Friday, March 28, 2014

Calauit Game Reserve and Wildlife National Park

We anchored in a beautiful little spot right in front of the Calauit Wildlife Reserve.  This has been on our radar for quite some time.  Jake loves all things Safari and when we heard there was a safari park with African animals in it, we had to go.  So after sailing for 3 days from Puerto Galera, we finally made it.

It was so cool!  It's not a very big place when you think "Safari," but it was plenty big for this easily entertained family.  The park was an effort started by Ferdinand Marcos back in 1976 to supposedly help save African wildlife (although some stories say it was more to entertain his son's hunting habit??).  Animals from Africa were shipped here and put on this reserve to live alongside many species endemic to Palawan as well.

Calauit Deer
We opted for the guided jeep tour and were pleasantly surprised with how knowledgeable our guide was.  Roland (or Robin?  Andy and I disagree on the name), was our guide and he started working at the park in 1977...if it happened, he knew about it.  We were able to not only see the giraffes roaming around, but feed them and pet them as well.  There were 40 head of zebras - different herds all over the park.  ...Over 800 head of Calauit deer - tiny little deer found only in Palawan.  We saw many other things...antelope, wild boar, porcupines, monkeys, pythons, crocodiles, turtles...not all roaming wild (thank goodness), but all healthy and looking relatively happy.  We learned a lot in the few hours we were there.  There's a lot of arguing going on about who owns this land and what it should be used for.  There are some indigenous folks who believe it's theirs to do what they please (like hunting) and then there are the people who run the reserve who believe in conservation and protecting the animals.  Who knows the right thing to do...It's never black and white when it comes to these kinds of things.  I'm just glad we got to experience it while we were here.

I won't go on and on....I'll just get to the pictures...

We spent A LOT of time with the giraffes...

Those things are strong!  He kept surprising me!

He dressed for the occasion..."safari hat...check!",
"water bag....check!", "flipflops...check!"

We noticed that everything is smaller here in the Philippines....
even the porcupines.

Have you ever read about (or tasted) that coffee that comes
from an animal that eats the beans, then poops them out
(and those beans are collected for the coffee)?  This is that animal.

He's holding a turtle and inspecting the shell
to determine if it's male or of the things
he learned on this little field trip.

Baby fresh water crocodiles

Baby Crocodile hissing at his handler.

Just an inch taller....

Now we're anchored in a gorgeous cove about 20 miles south of the reserve...beautiful hotels, sunsets, protected moorings...absolutely gorgeous.

One view from the restaurant at the hotel that owns the mooring we're
on (and where we'll be enjoying our afternoon today).

Another view...

My view... :)

And finally, a few random pics we've taken in the last few days....

We barely touched anything in our freezer after
this catch!

A very large pod of dolphins we saw while underway.  We
saw a leatherback turtle too! unfortunately we were so
excited we didn't get a picture of it.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Finally left...underway

We left Puerto Galera yesterday and had a beautifully perfect day. It was a down wind run with 20-25 knots of wind the whole way. There was a point that it got up past 30 knots, but I swear if I hadn't have been told that, I would have had no idea. We had nothing but the jib out and were making a consistent 8 knots. At one point, we caught a mahi mahi and as we were pulling it in, Andy asked me the speed....we were surfing down a wave at 11.5 knots. Again, I would have never guessed. At that point (after we got the fish in) we decided to pull in the jib a little bit as 11 knots was never our most comfortable speed! I had read about this corner and it's high winds and waves...we were just lucky they were all from behind. We anchored among a bunch of fishing boats and had a very fresh and tasty sushi dinner and a good night's sleep.

Well, we're not so lucky today. We still have 20-25 knots but they're on our nose and beam now. Savannah is bucking like an angry bronco. We thought it was just the fetch from a bay we were passing, but we're past it now and there's no sign of it getting any more comfortable. We were supposed to have fish tacos for lunch today, but homemade tortillas and fried anything just ain't gonna happen. More ham sandwiches for my understanding crew... The good news was for Jake when I cut our school day a bit short. It's never pleasant when the teacher is threatening to barf on the desk.

We have about 27 miles to our destination - North Pandan Island. They're supposed to have a few moorings for yachts and a dive shop that goes out to Apo Reef, Andy's next stop on his diving tour of the Phlippines. Hopefully it's somewhat sheltered and we have another nice relaxing night. Only 6 more hours to go...

