April 7, 2013: Another early morning. We were up and underway by 03:30. Who’s bright idea was this anyway? It certainly wasn’t mine!
Once again it was calm and there were lots of fishing boats about. But at least these were well lit and easy to spot in the dark and there wasn’t much debris or floats to worry about.
Around nine in the morning, we approached Apo Reef. Apparently, it is the second largest reef system in the world after the Great Barrier Reef. Who knew? It covers nearly 34 square kilometres. Being relatively remote and uninhabited, and designated as a national park in 1996, you’d think it would be really healthy. But apparently overfishing has taken its toll. Although the Philippine government enacted a fishing ban in 2007, we saw boats fishing in the area around the reef. Kind of makes you wonder…
Our original plan was to anchor at the reef overnight and try and do some diving, or at least stop for a couple of hours to go snorkeling. But not really knowing the area or the location of the dive sites, we decided to continue on to Northern Palawan instead. So we motored between tiny Menor Island and slightly larger Apo Island and kept right on going. Maybe we’d stop on the way back.
The seas on either side of Apo Reef are busy shipping lanes. Tracking freighters on our radar gave us something to do as we crossed Mindoro Straight. For the most part, the crossing was smooth with just some swells off our starboard beam after lunch. So Chris put up the main sail and we puttered along.
We arrived at Maricaban Bay on the north side of Busuanga Island and tied up to a mooring ball at the El Rio Y Mar resort around three in the afternoon. For just 200 pesos per night, we were entitled to use their pool and showers, and get a 30 percent discount off food and beverages. Five stars for five dollars. Not a bad deal!
The plan was to stay for one night before heading on to Coron Town on the south side of Busuanga, known for its World War II wreck diving. Once we settled in, we decided this would be a great place to hang out for a couple of days and check out some of the local dive sites before moving on.
Distance Covered: 70 NM
Travel Time: 11.5 hours
Anchorage: El Rio Y Mar Resort, Maricaban Bay, Busuanga Island, Northern Palawan 12⁰ 11.324 N / 120⁰ 6.148 E