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The Sailing Adventures of Dave & Joanne on "Pied A Mer"
North West Palawan
Joanne Booker
02/06/2010, Teodore Point, Inlulutoc Bay

We only spent one night in Fish Bay in the end which was a lovely anchorage and had an early start to do the 33 miles to Ullagen Bay where Marida & Kelaerin caught up with us the following day and also a Canadian couple (Cliff & Ruth) on Icicle whom we met in Sebana Cove and were also on the Eastern Malaysian rally. The following day Dave, Roger & Mark did a trip on the local jeepney bus to Puerto Princessa to get a few supplies and the latter two to renew their visas for another 38 days. When Dave got back, we had a big discussion and decided that we would renew our visas, even though we only wanted another 2 weeks, because if we didn't we were going to be so rushed as we would have to be back in PP (Puerto Princessa by 11th February). So next morning we dinghy into the local village and catch the jeepney to PP along with Icicle, Kelaerin and a French couple on Neros who were checking out. These jeepneys are loaded up to the hilt with boxes of fish, timber, chooks, roosters and people. The fish is loaded on to the top, as well as people sitting on top and hanging off the back. Cost 60 pesos ($NZ2) each way and the trip takes an hour and a half. From the jeepney station we had to get a motor cycle jeepney to take us to Immigration and then back to the centre of town where we had lunch and did a few things before catching the jeepney back with Neros. The other two came back separately a bit later. On the trip back we went up a few different roads to drop people off and one was to a village which all its houses had been built by Habitat or donated by a South Korean Rotary Club. I had a box with a rooster in sitting in front of my legs and we discovered when someone got off that Dave had a chook under his seat with just its legs tied - it was a wonder it never nipped his legs.

Sowelu, Vulcan & Marida headed off that morning but Kelaerin, Icicle & us ended up staying another day before heading off to Marofinos Bay, stopping on the way and anchoring off a Subterranean River just north of Sabang. This navigable river winds under limestone and marble cliffs through spectacular caves out to the sea on the other side of Palawan. It winds its way underground for 8.5km but you pay 200 pesos for a guy to paddle you up the river for about 1.5kms with the trip taking about 40 minutes. One could see all sorts of shapes from the stalactites, such as various types of fruit, animals and people. It was quite amazing and something not to be missed.

We spent two nights in Marofinos Bay, which was a beautiful spot and were also joined there by two other yachts - Arnak & Koru (kiwis but live in Australia). While there we had a girls afternoon with the five of us ladies on our yacht playing Mexican train dominoes. Also had a tour of the local village with the head man on the council Very interesting and although poor the village was very clean and tidy. Their main income was from fishing and coconuts (copra). There are no roads into the village so all their produce has to be taken to Sabang by their spider boats as we call them. The local who gave us the tour just catches sharks. The village was predominantly Roman Catholic and that church the next morning was at 9am so several of us decided we would go. The service was to be taken by a lay preacher as the Priest only comes once a month. However, when we got there, there didn't seem to be any service and there was no one there. Upon investigation found that the lay preacher had had to go to another village.

Along with Kelaerin we up anchored at 10.30am last Sunday and motored 18 miles to Mayday Point, which was a beautiful cove with a single, English guy, Mark building a resort there called 'Secret Paradise Retreat'. It was a truly beautiful spot and he hopes to have part of the resort opened by the end of the month. A fabulous place to go to, at reasonable prices and if one wanted time out at a quiet, relaxing, beautiful spot. His website is:

Next morning Kelaerin & us started out on a so called 20 minute walk to the local village but ended up after 40 minutes or so back at the bay we had come from. We left there late morning and motored the 9 miles around the point into Port Barton.

Port Barton is a beautiful spot with lots of accommodation, eating out places and a relaxing place for a holiday. Saw a few European tourists there and the locals are all very friendly and we were later joined there by Icicle, Koru & Arnak. We spent four nights there, dinner ashore for three of those nights and one breakfast. Stocked up on fruit and a bit of diesel. The mangoes here in the Philippines are just beautiful and they are my favourite fruit.

We left Port Barton early yesterday afternoon (Friday, 5th Feb) and motored 12 miles to Village Bay on Boayan Island for the night along with Kelaerin & Icicle. Left there this morning at 9.45am, motor sailed for an hour and a half and then had 2 ½ hrs of great sailing, with no motor - wonderful, had just about forgotten what it was like to sail without the iron horse! We are now anchored in Inlulutoc Bay for the night.

