Pacific typhoon season

We’ve been following the progress of typhoon Haiyan pretty closely as it makes it’s way across the islands of Palau and the central Philippine island of Cebu. Both places are on our schedule for the next leg of the voyage. Haiyan has been classed as a Super Typhoon with sustained winds over 200 mph and 45 foot seas. It’s a chilling reminder of the danger of entering these waters at the wrong time of year.

The west pacific typhoon season typically runs from May to December, with the highest risk being May through October. Haiyan’s arrival in November is a reminder that the world’s weather patterns are continuing to change and a considerable safety margin should be added before entering the region.

Our plan is to wait until February before we leave Singapore and travel over to Borneo, Palawan and then on to Cebu. This is not the best time for the prevailing winds, as the NE monsoon will be in effect through April, so we will have some wind against us while traveling east, but it is the safest time in order to avoid typhoons.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to all those folks in Haiyan’s path.


Tracks of typhoons in the West Pacific in 2013

What’s going on with Dengue?

Those of you that have been following our blog during our voyage through Indonesia know that I got sick not long after we arrived there in early August. We didn’t know what was going on, only that I could barely function for 2 weeks, lost 22 pounds of body-weight and felt like crap for the next month. Since we were in remote Indonesia with no access to medical care, we couldn’t determine what it was.

The symptoms were consistent with dengue fever (a mosquito born virus), but since we were in a supposedly “low dengue risk” area of Indonesia during the dry season, I was a bit skeptical that it was actually dengue. During the passage from Bali to Singapore I got pretty hot and dehydrated, and had a return of some of the symptoms, so I decided to get some blood tests done when we got back to Brisbane. The results confirmed that I did indeed have dengue fever. Full recovery is typical with dengue (unlike malaria which can be recurring) but according to other people I have met who have had it, it can take a year before you feel completely over it.

I didn’t know much about dengue before we left Australia and since it is such a brutal virus that kills 5% of the people that get it, I thought I would alert folks that might be traveling to SE Asia, that it is a big issue there, and is on the rise, so be really careful! The best resource I found about the disease is here:

Here are a few recent news reports from around the region on dengue outbreaks:

In the 2013 dengue outbreak in Singapore, a significant rise in the number of dengue fever cases was reported in Singapore. In the week of 16 – 22 June 2013, there was a record of 842 dengue cases in Singapore in a single week. This figure was far beyond the highest number of cases per week in the years 2010, 2011 and 2012.

Dengue fever has surged in the central Philippines, infecting more than 1,800 people and killing at least ten, a provincial official said Saturday. The number of people struck down by the mosquito-borne disease this year is already 71 percent higher than the same period last year and dengue fatalities in the first half of 2013 were already equal to the total deaths for the whole of 2012.

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Dengue fever has killed 45 people in Malaysia this year – a jump of more than a third from same period last year — as the tropical country struggles to tame a mosquito-borne virus outbreak that has plagued the Southeast Asian region for decades.

BANGKOK, Thailand—Southeast Asia is scrambling to combat a deadly outbreak of dengue fever, the tropical illness transmitted by mosquitoes, which has hit parts of the region especially hard. The rise in death tolls in Thailand and neighboring Laos is of concern to health experts. Already 94 have died in Thailand, tripling the 32 who died there in the first seven months of last year. Meanwhile, in Laos, 76 have died, up from only three reported in the first six months of last year.

DENGUE fever cases have risen tenfold in Victoria, Australia in the past five years, prompting a warning for travellers to be vigilant against the virus. State Health Department figures show 55 confirmed cases of dengue fever so far this year, up from five in 2006. Victorian cases were mostly in adults returning from tourist destinations such as Thailand, Bali, Vietnam and Fiji, with many unaware they were at risk.

Civilization again!

After 3 months in Indonesia, we were all quite taken aback by the shock of arriving in downtown Singapore today. We left our beloved Zangezi in the good hands of the kind folks at Nongsa Point Marina to watch over her for us, while we take a short break from cruising, and took the ferry over to Singapore, where we are staying at the Mandarin Orchard Hotel. We said goodbye to low prices, bumpy roads, and challenging food, to perfectly maintained roads, designer boutiques, hi-rise malls with prices to match, and the most amazing food we have had in a good long while! I’ve always loved the food in Singapore, but it has never tasted as good as it did today when we had lunch at a little restaurant just down the street from our hotel! Singapore noodles, black pepper crab, soft shell crab, fresh shrimp and lightly fried fresh vegetables, yum!

Robin and I are celebrating our 23rd wedding anniversary today, so we are ordering room service and a movie for the kids and going to dinner at Landry’s Steak House. Just the two of us! We will be at the hotel in Singapore for a few more days before we fly back to Brisbane.

I probably won’t do much blogging while we are ashore, because let’s face it, life ashore is pretty dull, unless I manage to contract another exotic tropical disease or something (which is always interesting).  But I will start posting again as we firm up the plans for the next leg of the voyage over to the Philippines. In fact we are thinking that we might base the boat in Cebu for a year or more after the kids go back to school, and return frequently to explore the areas around the Philippines, Micronesia and perhaps even Vietnam and China. There’s so much to see in this part of the world that we aren’t ready to sail back to Australia just yet, especially since the sailing conditions in Australia were so crappy! At this point it’s just an idea, and Robin and I need to think through the alternatives before we decide…

In the meantime, if you are looking for news of what we are up to, Robin is very active on Facebook so if you haven’t already you can check out her page here.