Tuesday, September 28, 2004

A Day of Achievements !

1. Mitch collected the autopilot without paying duty
2. It was exactly the same as the damaged unit so transfering the wires across was simple.
3. It worked exactly as the previous one - so we have a working autopilot.
4. We found that the problem with the saltwater pressure pump was a broken micro switch.
5. The Yamaha dealer nearby had a spare switch - an exact match.
6. The pump works again so we once again have flush water and salt to the sink.
7. We filled the fuel tanks buying 480 gallons of diesel.
8. We persuaded Quarantine Dept. to let us have our frozen meat today by promising not to cook it before we left Palau waters.
9. We did our shopping.
10. I think I solved the problem with the power to the back deck tripping the circuit breaker.

So we are ready to leave on the high tide tomorrow morning for the 875 miles to Weewak in Papua New Guinea. Should be there about Tuesday.

We will pass updates through phone to Pauline along the way.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Monday evening

We both wnet out for a dive trip today - first dive at the Blue Holes - not great as the surf was too big to go in from the top of the holes, visibility was lower than usual and when we tried to continue to Blue Corner the current was not cooperative.

After lunch however we went back to Blue corner itself and it was is great condition - just right current, lots of sharks, an eagle ray, Naploean wrasse - not 'Sweety' this time - baracudas . A good dive - photo below is Mitch looking over edge at Blue Corner.

And the spares package has arrived but Mitch is disputing the tax Palau Gov. wants to collect - but we will have it in the morning and test it out after we go to the dock for another 2000L + of diesel. We covered the 1800 miles from HK to Palau using about half our fuel - reconfirming the boats range is over 3500 miles.

A a Taxi driver came by the dive shop today with my credit card that had fallen from my pocket in his car as I was paying yesterday - a lucky day !

Wednesday morning high tide is 8am so we plan an early start to take the ebb tide out of the harbour.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Hamish Himself again.

Sunday afternoon - Mitch has just wandered in the Internet Cafe as well after a walk around the town. I did my laundry this morning and then dived Chandelier cave to take some pix as it is only meters from our mooring. None of the pix came out as well as I hoped - just have to go back and try again. Of course Survivor is in town, bit like a circus really, going from tropical oasis to some other nirvana. They should have Survivor for New York; people are surviving very well out here thank you very much - it's the big cities were life is really survival. Ooops getting philosophical. That will teach Hamish to let me at the computer. You have it Hamish.

I went out for 2 dives yesterday and got to the magic Blue Corner - but unfortunately with more than ideal current. Exciting but even the sharks etc. where keeping away from the wall and while hooked turning our heads risked having the masks ripped off. So no great new photos from there yet. So we have booked to dive tomorrow and see what we get then.

Another personal indepth editorial overview from Mitch .................

2 ocean and three seas , about 7,000 islands in the Philippines, have'nt counted the islands of Palau yet. There's been uncomfortable what the stuff am I doing here weather and just a day later it's this idealic setting that would be impossible to put into words. For me it's the people. A constant reminder of a world of possibilities and the people that are living rich, beautiful lives in conditions we would'nt live in. For me the door is opening to days ahead of more and more fun and learning. So many people out here have the time of day to smile and say hullo, interested in what you're doing, where you're going. A nice time, very nice thank you..

What was the name of that fish that we caught anyway - a spanish mackeral sounds like it. Great tasting steaks; pity about the autopilot. It's great to have had only fixable problems so far, but to hand steer for the next 2000+ miles is for the birds.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Hamish posting for himself from an Internat Cafe in Koror - Palau.

We got in through the channel in the outer reef just in time to have enough light to follow the markers to the harbour - another 12 miles from the reef channel. Tied up to main wharf as directed and were visited by Immigration, customs, port police, quarantine and sanitation departments - it was 11pm by the time the last left. But all very efficient and much less expensive than a few years ago. They let us keep our Philipine fruit & veg but took our frozen Australian meat into secure storage - to be collected as we leave. Steaks are treated like firearms here.

