It’s taken a personal email from someone who reads this blog for me to remember that there are a lot of people out there waiting for news from us; SORRY!
I wish our news was better, that I could say that the reason we haven’t been in touch is because we were on some idyllic island whiling away the time with chess games and fishing. But life has other plans for us.
We were on a three month visit to Israel, working to build up our reserves and visiting family and friends when I discovered that I have stage 3 colon cancer. It was lucky that we were in Israel where medical treatment really is first class and we are covered by health insurance, also that we have a lovely little house which we have just built next to Oren’s parents house. After diagnosis in November ( on my birthday, of all days) I have been through a course of radiation and chemotherapy, which I finished yesterday. In the middle of March I will have an operation, and after that some months of chemotherapy again. It’s funny how fast your life can change completely and all your plans go down the drain, or at least get put off indefinitely. However, it could always be worse. I have Oren to look after me, he really is quite good at it to be honest. Chasamba is in a safe place and is fine. Sheva has a new home with a very nice expat we know in Puerto Princesa. We don’t have much money but we aren’t starving either, and all my medical expenses are covered. I don’t seem to have any metastasis, so far. So I’m not complaining, maybe in another year we will be back on Chasamba! Until then, I am writing a new blog here for anyone who wants to know what having rectal cancer is like, and any other news we have. I will update here whenever we have any news about getting back to Chasamba.
Yes, we are back in Puerto, it really feels like home after wandering round Palawan! We left El Nido with the intention of circumnavigating Palawan anti clockwise, but didn’t reckon on a current running against us of up to two knots. Together with light winds and calms, it was impossible to get farther than Quezon, and after two days spent trying to get past the treacherous reefs around this southern city a south west wind came up; we looked at each other and saw that we were in silent agreement- we turned round and ran back up to El Nido, arriving in two days after beating down in ten.
On the way down Palawan’s west coast we did find some nice anchorages, and the part between El Nido and Port Barton is really worth cruising. There are more fish than anywhere else in the Philippines and the water is clear and pleasant, with few or no jellyfish in most places. We went through Malampaya Sound and stopped at John and Cissy’s island, Alligator Island, where we met Bill who is living there as caretaker.
Now the south west monsoon seems really to have started, a little earlier than the last two years. The weather is still not very wet but the wind is quite strong from the south west and squalls pass over frequently. We are glad to be in a sheltered anchorage, and it is fun to meet lots of yachties after not seeing many anywhere else. I suppose they were all hiding out here ( or in Subic, or Bonbonon!)
The first project we have done for our rainy season refit is to dry dock Chasamba, and we did it right outside the club, with quite a few slightly bemused Australians looking on. They had never seen anything like it, as we steamed up to the beach at high tide and just tied ourselves up to a bamboo cradle which we built on the spot. We worked hard for the next few days, and managed to scrub, sand, paint primer and antifouling in three days! On the third day we had to get back into the water or stay until the next high tide. We were ready, all our bamboo dismantled and the tide nearly high enough when a big squall hit the anchorage. Winds of 30 or 40 knots started to push us up on shore, and although the tide wasn’t really high enough we had to start pulling in our stern anchor, set a few hundred meters out to sea, and trying to reverse with the engine. For a while it looked as though we would be swept right into the veranda of the yacht club, and we could feel Chasamba shudder every time she hit the bottom between waves, as we gradually clawed our way back into deep water. Eventually we got out into the anchorage, rescued the dinghy which had sunk meanwhile since it was full of chain and the anchor, and anchored in a reasonable place. We came back into the yacht club for a well earned hot shower and a beer, and were congratulated by all on our lucky escape! Now, a week on, the paint looks good and hasn’t flaked or peeled like last time, so we hope it will last for a bit longer.
Next project, new cockpit cushions, is also done, and cheaply because we used the material from the sprayhood which we replaced with plywood in Bonbonon.
The next project in line may be getting our fridge working again, although this is a bit difficult because it really needs rebuilding and making smaller, and putting into the place it should have been in originally.
The internet this time is not as good as it was last time, so it will be a bit difficult uploading photos, so if none appear, sorry and bear with me….
These are pictures of Two Oceans. Sometimes coincidence can be hard to believe; looking for information on Micronesia we just happened to get to the blog of Miki, the skipper of Two Oceans, a catamaran which is travelling from east to west at an incredibly fast pace. When we read that they were in Cebu, leaving for Palawan very soon we made contact and invited them to sail by El Nido. We were glad we did, it was nice to meet Israelis suddenly in the middle of nowhere and we had a good chat, shared some good home cooking and tips both ways. Miki and his crew had itchy feet though, and after two days they were off to Thailand after leaving Yaron ( holding the big Spanish Mackerel in the picture) in Puerto Princesa where he flew home. Good sailing, guys!