As we have travelled up the West Coast of Palawan the anchorages etc. have just got better and better and it is truly lovely up here. The sea is so nice and clean and clear with no rubbish in the water and the villages/towns are all clean and tidy, including the poorest of houses.

Palawan
Joanne Booker
01/23/2010, Candaraman Island, the Philippines

January23rd, 2010 We finally managed to leave Candaraman Island on 17th January and we had a lovely smooth trip in between several islands until we reached the west coast of Palawan and for the first few miles we had quite nice sailing and then the wind got up to 15-20 knots, right on the nose and it was not pleasant sailing at all. Kelaerin & Marida turned back and went back down to the bottom of Palawan but Sowelu, Vulcan and us carried on to Muslog Point where we were sheltered from the wind but we had quite a roll coming in so consequently did not get much sleep. We were up and away the next morning just before seven and motor sailed the 16 miles to Tagbita Bay where we knew we had good shelter. The winds were pretty variable and at times we had gusts of 30 knots on the nose - not nice but we were nicely anchored in there by 10.35am. Kelaerin & Marida arrived in there later in the afternoon. All in all there were nine boats of us in there and two had been sheltering there for nine days. However two boats left the next morning and ended up having a terrible trip further up the coast. We were glad we stayed the extra day as, as the day went on we had bullets of 25 -30 knots coming down the gulley. The first day we arrived in the bay we had several locals come out in their dugouts asking for hats, tee shirts etc. but we all said no until you bring us bananas tomorrow. As you can guess it did not happen and apparently there was no fruit or veges that you could buy at the local village either, so we think they must just live on coconuts and fish. All boats were virtually out of fruit and vege, although we were all right for vegetables. All the boats left and we were up and away at 5.20am on 20th in the hope of making Quezon - 64 miles north but that was not going to be possible to arrive in daylight hours so the five of us went into Eran Bay (42 miles) and spent the night in between a reef and the land and had a comfortable night. We were away again at 6.20 the following morning, Thursday, and made the 31 miles to Quezon and had a lovely trip up to there even though we were motor sailing, although we did manage to sail with no motor for 20 minutes!! Getting into Quezon was a bit scary as C Maps are out and at times the water is very shallow with reefs all around. We had a couple of scary moments and we actually scraped the bottom on a bommie, fortunately we kept moving and it was only a small one. Had the anchor down in only 2.2m of water by 12.15pm and we were a mile from the shore! Fortunately the tides are small with only a 600mm range so we never actually touched the bottom but we would not have been far off it. Did catch another Spanish mackerel en route which Dave smoked yesterday morning. Allan had advised us on the sched that morning that we were not to get off our boats as Customs, Immigration, Quarantine and a Travel Agent were driving the 3 hrs from Puerto Princessa to check us in and there was nothing he could do to change their minds. Arnak & Koru were two other boats that arrived in the anchorage ahead of us, along with the two other rally boats who had arrived the day before so they were also forced to check in with us and they kindly said that they would share in the cost of the 7000 pesos ($NZ220) for the transport over which we other 7 appreciated. We were told that they would arrive between 12 and 1 pm but eventually arrived at Koru (a catamaran) at 2.45pm and asked that they check us in, in two stages so we were in the first lot with Sowelu, Vulcan and First Light.

Sowelu paid the 7000 transport and we all reimbursed them - much simpler method. Immigration charges were 2000 pesos ($NZ62) which only gives a visa for 21 days, and customs 1500 pesos. However when it came to quarantine Dr. Reyes had to ring her superiors to find out what the cost would be. We were all aghast when she said $US100 (4000 pesos) and told them none of us could afford that sort of money and in no other country in SE Asia or the Pacific were we charged for quarantine. Dr. Reyes rang Manila and as Roger from Sowelu was the most vocal he argued the point with them. He could not seem to reason with them and in the end hung up. However the fees were dropped to half $US50 and we all ended up paying another 2000P for quarantine. We never received an official receipt, only a receipt for the total amount of 5500P from the travel agent - El Mundo Tours Inc. Katani 11 did their own check in, a few days earlier and they only paid 1000P to Immigration and were given a 21 day visa. We know he did not go to customs and we have heard that this is unnecessary and no customs agent came to the boat, only Dr. Reyes, a lady from immigration, the Travel Agent from Puerto Princessa and Marlow who we think was a local travel agent. We think the travel agent from Puerto Princessa was acting as an agent for us and so was getting at least 50% of the money we paid. It costs another 3100 pesos each for a 38 day visa extension and the travel agent wanted to take our passports and get the extension and then meet us all in Ullagen Bay to give us back our passports, no doubt at a further cost so if we want to extend we will have to make the trip across from Ullagen Bay (1 ½ hrs) by road to Puerto Princessa. We don't think we will bother extending as we would only want another 14 days so we will make sure we are in Puerto Princessa by 10th February to check out - visa expires on 11th.

