Sailing on Lake Taal

Trip Start Jun 22, 2008
Trip End Jul 04, 2013

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Flag of Philippines  , Luzon,
Saturday, October 23, 2010

We already spend a lot of time under the water so why not spend time on top of it too?  This year during our Christmas home leave to the states we're going to take sailing lessons in Florida.  We don't really know a lot about sailing except for pirate references (arrrr...) but we didn't know much about diving either and that turned out pretty well.  Of course, there's always the chance this could turn into another horseback riding fiasco like the one Jane experienced in Costa Rica.  Hmmm.  We decided maybe we should actually get a preview of what we're getting into before we buy a parrot and eye patch and show up for our lessons.  We found that friends of ours we dive with also go sailing from time to time and they asked if we'd like to join them so we could see what its all about.  So we took them up on the offer to go to the Lake Taal Yacht Club. 

Lake Taal is a crater lake in a volcano.  In fact, Lake Taal is a large crater lake that has another volcano in the middle with its own crater lake.  A volcano within a volcano and a lake within a lake.  It has the distinction of being the only volcano like this in the world.  Luckily it hasn't been very active but when it blows they say its very violent.  There wasn't even a wisp of steam the day we went so nothing to worry about. 

When you first go to Lake Taal Yacht Club you first have to erase from your mind all western notions of what a yacht club should be. There's no docks full of expensive sailing vessels, no fancy members-only restaurant or facilities, no snooty rich people looking down their noses.  Basically, the yachts consist of Hobie style catamarans of various sizes and levels of maintenance lined up on the shore. The restaurant is food ordered and brought from somewhere else in styrofoam and eaten in outdoor pavillions. The clientele and workers are all very laid back and informal.  There are no martinis available from a cocktail bar but there are some pretty cold San Miguel beers available for sale.  I guess they could call it a boat club but the word yacht has so much more panache.  It was actually quite pleasant and quiet.

One other thing that was unexpected was the total lack of other boaters on the lake on a Saturday.  This area is known as a vacation spot with hotels and resorts and crowds of people escaping the city.  If this was the states there would boat traffic zig zagging back and forth, water skiiers, jet skis, people swimming.  There'd be accidents from too many drunken boat owners trying to navigate in the space allowed.  But here it was quiet except for an occaisional small motor boat in the distance.  Except for a handful of people, most folks in the Philippines don't have the disposable income to buy a fancy boat, and if you do, you're probably keeping it at one of the yacht clubs with access to the open sea.  On the other hand, lack of boats keeps the atmosphere at a place like Lake Taal serene.

A catamaran isn't the same as the boat we'll be learning on but the principles are the same.  We got some tips regarding wind and sails.  We got moving pretty quickly at one point when it looked like a patch of rough weather was approaching.  There were no sailing incidents.  The boat stayed upright and there was no sea-sickness to deal with.  And there was no look of intense discomfort on Jane's face like there was with the horse fiasco.  Let the lessons begin!

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