Sunday, March 25, 2012

WEEK 11 –Puerto del Sol Resort to Halsey Harbour

Saturday 17 March – Happy Birthday Chris - Braveheart
We started the week by celebrating Chris’ birthday.

Sunday 18 March – Puerto del Sol – Coron Town
11°59.739N / 120°11.614E
At Tangatt Island we snorkelled over a Japanese gun boat which was really great. The bow of the boat was in about 3m and the stern in plus 10m with all coral and bits growing on it.. The coral on the drop off was good too. It was the first time it made us feel that we would like to dive. There were a couple of divers there obviously learners and it looked kind of good. We had to anchor in 24m of water to be able to get to the wreck so it was a day stop only. There is another wreck that is fairly shallow but we haven’t been able to get in there. Then headed back to Coron Town

Monday 19 March – Coron Town to Culion Town
11°53.163N 120°01.454E
We motored to Culion Town. This was the biggest leper colony in the world which opened in 1906 started by the Americans. For the next fifty plus years, until a cure was found and administered to all, lepers from all over the Philippines were rounded up and placed on the island. There, research and treatment were carried out by dedicated doctors and staff. One of the American doctors refused to leave and died on the island at the age of 82. But until a cure was found being sent to Culion Island meant being taken from their families and living a life in exile. Of the first 860 sent there, 265 died within a few months. Today the large hospital is still in use as a general hospital and they have an interesting leprosy museum which still even has the microscope slide samples of the lepers and equipment. It seems that when people were eventually allowed to leave the island most people stayed and were joined by their families and loved ones so most of the people there today are ex-lepers and descendents of the lepers. We spent an interesting afternoon exploring the place. It has lots of old timber houses and big trees and a hill right in the middle with little lanes winding up it. There is a big renovated Spanish Church on top of the hill and a great big medical sign carved into the side of another hill with a big statue of the American (Wade) who started the whole thing.
Miles: 13 TTT: 1156

Tuesday 20 March – Culion Town – Bulalacao Island
11°45.618N / 120°10.887E
Left at 10 and motored to Bulalacao Island on the west side which was gorgeous – lovely white sand beach, good looking coral but it was too deep to anchor for the night so we had to go around the other side and anchored in 15m on coral rubble in an uninspiring anchorage with mangroves. Still night though.
Miles: 21 TTT: 1177

Wednesday 21 March – Bulalacao Island – Halsey Harbour
11°47.436N 119°57.910E
Departed at 8.30 and headed for Ditaytayan Island but it was a bit deep and because the depths were all over the place we presumed we were over coral so decided not to risk anchoring. On shore was a private property sign. We followed Braveheart through a channel between two islands which was very pretty but it started to rain as we went through so headed to the shelter of Halsey Harbour – it bucketed down. We saw Cilantro lose a bit of foam from their boat so we went to retrieve it – took four goes – our man overboard skills could do with some work! Came into the harbour and it was very deep but managed to find 16m in the NW arm. The fishermen sold Braveheart some prawns but we missed out. We had heard such a lot about the Halsey Harbour prawns!!
Miles: 32 `TTT: 1188

Thursday 22 March – Halsey Harbour
Happy Birthday Jean (WDTW)
Cilantro had to work on their engine so we stayed put. The skipper cleaned the stainless and the crew made a birthday cake for Judy off Braveheart – It was a rather flat chocolate cake as we only have all purpose flour!!

Friday 23 March – Halsey Harbour- Happy 60th Birthday Judy
And we finished the week by celeb rating Judy’s (Braveheart) birthday.
The wind was still blowing pretty hard so we decided to stay put. The crew decorated the birthday cake and made a damper (also flat with the all purpose flour) but delicious! The skipper watched The Last Samurai and then Cilantro collected us in their dinghy at 3pm and we went to Braveheart to celebrate Judy’s 60th birthday. There was plenty of good food – Cilantro even brought out the good cheese they had been harbouring since KK!! Judy made a lasagne and we all managed to keep ourselves fully amused till way after dark! Good food, good company, good music and a good time was had by all!!!

We are thrilled to hear the election results and just have to say good on you Queensland!!!! We are floating around up here – slowly heading up and around the islands to the north of the big Palawan island and will slowly make our way back down towards Puerto Princessa. Hope all are well. Take care. Miss you all. Hope Rosie is not aging too quickly.
Dell and Peter

Friday, March 23, 2012

WEEK 10 -Puerto del Sol Resort & back again

Saturday 10 March - Puerto del Sol Resort
We walked the 4km to Concepcion Town along a dusty old road. We visited the Pier House and were shown all their lovely rooms. They had a lot of furniture made out of lacquered drift wood and bits of trees etc - very effective. Even the 'fish' behind the bar was driftwood and the art was done by the Swedish owner's father. We then had lunch at a local restaurant and the vegetable curry was one of the best meals so far. We saw a waterfall and then walked back. Along the way we saw some tiny piglets which were just a few days old. We had a drink at the bar (to pay for the mooring!) then sundowners on Braveheart.

