Log of 1000 mile loop thru PI Feb-Mar08
15 March 2008
OK folks, here is the entire log (except the last 90mile passage from Puerto Gallera to Subic)
Hello everyone, DavidEllis is again underway. We left Subic Bay (14deg 49'N, 120deg 17'E) yesterday Saturday 23Feb about 1130am, arriving at Hamilo Cove (14deg 11'N, 120deg 35'E -- just south of the entrance to Manila Bay) to anchor for the night shortly after sunset. Kwakatu was waiting for us at Hamilo, having gotten underway from Subic the day before.
Sunday 24Feb 0200 hours both boats upped anchor and picked our way out, guided by moonlight (and radar, electronic chart, and depth sounder), turning southbound, passing Fortune Island at the SW corner of Luzon Island, to go eastbound along the north edge of the Verde Island Passage.
Writing this at 0800 hours Sunday; we plan to anchor for the night at the NW corner of Marinduque Island, Port Balanacan (12deg 32'N, 121deg 52'E). If we've planned this right we should make it to the anchorage before dark.
DE running well; a couple of issues, but at this point we're all go for the run SE thru the Philippine Islands, then SE through the Pacific to Palau.
yesterday morning's check-in was done with calm seas and little to no wind as we were protected from the NE wind by the island of Luzon. about 1100hrs, eastbound along the underside (southside) of Luzon, we crossed the lower end of Tayabas Bay, exposed to the ENE wind. This crossing, about 5 hours, to the NW corner of Marinduque Island, was in 1-2meter seas with a very short (5sec?) period, and 25-28 knot winds. We rocked along, fore-aft, like a kid on a hobby horse, and the last third of the way put in the port (weather side) paravane fish as the wind had shifted to more on the beam, which steadied up noticeably. What made this crossing even more fun were the frequent fish floats, anwhere from 6-15' long with a palm frond as a kind of steering vane. I believe Kwakatu 'caught' one with their fishing gear; don't know if they caught anything else.
Anchorage was in Port Balanacan, on the NW corner of Marinduque Island, 13deg 31.4'N, 121deg 51'E where we entered about 1700 hrs along with fishing bancas coming in for the day, and idled past a huge -- 25' -- statue of the Virgin Mary to a very nice anchorage. Dorothy made a great meal and we all went to bed early for another 0200 start.
Which brings us to this morning: 0200 start out of Port Balanacan; up over the top of Marinduque Island (eastbound), then southeastward along the Bondoc Peninsula (of Luzon Island); crossing the strait, at the end of that peninsula to the west side of Burias Island, where we plan to anchor at Alimango Bay 13deg 05'N, 122deg 57'E. Currently we are cruising on flat seas, in the lee of the Bondoc Peninsula, but may experience some action as we cross the strait. ETA for our anchorage is 1500hrs.
several mechanical / electrical issues surfacing:
at the end of each day's cruise I've noted that the house batteries are not topped off, instead are about 12.85 or 12.90V. The BalMar alternator does seem to be going thru it's charging cycle in the course of the day, but we don't seem to be getting a full charge. As the BalMar regulator "checks" the house batt voltage periodically to determine if more charge is needed, I'm wondering if the solar panels, which put up quite a high voltage e.g. 14.10 in the course of a sunny day, might be inhibiting the BalMar, fooling it into thinking the house batts are sitting at a higher charge than reality?
I found a pretty good size puddle of coolant in the engine room bilge, but the expansion tank level for the engine isn't down any, and besides it looks newer than the stuff in the expansion tank, so I'm guessing one of the jugs of coolant we have stored under the floor and sprung a leak and drained down to the bilge. I noticed when I stored them last year that the plastic jugs seemed very thin.
we're also continuing to leak hydraulic steering fluid from the steering box at the helm. I think I've localized it to the fitting at the bottom of the box, and will attempt to tighten and re-fill
the E120 monitor was briefly "flaring" this morning, as it did last year before we took it to HK to be worked on. I switched from the night to day lighting pallette and didn't see anymore flare, so we'll see
the SeaFire system (automatic fire-fighting system in engine room) is again showing a dim, pulsing, red light on the tell-tale at the helm.
Ray, you'll love this, the base plate of the pilothouse dinette is now coming loose -- screws! We're going to try to fashion some kind of backing plate and bolt thru.
