Since having left New Bern, we spent a month in Jacksonville FL. Part of the stay was to enable us to make the drive to York to spend some time with family before the holidays, daughter Andrea, her hubby David and our granddaughter Kyla flew in from San Francisco and the game plan was to […]
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For seven years, I have been dodging typhoons, those pesky little dark circles on the satellite images found in the tropics that can destroy your dreams. We followed Hurricane Jemina into Mexico and saw the carnage in 2009. We kept to the rules of below twenty degrees south after November 1 crossing the Pacific. We narrowly missed a whopper, Yasi, in Australia as we headed south just before it hit. The marina we had been moored in Brisbane flooded down the river.
Then we entered the serenity of the no cyclone area of Indonesia and Thailand for a few years. Ah no little brown circles on the weather sites. Our first trip into the Philippines followed another monster, Yolanda, one that broke records and hearts. We got there a month after the destruction, man I do not want to be in one of these, I exclaimed.
Since being in the Philippines, where typhoon watching is a national pastime, I have learned their ways and habits, mostly. The season is fairly predictable, late summer to mid-December. Most of the early disturbances scoot north barely touching land here, we had three like that this year. It is only when the Northeast winds blow hard that the little circles bend westward, the tail of the season.
There are two ways to avoid any danger; get out! Which we did most years going far south into Indonesia or hide, which we did this year. We stuck out the wet stormy season in very safe protected and rarely hit Subic Bay, snuggly tied to a dock. We watched as three typhoons made their way north and landfall far from Furthur, giving us 3 to 4 days or torrential rain, no more.
With the storm season past, we thought, and great weather we left out cozy dock and headed back to Puerto Galera, where we would tie to a solid, typhoon safe mooring. Not bad but no my best choice. All was well until someone said, hey look at the weather! there it was the dreaded little circle.
By the way, a hurricane, cyclone and typhoon are all the same thing, the names change with location. Here they are typhoons. Call it what you want there it was, a few hundred miles off shore and growing. Another interesting factoid, such storms rotate clockwise south of the equator and anti-clockwise to the north, which is what we get.
So we all went into full metal jacket typhoon watching mode. There are many resources and great weather sites here, like I said it is a national pastime. All the wizards do computer models and estimate the tracks and strength, there are five different entities drawing colored lines on the chart, NOAA is my best guess with the Filipino site an option. The Northwest winds were strong so all agreed this one was coming home.
So I had a decision to make, stick in Puerto Galera or race back to Subic Bay. All the tracts showed it crossing right over Donna’s family home—they all do. And heading north to Manila and right to Subic, so I chose to stay put while our friends in Subic readied for the storm. Now understand at this point you can watch them real time on the computer, amazing. We had our Christmas cheer dampened a bit when the pesky little circle turned more west but we were still out of harm’s way, top gust predicted was 50knots, mid-day. Oh so glad it would not be at night.
Christmas passed in sun and calm, eerie calm winds. The next day I expected some wind as mid-day approached so was a bit taken to wake up to dark dark skies and 25-30 knots at 8 am. Bringing up the computer image, there is was, Typhoon Nina, in all her glory just 20 miles away and closing.
Back to typhoon 101; picture a circle of wind, anti-clockwise, it is calm in the middle the 12-3 oclock quarter is blowing northeast, as you go around the wind picks up so the 9-12 quarter is where the wind is the strongest, as it spins it drops. We were in the 6-9 quarter so the wind was blasting out of the west but would turn to the south and drop. As it passes we enter the 3-6 o’clock quarter and the wind will shift out of the south. The entire storm was moving at about 15 mph and only effecting a fifty-mile strip at most.
We all monitor channel 68 here and the radio chatter picked up. We were on the end of the mooring field, there were a few boats anchored far up wind of us. During the night, a fleet of ferry boats and larger ships came into the bay for protection, again far from us. There are two mooring fields, one a mile away and that is where the trouble started. We heard the panicked German voice pleading for the coast guard to help as a large ferry was headed his way. The CG did not respond, so Donna called them on the phone, classic Filipino response “sorry we cannot help, please pray and be safe” we all got a chuckle out of that advice haha. The chatter went on for about an hour as the wind picked up. Now hitting high 50’s on Furthur and higher in less protected places.
There was a complete white out at times with torrential rains hitting the demon like sea spray. I sat comfortably in the pilot house windshield wipers on high, only leaving a few times to secure the bimini. The rain hit so hard I could not see, and tied knots with my eyes shut, I should have worn my dive mask and readied it if I had to go out again.
Through the white out, I saw on large Ketch pull and reset its anchor over and over, this time it coming right at us. Not any too soon they got the engine running and dashed to the right, healing at 40 degree heel and straight for a huge reef. They disappeared into the white wall and I told those on the radio I was sure the boat was lost.
No sooner than it hit the wind shifted, all the boats spun 180 degrees and bam the wind dropped off. Once sure all was well I took a short nap and awoke to sunshine and calm weather. We dropped the dinghy in and went exploring the bay. We found little problems on our anchorage and big ones in the next one over, mostly caused by that rogue ferry. One boat dismasted and one driven up on the beach. We visited our friends and heard their tales of woe. Miraculously the big Ketch was in one piece and safe, it seemed to have glided over the reef heeled over so far it barely scraped.
We made sure all were safe and exchanged tales and then to celebrate our safely surviving our first typhoon I broke out the new ring that we tow with the dinghy and gave everyone rides.
