Ruth and Ralph

That was a teaser wasn’t it!  You were expecting Ruth and Randal.  But this email is about Ruth and Ralph who have been live aboard sailors for over 20 years.  Both originally from The Netherlands, Ruth emigrated to Canada, but moved all over the world for Ralph’s work  They even lived in Boston 4 years and one grandson goes to Harvard.  Must be a Sox fan!    Anyway, Ralph and Ruth have a schooner and have made it their home.

clip_image001  Their three masted sail boat

clip_image002  Ralph and Ruth.  If you closed your eyes you would think Sean Connery was speaking to you when Ralph spoke.  Don’t they just look the part!

clip_image003 Ruth in her galley.

clip_image004 clip_image005

A better picture of the galley, though not of Ruth. 

Our friend Nick is in the white shirt.  He had just come in from the little entry area just behind the cockpit.               Every inch of space gets used

clip_image006 Books and other treasures.

clip_image007 The saloon table with the pillow treasures from Bali, I think.

clip_image008 Family photos and more treasures.

clip_image009 When you walk into the boat you are greeted with this lovely Mola weaving. 

clip_image010  Looking out from their cockpit at sunset you can see the three Diesel Ducks in a row.  Ours in on the right with the red bow cover, DavidEllis is in the middle and Kwakatu is the tan one on the left.  Jamie and Dave Fritsch own Kwakatu and Dave and Dorothy Nagle own DavidEllis.  Both of their boats are off to Palau.  Kwakatu will then head on home to the West Coast of the US after a stop in Hawaii.  DavidEllis will return to Subic and then go back to Hong Kong.

I am on my way home to Roanoke on the 20th.  Tomorrow Randal and I will take the bus to Manila and early Wednesday  morning we’ll go to the airport , I catch my plane, and Randal will return to Subic for more boat work.  It will be a 21 hour trip for me if there are no snags.  Last trip took 36 hours!  This has got to be better. 

Balding and Plans

Randal was feeling a bit philosophical about life in general and barbers in particular.  He also writes about our plans for 2008 which I am always so vague about.

Subject: Balding and Plans

Hi All

I’m going bald. Yes folks I’m afraid it’s true. I thought because I was red headed I would not have to deal with baldness or gray hair as some of you have. I had believed that the reward for being red headed was to be left young in old age but here I am, going bald.

Somewhere along the line I discovered I liked getting shaved in a barber shop. It may have been China where a shave and a haircut cost about a buck. I always gave them about tens times that amount so they wouldn’t forget me and sure enough they didn’t. I also like to imagine myself as Clint Eastwood in that movie Hang Them High I think it was, where he rides into town, snarls at some of the street variety gun slingers and goes directly to the barber shop. Apparently in the old west or Italy where the movie was filmed, it was customary to pull your six shooter out of its holster when you set down in a barber chair. Anyway, when the bad guys walked in, good old Clint blew them away without biting the end off of his cigar. I wonder where those actors are now.

Also have you noticed that mafia type folks spend a lot of time in barber shops getting shaved? I know because the newspaper pictures showing just killed mob members were always either in a restaurant or barber shop. Boy, those guys had it made.

I have developed a relationship with a barber here in Olongapo. I guess you could say we are going steady. I went by the shop a few weeks ago on a Saturday and found out that Saturday is his day off. When I went back a few days later I think it was pretty well known he is my guy.

When we first got here in July I went walking one day and found this barber shop, it had six chairs and all of them were available. The barbers were all young so I picked out the one with the best shoes, some of them didn’t have any shoes at all. A haircut is 50 Pesos ($1.22) and a shave is 40 Pesos (98 cents). He gave me both and I tipped him 100 Pesos ($2.44). Biggest tip of his career I can assure you. Each subsequent trip I got better and better service.

I only get the shave most of the time which is every week. He uses a double edged razor that he breaks in half and slides into a holder that resembles a straight razor. He is very very careful which leads me to believe he hasn’t shaved many men before. Now I get the shave, trimming of my eye brows and nose hairs, clipping and shaving of my head hair around my ears and neck, face rub with rubbing alcohol, and a head, neck, and shoulder massage.

I’ve never heard him speak a word of English, I go in, look at him, he looks at me, I set down and he does what needs to be done. I pay the one girl in the shop that sweeps the floor and serves as cashier, the 40 or 90 Pesos, walk over and give him his 100 Pesos and I’m done.

