April 15, 2013: It actually rained on us for a few hours last night; our only rain since we left Subic Bay on March 22nd. It meant a mad scramble at one in the morning to close all the hatches, windows and portholes and mop up. The rain has its benefits too, washing much of the accumulated salt spray off the decks and rails.
Today was our final leg. We were a bit sad to be going back and a bit excited too. Shore power (air conditioning), dock water (long hot showers and laundry) and no cooking tonight! And let’s not forget about Starbucks.
But there was a wide expanse of ocean that had to be crossed first. It would be a rather long slog and we expected to arrive around four or five in the afternoon.
With another spectacular sunrise to start us off, we ran up the southern coast of Lubang. The chart shows a passage between Lubang and Cabra islands that is about three kilometres wide but has the potential for big waves and big current. Lucky for us, the waves stayed away today and the current was negligible! Instead of going around the outside of Cabra and adding a few additional miles to our route, we were able to cut between the two islands.
Now we were in open ocean. Taking shifts at the helm gave us plenty of time to nap all morning. During one of mine, Chris throttled back the engine and I immediately woke up from the change in the engine noise. He had spotted a pod of whales not far off our starboard beam. Being a bit drowsy, I never even thought to get out the camera. Too busy enjoying the sight.
Open ocean crossings can be a bit monotonous so you have to make your own fun. Reading and playing computer games just make me want to sleep more. So I like to match targets on the radar with boats on the water (and vice versa). Exciting!??!
At one point we had four small fishing bancas about two miles dead ahead of us. These hearty fishermen were 24 nautical miles from the closest shore and fishing on a seamount that rose from the depths to within 100 feet of the surface. It was fun watching the depth sounder quickly jump from more than 1000 feet to just 98 over a very short distance.
According to our chart, we also passed directly over an explosives dumping ground. It wasn’t until later that we realized this was a restricted area. Oops!
Our only other excitement today was another round of dousing kitty with water to help him stay cool. At least he didn’t have to put up with rolling seas too. It remained calm all day.
The haze gave it away first, well before we saw the Luzon coastline. Gone were the blue skies and unlimited visibility we’d enjoyed everywhere else. At last the mountains came into view along with a large number of freighters anchored just outside the entrance to Subic Bay. We ambled past and notified the Subic Port Authority of our return as we passed Grande Island.
There were about eight men waiting at our slip ready to help with the dock lines when we got to the marina. With no breeze to speak of, docking was a piece of cake. By 15:30 we were tied up, hooked up and sharing a cold beverage with our neighbours.
It is good to be back in our home port away from home port. Now, time for that shower!
Distance Covered: 72 NM
Travel Time: 12 hours
Anchorage: Subic Bay Yacht Club, Subic Bay Freeport Zone, Zambales, Luzon Island 14⁰ 49.316 N / 120⁰ 17.233 E