Make Your Dream Your Story
Capt. Brian Calvert
Early morning departure After finally having the windshield replacment wrapped up, we planned to depart from New Bern. But first, we decided to stick around over the weekend for the Mum Fest, an annual festival/street fair that’s normally held the first week in October. This year, the first weekend in October was host […]
Each year at this time I go back and think about that scared shitless guy, seven years ago, heading out the locks and down the coast. I left a home of 57 years for a great amount of unknown. It was exhilarating, terrifying, stimulating and oh so fun. Seven years later I still need challenges and the great unknown but have been drawn to the familiar as well. One of the great inspirations in my life once said two of the human needs are certainty and uncertainty. The trick is to balance the spokes in your wheel. I think I can say I am far closer to that balance than I have ever been.
The cruising year started with a testing adventure into Raja Amput. The weather, the struggles with our cruising buddy boat and some long runs were a bit of a strain. Compound this with lousing good friends to criminal kidnappers right out of what we thought was an extremely safe place and knowing we had to return there all called for the “captain” to act like a captain.
I did toil over the what “ifs”, what if I had been there? what would I have done? could I have saved them? would I have fought back? The more esoteric thoughts of why them and not me? Popped up nightly as well. Rage, fear, regret, and strong amounts of gratitude for being safe added to a dash of guilt for being safe, all swirled thru some sleepless nights.
Not to be consumed by the what ifs I could have done. I concentrated on the what I could do if-? I mentally prepared for any kind of boarding and took precautions that legal concerns keep me from elaborating, let’s say I was determined not to go down without a fight. All academic as we had a great trip back to Davao where boat work kept me busy.
The next few months were fun and leisurely, seeing old friends and mostly just Donna and I on the boat. This is the time where we grew closer and closer as she became an integral part of the boat and my life more each day. We just celebrated 18 months together, that is 18 months’ face to face 24/7. My relationship guru friend Behan told me that cruising time together is like dog life, times seven. I think that is true. We have grown to “get” each other mostly and more important to get that we do not get it all the time and to let that go.
This is also a time where we were blessed with long visits from Piam. I have always stayed distant from kids in my relationships and frankly have sucked at it for the most part. I do believe that age and the lack of time restraints often found in a career time have opened the door to the magical world of being close to a child. After his first short visit, that Donna had to talk me into, I found myself really missing the little tike, and found an excuse to bring him back. Now he comes to join us at every school break and talks of nothing else and neither do i. Of course I spoil him, not hard to do. I think he has an idyllic life; time with a huge loving family surrounded by a supportive village; the certainty. Then on the boat traveling, new people and adventures aplenty for a five-year-old, the uncertainty.
We have had some master chefs on the boat who taught Donna to cook, something she believed she could not do. Her new found cooking skills and love of pleasing me, and a lack of exercise have not done my waistline any good. When we got to Subic Bay I got a complete physical, well over due. Good news is that I am fit as a fiddle or actually a base fiddle as I was way over weight. One of the benefits of the Subic Bay Yacht Club is access to great places to run and a nice small gym. Now 5 months of running almost daily—wore out one pair of running shoes—and the gym 3-4 times a week along with cutting out—oh the pain—ice cream and cookies—have brought my weight down to near acceptable, lost 7kg.. and firmed up quite a bit on the weights. Pants once discarded now fit again and I feel great.
We had some great land trip this year, back on a motorcycle! We did a long ride to Donna’s village to participate in their Fiesta. Adding to the list of things I never dreamed of doing, I was a judge at a Ladyboy beauty pageant, wow! We also got a long-wanted stamp on the passports, Vietnam. We did a week-long motorcycle trip from Ha Noi north to the Chinese border. It was spectacular. Imagine that, judge at a Ms. Gay pageant and riding a vintage Soviet made motorcycle up the Ho Chi Min trail all in one year!
Civilization has also given me access to my well needed spiritual growth, I found a great group with long time recovery and see them twice a week. This completing another spoke on the wheel.
[pic 50 ]
Today I turn 65, senior citizen by most accounts. To honor the number 65 I awoke at dawn, ran 6.5 kilometers, went to the gym and benched 65 kilos and made love to my darling, wonderful, less than half my age, girlfriend. I am not growing old gracefully!
So, goes the end of the seventh year of the Furthur adventure. I am reasonably fit, enjoying the growing love of a great woman and a small man and many new friends. I am healthy and happy. I am content to stay put in familiar waters yet looking forward to the next adventure.
Make Your Dream Your Story
Capt. Brian Calvert
Since we have a week or so to kill, and Ocracoke’s only a day’s run, we decided to head over while we’re waiting for our windshield. With our National Park Senior Pass, we can dock for only 60 cents/ft, quite a bargain! Besides, it’s one of our favorite places, lots of good memories there since […]
Sunday, October 23, 2016: Hopefully, the completion of our Anacortes to San Francisco CruiseThis morning we departed Bodega Bay in the near early morning darkness. We’re bound for the Golden Gate at around 2PM near slack tide. Then it…
Friday, October 21, 2016: Change of PlansThe NOAA Marine Forecast early this morning called for Small Craft Warnings. Most of the wind and wind waves will occur from noon to midnight tonight south of Point Arena. So we have delayed ou…
Tuesday-Wednesday, October 18-19, 2016: Road TripCrew Dick Squire drove from his Malibu home to San Luis Obispo this morning. Alex joined him for the road trip back to Crescent City. Last week when the big storms blew into the Pacific…
From the Pungo we headed to Oriental and a stopover at the town free dock. Oriental is cruiser-friendly, and they added another free dock in the last year with pumpout and restrooms. Nice! The pier is large enough for 4 smaller cruisers, we take up a bit more than that, so our chances of getting […]
Coinjock has become a traditional stopover. It’s a short day cruise from Portsmouth, it requires passage through a lock and several draw bridges, it’s the only stopoff before Albemarle Sound, plus the restaurant there has great prime rib! Sister Lisa has a beach home near Nags Head, and if they are at the beach, it’s […]