We spent last weekend on the beach, but not just any beach. We spent last weekend on perhaps the busiest beach in all of the Philippines.
The island of Boracay (pronounced Bor-RA-cai) is only 9km long and 1km wide. White Beach takes up most of the western side of the island and is THE tourist hot spot, not just for locals but for the international crowd as well. With everything from hostels to exclusive resorts you can imagine that the scene on the beach is pretty interesting.
Although we did enjoying some world class people watching what caught my eye the most was the vendors, who make the rounds laden with goods, some practical, some absurd. Also, it wouldn’t be a day on the beach without some street food, or I guess beach food. So here, in no particular order, are:
Last week we stopped at a little island called Gigantes Sur. Still in the Western Visayas province of the Philippines it is a small island off the east coast of Panay; a dot among several others in the area. There isn’t too much in the way of Cruising Guides for the Philippines, or at least not that we have. Quite frankly it has been nice not to have one, nice not to have some unknown opinion mire our choices. Gigantes Sur was not listed in our almost decade old Lonely Planet and Google Earth only showed a small fishing village, so we had didn’t expect to find much ashore. All of which was fine with us.
Our choice to anchor there was made purely by how it looked on the chart; a wide bay with a slowly shoaling cove that ended in a sandy beach, which probably meant good holding and there wouldn’t too many rocks to snag the chain on. The anchorage was protected from the predicted winds, was within our travel range and we were well provisioned. Really Gigantes was just another stepping stone in our voyage north, not much more a convenient stop over, a place to rest for a night or two.
The thing is about exploring is that you never really know what you’ll find. So we when pulled into the anchorage and saw flags lining not one but two beaches nearby and a parade of boats depositing people on those beaches we were more than a little surprised. Gigantes Sur was not just a sleepy little fishing village, it was a destination. Continue reading →
Almost everyone will tell you that a pressure cooker is a ‘must have’ in your galley, but is it really? Sure they are economical, a great way to save time and very trendy right now but like any cooking technique pressure cooking does have it’s limitations.
This month in my Blue Water Sailing column I explore pressure cookers; how they work, what they cook and do you really need one. Plus there is a scrumptious recipe for my Curry Chicken Cassoulet! If you missed the May issue on news stands you can find the article HERE.
We’ve been in the Philippines for almost three weeks now, which for me is just enough time to start to get comfortable in a place. After a few weeks I’ve finally stop comparing our current destination to the one we just left. After a few weeks I have gotten past the shock and awe factor that always comes with exploring a new place and instead I let the everyday happenings inform my opinion about the country and its people. And so after three weeks what do I think of the Philippines?
Kate on anchor in Surigao City
There are 7107 islands that make up the Philippines, so even though we had 13 anchorages at 10 different islands so far we haven’t even scratched the surface of getting to know the country as a whole. That said everywhere we’ve been the people have been friendly. We are greeted with big smiles and enthusiastic waves and since we try not to frequent the tourist spots, so those smiles are genuine. We feel welcome. Continue reading →
After what seems like endless delays we are finally underway to the Philippines!!! The passage from Palau to Surigao, our first port, is about 500NM, so with any luck and some good winds we should be in the Philippines in 4-5 days. As always we will be dropping a GSP waypoint daily via our SPOT. You can follow along on our Facebook page or HERE.
We are preparing to to set sail to the Philippines in a few days. Meals are cooked, cabin in stowed and we have a keen eye on the weather. But it is always a little difficult to prepare for passage because you’re never really sure what lies ahead.