I'm concerned about our speed / fuel situation. It's taking 1800 rpm and 3gph to get 7.0 kts out of the boat on flat water. 2 weeks ago when we ran up to Silanguin and back we were getting 8 kts in sloppy conditions at 2.0-2.5 gph and lower rpm. at that time the bottom was clean and the running gear clear. As we're to get into the anchorage early today, I'll go over the side and see if there's a reason apparant for the drop in performance. Maybe, having transferred quite a lot of fuel to the stern tank, before leaving Subic, our slightly stern down/bow up attitude is causing us to 'plow' a bit?
also, the issue of low transmit power on the main vhf radio has re-surfaced. Kwakatu can barely hear me on the radio, even at hi power, when I'm only a few hundred yards away. we're receiving just fine.
Everyone on board is doing well; Dorothy would prefer not to have the rougher sections of passage...
Nick, thanks for the weather update, appreciate your assistance
Hello all, it is now Tues morning, 26Feb 0900.
Yesterday was a beautiful cruise from Mariduque to an anchorage at Alimango Bay on Burias Island; all this in the Sibuyan Sea, central Philippine Islands. Just before making the anchorage, we had a rain cell for about half an hour -- just enough to wash off the salt, and most of the mud brought up by previous anchorages. We got into Alimango about 1500hrs; tried dealing with some of the accumulated boat chores with limited success; both boat crews ate together, conferenced on route, then headed for bed with the agreement we were underway at 0400 today.
Well I was awakened from a deep sleep by the sound of a repeated whistle, and the awareness of engine noises that sounded like DavidEllis'. It was Kwakatu, anchor up, nav lights on, circling us and trying to awaken us. Had we overslept? No, it was 0200 and Kwakatu's captain had forgotten our 0400 agreement. Somehow, the barely awake crew of DE managed to get our engine started and anchor up without injury or mishap, then followed Kwakatu into the night SE into the Masbate Pass towards the Samar Sea.
Later today we're transiting an area the charts show as having strong tidal streams, in a narrow passage. The information we have is conflicting, so we'll be stopping briefly before getting into that area to see if we can get some clear direction about how to safely proceed through.
0909 position: 12deg 35.392N 123deg 25.326E, Course Over Ground 128deg True, Speed Over Ground 6.8 knots; 11kt wind on the port bow; sloppy seas with less than 1m swell
Ray: Jim & Kyle went overboard to check the running gear and say it looks clean; numbers are still not what they were just two weeks ago. I don't have any theory to explain. I was thinking weight, but we're at about the same weight we were coming down from HK, with a full load of fuel and our numbers were much better. Also, the house battery issues of the first two days, did not repeat yesterday. Continuing to watch it.
Happy Birthday Jamie Wolfe...
Wednesday morning 27Feb... some exciting moments yesterday as we traveled down the Masbate Pass and on out into the Samar Sea: first I should mention the ubiquitous fishing bancas ever since we left Hong Kong -- inshore, offshore, daylight, midnight, calm or sloppy seas -- we're always concerned about running one down, even at our slow speed. Frequently they will seem to go out of the way to race across the bow of the boat. A couple of weeks ago, we had a mid-sized banca laying a net, deliberately run across our bow which we were fortunately able to avoid. Yesterday we came upon a couple of single bancas and on passing them realized we were into a ring of small floats covering maybe 100 yards -- most likely a net. There had been no signal from the bancas as we cruised into it. I did manage to bring the DE to an emergency stop and apparently avoided catching the net in our running gear, but did slam the rudder against the stop on one side when we suddenly backed down. Immediately afterwards we went overboard to check for entanglement or damage, but everything seemed clear.
Later on, at the bottom of the Mabate Pass we came to the exit out into the Samar Sea. Kwakatu and DE had done some strategizing about this passage. The charts showed tidal rips in that area, one source indicating as much as 8 kts. We looked at a tide program Dorothy down-loaded before leaving Subic Bay which indicated high tide at 2pm, which the tide information on the chip in the chart-plotter was indicating 6pm. Some detective work revealed that the times on the chart-plotter were UTC, or Zulu, or Greenwich Mean Time; adjusting for same we came up with 2pm...(different tide completely)...
Anyway with the tide issue resolved, we never-the-less still had to negotiate the passage out of Masbate into Samar. The logical place seemed to be Black Rock Pass, which was indicated on several charts showing a light and a marker on either side. Interestingly the chart also showed 1500 feet of depth several miles wide, flowing out through less than 100 feet of depth several hundred yards wide. That would be called a "venturi" ... we hoped by hitting it at high tide just turning we would have a low velocity trip. Kwakatu continued further down Masbate and made their transit though another passage. As we were approaching Black Rock Pass, we saw a small inter-island tanker coming up on our stern, so we circled around to see if we could follow them thru -- all the guide books, paper charts and electronic charts are great, but not as valuable as experienced local knowledge. Unfortunately this guy continued on south of Black Rock and rather than follow him into the unknown we went for Black Rock..
