Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Safe in the Marina

After all the wind overnight, our wind died mid-morning (as forecast). We first put up the Code Zero, and that kept us going for another hour. But we finally had to start the engine if we wanted to get in somewhere before dark. So we motorsailed on through the morning and rounded the SE tip of Mindanao, Cape San Agustin, around noon.

A Big Ship Passes Close By As We Round the Point

We still had 25 miles to go to make our chosen anchorage (one we'd stopped at before, and liked). We thought "no problem", it doesn't get dark until about 6:30, plenty of time." But then we remembered that we were now on Philippines time, and the sun sets here at 5:15pm!!!

And, once we headed north, the almost non-existent wind came up in our face. Not strong, but the wind and chop were enough to knock our speed back another half a knot, so we were now projecting an arrival shortly after dark. Hmmm... stop somewhere else or... We also realized that the wind direction was NNW--in other words, now blowing ONSHORE. That would mean there is no protection on this coast. We did consider stopping at Sigaboy Island, a few miles short of our intended destination, but we'd checked the harbor/area out on a previous visit and we didn't like it. It's a fairly busy harbor (Governor Generoso is the actual town's name) rather than the quiet fishing village we were hoping for.

Just as the sun was setting, we noticed a harbor inshore that nobody we know had ever stopped at. We had a fairly good GoogleEarth picture of it, but if we headed in there, we'd be pretty committed. We could see lots of fishing boats, and weren't sure we'd be able to find a suitable anchorage among them before it got full-on dark. So we carried on to our known the dark.

Fortunately, as soon as the sun set, the menacing clouds totally dissipated, and we could see that we would have a beautiful moon. The Supermoon, we found out later (closes moon pass to the Earth in the next umpteen years). We kept the mainsail up because we were down to one engine, and wanted a backup. But as soon as the sun went down, the wind went to zero, so we put the main down as the last light faded.

With Dave sitting on the foredeck in one of our deck chairs, watching for "FADs" (large styrofoam blocks anchored to the bottom to provide a fish attracter and something for the fishing boats to tie on to...they litter the inshore waters of the Gulf of Davao), as I slowly conned us along our previous track into the anchorage.

All went well and we crept slowly toward our anchor spot, watching the depths. We could see the shore and nearby objects quite clearly in the moonlight. When we reached the depth that I'd recorded on our anchor waypoint, we dropped the anchor. It was a bit tricky maneuvering at slow speed with only one engine, but I managed. By this time the chop had died, and we had a pretty quiet night. No sign of any bad guys. Just hardworking fishermen.

Our Port Engine Problem: When we started the engines in Palau, we got a "Saildrive Leak" alarm on the port engine. We didn't even know that alarm existed! Dave went to investigate and saw a dripping salt water leak coming in next to the saildrive. (The saildrive is an outboard motor-type contraption that extends from the Yanmar engine inside the hull down into the water. Saildrives are common on catamarans.) Dave judged the leak slow enough not to be a big deal. However, eventually the drip increased to a trickle and ended up increasing to the point where our Port bilge needed to be pumped every hour or it would overflow. The float switch on the port bilge pump has been inoperative since we got the boat, but it was never a priority! Since this engine arrangement is new to us, Dave wasn't sure if running the engine would make the leak worse or perhaps let salt water into the engine. So we never used the port engine on this trip.

Oceanview Marina, Home Sweet Home (for now)

The next morning (Monday Nov 14) we got up at the crack of dawn and motored the final 45 miles to the marina. We were a little worried about docking maneuvers with only one engine, so we requested an end-tie on the dock just inside the marina entrance. Dave did a great job of getting us in with no problems.

We are glad to be back--but missing the many cruising friends who have shared this marina with us, but who have moved on in one direction or another.

Our current plans are to stay here until early February, doing maintenance work. And we already have one or two trips planned (by plane and/or by motorcycle) around the Philippines. (A diving trip to Coron Bay / World War II wrecks is planned for early December).

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