Location: Malaka Harbour, Palau

My beloved bloggers and blogettes and everyone in between,

It is, in fact, your girl Nora BACK AGAIN for another EPIC DAY as skipper of this here, MAJESTIC VESSEL! I love my skipper days more than words could possibly describe, but it is part of my job description to put it into words, so I shall do my best for my loyal fans. Today was another gorgeous day in Palau, where I was glad to wake my crew mates (not Amogus) up to the 1993 hit single “Linger” by The Cranberriesmy love for that song knows no bounds, I am not sure all of my pals aboard feel the same after hearing it so many times. We started the day with a scrumdiddlyumptious oat bake by Head Chef Justin and his Sous Chefs Squid and Lilli before Sierra, Justin, Sydney, Lexi, Lilli, Heloise, Dray, Babs, Peggie, and Kara embarked upon a magical drift dive adventure in the Oolong channel. While our friends were out to sea (more so than usual), the rest of us attentively sat through EFR (or Emergency First Responder) class led fearlessly by comrade Ben Rad the Science Lad, with the help of a riveting hour and a half long informational video. It is now officially my favorite movie, and I will be rewatching it for the plot tonight.

After our respective mornings had wrapped up, we all reconvened in the cockpit with our honorary crew mates from Sam’s for a divine lunch of Panda Express, delivered to the boat not by GrubHub but by our trusty galley gang. The orange chicken and noodles were truly otherworldly. Romeo, Ethan, Sierra, Dray, Perry, Jack, Emma, Kirstyn, Larkin, Smash, Ben, and I then set out for an afternoon dive by a sandbar near that very same Oolong channel. The reef was teeming with life, from small cleaner wrasses who gave us manicures and cleaned out Perry’s ears (grody) to huge schools of fish swimming overhead (sorry, Ben, I did not have my ID book with me and could not tell what species they were) to sharks and unicorn fish and barracudas and sea cucumbers galore. My trusty dive buddy Smash spotted a wee little Hawksbill turtle as we made our safety stop on our ascent, which I only found out was her sighting after excitedly tapping her fins and signaling that there was a turtle down below. Thank you for spotting our little pal, Smash!

I thought that I couldn’t possibly fall more in love with Palau after our eventful dives, but the boat ride back from that dive site proved me very, very wrong. This place genuinely looks like it is on a different planet. It is the most beautiful place I have ever been. We took the scenic route home, weaving in between lushly vegetated rock islands in the Bluest Water Of All Time. The sun lit up the sides of the islands as a squall rolled in behind us, truly something out of a Baroque painting. Usually quite the talkative bunch, our dive group sat in silent reverence for the majority of the 30-minute ride back, only tearing our eyes from the horizon to look at one another and mouth something along the lines of “Oh my god, this is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen” or “how is this a real place that we get to experience together right now?” We arrived back to Vela speechless from the majesty of nature, some of us tearing up wee as we formed a tank train to get our gear back on board. We climbed back on deck to find our friends basking in the sun, soaking it up between the sporadic showers of Palau’s typhoon season. We scarfed down yet another fantastic meal of lemony pasta with Brussels sprouts and lentils, thanks to the lovely chef team. Those who were not lucky enough to do EFR this morning are sitting in an air-conditioned saloon as we speak to enjoy my New Favorite Movie Ever so that we can all come together tomorrow to take the exam. After they finish with their cinematic experience, it is sadly the day to say goodbye to our beloved Philmore, Romeo’s pet raccoon (mohawk). I hope that he has plenty of room to roam around on a nice farm upstate with friends galore and plenty of pets. We shall miss you, Philmore, forever in our hearts.

You know who else is forever in our hearts? All of you faithful readers back home!! I speak for each and every one of us when I send infinite love through the screen back to friends and family alike, as well as any possible Sea|Mester blog fans of no relation to any of us. But a special shout out to mia familiaI love you very much, Eddy and Kathy J! I promise not to shave my hair into a mohawk in Philmore’s memory before I see you next! All of the love to everyone elsecan’t make any promises on anybody else’s behalf memorial mohawk wise, but if you knew Philmore, then you would understand where the temptation comes from. Until next time, over and out! XOXO, Gossip Girl (Nora)