transit to Puerto galera

We left Subic Bay Friday, May 23, and arrived here in Puerto Galera Saturday afternoon.

clip_image002 Himilo Cove
Two day passage from heaven. The first day was very smooth and we arrived in
Himilo Cove at 3:15 PM after shoving off the Subic Bay dock at 7:00 AM. We
left Himilo at 7:00 Saturday morning and arrived here at Puerto Galera at
3:30 in the afternoon. The water was so smooth at times you could hardly
tell you were on a boat.

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We rigged up a sun shade and had dolphins swim Since we spend the day on the fly bridge

with us. We are in the fly bridge the entire trip. bring up drinks and snacks!

clip_image007 This line of banca acted like they would cross our bow. They needed to turn or I needed to turn. We had the right of way and were bigger so they turned.

clip_image009 A floating homestead!

Randal continues…”Sunday I found the dive shack I had been in contact with and signed up
for our diving certification class. I brought home one manual for each of us
and a DVD to watch. Our three or four day class starts tomorrow. We have to
watch the DVD, read the (240 page) book and take an exam, then it’s into the water for
personal instruction from a Brit named Simon who I met yesterday too.
We found a wifi source that reached the boat but we had to go into town and find
the shop and pay them for passwords to use it. It was expensive, 50 P
$1.17) per hour. You get a little piece of paper with the user key and
password. Each piece allows one hour of usage or 125 MB which ever comes
first. It also expires two days after you sign in. Sounds like a westerner
set it up rather than a Filipino. We tried it yesterday and it does work.
They told us it works 24/7 but it is not available this morning and I have a
feeling it works their business hours which are 7:00 AM to 10:00 PM. (Correct.)
Today is a study day, we have to read the 240 page book, take the quizzes at
the end of each chapter, and be prepared to take the exam when we arrive at
the dive shop Tuesday. I have a feeling the DVD is a repeat of the book.
Ruth has contacted a lady friend she made when we were here during Christmas
and has made an appointment to go see her. Nancy paints and her and Ruth hit
it off right away. She and her husband have a house and a boat here and Ruth
is going to see her house for the first time. There is a pictures of her and her
husband in Ruth’s email from Christmas. Her husband was wearing a kilt.

There is a big difference from what we are now doing to what we were doing (in Hong Kong and Subic Bay.) Before we were in a safe marina with sea walls protecting you from the waves
of the bay which were naturally protected from the waves of the ocean. We
were attached to a dock and we could walk right off the boat and be on land.
We were attached to shore electricity so no worries about usage; we ran the
A/C all the time. We had a water hose on the dock so no need to worry about
water usage either. Our main concern was getting the boat ready for
Now our day is much different. We are very careful of the electricity and
water we use, no waste. We can have no A/C unless we are running the
gen-set. (So very little A/C.) We are anchored out in the cove and have to hail the service boat
on the VHF radio to come pick us up to go to shore and bring us back again.
If there was no service boat, and it is rare there is one, we would have to
launch the dinghy and go where we wanted to go. (We aren’t sure about leaving the dinghy at the pier while we go off, so we aren’t using it to get to town.)We watch the battery monitor and when it gets down to about 60% we will have to start the gen-set to charge the batteries, heat water and make water with the watermaker. This will be the time for doing any cooking in the microwave and washing clothes as well. We can make water, wash clothes, and use the
microwave off the inverter with current supplied by the batteries but they
deplete them so fast that it’s better to do it while the genny is running as
it supplies an excess of electricity than what the battery charger can use.
We can also do all these things while underway ( cruising) since I installed that big
140 amp alternator on the main engine. While underway the engine heats the
water in the water heater by circulating engine coolant through it.
Our plan is to run the gen-set every other day for about two hours. I think
this will do the trick but we will have to experiment to see. The watermaker makes 25
gallons per hour so that means we will be producing an average of 25 gallons per day
and I’m sure we use more than that. Since we can make water while underway, if we
enter an anchorage with nearly full tanks we should be okay if we don’t stay too long. The
water tanks hold 250 gallons.
One of the things I did during our first visit to PG was join the Classic Club. The CC meets
every Thursday for drinks and lunch and the bill is split. No women allowed.
New members and returning members are introduced and there is a lot made
over the fact that this is the 695th continuous meeting, da da da. There are no
visitors because when you attend the first time you are a member. There are
no dues, no bylaws, none of most things associated with clubs and
organization. The guy who owns the dive shop where we will get our
certification heads the thing up and arranges the place where we will have
the lunches. I told him yesterday that I would surely be there this
Thursday. Ruth reminded me just now that Thursday is our anniversary. Oh
well, I’ll have to propose a toast to her for letting me come.”


