Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Camotes Getaway - Day 2

It's Day 2 of our getaway and we decided to spend the whole day at the beach.

One of the best feelings in life is waking up in a tent, sleeping on hard sand, and just exploring our survival mode roots. Heck, I might try going into an adventure in a jungle, sleep in a tent, hunt wildlife for food and defend yourself from wild animals but that will be in a different blog sometime. :-) Good morning Camotes!

Full moon means noon and midnight will be high tide.  Thus, morning & afternoon will be the opposite.  Low tide means big beach!

We waited for the water to fill the bay. It was really an enchanting experience. We were just running around the bay chasing each other. Kingking was already in her pirate outfit while Mizuki was having the time of her life running and jumping around.

Mini pinschers are not known to be water lovers so we must have influenced her a lot for she felt instantly at home with the water. Here, she was waiting for Kingking to be near ashore so she could have a taste of the action.
Mizuki instantly became the beach mascot because of her colorful personality. When she gave it a go to ride with Kingking, people at the beach were applauding her.

Wind was onshore and water depth was waist high for the big bay. With white sandy beach and picture perfect scenery, this got to be the best place I've ever been to. I could take a picture of the girls in any angle.

Kingking decided to go further offshore where wind is stronger. But as there were rainclouds forming inland, the wind shifted to sideshore, which would make it difficult to maneuver due to the fish sanctuary.  Seabreeze was strong in the area with increasing winds in the afternoon but the bad news is that the tide was already low.  Thus, going there during fullmoon during non-monsoon months is not a good idea (as far as windsurfing is concerned).
I tried the rig and Kingking captured probably the best windsurfing shot in our vacation. I plan to frame this picture sometime.

Kingking decided to broom-surf also. Too much Harry Potter, eh? The water ebbed as fast as it flooded the beach and it was a long walk back. Grr... How quickly the day came to an end and the sun drained all our energies...

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Camotes Getaway - Day 1

The best plan is no plan at all and last holy week, we decided to go to Camotes without planning where to stay, where to go once there or what activities to do. We just stuffed the gears in the car and took a RORO ride to Camotes.

The trip lasted for three days and we took about 500 pictures along so I think it's best to divide this blog into THREE parts:
Day 1 - Finding our way to the island

Day 2 - The BEACH!

Day 3 - Side activities

The boat was scheduled to leave at 500 AM and as expected, we didn't wake up on time. It was a lucky break though because there is an "optional trip" at 11am and they gave it a go. Turned out there were only two vehicles aboard plus a few passengers. Had we made it at 500 AM, it could have been very crowded.

The cost of the passenger is Php 200 while the Car is 1,600 and SUV/Van is 2,500, both with the driver free of charge.
The boat trip is a long, boring three hours and as with any trip, the time to reach our destination seems endless. Well, what better time to repay our sleep debt. Kingking and Mizuki thought the same way.
We docked at Poro, Camotes which is still around an hour travel to Santiago Bay, one of the famous beaches of the island. Unfortunately, with the excitement just a while ago, we forgot to bring the map and so, we have to rely on our excellent sense of direction to find our way to Santiago Bay.
Camotes has two main islands and I remember that Santiago Bay is at the south-westernmost part while the Poro dock is at the southeern part located on the other island. We just drove westward. I was expecting to cross a bridge but it turned out that only a swamp connects the two islands. The swamp is filled with mangrove forest.

The west island is called San Francisco and you'll know why once you are there. The roads are excellent and planted with San Francisco along the way. I wonder who owns the name first.

Well, finding your way to the most part of San Francisco is a no brainer. I hate asking questions for directions. Real men don't ask questions. Kudos to the island for being very tourist friendly.

After an hour or so, we finally reached Santiago Bay. There are a couple of resorts in there with rooms and the cost ranges from Php 700 - Php 3,500 per 24-hour period. As expected, there are no vacancies so we have to proceed to the "public beach" which the locals called "barangay".

What we found out later is that the "barangay" portion of the beach is a MILLION times better than the resorts. In fact, it is the BEST PUBLIC BEACH I have been to. It featured the WIDE OPEN SPACE that we crave. The center portion of the beach encompassing more than half of the bay is actually owned and maintained by the barangay. It is extremely clean, has a grass park (read: rigging friendly for sails), kiosks, deck chairs, parking space near you, clean public comfort room, 24-hour gardener (who waters the plants even at midnight), 24-hour tanod police service, friendly staff who checks if you're okey regularly, friendly barangay officials, etc. I could go on listing the good things of that place all day! Santiago Bay is around 2km long, I guess. Cost to pitch a tent - Php 50, rent a kiosk - Php 200, Kingking said it was a very good deal.

