We are sitting in the yacht club which is an oversized hotel lobby overlooking the floating docks of 80 nice boats. Our Laysan sits proud at the end tie we did last night. I was awakened from deep sleep by the arrival of three customs officials to clear us into the country at 7:30 am . Groggily I stumbled into the salon as the disheveled captain to present the ship papers. We were not allowed off the boat until clearance was stamped and approved. Interestingly they needed my official ship stamp, which made them all very happy. They finished their coffees and looked expectantly at the dazed captain until I fished out my wallet and then they smiled and left immediately. Whatever keeps the ball rolling.
Ray came aboard to listen to the list of items, which were actually very few, that needed attention. Machinery was flawless and she was like a little ship in the waves of 12-15 feet. A night approach to Subic was strictly on instruments, with me on the helm, Brian and Dean outside to watch for the fishermen in wooden boats using led bike lights or cigarette lighters or nothing to warn us as we ran the last few miles into the bay. Radio contact with security and they flashed lights until we pulled aside the dock. Eased up tossed lines and shutdown, after 86 hours of continuous running. Now we have our first ocean crossing and Laysan took it in stride, what an experience.
Ray took us on a tour of Subic, an area greater than Pearl Harbor with scores of replacement ventures some booming some abandoned all eerily still American but overgrown. The club lobby has 30 ft ceilings with glass windows and fancy couches and piano music, but not a single person in sight but the receptionist.
Driving up to the hills, June presses against the road trying to reclaim the space and then we stop to look up at trees filled with giant fruit bats. Next we stop to say hi to a family of spider monkeys waiting at a stop sign.
The water is clear and the temperature is like Hawaii. The big bay has dive trips to see the sunken New York and eco-zip line adventure parks serve Asian tourists. We had lunch at a treasure divers museum restaurant and I wondered again “how did I get here?”
We started the take down of storm windows and sea anchor bridles until Ray returned to take us to the floating bar for sunset. Out the gate to Olongapo filled with jeepneys and side car taxis and people living in shanties clinging to hillsides. Soon we were at the Arizona floating bar which we reached by riding a hand pulled ferry awash due to the heavy load of expats going out for a beer. Others arrived by boat and swam to the barge which was alight with neon and rock music. How did they get power to this floating shack I did not want to know. A thrilling ride back thru Olangapao and we are at the peaceful yacht club. Unbelievable.
Dean heads out tomorrow, an amiable experienced crewman that we enjoyed having along. I begin to pack for my 4 hour ride to Manila and Brian stays an extra day to catch his flight home to Victoria. The boat and crew were all reliable and adaptable to the various conditions of the maiden voyage. Brian and I are ready to keep cruising, it is an amazing sampling of weather, machinery, foreign culture, and reliance on good friends. Trust me, this is the next great adventure.