In case we didn’t made it (in time)…

Tomorrow we set sail from Labuan to Johor Bahru. That will take us couple of days and it might as well happen that we won’t be able to wish all of you Merry Christmas.

Now that our engine is firmly attached to our boat again (more on that later) and the interior is painted, thanks to Jana’s efforts, we have been granted the permission by the gods to leave the enchanted port of Kudat. We are now anchored in the Victoria harbor at Labuan, rain is pounding on the cabin, bread is baking (you should smell it!) and we are excited to heave the anchor and spend few days at sea.

This Christmas doesn’t feel at all like it should. It’s not the first time we spent Christmas away from home, but even in Taiwan we’ve noticed Christmas happening. Here in Malaysia not so much. You get to hear to an occasional cheesy Christmas song, but that’s not enough to do the trick.

If we are to spend the Christmas Eve (The Christmas happens on the evening of 24th for us), let’s hope we’ll be able to catch ourselves a nice mahi-mahi… and Jana tells me that she is going to make the best potato salad ever!

Merry Christmas ya’ll!

At Anchor in Puerto Princesa

Once again we’ve found ourselves settled in the comforts of the routine life at anchor. After breakfast in the cockpit, we usually sit down to our computers and in the afternoon, when we just can’t take it any longer, or more precisely when our behinds already hurt so much that we can’t sit any longer, we go for a ride on our folding bicycles, which we keep conveniently parked in the yacht club (which also gives a chance to enjoy the abundance of space in our V-berth!) Mostly we buy some provisions on the way to stock up on some of our favorite local goodies before we leave Philippines and from time to time we stop in the club before heading back to the boat to have a chat with some of the local regulars. Most of them are from Australia, though there is Klaus and his wife from Sweden, who live on a beautiful yellow trimaran.

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Puerto Princesa Four Years Later

Our days in the lovely Bacuit Bay and the anchorage off Corong-Corong are over. We’ve spent there almost two weeks, half of it translating, i.e. working, and half exploring. When the wind was fluky we were hitting the keyboards and with the first sign of a breeze, we pulled the plug, stashed our awning and set sail.
But the time has come and we had to move. We’ve got this condition, you know. A travel bug. Quite contagious. We are turning literally in front of our eyes into nomads, pure and passionate gypsies.

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Coron and Beyond

Busuanga was nice. We’ve spent two nights in Coron and had to make decision where to head next. The typhoon season is upon us and we wanted to spend some quality time daysailing, anchoring each night, and swimming and writing. Most of our goals were on Palawan proper, but we decided that we have to see at least the Kagayan lake on the Coron Island before we leave. We were ready to heave the anchor when Jana said, why don’t we sail there on our dinghy instead. The anchorage there was supposed to be deep and very narrow, we don’t want mess around places like that with our boat. We rigged the dinghy and sailed in a stiff breeze (stiff for the small dighy) two miles across the bay between Busuanga and Coron Islands. We made quite an entrance and soon dipped ourselves in Kagayan lake.

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Palawan Here We Come

We’ve made it to one of the most beautiful places on the face of the Earth. At least that’s what people that have been places told us. As for ourselves, we were little worried about this description. We are just at the beginning of our cruising lives. Do we really want to see the best right at the start? Won’t we be disappointed with the rest?

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A Week in Puerto Galera

We’ve been here for more than a week now, in one of the most beautiful bays in the world, and we’ve spent most of that time staring into our laptops. Some of the local guys make fun of us that we come to such a beautiful place and instead of admiring the wonderful local flora and fauna, we spend the whole day on our boat playing with a computer. On the other hand, we have the privilege to do the work that feeds us at such a gorgeous place.
Naturally we want to get out and explore, but we are also excited to announce that we have finished the translation of the second novel by the Taiwanese author Li Ang, the famous Butcher’s wife. This novel has been translated into many languages, but the Czech translation was still missing. Now it’s ready and will be published by IFP Publishing this autumn.
Now we can finally take few days off, well, we are going to take few weeks.

