Saturday, February 7, 2015

Tooling Around Samal's East Coast

We got together with a couple of friends and set out to explore Samal, the small island off Davao where we are staying at Holiday Ocean View Marina.

Dave and Suzy Coming Out of Marina Road

We took our motorcycle, a Suzuki 150, and David and Suzi from Sidewinder rented a slightly smaller 125. Two other couples--Leslie and Philip from Carina and Eddy and Glenda from Helena--went out riding on the same day but opted not to do the "round the island" route. Now we know why!

A Selfie on the Bike

David and Suzy

They are slowly paving the roads on Samal. While we were gone at Christmas they finally completed the portion near the marina, and carried on past. But the roads we had planned to go on our expedition were NOT paved.

Starting on the Unpaved Roads

We set out around 9:30 counter-clockwise around the island from the Marina. We quickly ran out of pavement (in about a quarter mile). From there it got pretty rough.

Secdea Resort from Out On The Dock

Our first stop was at Secdea Beach Resort. This is a very upscale hotel/resort on the water. Normally to visit Secdea for a day, it costs 750PHP (about $17) and this includes lunch. We talked our way in for a short look-see for free. They stop everyone at the entrance and take you in via golf cart. It's a pretty place but (IMHO) not worth the $17 fee for a day visit, and certainly not worth the $100+ per night hotel fee. We are told that there is a sandy spot just outside their harbor that's anchorable, but it's only a few miles around the corner from the marina.

The Dock Lounge at Secdea

After Secdea, we found our way to the coastal road along the east coast of Samal--a bumpy dirt track. We stopped in a couple of very small towns to rest our weary butts and buy a bottle of water.

Waterfront Property in A Small Town

In this picture is the main house, the TV room, the outhouse, and the pig place, plus a nice back porch.

A Local Fishing Boat

As we wound our way down the coast, the road got rougher and rougher. Dave is spending all his time concentrating on keeping the bike upright, and not getting a chance to sightsee much. I am holding on for dear life (riding behind him). This trip quickly was falling into the "not so much fun" category!!

The Dirt Road Gets Worse

We had a fairly detailed map on our "Maps with Me" app on the Android cell phone (a version of mapping that works completely offline), and we could tell it was still a long way down the coast. We were starting to think "shortcut to the paved roads". But alas, the locals we met told us to keep going south.

Finally we met a hill that was bigger than we were. I wasn't leaning forward far enough and the bike got squirrely and Dave dumped it (narrowly missing going over a big drop-off on the side of the road!). Fortunately we had helmets on. Unfortunately we didn't have appropriate riding gear on. Both Dave and I ended up with messy scrapes on one leg and I a 3"x2" burn on the other leg. I nearly knocked myself out rolling backwards off the bike to get my leg off that hot exhaust pipe!! Ah, the lessons we learn... even at our advanced age!

David and Suzy (right behind us) helped us get ourselves untangled from the bike and, when Dave couldn't get it started on the hill, push the bike up the hill to a flat shady spot.

Field Repair of the Suzuki

Dave and David then proceeded to dismantle the bike trying to figure out why it wasn't starting. They checked fuel and spark and it looked like the spark wasn't sparking, so they took the seat and the fuel tank off trying to trace the wiring. All the wiring looked good. They put in a new spark plug (yes, Dave had all the tools and spares we needed). I think the spark was there--but difficult to see when the plug was grounded on the frame. We nearly electrocuted David when we turned it over WITHOUT it being grounded, but relieved to find that there was spark after all. It was probably just flooded, but a good practice field diagnostic effort. It would have been a loooong walk to civilization had it not started. But finally we were off again.

Nice Overlook On the West Coast

Soon after, we finally made it to better dirt roads, and then FINALLY to some paved roads--we were finally back on the more populated west side of Samal. Whew! We were tired, sore, and hungry, and looking for food.

Lunch at Farmer's V Restaurant

Taking guidance from a local, we stopped at the Farmer's V...a typical (slightly upscale) Filipino restaurant, where we had a nice lunch.

We had all had it on the bikes, so after our late lunch, we went straight back to the marina for a well-deserved nap.

