Palawan 2011 Cruise (18 April - 20 May) Back to Valhalla's Adventures
18 April Departure Day SBYC to Port Binanga
After the last-minute shopping and preparation in the morning we departed the Subic Bay Yacht Club at 1330. As planned we had a short (10NM) passage to Port Binanga, near the entrance to Subic Bay. Arriving at 1620 we anchored on the south shore near some banca moorings in front of a local house at the position shown.
19 April Port Binanga to Punta Fuego Marina
Catted the anchor at 0620 for a 44 NM passage to the Punta Fuego Marina (Entrance 14deg 07.728N 120deg 35.381E). Though not shown clearly on the electronic charts, the Google Earth image is detailed and useful Arrived outside the marina entrance at 1530.
There was a short delay as the marina shuffled boats around for us to have a berth. In the end we were placed between two boats. Rafted to Lethal Weapon on our port side and with 4 feet clearance to Happy on the starboard side. The marina was chock-a-block (it was Easter weekend) and the staff was kept busy jockeying boats around for each new arrival. They did a superb job helping boats get in. I then realized why they had complimented us on our entry as several arrivals were panic situations. The well maintained marina features showers, toilets and a bar/restaurant (closing in the evening). A shuttle runs every 30 minutes to the main clubhouse. Berthing is PHP 18 ($0.42) per foot per day with water PHP 50 ($1.16 per day). Manager is Mikel Arruiz +0437290180/+6328438700 If the marina is full it is possible to anchor just to the east of the marina in the shallow bay.
20 April At Punta Fuego Marina
Took a lay day. Since we were rafted, our location was a boat-width too short to connect to the power panel. We have an extension but needed a connector that fit their installation. Broadwater Marine has a store on the north side of Punta Fuego. They brought a connector .. and asked the exorbitant price of PHP 9600 ($224) for it. I told then to forget it. An hour later they returned saying the price was now PHP 5200 ($121). They got the same reply. We had a good meal at the marina and caught the shuttle to the main club for an ice-cream dessert. How decadent!
21 April Punta Fuego Marina to Paluan Bay, Mindoro
The weather forecast was for moderate winds today with light winds tomorrow. We cast off at 0600 for a passage to Paluan Bay, Mindoro, 60NM away. As predicted we had easterly winds of 10-15 kts for two hours then as we approached the Verde Island Passage we began a carnival ride. Beam reaching in 20-28 kts with shortened sail, seas cresting up to 3 meters we sailed at over 6 kts, at times surfing to 7 kts. One of the waves coming aboard filled the cockpit and took away a bucket. WAHOO! Once past the Verde Island Pass we broad reached in 20-25 kts until 1305 when at one NM north of Ibu Point when the wind died ... completely. Our momentum made me think the wind had shifted 180 degrees when in fact it was zero. We motored the rest of the way to Paluan Bay on the west side of Mindoro. We explored the west and north side of the bay looking for an anchorage and finding none, headed east across the bay and anchored off the towns of Lipa and Paluan. Position: 13deg 24.950 N 120deg 27.394E. We anchored in 13 feet over a large sandy bottom.
22 April At Paluan Bay
A lay day and time for some S.L.O.J. (Shitty Little Odd Jobs). The sunset was another Mother Nature's Show ... are we in Japan?
23 April Paluna Bay to Apo Reef to Port Caltom
Early departure (0545) bound for Apo Reef, 45NM away. Light winds so motor-sailed. Arrived at 1500 to find the only two moorings adjacent to Apo Island weer occupied Explored the Apo Reef but only found suitable depths (30 feet) over coral. We don't do that! So decided to press on to Illultuk Bay, Caluit Island, Busuanga, 48NM distant with an overnight passage. Purposely sailing slowly with light westerly wind the plan was changed at 2330 to go to Port Caltom, north side of Busuanga, and moor at the El Rio Y Mar resort.
The Apo WestPass is quite busy with large vessel traffic. Here's the display of previous vessel tracks and those nearby as shown by AIS.
The tanker GALINI was later on a near-collision course so we called them on VHF, got a reply (not surprising since we called by their name and callsign) and informed the helm we would slow down to let them pass without altering course. The helm gave us a 'Thank you Captain' reply. This is what the GALINI looked like crossing our bow.
24 April Arrival at Port Caltom
With jib and mizzen we sailed at 3 knots over calm seas. Arrived at the El Rio Y Mar resort and picked up a mooring at 0615 ... the same mooring we had used 7 years earlier! Found friends Detleff and Andrea on the yacht PHOENIX moored there as well. Couldn't resist the urge to come alongside and wake them up. :-) Our passage of 91NM took 24 hrs - 30 min thanks to drifting through the night waiting for a daylight entrance.
