The Philippine Waters
In the Philippines we first intended to only sail short distances, take our time and anchor in several bays. However, since the card we had with the electronic chart of the Philippines was corrupt and therefore not working we had to use another chart on our laptop which did not have a lot of details and therefore was not very reliable. It is safe as long as we are in deep waters but the danger is when we are close to shore with the reefs and the shallow areas. We decided that it would be safer for us to sail directly from Bohol to Puerto Galera which was 400 NM (720 km) away instead of stopping in several anchorages.
The Philippine waters is quite difficult to sail especially at night. There are many fishing buoys scattered everywhere. Although we kept our distance and were 10 miles from shore we still saw many of these buoys. There are different types of fishing buoys, there’s one which is just a big block of styrofoam another is a stick with a flag but there is also one which is a complete bamboo raft. We were afraid we were going to hit one of these things at night.
Another reason why it is difficult to sail at night is because there are so many boats especially fishing boats varying from small one person outrigger boats to larger boats. Most of the outrigger boats have a light but some of them don’t even use their light and they only turn it on when you are getting closer to them. (We think they do this to save their battery) So you think the coast is clear and a few minutes later you see lights from fishing boats turn on and you realize you are not alone. The first night there must have been a hundred boats! We have an AIS (Automatic Identification System) which shows the large commercial ships on our plotter but not all the commercial ships use AIS because we have seen large ships, passenger ships and ferries but they didn’t show up on our plotter. During our whole journey we have never seen so much traffic such as here in the Philippines and so you really have to watch closely and stay alert. The Atlantic and Pacific crossing were a piece of cake compared to this. 😜
Lastly, there is a lot of floating debris so you have the risk of hitting something or something getting caught on your propeller. On the third day we noticed that our speed decreased by 1 knot. We were afraid that something got caught on the propeller. When we reached Puerta Galera Erwin checked under water and saw that there was a piece of rope, plastic and water plants entangled in the propeller which we were dragging with us the whole time 😬.
We arrived in Puerto Galera and moored at the Puerto Galera Yacht Club. We have been here a few times before and know the place quite well. There are a lot of retired foreigners living here and when you go to the Yacht Club you can be sure of a warm welcome. We rested the first two days because we were exhausted from the intensive four nights sailing. On the third day we took the ferry and went to Batangas City 16 NM away to clear in at customs and immigration. Batangas has the second largest commercial port in the Philippines and is therefore very busy so we didn’t want to go there with our boat. It was quite funny when we went to customs. The Customs Officer was only used to clearing in large commercial ships so when we told him we wanted to clear in he was not really sure what he should do with us. So he just asked us to fill up one form, made a copy of our boat registration and we were all set. Immigration and Quarantine also went smoothly so we were finished in two hours and we didn’t even have to pay anything.
Puerto Galera is a nice stop because it is very easy to come in contact with the people (foreigners) there. There was an October beer fest and regatta planned at the Yacht Club and they asked us if we wanted to join. We were tempted to say yes but since we were eager to see my family we told them we would skip it this time but would certainly come back again to join other activities. On the fifth day we left for Subic Bay which was a 24 hour trip.
After exactly thirteen months we arrived at the Subic Bay Yacht Club which was our final destination and home port. We opened the last bottle of champagne which we especially saved to celebrate this milestone and toasted to our safe arrival in Subic.
It’s sometimes hard for us to believe that we actually sailed from Holland to the Philippines. We have had unforgettable experiences, learned a lot, seen many beautiful places and met wonderful and interesting people during our journey. We have tasted the life of a “sea gypsy” and although we now know how it is to live like one we also realized that this is not the life we would like to live. Hopping from one place to the other can be very tiresome and we sometimes longed for the comforts of a house. We have been very lucky that we did not have any major damages and never experienced a typhoon but we have often worried about these things when we were sailing longer distances.
We now end a chapter in our journey and will start a new chapter in our life here in the Philippines. We would like to thank you for reading our blog and we hope you have enjoyed reading our experiences as much as we enjoyed sharing it. 😊😊😊