Passage from Port Bonbonon, Negros to Subic Bay, Luzon, Philippines (20-27 Jun2009)

Our planned departure was for Wednesday, 17 Jun.  We had favorable SW'ly winds following the passage of Tropical Storm 3W across Luzon and it's development into a typhoon that went to the northeast.  Unfortunately we had some legal problems with property we've purchased and were delayed until Saturday, 20 Jun.  The weather predictions still showed favorable though less strength winds.  Perhaps we let the devil know our plans?

This is the first leg of the trip ... not as planned!


Our planning was for a stop on the north side of Busuanga at the il y Mar resort in Port Caltom. 

From our departure on the 20th until the morning of the 22nd we had light WNW'ly winds requiring us to motor sail but making over 100NM per day.

On the 22nd the winds shifted to NW and we decided to make it a non-stop trip to Subic.  We continued to motor sail in light winds.

At 1800 on the 22nd as we approached Apo Reef the winds increased to 12-15 kts and we were able to sail to the east of Apo Reef.




By midnight on the 22nd the wind died again then shifted to NNW'ly.  We decided to make a stop an N. Pandan Island where we knew of a resort that would give shelter from the NW winds.  Receipt of GRIB weather files showed a tropical depression headed from the east which gave reason for the shifting winds.

We slowly motor sailed through the rest of the night and arrived at N. Pandan Island at 0600 on 23 Jun.  A worker on the shore directed us to a huge orange ball at a mooring in 65 feet of water.  The three plaited ropes looked inviting.  We made ready for 'port' and slept through most of the day checking on the approach of TD 4W which became Tropical Storm NANGKA (or FERIA as it's called in the Philippines).




This prediction from the Joint Typhoon Warning Center gave some confidence with the projected track about 180 NM to the north east of our position, shown at the circled '-' sign.

We spent a quiet (but slightly rocky) evening and night with occasional rain and winds of less than 12 knots. 







24 June.  My how things can change quickly! 

The JTWC projection showed a closer track to our position (the circled '-' sign).


The bad news was that the CPA would be about 50 NM to our north east.  Winds were projected to be 45-55 kts at the center.


The good news (if any) was that the closest point of approach (CPA) would be about 1600 so we could see what was happening.  Too often these things happen in the dark.





As an aside, when we are in range of cell phone service we use either a SmartBRO or Globe Visibility GPRS modem to obtain connection to the Internet.  The weather websites we use are:  Singapore, JTWC, Japan Meteorlogical Agency, and Typhoon 2000 (T2K)  (for the Philippines)  GRIB weather files are downloaded daily from and on demand from Passage Weather.

Here's the log of the day:

Tropical Storm Nangka, named 'Feria' in the Philippines
Log while laying to a mooring at N. Pandan Island, Mindoro, Philippines  Location:  12*.51.36N 120.*45.3E
24 Jun 09  
0630 JTWC says TS 4W will pass over our location.  Next update 240300=1100 hrs local time.
0800 Overcast skies, wind 10 kts @270, cross swell, a bit rocky, light rain
1100 Mooring check - repositioned chafe guards, tightened main halyard.
Wind 15-18 kts @ 270, mild rain, mild motion.
1200 Mooring check - OK.  Wind 18 kts @ 260, moderate rain and motion, poor visibility.  SMB
1245 Wind gusting to 25 kts @ 250, motion increasing, heavy rain, seas 2 ft.  Removed canvas covers in cockpit
1300 Mooring check - OK. Wind 30 kts @250. Heavy rain and motion.  Started engine - 1300RPM forward to relieve strain.
1320 Mooring check - OK. Wind 30 kts @250. Heavy rain. Rough motion.  Engine - 1500RPM forward to relieve strain.
1330 Campbell's Hearty soup and foccacia bread for lunch - wonderful.  Isn't Why Not a good bakery?
1345 Mooring check - OK. Same conditions as previous.
1400 Mooring check -OK. Wind 20 kts @ 260.  Rain very heavy.  Seas 5 ft.  Very rough ride. Engine same.
1420 Wind 22 kts @ 260.  Pitching into 6 ft seas, burying bowsprit at times. Rain heavy.
1500 Mooring check - repositioned chafe guards. Wind 20 kts @ 225. Seas 6 ft, burying bowsprit.  Engine - 1200RPM forward.
T2K position locates the storm CPA to be 30 NM from our location.  Bye bye now?
1530 Wind 25 kts @ 230.  Seas 6 ft.  Ho hum.
1600 Mooring check - OK. Wind 20 kts @240.  Laying 45 degrees to 5 ft swell.  Rain heavy.  Globe GPRS - no service.
1630 Smart BRO - no service.  Occasional lightning in the area, 1-2 NM away.
1700 Mooring check - lengthened  safety line over bowsprit, which is getting wrapped around the bridle lines. 
 Is the shortened line causing pitching? 
Wind 20 kts @ 230.  Rain moderate. Rough motion with 5 ft seas getting tiresome!
1730 Wind 18 kts, gusts 25 kts @ 225. Rough motion continues.  Smart BRO is back thanks.
1800 Mooring check - safety line wrapped more, leave for now.  Wind 18 kts, gusts 25 kts @ 225.  Still rough but not as much?  Rain moderating.
T2K position locates the storm 47.2NM from our location @ 342, approaching Golo Island in the Verde Island Passage     FG
1830 Wind 16 kts, gusts 18 kts @ 225. Motion seems to be better.  Getting used to it?  Finally?  No chance!  Time for another FG
1900 Mooring check -  lengthened safety line 6 feet. Wind 16 kts @ 225.  No more FG tonigh!.  I think motion better but Rose disagrees.  
Drunk? Who ME?  Rain moderate. Filling buckets in the cockpit all day from drainage down the mizzen mast. Engine off.
1930 Wind 15 kts, gusts 18 kts @ 225.  Motion settling down. Rain slacking.  Just a temporary reprieve?
1945 Dinner.  Pork stew over rice with ??? soup.  Yummy.  Skipper volunteers to do the dishes!!!!
2000 Mooring check - safety line has slack good..  Wind 15-17 kts @ 225.  Motion so-so.  (and that's a very technical term).
2030 Is it my imagination or are conditions settling down? Wind 12-15 kts @ 225. Let's go sailing!  
Rain moderate. Motion bearable, maybe sleepable.  Rose is sleeping.  Me?  Later.  Dishes are done.
2100 Mooring check - OK.  Safety line has untwisted from the bridle lines! 
 Wind 10-12 kts @ 225.  Rain slight.  Motion a bit more than slight.  Are we out of the woods?  Leave tomorrow?
Depth now showing 30 feet and confirmed by sonar!  Our GPS position has not changed significantly.  
Our original depth was on the order of 65 feet.  Where has all the water gone?  It's a mystery*.
2130 Wind 7-8 kts @ 180.  Slight swell on the quarter giving a bit of rock and roll but bearable.  Time for bed.
25 Jun 09  
0000 Mooring check - OK.  Wind 8 kts @190.  Rocking but bearable.
0500 Mooring check - shortened safety line to normal length.  Wind 10 kts @180.  Swell abeam from the west. Rocking uncomfortable.  Light rain.
0600 Mooring check - OK.  Conditions same.
* The depth mystery is solved.  We have swung north onto a ledge where the mooring line is attached at the drop-off.  
End of log unless things go to hell in a handbasket.  Plan for departure is tomorrow you didn't hear that, Devil!