You're never too old to Bozo -- our speed went up to 10kts as the depth shallowed out, and a tide rip line appeared ahead of us where the outflow from the pass met the prevailing wind and seas of the Samar Sea. YeeHa! we were plunging and bucking, clapatois and boils all around us -- kind of like taking a kayak through Dead Man's Curve south of Jenner... only this was a half million dollar kayak. Jim and I donned our bozo noses to celebrate the occasion.
Anyway, a rough ride for the rest of the day down to an anchorage at the bottom of Masbate Island 12deg 0'N 124deg 0'E. We turned the corner into the anchorage, in the dark, with the steering acting up, trying to pick our way between the end of the peninsula and a wash rock (which fortunately showed up on radar), then surfed into the harbor on the following sea. The 5 miles up the harbor at very low speed, an advanced version of blind mans bluff, hoping we didn't run into anything as we made our way up to the anchorage.
This morning we departed at a civilized hour -- 6am. A very pleasant-looking place (one thing about this dash down thru PI is that we've had no opportunity to learn anything at all about the places we're passing thru). Today we cross from the bottom of Masbate Island to the west side of Leyte Island. (as mentioned previously, this area is full of history -- just behind us to the east today is San Bernardino Strait, site of the last naval battle of WWII, maybe the last naval battle ever, given current technology). We'll run down Leyte to Ormoc Bay 11deg 0'N, 124deg 35'E.
I've made the decision not to take DE out to Palau this trip. A lot of little mechanical issues coming up, nothing that would keep us from making a safe passage, but once there it would be even more difficult to deal with (in terms of parts, supplies, assistance) than Subic and we've got a number of commitments in mid to late March and having gotten to Palau -- if it's as nice as everyone says -- it would be a shame to leave immediately after getting there... so, we're going to see Kwakatu off in the next day or two, then spend a couple of weeks making our way back up to Subic, via places we haven't been before.
I just spoke with my cousin Steve (the one thing that works in PI, is the cell phone system, with most islands having coverage via micro-wave links) who is living in Dumaguette city on the island of Negros and we will go to visit him after seeing Kwakatu off.
0900 hrs local time (GMT +8) 11deg -43 N 124deg -07 E, COG 153deg , SOG 7kts
Yesterday's run from the bottom of Masbate Island, crossing to Leyte Island on a NW / SE line between the Samar Sea on the left and the Visayan Sea on the right, then almost half way down the west coast of Leyte, was smooth and uneventful, other than trying to trouble-shoot the hydraulic steering, which is continuing to leak. We arrived late afternoon, at Port Isabel, (10deg 55'N, 124deg 26'E) also know as Dupon Bay, which is the site of a copper smelter and a phosphorus processing plant. Fortunately we were coming into the bay in daylight, as a series of bulk haulers anchored in an arc along the edge of the harbor created a series of radar reflections which if one only had radar to go by, would be somewhat distressing, as it intermittantly showed almost a solid ring of ships around the DE. After a couple of attempts to anchor, both outside and inside the bay, we asked a tug crew tied off on a barge, who offered to have us raft on them, which we did -- Kwakatu on the inside DE outside of her.
This was our last night with K so we had dinner together, got some last minute exchange of sailing directions that would be useful, said our goodbyes and wishes for a safe trip. Kwakatu planned another 0200 departure, and since we were tied outboard, we would as well.
A bit before 0200, I started my pre-start engine room checks and found water -- salt water -- on the floor plates beside the engine, and filling the oil catch tray under the engine. I saw a drip from the back of the raw-water pump and wondered if the impeller cover (which I changed a couple of weeks ago) gasket had failed, but then in touching the big raw-water hose coming from the sea chest to the pump, I realized it was about to fall off the pump! The flange on the pump is only long enough for one hose clamp, and the weight of the assemblage of valves and water-flow sensor between the sea chest and the pump, had dragged the hose end (and clamp) off the lip of the pump inlet. This was definitely un-good! Had this occurred during our bozo ride through the tidal rip at Black Rock Pass a couple of days ago, we would've been up shit creek without engine, paddle or anything else that would've kept it from being a "Bad Day at Black Rock"!
I'd had a thought, before entering the ER to just start the engine, that as Kwakatu wanted to get going, that I should start the engine, get away from K so he could get underway, then do my engine checks as we left the harbor... thank goodness for the people in my life -- my dad, various coaches and sergeants, Dick Raymond at Seattle Maritime, and most recently Ray Wolfe here in PI who always emphasized basics, discipline, routines, good habits etc. Thank you one and all! Everyone on board -- Dorothy, Jim K, and Kyle G all did their part in solving the problem for now, and cleaning up the mess.