(my comments are in parentheses.)

So Randal is off to CC. I am going to spend the afternoon painting and worrying about the Red Sox! I am more worried about them than about having to take off my face mask underwater during our next SCUBA class. You must take off and replace your mask, breathe through the regulator with your mouth and not breathe in through your nose. So far, not breathing through my nose is not a task I have mastered when we are learning to empty our masks of water. I practiced a bit this morning, but I still can’t do it well.

In her book, The House of the Spirits, in the chapter “At Home With the Spirits,” Isabel Allende talks about travel memories. “the person doesn’t bring back the month; the person brings back the big strokes, the brilliant colors, the intense experiences, and in a week you have forgotten how uncomfortable you were and the mosquitoes. You only remember those things that eventually you write about.”

Here is a photo of Tuesday evening.


Ruth Johnson



Scuba and visit to Nancy

Hi Everyone,

Survived the first SCUBA class. The actually time we spent swimming underwater looking at the reef and tiny rainbow colored fish and purple coral and neon blue starfish was great. The time yanking on a cumbersome wetsuit, getting on the vest and tanks and booties while slowly overheating….not so fun. Then my regulator wouldn’t stay in my mouth where it belonged and I almost truly gave up on the whole thing. Really. But then we had an exercise where we switched from our main regulator, (mouth piece through which you get air) to our alternate regulator. Mine alternate worked better for me and things improved greatly. I stopped panicking and started breathing and began to remember the fun I’d had in Subic with Audrey during our first SCUBA outing.

We swam around for about 30 minutes in water that was about 15 ft deep. Though we are in the tropics, I did need the wet suit in the water or I would have gotten cold. Hard to believe since I had grown up with New England Atlantic Ocean water. If I weren’t too lazy I could get out my SCUBA text and tell you how many degrees of change there is as you dive…but I am SCUBA texted out for the time being. Actually we are supposed to be reading Chapters 4 and 5 right now. But I spent most of Sunday night and Monday afternoon and evening learning SCUBA stuff and I need a break. I did go visit my great pal Nancy Cannell and her husband Geoff at their beautiful home on top of a mountain overlooking the sea. It is just a 10 minute drive from town and up a scary mountain road, but it is the perfect home. Comfortable, light, light, light!!! and lovely and inviting and informally formal and just perfect. They love living on their boat here in PG, but I might have to be dragged away from that house if I had the choice. Lots of big spaces, lots of small cozy spaces and all open to the light. And of course there is a pool, small garden area with a pool and fountain and a rooftop set with chairs, tables and a 360 degree view. Did I take thousands of photos? I had my camera and intended to. But Nancy and I had such a great time just seeing the house and talking and talking and talking, that the photos just weren’t that important. We didn’t even mess around with art! That’s how fun it was to just be together and talk.

It is 6:48 pm and feels like midnight. We were up at 5 am, out at 8 am and in SCUBA class from 9 am till almost 2 pm. Then we walked across the beaches to catch the jeepney from Sabang back to PG. Then we walked through PG back to the pier to catch the service boat back to DoraMac. Now I have to go read chapter 4! So goodnight. And GO SOX!!!!


cruising life

Hi Everyone,

  We bought some Internet Time cards from KrisNee Cafe.  We can us the time on the boat between 7am and 10pm (their definition of 24 hour service.)  It does let me send from Outlook, but only to individuals.

  Randal signed us up for the SCUBA course and that will be all day for 3 or 4 days.  The “learn on your own” text book has 250 pages and it took me a while to get through the first 50 and take the little quizzes.  And I already knew lots of the info because our friend Audrey had loaned us her dive instruction videos and had taught us lots of the basic stuff.  So for the next few days I won’t be traipsing around town anyway so not much to email about.  It will keep my mind off the fact that the Sox can’t seem to win a game outside of Fenway Park. 

