hand-holding, and a few people even jumped in with their clothes on.
There was a gorgeous pink sunset, and then after dinner, squeeze went so long with everyone saying their appreciations for the passage that we had to cancel research project presentations and move them to tomorrow (sorry, Steph)
It was perhaps the longest squeeze ever? Another reason to place us in Seamester history… Lots of love went around, and we looked back on passage fondly. Now it’s time to sleep. Goodnight folks. Goodnight Palau!