[150224, 1021 UTC, Samal Island, Davao Gulf, Philippines, 07-11.8 N / 125-42.7 E]


Dear Friends;

Happy New Year to all from the crew of the Carina, including the fat (now thin) cat. Since we last wrote, we celebrated Philip's 70th birthday with a party of apple crisp made with the world's finest cinnamon and much love, served with vanilla ice cream and some aged Filipino rum for all who showed up. Then we danced to classic rock and roll. Or some of us danced and sang loudly and badly, but merrily. Philip danced some but mostly entertained the convivial crowd with his good cheer.

For all you FOTFC, Jake, he's doing okay. Not great but okay. He's very very thin and not seeming to truly recover but feisty and loving, not to mention silly and demanding. The local vet, a cheerful competent thirty-ish Chinese Filipina named Glaiza Luna, believes his key problem now is a trichobezoar, or hairball somewhere in his GI tract. A cod liver oil vitamin supplement seems to be helping, so we're hopeful that he won't require more traumatic intervention or a frightening trip to the big city.

We are now living on "the hard"; that is hauled up onto concrete in a boatyard crawling with ants and put on stands and feeling a bit sorry for ourselves. The boat does not rock us gently to sleep now and we have to climb up and down a bamboo ladder and lower our dishes in buckets down to carry them off to wash in a public wash basin at the marina clubhouse. But, hey, it's been awhile and Carina was due for some important maintenance. What kind of maintenance? Let us make a list.

We had replaced the chainplates in Ecuador in 2007 but thought we might like to check them again. Sure enough, heavy sailing and constant green water sluicing over the bow and down the sides had allowed salt water to get beyond the sealant of the deck plates and around the chainplates, resulting in some rust and corrosion. Being a key element of the rigging, we replaced again the two upper and four lower chainplates. We also pulled the bow roller assembly and stern chainplates and found rust and corrosion there. And some distortion of clevis pin holes. The bow roller will be reinforced by sistering and welding on additional stainless steel. Stern chainplates will be made of thicker material. We know of other cruisers who have classic plastic boats who have never even pulled their chainplates to check for corrosion. You guys know who you are. IOHO it is just a matter of time before the rigging fails and we hope it doesn't happen on an ocean crossing and that they have a good sized insurance policy or bank account.

Our rigging terminals also appeared to be leaking; again, the result of failed sealant. We still need to disassemble the whole lot of these mechanical fittings but based upon the first one, the forestay, it's now on the must-do list.

Critical to safe passages aboard Carina is our windvane steering. This is a sturdy steel mechanical contraption that steers the boat based upon a steady angle of wind, freeing up the helmsman to navigate, check instruments, sip tea, etc. It takes its power from a paddle that drags in the water that essentially flips up when misaligned with our direction of travel, the movement of the paddle pulls on control lines that turn the wheel and steer the boat back to the course chosen. The windvane, named Bud after another competent helmsman, had to come off of Carina's stern for painting of her hull. While doing so, one of the stainless steel mounting bolts used for sheered away. Whew, we were lucky once again this part did not fail at sea. A complete and thorough cleaning and service are in our boatyard future.

We have had a speed log encased in a thru hull for a long time. This has not functioned well for-ever and not at all for some years. We've taken the unit out of the hull and will plug and fill the (underwater) hole. We've also removed two sea cocks (one frozen in the open position by calcium deposits as it turned out) and will replace them. A custom stainless steel three way hose barb sitting below waterline which we worried about for years, turns out to have had a minute hole in it and other thin spots. The marina owners also own the ferry company serving the island and their steel guys were able to fabricate another one. We'll check that item off the list.

Carina's topsides have been looking kinda worn with constant usage so we will repaint with 2-part polyurethane paint. Ditto for the deck and cockpit. Carina is also well overdue for anti-fouling paint and that too is on the list. But first we have to repair the scattered failings of our epoxy barrier coat that occurred since the last haulout, fill them in and repaint with primer.

Some of the varnish on the teak toerails have been let alone for too long while we were exploring Indonesia. We'll use the boatyard crew of Filipinos to help us address this.

Our liferaft, that is an inflatable emergency boat, went in for regular maintenance service at a Lloyds-certified service center here in Davao. Philip and the captains of four other yachts were present to watch three liferafts being inflated and tested. During this procedure it was discovered that the line used to actually pull the pin for inflating Carina's liferaft was weak and degraded, meaning that if we had had an emergency, it is unlikely the raft would have inflated. The thought of this was horrifying to us and we began to question the previous service provider that we had paid an exorbitant amount of money to. The shakedown on this was the manufacturer of our liferaft has recalled our raft and is replacing it under warranty. The logistics of doing this from the Philippines is complex - liferafts are hazmat and Customs here refuses to recognize yachts in transit and imposes duties - so we won't bore you with the details but should it happen as planned, we'll sail away again with a truly serviceable raft which we sincerely hope we'll never have to use.

Meanwhile Leslie's sewing list doesn't seem to be getting any shorter - she's got a long list including headsail repair, new dodger, bimini, mainsail cover, preventer, etc.

So you kind of get an idea of what we are up against. We've probably forgotten a few things and will discover even more. But, on the plus side, we are in a lovely location at the north end of Samal Island and the winter tradewinds blow through the cabin most evenings, making it a pleasant spot to alight; even with the millions of little red ants leisurely finding their way into every crevice. Down the road about 10 km is a bustling little market town called Babak (ba-BACK) where we can obtain fresh supplies of fruits, veggies and locally grown eggs, meat and chicken. All at moderate prices. A ferry ride away is the Philippines third largest city which can supply us with almost everything except marine products, so life is comfortable amongst amiable Filipinos and yachties alike, though more costly than when we are sitting at anchor off a secluded island,

We are puttering around on a small used Honda XRM 125 motorbike, avoiding herds of roaming goats and cows and spending pleasant hours on most Sundays losing ourselves on the island's winding bumpy narrow dirt roads, seeing the villages and meeting locals who seem to be amongst the friendliest we've met in our travels. Everyone turns their heads and watches as we pass, and if we stop, we usually get interviewed while people slowly gather, curiously but intently watching the strangers in their village. During our last tour we took a slow motion spill (a wheelie, over backwards) while climbing a mountain, but we were unharmed. The bike had minor damage but is totally fixable and we anticipate more explorations that help us to forget our boatyard woes for one day a week.

A couple of Sundays back we took a dead-ended road up and up over rip-rap limestone path, finally abandoning the bike when the road got too rough. Pushing the bike into the bushes, we hoofed further up the road amongst homes of woven bamboo, set amongst gardens of produce, in search of a airline crash memorial. The memorial was not what we expected - a stone or plaque - but simply a grove of trees, each representing a victim, tightly packed in lines lining the crash crater. If we didn't have Philip's new birthday smart phone and MapsMe, we would NEVER have found it.

So, despite living 8 feet above a parking lot and "suffering" from all the inconveniences associated with a boat now in pieces (baggies of parts lining the cabin sole), we're enjoying our "tour" of the Philippines. Hopefully later we'll be rewarded by being able to visit some of her lovely anchorages, though the season without typhoons is short and most of these anchorages are vulnerable. We cannot even think of planning our next sailing adventure until Carina floats again; whenever that might be.

Your friends of the yacht Carina,

Philip, Leslie and the not-so-fat cat, Jake