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Sunday, January 29, 2006

January 28, 2006-Verde Island Passage

Verde Island Passage, as usual!
wingssail-Fredrick Roswold

It was a windy beat across Verde Island Passage again this year, same as two years ago, but unlike that trip, there was never a doubt today that we'd make it in before dark. Leaving Cape Santiago at 1:00 PM with only 20 miles to go will do that for you. And the last bit, the glorious beat up to Galera past White Beach, in flat water and 20 knots of wind, under the ominous grey cloud shrouded mountains of Mindoro, was just as much fun as it was last time. Pointing high and sailing at 6.8 knots, past some of the most spectacular scenery we've ever seen will do that for you too.

Still, we arrived salt-encrusted and tired; the Verde Island Passage during the NE Monsoon is almost always wet and rough, and when you spend four hours in it you know you've been sailing.

Staying dry can be a challenge
wingssail-Fredrick Roswold

Late Arrival in Puerto Galera, gorgeous!
wingssail-Judy Jensen

This year's cruise in the Philippines, once we got past Bolinao, has been all about going back to places we've been to before. Tonight we are anchored in Puerto Galera, on Mindoro Island, close to where we moored in 2004. The two previous nights we were anchored in Hamilo Cove, where we complained about Karaoke in 2004, and before that, Subic Bay, where we stopped with Carol on our way to Hong Kong.

But there are differences: Going back to Hamilo Cove was like returning to an old friend. We knew the route into the harbor and where to anchor, and we expected to hear Karaoke singing from the town, which we did. It was OK. We stayed an extra day in Hamilo because we knew that the next leg, across Verde Island Passage, would be rough.

Subic Bay was better this time than last time also. In 2004 we didn't like Subic at all, but this year it was a great stop. The weather helped. Instead of muggy low clouds and rain, we had weeks of clear blue skies and fresh breezes. Plus, we were at the plush, if slightly run down, Subic Bay Yacht Club, with its excellent facilities and helpful staff, not tied to a broken down float in the sewer outfall where we tied up in 2004. Most of all, this year we met some great folks at Subic, some of them old friends we knew from other places.

And today we sailed back to Puerto Galera, Port of the Galleons, the only way you can, the hard way, up Verde Island Passage in a stiff ESE breeze, just as we did in 2004. It was rough, but not that rough. We had 20-25 knots all day until the last approach to the rocky Mindoro shore when we saw 28, unlike the 25-30 we had last time. Still, it was blue water sailing at its best: windy, wild and beautiful. We had two reefs tied into the main and a small headsail sheeted tight, we were doing 6-7 knots and the spray was flying. You don't always like it when you're out there, but afterwards it seems pretty great.

Mindoro's rocky and ominous shore!
wingssail-Judy Jensen

Now we've got a few days or weeks here before we head off to new destinations. We want to go to Borocay for some windsurfing after Galera, but in the meantime we intend to revisit some of our old haunts here.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Mindoro Island

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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

January 23, 2006-Party on Wings

Cavelier, joining us for a party

Our stay at Subic Bay has been really good. We got some stuff fixed, collected spare parts which we had shipped from the US, and have pretty much decompressed from our passage over here from Hong Kong. Probably the best part of being here though has been the fun we’ve had with the new friends we’ve met – actually two of the couples we met when we were in PI two years ago.

Subic Bay scene

We went sailing on Sunday (four couples aboard) and in the afternoon we anchored off a small beach on the far side of the bay with two other boats that we invited aboard for a meal.

Lavinges arrive

With heaps of great food and drink, music just a bit too loud, and a boatload full of the wonderful, interesting, and typical sailing characters you run into in a place like this, we had all the makings of a great party, and it was.

Party on Wings

We sat around, ate too much, got drunk, went swimming, told sea stories and dirty jokes, and probably stayed out too late. Finally, after dark, we sailed back to the yacht club and tied up Wings after a long and fun day.

Tomorrow or the next day, we’ll leave Subic and head out for some new place, and new friends we know we’ll meet and will be on the look-out for old friends we hope to meet again.

Click here to meet some of our guests,

or here to meet some more.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Luzon


Tuesday, January 17, 2006

January 17, 2006-Subic Bay

Olongapo street scene

It seems like some things about Olongapo just never change.

We're back in Olongapo, the town outside of the Subic Bay Free Port Zone (used to be the Navy Base), on Luzon Island, in the Philippines.

Just like when we were here a couple of years ago, and just exactly like when I was first here in 1971, courtesy of the USN, it's full of street vendors, jeepneys, and pretty girls.

We're doing some boat projects, waiting for parts, and finding that we like Subic Bay, more this time than last time.


The weather is cooler in January than May, we've had some good sailing around the bay, we're meeting other cruisers, and generally having a good time.

If we get serious about this blog thing, maybe we'll write a bit more of a report.

