May 22nd, 2012
We are now in Davao (actually Oceanview Marina, at the very northern tip of Samal Island, near Davao) Mindanao island, Philippines. Internet access is a bit better here, but still have trouble uploading photos to website.
From Lamotrek we had a 5 day trip to Yap in gentle tradewinds. The quarantine officer at entry was Robert, the cousin of Ester from Lamotrek, so there was no problem bringing in turtle meat, turtle eggs, and the other goods we delivered from Lamotrek. We also carried mail - Robert had not been back to Lamotrek for 5 years so was almost in tears when we showed him pictures & video that included his son.
We met up with chief Patrick on Yap who had given us permission to visit Lamotrek, & passed on all the goods we had brought with us. He was very greatful for the delivery and also the work that we and the other 2 yachties had done on the island. Also met a lot of relatives of people from Lamotrek, and made numerous dvds for them to share. The Lamo community in Yap, in addition to other outer islanders, have their own community village, complete with meeting house etc, We had a couple of visits there, and another feast to thank us for our work on the island. On the waterfront the elders were teaching the youths to build a dugout sailing canoe, so there is a very strong cultural bond amongst the people.
Yap is famous for it's diving so we went on a total of 4 dive trips, 2 trips to see manta rays at a "cleaning station" where little wrasse clean parasites from the mantas. Saw 2 or 3 mantas in about 20 ft of water on the second dive, so that was fantastic. The other 2 dives were on the outer reef - a dropoff into very deep water. Lots of fish, moray eels, coral, white tipped reef shark, barracuda, and our deepest dive to date, 110 feet. Very clear visibility on the outer reef, 130 ft?? or so. The manta diving was in murkier water maybe 30 ft. visibility, due to the tide running accross the reef, and their natural habitat has a lot of plankton.
So with meeting up with the Lamotrek community and the successful dives, Yap was a good visit. Our sail from there to davao took 11 davs in very light conditions, only about 60 miles per day average, a bit of motoring as well. We even got out our MPS (assymetric spinaker - a very big light sail) this was the firs time we have used it since gulf waters back in Adelaide. had it up for 24 hours, and also sailed using our electric tiller pilot to steer the boat as the Aries self steering gear did not work very well in the light following winds.
About 250 miles off the Philippines westarted to meet fishing boats - timber hulled with 2 outriggers, and several dories in which a man trolls for bonito etc. We spoke to one on the radio & he asked if he could see us to trade fish for food - they had been offshore for over a month, so we did some mid ocean shopping! On another occassion 2 little dories (plywood canoes with bamboo outriggers, powered by 7.5 hp air cooled lawnmower engines - they zip along quite fast) aproached us & again we traded fish for goods - they were very excited with what we gave them including some caps, & there was a "God bless you" from them as they left - so much for our trepidation about them turning into pirates. Needless to say we were cautious & had the flare gun nearby as a potential weapon.
We are now at the marina, which costs about $38 a week, with nice new clubrooms, showers, toilets, laundry. We are returning to Brisbane / Adelaide in early June to catch up with family & other affairs, and will come back here in early August. We have then signed up for a sailing rally from Davao to Morotai & Bitung in Indonesia, jointly promoted by Philippine & Indonesian governments to encourage yachting visits - entry & cruising permits are free & there is a lot of cultural entertainment provided in various ports on the rally, so that should be very rewarding. From Bitung (Sulawesi) we intend to head over to northern Kalimantan, then Sabah, then return to the western (Palawan) & northern Philippines at the end of the current typhoon season.
So that is the current situation, now to see if I can get this published to the web - fingers crossed
Mike xxxxxxxxxx