December 27, 2013

From Davao to El Nido, Ph. Part1. Nov - Dec 2013

You can see how crowdy Manila is...

Here is an old story, which Pete and I wrote, but I've not published yet, because my life has been quite the unexpected adventure this year... ughhh

We flew back to Davao the third week of November, 2013 to resume our life aboard Downtime after 4 busy months in the USA.  During our 4 months away we took around 23 flights and one helicopter ride, and we drove well over 10,000 miles. Both of us had traveled way too many miles, and needless to say we were ready to slow down and more than ready for some Downtime!

the view on Ocean View Marina
When we arrived back at Ocean View Marina on Samal Island which is just south of Davao we were welcomed back by our friends Donald and Carol who had been taking care of Downtime in our absence.  It was nice to come home to a freshly cleaned and polished boat waiting for us on the docks.  What was not so nice, was the fact that there was a lot of work to be done before we would be able to set sail.  The boat sat 6 inches higher in the water without her fuel tanks, anchor and chain, and empty food lockers, not to mention zero beer aboard!

Carol and Donald, who helped us a lot... thank you guys again!

view from Downtime
The next few days Pete spent rigging the fresh sails.  The main sail had been shipped off to Hyde Sails in Cebu to have a major overhaul since being torn in a few places on our way here and the brand new jib from Far East Sails was raised for the first time.  There was a big sigh of relief to see the work on both sails had been done properly and they fit perfectly.
The next big job was to install the stainless steel 100 gallon fuel tanks that had cracks welded while we were away.  Thankfully the crew at the marina did the heavy lifting and bought the 150 pound tanks down the dock and set them next to the boat. From there, Pete attached a halyard and maneuvered them into place with the electric winch onto Downtime.  With the fuel locker back in order, the next job was to get the 300 foot 800 pound piece of  freshly galvanized anchor chain back aboard.  The chain was way to heavy to carry or put in a single trolley so the guys came up with the idea of making a train,  putting a 100 feet in each trolley and with two guys on each they rolled it easily down the dock. Getting the chain on the boat was much easier, we simply parked the nose of the boat on the dock and fed the end of the chain through the windlass and pushed the button.

Next Pete asked for a volunteer to go up the mast  to replace a worn halyard and thankfully one guy stepped forward while all his co-workers watched him ascend 85 feet above the water to attach the new rope. The guys all walked away smiling sporting new Downtime tee shirts, and Pete thanked them for all their help.

The fuel tanks were installed but empty, and the next issue would be where to fill them?  Donald offered his services to haul the fuel on his motorcycle that has a sidecar attached 40 gallons at a time from town and he spent the next two days shuffling 5 gallon cans and filling the tanks with 250 gallons of fresh fuel.

When Pete was busy with all repairs, I did my own busy work cleaning the inside of the boat, sorting things out, making a sail plan for a season and putting provisions on the boat.

One morning Donald and Carol took me to local market and taught me how choose the freshest stuff and how store it as long as it possible. The tips from locals are the best!

deep fried eggs, local food on the market 
Carol was laughing at me when I was buying seaweeds and banana flowers, she said that it is food for poor people. And it was dirt cheap, one banana flower was around 20 cents, but not easy to cook unless you know how... so later those evening she did a master class for me! That was awesome and the food was delectable!!!
seaweeds from the market 
prawns and seaweed salad

banana flowers
banana flower with coconut milk, very tasty

One afternoon I learned how make perfect kimchi! I am addicted to spicy food! I found out that on the boat next to us there was a woman from Korea, so I asked her to show me authentic way to make it. By the end I had about a gallon of kimchi just for myself! Lovely!

The food lockers took about the same amount of effort to fill involving many trips across town to find the items we needed. I did most of them by myself, but couple of times Pete helped me.  One time we rented a car with the driver from our Marina and when I was checking out stuff in Abreeza Mall I had a message on the screen, which made me laugh for few minutes (see photo)...
Another day a fellow cruiser named Terry gave us a ride to S&R which is a small version of Costco and we filled the back of his truck with  cases of beverages and bags full of goodies.  On our way we stopped at Swiss Deli and stood with  mouths watering in front of many kinds of cheese and deli meats.  The girl who was helping us must have thought we were crazy while we stood there buying a little bit of everything.

The first thing we noticed when we got back to the Philippines that it is HOT in the tropics!  By mid day the temperatures would soar to the mid 90’s and air would be stifling then work would come to a grind.  We are lucky to have AC aboard and spent the hottest part of the day indoors.  Most afternoons it would rain and the humidity would soar. So one day I found our friend Gecko, he froze getting to close to the AC... Shit happens.

In some point Pete and I decided that we needed a break and we rented a bike from Donald for a day to see Samal Island. We drove all the way around the island. It looks small on the map, but it took us all day long. That was fun, especially for Pete, because it was his first Asian country. We stopped in few different places like a local market, a few view points, a little local restaurant for lunch and in beautiful resort for a drink on the other side of the island.

On our last Sunday at Marina Terry took us to one nice restaurant in the middle of the island, run by Swedish man. There was just one table, and the owner was eating with us... very cool place!
Terry and his girls
After 10 days of hard work and exploring we were ready to sail and finally left the harbor late on a Thursday afternoon to prevent the curse of bad luck from leaving on a Friday, a curse every sailor knows to be true.  I am not sure about all that, because our run of bad luck started anyways….

