January 1-14, 2014: I arrived back on MOKEN on Wednesday (New Year’s Day), just two days ahead of Chris’ return from work. By Saturday night we had everything ready to cast off for a six-week cruise. It would be our biggest endeavour yet, not only in terms of duration and distance we planned to cover but also because the weather in January can still be a little on the iffy side.
After leaving Subic Bay at first light Sunday morning, we raised our genoa briefly as we cruised toward Manila Bay along the coast of Bataan province. But the wind soon died off, putting an end to that experiment, at least for the time being. Crossing Manila Bay is never very pleasant at the best of times and today was no exception. It’s always a relief to reach Hamilo Cove, our overnight stop. (Average speed 6.2 knots at 1500 RPM.)
Not long after dropping anchor, we had a return visit from Junior and his daughter Sharmel who popped by to wish us a Merry Christmas. Junior is one of the local fisherman in the cove that we met when we last anchored here back in March 2013. They remembered our green boat. On that trip, we bought out all of his crabs for our dinner. This time he didn’t have any crabs or fish to sell to us, so we gave him a gallon of gasoline instead.
I always have a really hard time guessing how old Filipino children are, because they always seem so small for their ages. I guessed Sharmel at seven, but she said she was nine and in grade two in school. She wasn’t quite as shy this time around, but nearly so. (We’ve included a photo of Sharmel and her parents we took last April and one of her and her father from this month.)
The next day, after a routinely slow and rocky crossing of Verde Island Passage, we were relieved to reach the shelter of Puerto Galera and drop anchor. (Average speed 5.5 knots at 1700 RPM.)
If only the wind inside the bay would let up. It kept up a good howl from the northeast for most of our stay. Good thing our Rocna anchor held fast. If only it had been a little warmer! Temperatures in the twenties felt downright chilly at times, although kitty seemed to perk up.
We spent a few days diving (water temperature also a chilly 26C), caught up with some friends, ate yummy food like Prawn and Smoked Bacon pizza at Cafe New Orleans and Dorado Kilawin at the Puerto Galera Yacht Club, had some laundry done, fended off a banca with engine trouble that drifted toward us in the dark, replaced some worn out dive gear, got our dinghy repaired and restocked with food and water, all the while keeping an eye open for a two-day weather window that would see us further south to Busuanga Island in northern Palawan. Finally the winds died down and we prepared to set off in the morning. Stay tuned for the next instalment.
|January 9, 2014||Sabang||Paul, South Sea Divers||Alma Jane to La Laguna Point||Frogfish|
|January 10, 2014||Puerto Galera||Amil, South Sea Divers||Delaruan Muck Dive||Mating cowfishes, turtle, lots of nudibranchs|
|January 11, 2014||Sabang||Paul, South Sea Divers||Ernie’s Point||Loads of fish and healthy hard and soft corals. A textbook Sabang dive.|
|January 13, 2014||Sabang||Kim, South Sea Divers||The Wreck||Brrrr! But lots of cool stuff including a nudibranch that looked exactly like a soft coral.|
|January 14, 2014||Sabang||Amil, South Sea Divers||Coral Gardens *||Nudibranchs, moray eels, cuttlefish and more. I didn’t want to surface.|
* All of the dive photos were taken at Coral Gardens, the only time we remembered to take the camera. Silly us.