Posted by: catamarantwooceans | March 27, 2012

Sailing in Palawan–Part 2

21.3.12 – Wednesday – Stated badly with the windlass refusing to work again. We, actually Dany, raised the anchor by hand. It was a short leg to Jiboom bay. Calm sea and almost no wind. We found shelter in a small bight on the north shore near a secluded residence set among coconut trees.

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In the evening a small canoe came by with a lady and a young man. She was the owner of that house on the shore and wasted no time in telling us she wanted to sell it. "It comes with 480 hectares" she said "hectare is 10000 square meters, it costs 500 Pesos per meter". Regarding the law of the land against selling land to foreigners she said there was no problem arranging a young Filipino woman to be a partner to the deal.

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Real estate lady

22.3.12 – Thursday – It rained all night, filling about a third of our starboard tank which we welcomed but also making the interior of our boat too humid for comfort.

The agenda for the day was to go to the Ulugan bay, from where we’ll be able to go to Puerto Princessa, intending to check out of the country and find an electrician for our ailing windlass. On the way there is St. Paul bay where the subterranean river, newly elected as one of the wonders of the world is located. You may remember that initially we decided, due to lack of time, not to go. Now that we have to wait for favorable weather anyway we had the time to do it.

It was an overcast, grey morning and it was raining all the time.

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We anchored near the entrance to the river, which we could easily identify by the great number of Bancas bringing the tourists over.

While the place is terribly crowded, we were glad we went. It really is a remarkable phenomenon. Going into the opening in the mountain and then a few kilometers inside, seeing the stalactites (or are they stalagmites? or both?) and the squeaking bats was interesting.

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Back out into the rain, we continued to Ulugan. On the way I called the Puerto Princessa yacht club and got a number for Elmar the electrician. Spoke to him and arranged to meet him tomorrow.

The chart we have is small scale and lacks detail; we did have some info regarding reef in the area of our intended anchorage but were surprised, yet again, by the bottom going up all of a sudden to a depth of less than 2 meters. A local fisherman was the solution and we anchored not far from a big building that turned out to be a naval base and the river mouth leading to Macarasca, a fishermen village, from which we’ll be able to go by Jeepney to PP.

The rain stopped mercifully so we could dismantle the windlass and take out the motor. Let’s hope Elmar will fix it!

23.3.12 – Friday – The  Jeepny was supposed to leave at 0700. We presented ourselves twenty minutes ahead of time but had to wait until the loading of pails of fish on the roof was finished. The inside of the vehicle was covered with sacks of charcoal.

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We started moving at 0730, slowly making our way towards Puerto Princesa, stopping on the way to take yet another load of charcoal sacks. We made it to the bus terminal in PP at 0900 and called Elmar, who sent one of his assistants to pick us up with a tricycle.

We explained the windlass situation to Elmar, left the machine in his shop and took a tricycle to immigrations. Forty five minutes and six or seven photocopies of documents later we were legally out of the country and made our way to customs. Finished that and another step towards Thailand was taken.

We had a bit of lunch and called Elmar for a progress report. "Come back at 1300" he said. We came at 1315 to find Elmar and his guys hard at work with no clear ETF (estimated time of finish).

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                                                Elmar on the right

We just sat there looking on them work, watching the clock and understanding that we will not be able to make the 1400 Jeepney back to Macarasca.

When at 1445 the job was done and a demonstration declared the motor serviceable, we negotiated with Elmar a deal by which he will also be our driver back. I paid quite a lot, according to Filipino standard, but that’s O.K.

On the way to Macarasca we sat at the back of the car. I suddenly noticed the unmistakable form of a big rodent scurrying along the dashboard and out the driver window. A rat! "Where did this one come from?" Elmar just laughed:"from inside the car" he said. Another funny bit for the blog. So, if you are in need of an electrician in Puerto Princesa, Elmar is your man: tel. 09194457511.