Anyway, K (a little later than planned) took off southbound along the Leyte coast towards the top of Mindanao, then eastward to the Hinatuan Passage, the Pacific Ocean, Palau, various north-of-the-equator Pacific islands, Hawaii, then Seattle. DE departed SW across the Camotes Sea , the island of Cebu on our starboard pointed towards the Olango Channel and a break at a tiny islet (Mocaboc Islet 10deg 05'N 123deg 55'E) off the NW corner of Bohol Island, where there is an extensive area of small coral islets and shoals. We hope to get the kayaks off the rack and actually have some fun.
Cebu City, the famous spot where the explorer Magellan dropped anchor after a non-stop passage across the Pacific from the tip of South America, and was subsequently killed by a local hero, is across the channel, but being another big PI city (like Manila) we have no particular interest in going into harbor there.
Tomorrow we will continue SW to Dumaguette City, on the southern coast of Negros Island, where my cousin Steve lives with his family (when he isn't working in New Jersey). I spoke to Steve a couple of days ago, and am looking forward to seeing him again. He is the son of my Uncle Jim who is/was brother and friend of my dad.
So, here's the numbers: 28Feb 1020 local (PI) time (GMT +8), 10deg 13.388'N, 124deg 03.415'E; COG 214deg True, SOG 6.4 kts, less than 5kt breeze out of the NE, cumulus clouds over land (saw some big stratocumulus in the NE at dawn) Beaufort Sea State 1 on the water of Olongo Channel;
29Feb2008 (Sadie Hawkin's Day)
Friday morning, local (PI) time; we are crossing the Bohol Strait from Maribojoc Bay (SW Bohol Island) to Dumaguete City (SE Negros Island); in the process we will pass under the southern tip of Cebu Island.
The little islet on the Olango Channel where yesterday we'd hoped to anchor, kayak around and spend the night turned out to be very small, little protection from the NE wind, and in the middle of an extensive (shallow) coral shoal, so we continued south-bound, researching another anchorage in the various publications and charts we have aboard. We chose Maribojoc Bay,by default really, as there were not many choices in this area, in this season (having to do with the direction of the prevailing wind). The directions in the British Admiralty Philippine Pilot were obscure to the point that I wasn't sure it was in English. But it turned out to be a nice little anchorage, with a surprise.... We anchored fairly far into the bay (to get into the depth water we needed) about 100 yards off a large fishing float. Towards dark, quite a few people in bancas came out to this and other fishing floats visible in the bay. By full dark, we could see hundreds -- I stopped counting at 500 -- of lights from bancas and fishing floats, all around DE as far as we could see. They were fishing for squid; and they stayed at it all night -- still there at 0500. Quite a sight! Dorothy took some photos from the pilothouse roof which cannot do the scene justice, as it would take a 360 photo to do so.
We're meeting cousin Steve in Dumaguete City a little after noon; (hopefully) taking care of Customs/Immigration issues there, since we actually never left the country after clearing out in Subic a week ago. Then we'll bring Steve's family aboard and find somewhere to anchor out for the night.
The numbers: 0940hrs local PI time (+8 GMT) 9deg 32'N, 123deg 34'E; SOG 7.1kts, COG 233degTrue, local broken cloud cover, some small squalls, wind 5kts out of the NNW
01Mar2008 (Saturday) 0800 (local PI time; +8 UTC/GMT/Zulu)...
We made it into Dumaguete 9deg 18'N, 123deg 07'E (Negros Island) a bit after noon; anchored off the beach promenade just south of the Bechtel Hotel and rowed the dinghy into the beach to meet cousin Steve, his wife Connie and 3 of their 4 kids. Steve, Kyle and I took a tryke down to the Immigration office where the senior officer very kindly indicated there was no need for any official action, on our passports / visas, as our visas did not expire for several weeks -- no charge. Definitely the cheapest trip I've ever made to a PI Immigration office.
When we go to the Olongapo office for our renewals (as we have over the past year living here), one of the charges (500 pesos) is for the "express lane". Once, when we were the only ones in the living-room size office, I asked where was the regular not-express lane; the answer was: "Manila, sir" (all day round-trip, major, major hassle, and about 4000 pesos transport down and back if hiring a car, less if taking a bus, but then there's always the chance of getting robbed and shot -- story I heard from Ray, and a short time later met the victim, a German-national -- and or kidnapped / held for ransom, by a faux taxi in Manila. So hey, sign me up for that express lane partner!
