Next stop – Japan

Subic Bay offers the crew of Spirit of Cardiff a very welcome respite...

Subic Bay offers the crew of Spirit of Cardiff a very welcome respite… Clive Tully reports:

“There are few times on this trip when I can say it’s truly miserable, but last night is one of them. Even in the horrible conditions on the way to Gibraltar, or the unexpected discomfort of the Red Sea, it was always possible to catch a few catnaps, if not a decent period of sleep.

But here, between Kota Kinabalu and Subic Bay, even the merest hint of inspecting the undersides of our eyelids proves impossible. During the early evening, the wind springs up, and we find ourselves battering our way through one of the most painful head seas for a long time. For those of us in the bunks, we’d spend as much time in the air as on the bunks themselves, and the frequent points of contact would always be pretty painful.

So our speed comes down significantly, but by morning, the sea has calmed off again, and we actually make Subic Bay not long after we’d expected to arrive. We’ve also reached what we consider the end of the perceived piracy risk, so the two rifles we’ve carried with us this far have gone overboard – fortunately without having to be used in earnest.

Subic Bay has a long and interesting history. A large natural sheltered anchorage, it was an important naval base during World War II, and there are several sunken American and Japanese warships in the harbour. Then during the Vietnam War, Subic was a big R & R centre for the Americans. These days, Subic Bay is looking towards a lot of commercial redevelopment. In many ways it could be a mirror image of what’s been going on in Cardiff Bay – that’s certainly the aspiration here. But perhaps they have the edge on sunshine and scenery!

The marina here is actually a fish haven – the water is incredibly clear, and marina manager Danny organises the refuelling efficiently – to the point of floating a boom around the boat in order to contain any possible fuel spills.

While Steve and I enjoy our breakfasts, Alan yet again has to go off to complete the paperwork. And whilst it’s all above board and official, we have to buy certificates both for entry and departure with respect to immigration, customs and quarantine at US$50 each – a total bill of $300 for a four hour stay. Just in case recent sponsors would like to know where their money is going…

Our stop has been made possible yet again through Alan Priddy’s Rotary connections. It came about initially when James Williams, a computer software expert working in Manila, came into the visitor centre in Cardiff not long after it opened. He signed the ship’s log, and has been a firm follower of the project ever since.

He and Judy Sudario arranged everything for our stop, shopping for our provisions, and organising a superb shower and breakfast for us. So our grateful thanks to them – next stop Japan!”


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