Sunday 11 March - Puerto Del Sol - Coron town
11°59.780N / 120°11.776E
We dropped the mooring at 8.15 and headed past lots of islands - its almost like being in fjiords - past heaps of pearl farms and then up the channel to Coron Town. Some of the islands we passed we will come back to but for now we need some supplies and money - the first ATM we have come to in the Philippines! Anchored at 1.20 - at least we anchored four times but that is another story!! Explored the town which is a reasonable size but there is no supermarket and it is more expensive than El Nido. They just have sari sari stores some of which you have to stand at the counter and tell them what you want. Went out to dinner at the mermaid restaurant on the water which belongs to Mike's (Puerto del Sol) daughter. A really nice meal. Cilantro found themselves too close to some bangkas so they reanchored in the dark.
Miles: 18 TTT: 1104

Tuesday 13 March - Coron Town
Went to the market, got the diesel and had haircuts - $3.25 and they are great haircuts. Met Gunther and Maria off Mana Mana and had dinner with them. At the top of the hill in Coron is a big cross which is lit at night and looks really good. On a smaller hill Coron is spelt out like hollywood!!

Wednesday 14 March - Coron Town
Happy Birthday Brian
Spent some time shopping then had lunch at the Coron Bistro where we met a lovely Canadian lady and another bloke who had been at Concepcion Town when we had been there who told us they have guards on islands as it is easy for people to go ashore and claim and register the land then it takes years in the courts and the locals don't have the money to fight it - don't know if thats true but there certainly seems to be something going on with the land up here. Cilantro moved around the corner out of the wind. We had a black and white banded sea snake sunning itself on the back transom -a most unwelcome visitor!!

Thursday 15 March - Coron Town - Puerto Del Sol
About 8am our anchor dragged and we were going out backwards at a great rate of knots so upanchored in the wind and went around the corner to put Bob on board and then we all headed to Puerto del Sol in 25 - 30kn winds where we all picked up a mooring again.
Miles: 19 TTT: 1123

Friday 16 March - Puerto del Sol
Took the dinghies up the river late in the afternoon. Interesting trip and went as far as we could and there was a mob of workers up there had been cutting bamboo and were having their knock off drinks - they offered us some San Miguel gin! We declined. On the way back in the dark we hit a net which stopped us instantly. Bob's nose went down and we stopped!! The skipper had to cut the net off the prop. Felt pretty bad for the fisherman.
All the best

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Monday, March 12, 2012

WEEK 9 –Corong Corong to Busuanga Island

Saturday 3 March – Corong Corong
Boring boat day –Peter went to the early market. We all went out to dinner at 5.30 and had our order taken by a young boy of about 10. After that we went to a bar which was supposed to have live music from 7.30 but it didn’t start till 8.30 and yachties’ midnight (9pm) was looming so we caught a trike back to the yachts. Two young Lads (one of whom was Jennell) were keen to help us put Bob in the water so we told them they could come out to the boat tomorrow. I had mistakenly thought that they were kids off the little fishing canoes.

Sunday 4 March – Corong Corong
We didn’t go ashore till 3ish and here was Jennell waiting for us. His little mate had to go fishing with his dad. We went to town and back then went ashore again meaning to walk around the beach but there was little Jennell again so we got him to take us to his Dad to ask permission for him to come out to the boat. He took us to the old thatched hut which was on quite a lean built right on the beach. The hut had three small rooms next to each other and a family lived in each room. Jennell had 2 sisters and 2 brothers with the oldest sister (18) living in Cebu (a long way away). The youngest sister was 4 and Jennell is 12. His father was happy for him to come out so we took him to the boat and showed him around and explained how everything worked. Turned out the kids in the canoes came from the other end of the beach and weren’t his friends. When it came time to go ashore he wanted to start the motor and it took all his strength to do it then we let him drive Bob. He had obviously been watching the skipper on the way out as he knew what to do and was a natural. He took us all the way back in no worries at all. We gave him some pencils and books and walked with him back to his house and said hullo to his Mum. As we were leaving he came racing back and gave us three lovely shells. We then had sundowners on Braveheart where Judy had the smoker going trying to make ham – didn’t turn out too badly!

