Here is where the plot thickens; we were ordered out of Camotes Island, so we contacted the Lapu Lapu Coast Guard and got clearance to return, no problem. Ah, but when we contacted the Cebu Yacht Club they refused to allow us back in. They even refused to allow us dinghy access, an armed guard slammed the gate in our faces and snapped the lock shut. This cut off our dinghy access to the shore, stores, and such. Although the staff was quite apologetic, all these edicts were made by a new owner who is anonymously hidden in a remote location.
|the last time Priam will play on a beach for a while
|Priam playing on Isolation Island Barge
We found other, closer access soon and all was well. Onshore life was near normal albeit quiet. I got a haircut, lunch, motor oil, and Donna did our shopping.
|long lines, no Mask no Entry for supermarket
|loading hour supplies, found homemade honey
We have a large wonderful water maker, so water is rarely a problem but the water in the channel is quite murky, too much so for making water. I sent an email to the Yacht Club asking if we could simply pull up to the outer breakwater and fill our water tanks, we would gladly pay for the water, not be in contact with anybody and be off in a jiffy. This too was refused, again by the absent, anonymous owner. We are thrilled that Cebu Yacht Club has new ownership, but I think they need a bit of a lesson in humanity or at least understand cruisers better.
So here we sit, anchored just off the shipping lane and a small squatter village. We have quite, easy access to stores which remain well-stocked and open, we will take a harbor cruise once a week to go out of the bay and make water. The anchorage is rolly amplified by the current that puts us beam to the swell twice a day. Life seemed bearable, stores handy, a few restaurants offering take out.
Then the full throttle of the lockdown was announced to take place in a couple of days. The easy access to stores turned into 3-hour lines, everything else closed up tight, only a few taxis remained in service where there once were hundreds. The usually congested streets were empty. I started to see that we needed another plan, fast. We visited some friends on a yacht that had just been splashed at Colorado Shipyard, they were tied to an old barge, power, and water.
|Further on our new Isolation Island barge
We can do this! So I contacted the yard. First a no, then a maybe, then an urgent call, can you get here in ten minutes to sign papers before the office closes for good. I dashed over in the dinghy, all power to the office was out, one nice lady waited for me. I hand-copied their release form, gave a cash deposit, we were set.
So, we are now residents of “Isolation Island” along with two guys on the barge, one crew on the other yacht with his new puppy, Priam named Corona. We were only allowed one pass to leave the yard, and as the stores were not allowing anyone over 65 to enter, Donna gets the pass. There is a small market, pharmacy, and store within walking distance, a water filling station very close. The SM mall with a larger supermarket is out of our Barangay, but we get to shop there Thursdays and Sundays. One of the guards has been going out for our larger shopping on his motorbike.
|building a model Mustang
A few days into this I realized this was it for quite a while, best make the best of it. I have found my purpose in all this, and a fun one; keep my family happy and kid entertained.
|arts and craft time
Priam is a marvel at self-entertaining, can play for hours with imaginary swords and airplanes. Donna has jumped headfirst into making sure we have a variety of great meals. This is a challenge; we are realizing how much we eat out! A LPG tank that usually lasts 6 weeks was empty in 3, lots of cooking going on. With all that cooking and sitting I figured I had best go for a jog, now I jog two laps of the shipyard or kayak once a day, then eat.
|teaching Priam to play poker
|coloring easter eggs for the big day
Our newest event is our daily poker games, loser does the dishes. Priam took to poker fast, quite good at it so I am getting dishpan hands haha. It is fun being brought to Kindergarten levels of imagination and fun, making hand made decorations for our holidays. Easter was celebrated with dying eggs, then Easter Egg hunts on the boat. The grand finale was our Easter Parade, Priam made Donna an Easter Bonnet, with All the Flowers on it, as we paraded around the boat, that wonderful song blaring, in gala style.
|Easter Bonnet with all the Flowers on it
The next holiday was a snap, one of my favorites, the Thai celebration of Songkran. A long water gunfight was just the thing on a hot afternoon. We tried to include our neighbors, but I think they hid from us.
|traditional Thai Holiday Sandkren
I know when the challenges surmount that we cling to the little bits of joy, losing them can be the most devastating. We started our “monthaversary” tradition of eating in a new place on the 18th of every month, our wedding day. I did not want this to fall victim to the virus, not at all. Providence has placed us next to a larger yacht with a full time, excellent Chef, who was glad to help. So, a plan began to take shape. Priam was thrilled to be our matre de and server. He and I strung some colored lights around the upper bridge table and “lit” the electric candles. I broke out the last of my Selene cutlery and crystal wine glasses, menus printed for the Further Cafe, and all set.
|our Monaversary lives on
|dining at Caf de Further with my beautiful bride
All this activity was done in James Bond-like secrecy, Donna had no idea. Ok, some idea haha. I told her to dress up, a limo will pick us up at six pm. Priam drew us nice limonene which drove up to the candlelit deck. Our fine water told us he and a nice Pinoy 2016 (gift from the Chef) and an excellent Sprite, 2020, I ordered both. The meal was sublime, incredible salad, steaks and fried rice, plus desert. Sitting under the Christmas lights, in the shipyard, we had the most memorable of our “monthaversary” meals ever, all on our very own “Isolation Island”.
|sing it, let’s go Fly a Kite
|life goes on
I hope this creates memories Priam will tell his kids/grandkids; How we came together as a family, had wonderful albeit unique holidays, and how we learned to be grateful for what we have. So for now, 25 days on the barge, making every day a new adventure; we are Living Large on the Barge!
|Byby for now