Chasamba – Travels Across The Seas

Puerto Princesa again…

It is now the start of May, and our plans to sail to Papua are still just that, plans. After breaking what turned out to be the coupling of the gear, we had a long list of problems, all to do with the gear and shaft. The engine is working wonderfully, but getting it to turn the propeller is another matter. We tried to leave four times, and each time turned back because of gear oil leaking, vibrations, breakage of parts. In the end Oren worked for hours on the alignment of the shaft, and everything really looked good. The forecast was for a light westerly breeze, perfect to get to Apo Island, just 10 miles away. This is the other thing which has been a constant problem; not once has the weather forecast successfully predicted a westerly wind which really appeared in the last few months. So, we said, if we leave Bonbonon and the wind is again north westerly, we will turn round and sail to Cagayancillo, a nice little atoll in the middle of the Sulu sea. There shouldn’t be much wind up there at this time of year.
Well, we left Bonbonon early in the morning,and of course two hours later the wind was blowing 25 knots straight against us. So with some relief we turned downwind and ran for Cagayancillo. It was about 115 miles away, and most of the way we had a nice, light wind, relaxed sailing. However, naturally, 30 miles from Cagayancillo the wind first dropped and then came back with incredible strength. 30, maybe 35 knots almost from Cagayancillo itself, the sea whipped up into a white seething mass, waves 3 metres and more. There was no way we were going to get into the shallow, dangerous entrance to Cagayancillo. We couldn’t even make the course, it was all we could do to set a course for Puerto Princesa, the nearest downwind port. So, instead of happily anchoring in a wild, coral filled paradise, we had to keep sailing through a nasty, washing-machine sea for another 155 miles. The only consolation was that it was a fast trip, at times 7 knots under reefed headsail. The wind dropped off gradually as we approached Puerto, but we sailed all the way in to the harbour; luckily, as it turned out, since when we tried to use the engine to get up to the mooring outside Abanico Yacht Club we discovered that something was very wrong. We could only do a very low speed, and a smell of burning clutch filled the air.
So, at least we are in a safe harbour, in a place where we can fix the gear, get parts flown in and made. It is much better than Bonbonon in that respect. Oren has just started to disassemble the gear; updates later!

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One thought on “Puerto Princesa again…

  1. Jenny

    What a stunningly beautiful picture at the top of the page. Just reading your account of travelling in such rough seas fills me with dread!!
    I hope things pick up for you and your gear gets fixed if it’s not already.
    Safe travels and continued good health to you!!!

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