Wow time flying very fast as usual, and we are behind in updating this website. We communicate more readily on Facebook and the website seems to get forgotten - my apologies!
Very briefly we left Samal at the start of April 2014, and sailed via Talicud Island, Zamboanga, and then Sandakan in Sabah (Borneo / Malaysia) About 3 days to get to Zamboanga where we stopped for 2 nights to repar a sail, then 2 days more to get to Sandakan. At Sandakan we visited the Sepilok Orangutan Reserve, and Australian Death March camp / war memorial. Very sobering history there. We saw about 4 or 5 orangutans in both the morning and afternoon, then had a bit of time in the sun bear reserve.
We coast hopped along from Sandakan to Kudat visiting some nice islands on the way, and once we got to Kudat we arranged to slip the boat cuz it hadn't been antifouled since Tasmania. Sp we antifouled and also changed the propellor shat bearing, eased the Aries self steering bearings again, and a few more jobs. Had a new sunshade made up and a new double bed mattress. Enjoyed the food there, and the company of Brian & Glee from Second Wind / Gleewind, last seen in Adelaide about 14 years ago. Had a day trip with them down to Kota Kinabalu which was nice to see, and were able to stock up on salami and cheeses etc, generaly not available in smaller centres.
From Kudat we returned to the Philippines via Balabac island, with some nervousnes as a German couple were kidnapped from their yacht near here a few weeks previous. The Navy in Balabac suggested we didn't stop on the way until we got to Brookes Point. from here we day hopped up the Palawan coast, with no problems other than parking the boat on  coral reef for 24 hours. Rowed the big 90 pound anchor out about 150 metres behind us, floating it on an empty drum and a big fender. Also dumped most of our fresh water, and dropped our anchor chain onto the reef, agai floating the ends with fenders and keeping a line attached to it. We put he dinghy in the water with more water and fuel containers in it, and in total got about 1.5 tons off the boat. Successfully hauled ourselves off the reef the following morning, etrievd our chain, and carried on to Puerto Princesa.
Here we met up with old friends, Tony & Mel, Gunter & Claudia, and met the other yachties there. Enjoyed some shopping, meals at the yacht club, Gay visited dentist to have a tooth removed & I visited a skin specialist to have a sun cancer cut off my ear. Also got a cover made for the forehatch, our old one worn out in 2 years continual use. We cruised in dy hops up the northeast coast of Palawan, had lots of school children visit at one bay and gave away most of our pencils & crayons, At the very top of Palawan the weather turned nasty, and at the same time we realised that forward gear was not working!! Shock horror, we sailed into the lee of an island, anchored in 100 foot of water, and assesed the situation. The choices were to stay where we were in deteriorating weather (We were already getting 40 knot gusts), sail to Coron about 3 days away through some reef strewn (and pearl farm / seaweed farm strewn) waters again in deteriorating weather, or high tail it out to the open ocean and head to Bonbonon at the bottom of Negros Island. That was our final choice and gave us the safety of the open ocean, even though the weather was vey nasty. We were down to bare poles for the first time since the southern ocean many years ago. After 3 days at sea we sailed into Bonbonon harbour and a friend had organised a tow between all the banks and yachts into an anchorage.
So here we are with the gearbox removed, hoping we can find some parts in Dumaguete next week. All fine here with some support of other yachties, One sad incident though was another yacht tried to come in at nighttime without a working engine, and ended up on the rocks. He was smashed to tiny pieces in no time at all, but luckily got himself, wife, and 2 children ashore with no mishap. Friend Gunter lost his dinghy in the rescue attempt and was badly cut on the coral. I also went to help with a local Philippine couple & Gunter' Claudia, and we also were upended, and cut up as we waded ashore near the yacht wreck. Luckily the 45 pound anchor and 80 metres of rope I had brought out in the dinghy landed on top of me & I was able to drag it ashore with me, jumping up to breath between the waves and walking underwater when the waves came over me. Maybe the anchor helped to stop me getting knocked around more than I was!
Anyway all is well. We will try to upload some pics one day in the not too distant future.
Mike Gay & Miming