Back at the boat we reconnected the windlass and it worked. Excellent!

24.3.12 – Saturday – When we came in the day before yesterday I marked the coordinates of the entry to the anchorage. Now that we were going out I steered to that very same position and then in the general direction the fishing boats were heading. The saying that local knowledge is all important was brought home emphatically when being absolutely sure that we were out of the dangerous area, the depth came up from 20 meters to 5 and as I slowed down we heard the ugly crunch of the keel hitting the reef.

We got off carefully and proceeded with Dany standing reef watch on the bow. If you ever go to Ulugan bay, do yourself a favor: ask a fishing boat to lead you in and out!

We continued to Fish bay and got there at noon. A pretty bay with a fishermen village on shore. The shop had some onions and tomatoes that we needed and also a bottle of Sprite – goes well with Tequila (for me) and Rum (for Dany).

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                                         The village’s shop

Walking along the beach we came up to a well appointed compound. Some locals were having a party and explained that this was the property of a certain Dr. Abindu, a physician or dentist of the Puerto Princesa jail. Nice thatched roof huts with modern facilities inside; there are real  estate opportunities to be had in here!

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25.3.12 – Sunday – Planning the trip to Thailand we figured that we will need 11 days; so wishing to arrive on April 7th we want to leave the Philippines on March 27th and our last point here will be the town of Quezon, which is a good place to take on fuel, water and provisions.

Quezon is more than 60 miles away and the entrance to it is through a maze of reefs and should be attempted in daylight only. Not wishing to sail this coast at night, we split the way in two and stopped in Apurauan bay. It is open from NW to SW but the holding is good in 5 meters on sand and the forecast is for wind of no more than 10 knots. a lot of local boats are moored here so it must be O.K.

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26.3.12 – Monday – Dany, with his belief in positive thinking, said yesterday with complete confidence that the wind will be on our quarter at 17 knots. Imagine my surprise and delight to have exactly that as we raised our sails and took up the heading to Quezon.

My happiness was short lived and after the gods had their fun (30 minutes) we had to start an engine…

Entering Quezon was easy thanks to the notes by a yacht named "Arnak", which I got from Lisa on cat "Mango Moon" in Boracay, notes that gave the exact coordinates into the bay, skirting all the shoals and reefs on the way. I’ll Google them, and hopefully there will be an e-mail so I can thank them.

Moments after we dropped our anchor at 2 meters , just as Dany suggested installing the water catchment thing, heavy rain hit us. None of us had the urge to get wet. It’ll have to wait for later.

"Later" came after lunch. We had a list of "must do" things; take some money from an ATM, buy food, fuel and water, maybe LPG, do laundry, find an internet café – everything that will enable us to depart A.S.A.P.

There is no ATM that will work with Visa in Quezon, nor do the local banks change money! Luckily there’s a money changer and the boss of the fuel station, which also has one of the grocery stores agrees to take our U.S dollars. He also consents to deliver 200 liters of diesel fuel to the dock where our dinghy is.

Right then it started raining hard, I simply ignored it and went on to the dock. I found a crew of a fishing boat. " Hello there! I have a job for you, take my fuel containers to my yacht over there". The fishermen found this to be highly entertaining and a price was agree upon. Two of them waded barefoot to shore and hauled the fuel containers onto their craft. I went along with them while Dany took care of our dinghy.

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we chugged along to "Two Oceans" with the fuel containers on the forward platform of the "Banca".

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The guys came on board and helped transfer the fuel to our tanks.

That job finished, we went ashore again, this time to the market. We found an internet café and looked up www.passage weather.com. A nasty surprise awaited us. Unfavorable weather with contrary winds will prevail most of next week.I’ll go back tomorrow with my laptop and download the info from "Ugrib"; that will give better basis for decision making.

Quezon did not turn out to be what we hoped for, but there’s a market and some shops so we’ll be able to provision and when the weather is right – go on to Thailand.

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