Once again, I ponder the wonders of my life as we enter the tenth year of cruising full time in paradise. This past year brought us to many familiar new places and a few new ones. Easy living and great new adventures.
We started working on the boat and enjoying Subic Bay where we sit in the marina for the "rainy season". This gives us time to do some land travel and enjoy the decadence of civilization. I even found a spa with sauna and jacuzzi nearby.
November sent us on a new and most wonderful adventure, we got married! We migrated to Gubat, Donna's village, waded through the maze of Filipino regulations for marriage and with one hundred and twenty friends and relatives (four where on my side) we tied the knot.
my new family
October sent us back to Puerto Galera to help with the All Souls Regatta and festivities. This has become an annual tradition for us and a great shakedown before our six months of cruising begins. All the bugs out we again left Subic Bay for Puerto Galera for the holidays, with the wonderful company of several of Donnas sisters and Priam. Again the starting of a family tradition.
Christmas lights put away, boat set for cruising we departed Puerto and headed for another one of our "homes" Coron. We picked up our crew for the year, more about that later, and with brisk wind and rolling seas behind us headed out.
This year we began our charter operation, with a "solft opening" having two groups booked. We found this challenging, enlightening and fun. We now know where to set limits and what to expect, we also set the stage for a wonderful experience for our guests, diving, kayaking, candle lit dinners on remote sandy beaches, all adding up to a wonderful experience.
The long awaited rendezvous with my favorite Selener's occurred when the most traveled Selene joined us in Coron. John and Kathy Youngblood on Mystic Moon are in fact the only people to go further than Furthur! We spent a week showing them the sites of Coron and diving the wrecks. Sadly, they were in "delivery mode" working to meet the seasonal limitations of a cruising around the Northern Pacific s our time was short. It was great to see them again.
Charters done we headed to new areas, going south to Palawan. There are endless anchorages on the way to El Nino, the center of north Palawan activity. With Baracay closed for rebuilding this left a huge amount of tourists to scatter to the other hot spot destinations, El Nino being a favorite so it was a dash crowded this year. We enjoyed the restaurants, the amazing public market and meeting old and new cruising friends there.
All stocked up we headed to entirely new areas south of El Nino. We anchored alone in Malampaya Sound, a serene and well protected bay with multiple anchorages. We had heard this place was populated with monkeys so we explored in the dinghy in search of our primal relatives. No luck, not a monkey to be found, so back on the boat, anchored close to a beautiful white sandy beach, we had our afternoon poo poo plater. I caught a glimpse of movement on the beach, grabbed the binoculars and spotted, one, two, twenty, fifty monkey coming out of the jungle to play on the beach. We watched the show for an hour, so much fun. As sunset the critters headed back into the jungle, we could see the trees move about as they all found their nights resting places and so did we.
Next on our new places list is the small village of Port Barton, home of a cruising icon, Brian. We joined 5 other boats in the anchorage, three old friends and two new ones. We enjoyed the cuisine, the commodore and explored a nearby waterfall. Port Barton has just the right balance, enough tourism to spawn some really great dining but not crowded at all. It is like El Nino was ten years ago I think.
We began our trip back up from there, this time with an historic twist, a visit to the Leper colony at Cullion. We anchored off the town and dinghied in, it is a small rarely visited town, so much so that we had a hard time finding a place for lunch, two restaurants actually had "closed for lunch break" signs. Finally finding an open place to eat we met a friendly young man, who offered to give us a tour of the Leper Colony. Turns out his grandparents were both Lepers and he was raised in the colony. His heart felt and personal input added so much to our experience. He showed us how this facility actually came up with a cure and treatment, helping to end the ruins of lepercy.
Our time in Palawan came to an end as we set back to Apo Reef, Puerto Galera and on to Donna's village. The long standing and held tradition of making a kids seventh birthday and memorable one had not gone unnoticed. Donna had been planning this for a year. Add my usual exuberance and over indulgence to celebrations, and Priam's big party was a huge success. It also came at the end of his school year so he joined the crew.
Now we revisited an old favorite spot, Romblon, Romblon. This tiny island enjoys a prosperity not always found in the Philippines due to geology, the island is laced with huge deposits of marble. So, everything is marble, roads, fences, our mooring bouy is held by a massive chuck of it. We had our upper bridge table covered with an inlaid Native American whale tale (yup my whales again) carving. Get this, for $23usd! We dined at the local places and visited old friends.
Next we headed to the land of white sandy beaches and scrumptious scallops, Gigante Island group. We played on the four local beaches, filled our bellies and freezer with scallops and bid a due just as the weather brought a squall.
We ended as we began at Puerto Galera, stretching out the last days of summer. As the weather turned so did our thoughts of movie theaters, saunas and spas, and back to Subic Bay we headed. Thus, ended the cruising season and began more adventures on land.