So Kyle went off to visit friends in Dumaguete overnight; Steve and I went back to the dinghy and rowed out to DE, and after a quick visit there, Dorothy, Jim and I headed to Siquijor Island, about 30 miles away with the understanding that Steve and family would take a ferry there the next morning. Our cruising guides mentioned a safe anchorage called Lazi Bay (9deg 07'N, 123deg 38'E) at Siguijor -- also noting that "the island has an odd reputation amongst Filipinos who see it as rather fey" -- Steve said the locals believe it to be an island of witches.
We hustled towards Siquijor at pretty much top speed -- 8 knots -- to make it into anchorage before dark, but a couple miles out from the island we came upon a series of nets with attending bancas, adding much time to our transit as we wove through, this way, then that way at low speed, arriving at the bay after dark, again weaving our way, at even lower speed through the many small bancas of squid fishers. Although I read everything available in the cruising guide and the Admiralty Philippine Pilot, studied the charts, we never-the-less found ourselves in the midst of house-sized fish traps, in the dark, finally backing out accompanied by shouting (in a southern PI dialect) to a depth of 100', but still sheltered, dropped the anchor and a pile of chain and called it good -- well not good exactly, but tolerable. I made a dive and inspected the underside of the boat and running gear to make sure we hadn't fouled and lines during our incursion, but all appeared clear. Upon exiting the water, my body was not clear, as I'd acquired many 1/4" flatworms, attracted to the boat lights I guess -- I hate those things!
Plans changed again, and at dawn we pulled anchor and headed SW towards Port Bonbonon (9deg 03'N, 123deg 07'E) at the southern tip of Negros Island, where we are again to meet cousin Steve and family. We've texted messages to Kyle, and attempted to call his cell, (to have him meet us in Bonbonon) but no response thus far...
A very pleasant crossing thus far, some dolphin have come and ridden the bow for awhile. Haven't heard from Kwakatu since our parting -- I believe David F.'s plan was to take yesterday off, before attempting the Hinatuan Passage out into the Pacific today.
The Numbers: 0929hrs, 9deg 02'N, 123deg 11'E; COG 255degTrue, SOG 8.9knots (wooeee baby!), incomplete high cloud cover, no significant wind, sea state 1, Dorothy napping in the cockpit, Jim on the helm 1-2 miles off Bondonon Pt
2nd March '08, Sunday (scone-making day for Dorothy), 1700hrs local time
Although we're not underway, thought I'd just kick out an update so someone paying half-attention didn't freak-out that we'd missed a check-in.
We got into Port Bonbonon yesterday morning just after putting out the last update. pretty intimidating anchorage -- I wonder what it looks like on GoogleEarth? whether they've got enough detail in that area to show what the entrance is like -- 9deg 03'N, 123deg 07'E. We sat offshore thinking that cousin Steve's family would rent a small boat to bring them out to us and we'd head back to Apo Island, which we'd passed on the way over from Siquijor -- Apo is supposed to have some very nice dive resorts. But instead Steve had Nigel, a Brit by way of AUS who has a boat-building business at Bonbonon as well as a small resort, situated at the entrance to Bondonon, get onto the cell phone with us and talk us through the (largely unmarked) entrance. We went through both Steve and Nigel's phone loads (the pay-as-you-go phone cards used all over Asia), and made me very nervous as I watched the sounder showing 7 feet of water (as we draw 6, although I've measured a 3' 'grace' between actual and what the sounder shows). But we got in and anchored successfully, with quite a few cruising sailboats that no doubt have deeper keels than we do.
Great visit with Steve and his family, Kyle showed up and left again with Steve, intending to make his way by air back to Subic; he's got a job starting in Vancouver BC, Canada and I imagine we 3 old farts just weren't exciting enough to justify staying away from work.
We took today, Sunday, off. We've humped everyday since we left Subic and wanted a break. We're staying here through tomorrow, Monday; getting underway again Tuesday morning, starting back up through the PI (not by the same route) on a return to Subic which should take 7-10 days.
We've heard from Kwakatu, having great weather on the Pacific, enroute Palau.
No new numbers to report.