Monday 5 March – Corong Corong – Diapila Bay
11°24.513N / 119°28.548
We went to shore and Jennell met us so we gave him a photo of himself driving Bob – he has a gorgeous big smile. Jennel’s father passed us just after 7 after being out the whole night fishing. We upanchored at 10 and found we had a hessian bag on the anchor. By the time we had examined and exclaimed over it we had drifted to shore in 3.5m so a quick about turn and on our way. As we left the tip of Palawan a pigeon circled around and tried to land in the cockpit then thought better of it and headed for land. Motor sailed the long way round to Diapila Bay and once again the wind howled all night – not conducive to a good night’s sleep!
Miles: 24 TTT: 1015

Tuesday 6 March – Diapila Bay - Linapacan Isle, NW Bay
11°27.695N / 119°47.015
We left at 7 and had a very slow trip beating into the winds and he waves and we suspect the current. It wasn’t terribly rough or anything just very slow under motor doing 2000 revs and averaging 3.5 knots. Copped a few waves over the top and did a bit of dodging! We arrived at NW Bay around 1 – a very deep bay with reef all round and of course as soon as we went in there our depth sounder stopped working. We passed two rafts about a mile apart with lots of buoys between. We wondered if they were pearls. Cilantro headed down one bay and found 10m and we followed Braveheart past the town and found 19m. The vegetation on the island has changed. More shrubby than jungle. Had such a calm night you wouldn’t have known you were on a boat – a beautiful calm night.
Miles: 23 TTT: 1038

Wednesday 7 March – Linapacan – nr Coral Bay
11°58.925N / 119°53.026E
We left at 7 and followed Cilantro out and conditions were really good for sailing so up went the sails and the motor went off! A real sail at last. Came in to Coral Bay but was a bit blustery so we headed up to another island with a lovely sandspit beach and coconut palms. We anchored just before the reef and Chris went ashore. He was met by a security guard (dayshift) who was there to make sure no one landed on the island. We figured he must have been pretty scary as Chris didn’t even notice the three dogs there! The security guard left late in the afternoon with his gun slung across his shoulder! And the night shift came in with his gun slung across his shoulder. It was an idyllic picture with a full moon above the tropical island. The water was just like glass – just gorgeous
Miles: 38 TTT: 1076

Thursday 8 March – Coral Bay, Poppototan Island
Stuart and Jean have a wonderful holiday
11°59.542N / 119°51.452E
We came back down to Coral Bay and anchored off the resort. The anchor chain got trapped in the anchor pipe which necessitated the skipper pulling the whole winch off to free it – took quite a while. We then joined the others ashore. The reef here belongs to the resort so they have protected it so it hasn’t been dynamited or cyanided. The fishermen cyanide the fish so they can catch them alive. The Koreans pay more for live ones. It is 2,800 pesos pp to stay here which includes 3 meals a day - $67 each – not bad value. But the beers are $2 each instead of 50C! We went for a snorkel and were surprised at how many and varied the fish life was. The coral was pretty good and had quite a bit of colour. Went to the resort for dinner – very nice smorgasbord – three courses $12 each. Monica and Olf (Swedish) have been there for seven years and they are the owners. Their website is
Miles: 2 TTT: 1078

Friday 9 March – Coral Bay – Puerto Del Sol Resort, Busuanga Island
12°01.478N / 119°58.988E
When we arrived at the little inlet a boat came out and put us all on moorings. They moved a big local boat to fit us in. The irony of it is it is shallow enough to anchor here – 8m! Came past heaps of pearl farms – long lines of floats. We went ashore, past the pool and found Mike the owner in the restaurant. Seemed if we had a beer or a meal we wouldn’t have to pay a mooring fee and we were happy to oblige. Mike was a fountain of information. His resort has only been there four years. We went across the bay to the ‘lighthouse’ – strange building on top of a hill. The owner showed us all around and proudly showed us all the rooms. It has been built in two seasons and parts were still under construction but was open for business. It has the most stunning views and probably the best place ever to watch a sunset and the Chilean red wine was also very nice! We went back to Mike’s resort in the dark and had dinner on the terrace overlooking the pool – lovely. While there is no beach here there is an emphasis on diving. There are quite a few wrecks of Japanese ships sunk on 24th September 1944.
Miles: 8 TTT: 1086

We have been out of phone and internet range for a little while. We are in what is known as the Calamanian Group of Islands. It is really hard to picture the activity which went on here during the Second World War – it is such a peaceful place but there is much evidence of the war under the water here and a few relics in some of the bars etc. Anyway we really miss you all.
Take care
Dell and Peter

Saturday, March 3, 2012

WEEK 8 –Corong Corong

Saturday 25 Feb – Corong Corong
Went early to the big market (held Sats & Weds) and bought some pork and fruit and veg. The crew couldn’t walk through the meat section as it was all pigs heads and legs and horrible things! Braveheart and Cilantro went to town to try to organise us a tour while we tried to get our fridge/freezer working again, which we did eventually – yay! We joined the others in town and they had found us a tour. All the tours and prices are fixed by the Government and all the tours are Tour A, B, C & D but we wanted to do a couple of places from both A and B. Braveheart found Servant Tours who were willing to do what we wanted so we had a “private tour”. If you were staying here for any length of time (recommended) you would probably do them all. We checked out the boat – named Servant and paid our money - $16 per head including lunch! Found a local eating place and got a meal in a plastic bag (takeaway) and came back to the boat.

