Saturday, 16 February 2013

Guest post by Sheralee - A to Z guide

We are very sad to have said good bye to Sheralee, it's been really great having her and sharing our fantastic cruising life with her. The ultimate success of the visit is that she (a non-sailor, but keen traveller) is now considering the cruising life as a way to go! Anyway, Sheralee kindly wrote an A to Z guide to her Philipino visit onboard Sophia. We love it, thanks so much Sheralee and thanks for coming to visit us and being our parts and mail mule :-)

ANCHORAGES - most important to find scenic, sheltered and secure! After Limasawa, also stayed at Guindulman for a couple of nights, then Loay near Villa Lumpia resort for another couple of nights (abandoned river anchorage as we crawled through very shallow water surrounded by reef and crowded with fishing boats), then the sheltered port of Tagbilaran where we saw the first other cruising sail boat since Palau.

BAKESHOPS - even on the smallest island you were never more than a few hundred metres from some sort of bakeshop, with bread, sweet buns, cakes etc starting from 2 pesos each (about 7 cents). Yummo! (Also see WEIGHTWATCHERS)

CORAL - stopped at several beautiful snorkelling spots, including popular divespot and Marine Reserve Balicasag Island enroute on Tuesday. Surrounded by coral reef so Phil and Astrid took turns piloting Sophia while we explored. Saw a turtle, lots of big parrot fish, and schools of the greater spotted tourist....

DINGHY - our lifeline from the shore to the boat and vice - versa. Have no idea how they fitted four people when Astrid's parents visited! By the end I had mastered entering and exiting gracefully (quiet Astrid!!!). Travel hint - luggage that fits into two dry bags is recommended (ie, not a big wheelie suitcase). If you wish to offer post-dinner entertainment, do the splits while getting back into Dinghy in the dark.

EMAIL - internet was surprisingly cheap and not too unreliable. 50 pesos ($1,50) per day including Unlitxt (unlimited texting I am guessing). Again, even in the most remote spots there were posters advertising Unlitxt and smartphone rates....

FISHING - 8 days, fish 0. Really need to work on that trawling guys...

GIMBALLED - that stove is a very clever idea, we should all be gimballed in rolly weather on a boat...

HABEL HABEL - you saw the evidence on the last blog post. 1 driver and 3 whiteys, no helmets. Couldn't believe we made it up the hill, wouldn't have won any speed records though.

ICE CREAM - Astrid is finely tuned to hearing Mr Whippy jangles in NZ, and is now finely tuned at spotting any establishment which sells ice cream. The number of photos of Astrid eating ice cream is not proportionate to the number of ice creams Astrid has eaten :)

JEEPNEYS - brightly coloured small buses with two long bench seats in the covered back. They travel set routes and leave whenever full. For about 8 - 10 pesos per ride they are a bargain - Cheapneys... Travel tip - not recommended for people over 5 ft 5. Unless it is raining then you just jump in anyway.... (TRIKES are similarly colourful, with religious slogans on the back but is a Honda with a covered side wagon with two seats (additional seat on the bike behind driver, or a side 'seat' on the outside. Highly recommended.)

KINDLES - essential for any cruisers. Particularly during day long passages after the scenery has worn off and you are convinced there are no whales sharks or dolphins. Most commonly heard phrase on boat: ’where's my kindle?'

LIONFISH - the most impressive fish I've seen. Better than Nemo's. Go google it. Go on!

MANGOS - mmmmm, mangoes. (Yes both spellings are correct). I am pretty sure we ate mangos everyday, if not it was an unforgivable oversight...

NEXT TO NOTHING - what a lot of people got by on in the villages. Yet all were friendly and looked pretty content (living in paradise ain't too bad). Also defined as 'what they wore on the boat'. I soon got into the swing of this, when with the Danish girl.... And it was hot and saved washing! Travel tip - it is polite to warn Phil before he comes up on deck.

ORCHIDS - so many of the villages had the most beautiful street fronts and these gorgeous flowers would be sprouting out of gardens with pride.

PORK - what most Filipino dishes seem to have in them. Also a lot of Hot Dogs of questionable meat source. I do wonder if the Muslim population in the south have different traditional dishes. The majority of Filipinos are Catholic (and are hopeful that their young cardinal will be in the running to be the next pope!)

QUICKFOOD - Angels hamburgers, 2 for 25 pesos (about 70 cents). Phil and I gave them a go and survived!

RAIN - had only two significant downpours during my trip. The first was after our Chocolate Hills and Zipline ride experience. It pretty much kept raining all afternoon so we gave up trying to dry out or wait it out, and embraced it. We were like drowned rats in the dinghy, then had a full shower back on deck (shampooed out the salt soaked hair). Ahhhh, love the rain. Second downpour was after a perfect morning sailing and snorkelling at Balicasag. We headed upwind to Tagbilaran into a rock and rolly squall and while the crew 'kindled' below deck, the landlubber watched the horizon up in the fresh, wet air. Travel hint - water will pour out of the rolled up mainsail and straight down the back of your neck when seated in the cockpit and going down a wave. But it's not cold, so just embrace the rain!


TARSIER - the cutest little endangered primates, native to Bohol. See photos and captions on SY Sophia's Facebook page.

UNIFORMS - all schools and shops have neat and colorful uniforms. We looked like slobs in comparison!

VIDEOKE - Nuff said, seriously.

WEIGHTWATCHERS - what you need after a trip on SY Sophia. No fish and vege diet here! There were at least 3 cupboards with chocolates or chupa chups. The XL choc and maple syrup bottles needed their own cupboards. Astrid baked banana/choc bread and butter pudding, pear and choc self saucing pudding, and I had homemade baileys in my coffee at least 4 days.... Travel hint - the food is superb onboard. Enjoy!

XCELLENT - the time I had.

YACHT LIFE - definitely home away from home. Water was a major difference, washing dishes in salt water and rinsing with a spray bottle of rain water. There are 220 (?) litres and a great set up to catch rain water off the Bimini. Surprisingly spacious quarters and had everything you need, even an exhaustive library (I studied the books about cruising, have planted some seeds of a cruising lifestyle, sigh....)

ZIPLINE! - Astrid and I went on a 500 m zip line ride across the Loboc River gorge just so I would have something to put for 'Z'!

Disclaimer: the writer has not been paid for this independent review and contributed to her stay through grocery provision and being a courier for boat parts and 8 months of mail. Your experience may differ from the one described above and only humorous correspondence will be entered into.


  1. What a great write-up! You'll soon be inundated with visitors, I think :)

    1. One can hope ;-) But yeah, really funny write up, I couldn't stop laughing when I read it.

  2. I see the banana-choc bread & butter pudding is still a winner! :-)

    1. That will always be a winner I'm sure. Don't tell anyone, but we actually sometimes have just that for dinner, haha, milk, egg, bread, banana is all healty and dinner-ish, the sugar and chocolate just makes up the dessert part... I do remember when I made it for the first time with you guys in Ha'apai :-)