Photo Log of the March 15, 2008, Visit to Yap by the M/S Statendam
Google Earth Images with GPS Track of a Tour of Yap (turquoise)
After a 4 night and 3 day sail from Rabaul, New Guinea, the ship arrived off Yap in the dark at 6:00 AM. We sailed figure eights at 3 kts outside the reef waiting for the pilot. He apparently operated on “Island Time”, and arrived at 8:00 AM.

Approaching Yap and the Passage Thru the Barrier Reef

Navigating the narrow entrance thru the coral reef was interesting.

Yap was scheduled to be a tender port, but the Captain arranged to tie up at the dock instead.


The Port at Colonia, Yap
Colonia is the capitol of Yap.

The ship was skillfully maneuvered in tight navigable space between coral heads to the dock without tugs. We heard that the Statendam is the largest ship to ever have docked here.

Yap is one of The Federated States of Micronesia. They gained independence from the USA in 1986, but operate under a Compact of Free Association with the US, which is responsible for its defense. The currency is the US dollar.

Yap Residence
A couple ("D" &"K") who were table mates at a couple of dinners and the bridge (card game) gurus on board, asked if I would like to share a cab to see the island, which I did. We walked from the ship to this neighborhood, where "K" asked a resident to call a cab for us.  He graciously did, using a cell phone.  After a few minutes the cab picked us up.  The driver’s name was Ray, a native islander with excellent English.  He charged $15/hr, which seemed like a good deal.
Yap Countryside
Yap is all privately owned and permission is required to visit most places other than public roads. The inhabitants are Polynesian, with brown skin. They grow most of their own food, have chickens, and catch fish near the reef. There are many dogs, as was the case in Rabaul and Guadalcanal.
Ray drove us to his village where we saw stone money, beaches, palm groves, taro fields, schools, churches, etc.  The houses were widely separated.  There were many small fields used for subsistence farming.  There were underground cables for phone and cable TV service.


Stone Money

Yap is known for its Stone Money.  This on of several in a row along a rural road.  Various sizes were seen in many places.

Water Front
Yap has many beautiful waterfront areas. Some have sandy beaches, others have mangroves. This one has a wall to protect against storm erosion. The white line of breakers is at the barrier coral reef. The lagoon between land and the reef has calm, clear turquoise colored shallow water.
Our Tour Taxi
Yap roads have 15 and 25 mph speed limits, which are strictly observed.  Traffic drives on the right, as in the US.  Many of cars, however, have the steering wheels on the right because they are second hand vehicles from Japan. 
Village Meeting Place

Villages have governing councils which meet in facilities such as the one in the picture.

Ray, Our Driver and Guide
The cab was a 1990's vintage Toyota, similar the Camry. Ray was chewing betel nuts, which he told us all about. When asked at what age people started chewing, he answered when they are able to climb the trees to get the nuts, which is about 12.
Ray received part of his education on Saipan, where he lived with an aunt.
New Grave

Almost all Yapese are Christian, divided about 50-50 between Catholics and Protestants.
This is a new grave, elaborately decorated as is the custom.

Yap Airport
Looking south east from a viewpoint on a ridge.  Yap is served by Continental Airlines from Guam, Palau, and Manila. 
Yap was a Japanese base in WW2.  It was bypassed by the Allies, but  was bombed many times by US aircraft.  We visited an abandoned Japanese air field where we wanted to see some Zeros, but the thick vegetation had taken over and we didn't have machetes to hack our way through.
Departing Yap

Our consensus was it’s the prettiest place so far.

The next port is Guam. Tomorrow is a day at sea.