Now to the subject matter: Here in the Philippines they lay you all the way back in the barber chair to shave you. The first time he tried it I just sat straight up. Remember those mobsters with their throats slashed. Besides I didn’t know his religion or thoughts on Americans so I wouldn’t lay back. He finally accepted this but as a compromise I lay back about 45 degrees against a headrest he installs for that purpose.

One day early on I saw a refection in the mirror of the guy behind me in the same position I was and noticed his forehead on each side came back to where his cow lick used to be. Can you imagine the horror when I discovered the man in the mirror was me? You see there are two rows of barber chairs with mirrors in front of them so, well you get the idea. I looked in every mirror I could find on the way back to the boat but there was no denying it, my hair is thinning out.

Ruth will be arriving back in Roanoke in four days on the 20th. When she returns to Subic on the 13th of March we will get busy installing the parts and supplies she will be bringing back and then we’re off, probably by the end of the month.

If we get accepted in the Sail Indonesia Rally I want to be in Darwin by late June. On our way there we will spend some time visiting some of the islands of the Philippines and spend some time in Kota Kinabalu in Eastern Malaysia. That will give us three months to get to Darwin and the rally begins on July 26th and lasts for three months all in Indonesia.

That will take us up to November and we have to be on the West side of the Malaysian Peninsula by mid January 2009. That will give us two and a half months to see Singapore, Western Malaysia, and Thailand. I think we’re rushing it a bit.


Fueling the boat

5,000 liters!  =  148,000 pesos                        1321 gallons =  $3586   @ $2.71per gallon     Lots of money in either language. 

2:53 pm We’re sitting here at the fuel dock waiting to have 5,000 liters of fuel pumped into DoraMac’s gas tanks. I took a few photos before the fuel official said, “no photos.” First I thought he was posing, but he was waving to tell me no photos. Randal said that it will take over an hour to load up. This is the first time since Hong Kong that we put in fuel and there we took on 1600 liters. The tanks will hold 2,000 gallons.

It’s about a 15 minute “cruise” from the SBYC to the fuel dock. But that makes it all sound so simple. Motor on over and fill up. That’s not how it works. We had to get a letter from the SBYC Marina office certifying that we are at the yacht club. Then Randal had to go to customs. Then he had to make an appointment to actually come to get the fuel. ( All of that is so we could buy the fuel duty free) Then Randal had to get the boat close enough to the dock so Ruth could attempt to throw the line into the wind to the fuel man on the fuel dock. It took a few tries, but by then the wind had blown our stern too far away from the dock to get the other lines tied off. So Randal had to make a second attempt and this time Brian, our present boat helper,  threw the bow line and I handed off the stern line since we were that close to the dock I could hand it to the fuel man.  Now we just wait. I did open the manifold levers to all of the tanks and learned how to do that. The fueling process is a bit more complicated than learning to fill your car with gas;  it is so much larger and the wind is an issue and later you have to redistribute the gas in the various tanks so the boat doesn’t list to one side. You do pump your own gas though and clean up any spilled fuel.  And you need to load up a large container with money to pay for it all, literally!  It’s 3:17 and we have already loaded 1,100 gallons! Not bad. Now Randal and Brian are switching the fuel hose to the stern tank.  

It’s 3:39 and Randal is off with the bucket of money to pay for the fuel. Too bad that we couldn’t deduct our fee for the day we spent biking from fuel office to fuel office trying to arrange to buy fuel and no one knew or the person who knew was at lunch or in the bath room or, or, or. Yesterday our  boat surveyor, friend Ray Wolfe helped both us and Dave and Jamie Fritsch get through the hoops. Randal went with Dave to fuel up this morning and now we have come back this afternoon. Having lots of fuel is a very secure feeling.

Now we are back at the SBYC and really for such a cumbersome process it doesn’t feel so bad now that it’s done and we won’t need fuel for a while.  At 2 gallons an hour we have a lot of hours to go with today’s fuel.

clip_image001 Tied to the fueling dock.  Brian and Randal

clip_image002    The levers that open the tanks are under the saloon floor. 

You can see bits of our lovely teak floor.                 

clip_image003       The levers have a lock that needs to be slid to open the tanks for the fuel which I didn’t know but did finally figure out.

clip_image004 Fuel dock

clip_image005 Some of the offices and fuel tanks

clip_image006Vasco’s where we bike to have lunch sometimes. 

We sit under the tent-like roof by the water and watch other boats fuel up.     

clip_image007 Other boats were there too, just like a gas station where you wait your turn to get to the pump.  Here you make an appointment and they tell you where to dock the boat.

clip_image008 Fuel man turning the valves to let the fuel flow.

clip_image009 Fuzzy photo of fuel man waving no, NO! No more photos. 

ps  any errors in facts or explanations are the fault of the author.

