Subic Bay to Busuanga Island

Our route for this segment of the trip

On Tuesday, April 14th, we said goodbye to Subic Bay.  Our destination on this segment was Puerto Galera,  a resort island a few hundred miles south of Subic Bay.  We are not squeamish as a group to travel at night, but we are always short handed and if we can break any cruise into daily segments, we do it.  Our first (and only) stop on the way to Puerto Galero was Hamilo Bay.

The cruise was perfect and the weather was also.  My understanding of the weather in this area for this time of year is that it is generally calm, between the Northeast and Southwest Monsoons.  For the next several weeks we would need to keep an eye on the weather patterns, as there are some disturbances out there that can turn into Typhoons. 

We arrived late in the day and, as you can see, this bay is a typical Philippine fishing village.  Everywhere you go in the Philippines, the people are friendly and VERY curious and this harbor was no different.  Lots of small Bangkas with people of all ages coming by to see the “strange” foreign crafts.  We were glad to be leaving in the morning.

Hamilo Bay to Puerto Galera

After a peaceful night moored in the harbor, at a predetermined time, we pulled anchor and headed towards Puerto Galera.  As far as the seas,  it was the roughest we will have seen for the rest of the trip in the Philippines – 20 kt winds and 2-3 foot chop, barely noticeable on these boats. 

I don’t know if I mentioned it before, but the charts for this area of the world were created a LONG time ago.  Some of what you see on the charts is no longer there and there are things that are NOT on the chart that you can now see.  Depths are of paramount concern as there are very few buoys in the Philippines.  We are fortunate enough to have many different sources of electronic charts, paper charts, blogs from other boaters and local knowledge that is shared with us.  When you combine them all, it is a safe way to cruise.

The entrance to the bay was like looking at a picture of what you might envision Tahiti to look like.  White sandy beaches, palm trees and small wooden boats everywhere.  We entered the channel late in the day and proceeded to the anchorage that we were told about by Dirk, our agent at Subic Bay.  Of course, it was just gorgeous!

Carol’s brother Tom was due to arrive in two days and it gave us a chance to get settled at the anchorage.  We dropped in about 18 feet of water.  Carol and I are VERY conservative when it comes to anchoring.  On Seabird, we have a 300 lb CQR anchor when a 150 lb would suffice,


 we laid out 200 feet of chain when 100 feet would do and we pull hard on it after it sets to make sure that we do not wake up in the middle of the night on a reef.  Because of all this, we sleep very well at anchor, just as we do if we were at a dock. We have given in to the lure of living in luxury.  We really tried to live in a natural state, with hatches open to the fresh air at night etc, but damn, it is HOT here.  We gave in and so did Grey Pearl shortly after and we ran the generator and air conditioning every night!

One of the first stops after arriving was The Puerto Galera  Yacht Club.  It was a short dinghy ride away, right next to the town.  Both crews from Grey Pearl and Seabird rode in to have dinner that first night at the club.  It was really a fun place with Ex Pats from different parts of the world galore. 

Braun is shown above explaining how to make a proper Gin and Tonic to the Waitress.

Tom arrived on Saturday by ferry (see below)

It was good to see him and he stayed with us for a few days.

One of the many ways of traveling in the Philippines, aside from the Trikes, is the Jeepney.  They pile sometimes as many as 20 people or more in them for local transportation. 

I never got a good answer as to the origin of them.  They LOOK like they may have been old Jeeps at one time, hence the name, but somehow I think that they are simply old truck beds that they weld stainless steel panels to and paint them with wild colors. You be the judge.  All I know is that after a mile or two with 20 or more others crammed into a small area, I would choose to walk.  I actually did not partake in that adventure!

The scuba diving and snorkeling in this area is superb.  We took the dinghies to an anchorage recommended to us and used snorkels and diving equipment to see the giant clams that lie 20 feet below the surface.  They look like something out of a science fiction movie and had their own human guard on the surface telling us not to touch them.

Before we left the area, we took the dinghies to Sabang, another town close to where we were anchored.  It was quite a festive places with numerous floating bars,  floating jet ski rental places and loads of hotels on the beach.

