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.
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 →
One of the foodstuffs that I always try and source locally is honey. Usually it is a side of the road or local market purchase from a small producer, sold in reused and mismatched bottles with hand written labels. Like wine honey has terroir. The relationship between the land the bees live on and the final product is obvious with the first taste. Over the years we’ve been lucky enough to find Mango Honey, Palm Flower Honey, Sugar Cane Honey, Bitter Orange Honey and Tropical Wildflower Honey. Each as unique as the countries we bought them in.
This season in the Solomon Islands I found honey on the island of Rendova. A local man had a couple of hives in his backyard that over looked the anchorage. His property was more or less just a well maintained garden brimming with budding trees, pineapple plants and tropical flowers nestled into rolling hillside covered in wild forest. His English wasn’t great but I gathered that his two hives yielded about 5 gallons of honey when he harvested every 3- 4 months. Continue reading →
So, you’ve managed to convince some cephalopods that your lure looked tasty and now you’ve got a bucket full o’ squid. Visions of calamari are dancing in your head, but just how to you get from whole animal to delicious, deep fried morsels?
“Dressing” a squid does not involve turtle necks or tutus, it is just a fancy word for cleaning, gutting and preparing an animal for eating. The great thing about squid is that there isn’t anything too stinky, slimy, bloody, nasty or gross about cleaning them. Even people queasy about handle a dead chicken will probably find squid rather benign.
After 50 odd cephalopods Steve made cleaning them look dead easy, and it is. Here’s he fool proof method for dressing a squid.
EQUIPMENT NEEDED: A sharp knife, a good cutting board, a bucket of sea water, maybe an old tshirt and a cold beer. Continue reading →