5Mar'08 0400 (Wed)
we are currently at a mooring on the south west side of Apo Island 9deg 04'N, 123deg 16'E; we moved from Bonbonon yesterday morning, managing to wend our way out without other assistance, based on the charting Dorothy and I did, on our kayak using a hand-held sonar a couple of days ago. we are at the front of the mooring field just around a big rock from the channel between Negros Island and Apo and the wind is ripping down that channel bending around into our area at 20+ kts as well as swells refracting around. we're only in 10' of water, which was no problem before the wind & swell kicked up, but I've been up all night, monitoring our depth and position, hoping I can move fast enough to get DE out of jeopardy if our mooring comes loose. It's a heavy enough rope, tied around a big chunk of coral -- the rope is new, I'm not much concerned about it, but just before dark, when I swam up to the mooring to check it out, I could see that the buoyancy of DE rocking (fore-aft) in the swells was causing the coral rock to move.
we are unable to anchor here at Apo, as it is a Marine Reserve, the water is very clean, very blue. it's the first Reserve or dive resort I've seen in the Philippines (and this includes Busuanga) where the water actually looks good. there's a PI military (or maybe police) boat on the outside mooring which is here to make sure the reserve is not violated by fishing or netting -- or for that matter anchoring (which would damage the coral).
Monday, cousin Steve came down again, from his home in Valencia (outside Dumageite) and drove Dorothy and I back to town, where we could get our laundry done (takes a lot of water on the boat), and get some new deck water jugs (as the old ones, purchased in Hong Kong, have succumbed to the UV and are falling apart). Dumageite is the nicest city I've seen in PI, and the neighborhood Steve lives in is even nicer. He's gone out of his way to take care of us while we've been here, and Dorothy and I are very appreciative. He and Connie have beautiful kids and to those various Nagle family members out there who might read this, it's worth the trip down. Steve's headed back to Jersey at the end of this week, for work and other matters best taken care of in the US, rather than from long distance.
Nick Spence, back in Subic, emailed late yesterday that we'd be getting strong NE winds for several days, and he was right on it. If we can get onto a better situated mooring, we may wait it out here (Apo), but if not will likely take off out of here later this morning, and get west around Negros Island, on up to Guimaras Island (which will keep us better sheltered) until this blows out.
All for now, will write another uptake later today, if we cut loose from here and head down around Negros.
Wednesday 5 March, 08 1830hrs (local PI time)
OK, we bailed out of the moorings at Apo Island. The wind just kept on coming up, refracting swells coming around the corner into the mooring field kept increasing in size, and at any moment the block of coral we were moored to was likely to give and we were only in 10' of water, with fragile bancas all around us. We tried to hook onto another mooring, in a little deeper water, but it was risking Jim's life and limb to hook it. At one point he bailed overboard while I free-boated in order to recover the boathook which had been pulled out of his hand.
We went west around the southern tip of Negros and are now going up the west side of that island. The NE was blowing pretty stiff on the E side of Negros, still blowing stiff here on the W. side, but being in the lee, there's only a short fetch and although sloppy the seas are small - 1 meter. Because our timing is such that the good anchorages are still ahead of us, we're going to plow on through the night, staying outside the 100 fathom (600 feet) contour line, rather than try to pick our way into a strange anchorage at night. I expect we'll be making Santa Ana Bay 10deg 27'N, 122deg 30'E on the W side of Guimaras Island by midafternoon tomorrow.
There's hundreds of lit-up bancas inshore of us, more squid-fishing I presume.
Current numbers: 9deg 26'E, 122deg 33'E; COG 320degT, SOG 7.2kts, wind out of the N, 17kts, high cloud cover, but reasonably good visibility
Thursday 6 March, 08 0800hrs (local PI)
wind/sea got significantly worse (gusting 30+, and still in lee of the point) as we got up to the top of Negros last evening, and we were looking at a much longer fetch as we got out of the lee and turned towards Guimaras -- all night slam-dancing -- which I hate in the dark cause you can't see what's coming -- a hint was that the night-fishing bancas all disappeared
about this time we were abreast Campomanes Bay -- long, deep, straight entrance -- so we went for the higher risk choice (going into a strange anchorage in the dark; backed up by good directions in BA, radar and sounder) versus, lower risk, but much higher discomfort / anxiety factor of slamming all night in the dark. all went well and we anchored in 65-70' of water, still with winds gusting over 20 in the anchorage -- email from Ray this morning that they had 38kt wind in Subic yesterday.
right now we're out and heading north 1-2m short seas, low 20s wind, working up to the waypoint where we turn towards Guimaras, over the top of Negros. we should have the weather on the nose, and as long as we can make enough speed to get into Santa Ana Bay before dark, I'll be happy. Dorothy, Jim and I all doing well
Numbers: 9deg 43'N, 122deg 21'E, COG 343deg True (will be approx 012deg true as we turn towards Guimaras), SOG 6 kts broken mid-level cloud cover
PS: we got up towards the point again, and found the wind increased to 35+kts, increased seas, boats much bigger than DE going to shelter, so we turned around and returned to Campomanes Bay where we're experiencing 20kts winds, but at least the water is flat. We've had to do multiple sets of the anchor, but maybe we've got it now. I took the opportunity on the way back down to hand-steer (rather than auto-pilot) in following seas, and after awhile seemed to get that under control.