Just another day in Paradise.

Randal and things

Have I mentioned that Randal can fix anything?  I know I have said that he can read train schedules in any language anywhere.  And he has slogged through Pulitzer Prize winning  Guns,Germs, and Steel , explaining it so well that I don’t have to read it and even the National Geographic’s video hasn’t added to Randal’s “retelling.”  But have I written about how, whatever needs doing or fixing on the boat, Randal can do it or find folks who can.  But most he does himself.  Like this morning.  I decided to clean out the aft shower and sink because yesterday we went to Silangun and went swimming and took showers so there was sand and grit galore in the shower.  Plus the filter under the sink was starting to make its grunting “clean me sounds,”  so I did.  First I cleaned out the shower, lifting out the teak shower floor and scrubbing everything.  I even changed the sponge filter Randal thought of to keep hair from the drain.  Then I started on the sink.  So simple: take off the plastic filter cap, take out the screen, scrub off the goop, replace the screen, put back the cap and make it tight.  I had done it a dozen times before.  Today, the pump wouldn’t start pumping.  The water drains into the sump and then the pump, pumps it out when the flow switch tells it to.  I don’t absolutely understand or I would write about it in more detail than you probably want to read anyway.  Bottom line: pump not pumping right.  Randal knew how it was supposed to work, why it wasn’t working, how to turn off power that needed to be off, how to turn off the water that needed to be off…. He knew how to cut the electrical wires to the pump to get it out from under the sink, how to take the pump apart, clean it, put it back together, rehook the wires and make it all work again!  But that isn’t even what made him my hero for the day.  Yesterday at Silangun I collected lots of shells from the beach.  But one I scooped up while snorkeling and put it into my shorts pocket while I was swimming.  This morning while I was cleaning up the shells I remembered the one in my pocket.  I got it out and looked inside the small shell and there was a tiny hermit crab!  Oh no, what to do?  I really hated the idea of killing it.  I brought it into the pilot house and put it onto the chart table where it started to climb out of the shell.  Oh no!  What to do?  I was afraid to throw it over into the water because it is too deep where we are tied.  I found the poor thing in clean shallow water and thought it might need to come up for air so wanted it where the water is shallow.  Since I was still wearing my grocery store nightgown/sundress as a nightgown, Randal was a hero and took the little creature up to the most shallow part of the marina and dropped him in.  Hopefully he will be ok if he can deal with the pollution here.  I’ll just have to be much more careful next time I am shell collecting.  No live animals….  So first Randal saved the hermit crab and then he fixed the pump.  And instead of getting upset about my cleaning the pump into not working; he said it wasn’t my fault and that he was glad he had a wife who didn’t mind cleaning out the sink pump.  So the hero award for the day goes to Randal Johnson, hermit crab rescuer and plumber extraordinaire.

clip_image001 Randal walking to “free the hermit crab!”

clip_image002  None of these shells had tenants, thank goodness.

clip_image003  This is Randal working on our salt water washdown system.  It is so we can wash down the anchor  without having to use fresh water.

clip_image004 Lyle makes stuff from stainless steel.  He has made things for us.  Randal and I stopped at Lyle’s shop so Randal could talk with him about our new anchor and new flopper stopper fish.

clip_image005  Driving the boat to Silangun

clip_image006 Randal and Doramac in the distance.Randal isn’t wearing white socks; that is his tan line!

clip_image007 Sitting under the little shelter for our picnic.  This lady came walking down the beach.  Randal managed to get her to take some diet coke.

clip_image008  Walking back to the dinghy to go back to the boat.

Bike Ride to Barrio Baretto

Hi Everyone,

  Randal gave himself some time off today and we went for a bike ride out of Subic and over the hill to Barrio Baretto for lunch and a visit to the deli for “take home.”  I was a bit worried since the hills in the heat here have been really difficult for me.  I just told myself to go slow, more slowly than even I needed.  That seemed to work and in no time we were out of Subic Bay/Freeport, over the hill past the Olongapo Cemetery, and into Barrio Baretto.  We were actually too early for our lunch at Dryden so we kept riding along the main rode; the only road really.  We had ridden it months ago on a Sunday morning.   Way more traffic today so we decided to turn off down a side road that was paved and looked as if it would go for several miles.  It turned out to be more hills than flat road, but it was such a change from the busy main road that we kept riding for a bit until it seemed as logical to turn around and ride back to the main road and Dryden.  After all, our goal was to get to Dryden, and though we had no clue where this side road would take us, we knew it wouldn’t take us to Dryden.  I did take a few photos; I was working too hard to stop and take more.  Plus it was hot! 

clip_image001  We passed several small farms and many rough shanty type houses.  There were several cultivated fields in the flat land between the mountain areas.  Many people called out cheery hellos!  I wish we could have kept going, but I know I was too hot and starting to run out of pedaling fuel. 

clip_image002  This is the main road.  You can see all of the traffic.  We had ridden past these wonderful small vendors (yes there is some kind of vehicle under all of those wonderful locally made treasures.) On the way back they were stopped on the side of the road so I could take this photo.  

