Tag Archives | Selene

All In



This morning I awoke to some heart-breaking news, the daughter of a dear old friend had tragically died in a random and unpredictable home accident.  I was there when this child, now 22 years old, was born and watched her grow up to an amazing woman. I watched as my friends raised this incredible young lady, always supporting and always gleaming with pride, they were the best of “All In” parents.  Now I cannot imagine the pain they must feel. This news was especially emotional for me as I now have a child in my life.

Kelly at her graduation, now tragically taken

Kelly at her graduation, now tragically taken

I am biologically childless by a decision I made as a young man, one I have not regretted but it certainly removed me from one of life’s primary experiences. Today I can experience the joy of a child.  I love Donna’s son and really enjoy his time with us, but I got to admit, I have been a bit gun shy, not my usual “all in” approach.  We had come to this part of the country to partake in Piam’s graduation from Kindergarten, a big deal here.  This was made a big challenge by a four-day cold front bringing big winds to the area which has no really good anchorage. Fact is when we arrived some on the wharf said we were the first pleasure yacht to come here, another said a Canadian boat came years back so we were second, not a sign of a good place to be.

My main goal was to get Donna here, I did that and had a good reason to stay with the boat as the wind was still strong and maybe if I had not learned of the loss of a child of a close friend, I might have skipped the whole thing. I know my friends would have never missed any milestone in their daughter’s life, never!.  The wind died down a bit and I thought of my friends “All In” ways, I had to go. It is about 25k to the village from the anchorage, I went ashore not sure of how to do this, but when I said I had to get to a graduation ceremony, the guys at the dock seemed to know the importance and lent me a nice motorbike, so off I went. Now imagine a brown skinned guy who does not speak English arriving in any US town and the locals just handing over the keys to their car? Ya not going to happen.

the whole town shows up

the whole town shows up

The Filipinos cherish their children as no others, lots of them and educating their kids is a primary goal, they are “all in”. Each village has several schools and each school has “Recognition Day” at the end of the school year and the whole town shows up! New clothes are bought, hair done and even make up on the very youngest. Each parent arrives pridefully hand in hand with the kids. The village ladyboys, the beautician experts, have been working double time applying makeup, doing the hair of even the very youngest, the entire village is “All In”.  Families with more than one child enlist a close relative or neighbor escort the child, each one has an escort.

each with a loving escort

each with a loving escort





Awards are doled out for each class and medals given. The first group to receive recognition is the SPED, special education students. This can be hearing impaired kids who use sign language or developmentally impaired kids. I was already a bit emotional after the morning’s news so when I saw the dozen SPED kids in their bright pink “GOD MADE ME SPECIAL” t shirts, all smiling brightly and “signing” the national anthem, i broke down in tears. Donna knows me well now and had a hanky at ready.  The whole town cheered them on and it was clear they were loved and connected. They were the first to get the medals, the categories included: young singer, young dancer, book lover, budding mathematician, creative hands, and others indicative of a well-rounded education.  The also got sports awards from a recent regional Special Olympics type event. If was not already misty eyed, a tiny little girl with physical limitations was put in a chair, handed a microphone and belted out an incredible song, Who am I. Tears flowed as she sang:

Who am I, that the lord of all the earth
Would care to know my name
Would care to feel my hurt?
Who am I, that the bright and morning star
Would choose to light the way
For my ever wandering heart?



Next was the big event for us; the Kindergarten awards. Piam had some struggles this year adjusting to the authority of a school. He may not be my kid genetically but he sure could be on this one hahah.  Once we got a text from the sisters, (we get texts daily of his antics) the teacher had assigned them to write one whole page of the letter “W”. Piam simply wrote one big W covering the entire page and handed it in. I had to try hard to hide my laughter and “atta boy”.  Trials past, he did get an honorable award, “Sporty Kid”. Donna was keen on maybe “mathematician” or “star reader” I thought “Sporty kid” was just fine.  



I shared hugs with the family, popped on the bike and headed back to find Furthur sitting pretty. I offered the guy with the bike some money and he refused, I did fill his gas tank.  Back aboard and waiting for Donna and Piam to come later I thought of the day, the tragedy and the joy I had experienced.  I now know I need to be “All In”.

Make Your Dream Your Story

Capt. Brian Calvert

M/Y Furthur

www.furthuradventures.com

Start your own blog now! Free!

Summer at last



After a late typhoon, we began our seasons cruising with a trip back to one of the favorites, Coron.  Again, we met old and new friends, dove the famous WWII wrecks and bathed in the hot springs.

from a typhoon to sunshine

from a typhoon to sunshine

Our plan was to venture off shore to the small island country of Palau, this would require a good weather window with a break in the NE monsoon winds as it is 500 miles of open ocean.  The winds usually subside in March and bring warm, dry and calm weather to the Philippines, their “summer”.  The other requirement I had for making this trip is the boat must be void of any major problems, there is no help out there!

Sadly, neither of these things panned out. The weather just did not break, the winds and rain persisted way beyond the normal times.  We watched the weather programs diligently and saw only those dark green and brown arrows, not good.