7 March 08 1700 local PI time
the third time is not the charm. the wind was down inside Campomanes Bay this morning so we took another stab at it: coming out of the bay and heading north we noted that the seas were bigger than yesterday, but that the wind wasn't quite so strong. we continued north to the same waypoint we turned around at twice before and by that time the wind was up to the mid-20kts (not 35kts as yesterday) but at this point the seas were 3-4meters with very, very short period -- very ugly action bringing the bow high, then down into the trough and dumped onto the bow by the next sea -- and we still hadn't turned the corner directly into wind & sea to make our way up to Guimaras. this was no fun, so we waited for a small break and powered around, heading back down the coast, back to our hidey hole. thank goodness by the way, for the paravanes. cutting across following seas of that particular type was very much flattened out by putting out the fish on both sides...
another day in C-bay, doing boat chores, reading, and recovering from the beating we've voluntarily taken each day trying to get up this coast. maybe tomorrow...
8 March 08 1930hrs local PI time
well we did finally get away from Campomanes Bay. for the past 3 days (2 or 3? I've lost track) we haven't had a good set with our anchor, rocky bottom (the anchor comes up clean, no mud) and with the lessened wind inside the bay we've managed to stay more or less in one place after multiple attempts to set anchor. we came off our anchorage last night about 0100, and rather than try to re-set we thought we'd give going north another go, as the wind was down a bit.
and it did stay down by comparison to the prior 3 attempts, although certainly it was not comfortable. we stayed at about 5kts until dawn, getting into Santa Ana Bay 10deg 32'N, 122deg 31'E on the W side of Guimaras Island about noon. it was a serious chore coming up the coast, swells coming in from 3 different directions, making things quite confused and sloppy along with winds in the low-mid 20s.
we've got a good set, for a change, here in Santa Ana Bay, and will take the next step as soon as we get a break in the wind -- 2 days up to Boracay or Tablas, then to Puerto Gallera, and back to Subic Bay.
this trip has been an excellant shakedown for DE, showing that she's a sturdy boat, but also identifying some areas that still need work -- nothing major.
We've heard finally, that Kwakatu, with David Fritsch, Dick Towle Hero-at-Large, and Jarmo the giant Finn arrived safely in Palau several days ago and are preparing to move on.
Unless we get good weather tomorrow, we plan to stay here another day.
10 March 08 0330hrs
we took a day off, remaining in Santa Ana Bay, Guimaras Island. stayed on the boat though, as the wind was ripping through the bay pretty much all day.
in about 30 minutes we'll pick up again, and see if we can't get out of here and across Panay Bay to the protection (we hope) of the Panay coast as we continue north. I'm not entirely optimistic as the Negros coast provided little protection the past 4-5 days from this NE wind.
presuming we don't get turned around again, it will be 2-3 days up to Boracay (where the sailing directions don't suggest a great anchorage, so we're leaving ourselves room to come through and continue on to Tablas in daylight, if we can't find a safe place for DE
11 March 08 0700
our early start out of Santa Ana Bay was the right choice; in fact we had an idllyic run from Guimaras Island WSW across the Panay Gulf to the southwest tip of Panay -- the wind was out of the NE at 10-15kts, we put up both sails before dawn and for several hours did 7 knots using 1 gal per hour or less of fuel.
a bit of a surprise running north up the west coast of Panay, was that we had a 1+ meter swell coming out of the west until we got into San Jose de Buenavista. 10deg 44'N, 122deg 56'E a little after noon. the anchorage there is not protected, more of an open waterfront running NW to SE (and with the swell from the west we had quite a bit of movement at anchor), but that wasn't what got us on the road again... in the first hour after dropping the hook, we had 4 groups of locals come over to DE on their bancas and just climb aboard, checking everything out. I managed to keep them corraled to the back deck area, gave them cold drinks, but by the time the 4th group had come aboard, and I'd discouraged a fifth, we decided this was probably not where we wanted to spend a night. maybe it was all innocent, but....
so away again, northbound up the Panay coast, thinking to travel through the night, come into Boracay in the morning, and continue on to Tablas for anchorage. By sunset we had 25kt winds and 3meter, short, short period seas on the starboard quarter, a very uncomfortable ride. I can handle this stuff during the day OK, but at night, as I think about things that could happen and how we would handle it (33 years in law enforcement will do that to you) I find that I stay apprehensive continuously until dawn, or until we can get into an anchorage. Of course coming into a strange anchorage at night -- "blind man's bluff" as I've referred to it before -- has it's own significant anxiety attached. the short version is that I wasn't having fun, and know that Dorothy wasn't either. Jim (aka Banzai Bozo) on the other hand, was having a ball and didn't want to trade being the old man of the sea, plowing his way through rough weather for another tension-laden creep into an unknown anchorage...
