Thursday, February 23, 2012

Busuanga to El Nido

We left the Wild Animal Park and went only a few miles south and anchored in a very quiet bay north of the town of Busuanga on the island of Busuanga. Our route is the purple line below. The next morning we planned to go an easy 17 miles to Galoc island. Started off an came out into Busuanga Bay to a sea of hundreds of buoys! They are 5 or 6 floats tied with a rope about 100 feet long with traps hanging down to the bottom from the top rope. So there are these strings of floats that we cannot cross with the boat. The ropes would get caught in the propeller. They are not oin order, just randomly strewn about the bay.

I noticed that they seemed to stop toward one side where the chart showed a small reef. I thought I could squeeze between them and the reef so moved ahead slowly. I was only 10 feet from the buoy and doing fine, watching the computer and the water on the other side for the coral. When bump! bump! bump! Then stopped! Trinda, below, yelled "What was that"! Arg!!! The reef only had 6.5 feet of water and we really need 6.75 feet!
I had this chart up, zoomed in even more and still....Google Earth photos are old, so the buoys don't show of course.

I tried reverse with a lot of gas. No good, then there was a breeze so pulled out the jib quickly to see if the wind would turn the bow off the reef. Still no good. Trinda helped me get the new dinghy off the davits and into the water. Then put the outboard on it with the gas tank too. I tied a long line onto the main halyard (rope that pulls up the mainsail) and took off in the dinghy. As I pull on the halyard to the top of the mast and the angle out to the dinghy 50 feet away it leaned the boat over just enough that with full throttle it started to turn. I eased up and let the outboard rest 15 seconds and tried again. This time I got a running start and it leaned the boat over just enough. It started to move again! Trinda cut the throttle and steered away from the buoys and stopped. We lifted the outboard abd fuel tank bacvk out of the dinghy and pulled it back up on the davits again.

Then we started looking for a different way through the buoys. What a mess! Staying well away from the reef we tried several paths into the mass of buoys. Finally with only 3 or 4 wrong turns and backing out, we got to the last row of them. An hour lost!

I hear another outboard racing up and see 3 guys in a local small speed boat. They come along side and ask where I am going. I point to Culion. They say, "Follow me I guide you".  Great, now that I've run aground and wasted an hour and am through the buoys, now they want to help! I say ok and they take off the wrong direction. I wave them back and by now remember the name of the small island we're headed for. They lead off again. There is not a buoy in sight so I finally wave them back, thank them and say I can probably make it myself.

Almost to Galoc we turn around a rock and there is another patch of buoys! Oh well, now I've figured out the pattern they use, so it is only a 10 minute delay to thread our way through these. We anchor and have a restful night.

We were headed for Halsey Harbor but I get a text from Denny, of Jubilant. He says he's left Puerta Princessa and where should we meet. Trinda really wants to see El Nido cause everyone has been talking about it. Sitting in the restaurant in Coron waiting for the package to arrive, she saw the local bangka providing transport there for the tourists each day too. So I tell Denny we'll meet there. So we skip Halsey Hbr and head for Linapacan. I really wanted to stop there to see if I could get a pie! Thought it might have limes or linas or something! hahaha. Or maybe they spell those different. No pie, not even cell phone coverage, much less internet access!

We anchored and then the mosquitoes came out! The biggest yet and lots. With repellent on, I killed 15 in the hour that I read in bed before dropping off to sleep! This morning we left early, 6:30 for El Nido. Half way across we spotted Jubilant coming up from the south.

As we cruised down the channel to Bacuit (El Nido) the sheer cliffs to the water are extra ordinary! Yep the camera is still broke.

We'll hang around here a few days then explore the bays a little further south then back to Coron.

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