Sunday 26 Feb – Corong corong
A perfectly calm day for our tour. We caught a trike to town and piled on our boat with three lovely male crew and headed to Minaloc Island and the Secret Beach. This can only be entered in calm conditions so we swam through a hole in the rock and entered a “hong” – really lovely with towering very jagged cliffs. Then we went to a little beach where our lovely crew cooked us a scrumptious lunch(barbequed fish and chicken and rice,veges and fruit) and then we went past the shrine but didn’t go ashore. It was a house and church etc built by a politician who didn’t get re-elected and he ran out of money(!) and gave it up so now it doesn’t even have a caretaker. Then we went to Big Lagoon which was very shallow and just wide enough for two bangkas to pass (in and out) and we circled around the lagoon and went out – very beautiful. In the lagoon is an anchored platform (small) which is used for guests of the resort to have a special dinner (big enough for a small table). The resort is around $250 a night. We anchored outside the lagoon and had a snorkel and then went around to small lagoon and anchored inside it. We swam through the rock into another lagoon then Chris and I swam further in to see what was around the corner. We sat on a rock contemplating if it was worth swimming to the end when our guide Nel joined us and pointed out a small cave on the opposite side so we swam over and went in and found an underwater rock to sit on in the centre of the cave. There was an opening in the top and Nel told us the swiftlets used to live in there and 3grms of birds nest fetched 6,000 pesos but in 2000 when all the tourists started to come the birds moved somewhere else. It was a very special feeling being the only ones in there. Apparently in the mornings when Tour A comes in it is crowded (best to do the tours in reverse!). We returned at 4pm after a great day out.

Monday 27 Feb – Corong Corong
Well how lucky were we yesterday. Today is windy so don’t really want to leave the boats – quiet boat day.

Tuesday 28 Feb – Corong Corong
Very bored so took Bob around the point intending to go to a beach but there was a bit of a swell on the beach so we went to town instead. As we were walking in the crew stopped to take a photo which was really provident as a coconut fell and landed two metres to the left and behind the skipper! Round about where I would have been!! People walk along there all the time! We had lunch and got some supplies then adjourned to Braveheart to discuss the next move. There are now eight yachts in the bay.

Wednesday 29 Feb – Corong Corong – Diapila Bay
11°24.503N / 119°28.543E
Went to the market at 7 for supplies then had to hurry back to the boat as it had started to rain and we had left the hatch open. Upanchored at 9am and had quite a good sail to a little bay just before the top of Palawan. We had some gusts of wind on the way which heeled us right over. We arrived at 1pm having dodged the odd stick sticking out of nowhere and big buoys just beneath the surface in the bay. There were some huge fishing boats in the bay and we could hear a rooster crowing from the boats. The wind was really howling but the anchorage was ok. The wind howled all night – a horrible sound and music from the shore thumped all night so we didn’t get a lot of sleep!
Miles: 19 TTT: 971

Thursday 1 March – Diapila Bay – Corong Corong
11°10.068N / 119°23.605E
We left at 6.45 with the wind still howling but it was pretty rough and we weren’t making a lot of headway so we turned back and went all the way back toCorong Corong. We anchored at 11am. Very calm with sharp bullets of wind. Turned into another boat day just reading.
Miles: 20 TTT: 991

Friday – 2 March – Corong Corong
Read a book in the morning which was an awesome read called Facing the Frozen Ocean by Bear Grylls – couldn’t put it down. The skipper fixed the generator – he had broken the starter cord. We are having trouble with our house batteries not holding the charge and are afraid we need new ones – sourcing them may be a problem! We went ashore at 2.30 and took Judy off Braveheart and did some shopping then had a pleasant evening on board watching a movie.

And here we are sitting out a blow and will probably be here for a few more days yet waiting on the weather. Its one of those times when you are supposed to do all the maintenance on the boat but somehow never quite feel like doing!!

Hope you are all well. Stuart and Jean enjoy your trip and take time out to smell the roses (or the apples as the case may be!!).
Stay safe
A little less wind would be good.
Dell and Peter