Against the Winds and Currents aka from Puerto Princesa to Kudat (Part 2)

Although we managed to avoid the two reefs in the mouth and in the middle of the bay, we motored too far inside the bay and hit the reef stretching from the far end of the Clarendon Bay! We tried to reverse and get out of the reef using our engine, but this time it didn’t work. It was clear that we needed some external help…

Luckily for us, soon after we entered the bay, we spotted a couple of local fisherman in wooden canoes. One of them was nearby so we called him to come closer to our boat. He couldn’t speak English but using hands and gestures we somehow managed to explain to him that we were stuck on a reef and that we need him to row our stern anchor back to deep water and drop it there. We would then try to winch ourselves off the reef.

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Against the Winds and Currents aka from Puerto Princesa to Kudat (Part 1)

Everybody warned us: „You are too late!“ First we didn’t get it: „Too late for what?“

„Did they close the border to Malaysia?“ was the pretty much straightforward reaction of our Kiwi friends Jackie and Dave. The answer, of course, was much simpler – the South-west monsoon.

Once the SW monsoon sets in (roughly at the end of June, beginning of July), the boats trying to get from Palawan to Borneo have to fight not only head winds but also strong currents, which in some parts can reach up to 2 knots. On top of that, once the monsoon picks up, most of the anchorages along the way become inhabitable, so there’s basically nowhere to hide.

Of course, as relative greenhorns we didn’t dare to underestimate the warnings of the experienced sea dogs, nevertheless, during our one-month stay in Puerto Princesa we noticed, that the SW monsoon intensifies only for a couple of days, that are usually followed by a comparatively longer (e.i. in comparison to the NE monsoon) period of relative calm. When after 5 weeks of our stay in PP, one such weather window presented itself, we knew it was time to move to another anchorage.

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Perfect Birthday

“You go on reading! After all you deserve a proper rest after yesterday!” commented Petr on my slightly lethargic mood, when after breakfast I quietly disappeared to my favorite cockpit seat with my Kindle. I didn’t so much suffer from a post-celebratory hang-over as one might suspect given that the previous day was my birthday. Truth is, I was just plain tired. Janna, however, was almost spotless and our sewing machine saw the daylight again after quite a while. Not everyone would agree but for me this was a perfect B-day! Except perhaps for the evening downpour, that thwarted our plans of taking a stroll to town before dinner. On the other hand, nothing is ever perfect so there’s no point complaining. Instead of walking, we took a tricycle and contributed, in our own modest way, to the local economy.

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At Anchor in Puerto Princesa

Once again we’ve found ourselves settled in the comforts of the routine life at anchor. After breakfast in the cockpit, we usually sit down to our computers and in the afternoon, when we just can’t take it any longer, or more precisely when our behinds already hurt so much that we can’t sit any longer, we go for a ride on our folding bicycles, which we keep conveniently parked in the yacht club (which also gives a chance to enjoy the abundance of space in our V-berth!) Mostly we buy some provisions on the way to stock up on some of our favorite local goodies before we leave Philippines and from time to time we stop in the club before heading back to the boat to have a chat with some of the local regulars. Most of them are from Australia, though there is Klaus and his wife from Sweden, who live on a beautiful yellow trimaran.

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Puerto Princesa Four Years Later

Our days in the lovely Bacuit Bay and the anchorage off Corong-Corong are over. We’ve spent there almost two weeks, half of it translating, i.e. working, and half exploring. When the wind was fluky we were hitting the keyboards and with the first sign of a breeze, we pulled the plug, stashed our awning and set sail.
But the time has come and we had to move. We’ve got this condition, you know. A travel bug. Quite contagious. We are turning literally in front of our eyes into nomads, pure and passionate gypsies.

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