After our first voyage out on Keira a few months ago we limped back into the marina only 4 days later with a snapped chainplate. The work to gather materials & install took a little longer than hoped, we unfortunately missed our window to head to Palau - which was fine, giving us the opportunity to explore a hand full of those 7000 islands that make up the Philippines, as all we had seen so far was a small section of Samal Island & the industrial area of Davao city.
There are two options to get to the northern islands of the Philippines from Mindanao , east or west coast. The west which involves cruising past Zamboanga & Sulu Sea - which has been known to be a little dangerous due to pirates (saying that we have met a lot of people who have been that way without an issue. We opted for the east coast which is just as big a deterrent for sailors as at this time of year the wind is on the nose & the strong currents that come down this coast.
We were advised by a few people to sit out wide once outside the gulf and heading north, this did not seem to work for us. We were at a standstill with engines at fairly high revs, whilst at the helm I started to notice our speed log starting to show progress 1 sometimes 2 knots…..then i noticed sadly this was not in the forward direction.
Our good friends Trish & Fitz off columbus & Daryl off Freycient came around the gulf & stumbled upon a reverse tidal current close to the coast which they rode nicely as we watched them from a distance feeling very disheartened.
It was a long few days slogging up the coast, but if you are mentally prepared it is very much doable & i can only recommend staying close to the coast.
At the top of Mindanao we dropped the pick at Mammon Island. This is what its all about - protected lagoon, crystal clear water, white sandy beaches, snorkelling & surf with the sounds of videoke coming from the small palm tree lined island paradise.
Over the next few months we made it as far as Malapascua Island (just off the north coast of Cebu), we were excited to get here & to dive with the impressive thresher sharks. Unfortunately Malapascua was badly hit by Super Typhoon Yolanda only a month earlier. Seeing the devastation, meeting the beautiful people living here, hearing the fresh stories first hand was an experience in itself.
One morning we were able to get out for a dawn dive, we travelled by bunker to one of the underwater pinnacles which the thresher sharks are known to frequent in order to be cleaned. This eloquent/awe inspiring fish with that big eye, stubby nose, a framed body & that striking tail taking up one third of its body! Truelly a most increadible creature to see.
Monad Shoal has been made a marine park to help protect these creatures, as thresher numbers have declined ~ as all sharks throughout the oceans.
The other real highlight on the trip would have to have been Bucus grande - this being such a little pocket of heaven, its mysterious feel with dramatic mountains engulfing us in this enchanted cove.
Our journey through the Philippines onboard Keira has allowed us to see some beautiful places, meet very welcoming warm hearted Filipinos, learning a little more about ourselves & a lot more about our boat.