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Three Dogs and a Tinny – The Long Way Back to Port Carmen

September 12, 2014

An epic year in Darwin ends. The journey back to Port Carmen is long.  It starts with a 4000km, 72 hour journey through the ‘dry sea’ to our new home with our three dogs and a tinny.

The journey from Darwin to Ulladulla through the 'dry sea'.

The journey from Darwin to Ulladulla through the ‘dry sea’.

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1-2014-06-15 07.38.21The trip goes remarkably well. The dogs love the journey and their temporary home in the back of the landcruiser. We encounter no cattle, no horses and only 3 kangaroos on the side of the highway. It can be bad. In  past journeys in this country there have been frightening near misses with cattle and horses and many kangaroos have met their end on  the landcruiser bull bar. It’s a good road but such are the hazards that government workers are forbidden to drive them at night.

Our final destination is one of Australia's most beautiful beaches

Our final destination is one of Australia’s most beautiful beaches

It just happens also, that the dogs love it too.

Our new home is close to some of Australia's most beautiful,beaches.

Our new home is close to some of Australia’s most beautiful,beaches.

With the family now settling into their new business at Milton near Ulladulla, Coastal Kitchen and Coffee, it is now time to return to Nova Vida.

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Coastal Kitchen and Coffee.

Zeke sends me a picture tells me she is OK and up behind the orange boat. The yard looks very busy.

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Zeke’s Yard Port Carmen. Nova Vida way in the distance behind the orange boat.

 

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Typhoon Haiyan

November 11, 2013

All the boats at Zeke’s yard,  including Nova Vida survived OK.  A call to  Zeke confirmed that he and his workers as well as a couple of  Yachties who stayed on board, monitored  the boats, adjusting lines when needed.  “The yard is a mess” said Zeke.  Luckily Port Carmen  has good protection from the west and the typhoon was moving fairly quickly. The marina itself is ideal. A small body of water with no creeks entering, no floating pontoons and a web of lines from one side to the other.  What  minor damage has occurred is yet to be ascertained.  Whatever  it is will be nothing compared with that in the worst hit areas. A good description of the yard on November 8th is here http://svpooinoroa.blogspot.com.au/

A more comprehensive report on Noonsite  http://www.noonsite.com/Countries/Philippines/visayas-port-carmen-the-aftermath-of-typhoon-haiyan

Still in Darwin

September 10, 2013

Back in Australia, catching up with family,  there is a trip to Sydney, a unique city state reflecting the Australia of the future and a trip to Hobart, reflecting in many ways, an Australia that has been.

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Darling Harbour Sydney and the Endeavour replica.

The long  flight from Darwin is as dreary  as that to Singapore. The only relief is not passing through immigration and customs and being greeted by family. After years in the tropics the cold is significant and the blizzard conditions on Mt Wellington behind  Hobart makes the hot, humid weather of the Philippines seem very attractive.

Darwin is busy. The  agricultural show, markets, V8 super car races, Darwin festival, Darwin Dilli and Darwin Ambon Rallies, horse racing and a lot more,  attract visitors from all over.  The annual winter migration of ‘back packers’ and ‘grey nomads’ is in full swing while locals start to hanker for the wet season quiet.

Then there is the election.  This one is perhaps the most boring on record.  Little separates the parties. How can there be in what is one of the richest most egalitarian countries  on earth.  After spending so much time in Malaysia and the Philippines, it is clear that Australian politicians are angels, compared with their SE Asian counterparts.  There are no sex videos, no sodomy charges, no hints of murder or corruption, just tedious talk. Here, our politicians only produce a litany of juvenile name calling  and accusations of lying about flaky figures on theoretical budgets. The wildest promises are ‘to stop the boats’ (refugees) and to pay women full wages to have babies.

The people vote for  the neatest,  prettiest looking, but bland party on the day. They keep family quarrels hidden behind closed doors and replace the party that doesn’t.  Most people take little account of past  achievements and policies.  In the end it seems a sizable group of the public is unenthusiastic about either of the two main parties. The result is the weirdest Senate  in Australia’s history  populated by a number very obscure individuals representing minor groups of which few have ever heard.  That’s OK.  This is a  democracy.

Cuyo Island Redux

July 2, 2013
Nova Vida's track from Flat Island in Green Bay to Cuyo Island

Nova Vida’s track from Flat Island in Green Bay to Cuyo Isl. The southern tip of Panay on the right

The story is in the track.  The easterly wind arrives and I turn NE but it is too hard. The fuel filters block and I accidentally turn off the chart-plotter while changing them – also smash my oven door on the stove. The rest is the retreat to Cuyo Island. As the wind drops, the sea is like sailing on  top of a giant moving jelly.

A Quick Trip to Darwin

July 1, 2013

After two weeks of battling the flu it is decided to fly back to Darwin for some R&R. Zeke’s yard is flat out so no boat work can be done till the end of July.

After months in the noise and chaos of SE Asia, the leafy northern suburbs of Darwin seem strangely quiet and deserted. I like both.

Cuyo Island to Port Carmen

June 16, 2013

Cuyo to Port Carmen
June 1 to June 8

With a light easterly breeze and a friendly sea, progress towards Panay is good. As the day wears on, the breeze calms and so does the sea. Almost from the start Panay is visible on the horizon.  A few fishing boats are in sight.