The travel agent also tried to charge us 1500P for coming out in one of the local boats - Chris off First Light said, "we are not buying the boat"!! We objected strongly to that as one of us could have gone in, in a dinghy to pick them up so that was shelved.

She and Marlow also wanted to arrange a trip to some caves at $US50 but when there were objections she said it included lunch and then dropped it to $US25 without lunch as it was only a morning trip. We all felt it was far too dear and there is nowhere in Quezon that you could get a $US25 lunch anyway!! Some are doing it today at a fraction of the cost.

Yesterday morning Marlow was on the beach with the locals and their jeepneys (a motor bike with a two seater cab and tray at rear built around it) to help with fuel, visit the local market etc. We were told a 100 P for an hour. That was fine but when he was still there later in the day when we went in to get more fuel and was only 20 min with the jeepney it was still 100P. The going rate to go into town normally is only 12P!! Some of the yachties later in the day did a deal for 30P for a fuel run. A guy looked after our dinghies while away and we paid him 50P so did that twice but we were happy with that as the second time we took the fuel to the dinghy and left it there while we went back into town. These tour operators think us yachties are a license to print money!! It certainly leaves a sour taste in ones mouth.

Quezon is a typical third world town but the streets were clean and it appears you can get most things there. Dave even managed to get an oil filter for just over $5 and we normally pay about $30 for them. There was a reasonable supply of vegetables at the market but very little in the way of fruit, basically bananas and a few green papayas which were the sort for cooking. Hopefully we will get more variety further up the coast. Chicken, pork & fish were in abundance, although we did not need any of that. The fishing boats, which are lived on, here in the Philippines, are quite amazing structures and I have some good photos of some of them. The one I thought was the flashest in Quezon was called “Melissa” and there was also a Dave 3 and a Dave 4! Of course I took photos of them. The Philippino people appear to be a happy, smiley race even though the majority of them are so poor. They just about fall out of their boats waving and calling to us.

As it was our 38th wedding anniversary yesterday we had a pot luck dinner on board with Marida, Sowelu, Kelaerin and Vulcan. We had a lovely meal which was finished off with the last of my Xmas puddings that I had made before Xmas.

This morning Sowelu, Vulcan and us left Quezon and are now anchored at Apurauan H.D and in a reasonably sheltered anchorage with nice clear water. Tomorrow will do the remaining 30 odd miles to Fish Bay which is apparently a beautiful spot and we will wait for Kelaerin & Marida there. The wind was on the nose most of the way so did not even put the main up but did manage to use the genoa off and on.

I think that about brings us up to date until next time.

Gaya Island to Candaraman Is., The Philippines
Joanne Booker
01/10/2010, Candaraman Island, the Philippines

