Thursday, March 21, 2013

Malakal Cove

As I've said, we are moored in Malakal Cove.    We became Royal Belau Yacht Club members almost immediately upon hitting shoreside.    The club is also the Bottom Time Bar and Grill and we spend a lot of time there.   Its a great base for meeting up with friends, chatting about our activities, getting a meal and hoisting a glass now and then.   More now than then.    Sam Scott is the owner of Sam's Tours and the commodore of the RBYC.  Various cruisers play a role in the yacht club as board members which changes constantly with the ebb and flow of the boats.    Sam's Tours let the club build a dinghy dock at the outer end of one of their work docks.    We can get water, order fuel, park our bikes, shower and have most of our get togethers right there at the Bottom Time.  

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.

Jahan is from Bangladesh.  He has worked at Sam's Tours for 7 years, I think, and does 2 shifts a day, about 16 hours.    He only goes home once every few years to see his wife.    His son was born since his last visit so he has never seen him except for pics which he proudly shows around to all of us.   The money he sends home supports most of his village, not just his family.

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.

Here we bide our time with Ali, Gail and Frank, playing dominoes while waiting for the storm to hit.  A mommy dog came by to drop off a couple of her pups for us to take care of during the night.  She would stop by periodically to feed them and then trot back to the rest of her litter.   In the morning, after the storm she appeared to retrieve her charges and was very grateful for the food we gave her.

 The storm was over and all boats survived intact.   Here a rainbow right over Sam's Tours signals the end.

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