Conquering Mount Tapyas

Seven hundred and twenty.

That’s the number of steps we climbed today to reach the top of Mt. Tapyas.  From our achorage, we can see the C-O-R-O-N sign lit up every night along with a tall cross and a few cell towers, for added ambiance.

We woke up before sunrise to avoid the heat of the day and started our ascent.  Only seven hundred and twenty steps to go!  Although many tourist attractions here are empty these days, Mt. Tapyas was buzzing with people of all ages getting in their morning workouts.  It was encouraging to see so many people making health a priority in the wake of a lengthy lockdown.  Kindly, the creators of this stairway thought to post numbered increments on the stairs.  Somehow, it made the 720 seem more achievable when broken down into smaller chunks.  Each time we reached a marker, it was a bit of a celebration!  (And a great excuse for a brief rest to catch our breath!)

Periodically, we’d also stop to admire the changing views and spot landmarks down below.  L…

Barracuda Lake - Coron Island, Philippines

Coron is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Philippines.  Usually, the streets are packed with foreign adventurers, eager to experience all that Coron has to offer, but these days, we’ve got the place to ourselves.  So now that Coron has loosened movement restrictions, it’s time for us to see some surrounding sights.  This time, we opted to visit one of the most renowned dive sites here, an underwater environment that feels like we’ve entered an entirely new world.

Salinity and Temperature Tucked within the towering karst cliffs of Coron Island, lie the warm, cyan waters of  Barracuda Lake.  Formed by sunken limestone rock, this lake contains both fresh and saltwater, with a layer of brackish water nestled in between and heated by geothermal activity.  The changes in both salinity and temperature cause the water to form three separate layers in which light refracts differently and impairs vision.  The separation of varying water temperatures is called a thermocline,…

Seasons Change

“Come on over.  I live just down from the Two Seasons Hotel!”  “Oh, not the Four Seasons?”  Mark joked.  “Right, we’re in the Philippines - wet and dry - only two seasons!”
We’d just met him in the bakery, and already, Ganny was showing us that Filipino warmth we’d encountered so often throughout the Philippines.

As COVID-19 travel restrictions begin to ease up, we are witnessing the change of seasons here.  Scorching hot days and weeks without a drop of rain have morphed into overcast days scattered with thunder showers and wild lightning storms.

This change occurs due to a switch in wind patterns.  Monsoon winds now blow from the Southeast, rather than from the Northeast.  Roughly from June to October, the Southeast winds bring on the rainy season.  Overlapping the wet season, typhoons typically show up between June and December.  This wind change means two things for us…

First, it means we must carefully monitor weather forecasts.  If a typhoon forms, we watch its predicted path on…

The Heat is On

It’s 7:30 a.m. and the thermostat reads 32ºC inside the boat (that’s 90 ºF). Given the 75% humidity, that makes the apparent temperature 106ºF!

Hatches above us are open, but there’s not a wisp of breeze blowing in.  Sweat trickles down my back, soaking the elastic waistband of my pajama shorts.  The air inside is heavy.  It feels like I’m sitting in a steamy sauna at the local gym, only... I’m not.  I’m sitting at our salon table, stubbornly sipping my morning coffee, determined not to let this heat rob me of my morning indulgence.

We haven’t had any rain since the lockdowns started - nearly two months ago now.  The sun rises blazing, and continues to turn up the temperature throughout the day.  Moods turn irritable on board.  The heat is oppressive, and we are all struggling to carry on with our regular routines.

How Do We Beat the Heat When Living Aboard?Increase the Airflow.  Running the generator to power the air conditioners all day isn’t really an option, as we’re in ration …

The New Normal?

Well, it's been eight weeks since the quarantine regulations were put in place.  Gradually, the resort has closed, leaving only a few staff left.  Our Covid-19 family has dwindled as people have found rare opportunities to travel back to their homes.  In some ways, it feels like just yesterday when all this started.  In other ways, it feels like it's been decades.
The focus for me has been to maintain routine and a realistic perspective during such global upheaval.  It feels weird, though, to continue living life as usual when so much of the world around us is changing and is anything but usual.  I try to take it one day at a time.  What can I do today to boost morale and maintain momentum?  Here are some of the ways we fight the boredom/blues bug amid the monotony...
PlayingOur onboard game cabinet hasn’t seen this much action since our 20-day Pacific Ocean crossing.  Some old favorites have made a reappearance, especially those that take longer than twenty minutes, like Monopo…