Abbreviations in the log:  SMB = San Miguel Beer    FG = Famous Grouse scotch    GPRS = General Packet Radio Service

NOTE: Prior to the day of the storm the wind instruments were replaced with a new unit (one we've carried for two years after the instruments played up and then worked again).  It was possible to calibrate the wind direction but the wind speed has NOT been calibrated, hence the wind speeds shown above may well be in error. 

Spent the rest of the day getting ready for an early departure.

26 Jun  Second leg.  On to Subic Bay.


Dropped the mooring at 0530.

Got underway with hazy overcast skies and easterly wind at 5 kts.

We had a favorable current THE ENTIRE TRIP that only briefly went slack.  The current reached 1.5 kts and averaged about 0.75 kts.

A NW'ly swell of 3 feet during the day gave a rocky ride as we motor-sailed at 4.5 to 5 knots.

At 2150 the seas moderated and the wind increased  (8-10 kts) and carried on the starboard beam.  We sailed through the night on a bitchin' beam reach at 5 to 6 knots. 

27 June

In the morning hours we slowed down, reluctantly, to avoid arriving at Subic Bay in the dark

In a prior phone call to the SBYC we agreed to alert them on VHF when we passed Grande Island at the entrance to the bay.  VHF calls at 0830, 0900, 0915, 0930 and 0945 went unanswered.  Phone calls to the Yacht Club marina were also not answered until 0945 when we were just outside the entrance to the marina.  We were met at our assigned berth by marina workers who were very professional in taking our lines and NOT pulling the bow into the pier (which is the usual case in Asia).

We tied our lines at 1000 hrs.









AIS gives confidence:

During the passage we used the AIS (Automatic Information System)  to advantage.

Here's an example:

As we neared Cape Calavite near the entrance to the Verde Island Passage the cargo ship HOME PLATE was rounding the cape in the opposite direction.


The software (MaxSea) projection of the CPA (closest point of approach) shows our paths to cross well to the NW of us.


The CPA warning  is displayed as a line from a point along our path to a point, labeled HOMEPLATE, which shows where our two vessels will be at the CPA.







But, as expected, HOME PLATE turned to the south and our CPA was reduced.


As shown on the display our course was to the east of the planned route (dashed orange line with the waypoint PASU01).  This course change was on purpose to shorten the distance being sailed.









Bringing up the YachtAIS-Pro program shows further details about the HOME PLATE and a warning area (cross hatched red) where we would be in danger of collision.













A feature of this program is the ability to project our positions to the CPA. (Clicking on the 'S' button).  Here we could see our CPA would be 1 NM.

We sailed on with confidence.

After entering Subic Bay here's what the display showed ... with 37 targets in the vicinity.  It's nice to know where these big guys are!