But Dave is still planning our "Big Bike Adventure" around the Philippines.

I'll spare you the gross pictures of my (still healing 2 weeks later) bike blister.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Back Aboard in the Philippines!!

After a fairly long and very enjoyable visit in the U.S., we are back on Soggy Paws at Holiday Ocean View Marina, Samal Island, Davao el Sur, Philippines.

The View from Our Cockpit

We left our condo in Florida on Jan 4 and drove to Atlanta (with several stops), where we left the car. We flew Southwest to San Diego to visit Dave's son Chris. Then we drove to Travis Air Force Base to fly out via Military Space Available flights.

Recap on our Military Space A trip from California to the Philippines... it took us 10 days, 2 rental cars, 1 $90 bus ride, and $550 in hotel bills, plus we had to pay $750 in airfare for the last leg from Japan down to Davao. We went for free from Travis AFB in California to Hickam AFB in Hawaii, to Kadena AFB in Japan, to Yokota AFB in Japan. From Yokota we had to take a bus to Narita (Tokyo) airport, where we flew commercially to Davao. We almost got a free miliatry flight into Clark AFB in the Philippines, but that one got cancelled with no prospect of a reschedule. So we had to buy a ticket for the last leg into the Philippines. My estimate of costs if we had flown commercially from San Diego to Davao is about $1500 (for 2 one-way tickets) on Singapore Airlines. So we probably saved a couple of hundred dollars, and we had an ADVENTURE! Email me if you want the blow-by-blow of that trip, for those of you who haven't been following it on Facebook.

Our good friends, Philip and Leslie on Carina, kindly opened up Soggy Paws on the day of our arrival, so at least she was aired out a little.

We arranged with Don Don who drives the shuttle bus for the marina to come pick us up at our hotel in Davao, so we didn't have to try to shlep 4 large heavy bags and 4 small heavy carry-ons on and off the ferry by ourselves. He also made a 15 minute stop at the grocery store, so we could buy a few necessities. That was well worth the $10 price.

Soggy Paws is in fairly good shape. The inevitable mold inside the boat isn't as bad as I expected. We had a little trouble getting the refrigerator going. Since we have a keel cooler and our keel is out of the water, the compressor was running hot and kept cutting out. So we put a big fan on the compressor, turned the speed down to its lowest setting, and wet down the keel cooler a couple of times. This seemed to work, and once we got the temp down to normal, we didn't have to mess with it any more.

Our port side scupper, which has always had a slow leak, has apparently been leaking a LOT. The bread pan we put in place to catch the drips was full, the cabinet and area under the Nav Station that gets the overflow was wet, and the whole map case area under the Nav Station lid had standing water. Not good! But we've finally gotten that all dried out (Fortunately, everything in that area is wrapped up against water incursion, because this isn't the first time it's been wet under there!). This is number one on the priority list before we leave again.

The weather here is just delightful right now. Reminds me of the Keys or the Caribbean in the spring. Some brisk wind from the north and nice cool (but not cold) conditions. Highs about 80 during the day and lows of about 70 at night.

We are still unpacking and commissioning systems on the boat. Dave has spent the last 2 days working on our motorcycle, which wouldn't start. It had a marginal battery before we left it for 3 months, so Dave got a new battery, cleaned the carburetor, and tinkered a bit. It started yesterday morning OK, but the carb was leaking. After spending all day yesterday working on it, he got the leak fixed but now we're back to "it won't start".

We didn't get a manual for the bike when we bought it. I searched the internet for one and found a parts manual in English, an owner's manual in Pakistani, and a Service Manual in Spanish. I emailed Suzuki Customer Support in the Philippines, looking for a PDF file, but they were not helpful (pththt! to them). Fortunately there's another guy at the marina with the same bike, and he's been kind enough to help us out and loan us his owner's manual. I am sure Dave will get it sorted out today.

So now it's time to get to work on some of the maintenance items that have been waiting for us.

We fly out again on Feb 28th for a 2-month sightseeing trip to NZ. So at least we've only got 3 weeks of drudge work before we're off again!