Deck chairs are very well made. I might build one of these sometime.

The bad thing about the holy week is that the low tide is so low. The good news is that the beach becomes wider. It was dusk anyway and while it's windy, we decided not to rig up and just enjoyed the beach.

It was the first time that Mizuki gets to see and walk on a white sandy beach and she went wild and running and chasing creatures and children and digging holes finding crabs. Well, after the 5-hour travel, she must have been bored to death.

We just enjoyed the sunset after and rigged the tent. I can't wait to enjoy the water tomorrow.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Summer Wind

Towards the end of the Amihan (Northeastern Monsoon) season, there is usually a "last blow". This year it started last Wednesday, April 1 and may last for two or more weeks, I guess.

I decided to go to my home spot: Liloan Public Beach! Liloan is known for the big lighthouse with it's watchful eye. Here is a file picture of the lighthouse during "calm" days:
I kept following the wind movement at http://www.windguru.com/ and http://www.windfinder.com/ the past few days and prayed that it will still be windy 'til the weekend. Both of these sites registered winds of 12-15 knots and would be enough for my 8.2m Neil Pryde Saber.

At the beach, Mizuki, my pet mini pinscher, checked the conditions for me. Pets are already proven to get the traits of their masters and yes, my dog is already acting like a true beachbum, surfer and sailor. Wind was about 15 knots northeast and very consistent. Chops were around 4 feet. Mizuki seemed ready to face the ordeal and ready to go to ride the board when given a chance.

I rigged my gear immediately, stretched lightly, drank some water for full hydration and positioned the gear to waterstart. One thing great about this summer wind is that it's hot, sunny and windy, the conditions that are too perfect for windsurfing. There was really no need to adjust the settings on the Canon S3IS camera as the lighting was so even and perfectly placed. My brother just took the liberty in taking the pictures.

Interestingly, I just reviewed Guy Cribb's column on "Early Planing" at http://www.guycribb.com/ and applied everything as far as I can remember. Get low, look forward, light on the feet, stretch those arms and you should feel that you are on the edge of being catapulted.

My JP freeride 120L board was cooperating and was anxious to take off at full speed. I was pretty powered up in my 8.2m and was planing in no time. I attached the bigger fin (44cm) and set everything to the normal settings. Hooking in and getting to the footstraps was relatively easy at all despite the big chops. The only thing I feared when "fully connected" was the board might fly to the leeward side. Crashing this way might result to another injury to my fragile ankles. My left side already suffered a twist last week during an intense basketball practice which would take another time to heal.

One thing funny about last Saturday was I kept falling on the same spot FOUR TIMES! It turned out that a fisherman was having a fish net in the area without placing a rubber buoy on top and my fin kept catching it! It could have been easier to jump over the net because it was choppy had I seen the rubber buoys.

I believe it was really fun to look at a windsurfer traveling at 15-20 knots and get catapulted when the board suddenly stops. I remembered I crashed with my harness still hooked to the boom! I could drown this way especially when I keep laughing underwater. Being catapulted is also fun, albeit in another form.

Sad to say, all good things never last. My 2007 8.2m Neil Pryde Saber ended its life on April 4, 2009. I got that sail on New Year's day of 2007 and inaugurated it on the same beach. I can't really say about the durability of this sail because I have nothing to compare it anyway. My guess is that Neil Pryde makes very good sails, well designed, efficient, lightweight and maybe at the expense of some durability. Good thing, the sail still has enough power to get me back to the beach. I gave it a good mourning after for the fun we shared the last two years.

Because it was still windy, I immediately went home to get my gf's rig. Her sail is a Neil Pryde 5.5m Solo, around 40% smaller than my rig. As expected it was too small for my 6'2", 185lb frame. Maybe I just create too much leverage or I have a technique problem that I find it very hard to sail in windy and choppy condition. My back leg hurts after 30 minutes.

I disconnected the sail and played with the board instead. Mizuki couldn't take it any longer and as usual, wanted a piece of the action with the waves. Here's her video with a beautiful soundtrack:


Mizuki did have a few "moments" with the board!

I will have to go to Camotes next week without my sail. I actually already have a plan to get an 8.5m Neil Pryde V8 from Manila but the two working days next week might not be enough to get the sail to Cebu in time for my Camotes escapade. The size is perfect for my existing mast and boom so I will not have to buy another. The V8 is a more powerful sail with two cambers and one batten more than the Saber. This might give me 2 or more knots lower in my planing threshold. It has also better top end, hence, it should not get overpowered easily.

I hope there will be enough winds in the coming weeks so I can fully enjoy my new V8 before the summer starts.