  This morning I am going to visit my PG friends Nancy and Geoff Cannell.  I’ll take the service boat to the pier and Geoff will come get me and drive me to their home.  It is just a 10 minute drive, but I’m not so sure where it is up one of the small mountains behind town.  Nancy and I will spend the morning talking about art and local PG gossip.

   I think Randal and I haven’t quite made it to “cruisers” yet.  We still miss the “sometimes” instant 24 hour wifi.  We miss the luxury of being plugged into the marina power and water.   No AC here on the mooring and we have to be a little careful with water though Randal says the water maker will work fine.  I take a wait and see attitude.  We could get water from shore in giant plastic water holders.  And I am sure we will one day.  We just are more used to the cushy cruising life.  Jane and Tony came aboard Saturday and eyed our washer/dryer and roominess.  They have a catamaran sailboat with no washing machine and definitely no trash compactor.  Jane washes daily by hand.  But they are as happy as we are to be learning to be cruisers.  It is definitely a transition.  In Hamilo Cove it was quiet and cool.  Here in PG it is less cool because we have our bow cover on and starting about 5 am bancas go by in and out of town.  We fall asleep to the kareoke bar in town…water carries the sound.  But early in the morning, we can hear the birds sing and the rooster crow.

  I’m off to get ready for my visit to Nancy.


here in pg

Randal and I arrived at PG about 3:30pm this afternoon.  Seas were smooth and we averaged better than 6 knots and only used 25.7 gallons of fuel to go over 100 miles.

Old friends Chris and Mylene stopped by on their way from shore to their sailboat.  New friends Tony and Jane stopped by on their way from shore to their catamaran.  We are going to have dinner with Jane and Tony in a bit.  We’ll have to eat fast; the service boat ends at 9pm 

Randal and I are sharing my computer right now.  We are plugged in at the Rock N’ Roll Bar.

So that’s it. 


Bottom Cleaning

Things that had to get done before we could leave…….

Getting the Bottom Cleaned!

One of the reasons Randal and I want to learn to SCUBA Dive is to clean the bottom of the boat, the propeller, and the bow thrusters. If they get clogged with crustaceans and other living things, it either slows us way down and uses more fuel, or it clogs the bow thrusters so they might not work. During our last two trips to Silanguin we could tell the prop was dirty by how slow the boat would go at 1500 rpms. Tuesday morning, one of the local fellows, Glenn, a friend of Jordan’s our current boat helper, came at 9 am so we could go off to cleaner water and he could clean the boat bottom. It was overcast with some rain. But when you are working under water, rain isn’t a problem. Wind and waves would have been the problem, but it was fairly calm. We actually motored over a bit and anchored off shore of Vasco’s Restaurant.

Jordan came too. His job was to be ready to jump into the water to get Glen out if we had to move the boat for any emergency reason. You can’t start the propeller while someone is cleaning it, and to move the boat and control drift or direction, you need to have the boat moving and the propeller running. We had no emergencies and all went smoothly. Jordan went into the water to help clean the sides of the boat. That was good. Unfortunately he had borrowed Randal’s face mask and somehow managed to drop it to the bottom. We’re not sure why, but Glenn decided that the mask was irretrievable because of the current and murk. Oh well, things happen.

After our SCUBA lesson with Audrey I really think I could do the boat bottom cleaning. It isn’t easy scraping all of the barnacles and stuff off, but Randal and I would divide the work and take our time. If we did it on a regular basis, maybe it wouldn’t be so bad. And cleaner water might not generate so much clinging stuff. Oceanography, zoology, geography, cartography…all of the ographies I wish I had studied, then I wouldn’t have to call it “clinging stuff.”

clip_image001 Randal and Glenn in the engine room where Randal is showing Glenn the sea chest. The sea chest takes in all of the water used to cool the engine exhaust, and for the air conditioning and geneset. Creatures, similar to our under the sink creatures, crawl up into it and it gets clogged. Randal was pointing out to Glenn that the opening under the boat needed to be cleaned too, so where about it would be located.

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Get Ready …….. Get Set………

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Go! Going down………………………….

