Posted by: catamarantwooceans | March 27, 2012

Sailing in Palawan – part 1

18.3.12 – Sunday – Lesley and Oren recommended going to the island of Minilok, where a narrow path leads into an internal lagoon. It is only about five miles from El Nido and is continuously visited by Bancas, those typical trimarans you see all around, carrying locals as well as foreign tourists. A red buoy is available near the entrance to which we tied "Two Oceans". Having gone early there were only a few Bancas in the lagoon.

We dinghied inside, marveling at the clear water and the tall limestone pinnacles around the lagoon.

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We did not stay long, left the buoy and circled the adjacent islands, where sandy beaches and resorts beckoned to the tourists.

An important maintenance job was on the agenda and we hurried back to the anchorage to take care of it. The guys  noticed an interesting Tiki on a rock near the bay and I used the long lens to capture it.

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The job on hand was dismantling the electrical motor of the windlass. On the last few times we had to pull the anchor up manually, which is very difficult, especially when anchoring deep. We decided to take it to an electrician in Puerto Princesa, with the hope that he will be able to fix it while we do our custom and immigrations tour.

As I disconnected the wires from the windlass’ control box, I noticed one whose terminal fitting was loose. Could this be the source of our problem? We cannibalized a similar piece from a spare cable and reconnected it.

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The windlass was only usable in the "Down" direction. After some fiddling with the wires we succeeded in activating the machine in the "Up" mode, which practically solved our problem, since we could easily drop the anchor by releasing the friction wheel and letting it go down by gravity.

Now there was no rush to go to Puerto, a 6 hours bus ride each way. We can do it as we get south, from Ulugan bay, and then it is only a 1.5 hours trip.

19.3.12 – Monday – At 0530 I took Yaron ashore. He will be our representative on the bus to PP on his way to the airport, to Manila, Seoul and Israel.

Dany and I did some shopping and left El Nido to go south. Our target was Alligator island in Malampaya bay and we went there by way of a narrow strait between Tuluran island and Palawan.

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The channel is hiding behind those structures on the right.

Sailing west of Palawan was a treat; flat water and good wind, really pleasant. Alligator (10 50.67 N 119 18.162 E) turned out to be a nondescript place but we didn’t mind, it’s just another stepping stone in the right direction.

We had to review our plans after looking at the forecast which showed a low passing the area and causing southwesterly winds that will last at least until Saturday. We need to wait for the northeast tradewinds to go to Singapore. If we have to delay our departure we might as well use the time to make short hops between points along the Palawan coast. It may even mean giving up Singapore altogether, proceeding direct to Thailand.

20.3.12 – Going out of the Malampaya strait we noticed two yachts coming in, both ketches. One of them, "Jubilant", called on the V.H.F and we chatted a bit. Both of them (the second was named "Kathy Lee" I think) are from Seattle and they were going into the strait in order to refuel at the fuel dock on the northeast of Tuluran.

We went out of Worchester strait passing the impressive Largon rock and turning south towards Boayan island with Barton, our destination some 10 miles beyond .

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We motored for there was no wind to speak of and as we progressed south the skies clouded over. Rain was in the offing. I was having second thoughts about Barton, to which the entrance is through reefs that I would not be able to see with the overcast. We can spend the night in Village bay in Boayan. Barton has resorts and internet but we didn’t really need those today.

As I was having those thoughts the rain came, and a northeasterly sprang up. We closed all hatches and set the sails to the new tack. Up in front we could see wind induced ripples on the surface and beyond that a grey, flat area. In just a few minutes a squall hit us, the rain was so heavy it was impossible to look ahead. We changed into swimming trunks, no time for oil-skins. I put on a diving mask and only then, breathing through my mouth, could stare into the gloom.

Very soon the wind rose above 25 knots and we reefed the sails. Visibility came down to not more than 200 meters. The wind backed and spray entered the salon, making its way to the table on which the computer sat. Big mess!

As sudden as it came, the squall disappeared. Wind down to 9 knots but the rain still strong. "Let’s take a shower!" One by one we went on the fore-deck, soaped ourselves and sat down by the forward opening of the lazy-bag, from which copious quantities of water flowed to rinse the lather off.

Just imagine trying to enter Barton in these conditions! As we approached Boayan the visibility improved. We turned into the bay, where two fishing vessels were moored, found a sandy bottom 6 meters deep and dropped our anchor.

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Green hills all around us, a few huts on shore, Dany could not erase the big smile that appeared on his face.

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