Meanwhile, we've got an appointment with a San Miguel beer, or three.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Olongapo


New Zealand Life, 1998

New Zealand

If you noticed a big gap in our chronicles, back in 1998-2000, well, we've started to fill it in. Back then we were settling down in New Zealand.

To read those reports, click here, where we describe the Northland

or here (this is a fun one)

or here, for a bit about Auckland

and here, to see how Kiwi sailors enjoy the weekend

and here, how we got settled down

and here, about happenings on the Auckland waterfront

or here, about an out of the way marina

or here, when we get jobs

or here, when we went racing, just the two of us

and finally here, for our thoughts a couple of years later, as we left NZ

We'll post more New Zealand reports from back then as soon as we can.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Luzon, The Philippines

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Jan 07, 2006-Magalawa Island

A big swell runs in the South China Sea tonight and we're anchored behind a low island, named Magalawa, encircled by reefs, hoping for a quiet sleep.

But in this place we are only yards away from the rawness that is the ocean outside. Off to the left a half a mile the major reef between us and the sea broils with grey fury and we can hear the roar.

Behind us a low swell which rolls into this protected spot though we cannot feel it, causes a small wave to break on another reef maybe 150 feet off our stern. Both farther ahead and astern other waves break. So we're surrounded. The path into this place, while not tortuous, was not straight either. Getting out at night would be a neat trick, but we hope we don't have to; however, the boat is ready.

And the wind blows. The wind whistles in the rig and the halyards are rattling and maybe I have to go move them forward.

The boat rocks and bobs gently, because we are mostly protected here, but we are sensitive to each motion, because if it changes then we may need to be concerned. We are protected for this particular condition, but maybe not from some other condition which nature may throw at us. So we wait, and listen, and we have the electronics, which never sleep, watching for us also.

Our own rest may be fitful.

Today we sailed from here from Caiman Point, and we had 20 knots of breeze out of the NW, nice for sailing, which might still be blowing outside though it is less in here. On departure a man in a blue banca told us the sea was rough, but I said it would be no problem.

Why are people always asking us if we are going to be OK out there?

He then offered us a fish. Tuna, I saw, and at first I was not interested. I don't like the common skipjack tuna caught around here and sold in the markets. A flash of yellow caught my eye, "Is that yellow fin?" I asked.

"Yes, yellow fin", came his answer.

I offered P200 and he was happy with that and came closer and held out the fish. Judy got out our long handled net and he dropped the fish in. Then he held out a net of his own and I dropped in two one-hundred peso notes and two cold cokes. He said something about the lure we were towing, maybe he wanted to buy it, though from my perspective he probably had a good enough lure already.

We sailed on down here and made good time, then found our way into this place, which looked like the only spot to be in a NW wind, with no event other than the anxiety of going into harm's way in such close quarters. Judy told me it wasn't her idea of a good time. But we're here and it is a quiet spot, relatively speaking.

As we get ready for bed the wind is shifting to the NE, but it is down slightly, and maybe we are going to be OK tonight.

We'd better be since we drank half a bottle of gin with our tuna sashimi.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Luzon

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January 7, 2006-Sashimi.

This afternoon we sat in the cockpit and had sashimi with wasabi sauce and rice and Filipino gin which we drank out of Seattle Yacht Club shot glasses that were won for participating in Gran Prix about 15 years ago, and they have been kept on our galley counter top, in a small Tupperware tub, ever since. We sat low in the cockpit, down out of the wind and we took down the flag so that, without its constant flapping, the wind would seem less, and we put the sashimi and gin on a small Chinese wooden stool we got in Hong Kong. It was good.

For dinner we had Yellow Fin Tuna steaks and Michael told us once, at Ray's Boat House, that it should be red inside. We cooked it a touch too much for that, but it too was good anyhow.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Luzon

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Friday, January 06, 2006

January 6, 2005-Caiman Point, Luzon

This morning I watched a man ride a horse around the bay. He sat erectly in a yellow shirt and cantered his chestnut along the road next to the shore, in a semicircle around me, passing houses and boats pulled up on the beach, until the road turned inland and he passed from view.

Later I saw a chrome jeepney bounce along the same road, furniture piled on the roof, at no more speed than the horse, and I could hear its engine chugging as it jolted from one pot hole to the next.

The men swing by in their boats for a look-see, and the children paddle out in small bancas to visit, but they are shy, and do not talk to me and rarely approach. Perhaps they don't understand English, but when I finally enticed one boatload with some lollies, the girl in the bow followed my instructions perfectly: "One for your sister, now one for your brother�"

Maybe they feel the need for a level of politeness, staying off not to intrude on our privacy, but often they are obviously shy, especially the girls, with their faces turned away from us, so as not to giggle excessively.

We're staying an extra day at Caiman Point, where it is quiet and calm, anchored in clear water over a sandy bottom. The wind is cool and the bay flat, and we slept well here.