So that was our day today.  Randal and I are still getting over the sad ending to the wonderful New England Patriot’s story.  I have introduced Randal to the agonies of Boston sports fandom.  Randal had to watch me follow the Red Sox during baseball season.  Then, like most of America, he followed the Pats’ wins, week after week.  I followed them because my friend Bruce loves the Pats the way I love the Red Sox.  I wanted the Pats to win for Bruce and his friends more than for me.  Sorry Boo.

Max the dog in a bag

Hi Audrey and Bob,

  I wanted more ice cream when you left, resisted; wanted more ice cream in the middle of the night when I woke up, resisted; wanted some for breakfast, resisted!  Aren’t I good!

Here are the photos of Max coming out of his pillow case sleeping bag.


Subject: More Max

hi all,

well here are two max-photos that show his latest “trick.”

where’s max?


reappearing now…clip_image002

he moved too fast so the picture isn’t very good, but you get the idea.

we covered the pillow with two cases so he could not get to the actual pillow-cover and chew through it.  he figured how to get into the top cover and he just crawls in and sleep there.

And to change the subject and answer a question….  They might not come from the same place because their meanings don’t really overlap.  You figure it out; I just have to provide the info and ask ,” does this answer your question?”


From Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th Edition (2003)

  slaughter Slaughter  I. noun
   Etymology: Middle English, of Scandinavian origin; akin to Old Norse
   slātra to slaughter; akin to Old English sleaht slaughter,
   slēan to slay — more at slay Date: 14th century 1.
   the act of killing; specifically  the butchering of livestock for
   market 2.  killing of great numbers of human beings (as in battle
   or a massacre) ; carnage
  II. transitive verb Date: 1535 1.  to kill
   (animals) for food ; butcher 2.
    a.  to kill in a bloody or violent manner ; slay b.
    to kill in large numbers ; massacre
   3.  to discredit, defeat, or demolish completely • slaughterer
  Online Etymology Dictionary - Cite This Source - Share This 
O.E. slean "to smite," also "to kill with a weapon" (class VI strong verb; past tense sloh, slog, pp. slagen), from P.Gmc. *slakhanan,
 from base *slog- "to hit" (cf. O.N., O.Fris. sla, Dan. slaa, M.Du. slaen, Du. slaan, O.H.G. slahan, Ger. schlagen, 
Goth. slahan "to strike"), from PIE base from base *slak- "to strike" (cf. M.Ir. pp. slactha "struck," slacc "sword"). 
Modern Ger. cognate schlagen maintains the original sense of "to strike."
 Meaning "overwhelm with delight" (1340) preserves some of the wider rangeof meanings that the word once had, including also "to strike a spark" (O.E.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2001 Douglas Harper


more jellies

I just couldn’t resist taking lots more photos of the jelly fish.  So fascinating!   Not bad for a little point and shoot.  Can you imagine with a SLR and a tripod!

clip_image001  Close encounters possibly making more jelly fish

clip_image002 they’re lovely but you wouldn’t want to swim with them. 

clip_image003 they sometimes come up to the surface

clip_image004  reflection of a mast surrounded by real jelly fish.

Art imitating life……

clip_image005  Dorothy’s painting of the jelly fish. 

Dorothy explained that you put little drops of alcohol onto the paint to get the effect of the jelly fish.  Very lovely!

clip_image006  Dorothy and her painting

blue cool

Hi Everyone,

  I am really looking forward to my visit home.  I still have 2 weeks; will I plan ahead or rush last minute to get ready?  We’ll know the answer to that in about 2 weeks.

I took these photos of the Nagle’s boat DavidEllis late this afternoon.  My art friend Nancy Cannel had painted a seascape with fantastic images dancing by the water.  I saw those images when I looked at the Nagle’s boat so shot them for Nancy.  But they are so cool….

clip_image001  I may try to paint this one…my favorite

clip_image002  I like the orange here, think it’s their life ring

clip_image003  This looks like Inuit art from the Canadian Northwest