As we ready ourselves for sea I thought I would post my notes from our passage from Kavieng to Palau. While underway I keep a daily dairy; a page of notes that sums up the events, conditions and feelings of the past 24 hours. If you want an idea about what being on passage is really like this should give it to you. These are not well-groomed or thought out notes, just reflections and reaction about the goings on as we are experiencing them. Here’s an excerpt:
“Dec 15, Day 8: We managed to sail all night, but the winds lightened up after midnight and things got wet before day break. Morning watch was a boisterous ride. Grey all day, just impenetrable walls of grey. Winds NW-NE 10-30kts. We have been able to sail a more westerly course between 275-300◦. Close hauled all morning, of course, but making 6-7kts. The winds were fickle for Steve, abruptly changing direction and turning off as if someone flicked a switch. I made a hot lunch of “Steve Famous Gumbo” from cans and leftovers in the fridge. Rains increased during the afternoon and I sat my watch reefing and furling, seeing the boat speed eek to 8kts. Soaked to the bone and cold by 1800 we were both happy to be putting some miles under the keel. Winds continued through Steve’s evening watch and the rains finally stopped, brighter skies and moon light for me! Cold still, foulies and fleece on tonight despite being at 3◦N. Hoping we have made enough ground north to find the NE trades and progress to Palau can be made in earnest. Dahl for dinner. Port window leaking onto the bunk. Everything feeling clammy after a week of hot bunking. No shower today. Fresh veggies finished.”
If you’re interested in reading the complete blow-by-blow of our 20 day passage you can find it HERE. Safe Sailing!
Sometimes you have a bad day and shake it off. Other times bad days string together into a bad week, leaving you to wonder just how you managed to pissed off absolutely all of the God’s, at the exact same time. At the beginning of March we had one of “those” weeks.
We had recently returned to town after a yet another fun filled tour of the Rock Islands. We were still waiting for a bit of mail, had a few jobs on the To Do List and both needed to spend a couple hours online to get caught up on things. The mooring field was busy but we squeezed in way down the back and settled into our ‘city’ routine.
The morning after our arrival we went ashore for a few hours of screen time. The usually kinda fast WIFI was playing up so after about 30minutes struggling with a crappy connection and getting nothing but frustrated we packed up and went home. As we rounded the corner I watched expectantly for the boat to come into view, heart in my throat a bit, as it always is. No matter how confident I am about our anchor or our mooring it is always in the back of my mind when I leave the boat; something could happen when we are away and we wouldn’t be there to save the boat, our home. And this time something did happen. Kate wasn’t where we left her. The mooring had failed. Strangely we were both rather calm about things:
We just left the world of inflatable dinghies after a very frustrating and costly few years dealing with our problematic Takacat.
The Takacat and the ongoing problems of the seams coming unglued.
There will be more info about our experience and disappointments coming up, as well as our reflections on our new hard dinghy from Porta-bote.
The New Dinghy!
But if you’re still in the blow up boat camp and are looking for a good start of the season project check out my how-to article about making a pair of stylish and practical dinghy chaps for your inflatable, as appeared in Cruising World Magazine in March 2017.
We are preparing for our next passage to the Philippines, which means we’ve been doing lots of schlepping of provisions. It’s not that I am worried about finding good provisions in PI, it’s just that I know there are somethings I may not be able to find. For me part of the excitement of sailing to somewhere new is the prospect of all the exciting flavours we get to explore, but there are still a few items that we would rather not live without; good tea, pasta without weevils, and, of course, all natural, no added sugar peanut butter.
I am a bit of a PB addict – in fact in certain circles I am known as the Peanut Butter Princess. Everywhere we sail I search for good PB but rarely find it, which is why when I do find it I stock up – as seen above!
On Kate PB isn’t just for breakfast and it isn’t just a sweet. Featured in the March issue of Cruising World magazine was my recipe for Beef Satay, a savory, spicy peanut sauce made from peanut butter. If you missed the issue here’s the story behind the moniker and the Beef Satay recipe.
We don’t eat out at restaurants very often, but we do love eating ashore.
We’ve cooked breakfast in a volcanic steam vent, found secret grottos for picnic lunches and dragged our BBQ up a river to cook sausages beside a fresh water swimming hole. If there is a beach around we’re planning dinner over an open fire or cooking bread on hot coals. We’ve even popped popcorn over a bonfire just so we had snacks to enjoy with our sunset drinks.
Boiling eggs in a volcanic vent in Tanna, Vanuatu
Dinner on the Beach
River lunch in New Caledonia
Palau is short on beaches due to the typography; steep limestone islands. The few that are around are in National Park areas so open fires are not permitted. This, of course, put a serious cramp in our beach bbq plans. Which was rather disappointing because it had been a really long time since we’d felt comfortable cooking ashore. Continue reading →