Cruise to Busuanga, Philippines (20 October - 7 November 2004) Back to Valhalla's Adventures
20 October: We left our mooring in Port Bonbonon, Negros, at 0800 and motored to Siaton Point where we found some light WNW winds .. on the nose, of course! Our intended destination was the island of Culion, some 256NM to the Northwest.
The wind had other ideas as it veered to the north and settled in the NW at 6-8 Kts. As we closed the west coast of Negros it was time for a new destination and we chose an old friend, Cagayan Island. The winds continued through out the night giving us a close reach over calm seas ... sometimes motor sailing in the lulls.
21 October: At sunrise we were greeted by this large ship which, after an exchange on VHF, had altered course to avoid us.
We entered Cagayan lagoon via the north pass but weren't happy with anchoring there in the choppy seas so we took refuge behind a small island near the south pass ... actually on the outer reef .. and anchored at the position shown at 1050 in 15 ft over sand.
22 October: The next morning we departed at 0805 with NE winds at 10 kts and decided to head for Cabulauan Island, 127 NM to the NNW. We cleared the south end of the island and set a NW'ly course. Again, the wind had other ideas. By 1230 it had backed to the N so we set a course for Dumaran Island on the NE side of Palawan. By 1300 it had backed into the NW so we picked Tagauayan Island, to the NNE in the Cuyo Islands as a new destination. Nope .. by 1400 the wind was back to the NE so it was back to Calasag Bay, Dumaran Island as a destination. The winds built to 12-14 knots but the seas were inordinately large for the light winds ... a precursor to the stronger NE winds that developed before sundown. Through the night we were beam reaching in 22-25 knot winds with the seas on the beam at 2 to 3 meters. A VERY uncomfortable sail .. rocking and rolling while the dinghy, which we were foolishly(?) towing, was leaping from wave to wave behind us.
23 October: We slowed the boat in the early morning to avoid a landfall in the dark. We entered Calasag Bay at 0720 with 14-18 knots of NE wind and found the anchorage to be untenable in those conditions. We searched several locations along the south shore before deciding on a very calm place against the west side of Dumaran Island where we anchored in 20 ft over sand and coral. It was Rest and Recuperation time!
24 October: Time to go north!
With 10 knots of NE breeze we had a nice sail through the reefs, which were easy to discern thanks to the sunny conditions.
Our destination became a bit less than intended since, as we entered Taytay Bay, Rose spotted another sailboat which turned out to be Andrew and Robin on NEREUS. They were heading for Apulit Island and we agreed to join them.
Situated on the southwest side of the island is Club Noah. This very upmarket resort provides free moorings which we've determined is to prevent yachts from anchoring in the bay and 'spoiling the view of the guests'.
Clean water at last!
26 October: We dropped the mooring at 0800 and set sail for Cabulauan Island (once more with feeling), 40 NM to the NE. The northerly winds did it again ... veered to the NE so we decided to go north through the pearl farms and see where the boat wanted to go ... hoping to get around the north side of Palawan and visit the El Nido area. Naturally, as we got further north the wind backed to the NNW so Colaylayan Bay on Linapacan Island became the new destination.
The trip was 40 NM and we found the bay to be either very deep or very shallow. While backing away from a shallow spot the shifting cable broke leaving the engine in reverse so it was a good time to drop the hook .. which we did in 54 feet over coral, much to my disfavor. Spent several hours replacing the cable and inspecting everything in the 'dungeon' .. that small space beneath the cockpit. Listening to the chain rode grind on the coral kept both of us awake through the night and the fear of getting snagged wasn't pleasant.
27 October: Underway at 0615 and the anchor came up without any hesitation .. WHEW!
Our original destination was Ditaytayan Island, 30 NM away on the east side of Culion Island, but now we began to expect to change any destination we had in mind and this day was no exception. Five miles closer was Halsey Harbor and the prospect of plenty of fresh water, according to the cruising guides.
After trying two locations we found an ideal one ... well sheltered and just across the bay from that promised fresh water. Rose was delighted to now be able to do one of a Filipina's favorite activities ... washing clothes. That meant a lay day but was to both of our liking.
