Whilst anchored in Colonia harbour in Yap we'd been watching the weather like hawks, knowing full well that we were now a little further north of the equator than we intended to be so late in the season. The North East Monsoons slowly abate in May as transition season begins, the winds drop, the seas warm and create a the perfect conditions for the generation of typhoons. In fact the majority of typhoons in North Pacific have their origin in Micronesia and usually in close proximity of Yap making any passage something of an exercise in risk management.

We'd already noted a couple of tropical depressions winding themselves up just north of us and had monitored their progress as they tracked north, north west below Yap and toward the Philippines. Our holding in Colonia was excellent but sitting out typhoon strength winds with a fairly exposed aspect was not our idea of fun, so it was time to move on.

The trick is to pick your window...so you have enough wind, but not too much, to reach your chosen destination. With Palau only 255 miles away we weren't that concerned as we would be able to manage motoring the entire distance if necessary but we were keen to avoid the appearance of any tropical depression likely to build....

As it turned out we had one day perfect sailing to Palau but almost no wind at all for the remaining 2 days (talkin' flat as a tack here) so we motored of the way, timing our arrival for a check in free of overtime charges....and a good thing too...Palau is a pretty expensive place to obtain clearance....but at least its well organised so it all happens quickly and efficiently. The only surprise fee we encountered was a 'rope handling' fee at the commercial dock. This dock is the only place one can check in and it is a private dock and as a result it charges!...and as we found out I charges $10.00 per tonne of vessel displacement...all for catching a mooring line! By a stroke of good luck and perhaps hunger on the part of the harbourmaster (he was out to lunch) we managed to avoid this little fee and as anchoring in Malakal harbour outside the yacht club is a freebie our expenses thus far have been limited to hamburgers, internet access and a bar tab.

As it turned out, our timing had been pretty good, within a couple of days arriving in Koror, another tropical depression (which evolved into typhoon Songda)was gathering strength to the south east... and the slippery little sucker was gunna skirt Palau before it traversed the eastern coasts of the Philippines, so we hunkered down for the inevitable blow...and blow it did. We spent a couple of sleepless nights watching the anchor as constant gusts of between 25 and 35 knots ripped through the anchorage but all held nicely aside from a couple of boats dragging anchor just a tad.

Songda followed the predicted path and skipped on past the Philippines, then, gathering strength, headed up to Japan. Several Japanese ports received a whopping 120 knot barrage and some folks that had recently left Palau for Japan prior to Songda's appearance reported weathering 60 knot gusts even from behind a sea wall. Unfortunately these same intrepid sailors also sustained a wee bit of damage as their boat was lifted onto a concrete wharf in one of the squalls....seasoned sailors that had assessed the risks and continued their journey in a safe window, yet still managed to encounter the very conditions they sought to avoid.

Occasionally, such happenings make it easy for me to understand the somewhat superstitious nature of the sailors we encounter... you see.... every sailor assesses their own risks in accordance with their need/desire to undertake the passage of their choice, but every now and then..... luck plays a role.