Showing posts from May, 2020

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…

Saving Easter

Easter 2020 Blame it on Corona virus or lockdown or parental lack of planning ahead, but the Easter Bunny took this year off.  I’m not sure if he is laid up in one of the thousands of hospital beds using one of the precious ventilators on his cute, twitchy bunny nose, or perhaps he is about to go bonkers inside his burrow in lockdown with his precious little Easter Bunnies-in-training.  Heck, maybe he saw the chance for a vacation from all the egg-hiding, and is binge-watching Tiger King with the rest of you lucky unlimited data streamers.  Whatever the reason, there were no baskets full of plastic grass or chocolate bunnies or (my favorite) Reese’s Pieces Eggs aboard Field Trip this year.  Does this even count as Easter?  Do I still get to maintain my ‘Mom’ title, or have I forfeited those privileges with my blatent child neglect?

In the morning, when I realized this would be the first year without some sort of basket from some sort of bunny, my mind churned.  Moms are the ones tha…

From Rations to Plenty

Produce Delivery - March 31, 2020 “Your produce arrived today, you can come pick it up at the resort anytime.”

The text came at 10 o’clock, and I could barely contain my excitement.  Opening the sparcely stocked fridge lately had brought on a sort of panic and depression in me.  Wilted bok choy, one quarter of a pumpkin, and half an onion sat glumly alone on the shelf.  Whenever it came time to cook dinner, I felt like I’d been thrust onto the set of Iron Chef, “Create a main course with these two shriveled tomatoes, three potatoes, and a can of corn.”  (Things were certainly not this dire for us quite yet, but I felt the need to use as few of our canned provisions as possible in order to save them for when we ‘really needed them’ and I could feel the food rationing nazi slowly creeping into my psyche.  When preparing each meal, I found myself praying thanksgiving and miraculous multiplication over each veggie I placed on the cutting board like it was my last.  Fishes and loaves, Lor…

Stuck in the Philippines

Social, but Distancing - March 2020 It is strange to be here with no other sailors around us.  We are lone rangers.  The limited internet connection we have, however, allows us to stay in touch with a group of sailors nearby at Busuanga Bay.  They write about their efforts to contact local farmers to arrange for produce delivery in the anchorage.  Here at the resort, they keep saying they have produce, but I feel bad asking them to sell us some of it, seeing as they need it to feed their staff and few stranded guests.  Yesterday, I finally broke down and asked if they had some table salt they could sell me.  It feels awkward and humbling to be somewhat dependent upon them.  We are trying to find ways to give back to them as well.

Yesterday when we went in, I brought a dress and a raincoat that Elizabeth grew out of, and Mark brought some pickling powder to help fix one of their watermakers.  I also packed up a mini pedicure kit, to provide a spa time for the female staff and the one…

Quarantine Oasis - Sangat Island

A Safe Spot to Land - March 17, 2020 After our quick escape from Coron town and one night in a secluded bay, we ventured onward, hoping to find some friendly folks at the Sangat Dive Resort.  Friends had highly recommended this spot and specifically noted it was “cruiser-friendly.”  Given the chilling way we were received in town, we desperately hoped to find a cruiser-friendly spot to stay put for a while.

When we arrived and tied to a mooring, Mark and I debated about who would go ashore.  Neither of us wanted to be the ones to rock up in this resort and get turned away.  In the end, Elizabeth and I stayed aboard to man the boat in the 20-knot winds on the unknown mooring ball, while Mark and Michael ventured ashore.  I anxiously watched through the binoculars as they were greeted by an armed security guard and a white man.  What were they saying?  Was the place open?  Were we going to be welcomed to stay?

When the guys finally returned, they were all smiles.  Andy, the English ow…

Coron, Philippine Islands

Encountering Corona Closings in Coron - March 17, 2020 For the past four days we have been out of internet range - diving in the remote Apo Reef, anchoring beside deserted sandy beaches, and enjoying the stillness.  Somehow, my phone picked up a smidgen of internet somewhere, though, and our stillness was shaken as this message popped up on my text feed from my friend Kerry who had just left us to get back to Australia:

“Do you have internet where you are?  Looks like we just made it through the Manila airport in time!!  Best you keep on sailing - the world’s gone mad!!”

After pulling out of Puerto Galera and being away from the media coverage for four days, we have finally anchored in Coron and have been bombarded with the onslaught of travel restrictions, lockdowns, and mandated closures.  Apparently, a lot can change in four days!

What used to be seen as overdramatization and over-reaction suddenly seemed reasonable and alarmingly necessary.  This COVID-19 was ramping up, and gover…

Apo Reef, Philippine Islands

March 12, 2020 The water was glass as we motored toward the lighthouse marking the Apo Reef ranger station.  We had sailed (well, motored) throughout the night under the light of a nearly full moon.  Our goal - to arrive in the morning so we could fit in a full day of diving.  Apo Reef is 90 miles southwest of Puerto Galera.  It is designated as a national park, so first thing we had to do was pop into the ranger’s station and pay the fees (US$60 per diver) for a 48-hour permit.  There was only one place that we were allowed to anchor, which was quite a distance from where we paid the fees, so instead of anchoring and making the long trek, I pulled Field Trip right up to the reef wall near the station, stayed on board, and manned the ship while everyone else hopped in the dinghy and went in to check us all in.  

Thirty minutes later, they returned with the details.  Turns out, there are members of the Philippine Army stationed on the island with the rangers.  Michael reported that th…

Puerto Galera, Philippines

March 2, 2020 Yacht Club? When we arrived in Puerto Galera back in February, the virus had already started diminishing tourism.  Many of the dive shops were empty and few foreigners could still be seen around town.  The day we got there, we anchored in a bay among other boats, and headed into the yacht club to talk to them about possibly getting a mooring.  The young gal behind the counter was less than helpful, telling us that there was a very long waiting list and basically sending us on our way with no more information.  Mark and I looked at each other, puzzled.  Okay?  Guess we’re on our own and there’s nothing more we need to know!  All the questions we wanted to ask would have to be saved to ask other sailors we happened to meet.

Above the office, we ordered lunch and sat down to make a game plan.  At a nearby table, a group of expats were enjoying their monthly wine tasting luncheon.  Each of them brought a bottle of wine and then blindly rated them in a variety of categories…