Posted by: catamarantwooceans | February 16, 2012

Sailing to the Philippines

6.2.12 – Monday – Customs and Immigrations came to Fish N’ Fins for us and very quickly we had our passports stamped and the necessary custom release document.

Going out of Palau felt like leaving the Pacific ocean; soon we will sail in the Philippines sea, the South China sea and the Indian Ocean. We spent three fantastic years in the Pacific and if not for my "sail around the world" obsession, I would have gladly stayed there much longer. So many places yet to be experienced! Gili says I can go again when the circumnavigation is completed…

We motored about 14 miles in a northerly direction inside the Palau lagoon, dodging reefs and shoals and fighting with the inaccuracies of the charts, until we reached the West Passage. Over there the marking of the channel was better and our boat’s symbol on the electronic chart was right in place.

At the west end of the pass we saw four boats that brought divers and surfers to this  remote position. There is more to Palau than Koror!

Once out in the open ocean, the fishing system was put into operation and Dany had the first taste of taking out a nice fish, a yellow-fin tuna.

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He also had a first taste of the most fresh sashimi.

We did not have enough wind and had to use an engine until 2300. This will not be a very fast passage!

7.2.12 – Tuesday – Light wind from the east so there is a lot of engine work. 24 hours after exiting the west pass of Palau we covered 115 miles. In the evening we had a mini-squall, and for 10 minutes were running nicely with full canvas at 24 knots of wind. After dinner I started the first watch with some wind. Let’s hope it lasts.

Forecast for tomorrow – more of the same. Only Thursday will have stronger winds.

8.2.12 – Wednesday – During the night we went on sailing wing and wing with the jib poled out. In the morning the wind backed and I had to take the pole down and move the jib back to port.

Close to midday we saw a yellow object floating on our starboard and went to investigate. Having satisfied myself that it was no life-raft of any sort I turned back to our original course. Our 24 hour run was 119 miles.

Around 1730 Dany sighted a fishing boat, not a very large one, tied to buoy, 300 miles off-shore. A buoy? It is more than 5000 meters deep here! Magnifying the pictures I took, we could see that they were looking at us with binoculars, just as we did in their direction.

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Later in the night – wind NE up to 20 true, boat going fast, over 7 knots.

9.2.12 – Thursday – During his watch, Dany saw three vessels that did not come close. During mine I reefed the main and then the jib to first reef. Max wind 25 true. No point in stressing the boat and crew. This state of affairs persisted all through the day; big clouds passing overhead making strong winds and lumpy sea.  We sailed 161 miles in the last 24 hours.

In the late afternoon things stabilized somewhat but the ride was still rough. As night approached we knew that in order to be able to sleep we must sail under-canvassed so as not to slam too much. Second reef at 22 knots gave us acceptable ride and we were still doing 6.5 – 7.5 knots.

Starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel but why is it going up and down all the time?

10.2.12 – Friday – When coming from the east to the center of the Philippines, the shortest route to Cebu, our planned port of entry, is by way of Hinatuan passage. The guides warn against the strong currents, rips and tides over there, especially during spring tide, in the few days after the full moon, which we had two days ago.

Navot told us that when he delivered his "Ocean Hunter 3" through there he experienced :"A 4 meters ‘hole’ in the surface, into which the vessel’s stern sank alarmingly". We decided we did not need a similar thrill and aimed to via the Surigao strait, entering it by passing north of Dinagat island. This one is also not problem free, the chart advises that "currents in this vicinity attain a velocity of about 5 or 6 knots during spring tides" and is full of symbols to that effect.

We also made up our mind to make overnight stops on the way to Cebu, stops that according to reputable sources "are tolerated", rather than sail through the night dodging unlit fishing boats and other dangers to navigation.

It was cloudy and grey as we rounded Dinagat and headed towards Lisub cove, having 3-4 knots of current from behind which then turned and headed us, making waves on which we surfed at 11 knots of speed through the water but only 7 on the GPS.

We entered the cove, getting directions from a local fisherman in a small canoe (you must come very close to shore on the north to have sufficient depth) and at 1300 dropped our anchor. On the south shore there was a fishermen village, and all around the hills were covered in lush tropical vegetation. No wonder! Even before we put our anchor chain bridle in place it started raining cats and dogs.

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After a shower and a well deserved two hours nap, I woke up and saw that our position changed somewhat. Neither of us felt that the anchor dragged, and we moved back to the original place.

It’s raining, raining, raining, raining. the boat is becoming damp and we cannot air it. I rigged the water catcher, maybe we’ll get some necessary gallons.

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