It seems appropriate that we are starting off 2018 in the boatyard. The New Year is, after all, traditionally viewed as a time of renewal, a chance to make all those improvements that you’ve been meaning to get around to for the past 12 months. An opportunity to take stock, address problem areas and make positive changes. And that is exactly what yard periods are all about, fixing, modifying and hopefully improving.
So here we are, slowly, slowly getting work done.
The engine has been removed and over a week ago the engineering firm who is doing the rebuild came and took it away. We have yet to get a quote for the work…which means it is mid January and nothing has been done to the engine. This is holding up a pile of other smaller projects involved in improving the engine bay. Until we have the engine back we cannot fit and size the new shaft, strut, engine mounts etc.… Continue reading →
I haven’t been here much recently. By here I mean both on the blog and in the galley.
My enthusiasm for the blog ebbs and flows like the tide. Ironically, when we finally have half decent internet access and I get a chance to ‘catch up’ with the world is when I experience the most resistance to blogging. I start comparing our adventures to the thousands of other sailing and travel blogs. I spend too much of my time online and I find myself thinking things like “Oh, this would make a good blog post”, and “Gotta make sure I get a good photo to post online.”
Thinking of our lives as fodder for the blog, as not much more than material for a story, means that I am not being present in my experiences but rather just recording them. Living your life for someone else, an unknown, online audience, is exhausting. So, I chose to put down the camera, forget about the blog and just enjoy my time exploring the world with Steve. Only when I fill myself with enough real-world experience do I feel able to come back to this virtual world.
My time in the galley has also been brief as of late. This is partially because we’ve been trying to cover a lot of miles in the Philippines, without the help of much wind. This has meant early departures, lunches underway and two tired crew that can’t be bothered to stand over the stove after they’ve just thrown the anchor. There has been a lot of rice and fill-in-the-blank meals; spicy beans, shredded chicken with a splash of salsa, veggies and a fried egg. There’s also been lots of quick bowl dinners; pho, whatever’s in the fridge salads, pasta served with a hasty pan sauce. There’s been lots of leftovers. It’s food that fills the belly but doesn’t really inspire the soul.
It is also because ready-made food in the Philippines is practically on every street corner, and we’ve been taking full advantage.
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 →
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.
Don’t believe it is bad luck to leave port on a Friday? Well, six years ago we tested the theory when we departed from Isla Coco’s and sailed to the Galapagos Islands. The passage was one of our worst!
If you’re near a news stand Down Under you can trip down memory lane with us and read all about our (mis)adventures in the March issue of Cruising Helmsman Magazine.
I was starting to get worried about Palau. We’d been here for two weeks and I had yet to be impressed by the place. Besides the (mostly) good provisioning and general convenience of the place it had failed to inspire the awe that everyone talked about. And after our way-longer-than-expected passage and a non-existent New Year celebration I was really in need of a little inspiration.
Anchorage in Koror
The big destination in Palau is the Rock Islands. Located just south of the main town of Koror they are a cluster of uninhabited limestone island that are designated National Park zone. The area is home to the few white sand beaches and pretty much all the prime dive and snorkeling sites found in Palau. If you’ve seen a photo of Palau – verdant green, odd-shaped islands surrounded by sparkling blue water-chances are it was taken in the Rock Islands.
Being a National Park there are, of course, national park fees to pay. A cool $50 USD per person will buy a 10 day pass for the island group. This one-time fee is perfect for the usual fly-in tourist who only spend a couple of weeks here but a little inconvenient for those of us who are upwardly mobile and like to dilly-dally a bit. Tack on another $40 USD for a boat permit for the area. Add to that that you cannot extend your stay in the islands without returning to Koror and the logistics of exploration are both a little expensive and frustrating. Nevertheless we put our money on the table and were excited about getting out of “town”, and away from the constant roar of the power plant, for a little while.
Cruising the Rock Islands
More Beautiful Vistas
The Rock Islands are beautiful, dramatic and full of surprises. We found flat calm anchorages tucked into intimate coves surrounded by nothing but chirping birds and splashing fish. A few nights the boat sat so still that I actually woke in the middle of the night to check that we were actually still afloat. Continue reading →
In fact we arrived over a week ago after a rather trying and very long 20 day passage from Papua New Guinea. Although we hoped to be in port before Christmas light winds, contrary current and the beginnings of Super Typhoon Nock-ten, which smashed the Philippines on Christmas Day, kept us at sea. Ah…the life of a sailor. Continue reading →
It is surprising how little I knew about the Solomon Islands before we arrived.
Part of this is because I had such high expectations for Vanuatu that were mostly unfulfilled that I kind of purposely didn’t do a lot of reading. As it turns out years of waiting to arrive and months of fantasying about all the wild, undiscovered places we’d visit just made the real experience in Vanuatu a little “less” than I wanted it to be. I wasn’t about to make our time in the Solomon’s a repeat performance.
Steve mainly plans passages and researches anchorages so I was full of confidence that he knew what we were getting ourselves into. At least as far as boat safety and general sailing timeline were concerned. I figured if I just showed up I would see everything with fresh eyes and an open heart and our time here would be all the richer for it.
Not long after we arrived in the Solomon’s my lackadaisical approach starting causing a little friction between the two of us.
We have officially crossed back into tropical weather having crossed the 10*S line on the chart on the way up to the Solomon Islands. Things here are sticky and overwhelmingly hot, at least when you are walking around the city in the midday sun with bags full of groceries. But even while sailing we’ve been keeping the middle section of the bimini up so that we have a little shade to cower under while on watch. Not only is the sun hot but it is high overhead, it is all pop bright mornings and quick sunsets at 1800.
Sailing into Honiara at daybreak
I can’t say much about Honiara, we only spent four days here, but thankfully we had the opportunity to stop at a few other places before arriving. If this was my first impression of the Solomon’s it wouldn’t be a great one. The city is very dirty; the streets scattered with trash and every river clogged with plastic. The harbour stinks like a sewer and the water is so murky you can’t see bottom even right at the shoreline. We stopped landing the dinghy on the beach as we didn’t want to have to put our feet in the water and risk a small cut or bug bite get infected. Continue reading →