El Nido is hot and sunny, the islands are beautful and the water is clear. It is a nice place to just hang out in the peace, but there is a new sport today- some clever Philipino lads have souped up their bancas and are trying to break the Philippine water speed record!
and here is Chasamba at anchor, and Oren sailing the dinghy out to her.
Our plan is to stay here for a while, then sail round the west coast of Palawan and up to Puerto Princesa, where we will do some welding and metal work ( Oren’s good friend Hammerhead, of course). Then back up to Bonbonon in July to leave Chasamba and Sheva again. But for now we have time to swim, take walks on the sandy beach with Sheva and read Bakunin.
And now we are here…
These are good quality images, so if they seem too small just use ctrl+ to enlarge them. We are where the grey boat is, in Corong Corong anchorage.
It’s so nice to have Yasmin for a visit, and it has made us get out and sail! We left Bonbonon on what was supposed to be a good forecast, and had very mixed weather up to San Jose. Luckily, from there it improved although the grib files were more or less wrong totally. After a day spent bobbing around waiting for wind we caught a strong Amihan and flew over to Coron. Chasamba did over 7 knots most of the way, but it wasn’t too uncomfortable with two reefs in the main. On arrival we couldn’t get the engine to start ( story of our lives) and anchored near the port until the next day, when we managed to get round to the anchorage outside the market.
After several days touring Coron we got itchy feet again and set off for El Nido. A really good sail with a 20 knot breeze on the port quarter brought us straight into El Nido, no engine again of course but the wind was, for once, not straight out of the anchorage and we sailed in with no trouble, setting our anchor under sail and scaring an elderly Australian couple half to death!
El Nido is as nice as ever, a seaside atmosphere and funisland hopping tours. Yasmin has had a good time and so have we. On Tuesday she flies back for a month in Israel before leaving for London and her new life.
Cold, rainy and wintry weather isn’t stopping us from exploring the bustling city of Taipei. We really have to thank the Philippine government for making us visit, because it is so expensive to renew visaand flights are so cheap in Asia that it made sense to fly here instead of staying home; so thanks Philippines, it was worth it!
We were lucky to be in Taipei for the Chinese New Year. The temples were full of candles and incense, peole burning pretend money for the ghosts, or ancestors because at this time the division between the spirit world and the real world is supposed to be permeable, and offerings of food heaped on tables and altars. I was surprised to see meat being offered- I thought the temples were partly Buddhist, but other gods are represented too. The temples aren’t really spiritual places; there are people talking on cell phones, people buying things right in the middle and all sorts. I liked that, it is kind of like a secular religion in a way.
Taipei is modern, crowded, 100% online and actually a very pleasant city. The MRT metro system works well and makes it easy to get anywhere around Taipei cheaply and quickly, as well as housing many good shopping areas in huge underground malls which stretch for kilometers and are a nice way of keeping out of the cold outside. It is 14 degrees at midday, a big shock for us after 26 and above in Negros! We have done most of the typical tourist things; Taipei Zoo for the pandas (dejected looking), the gondola for tea houses in the hills (over priced and touristy in the extreme), Taipei Museum ( lots of good pieces, many from the forbidden city), night markets (stinky tofu and sashimi, tasty and reasonable), Beitou for the hot springs ( very very good in this climate and inexpensive if you go to the public one) and both Keelong and Tamsui to look at the fishing harbours. In Keelong we even managed to find a little marina, unfinished as yet and fairly deserted apart from a few local yachts which looked unused and a lot of fishing boats taking advantage of free berths. It would be the best place close to Taipei to stay for a yacht, although Tamsui would probably be possible too.
Taipei 101, nearly the tallest building in the world. We didn’t go up, it was full of tour parties and didn’t look really wonderful enough to queue for an hour.
people burning money at a Taipei temple
a market on a quiet day ( I kid you not!)
Oren having fun in the Naval Museum in Keelong
sea food in Keelong fish market
A sea urchin in Keelong fish market
The sulphur pools close to the source of the hot springs
Beitou hot springs
A new friend?
Smelling in the “Scent Library”, a good way to pass a rainy afternoon
One of the pandas
Oren having fun with the sink…
while I sand the new counter top
the new sprayhood is nearly finished and the non slip patches are coming along!
Chasamba looking pretty!
This is a short film shot by Robert during the big tropical storm which passed almost directly over Bonbonon last month with gusts of 150km/h. At the end you can see several boats which have dragged their moorings and collided, one was holed above the water line, another dismasted.
Finally we have gotten round to doing something useful with ourselves, and the result is a really nice new look for Chasamba. I don’t have pictures of the final result because we haven’t finished the windows yet, but it is already looking really good! Here is a picture of the first fit, and then some of the building process.
Hard to believe that these bits of flimsy plywood and a bit of fiberglass could turn into a real sprayhood, huh? Next week I hope I will be able to upload pictures of the final version, but I can tell you that it is GOOD!