28 February, 2008


Zeke's Boatyard.
After a four hour sail lasted twenty-four hours, I pulled into Zeke's yard in Danao.  What a place!  I will have to publish a picture because I am at a full loss of words to describe it.  Derelict ships being welded upon 24-7, literally, garbage heaps that drag into the water so that the high tide sweeps them away.  An outhouse over the water.  This is the Philippines.

Everyone is friendly.  Food is cheap.  I've already made this point and keep returning to it as the best compliment I can find for my experiences thus far.  I love cheap food.
Soon I will sail with a few friends down to Durmegettie, a pretty clean, quiet place.  I am quite excited.  Should be fun.  Sailing a big performance-type boat.  Must run.

25 February, 2008

Bad Ass Cruising Cat

Designed by Tim Mumby in Brisbane, Australia. This one was built by his brother and is being fitted out here in Danao, Philippines

20 February, 2008

Cebu, Philippines

I'm sitting at in the Cebu Yacht Club, open to the water on three sides. The table next to mine is full of expats discussing Richardson, Obama, and Colon Powell. It is kindly cool in the early evening.
I am trying to ytgrtttrtgbvggreadjust to the coming year and the strange new challenges that lie before me: sail to Australia, sell Araby. . . and here the path becomes hazy. . . [build an aluminum catamaran]. What! Indeed. . . I know, crazy. But the catamaran crowd is taking over, and an aluminum cat may be the safest thing on polar waters. But it isn't a tried and true thing. Not many people are doing it.

The differences between a Wylo (my dream monohull) and my alu-cat are these:

  1. Size. A Wylo is a small boat, 35'. The alu-cat will be 47', big enough to charter, support expeditions, ect. I can't do these things with a Wylo, really. In simple terms, the longer the boat, the more seaworthy;, in that it is more difficult to capsize.
  2. Value. A Wylo is cheap to build and maintain and simple to sail. Great. But she will be a specialized boat with limited resale value and opportunity. The alu-cat is slightly more expensive to builld (double). I would weld her up in a yard in Australia (or NZ), rig her, fill her with gear and sail her to the Philippines and there outfit her, build the interior, everything with cheap Philly labor. The whole thing can be done for about 200 grand. However, after five years of sailing, these boats can still be sold for 400 grand, give or take. If I built a Wylo for a hundred grand, the next day I could only sell her for eighty. Hard to explain, demand, I guess. So, the cat is a better investment in time and money. (Not that I have the money. . . different problem.) Cats are only becoming more and more and more popular. Demand will only rise. I could build, sail for a few years, devise a better boat, sell, make a profit, rebuild a better boat. . . . ah....sail. (don't know about this. . . just a possibility.)
  3. Seaworthiness. Most people are skeptical of cats because of their seaworthiness, but the more you learn about them, the more they appear to be very safe. They are less likely than a monohull to be rolled by a wave because they don't have a keel anchoring them to the water; they can "slip" down a wave. Their great beam I think may also help their stability. What is more--they 'should'--if well designed--be unsinkable. A cat doesn't have a lead keel and can be designed to bhave positive ly buoyancyt. The bows are separated by bulkheads from the main cabins, so if you hit something and rupture forward, only the forward chamber fills (And what is more, I will fill that chamber with empty water containers, so that only a small portion of that space can flood. If you do flip, you live in the overturned hull. This sucks, and could be fatal, but this is the worst possiible position--better than a sunk boat and a life raft.
  4. Speed. Cats are ~ two / three times as fast as monohulls (potential). With this speed you can potentially outrun weather, or at least find the safest quadrant of a storm. Speed in mountaineering or sailing can be a great asset. You can make an anchorage before dark or cut an entire week off of a passage. Speed also happens to be the greatest danger for catamarans.
  5. Onboard safety. People simply don't fall off of catamarans. Of course, you can. But in a practical sense, people fall off of monohulls. Monohulls heel over; cats don't. Falling overboardT ihis is a major safety issue for longterm sailors.
  6. Beaching. A cat, having twin hulls, can easily drive on and off a beach. To me, this is a tremendous asset. Immediate land access. Opportunity to clean and paint the hull without a haul out. And, I hope, I will be able to beach a cat on shore in the arctic and winter on shore instead of in the ice. This is a very enticing thought. Dinghying to shore. . . bah! Just jump off the bow.
  7. Comfort. I am never one to espouse living in comfort, but if I don't make this shift to a bigger boat I will never cease being a dirtbag. To work anywhere seriously I'll need a shower, clean laundry. To have guests, have a toilet, a fridge for beverages.. I don't like it though. I don't like the thought at all.
  8. General accomidations. Sailing comfort. Sails won't so easily flog because the boat won't roll in the doldroms. Deck space to relax. Stowage space. . .sailing comfort. No flogging sails...... space....deck space....gear.
  9. Shoal draft. Can get into shallow areas keelboats cant go.