12th January, 2010 We ended up staying two nights at Gaya Island- the 4th being my birthday and Sowelu, Vulcan and us had drinks ashore on a little sandy beach (Marida had gone January into Kota Kinabalu) and then came out to our boat and we had a potluck barbecue, plus one of the Xmas puddings I had made for Xmas but did not need and then we sat down for a couple of hours and played Train Dominoes which we all enjoyed. I bought the train dominoes while home in NZ and is a great game, taught by us by Janine and Garth on Catala during the Indonesian rally. The six of us also polished off a couple of Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blancs which I had bought at Labuan for the occasion - most enjoyable with good wines not being on tap as they are so expensive, although was only just over $NZ20 a bottle - all right for special occasions only. Next morning we were up and away again at 6am and did a 33 mile trip to Usakan Bay for the night - motor sailing all the way as the usual, wind on the nose being the same old story. Another pre 6am start on 6th January and we heard on the morning sked with Allan Riches just after 7am that he had no paper work for us for the rally so would not be coming up to Kudat from Brunei. Vulcan & Sowelu stopped off for the night at Algal Bay but we needed to go into Kudat to stock up on fuel as we don't hold as much as the other two boats so we carried on to the tip of Borneo and on around to Kudat. Did have an hours sailing first thing in the morning and then had to motor sail but once coming around the top we had some lovely sailing down to Kudat, finally berthing in “The Pond”, at 6.30pm with help from friend Doug from Tonic which was appreciated as it was dark. Anchoring in the pond is like tying up in the Mediterranean - anchor down and then ropes on the stern and tie up to a concrete wall. A nice surprise to catch up with Tonic again as we last saw and were with them in Layang-Layang in the Sprattly Group in August. Next day was spent on our bikes doing last minute groceries, trying too cancel my Celcom Internet for a couple of months with no success so have had to email friends in KK and ask them to do it there for me and Dave doing three fuel runs with jerry cans on his bike. He has a pipe which goes across the carrier and puts one 20 litre container on each side with rope holding them on. Hot work in the heat. Doug & Margaret from Tonic came and had drinks and then the four of us went to the Golf Club for dinner - very cheap and nice meal and just behind the pond. Friday morning was up early to make a last minute skype call to talk to Brodin & Daisy and then we left Kudat at 8.30am and headed off to Balambanga Island, 21 miles north of Kudat, motor sailing all the way but in the interests of saving fuel were in no hurry so arrived at 3.30pm to join up with Sowelu & Vulcan who arrived the day before along with three other yachts on the rally, Kalearin (US, who are friends) and Jaraman & First Light (both Australians). Had a barbecue on the beach, and although a lovely spot, swimming was out of the question as there were box jelly fish everywhere and they are poisonous. Balambanga Island was still Malaysian. THE PHILIPPINES Set sail the next morning again at 6am and headed up to Clarendon Bay, Balarac Island in the Philippines. We had 20 knots of wind most of the way, on the nose and the sea was about 2 metres and we ended up having to put a reef in. A distance of 37 miles and we were quite pleased to get into sheltered waters in Clarendon Bay, arriving at 2pm. We were all approached by a local who systematically visited all seven boats wanting pain killers as he had tooth ache so guess he ended up with quite a good supply. Sowelu was also asked for malaria tablets. Another local went around selling us coconuts. We bought two for 40 pesos (33 peso to the NZ dollar). We are now back into what I call the “funny money” but certainly not as bad as Indonesia when we got 6000 rupiah to $NZ1. Sunday morning we didn't leave until 8am and came 21 miles up to Candaraman Island. We motor sailed for 3 ½ hrs and then had a lovely sail for the last 1 ½ hrs arriving at 12.30pm to the most beautiful spot, a lovely tropical island with a white sandy beach, lined with coconut trees, clear blue, blue water and we are surrounded by a coral reef. Shortly after leaving Clarendon Bay we caught our first fish in about four months - a lovely Spanish mackerel which we have enjoyed over the last two nights, the rest in the freezer to give us a little more variety from pork and chicken! We decided to wait here until Marida caught up to us (they also came into Kudat the night before we left as they had fuel & mail to get) and arrived here last night. The two Aussi boats seem to want to do their own thing and they headed off this morning but the rest of us are still here and will head north again tomorrow. Our genoa furler has been a bit stiff so yesterday morning I hoisted Dave up the mast while he lubricated the top bearing on the furler and checked it out. Our Spectra water maker is once again giving us more trouble so we spent yesterday afternoon taking the Clark pump off which was leaking and requires both of us on the job and is a sod of a thing to take off. Dave thought he had fixed the leak so back it went on, tested it this morning and it is still leaking, even more so. So this morning we took it off again, tried to fix a few more seals and this afternoon put it back on and we will see what happens tomorrow. We could send the pump back to the US for a $US350 service and it would be like new but the cost of getting it there would be prohibitive as it weighs 8kg. As we have all the parts here we will look at making up a simpler system and buy a 240 volt high pressure pump when back in NZ to do the job as we have a diagram and instructions on how to make one which has been in use for more than 12 years with no problems. Our spectra one was on the boat when we bought it but it has given us no end of trouble and cost us heaps - enough is enough, but as we only hold 300 litres a water maker is a necessity in the tropics. In between doing boat maintenance which is an ongoing job, Dave has taught himself to splice rope - quite a complicated procedure which he thought I could do but has found that one actually needs quite a bit of strength! Good for halyards, docking and tow lines. As I am writing this the weather has turned a bit nasty and we have a northerly of 20 knots blowing and we are more sheltered from the NE so are getting a bit of a roll. This weather has been predicted everyday for the last week but only had it on Sunday, but hopefully when we get the rain the wind will die down. I can update our blog and our position on the blog via Brunei Bay Radio so everyone can check the blog regularly for updates but will not be able to add pictures until we have internet access.

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