April 13, 2013: After a bit of route planning, we decided on a three-day passage back to Subic with overnight stops along the way. Our destination for today? North Pandan Island. We’d missed it on our way south, so figured we should go check it out on our return.
Our departure was meant to be at first light, but we were up early, so we let go of the mooring buoy at 04:50 and made our way out of Maricaban Bay. We expect we’ll be back again soon.
Although it was still dark, there was an eerie glow on one of the hills on the far shore. Two large rings of fire were burning brightly. Best we can tell is they were clearing the land for something. Hmmm, I wonder what they would do if it got out of control. The grasses were quite dry at this time of year. Needless to say, for the rest of the morning, I couldn’t get Johnny Cash’s “Burning Ring of Fire” out of my head.
It was an easy crossing. We were averaging 6.5 knots and the seas were calm with just a slight swell. Quite uneventful actually, we spent most of the time trying to stay out of the sun. It got hot early. We arrived at North Pandan Island around 13:30. It offers a bit of protection from north winds but not much from any other directions. Luckily the winds, or lack thereof, were on our side.
At first we tried ringing the Pandan Island Resort to ask if either of their two mooring balls was available, but there was no answer. Since there weren’t any boats on either one, we picked the one in deeper water and tied to it. We figured they’d let us know if there was a problem. And apparently there was, as not long after a guy in a small banca came out and asked us to move to the other one.
From MOKEN’s deck, we could tell the other one was in pretty shallow water. We could see the sandy bottom below it. As we eased in closer, we kept a close eye on the depth sounder and grabbed the line to make fast with less than eight feet below our keel. And we were on a falling tide. Feeling a little uncomfortable but somewhat reassured by the fact that MOKEN has a full keel, we knew it wouldn’t be the end of the world if she were grounded. Luckily the tidal exchange was relatively minor, so we figured we’d have about four feet to spare at low tide.
At least we were now closer to shore for a snorkel in to check out the resort. Directed to the bar, we talked to Sonny who told us there was no charge for using the mooring buoy for the night. What a relaxed atmosphere. El Rio Y Mar was nice but this place had a much more chill vibe.
After talking to a young Czech divemaster about the diving at Apo Reef and around the island over cold beverages, we almost decided to stay an extra day so we could squeeze in a few dives. But then we decided it would give us something to look forward to on a return trip in June.
That decision made, we snorkeled back to MOKEN and saw a sea turtle, a blue spotted ray, a trigger fish and some batfish along the way. Not too shabby for a shallow sandy patch.
Here Chris decided to do a little hull cleaning and see just how much water was under the keel. When he stood up, the bottom of the keel was resting at mid-chest level. At least the tide would rise again overnight.
Distance Covered: 58 NM
Travel Time: 8.5 hours
Anchorage: North Pandan Island, Panda Bay, Mindoro Island, Occidental Mindoro 12⁰ 51.422 N / 120⁰ 45.367 E