that's the fun of being the captain -- you get to make the choices and take the blame: about 2/3 of the way up the Panay coast there's a little island, 2 miles across E to W, which come right out of deep water and has a little 1/4 mile shelf of shallower water 60' or so. I took a heading for the center underside of Batbatan Island 11deg 28'N, 121deg 54'. We inched our way in, in the dark, and at 2300hrs found calm water in the last 1/2 mile coming up to the south side of Batbatan. The holding wasn't great, a rocky bottom which we dragged on most of the night; we still had gusts of wind up to 20kts, but we took turns with an anchor watch, got some rest, and this morning found ourselves in a beautiful little place, while just offshore to the left and right, the wind is howling and the water surface through binocuiars looks like a series of hills -- moving hills
We're half a day south of Baracay, and a couple hours more than that from Tablas. Not sure whether we'll tackle the seas again or take a break and do it tomorrow...
thanks for the call Andrew -- very weird to be pounding away up the Sulu Sea in the dark, chatting with friends far away... surreal
11 March 08, 1900hrs
So, no sooner had I written the previous check-in, than a big offshore banca -- one of those you only see in the south with the dramatically upward-swept prow and stern -- made a slow pass by the DE, most of the dozen or so guys aboard wearing balaclava masks down over their faces, and did not wave back to our waves -- just checked us out... my old patrol car partner Terry Kelly used to say "Nagle-Nagle, people don't look like that by accident" so we pulled anchor and headed out into the frothy & windy Sulu Sea, north-bound along the west coast of Panay.
We plowed our way north, left Panay behind, passed alongside Boracay and made it into Looc Bay 12deg 15'N, 121deg 58'E, Tablas Island about 1700hrs. Lots of room, good anchorage, no wind; Lonely Planet says there's stuff to see in town, so we'll try playing tourist tomorrow, before continuing north and west to Puerto Gallera the following day. Back to Subic soon...
13 March 08 1800hrs
Yesterday 12 March we took a day off and stayed in Looc Bay on Tablas Island. Tablas appears to be quite a beautiful, unspoiled place, local people were friendly, and we enjoyed the day off. This morning 13 March, we departed from Looc, for a relatively short passage (45miles) NW to Maestre de Campo Island, Agbatang Bay 12deg 54N, 121deg 42E. Again, this island is quite beautiful, the water in the bays clean, but underwater very few fish, dead coral, many urchins.
This is the tragedy of the PI: great potential, wonderful people (too many people) great poverty, because of the lack of local jobs, just subsistence farming/fishing; failed or absent infrastructure because government is corrupt and the resources don't get out to the community. Largest factor in the GNP of the PI are remittances from PI nationals working overseas in the US, Hong Kong, Arabian states, Europe.
We'll be departing from here this evening at 2200hrs to run anti-clockwise around Mindoro Island (to the west of us right now) 60 miles to Puerto Gallera (at 12 o'clock if Mindoro was an actual clock). We're actually members of PG Yacht Club -- I joined when I was down here 3 years ago on Mandarin (Diesel Duck 462 #1). We will stay only a day or so, before making a 90 mile run back to Subic Bay, north of Manila on the west coast of the island of Luzon.
Looking forward to getting the boat cleaned up, taking real showers, and not getting up at 0200 to start another run.
14 March 08, 0800 hrs
we will be coming into the moorings at Puerto Gallera Yacht Club within the next hour. pretty good run last night, a bit of NE wind and swell, but quite modest compared to the last week or so. Lots of big boat traffic as we got up to the NE corner of Mindoro, which gets a little tense trying to interpret multiple targets of nav lights and on radar. not sure yet whether we will stay through tomorrow, or leave again tomorrow am at 0200 for the 90 mile last lap to Subic. Puerto Gallera, position 13deg 31'N, 120deg 57'E
15 March 08, 0830hrs
The town of Puerto Gallera looking very much better than 3 years ago. Wish we could stay for a couple of weeks, but there are other commitments and we will get underway for the run to Subic late this afternoon (but before sunset, so we can see our way out). Had a very nice visit at the yacht club - not a fancy, pretentious building like SBYC. Nice people, some I already knew from Subic and Hong Kong. Very comfortable people and place. If you look at GoogleEarth, top center of Mindoro Island (first island directly south of Luzon), you can see a double line of boats on moorings in the anchorage at PG.