Furthur seemed to not to want to go either, gremlins kept popping up and old ones not going away.  I have had a consistent problem with batteries, they just did not last.  When we go back to Puerto Galera we were running the gen much longer than usual to keep the charge. We got a technician from Manila to come down and he found a weird draw from the inverter, whether it was running or not, up to ten amps. This explained the radical drop in voltage we would find overnight.  We also discovered 2 more dead batteries in the 6-battery bank. 

Not having access to invertor parts or the know now to fix it, the short-term solution was to switch off the main power cable from the inverter, so we installed a switch to do so.  We found that if we cut off the power drain we had much better voltage each morning.  A short-term solution we could live with.

the trusty Balmar gave up

the trusty Balmar gave up

The other failure that hampered our love of amps, an addiction common amongst cruisers; our trusty Balmar 160 amp 2nd alternator died.  Not a big shock after 12 years and over 8000 hours.  I took it to a small local repair shop with no luck. It also seemed that the smaller stock Cummins alternator had failed, possibly long ago but we could not notice with the big one churning out big amps.  This left us running with no charge off the engine.

The good news is that our newly reworked solar system was spitting out a great charge and more of the day.  Upon good advice from a solar expert, we switched the panels to be “in series” instead of “in parallel. This required a larger, higher voltage MPPT controller to handle the over 100 volts we now produced. The net result is the panels begin charging much earlier, as soon as they hit 24 volts and stay much later. 

So, our procedure until I could get a new alternator was to run the gen in the early morning and watch the solar charge. A nifty Bluetooth gizmo now sends the solar charging data to my phone! On a clear day we could run off the panels by 8-9 am and until about 4pm.. then back on went the gen all the way to Cebu.

Multiple emails with Balmar and our good friends at Fisheries Supply and the new alternator was on its way with some other goodies.  When we get to Cebu, I was directed to a huge junk yard, salvaging company, I walked in to see piles of dead alternators and other parts. The Chinese/Filipino owner took us in his care and we sent the alternator to his friend in Manila for repairs, 4 days and $200usd later I had the rebuilt one in my hands and it worked, still is! We then sent the smaller alternator and the –never did work- wind gen to the same guy.  Trojan sent us 2 more batteries to replace the dead ones and they really work.  About this time the new alternator arrived. So now I have a complete set of spares, you should not have to read about alternator troubles for quite some time!

Boat woes under control, we centered on the weather again.  We were moored with a 150’ expedition super yacht with 19 crew. They had been in Cebu for 2 months waiting for the same evasive weather change. Finally, they found a 3 day lull and took off. About that time an Aussie cruising boat with some friends pulled in returning from Palau. The reported bad weather all the way, they were going down wind returning we would have it on the nose. They also gave glim reports of 59 out of 60 days of rain there. One cannot ignore these signs from above, Palau was out this year. 

Sadly, with our change in plans we lost our one good crew member, Liz, who went on to other adventures. So, Donna and I ventured off to explore the central parts of her country more. We went to Bohol Island and spent a few days exploring its wonders. We saw the tiny rare and endangered critter, the Taisier.  Did a ultra-tourist river cruise and then headed back north. 





Our next stop was Comotes Island, a gem of a place with white sandy beaches, dotted with excellent and cheap eating places, 85 pesos for a great meal ($1.60).  The warm water was so clear we could see the anchor at 30ft of depth.  The sun shone, I got my tan back and life was good.  Summer cruising was back!

Make Your Dream Your Story

Capt. Brian Calvert

M/Y Furthur

www.furthuradventures.com

Start your own blog now! Free!

2017-04 Up into the California Delta, Just Barely.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017:Today our goal is to get up into the California Delta, just a little bit.  Not having cruised the area, Alex is curious as to the currents, depths and passing room in some of what the chart seems to show as narrow waterways…

2017-03 Down the River then over to Vallejo

Monday, March 27, 2017: Riding the Ebb Tide DownriverFor Monday’s breakfast it was Della Fattoria, Petaluma’s downtown bakery and cafe.  Excellent breakfast and it’s busy so come early.  Later Alex’s old college roommate Willie Benedetti came…

2017-02 South Beach, Up the Petaluma River to the City of Petaluma

Sunday, March 26, 2017: Running Aground in PetalumaOur route today takes us with the flood tide, north from San Francisco Bay to San Pablo Bay and the Petaluma River entrance. Our goal is to cruise 16 miles up the Petaluma River into downtown Petaluma …

2017-01 Test Cruise for San Francisco Bay and the California Delta

It’s Spring and the 2017 cruising season is finally here.  Hooray! We’ve been in South San Francisco for the past few months, completing maintenance tasks and prepping the boat for another summer of living aboard.  Most of the work was cosmet…

Vero Beach

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 […]

Pray and be Safe



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

M/Y Furthur

www.furthuradventures.com

Start your own blog now! Free!

Escape from New Bern

    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 […]

The Captain, 7 Year Report



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

M/Y Furthur

www.furthuradventures.com

Start your own blog now! Free!