This morning we left the wharf to make room for the Palau Navy and have moved to mooring amoung other yachts tucked in close under steep jungle clad limestne islands 100m from the Royal Belau Yacht Club and Sam's Dive shop. Been made very welcome there so we are all set for a few days diving and R&R while we wait for the spare autopilot.

Weather today is overcast and windy as typhoon Maeri moves away NW towards Okinawa - now with 105kt winds. We enjoyed just enough of its effect yesterday afternoon to have a storming sail for the last 70 miles.

Log shows we covered almost exactly 1000 miles from Puerto Galera to Palau in just over 7 days.

While here I will try to find a way to upload some pictures to the site.

Thursday 23 Sept
Hamish & Mitch have arrived safe in Palau and are tied up along side, they were waiting the officials. They had some wind and sea the last day sailing at 9 knots as a typhoon is near Guam to the north east of Palau. So good they have reached Palau. I am sure Hamish will up date tomorrow.
Seabiscuit anchored among the rock islands in Palau

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Wednesday 22 September
Just short message today, they are 157 miles from Palau and there is swell from both directions so not to comfortable. Their position is 8 degrees 7 N and 131degrees 47 East. They are 816 miles from PG in the Philippines and should be of the coast of Palau tomorrow night all being well.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Tuesday 21 September.

Hamish & Mitch are 300miles from the Philippine’s (1/3 way to Palau) 8 Degrees 50 N 128degrees 52 E.
The fish they caught yesterday tasted good and Hamish say’s he has good sauce for some more fish tonight. (They are looking for a rice cake recipe, any one got one???)They blew the fan belt on alternator but have fixed it and have plenty spare. Mitch has oganised for spare part auto- pilot to get to Palau by Fedex; so that is good. No fun steering by hand all the way. They have flat sea, not much wind and some rain about. They had strange boat around them last night asking for rice & cigarettes, it was a Philippine boat as the asked if they spoke tagalog , (this was done over the radio), They did not invite them on board and said they did not have what the other boat wanted so they left and no sight of them to day.
That’s all.

The fish on deck

Monday, September 20, 2004

Monday 20 Sept
Spoke to Hamish over the weekend by mobile phone as they where still in Philippine waters (and believe it could still get net work on Mobile).
E-mail from Hamish Saturday 18 September
Now in Comotes Sea, between Cebu, Bohol & Leyte heading SE to a narrow pass between Bohol & Leyte. Easy passage overnight - just thunderstorms & fishing boats to keep us on our toes. Everything running well and expect to leave Philippines behind on Monday.
Weather that was developing between here & Palau has dissipated so forecast looks good.
Sat phone to day they are know in the Pacific and heading for Palau, they did not find any were to anchor on Sunday but flat seas so just sat and waited till dawn. They went to island north of Mindanao which is a nature reserve(as they had a guide and Hamish says worth a visit) Hamish will give name later. (Sohouten Inlet - Bucos Grande Island) They caught a fish (mackerel) and Hamish made his Philippine dish and was going to cook some fish steaks later. They got a bit caught up with catching fish and did not realise problem with autopilot and have cooked. So no Autopilot till they can repair(hopefully Palau) They have flat water (small swell) but no wind, hope to be Palau about Friday?

Local craft between Bohol & Leyte

Friday, September 17, 2004

Friday 17 Sept
I tried to up date the log yesterday but it did not work lets hope I works this time. Hamish has asked me to up dat the log from his phone calls so hear goes(you will to put up with me spelling )
Hamish and Mitch set of Thursday 16 Sept afternoon on way to Palau via Cebu, They had a sail till it started to get dark and with fishing boats around decided it would be safer to motor.
They had a good stop in PG with diving party and fixing boat.
More up date Monday as I am away this weekend.

Mitch thinks he has caught a fish - bit of weed more likely !