25-26 April At Port Caltom
Chilled out at the resort. Great buffet meals and 30% off for food and drink. Outdoor showers, swimming pool, towels, game room, library (1for1 exchange) and snorkel equipment free. A VERY yachtie-friendly place .. and nicely renovated and expanded since our last visit.
27 April At Port Caltom
Terry's Birthday. Terry celebrated early by rebuilding the head pump ... another SLOJ. We took the dingy up the Pangaueran River which feeds the bay. Had a picnic lunch at a clearing in the mangrove-lined river. Terry's choice ... peanut butter and banana sandwich (with a cold beer, of course). In the evening we went to the bar at the end of the resort jetty and rang the bell ... free drinks for the few guests that were there and the staff working the bar. We had another excellent buffet dinner and had the obligatory birthday cake. Later, back at the bar, the barman/magician Ed showed off his tricks.
28 April Port Caltom to Illultuk Bay
Breakfast at the resort, paid the bill and topped off the water. Dropped the mooring at 0925 for a motor-sail of 25 NM miles to Illultuk Bay. Anchored at 1445. A nice easterly wind kept us cool and let the wind generator do its thing for the rest of the day as we (Terry) recuperated from the party.
29 April Illultuk Bay to Linapacan Island
Picked up the very muddy anchor and chain (hooray for the on deck washdown hose) at 0530 bound for Popototon Island, 18 NM to the south. At 0740 decided to go further and changed the destination to Linapacan Island, another 30 NM further. A combination of motor-sailing in the morning then terrific sailing on a close reach in 15 kt easterly winds brought us to the Northwest Bay, Linapacan where we anchored at 1635. That little dot labeled Alerta Rock wasn't so little! A pearl farm to the south of the entrance had to be avoided. The anchorage was sandy but a slight swell (not TOO uncomfortable) was wrapping around the northern point.
30 April Linapacan Island to El Nido/Corongcorong Bay
Catted the anchor at 0550 and departed for El Nido/Corongcorong Bay, Palawan Island. This 37 NM sail was one of the best. Initially broad reaching then beam reaching in 15-18 kt easterly winds we arrived at El Nido Bay at 1215. We motored around to Corongcorong Bay due to the shifting winds around the karst islands. We anchored at 1325 in 30' depth with 180' of chain.
1-6 May At El Nido/Corongcorong Bay
Terry spent most of a day (2 May) stitching the sacrificial strip on the genoa. The Sailrite machine made the job easy ... and the main awning put over the foredeck gave welcome shade. We found Jodylyn's Laundry Shop (09128721463) on the NE shore of the bay behind the 24/7 Clinic. P50 per kilo. And a fresh water well you are welcome to pump. Just beyond the N side of the bay is a well-stocked market. On 3 May Terry rebuilt a spare salt water pump for the engine. In El Nido (P10/person tricycle ride) the El Nido Boutique & Artcafe is the popular tourist hangout ... good WiFi, good food (including pizza!) and tours.
(4 May) Since anchoring the yacht at nearby islands isn't practical we booked a full day's tour of the Miniloc Islands. That is the day we had the first overcast skies and rain of the season!!! No cancellation due to weather ... five of us departed with hopes of clearing skies. Silly people. The itinerary was Small Lagoon, Big Lagoon, lunch on a beach atEntalula Island, Secret Lagoon, Simisu Beach then 7 Commando Beach for snacks and drinks.
Swimming into Small Lagoon Cave inside Small Lagoon Coming back from Small Lagoon
Inside Big Lagoon ... toured around ... no swimming ... ho hum.
Waiting for lunch (the rain took a breather) Grilled fish, pork kebabs, salad and rice + beer. Cold so why smiling?
Simisu Beach. Can you spot the worm in the dead coral? "The best snorkeling spot" .... with food for attraction
Entrance to Secret Lagoon ... in the rain again. Inside Secret Lagoon. Our guides Ronel and Romer
At 7 Commando Beach for snacks and buko juice. Back to El Nido town.
The price was right .. P700/PAX including lunch (not drinks) .. the lagoons and karst islands interesting but the snorkeling was terrible!
6 May Corongcorong Bay to Alligator Island
Two trips to shore to Jodylyn's Laundry Shop for water, one trip to market then off to town for a late breakfast and last WiFi fix for awhile. Catted the anchor at 1120 and left for points south into Malampaya Sound.