It all started with me showing up a bit late from my very last adventure on the island, going to see the eagles at the bird sanctuary. That was a really cool place, worth seeing if you are in Davao by chance. But it is quite a ride, so better to have all day to fully enjoy.

With a late start we had to rush to get to the first anchorage before dark which turned out to be a difficult one to anchor at.  We got up early only to find the windlass motor was sounding funny and pulling up the chain very slowly the next morning but luckily I did the job of slowly getting the anchor  back aboard.

We had 60 miles of motoring to do down Davao Gulf and Pete thought we could simply buy some fish from one of the many  local fishermen along the way, but every fishing boat we pulled up to and asked held up their hands saying, “No fish”.  The one boat that did have a few small fish came charging up behind us and was way too excited seeing a sexy blonde Russian girl handing them the bucket to put the fish in and rammed their bow into our stern rail and damn near knocked our bar-B-Q off the rail and into the ocean.  We traded the 3 guys 10 small fish  for 3 tee shirts and they were very happy with the trade, all except for the Captain who did not get one…I simply pointed to the rail and said “drive better next time!”  The next few hours Pete spent repairing the rail and scrubbing orange paint from the collision of it.  All this excitement over a few small skipjack tunas, a fish neither of us really care for and would wind up giving away down the road…..
As we rounded the southern corner of Cape San Agustin and turned north we encountered the famous northerly current that flows 2 to 3 knots down the coast.  It was frustrating to have the motors on and  to see  only 3 to 4 knots of progress being made when we should be doing 7, we were definitely going uphill with the wheels spinning!   To add further insult to injury, the winds that were predicted to blow from the South, were still coming steadily out of the North.  Maybe leaving on a  Friday would not have been so bad after all!

The perfect ending of the perfect day is the perfect sunset and the perfect dinner. So steaks for dinner, 2 for me and 1 for Pete, guess who is on diet? and who is working hard? lol

The next day it was dead calm, so we had to motor to Cebu. And it also meant, that I couldn't use any power... dryer or tortilla maker... call me Daria Maria Gonzalez.

The little village next door to Marina

After the first hundred or so miles we noticed a few more things that were not working aboard Downtime, mainly electrical, so we set our course for Cebu, the third largest city in the Philippines to get them repaired. Cebu is not the best city to be in, because it is very polluted, dirty and has a lot of crime. We anchored in front of Cebu Yahct Club, but were trying to not leave the boat together often... 
The anchor windlass motor was making awful noises, and by this time it was turning about half as fast as it should have while pulling up the anchor.  The radar was out along with the AIS system both pieces of equipment that we use to see ship traffic in bad weather.

We brought the windlass motor to a shop along with a burned up alternator to be repaired.  This little shop was located downtown on a small crowded street and was about half the size of a one car garage.  Parts and pieces were laying everywhere and the guy was sitting on a stool working on a little table repairing motors with filthy black grease soaked hands.  He looked at our damaged items and said no-problem I can fix that, come back in a few days.  Amazingly when we came back the work, it was done and Pete paid $75 each for the repairs.  Pete was frustrated when he put the windlass motor back on to find it working no better than before, so he took it back to the shop for a little warranty work.

Meanwhile Pete ordered a new windlass motor  from Australia through Broadwater Marine and had them overnight it DHL. 6 nights later it finally showed up, but no sooner than the much less expensive non-priority mail would have been.  The good news was that the warranty work on the old motor was done, and when Pete put it back on with new bearings that were supposed to be put in the first time it sounded like new and was working fine.  Now we have another $850 worth of spare parts in the locker.

Next Pete called a radar electrician at Maverick Enterprises, and for $75 US or $3000 peso’s (which seems the going rate to fix anything?) we could get the unit repaired flat rate plus parts of course.  The technician who came out was an expert and had the radar fixed within a few hours.  Then a few days later after giving up hope on repairing my old AIS unit he came back out and installed a new Icom AIS spending 5 hours installing and programming it for the same price as Pete would have paid for a AIS unit alone in the states!

With all the electrical issues fixed we made our last provisioning trips and topped of Downtime with fuel at the Cebu Yacht Club before sailing north towards Boracay Island 200 miles NW.  It was too shallow next to the fuel pumps in the tiny marina so they had Downtime dock near the entrance and unwound the longest fuel hose we had ever seen. Some 600 feet of hose was wrapped around the marina and to the dock Downtime was tied to.  Pete gave the thumbs up to the operator a football field away when had the nozzle securely in place hoping the 150 gallons he ordered would fit into the tanks.

We set sail to Boracay, where Pete could enjoy kiting, but with a couple of stops, to break up our passage.  The wind was always blowing the wrong direction, so it didn't really matter where we decided to sail... kind of weird... For the first night we anchored near Pacijan Island and for second near Kalanggaman island, which was very beautiful, even after was damaged by the last hurricane...

kalanggaman island

The next anchorage was on Malapascue Island. I wanted to spend few days there, do some dives and explore, but Pete could only think about kiting. Like a child, I want ice-cream NOW! lol

On our way we had to stay a few miles offshore to avoid snagging our lures on the countless fishing nets along the way.  I had not seen so much fishing activity along a shoreline since Equator 3 years ago.  This must surely be the reason for our bad luck fishing.  During our last leg we saw the most beautiful sunset ever... I was jumping on the net with different cameras and could not get enough, Pete was quietly reading his book...

Live your dream,
Daria Friday

PS: you can find more pics with my comments in Album From Davao to Philippines, 2013 , just click on the name, or find it on the right side of the text.