 We were getting ready to leave the area when a guy on the floating jet ski kiosk started waiving us away.  Evidently, his mooring line (if you want to call it that) was floating just below the surface in front of us and we did not see it.  I tried to avoid it but cut it in half.  Normally, the line would tangle our prop but it was so flimsy that I just cut it.  I thought he would be furious, but in typical Philippine fashion, he just smiled, waived me off and indicated that it was not a problem. I saw that theme over and over again here. I think that even with the little that most of them have, they are a happy people.

Puerto Galera to Busuanga

The road (actually ocean) to Busuanga Yacht Club, our next major stop involved several nightly stops in various anchorages.  For our second day and night, we stopped at an interesting little inlet called Illultuk Bay.

Not only was it a peaceful anchorage, but it is the home to a really cool animal reserve called Calauit Island.  The story is that President Marcos wanted to create a “little Africa” on one of the islands and so in 1977 he ordered all human inhabitants out and he imported 18 species of African animals including Giraffes, Zebras and Crocodiles, all of whom run free with the exception of some of the smaller creatures and the predatory types like the Crocodiles.  We had an interesting tour with a group of other boaters.

                                     C’mon….say CHEESE!!

One interesting animal, shown below, is the Asian Palm Civet, part of the cat family.

Ever get offered an expensive cup of Kopi Luwak, or Civet Coffee in a fancy restaurant? Before you get too excited about the exclusivity of it, this is how it is made:  The coffee cherries are first eaten by the Asian Palm Civet (shown above).  The beans are then excreted by the cat in its feces.  The feces are picked through by the workers (nice job) and the beans are extracted for processing, ending up as your favorite (and most expensive!) cup of coffee.  Evidently, the digestive system of the Civet cat processes the beans and makes them smoother and less acidic…… the guy who is holding them does not look to happy either.

I think I will stick with my Starbucks Columbian!!!!

Busuanga Yacht Club

Just a short hop from Illultuk Bay was another cute harbor that housed the Busuanga Yacht Club. 

It was another picturesque spot and we were guided in around the various hazards by Mike, the owner of the resort and Yacht Club.  Instead of anchoring, we pulled up one on the several mooring available.  Usually, we hesitate, because of the mass of our boats, to use moorings.  These, we were told, were anchored into the bottom by three 55 gallon drums filled with concrete and buried into the mud with more holding power than we could ever use.  After we were anchored, we looked over and spotted something on Grey Pearl that was definitely a first for us (and maybe anybody).  There was a LARGE BLACK DOG sitting on Grey Pearl’s bulbous bow.

There are many theories on the purpose of the bulb on the Nordhavns but I would bet that Jeff Leishman did not design it for a dog perch!  As it turned out, the dog regularly swims the harbor looking for friends.

The Yacht Club and resort had a great restaurant that was lots of fun and we ate there nearly every night that we were there.

As you can see, the sunsets were also to die for.

As it turned out, they offer lots of diving expeditions and the five of us went on one that was near an old gunboat from WWII . 

The boat we went in was a typical large size Philippine Bangka.  I found the engine quite interesting.  It is an old Japanese Toyota diesel truck engine, not even marinized, with a 4 speed manual transmission complete with a clutch!

The diving was just great.  I had not done it in a few years so I took a refresher course, diving down 40 feet.  Carol and Tina snorkeled and saw as much as I did, which was great for them.  Braun and Wayne, both experienced divers also went down with their tanks. I really wish Ken and Roberta from Sans Souci had come with us.  This is the part that Ken always talked about.  Peaceful anchorages with clear blue water for diving.

I  found the dive quite energizing, but I think it was quite tiring for Braun and Tina

Thanks to Mike and his crew for making our stay here in Busuanga so much fun.  Thanks also to Rory and Shelly  for making our acquaintance also.

Next stop….Puerto Princesa

This Post Has One Comment

  1. There is no need to apologize for not naming each and every photo. just letting us dreamers see what you are experiencing is enough for this dreamer. Please keep up the good work and please stay safe.

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