We also scored some nice prawns that were still alive when we bought them ... yum!
Grilled prawns, red wine and a full moon ... and good music as well. AHHHHHH.
29 October: Weighed anchor (it's still 35 pounds) at 0650 and sailed up the west side of Culion Island in freshening winds which became ENE at 18-22 knots. But without any fetch because of the island we had smooth sailing until we turned the corner at the top and had it right on the nose. We motored the last few of the 20 NM to the Coral Bay Resort on Popototan Island.
We anchored in this sheltered bay and later learned that the mooring behind us belonged to the resort owner who was away and it was available to visitors.
30 October: Anchor up at 0810 and, with no wind or seas we began motoring to Calauit Island on the NW tip of Busuanga Island, just 20 NM away.
Six miles out we met up with Dan on YUME as we motor sailed in light winds to Illultuk Bay, Calauit Island. Photo op!
As we anchored in 18 ft over mud we were greeted by three manta rays, about 2 meters wingspan, playing around the boats. We went ashore and booked a tour of the Safari Park for the next morning at 0800.
31 October: While having dinner Saturday night the safari tour folks showed up alongside in a banca and asked if we could do our tour at 0600 since they had a lot of bookings for the 0800 tour. Suited us much better since we wanted to get underway afterward. The tour was EXCELLENT! And the time of day was good ... cool and the animals were all up and about. Saw zebra, giraffe, mountain bear cat, porcupine, mouse deer, impala and horses.
We were back aboard and underway by 0815 with no wind and smooth seas. By 0945 we had motored around the north side of Calauit Island and had just enough light wind to fly the jib but were hard on it the rest of the way. At 1230 the engine began to slow (low on fuel) so we tacked away from shore, put in 20 liters of fuel and motored on into Port Caltom. Picked up a mooring next to Dan at 1424 after 25NM.
The el rio y mar Resort (formerly called Maricaban Bay) is a great place for yachties. There are moorings at P150 per day, yachtie discounts (50% on drinks, 30% on food), and free transportation out to Club Paradise (a resort on Dimaquit Island, about 4NM away), to Coron and the airport. They have fresh veggies delivered from Manila which can be purchased and also have diesel ... which we desperately needed!
1 November: Spent the day at Club Paradise snorkeling and having a lunch buffet ... which required the appropriate amount of time for digestion.
2 November: Took the free transportation to Coron for supplies. With a lot of delays along the way waiting for passengers at the airport, it took six hours of traveling to spend four hours in town! At least it was free!!
3 November: Refueling and passage preparation day.
4 November: Dropped the mooring at 0815 bound for Port Bonbonon. Motored and motor sailed until 1800 when the wind settled in from NE at 12 knots, building to 22-25 knots before midnight. Close reaching with jib and mizzen we had the best sail in ages!
5 November: The wind continued NE at 22-25 knots until mid-day then moderated to 10-15 knots ENE .. by noon we had EVERYTHING up, including some washing, and sailed nicely at 4-6 knots. The wind increased steadily through the evening and we ripped along.
6 November: From midnight to 0400 we honked along on a close reach in 15-18 knots, ENE, with slight seas. Perfect! Only problem was that we had made such good time we would be entering port in the dark .. something I'm prepared to do if necessary but this time it wasn't.
At 0745 we dropped the anchor in Catmon Bay on the west side of Negros.
Spent the day resting here until 1630 when we left, just after a tropical downpour which washed all the salt off the boat.
7 November: With light winds, NE 4-6 knots, we sailed slowly to ensure a morning arrival.
At 0615 we picked up our mooring in Port Bonbonon. The trip from Port Caltom was 274 NM and the overall cruise was 681 NM. Overall average speed was 4.5 knots ... no complaints. GECKO, the dinghy, was towed the entire way. No fish on the line which was always out during the day ... and getting snagged by grass and trash. Engineering casualties ... one broken shifting cable that was 10 years old.
Look out Malaysia, here we come.