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Old 18-08-2014, 11:35   #1
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Safely sailing in the Philippines

Owing to an incident in the Philippines in 2014, I am publishing the following advisory.

First an apology. It is my duty to render aid to other vessels and sailors. Therefore, I must publish what I know. This advisory will have a direct impact on people and businesses in areas mentioned. Fewer sailors, and travelers in general, in these areas will result in lower immediate and long term spending. If you know of two misssing German sailors, inform those holding them how they are effecting you.

To my fellow sailors,
The Philippines is a fantastic country to visit and you should not miss an opportunity to come.

By following a few simple recommendations your visit will be far safer.

1. According to a first hand account in August 2014, any vessel, traveling in an informal exclusion zone as detailed below, will likely be boarded, and escorted by Philippine authorities to a safer zone.

Stay clear of an area defined as:

North Eastern boundry, Mindano Island at Calian Point 6 07N and 125 44E.

Northern boundry, Mindano Island at Blanca Point 08 28N and 122 60E.

North Western boundry, 08 28N and 120 39E.

South Eastern and Southern boundries the border with Malaysia.

South Western boundry 07 41N and 118 15E then South to the border with Malaysia.

Note: For years this has been a strongly recommended No Go area. The major difference is it now appears all vessels will be removed if the recommendation is ignored.

2. The North Eastern side of Borneo has been debated safe or unsafe. Sandakan and Tawau are tempting passage stops. It appears now more sailors believe them too close to problem areas in the Philippines.

3. If you are coming up from the South East, checking in at Davao on Mindano Island is considered safe. It is also BTW a good spot to regalvanize chain. 55PHP per Kilo.

4. Check in at Cebu / Mactan Island is mainly a problem owing to strong tide currents. Do not leave vessel unattended. Read my report on Noonsite.

5. You can check in at Dumaguete on Negros after anchoring / mooring at Bonbonon Bay 09 03N and 123 07E. Do not attempt to enter at low tide or storm conditions. Anchor if need be at 09 03.42N and 123 06.15E. A vessel ran aground this year attempting to enter in a storm and the family was lucky to live.

6. If approaching from the South West, be advised that the Philippine Coast Guard has been allowing vessels to stop in Balabac before checkin. 07 60N and 117 04E. Anchor in bay. Go meet officials at their vessel and provide details and plan. If you want to see some sites or dive in area, hire local operator.

7. Most sailors check in at Puerto Princesa on East Coast of Palawan. Stay well off shore and make no stops until you are at least as North Rasa Island. A stay no more than two nights is considered safe. Rasa is a bird sanctuary. Do not go ashore without a guide. BTW My particular vessel is never left alone. A squall came directly up the channel here and engine assist was needed to hold anchor. 09 13.9N and 118 24.5E. Ask for and find Coast Guard official in Nara town.

8. It isn't a big danger, however just so you know around 09 30.8N and 118 49.3E you may find your boat turns a 180.

9. When checking into Puerto Princesa you can anchor in front of the town or at the yacht club. Please be aware your vessel may be at great risk. If at dusk, many bugs start landing on your vessel they are likely to be termites. Termites cause more damage and cut short more cruising adventures than humans.

p.s. Tabon Caves are cool. Ask to see the giant skull and elephant sculptures I found.

Other recommendations:
A. Don't fear a small fishing boat that is offering to sell you a fish. About 200 PHP per kilo is a fair price.
B. Have small bottles of local whiskey to give as gifts.
C. Smile

Philip B. Maise
Hot BuoysSV., Volcano Hawaii






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Old 21-08-2014, 04:54   #2
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Re: Safely sailing in the Philippines

The alternate route up from Malaysia is along the West coast of Palawan. It is a good route as you can see the three major attraction. Tabon Caves, The Underground River and El Nido.

I anchor near 09 12N and 117 50E. Best approach at low tide so you see reef. You want it on your port side. C

There is a small village about 200m inland. Locate shop owners Bonny and Desia. They can arrange motor bike to Quezon town and someone to watch your boat if you like. Sign into guest book.

In Quezon town, first go to Tabon Cave Museum. They will arrange a boat ride to the caves. Stop and say hello to coast guard.

Back at the small town find Nana by the beach. Say hello from me. A book maybe? The single room home across from her is interesting to see. That family has 14 children. All seemed happy.

A new don't miss gem is a European gentlemen who amassed the world's largest collection of nautical book marks that identify the book's owner. Today we just write our name on the inside cover or rubber stamp. Back then it was art.

Hug land to starboard coming into stop for underground river. Chat with Coast Guard.

Note you are not checking in with them.

One option to officially check in may be to bus across to Puerto Princesa. I have not tried it.

Instead I came in Cebu.

If I had to pick again it would be PP or Dumaguete on Negros.

Where you hast checked in you check out.

Notes: Stay clear of Port Barton and a full 15 nm to the North too shallow

Up in Coron nasty reefs directly in line with peer. Must go far right. Just beyond peer more reefs.







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Old 23-08-2014, 04:13   #3
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Re: Safely sailing in the Philippines

We had absolutely no problems at Port Barton, or anywhere to the north, other than keeping a very sharp eye out for the pearl farms. April 2014. Did not find any hard-to-see reefs on the approach to Port Barton, as had been reported in various guides, and while you do need to anchor a far way out it is excellent holding and an easy dinghy ride in. Caltex fuel station ten steps off the beach, reasonable provisioning, fresh whole wheat bread.
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Old 23-08-2014, 04:19   #4
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Re: Safely sailing in the Philippines

We had super calm conditions at Sabang (the underground river) so anchored off the lovely beach and took the "charter" passenger van into PP to check out. Cost something like 1000 pesos, 1.5 hours each way, comfortable and right on time. Plenty of anchorages as you head south, including the shallow bay in front of Quezon. You must anchor quite far out and excellent holding and protection, and your last chance to stock up on 70 peso rum. We had checked into the Philippines one month earlier at Boracay, again a totally hassle-free experience. Had a ball in Boracay, plan to return next year.
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