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Saturday, March 22, 2014

Still in Puerto Galera

Andy: “Smell my ear”
Me:  “huh?”
Andy:  “Smell my ear.  Does it smell like dead shrimp?”
Me:  sniff, sniff.  Switch sides…sniff, sniff.  “nope, you’re good.”
The romance is come and go on Savannah…
(In full disclosure, I have to say, he has had dead shrimp in his ear before and they do smell horrific)

He had just come up from one of the nastiest bottom cleaning jobs in a while.   Savannah’s paint is crap.  I would love to hear from any other aluminum boat owners as to what they put on their hulls and how well it works.  We’ve painted our bottom three times in the past four years….it’s getting ridiculous and expensive.

Anyway, he was cleaning it because we were getting ready to leave Puerto Galera and we had enough crap on the bottom to slow us down a couple of knots.  Then it started to rain, and the wind began to blow…hard.  So we decided to wait.  Today we got up and were about to leave and it continued to rain, and the wind continued to blow…hard.  It’s probably fine weather to leave in (I’m convinced Puerto Galera has it’s own weather system here and as soon as we get out of this bay it will be totally different) but it’s a pretty busy shipping channel out there and we don’t exactly know where we’re going…so we decided to wait.  Judging by the forecast, it will be a few more days before we get out of here.  We’re all stocked up, ready for a two or three week sabbatical from any kind of town.  Let’s hope we’re still stocked up when the weather breaks.

In the meantime, we’ll just sit here and stare at each other a little longer, reminding ourselves how cool it is to be on a boat, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with each other, all the time….

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Here's to Friends, Handy Husbands, and Moving on

So far Puerto Galera has treated us pretty well.  A poem a friend of ours wrote kind of sums it up so far… 

Crossing Paths
It’s a great big world
With so many faces
People cross oru path
In so many places.

Some will walk with us
For many a mile
Others just a moment
Maybe just a smile.

Some people never meet
Never have the chance
I’m glad you crossed my path
Our eyes shared a glance.

As you journey thorugh life
I wish you the best
Know what you want
And don’t settle for less.

We have a picture almost exactly like this from
four years ago.  Vic hasn't changed one bit.
That was written by our friend Vic Desautels.  We met Vic on the docks in La Paz almost four years ago.  He followed us out of Banderas Bay on his own boat wishing us farewell when we left for the Marquesas.  Well, guess who was here to meet us when we arrived in Puerto Galera?  Yep, our good friend Vic.

We spent our first few days hanging out with Vic and getting to know the town.  Where to eat, where to shop, where to have some of those really cheap beers we’ve come to appreciate.  After a few days it was time for Vic to move on and we continued our explorations.

She was absolutely enamored with Jake and I
have to say, the feeling was mutual.  I've
never seen him let someone boss him
around like that :).  Very sweet.
Within the first few days of being here we met another couple traveling with their two kids.  We’ve spent the last week hanging out with them and thoroughly enjoying being with some younger folks with similar likes and wants and no real need to talk about anchors and watermakers!  And Jake has been beside himself having someone else to play with.

We went out for a sail and anchored for lunch on Verde Island.
Nice snorkel for adults and playtime for the kids.

We might have a new captain on board??

Watching "Wreck It Ralph" in our cabin while waiting for dinner.

We’ve hit some beaches, gone diving, snorkeling, sailing and even splurged on a night in a swanky hotel (by Puerto Galera standards, at least).

Jake, enjoying his hotel bed all to himself.  You would have
thought we were taking him to Disney World - he got
so excited.
Jake, cold in the 85 degree weather...the wind was blowing.
Not the greatest picture of the pool, but it was the best I
could do without getting out of my chair!

This is a decent town, but not one we want to hang out in too long…it’s very touristy, filled with a lot of ex-pats (not necessarily the ones we have anything in common with), and well, just not necessarily our style.  Given all that, it’s very disappointing that we’ve had nothing but issues since we got here…mostly self-inflicted.

