[150525, 0056 UTC, Samal Island, Davao Gulf, Philippines, 07-11.8 N / 125-42.7 E]
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When we last wrote we were in the throes of our haulout at Holiday Oceanview Marina on Samal Island, trying to stay cool and sane in the tropical heat of spring in the Philippines. (For details, see our photo gallery on our website: www.sv-carina.org) We survived mostly, though there were days when we thought Jake would not as his skinny old frame lay panting on the cabin sole even as Leslie wiped him down with washcloths wet with cool water. These were the days when it was impossible to step onto the tarmac after about 10 am - and hell to slip on your shoes that had been in the sun - and seemingly hot enough to bake bread in the main salon at high noon.
When the cabin top and cockpit were being painted, we were banned for the day each day, so we took Jakie in his carrier and went searching for cool hangouts. One such place to alight proved to be a haven for ants and even Jakie, as tolerant as he is and afraid of ladders, decided to climb DOWN a bamboo ladder to escape biting ants. So, this day we carried him to the relative coolness of the marina clubhouse and entertained a grumpy old kitty while waiting for paint to dry. Thankfully these bad days were few.
The great news is we have launched again, though even that was not without its trials. We spent three days in limbo, semi-afloat sitting high on our cradle in the slipway. One fine day, a day before the tide tables predicted we'd have water, Philip sensed Carina was grumbling in her cradle, trying to float. He texted Leslie, oblivious at the clubhouse, nose to the sewing machine's feed dog. Striding across the tarmac, Philip exclaimed, "she's going to float." Kjartan, the yard manager with years of experience, expressed his doubt, but called forth the troops. Sure enough, despite the tide tables, Carina threw off her harness and floated free with just a little nudge from the boys. Turning around against the NE trades in a narrow spot was another issue but again, the boys all threw themselves into the task and we were quickly around and underway to our new berth. Everyone laughed when Leslie let out a whoop as soon as we made a safe landing in the brisk afternoon breeze.
Our life is now peaceful and we enjoy immensely the earliest hours of each day, from first light before five am when Philip walks the local roads and observes farmers ploughing their fields with water buffaloes and Leslie sips tea and manages e-communications. These early mornings, the Toko (TOW ko) lizards chant TOWko-TOWko, TOWko-TOWko from the cliffs and the songbirds sing their soothing melodies in a peaceful marina where there is hardly a ripple on the water.
We still face the last bits of what began as a major haulout and morphed into a refit. But, though our list remains intimidating, we are not discouraged. One of the last fun jobs, now thankfully behind us, was the disassembly of an old six gallon water heater for removal (it would not fit through the lazarette opening) and then disassemble and then carefully reassemble a new water heater. All of this in the cramped space below a cockpit piled high with bags and boxes of stores, all under conditions of about 150% humidity and intense sunlight. Philip's sweat collected in pools on the bottom of the lazarette but the job was eventually done and we moved on.
We may still grumble a bit, but we truly enjoy again the simple sensation of sleeping on a gentle water mattress and the good ship Carina is looking quite spiffy. And for sure, life is NOT boring. In the marina/boatyard, boats mostly come but some boats go and we are continuously intrigued by our interactions with those from other worlds - from those hard working folks in our local Filipino villages to those interesting individuals from places such as the Ukraine, Korea, Japan, Belgium, South Africa, France, China, Thailand, Germany, the UK, and a whole thundering herd of vivacious Kiwis and Ozzies who speak an unintelligible language that sounds a bit like English. Most all are good folks and we are better for having interacted with them all.
We continue to appreciate getting away on the motorcycle but even a "quiet" trip to our market town of Babak is somewhat of an adventure. The traffic travels mostly slowly and 99% are other motorcycles or habal habals, but there are a few crazy SUVs and delivery trucks thrown in to keep us from getting complacent. As we head into, or out of, Babak, incoming and outgoing traffic pull onto and off the road, concentrates and comes at you from all directions. It's like a slow moving video game that should be called avoid-the-hazard. To complicate things, oblivious pedestrians step out into the street, not looking both ways, heck, not even looking ONE WAY and amble across the road, sometimes diagonally, oftentimes staring intently at their cell phones. Throw in an occasional goat herd, chickens and a few stray dogs, and you have a circus. Vehicles move at speeds from 8 to 80 kilometers an hour. Practically no one on a motorcycle wears a helmet in spite of the fact they are required by law. Well, sometimes the driver has a helmet but his infant son clutching the handlebars has none! Motorcycles in fact transport entire families; toddler in front of dad, plus a child sandwiched between Grandma and Mom who both clutch a child, whose feet flail as the motorbike bounces on the rough roads. Some one may also be hanging onto something unwieldy like a chair or a piece of corrugated roofing, screaming pig, or fighting rooster. It's crazy and wonderful all at the same time. But intimidating too.
Mostly we travel dirt "roads" at only a few miles an hour, but some tracks are quite steep and rubbly with loose limestone stones in sandy gravel, so Philip's experience with motorbikes serves us well. Bikeloads of locals, sometimes driven by children who can't have yet reached their 10th birthday, go screaming past us, oblivious to any danger. A cruiser with thousands of kilometers of driving experience in the Philippines put it this way: "you must drive aggressively defensive". Of course, he is the one who was involved in a motorcycle accident in Babak last month. Admittedly, he was in the right, though he cannot remember anything of the incident even now. A habal-habal (motorbike side-car taxi) ran into him at a slow speed from behind. Even so, he suffered a concussion that knocked him unconscious for about 20 minutes and his girlfriend banged up her knee and her face when the habal-habal ran over her.
This past Sunday we headed down the dirt coast road south of Penaplata in search of a giant clam sanctuary. We knew it was situated in Barangay Adecor, but this could mean any of a number of villages. To our delight it lies offshore of our favorite village (so far) in the Philippines, Hagnaya, a tiny clutch of homes, some on stilts, on a flower-lined, motorbike-only road that clings to the edge of the limestone cliffs. This day we lingered here, visiting and sharing watermelon, while friend David played basketball with the boys and kids frolicked in the sea. We will return and charter a boat to visit the clams or bring Carina down to anchor off sometime after our must-do list is complete and we can throw off the docklines.
Our current plans are such: Philip will travel to the USA in June to take care of personal business back home and visit with family. Leslie will stay behind and finish sewing the dodger, bimini and genoa upgrades, and then varnish, varnish, varnish. In July we hope to wrap things up and take a few excursions here in Davao Gulf. By September we plan to return to Indonesia, visiting our friends in Sangihe (www.sangihespice.com) and then Sulawesi and finally Raja Ampat, a magnificent place we missed last year. This should take us until early December and then...we'll just have to see which way the wind blows. It may just blow towards the Pacific Northwest...
Your friends of the yacht Carina,
Philip, Leslie and fat cat, Jake