Hamish and Mitch have left PG and are heading fo Cebu, They had a good stop in PG with diving and party + repairs. They had some wind to sail by till daust and then with less wind and fishing boats last heared they were motoring and make goos way. You will have to put up with my bad spelling till they reach net access again; I will do my best to keep log up dated. But I (pauline) am of to Carrdif to visit me Aunty so will not be able to up date till Sunday.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004


Mitch has been certified .... as an Open Water diver ! So we had a few beers at the point before our banca taxi back to SB. We tried the PG yacht club for dinner and participated in research for their new menu - the Malay Lamb curry will be very good.

There was a plan to prepare some CD's fpr posting etc. but on trying to start the genset at 7am we found we have a problem. No sound - no action at all. Battery voltage was good so we plunged into looking for loose wires behind the control panel and then took all the covers off to get into the control box. Sweat flowed, Mitch learned new body contortions essential to work on the genset in it's confined space. No improvement beyond occasional clicks from the preheat switch. So having been through the difficult things we went back to basics and looked hard at the battery connnections - the + was not clean and solid - so we replaced the piece and it all worked. Covers back on - run the genset for the fridge and charger. Mitch did breaksfast while Hamish went to buy petrol for the dinghy - fuel prices here have risen sharply 27peso/L for petrol and P22 for diesel.

So we drove dinghy round to Asia Divers in time for an 11:30 dive - Mitchs first as a qualified OW diver. I have pix of it to show. Now ready for one more before we start preps for our sail tomorrow. Planning to go for about 40 hrs and cover 250 miles to get down to Leyte/Bohol area.

Reports mention a possible low developing between Philippines and Palau but say chance of significant storm is low so far. So we will watch it carefully.

Mitch Underwater

Monday, September 13, 2004

Bottom Time

Mitch is well through his dive course - he will have been in the sea three times today and should complete tomorrow. Hamish is closer to mastering his camera - a couple of hours with the manual helped understand how to get consistant results from it. So now he has some satisfactory fishy shots but all too large to load here yet - after resizing I will try to put some on the website.

The weather is calm between afternoon thunderstorms - so looking good for our further progress on Wed/Thurs. Having spent more time here in Puerto Galera we will need to make a 2 day trip next and get 250-300 miles further on.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

We are switching the Log of our trip to a 'Blog' format as it should be easier to update, we should only have to send the new material and it should all get appended to the previous entries.
This blog account was used before for Hamish's comments so ignore any 2003 posts that show up ! Deleting them one by one was taking too long.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Saturday 11th

As Hamish came on watch at 4am Mitch explained how he had dodged all the fishing boats – and Hamish asked what the rope/net was doing dragging from our starboard side ! We had only just caught it. The fishing boat came and without any hostility cut the rope away and recovered their net. Hamish then had to swim under and clear rope from the prop – done that before.

By 6am we were off Pto. Galera and took a swing past Sabang & Lalaguna before turning into the Batangas Channel and finding our way to an anchoring spot in Boquete. 101 miles covered from Subic.

Now time to visit the yacht club and then get round to Asia Divers and arrange some dives. Friday 10th

Forward bilge pumps needed work and so were replaced and Mitch attended to several engineroom projects and lost his 2L of sweat in the process – great sauna down there. Being all prepared we went ashore to shop, found a supermarket – good for dry goods but no Veg or beer ! Or even local spirits. Lunch at the ‘Meat Café’ was good , Mitch enjoyed an Aussie Steak.

By mid afternoon we cleared off the dock and headed out of Subic, and with light northerly we hoisted the colourful reacher and sailed out passed Grande Island. The wind then faded / changed so we had to motor gently in flat seas SE passed Manila Bay in the evening. Sea was so calm we watched a movie after dinner – set the PC on the table and watched and kept watch simultaneously. Tough sailing.

The tide was going to help us by flooding all night which would help us us the Verde Island passage to Puerto. Galera.

Morning light on the Point Bar and Asia Divers pier

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Thursday 9th September
At dawn we were off Capones island and light with a few fishermen in bancas, we tried the pink squid again but no bites. By 8am we had rounded the point into Subic bay and found our way to the marina. Very helpful & friendly reception and for modest fees we were serviced by customs, immigration & quarantine and are now cleared in and out of the Philippines ! Efficiency is forward dated passport chops !