First, we ran out of water.  I know.  How do you do that?  Well, 2 years of torrential downpours every few days kind of makes you complacent about keeping up with what’s in the tanks.  Our water maker has been pickled (for those non boaters, it’s treated with a solution and basically unusable until you decide to “un-pickle” it) since Pohnpei.  We’ve been weary (down right chicken) about un-pickling it because we’re afraid we’re going to find that our membrane has gone bad and well, that would be bad AND expensive.  So, Andy bought some water jugs (yep, we didn’t even have them…have never hauled water in our four years of cruising) and filled them up a couple of times so we had at least 20 gallons.  It only took three days and some extra people on board to dwindle it down so today we fired the old Spectra up.  You know what happened?  We made water!  Nothing broke (yet) and we’re making 8 gallons an hour (for once the noisy drone of the damn thing is music to our ears).

Next, our dinghy engine died.  It’s had some issues (that’s what happens when you hit a few too many rocks) and we tried to find the parts when I was in the states.  It turns out it’s a European model and no one can look up the part number (the Yamaha shop in Palau couldn’t look it up either).  We were planning on trying to find it here in the Philippines, but had not yet started the search as it still worked, just didn’t go very fast.  Anyone that has cruised with us in the last few years is probably laughing right now because they’ve seen our oars.  They’re not really oars, they’re sticks.  Through the years they’ve broken here and there and well, like everything else, we put that off too.  So to give you a bigger giggle, we moved anchor closer to the beach and we’re using our paddles from the paddle board to row, Andy with one, me with the other…it’s quite a show.  To get to the beach won’t be that bad, it’s getting back that will be comical (against the consistent 20 knot wind blowing here in the anchorage).  We received an email back today from a supplier in Boracay and apparently they can get the part but it will take two to three weeks…ouch.  But Boracay is not such a bad place to wait it out (did I mention our new friends are there now?).  In the meantime, my super Handy Andy got our old Tuhatsu engine up and running AND we moved back on a mooring so we can use the yacht club service boat.  It’s not as private as the anchorage and much noisier but it’s much more convenient and a shorter paddle in case this one goes out on us.

Do you see the shrimp?

Tiny pigmy seahorse less than a cm. long.

There are some other small things giving us fits (cabinet doors breaking, running out of stuff we can’t replace here, and generators acting up) but they’re all workable.  I think we’re going to provision up and depending on the info we get from Borocay, head on out soon.  In the meantime, we’re keeping our head up and are thankful that these are the only problems…in the whole scheme of things, they’re quite small.   We’re thankful to still be unemployed with the risk of sunburn every day.  Not a bad way to work through our issues.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Puerto Galera

We've finally made it to Puerto Galera.  This place is very different from the places we've been seeing, but in a good way.  It's a fair bit touristy and has a ton of ex-pats and yachties, but the bay is gorgeous and the town has everything we need.  I'm having a hard time putting a cohesive story together about our last few weeks so I'm just going to share it in pictures.  Enjoy.

Valentine's Day in Maasin.
On our way to the market in Maasin.
Malapascua - This is where Andy dove with the thresher sharks.  Lots of good food and beautiful beaches.

The view from Angelina's Italian restaurant.

Romblon - A fair amount of history here.  We visited an old 16th century church and fort (Fort San Andres).  Unfortunately the fort was being refurbished so it was closed, but the walk was nice as was the view.  Romblon is also known for it's marble...lots and lots of marble.  Very cheap, too.  We visited the marble "factories" and got several pictures.  They carve absolutely anything you want here.

On our way up to the fort.

Mosaic made out of marble on the way up to the fort.

Jake got a kick out of this guy.

The view from the top of the fort.

Jake reading some of the history.

See?  They'll carve ANYTHING.

Downtown Romblon...the most common way to get around.
Our rooftop dining experience (the food was terrible,
but the view was wonderful)

Jake got quite experimental with his eating.
This man is cooking up his chicken liver skewer (he'd
already tried the chicken foot the day before).

All the trikes waiting to take people places...another common
form of transportation.

Our one and only gorgeous sailing day since we've been here.
We've been motoring most of the time with winds on our nose, but not today!  Approaching
Puerto Galera at 8 knots...
My handsome husband.

We're very tight here on our mooring...lots and lots of boats.
We're moving to the anchorage soon!

I wasn't sure if this guy was going to hit us or what.  We were at anchor
in a small village....turns out he just wanted a closer look (as did
the 47 other people on the boat).

Andy found a wonderpus!

...and a baby lionfish.