Under sails, from Raja Ampat to Palau

Our first sundown from the stern of Soggy Paws.
Our first sundown from the stern of Soggy Paws.

The adventure begins…

Still 74% battery and one hour of internet left. With a little luck, I might manage to finish and upload this post before we the sails billow in the wind.
What happened to me during the last weeks, is something you might otherwise only find in cheesy adventure stories and other doubtful sources, but in reality we’ll start in just about one hour. The cruise goes from one diver’s paradise to the next dream diving destination, From Raja Ampat to Palau. On a 44 foot catamaran, 700 nautical miles over the open Pacific.

71% Battery. My dated ACER travelmate is slowly dying under my finger tips, the humidity is
killing it. He’s already sitting on a cooling device with two fans blowing right into it. With this
cooler, my laptop was given at least another two years of life, thanks to my brother who gave it to me. With some luck and good treatment, he might make even beyond Palau. *fingers crossed*
69%. My laptop couldn’t be prepared any better. There is no treatment for age. Quite opposite to the „Soggy Paws“, our boat. Before we could leave the safe harbour of Sorong, we had to fill all the hatches and lockers with all those tasty things a sailor likes: beer – for the sundowners, diesel – for fluky days, Corn Flakes and bananas for breakfast, fresh veggies, cookies and a whole bunch of stuff that I’ve already forgotten about, but that I’ll be delighted about as soon as Sherry pulls it out from the depths of a forgotten locker.
Market in Raja Ampat
Waiting in Sorong immigration office

The “Soggy Paws”

64%. Sherry? Yepp. And Dave! They are the owners of the „Soggy Paws“. They are already
travelling the seven seas for more than 9 years. She’s 60 and he’s 70, and both simply super cool.
She’s engineer and rescue diver, and he a former diving officer with the US Navy. Therefore, we’re connected by more than just the love for wind and waves, but also by the treasures they like to hide below them. We hope to see much of it within the next weeks. The masters of the sea are very well prepared and even have six diving tanks and a small compressor on board. *yeahyyy*
60%. But actually all this began completely different and already two weeks ago. David and Sherry lay anchored in the waters around the resort I was working at, while they were diving with us. Yet diving in Raja Ampat is a completely different story that will be told elsewhere in due time. To cut a long thing short, we had a blast underwater, snapped countless pictures of nudibranches and other creepy critters, ate dinner together and had been invited to the „Soggy Paws“ one evening.
What followed was a mellow evening in the fading sunlight with fresh beers and „boat made“
popcorn. Dave and Sherry told us some of their best sailing adventures to which I listened devoutly. Eventually, one thing led to the other and following my motto „cheeky wins“, I simply asked: Could I join you to Palau?
The Answer came as swiftly as it simple: Sure!
And BUMM, I got on the crew list. Unbelievable. What was happening here?!?
Making friends on the Sorong market is easy.

Fluttering

52%. Meanwhile the „Soggy Paws“ is all filled and stocked up on provisions, ready to leave to keep us happy and healthy for about 3 weeks. But before hoisting the anchor, God has put the stamp of immigration’s. With a cardiac flutter I went to bed last night. If we wouldn’t get that stamp, all those dreams would go astray and the soap-bubble burst. That couldn’t, no, that mustn’t happen!
According to rumours it wasn’t allowed to leave Indonesia by other means as you had entered it.
Additionally, I had entered the country on a business visa, which in my mind complicated the whole thing even further.
One would need a fixer, an agent, that would solve this issue, bribe the immigration officers and get us out of the country smooth and „legally“. The only disadvantage, the fixer would take 1 million Rupiah per head. A long lasting and almost forgotten dream of my youth gone for good, because of a lousy stamp???
BUng, bUng, buNnG, bUNG, and we were realised. All four passports stamped and ready for
departure. From now on, we had 24 hours to leave Indonesia and tell Raja Ampat a last fare well.
Map of our route from Raja Ampat to Palau

Raja Ampat and Palau

45%. Happy and full of pleasant anticipation of an ingenious adventure I’m now sitting in my bunk and write you those lines. From Sorong, the capital of Raja Ampat, we’ll be sailing to Batanta, another island of the archipelago. Here, Dave wants to beach the „Soggy Paws“ with the help of the tides to do some maintenance on the hulls. After that we’ll be sailing along the eastern coast of Weigeo, one of the four big islands of Raja Ampat, to reach the Ayu Islands. There we stay for two nights, hopefully have some dives, definitely some snorkelling and enjoying the world as it is, before we leave for two days and one night over the open Pacific direction Helen Reef.
This tiny island, or rather sandbank with flowers, already belongs to Palau, but is located to its far south. Here we want to visit the local rangers that get only about 7 boats per year. I’ll take a shot of our entry in their guest book.
We hope to stay 3 days. More is not allowed. I prey imploringly to do some dives around these
reefs. They are among the most remote and seldom visited reefs of the planet. My full underwater camera equipment is with me, including my two brand new INON Z-240 external strobes. If everything works fine, I hope to deliver a couple of full reports that will be published here one by one upon my arrival to Palau.
39%. Keep your fingers crossed that everything works. Finished the translation to English.

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