Coron and Beyond

Busuanga was nice. We’ve spent two nights in Coron and had to make decision where to head next. The typhoon season is upon us and we wanted to spend some quality time daysailing, anchoring each night, and swimming and writing. Most of our goals were on Palawan proper, but we decided that we have to see at least the Kagayan lake on the Coron Island before we leave. We were ready to heave the anchor when Jana said, why don’t we sail there on our dinghy instead. The anchorage there was supposed to be deep and very narrow, we don’t want mess around places like that with our boat. We rigged the dinghy and sailed in a stiff breeze (stiff for the small dighy) two miles across the bay between Busuanga and Coron Islands. We made quite an entrance and soon dipped ourselves in Kagayan lake.

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We left Coron the next day. We’ve spent two days sailing slowly towards the Bacuit Bay near the town of El Nido anchoring in nice coves, exploring the islands, dodging squalls and just simply enjoying ourselves. The sailing conditions were variable, sometimes we had to use the iron jib, then got a nice push by the nearby squalls, just regular cruising.
When we rounded the north tip of the Palawan Island it was becoming clear that we are entering a different realm. The scenery changed a bit first, then a lot. Half barren and brown, half green and lush hills were replaced by steep cliffs, ragged rocks and bonsai-like greenery clawing the cracks and crevices carved out by the time. We were jaw-dropping the whole day, i.e. until we saw a thick squall heading our way. We shut out mouths with the first bullets of rain and started to pull the sail down and tugging a reef in the mainsail. Then another one. We were almost at our destination, but we didn’t want to get any closer to the rocks in those wind gusts and poor visibility. We hove to about 2 miles from our intended anchorage and started collected water from the tropical downpour that drowned us. These rain squall don’t last long and in about an hour or so, the sun came out again and we soon anchored by a beautiful island, which was supposed to be our base camp for exploring the neighborhood. About a mile away from our anchorage was the Ubugun Bay, a small cove enclosed by rocky cliffs, with very shallow water. It was worth the one mile row.

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 The snorkeling was decent enough, but our standards are high, now that we have visited Apo Island. Looks like those reefs are hard to beat. But we will keep looking.

The next day, we dressed Janna in full evening gown and sailed out of the anchorage. The plan was to anchor by the Miniloc Island and explore the lagoon that’s supposed to be quite a sight. The wind dropped, so we dropped the sails and continued under the engine. It was only three miles anyway. Anchoring turned out to be near to impossible. Lots of bangkas, water was too deep water as well. But right by the mouth of the lagoon we spotted a mooring, so we picked it and rowed inside on the dinghy. Again we became a big attraction.

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 The lagoon itself (the Big lagoon, there’s also a small one, which we haven’t seen yet) is quite deep, but the entrance is very shallow. Quite impressive, really. You row over a marble white sand in torquoise water for about 50 meters between steep cliffs and then the bottom disappears and the lagoon opens to a wide pool. Pity that the loud bangkas spoil the experience. But we’ve heard that the lagoon is quite magical with a full moon at night. There won’t be any tourists, probably. We can spend the night on the mooring, set the clock and let the moon lead the way.

Next on the program was the Small lagoon, which is just around the corner, but another rain squall appeared over the hills to the east, so we decided to sail through the weather and head for the Corong-Corong anchorage, which offers an easy access to El Nido and do a bit of provisioning, since our stock of veggies and fruit was getting thin.

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