  1. Upwind performance. Less keel. More windage. M akmakes for poor upwind performance.
  2. Impossibility of recovery after capsize. Can't capsize. Period. There is no way to right a cruising cat alone at sea. This is the major concern--but I am coming to the realization that it can be mitigated, and that the many, many advantages to a cat out way this risk.
  3. Diifficulty in slowing down. This is a dangerous disadvantage in storm conditions and iceburg strewn waters. Wharps, drogues, shorten sail--do whatever you have to do to slow down to minimize the risk of pitchpolingpitch-poling in steep seas, or colliding with ice at speed.
  4. Intensive storm tactics. Because you cannot afford a pitchpolepitch-pole or capsize, keeping the boat upright is paramount. A cat won't heave-to, so this limits your choices immediately. You can lay to a sea-anchor, but this is difficult and generates great strain, chafe and discomfort (being now head to sea). To run off is the standard, but, as above stated, a cat is so fast, measures must be taken to slow down. This requires diligence and prudence. Sail must be taken in very early to avoid capsize or dismasting. These issues are similar to those dealt with by monohullers, but they seem amplified with cats.
  5. No windvane. Heightens the boats reliance on electronics. Windvanes are mechanical where autopilots are electrical--a more complicated and difficult to repair piece of hardware.
  6. Complication of double engines. This may belong more on the Pros than Cons list. Twice the cost and maintenance - but twice the security of a working engine. And this is a tremendous credit. (How many boats are lost by engine failure???? Lots and lots.)
  7. Wave slap under bridgedeck. Cats don't heel. They have a different motion altogether. It is a more jolty sail than the undulations of a heeling, rolling mono. However, the waves can be a nuicancenuisance slapping under the center part of a cat with a bridgedeck that is designed too low.
  8. Conspicuous. This one disturbs my soul. I like staying discreet, subtle, and small. I'm just another bum in a boat. I don't draw attention and thus stay out of trouble with locals and officials.
  9. Maintenance. More boat. More work. More paint, more scrapping the bottom. Huge deck.
  10. Heavier anchor. More windage to secure.
  11. Electrolysis and galvanic corrosion. With the risk of capsize, deterioration of an alloy boat to electrolysis is a great concern--maybe not so much to personal safety, but boat value and integrity. I've seen steel boat owners literally pressure wash holes in the side of their boats while hauled out--this was how thin their hull had become due to internal corrosion behind a fuel tank. (That was a monohull--and would have sank! An alloy cat wouldn't sink, just wallow.

So this is the debate. I have been surveying two of these cats, one finished, one under construction. Electrolysis is my primary concern. . . for the boat. For myself, it is my ability to fund the project, my ability in undertaking the job professionally, and then the responsibility of using what I have build for its best purposes, and my own.

I am open to all suggestions.

17 February, 2008

Current Anchorage

This is just outside Cebu City, on of the biggest cities in the Philippines. There is a lot going on. As you can see, it isn't a pleasant anc. at all. There are some shacks on the water just behind my boat that pose a serious theft problem. I will likely sail for Danao as soon as the wind shifts from the north, if ever.

16 February, 2008


They modify motorbikes with a sort-of sidecar, but bigger. They will ride three in the car and three on the bike. The fare is often something like 14 cents, and that is across town.


Our Filipina burger-master


Brian Vaughan (Thistledown) waiting for a burger at our favorite burgerstand in Maasin, Philippines.
Burgers - 2 for 40 cents

15 February, 2008

Cebu City

I have arrived in Cebu, quite a different spot than Maasin.  Big city life here.  Some good stories to share in only a day ashore.

13 February, 2008


If you have Skype, or get Skype on your computer, you can call me (or anyone else) FOR FREE!!!
Google it.  Download it.  Use it.  It's great (free).


I now have a phone. . . can you believe it?  It is true.
SO you now can call and text me at will at any hour of the day or night.
The country code for the Philippines is: 63
My cell phone number is: 927 676 4512
These are the numbers relevant to my phone.  Depending on your service, you may have to dial a 001- or some other code to make an international call (or text).
I will have no voicemail.  And if my phone is off it will give a tone as if it is disconnected.  But it isn't.  It is my friend.
Call away.

11 February, 2008

Attack of the pilot whales

In retrospect, I think that they were pilot whales, not porpoises, which are too small, and. . . well, not at all the same.  They looked just like this:

arrival in the Philippines and the attack of the porpoises

Ah....a fine trip.  Very strange and erratic winds.  We ate some good curries, record garlic consumption, and relentless discussions on physics, mythology, catamarans, junks, steel, song and poem interpretation, hermeunitics (lit crit), and on and on.  One of my favorite lines of the trip is as follows:  "a straight line is nothing but a circle with an infinate radius"  Don't fear, I don't get it either, but I think it is true anyway. 
We had every sort of weather: a light gale to dead calm, and every wind in between.  More than our share of light winds though, beat up my sails a bit.  Shame that.
The stangest thing was that at one point we were accosted by porpoises.  It is hard to describe what they were doing or why.  But they were bumping the boat, literally hitting us with, I suppose, their heads.  It was a pod of the biggest porpoises I've ever seen--at least twelve feet long, big.
Why bump the boat like that?  Were they mad?  We had just started trailing a fishing line.  Were they warning us, teasing us, playing with us, flirting with us???  I can't say, but no dolphin or whale has ever hit me intentionally.  And they did it ten to fifteen times.  Strange and slightly unnerving.  It was loud.
No close calls with freight or fishers.
I studied the stars and really really enjoyed learning the progressions of the constellations, loved how they matched up so closely with Greek mythology:  Orion chasing the Pleides, and being followed by his dog Sirius and the scorpion he had fought.
The first thing I did on arriving to the Philippines was to buy two hamburgers, which cost me a whole $ 0.60, and a coke, which cost me $0.20.  I was satisfied