The scuba vest is inflated so you float on the water. You deflate the vest, and that, plus the weights you wear let you stay under the water and not float up to the surface. The trick is to use enough weights and inflate the vest just right so you don’t sink or float back to the surface. Neutrally buoyant is the correct term, I think

clip_image006 Jordan cleaning the boat sides.

clip_image007 This little creature, scraped from the bottom of the boat looked like an oyster. My foot with my rope necklace now an ankle thing and my Red Sox rubber bracelet that is way too big for my wrist. Yup, I really do wear that stuff during the season. Worked last year! I bought a real chain for my Red Sox hat charm; the rope one sometimes untied itself.

clip_image008 To tell if your anchor is dragging you pick 2 points in the distance and watch if their relationship changes. (The tree and the notch in the mountain to its left.) If it does change, your anchor might be dragging. You have to do this because there are no lines painted on the ocean to tell you if you are in your space. You can use a radar ring on your electronic chart when you are anchored in a cove; it will beep if you move out of that ring. We did that in Hamilo Cove when we traveled to Puerto Galera and anchored over night. But we were too close to shore to make a ring that would work. So we just had to watch. I don’t really understand spatial relationships and need to work on seeing what I am supposed to see.

clip_image009 Job done!


Hi Everyone,

  Again, just a quick note. 

My Outlook Email send feature won’t work in Puerto Galera. Jane, who we met yesterday, says her Outlook won’t send either. We can both receive, but not send. My web Yahoo won’t do photos. So I will just post the photos to and email you to tell you when I have a new posting. Not ideal, but maybe the only way.

As I said yesterday, our trip down was very pleasant and calm seas. We anchored in Himilo Cove Friday night and our new anchor caught and held perfectly. However, when we went to bring it up, its swivel had it turned wrong way around so Randal had to mess with the boat hook and while he was doing that we almost backed into shallow water. A learning experience. Other than that, totally smooth cruising. We did have to change course one time for a huge ferry coming towards us. Size takes right of way. While I was driving a line of three bancas (all smaller than doraMac) was aiming to cross our bow, I kept my course and they had to change and pass in back of us. Luckily they changed course soon enough so I didn’t have to get Randal to leave his fishing gear and come back to the flybridge to give me advice. If I had been unsure, I just would have changed my course and been done with it. We caught no fish anyway. And now that we have our Paravane fish that work, we will hopefully never need them.

Not actually sure when I will post to the doramac blog.  but I will let you know.

Hard to believe that I miss the Subic Bay wifi!


Day trip to Lake Taal: part 1

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You can see the rim of the volcano and the lake within it. Another volcano is within the lake with a lake in it also.  Like a Matruska Doll.  The green line is our banca ride across the lake and the red line is the pony trek to the volcano.  These photos are from Wikipedia.

This was a fun trip on the spur of the moment; little planning, just all adventure to see what we would see.  Carol, her driver Michael, Randal and I left Makati at 9 am and drove the 50 or so miles to Talisay, a small resort town that offers access to the inner volcano. It took almost 3 hours in the Saturday traffic, winding mountain road and a slight goose chase to find the best (reliable, won’t drown in their banca) resort to find lunch and hire our banca.  When you get to the main lake road in Talisay you are met by bunches of men waving signs advertising their boat services.  We finally settled on these guys and followed them wherever they lead us; at times back and forth and back and forth till we said “Stop, we’ll eat at the first place.”

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Our “guides.”                                                                                                       All I can tell you is that the name of the small resort starts with a K and there is a large fish over the entrance. 

                                                                                                                           Carol and Randal look at the lunch menu.  We shared pork and rice for 5, but the 4 of us ate it all up. Pretty good too.

clip_image005 The resort had a fish cage where they grew talapia.  You can see across the water to the inner volcano area.  The volcano on the right is extinct. It looks a long way across, but it only took about 15 minutes.  It was calm and felt quite safe in the small banca.

clip_image006 The terrain  adjacent to our little resort.  Very lush.

clip_image007 A typical banca.  We took a different one than this, but they are all quite similar.

  It was overcast, better than bright sun and heat.

clip_image008  Here we go.  Randal and Carol.  Michael and I are up front.

clip_image009 View from the banca.

clip_image010  I know, not so pretty!  A strong contrast with our late afternoon trip to the Taygaytay Highlands.

But this was the little ranch area where we got our ponies for the trip to the volcano.  It was not lovely or scenic and we didn’t have much time for photos. 

Carol actually took this at the end of the trip.We actually could have walked but didn’t know that until we were there. 

The ride was an experience.  Right up there with my ride in China when Sallie rode the “zebra.”