Caiman Point, Luzon

A year ago we stopped here for just a night and watched the fleets of fishing banca's come back streaking past in the evening with Filipino men, solitary figures, staring straight ahead towards home. In the morning they go out again, far to sea, with stacks of fishing lines on plastic spools on pegs on the gunnels, and maybe a box of ice in the middle to store the catch. I bought a Dorado in San Fernando from one man, P400, and it was cold inside when I cleaned it, from the ice.

I told Judy to decide if we were staying or going today, but she didn't want to decide.

Later she said we should put the motor on the dingy and go exploring, so that was her decision.

Finally They got up enough courage to come for a visit

For more photos, click here.

And, here.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Luzon, The Philippines

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Sunday, January 01, 2006

The Solomon Islands, 2003

We're in The Philippines now, but we've just posted the newsletters from the Solomons, which we visited in 2003.

We had wonderful, and at times, mystical adventures cruising the Solomon Islands.

Click here to read about our last stop in Papua, the magical atol of Budi Budi

Click here and read about our arrival in that dusty backwater, the interesting town of Gizo, in the Solomons.

Click here and meet a most wondeful character, Tony the Greek.

Click here to see what happens when you ignore the "Rain God"

Click here to read about our trip to the volcano, and more!

And click here as we reflect on our time in the Slomons, and the sadness of leaving.


Fred & Judy, SV Wings, The Philippines

January 1, 2006-San Fernando

San Fernando

This place feels like Mexico. The whole country of the Philippines does in fact, but this beach at San Fernando, just a strip of jungle backed sand lined with colorful boats pulled up beyond the surf in front of a row of seedy resorts and with the sounds of kids playing in the water, the morning haze and rolling hills behind; even the sounds from the highway and the smoke which wafts offshore in the morning breeze are eerily like Mexico.

The water is calm at this time of day, same as in Bandaras Bay, at Bucerias Beach, in Nayarit, Mexico where I swam with my mother and Jack there on mornings like this. We'd swim for maybe a mile along the beach and afterwards we'd walk back and have breakfast on the patio of their casita.

I'll probably go for a swim here today, and maybe a walk along the beach, for old time's sake.

This is a new year, 2006. In China it will be the year of the Dog, Judy tells me, and it is the year I was born in. I'd prefer to have been born in the year of the Dragon or something, but I guess you don't get much of a choice in this.


Yesterday we went to town and walked around. The people here seem to be obsessed with fireworks, and there were stands in the plaza with amazing displays of firecrackers and rockets. I was a kid in a candy store, surrounded by stuff I'd be happy just to touch, let alone buy. Rolls of firecrackers, "2000 rounds" the sign said, and bundles of cigar sized rockets, for a dollar; a pyromaniac's downfall.

Back at the beach the locals were happily putting quantities of these goods to the match, and the sounds of aerial bombs and the staccato crackle of "two inchers" could be from a war zone, and it went on all day. At nightfall it became a constant roar. The crescendo happened at midnight, of course, with "the rockets red glare and bombs bursting in air" for the whole length of the beach; a couple of miles. It was a good show to watch from the boat.

Earlier one of Lando's son's brought back the laundry his wife had done for us and collected the $16 we owed her, but I thought that on New Year's Eve that money probably went for firecrackers or San Miguel beer, not to Lando's wife.

We ate our evening meal in the cockpit watching the fireworks.

We had rice and fresh Dorado bought from a fisherman who came by in a white and black banca. He said it was 4 kilos, and maybe it was. I paid him $2 a kilo; eight bucks. Not cheap, but we'll have three or four meals from it.

I had to dive for this fish, because as I sat on the windvane platform on the back of Wings discussing a fair price for it with the fisherman, it slipped from our hands and went over the side. A glance was enough to see that it was going to sink, and fast, and the fisherman made no move to go after it. I threw off my hat and sunglasses and dove in, and it was just in front of my face when I opened my eyes; its golden head shining softly in the flickering sunlight. I cradled it in both hands and brought it back up to the fisherman, to his obvious relief and delight.

Lando has been doing well with us. He came far out to sea in his boat, "to guide us in", and we followed him through the reef. Then he offered his shore transportation service, 24 hours a day, for P15, about $.25. Of course he's making his money on laundry and propane delivery, and on the cut he gets from all of his friends and relatives we've hired or bought something from. I have no problem with this, the prices are fair, even with his cut.

And he showed us where to find Cheap Charlie's, owned by another relative no doubt, where we could sit in the shade by the beach and drink beer at $.45 a can, or get a sandwich for $1.00.

So this is San Fernando, The Philippines. It seems like it's going to be a good stopover. We'll check into the country on Monday, as soon at the office opens up after the long holiday, and then, when Jhun's Machine Shop finishes fixing our windvane, we'll be off, to see some more Filipino towns and beaches.


Fred & Judy, SV Wings, The Philippines.

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