Passage from Kota Kinabalu, MY to Port Bonbonon, Negros, PI (29 Jun - 11 Jul 2004) Back to Valhalla's Adventures
Things don't always go as planned and our most recent passage is a good example!
After over five months in the luxury Sutera Harbour Marina in Kota Kinabalu (KK), Malaysia, we cleared out with the immigration and port officials and declared our next port to be Puerto Princessa, Palawan, Philippines. The island of Palawan lies 280NM to the north of KK and we had not been there before so thought it would be worthwhile seeing. Our plan was to go on to some northern Philippine islands and explore and SCUBA divie on our way back to the east and south to our 'home port' of Port Bonbonon, Negros, Philippines.
About the time we cleared out of KK a typhoon was approaching the eastern side of the Philippines and we had good wind from the right direction (SW) to go. We weren't worried about the typhoon coming near us as we are in the belt known as the 'land below the wind', meaning that the typhoons stay north of this area. The morning we left we had 15-20 knot winds generated by 'feeder bands' into the typhoon which was over 1000NM away to the northeast. That day and night we had a wild and fast ride ... I told Rose that some people paid good money at an amusement park for a ride like that on a roller coaster!
The seas were running 2 to 3 meters, some higher, and we 'corkscrewed' down the face of the waves.
At times the wind was over 40 knots and we just barreled along ... admittedly sometimes hoping nothing would break.
The next morning (30 Jun) we put into a lovely protected bay, Clarendon Bay, on the southernmost point of Palawan, 130 NM from KK. I had slowed our rate of advance to ensure plenty of light on entry ... the seas were now running 3 meters in height and much larger waves were crashing against the southern shore .. but the entrance was protected enough by the Barong Barong Point to give a smooth entry to the bay. We anchored at the position shown in 15 feet of water over a mud bottom.
Two days later, after resting up and exploring the bay by rowing about in the dinghy, we sailed 15NM further up the island to Caboang Bay, another protected anchorage, as we waited for the wind to abate. We anchored at the position shown in 22 feet of water over mud. While waiting we made a decision to go directly to Port Bonbonon (360NM to the east) and skip the northern part of the Philippines until our return to Malaysia later in the year.
On 3 July we set sail with favorable conditions ... and then were disappointed when the wind nearly died and what little wind there was came too close to the direction we wanted to go!
Being the stubborn type (who, me?) we carried on but, rather than tack to the south, again changed our destination to Cagayan Island, a place we had visited just one year previously, about halfway between Palawan and Port Bonbonon.
During the day on 5 July we were able to fly the 'drifter' under clear skies and 3-4 knots of wind. In the afternoon we passed close by a freely floating large metal 'drogue' ... a cylinder about 10 meters in length and 1.5 meters in diameter. It had a significant radar return so could have been avoided at night ... assuming the radar was on AND was being frequently checked! Scary!!!
Motor sailing most of the way we arrived at the island at midnight on 5 July ... Independence Day back in the States. We loitered until daybreak then came into the lagoon and anchored at the position shown in 16 feet of water with the occasional coral head scattered around. The charts for this island are considerably off in calibration but on my previous visit I was able to determine the necessary corrections for the charting program we use (SEA CLEAR II).
On 7 July we went to 'town' (3KM away) to check in with the officials. The CG detachment was closed when we first visited so we went to the Municipal Hall and signed the Mayor's Visitor Book. Unlike our previous visit a year ago, we were not asked for a donation to the Fiesta Fund! We bought some of the sweetest mangos we've had in a long time and some fresh eggs. Returning to the CG detachment, we woke up the petty officer (PO3 ASONG), signed his 'book' and left a copy of the crew list.
We enjoyed a reunion with Aurelio Bunag (74 y.o.), who had been our 'guide' during our visit to Cagayan Island the previous year. Aurelio kept us supplied with water for washing clothes (it was not potable!), mangos and fish. Since we were anchored near his farm house we were not concerned about security ... which regrettably was a problem with one recent visit by another yacht, hopefully an isolated incident.
We waited for favorable wind for three days and finally decided to depart and take our chances. On 10 July we catted the anchor at 0700 and made our way out of the southern pass. As usual, we found light winds, 0-4 kts, but when there WAS some wind it was off the beam enough to motor sail on a close reach. Here's our progress throughout the day ... significant events were one squall line passing over us before noon and the International Space Station passing overhead at 1840 on a clear evening - our first sighting of the ISS!
The remainder of the passage was ... uneventful but interesting. As we neared Siaton Point the wind increased (adiabatic effect), held steady at 6 knots and we began to close reach ... finally without the motor! A beautiful sunrise greeted us. We were being driven a bit south of the planned route but didn't care. THEN the wind began shifting and heading us into shore, forcing a tack away and ..... then the wind died at 0730.
We motored on to our entry, passing close by a freely floating raft (fortunately not at night), and reached our mooring at 0920 on 11 July 2004.
The anchorage had more yachts than when we departed in January ... we counted over 30 of them, most with absentee owners. But it's always nice to be 'home', isn't it?