Went through the pass at Liminangcong at 1400. A possible fuel stop but resisted the urge.
Once in the sound we went through thousands of pink jellyfish ... sometimes hearing them get blended by the prop!
Arrived at Alligator Island and dropped the hook at 1620. Position: 010 50.8567 N 119 17.8861 E Log = 23NM
The town of Calapa is in the background
The coverage by programs using the cm93 charts (CMAP, MaxSea, etc.) is limited in these areas. For example the passage shown above as shown on MaxSea is to the left..
In this case the track goes over land and in areas such as where we are anchored is completely void of detail ... only a dangerous area filled in red!
We will be using the OpenCPN navigation program for the rest of this cruise !!
7-8 May At Alligator Island
The first tropical storm of the season is now approaching the Philippines. Time to start getting GRIB files via our Sailmail HF Radio Connection.
Took the dinghy around Alligator Island and stopped for a chat with Peter and Anna who live here on the south shore. Anna has a 'dili' fish business sending them to Manila. Peter is a German who gave up sailing years ago and settled here.
Lay day as we wait for the storm up north to clear and relieve the south westerly winds predicted down the west coast ... our intended route.
Catching up on the reading and kept busy opening and closing the portlights as the rain squalls pass through.
9 May Alligator Island to Taitai Bay
Got bored and decided to move up the sound while WOW (Waiting On Weather).
The first reasonable looking place was Taitai Bay.
Hooked in 25' of water at position: 10 53.5928 N 119 16.8002 E
This 4.7 NM passage brought us to a very calm water location.
The winds gusted over the western mountains from 5-15 kts ... and the wind generator liked it!
Copied weather fax and grib files which weren't too encouraging. But that's cruising.
10 May Taitai Bay to Boyan Island
Catted the anchor at 0645 for a passage to Boayan Island, near Port Barton. Here's what some feature look like from the water.
Passing Wedge Island we confirmed the reason for it's name.
After leaving Malampaya Sound we encountered the condition left over from the southwesterly winds that had been generated by Tropical Storm Aere. Mostly motor-sailing close to the wind the afternoon was uncomfortable with 1-1.5 meter short-period waves ... knocking our speed down with each set. Conditions improved near the north side of Boayan Island and we hooked down at 1445 in 25 feet over sand. The 32NM trip was a bit tiring.
A gentle swell wrapped into the anchorage but was soothing after the hectic afternoon.
Though we didn't investigate we spotted a blue sloop on a mooring in front of a house at the extreme eastern edge of the anchorage. Later learned it to be a private house owned by a Filipino.
11 May Boyan Island to Port Barton
Picked up the anchor at 0705 for a trip into Port Barton.
Beginning at the red arrow, we encountered mine fields of pear farm buoys. The wavy course is our wending our way through rows and rows of buoys linked together.
Our charting is now limited to the type shown here.
Heading southeast we encountered pearl farms on each side of our track.
A surprise happened at the red arrow when the depth suddenly showed 5 feet under the keel!!
At 1100 we dropped the anchor in 10 feet of water over sand a quarter of a NM from shore. Our 16 NM passage was over as the nerves began to settle down.
11-13 May At Port Barton
Going ashore we recommend you aim for the large propellor at the Jambalaya Cajun Cafe.
At Imelda's you can have laundry done for a reasonable price and use the water hose to fill containers still in the dinghy at PHP1.5 per container.
Going into town behind Imelda's you find Judy's Cafe (no fish since the Port Barton Fiesta was ongoing) and excellent brown bread from Lita, across the street from Judy's.
One block south along the shore is the Visitor's Information Center. Babe is the in-charge and appreciates guests signing the Visitor's Book.
Beside the Visitor's Information Center is a Caltex station with diesel at PHP54 per liter ... and they help you carry the containers to the dinghy!
Boats here were a local dive boat ARIELLA associated with the soon-to-be opened resort 'Gold Tip', VALHALLA, and ARCTIC FOX with Aussies Bill and Roby on board.
The concentration of soccer ball sized jellyfish kept us out of the water.
We did find fish as the house specialty of cajun fish and jambalaya at the Jambalaya Cajun Cafe. With zydeco music in the background and 'the coldest beer in town' we had an excellent lunch.
14 May Port Barton to Jibboom Bay
Departed at 0640 with the intention that conditions would dictate whether we stopped at Jibboom Bay or continued to Sepang.
