The staff at Sam's has been pretty special. Many of the workers are from the Philippines. These people work 7 days a week for most of the year, taking time off only to visit their families back home once a year. They make peanuts but it is much better than what they could make back in their villages and towns so they stay and send much of their salaries back. Sam's Tours is one of the best places to work at for them so it is a sought after position. They've been a big part in making our stay in Malakal such a pleasant one.
Minda's mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer so the cruisers got together and paid for a flight home and a week's pay (which she could not afford to be without) so she could say her goodbyes.
We were all about ready to say our goodbyes to our boats when Bopha (the typhoon) was headed straight for us. We watched nervously for over a week as it built strength and kept on its course for Palau. Usually the typhoons head farther north hitting Luzon, Guam and Japan. Bopha had other plans than the usual. A couple days before it was due to arrive it had achieved super typhoon status with predicted winds of over 135 mph. We all gulped and made ready as best we could. A couple of cruisers took off for hidey holes in the Rock Islands. We had built a very sturdy mooring in Malakal Cove so we decided to stay fast, but we doubled the lines and stripped the boat of nearly everything that was on deck. At the last minute Jim decided that with wind strengths that bad, if anything happened to the boat we would most likely not survive if we had to get in the water, so we left the boat. Once we made that decision, several other cruisers decided it was the wisest thing to do as well and we all headed for shore finding safe havens at friends apartments nearby. I can tell you we all looked pretty glum that day as we left wondering if we would come back the next morning to a scene of carnage with masts sticking up out of the water where the boats should have been. Fortunately, the typhoon veered south at the 11th hour. We had winds of around 70 mph for a while and then it all slowly went away. Some of the islands south suffered a lot of damage as flimsy structures were shaken apart and foliage was stripped from the trees. Navigation would be tricky as sand bars were built or moved. Also the East side of Babeldoup (the main island) was hit hard and several villages sustained a lot of damage. However, no one died and most of the damage was easily repairable. There was no real devastation, thankfully.