Day 2 (Freaky Friday): Surviving the Squall and other misadventures

Palau Travel Blog

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A squall was blowing in as we tried to cross from German Lighthouse towards Ancient Village Beach.
So this day definitely needs some explanation.  I mean, looking at the pictures without reading any of this may leave you lost. 
We woke up to cool weather and were feeling good about the long crossing that lay ahead of us.  Well, I say that, but I'm not so sure the rest of my group was familiar enough with the area to understand what was in store in order to reach our second campsite.  There was a bit of a paddle ahead of us and compared to our first days exercise, this would be a test.  Of course, even I couldn't have foreseen the rainstorm that was about to sweep through the islands and sending members of the expedition paddling the wrong direction and scattering us over more than a square mile.
Setting out it looked like a normal tropical day.
It got pretty rough for a while and visibility was down to 20' at some points. Hard to tell which direction to paddle.
  Yeah sure, we'll get a little rain.  It'll be fresh.  It'll feel good.  We're going to be working hard, right?  Sweet.  5 minutes later I couldn't see anyone in my group.  I couldn't see 20 feet in front of my kayak.  The only thing that kept me going in the right direction was that I knew I was fighting a headwind.  Keep my nose into it and I'll be cool.  The wind must have been blowing 20-30 knots an hour.  That's a heck of a breeze.  We're talking 1-3 foot chop.  Next thing I saw was Jullian wearing a snorkel mask and Jane in a poncho.  Garrett and Scott were both nearly outside the reef, headed offshore, and Nathan was nearly half a mile ahead of us.  Somehow Scott got some pictures off during the malestrom, so I have to credit all downpour photos to him.
Team Lee in ponchos and snorkel gear, battling through the rainstorm.
 
And just like that, it was gone.
Needless to say, we still had a lot of paddling to do to reach our destination.  After that fiasco we decided to go straight to the beach and our campsight instead of snorkeling along the way so we could set up camp and take a little break. 
Yet, Freaky Friday was not done with me by a long shot. 
As we crossed the bay and made it to Ancient Village Beach I was, of a sudden, overcome with a short burst of joy.  I, being the first to arrive, pulled my kayak up onto the sand, and having noticed a ropeswing at the end of the beach, sprinted over to have a go.  Still ecstatic from having arrived and survived, I took hold of the rope.  The tide was down so there wasn't much water to swing into, and rope wasn't but 6 inches shy of the surface.
Regrouping after the storm. Which way is which?
  So I had to really choke up on the rope to get myself above the water and pull my knees up high.  Of course this required a good yank so that I could clear and reach deep enough water.  Well, in my blind zealousness I forgot to test the rope/limb to examine the quality of the contraption into which I would put my faith, if ever so shortly.  It's a case of the old hindsight is 20/20.  The limb was old, yet still pretty thick, and came down on me as I was just underneath.  It broke from the force of the pull of the rope and that very pull and that very rope guided the limb straight at my head.  So now, you may understand the pictures in this blog.  I took it to the eyebrow, but I stood strong.  Scott got a picture of me just before that fateful incident.
There's our goal in the distance. After the storm had finally cleared we still had only paddled half way. What a way to start the morning!
  Live and learn I guess.  I don't regret the rash outburst of unrationalized action, but I do bear the scar to remind me.  Makes for a decent story though!
Luckily, Ron was just around the bend in the island, giving his own tour, and had a small boat to whisk me off to the hospital.  7 stitches while I chewed on my pride, and I was back at Sam's Tours looking for a ride. ;)  Another stroke of fortune saw Sam the Man scooting me off to Ancient Village Beach to join back up with my friends for the rest of the trip.
The injury meant I wasn't allowed back in the water, but I was expedition leader and map reader/navigator.  The day was young and Risong Bay was just around the corner.  How could I let them go off alone without knowing which were the best snorkel spots and where to find the Mandarinfish!  So I caught up and they did a little fishing, I took some pictures, and led them to Mandarinfish Bay.
The summerhouse at Ancient Village Beach.
  Along the way I ran into some of my workmates who were giving a tour to some out of town scientists/grant givers.  They tossed me a couple of canned milk coffees and sodas as well as some candies for us all to snack on.  Because we had no ice chest, it was a welcome coolness to lend to a long day and a nice late afternoon snorkel session.
Later that night we gathered around the fire and told stories of torrential downpours, faulty ropeswings, and little multicolored treasures playing their fishy games of love, at sunset, in a private cove named in their honor.
kingelvis14 says:
Thanks for sharing your story. You are lucky to have any pictures of the storm. When the weather is very bad on our trips, the camera is usually packed away in a safe place. I have missed many good shots because of this. Now that I have a very small digital camera, I can keep it inside my coat out of the weather. Before this, I was using a 35mm with some expensive lenses. It's much easier now.
Posted on: Jan 24, 2008
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A squall was blowing in as we trie…
A squall was blowing in as we tri…
It got pretty rough for a while an…
It got pretty rough for a while a…
Team Lee in ponchos and snorkel ge…
Team Lee in ponchos and snorkel g…
Regrouping after the storm.  Which…
Regrouping after the storm. Whic…
Theres our goal in the distance. …
There's our goal in the distance.…
The summerhouse at Ancient Village…
The summerhouse at Ancient Villag…
It seemed like such a great idea a…
It seemed like such a great idea …
Good thing that Ron, the guy who r…
Good thing that Ron, the guy who …
The tree won that round.
The tree won that round.
They stitched me up and I was back…
They stitched me up and I was bac…
Sam, of Sams Dive and Tours, drop…
Sam, of Sam's Dive and Tours, dro…
Outstanding corals in Little Rison…
Outstanding corals in Little Riso…
Watching the water spill out of a …
Watching the water spill out of a…
You can see the break in the trees…
You can see the break in the tree…
Checking out Mandarinfish Bay.  Be…
Checking out Mandarinfish Bay. B…
Nate the photographer on our secon…
Nate the photographer on our seco…
Coming out of Kingfisher Bay.
Coming out of Kingfisher Bay.
Telling stories around the campfir…
Telling stories around the campfi…