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Water And Washing

When we arrived to Puerto Galera, we visited the yacht club and then went straight to town. The flyer we’ve picked up at the tourist centre, described the town as “first class municipality”. It must be local demographic technical term, because that handful of streets hemmed by souvenir shops and bars full of fat old foreigners sipping on rum with water, the wet market hidden in poorly lit dirty yellow ground floor, reeking of raw meat, blood and fish, somehow does not fit the description “first class”.

Puerto Galera is first of all a touristy town. On the east side you will find a fishing village, but other than that you will mostly see tricycles, whose drivers constantly shout “White Beach” and “Sabang”, which are the names of the most famous local attractions.

But people come here for first class diving. Our mission wasn’t tourism, but a hunt for some fresh veggies and fruit.

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Farewell Subic Bay

We’ve been here in Puerto Galera for a week, mostly working on finalizing the translation of the taiwanese novel Butcher’s wife by Li Ang. This is done and we have time to recount our last days in Subic Bay and the passage from there.
The third day in Subic we unpacked our bicycles and went on a supply trip to Olongapo. We tried to recognize the streets and corners we’ve seen the previous day from a window of a taxi driven by the good man Elmo. Soon we got lost in the unwieldy streets of Olongapo, but thanks to modern technology and google maps we’ve soon found the market and laundry we were looking for.
I waited buy the bikes, because we forgot to bring locks (well we had the locks, but not the key, so…), and Jana dived into the market. From time to time she emerged, hands full of plastic bags with veggies and chirped about how cheap everything is, almost the same as in Taiwan, and how lovely all the ladies at the stalls are.

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Subic Bay

After arriving to the yacht club, we were met by the marina employees. They told us to come to the office to sign some papers and also helped the owner of the small speed boat, that towed us in, argue for his reward.

“This boat is private, you must pay now. It’s 5000 pesos (120 USD).”

“The tow was organized by the port control and tomorrow they will want us to pay once again. We don’t want to pay twice. Couldn’t we wait till tomorrow, we pay the guys from the port control and they will then pay the speedboat owner for his service,” suggested Petr.

In the end it was agreed that we will pay immediately and the marina office will write us a receipt, that we could show the officials at the port control the next day. At least we now had a rough idea how much they could ask for the tow, i.e. we knew what was the highest price we would be willing to pay. We sent the marina workers back to their office saying that we will come once we organize ourselves and the boat.

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From Kaohsiung to Puerto Galera II

In the afternoon the wind was gradually intensifying and before the dinner we had the second reef in the mainsail and genoa was replaced by a reefing jib. Even under the reduced canvas we maintained 5.5-6 knots over ground. The waves were growing by the minute and as Janna surfed down their slopes the speed was reaching 8 knots.
We had very delicious instant vegetarian rise from Jessica Ou, the Cape Horn windvane was steering very reliably. We were nevertheless little nervous if the wind and especially the waves are going to grow even further. The night was uneventful and soon we got used to the wind and the waves and we started to hope these conditions will hold. The watches were relaxing, one only had to stand up to look around and inspect each quadrant with a little more care so as not to miss a light due to the big swell. But we could see only one or two ships. Our strategy to sail further offshore payed off. When we had the north coast of Luzon on our beam we were about 70 miles offshore.
In the afternoon the wind started to weaken and in the evening we were once again battling with insufficient wind and still quite considerable swell, which was taking the wind out of our sails.
The next two days were spent by hypnotizing the sails. Whenever they bellied and stayed that way for more than ten seconds, we fixed our concentrated stares at them hoping to keep them that way. Then we felt Janna’s stern to lift on a swell and the mast whipped through the air. When the sails only collapsed, we were cheering. Mostly, though, the swing of the mast was faster then the strength of the wind, and the sails followed the mast as if it was a flagpole waved by a zealous boy-scout in a parade and then the mast swung back and a then came the loud bang. Janna shuddered and so did we. If this continued for a while and we couldn’t help it by steering, the sails went down. Whenever there was the tiniest of zephyrs we hoisted the gennaker made out of light nylon, but sometimes even the gennaker was too much of cloth for the joke of a wind.
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