Since arrival we have sorted the genset – airlocks in the water filter – water maker – crap in the inlet valve, and forward bilge pump remains to be done.

Thursday afternoon we ventured off-base into Olongapo – the town that ‘serviced’ the US Navy base that was here until 1988. Business has not been good since and the area near the base/Freeport is very run down. So we may enquiries and were recommended another area where the remaining expat population lives and there are some bars/restaurants. So we both went in tricyle - motor bike and side car thinking it was a short ride. Twenty crushed and agonizing minutes later we straightened ourselves out and were fleeced for the fare. But we found a congenial watering hole – mostly retired US servicemen. Found our way back by jeepney paying about 5% of the fare out !

Wednesday 8th
Conditions much better and we managed to make good progress. By late morning we saw Santiago island at the tip of Bolinao peninsula, the thumb of Luzon that points at HK. Thought about going into Bolinao but with seas and winds as they were it would have been a rough entrance – and by the time we were in line the wind gave us a good heading down the coast towards Subic. Conditions and spirits were up enough for cooked lunch and dinner ! Mitch thought so much of the pork chops in curry sauce he made special coffee as a reply !

Although seeing the coast is reassuring as night came on and memories of bancas, nets, swimming, baby sharks etc. So we tacked off shore and decided to stand out till we could lay Subic – which would be about 11:30pm,. So heading out we dealt with big ship traffic instead of

Tuesday 7th
Not much cooking Tuesday – not such a fun day. Monday night had been challenging – Tuesday was blowy – choppy and wet – either rain or spray. We continued to run away east to ease the motion but as the day went on we managed to head south again.

The forward bilge remains a problem – 1. Water is getting in – especially when we roll hard, 2. The umps keep clogging with 4 years of dust & cat hair that had fallen into the bilges and has now been washed down to the filters. One pump has now cooked itself having jammed – drawing the batteries down as well.

So we hand pump the forward bilge for now.

We tried our new fishing rig – trolled the ‘Pink Squid’ we had been assured would lure every tuna within 10 miles. Won’t even start the fishing excuses yet ! But the tuna in the can was fine.

Monday 6th
The first night went well – after the rigs we saw very little shipping at all. We stopped the engine at dawn and sailed with genoa, main & mizzen to investigate a fuel smell and found a leak from Starboard fuel tank – a connection for the previous genset – had not been trouble before. Fixed with epoxy putty and plastic sheet – and with good wind we sailed through till lunchtime – initially at 7-8 kts and latterly at 5kts. Which became too slow so we motor sailed again.

Things were so good we had cooked breakfast ! bangers, potato & onions and scrambled eggs.

While conditions were good we learned how to refill a grease gun – crucial skill – read the instructions is the key to this ! With a full gun we could pump a large quantity of very sticky grease into the seal where the shaft goes out to the prop. Hopefully less water will creep back up the shaft now.

Monday afternoon it started to rain and the wind increased substantially – the forecast was for SW 3-4 but we got W 5-6 for a while with seas to 4m. We stood watch inside the pilot house and secured items as the flew around the cabin. Not much fun to be aboard, but the boat always feels very solid – any problems are our omissions in securing stuff before the trip.

By end of the day we had covered 239 miles total.

Sunday 5th September 2004
13:30 HKT
Clearwater Bay Marina – Hong Kong

We are both so tired of preparing to go that it will be a relief to clear the dock and head out. The forecast is good, hot & fine and no bad stuff. There may not be much wind but we will be able to get south quickly under power. Since it is still typhoon season we need to get south to out of the possibly dangerous area.

We left the dock about 2pm and went round the headland into Joss House Bay to pay our respects to Tin Hau – Queen of the sea and protector of all sailors. We made the required three turns and sprinkled sacred fluids into the sea. By 3pm we had main & mizzen hoisted and were out through Fat Tong Mun into the South China sea headed SE for the Philippines. Weather was calm and we motored sailed out through the traffic of container ships and fishing boats into the evening and night. By midnight we were out by the oilrigs and had covered 63 miles.

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