Photos from Panay

Filed April 19, 2011 at 11:47 pm under by Administrator

sunset at anchor ( such a good feeling…)

big, nasty waves on the way.

Oren sniffing tobacco leaves.

bags of spices in the market.

oysters and seaweed for sale.

brown sugar

children at the anchorage.

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San Jose-Antique on Panay

Filed April 16, 2011 at 2:24 am under by Administrator

We left San Jose on Mindoro on Wednesday. For some reason which now seems strange we neglected to download grib files ( grib files are the best way of getting an accurate weather forecast for sea areas). The weather did look nice, and the Amihan had been quite light for a few days, with south westerly winds for part of the day even, so we assumed that the season was already changing, the worst of the Amihan over. Between Mindoro and Panay there is little or no protection from the full force of the strong north easterly monsoon which at the height of the season blows at 30 knots for days on end, and huge waves rip through the channel between the islands.
We left San Jose with a light south westerly breeze and a smooth, calm sea. We were towing our new dinghy with the oars and outboard on, another mistake, it turned out. We had a really nice sail through the islands south of San Jose and came out of the tip of Mindoro with the same good wind. We had considered stopping for the night in a sheltered anchorage just before the course to Panay would take us out to sea, but the breeze was so nice we decided to carry on. As we sailed out, getting a few miles from the shelter of Mindoro we saw big waves on the horizon, coming the opposite way to the wind. We wondered whether this was because of the strong current which was against the wind, maybe forming a standing wave, or whether these were waves from the Amihan blowing further out to sea. Soon we had our answer. The wind gradually veered and died, then came up again from the north east and rapidly built to 20, 25, then 30 knots, with gusts of 40 knots. The waves quickly rose to 3 metres, 4 metres and more, and we started to get wet, spray and even waves breaking over the cockpit. We had furled sails except for a little bit of jib and started the engine to keep us at a reasonable angle to the waves, and decided to try to get back to Mindoro. No way! The current going south west was so strong that even with the engine we couldn’t turn around. We had a wild helterskelter ride all night, getting up to speeds of more than 8 knots, unheard of for Chasamba. The dinghy started to fill with water and we would have liked to get it on deck, but it was impossible. We watched as it turned upside down and the engine and oars fell off. Eventually we managed to pull it up alongside Chasamba and turned it the right way up, and let it bang along next to us until a lull in the wind at dawn. Then we heaved it up on deck finally, but not without it being damaged quite a lot.
The rest of the journey was gradually better, as we got closer to Panay and out of the channel. The waves only really got much better a few miles from San Jose though. At least it was a very fast trip, and now we are licking our wounds in the well sheltered anchorage. There is quite a big city here with a good supermarket and internet cafe close to the anchorage, so it’s a safe bet we will be here for a while. Oren has already started mending the dinghy and making new oars, and I have cleaned up the awful mess our hopeless lashing left us with. ( The garbage bin fell over and emptied itself everywhere, the box of torch batteries fell on the floor and batteries got everywhere, wet clothes that we took off were strewn everywhere, bits of paper receipts and so on fell on the floor,water came up the sink and turned everything to mush…)
Sheva wasn’t really impressed with our seamanship, in fact she gave us several extremely scathing looks before settling down on the floor of the cockpit and going to sleep, her usual answer to bad weather. ( Actually her answer to any kind of weather).

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Some Photos of Mindoro

Filed April 7, 2011 at 2:59 am under by Administrator

A banca on the beach

one of the many islands

the market- actually really fresh!

going home from town to a village.

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Meandering through the Calamians

Filed April 3, 2011 at 11:13 pm under by Administrator

This part of the Philippines is very pretty, really postcard material, with turquoise patches of reef fringing every island, palm trees and sand varying from pure white to almost black on volcanic islands. It is very dangerous too, with inaccurate maps and unsurveyed areas which could almost have ” Here there be sea monsters” written on them. Reefs sprout suddenly from 20 meters depth to 2, or even zero, and can only be seen when the sun is high in the sky, so anchoring for the night is an adventure! We try to anchor every evening before twilight at least; sailing at night, which I usually enjoy, is not the best idea in these areas because unlighted pearl farms take up most of the space between islands. We got stuck in one near Busuanga town, and escaped after Oren stood on the rope which had wrapped itself round the keel, while I gunned the engine in reverse. We never did actually find Busuanga town, and ended up anchoring off a nice little island with a village where we could buy fish.

We circumnavigated Busuanga, stopped at the entrance of Caluit bay and then went on to Port Caltom, which isn’t a port at all, although it may be a Caltom. There is a resort on one side of the bay which is good for filling up water and having a dip in their pool, although it costs 200 pesos. We ate in their restaurant and frankly it was not as good as it should have been for the price. The better side of Caltom actually isn’t well known and is worth visiting; a small village sits on the eastern arm of the inlet, which is better shelter than it appears and is shallow, with good holding in mud. At a pinch this would be a typhoon anchorage, especially if you can get a little further up the river and round the bend; we didn’t try, but it looks possible. From the village, just off the anchorage, a jeepney goes to Coron every day, at 4 in the morning. Oren took the jeepney and brought supplies of ice, chicken, pork and so on, which improved our standard of living greatly!

From Port Caltom we sailed to Tara island, and an uncomfortable anchorage, then on to San Jose with an unusual wind which started off northerly and swung round to the west, giving us a nice sail. For once we could sail at night as there are no pearl farms here, and we sailed through fleets of bancas fishing with floating islands which they tow around. Now we are anchored outside the entrance to the river here. San Jose is a big town, and has a good market, lots of hardware stores and a few reasonable restaurants. Everything is cheaper here, the vegetables particularly, so we have been eating huge salads. Alimango, mud crabs, are good here and cheaper than other places, and I have perfected my recipe; first I bring the crabs slowly to a boil, turn off the heat and drain them, then clean them and break open the body and claws. The clever bit is the seasoning ( although really they are fine without, but this just makes them irresistable) ; I grate garlic, add a few spoons of oil and a little fish sauce, then whip it with a fork. If you get the right ratio of fish sauce to oil it emulsifies and makes a great sauce, which I spoon over the prepared crabs, then warm them in the oven for a few minutes. Done this way these are the tastiest crabs I have ever eaten. Since they are sold alive they are always fresh too!

We will be here for a few more days- I have to renew my visa and the officer in charge is away, so we will probably wait, unless we get itchy feet again. We have bought antifouling paint, and the next stop is Bonbonon, where we have been told there is a wall to dry out against. Typhoon season is getting closer, and already one has given us a scare before drifting off north eastwards. Bonbonon is supposed to be a typhoon anchorage and is southerly enough to be below most of the typhoons.

Oren with the biggest cuttlefish I have ever seen; he speared it! It wasn’t really all that tasty though, maybe a bit too elderly?

Alimango for dinner!!!

Anchored off one of the Calamian islands ( don’t remember which one!)

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