Had several hours of light rain on this 22 NM passage ... cooled things off nicely. A black eastern horizon made the destination decision. However, nothing of significance developed from it. A steady rain after arrival for most of the afternoon wasn't unpleasant.
Our anchorage was a considerable distance from shore but was good holding in sand at a depth of 12 feet.
15 May Jibboom Bay to Sebang
A 'lazy' departure at 0730 for the short (13 NM) trip to Sebang. As we neared Sebang we steered for the Sheridan Resort.
Put the hook down at 1030 in the position shown above. 12 feet of water and 150 feet of chain .. taking no chances.
Got the boat into the 'in port' mode and rowed ashore to the resort for lunch. Booked a tour of the Underground River for Monday morning (the next day) and also booked into the resort for Monday night. We are allowed a bit of decadence now and then, right?
VALHALLA provided a nice view for the guests ... but we didn't get any compensation for it other than knowing she was ours.
By early afternoon a short swell began coming into the bay, accentuated by the passenger bancas going back and forth from the underground river.
After dinner ashore we retired to the boat and were still rocked by the swell (fortunately facing into it) throughout the night becoming less toward dawn.
16 May Tour of the Subterranean Underground River
We booked our tour through the Sheridan Resort. Good move! Same price as normal, had a guide that took us to the Takeoff Pier and we were on the first boat leaving Sabang for the river location.
Here we transferred to the tour boats. Terry was forced to wear a life jacket ... arrgh!
We were paddled up the river by an entertaining guide, Jesse, who kept us amused with his narrative.
The staglatites and staglamites have been given a variety of names as their shape suggests .. here
First we saw bats hanging out waiting for dark. an ear of corn.
We made it safely back after an hour. Tour over ... time to go back and check into the Sheridan Resort.
Enjoying the resort.
17 May Sabang to Jibboom Bay
Checked out of the resort (where we were given a lovely loaf of whole wheat bread as a farewell present) and got underway at 1140. After the sumptuous breakfast buffet we weren't interested in lunch.
At 1400 a 'significant' squall blew across from the east. We carried on slowly to let it pass through.
At 1450 we dropped the hook near our last time here in the position shown.
Again we enjoyed the peaceful anchorage and tucked in for some rest before the next long passage.
18-20 May Passage from Jibboom Bay to Subic Bay Yacht Club
18 May Departed at 0740 after changing a worn belt on the engine salt water pump. Partly cloudy skies with light and variable winds.
Actually got to sail for several hours in the afternoon then back to motor-sailing as the seas became choppy from the portside close reaching winds.
Beginning at 2230 and for the next several hours as we cleared the northern tip of Palawan Island we were blinded by a flotilla (30+ boats) of squid boats. With encompassing halogen lights around the boats it was painful to the eyes and destroyed any hope for night vision. Fortunately a nearly full moon helped. The radar was of good use as we passed through or by the boats. Ugh!
19 May Another light and variable wind day with partly cloudy skies.
20 May As we passed to the west of the Mindoro Strait the wind increased a bit but was dead ahead. Motor-sailing in a 'sail to wind' mode we opted to go outside of Cabra Island on the western side of the Verde Island Passage.
The AIS display of vessels around us was always useful.
Here you see the displayed CPA (Closest Point of Approach) between the overtaking vessel LUCKY RAINBOW and us. On the present courses and speeds it will cross our stern and pass to starboard.
Later on the display shows that the E. R. BRANDENBERG had changed course to pass ahead of us and the oncoming vessel 564703000 (it's MMSI since not enough data had been received to show it's name) had changed course to avoid E.R. BRANDENBERS and, hopefully, us.
As we neared Subic Bay a pleasant surprise was sailing wind (10-12 kts) on the port side. Where has this wind been?????
Nearing the yacht club our course takes us around a wharf as shown below.
The next surprise was the sudden appearance from behind the wharf of the outbound MV Ocean SWAGMAN crossing our bow. Though this livestock ship can carry up to 6,500 cattle or 25,000 sheep ... we didn't notice any unusual smells.
The SBYC staff were standing by to take our lines for our arrival at 2120. This 292NM passage was done at an average speed of 4.7 kts.
SUMMARY: I once had a shirt from a Transpac race that said 'out of wind, out of patience, out of beer'. We didn't run out of beer. Our intention of circumnavigating Palawan Island dwindled as we listened to the engine. The places we visited added to our memories and we will 'dine out for awhile' as we recount the adventures with friends. The boat performed well with no major drama ... and only a few things have been added to the 'TO DO' list. It was an adventure .. but nice to be back.
Now to think up the next adventure!