Then, about halfway, the dreaded FADS and buoys begin to appear. On the original attempt to cross this would have been still in darkness at this time so the Cuyo Island stop over is a piece of good fortune. From here on till Cebu, fishing stakes, buoys, FADS and  marker floats are alway present so there is no relaxing.

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Southern tip of Panay

Southern tip of Panay

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Around 5pm I drop anchor near the southern tip of Panay. Geof Gentils waypoints are a much appreciated.. At the same time, a boat load of locals appears wanting stuff. Yachts have been here before. I give them a hat and some coco-cola. They want to sell me a fish, they want to sell me mangoes and the want me to come ashore. I politely refuse. I am very tired. The gifts are the anchorage fee.

The run up to Iloilo is routine with the usual obstacles.

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After a quick look at the busy, narrow river, I decide to anchor opposite Iloilo at the nearby island.

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Another long days brings us to Tago Island and another of Geof Gentils waypoints. It is a beautiful place and an excellent anchorage. From here the intention is to cross to the northern tip of Cebu.

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A young fellow and a boy from the nearby village paddle out to the boat. They are followed by another boat with more kids. Clearly this second group want to humbug but the young fellow playfully warns them off. They go to the other side of the boat and gesture without result. The young fellow occupies them with a water fight. I give them all a coco-cola.

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At first light next morning I head off towards Cebu. Unfortunately, the easterly is up so after and hour or more I return. The young fellow and a friend come out. He offers to show me around. We visit a nearby eco resort (very local) and we explore an inlet bordered by fish farm ponds. They then hang out on the boat for hours. They don’t want anything. We chat about things and he tells me about himself. He is 24, a twin, his brother, a carpenter and his father a carver. He has a 19 year old bride to be in the village. Later, he brings out some coconuts. They are his mother in-laws. I pay him 100pesos for them.. His home town is Concepcion about 3nm away.

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Local Eco Resort

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Tour of the anchorage

Tour of the anchorage

As he leaves he asks me to take him to Concepcion if I return again in the morning. I do return again.

Consepcion - the town balance sheet.

Concepcion – the town balance sheet.

We go ashore at Concepcion for some food and internet reload.  The fruit is good but internet not. Concepcion is a sleepy little town. With nothing more to do I ask him how much money he needs to get back to Tago Island. He says 100pesos. Back at the dinghy landing, somehow, I find myself the owner of a kilo of fresh prawn for about $5.00 – dinner. We say farewell.

Next morning, the wind is still on the nose so the plan is to sail down towards Negros, gain the shelter from a chain of island and Cebu itself and anchor on Cebu a long day from Port Carmen. It works well.

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Last anchorage before Port Carmen.

I am off Carmen by 3pm and this isn’t too soon. The entrance is tricky but  google earth and a programme called Tallon makes it easy. It is dead low tide and entering the marina is like sailing into a giant drain pipe.  The boat boys squeeze me into a narrow slot and secure Nova Vida’s bow to the wall with a web of lines. A half hour later the sky caves in. Its Friday night and everyone is at the bar. However, three beers later I cave in. Next morning I wake with the worst dose of flu I have had for years.

Zeke's Yard at Port Carmen

Zeke’s Yard at Port Carmen

Cuyo Island

June 12, 2013

Cuyo Island May 29th, 30th, 31th

The Spanish Fort/Church

The Spanish Fort/Church

The town has been there for a long time. The Spanish set it up as the Capitol of Palawan somewhere back in the 1600’s. Getting information is difficult. Not many people seem to have much English. The tricycle driver tells me that the huge, beautifully constructed peer or beak water is part of a fort built by the Spanish but it was too far from the main town. They built another that is a fort with a church and the structure dominates the town.

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Cuyo town is very old and undeveloped. Take away the modern signs and it is a 200-year-old village. Ferries service the town from all over and while they unload cargo the passengers wander around town. The tourists are mainly Filipino. As a lone westerner and very old in their terms I am an oddity.

The American owned resort Set up for local tourism

The American owned resort Set up for local tourism

The bar near the Australian owned resort.

The bar near the Australian owned resort.

First day ashore, I ask the tricycle driver to go to a resort – a good coffee or feed on my mind. Which one is hard to say but it doesn’t matter. We cross the island along well made concrete roads and visit a church. After this the road deteriorates into a muddy bush track. The resort is a half built kite surfing destination with no one there but a few cows. He says it has been like this for ten years.

The journey through the countryside is interesting. Most people live in bamboo and palm mat shacks under the rainforest canopy. There are a few block structures. The yards are immaculate. Brushed earth replaces grass. The soil is volcanic and rich and all houses have pot plants and food plants growing. Clearly there is a lot of young people and high unemployment, but family life seems high quality. Seeing a mother and children just sitting together in the top step just hanging out is common. The tricycle driver says “we live a simple life”. I tell him that no life is simple, just different.
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Later, I buy some mangoes at the market and the lady tells me her daughter is married to an Australian and they have a resort. She says it isn’t finished. The daughter married the Australian when he was 54 and she was 19. They have a child with asthma. Next day the tricycle driver takes me to their place but it is closed. They are in Cuyo seeking treatment for asthma. We continue to another resort. There is no one there except the care- taker. She is raking the sand. It is a beautiful place on the beach, primitive by our standards and owned by an American.

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We return to Cuyo town. A cup of coffee – definitely not Starbucks style – a visit to the market and I head to the beach. The weather is OK and the sea more settled. So Saturday at dawn I head for Panay.

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