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Old 06-03-2011, 09:02   #1
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Hong Kong to Philippines via Taiwan

Ahoy threadmates:

In the hope of receiving as much advice as possible, I am posting the below as a new thread, some of which has already been noted on the HK to Manila thread. Please excuse any partial duplication.

My situation is that I will be purchasing a MacGregor 26 in Macao and sailing / motoring it back to PI based on the conditions I encounter, and taking as much time as I need to get the boat safely "home" to the Phillipines. Since the Mac is not exactly a blue water cruiser, my route of choice was to use the SW monsoon to "harbor hop" on a WNW course, from HK up to the head just south of Shantou China (a place called Gangliao Wan). From there, almost the same heading will take me across the Taiwan straits to Pescador Island (about a 175 mile passage); then I'll tack or motor down the Taiwan coast to Tainan, Kaoschiung, and Kenting, before heading south to the Phillipines with stops in the Batanes Islands.

Probably the best idea would be to use the tail end of the SW monsoon in October or so to sail up the China coast. Then, I would dally in Taiwan for as long as necessary, in order to catch the NE monsoon south.

However, another plan I have is to do the same trip in the pre-typhoon season, starting a WNW course around May 1. In this way, I could enjoy the relative calm seas and balmy weather that is prevalent at that time of year. The problem with that route is that the final leg of the journey (from Kenting Taiwan to Appari, PI) involves island hopping a significant distance, most of which would have to be managed while heading almost straight into the SW monsoon. I am wondering how difficult that might actually be.

As an American living in Luzon, my experience is that the SW monsoon is not as strong as the NE monsoon. Also, I would be sailing a Mac 26 motor sailor which sports a 50 hp outboard motor, and, if worse came to worse, I could simply motor south from Kenting for most of the way to Aparri.

I am wondering what your take on such a course might be, and I have attached a sketch of the route along with this message to help clarify the detail and "stop overs". A key concern for me is whether sailing or motoring some 200 miles into the SW monsoon in mid-late May could prove overly daunting. Cross currents in the straits could possible compound the problem.

Also, I have heard that anchoring out along the China coast is not a problem, but that putting into port can be extremely expensive. Wondering if anyone knows if the Chinese authorities/Navy will bother us for anchoring out a couple of days before the actual passage across the straits.

As far as the Phillipinos are concerned, there seems to be no problem anchoring out in the Batanes islands on the way down from Kenting, as long as one does not go ashore. In fact, I have heard that there is really no problem going ashore as well, if "emergency" supplies are needed. The first port for clearing customs is my final destination "Aparri", so my main concern would be adequate overnight anchorages in the Batanes.

A final concern is maintaining radio contact with Chinese officials in case of an emergency, and maintaining internet contact along the China coast in order to check weather sites and the like.

Whatever details anyone could provide on any of the above would be greatly appreciated. Lots of questions to answer before I decide on the feasibility of this route, and, of course, some of these may go beyond the scope of this thread, but perhaps folks can at least help to "point me in the right direction".

Check my route below, and feel free to comment as appropriate.

Thanks to all for the insights provided on this thread,

G2L
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Old 06-03-2011, 17:02   #2
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Re: HK to PI via Taiwan

I'm sure more knowledgeable people will respond, but I would be very careful "just" anchoring in Chinese waters. I would guess that they will take an interest in you very soon. I am very interested what is the real situation in China.
Personally I have serious doubts about this trip, but people have crossed seas in much less suitable boats. And after all MacGregor floats even when full of water, right?
You probably will carry registered epirb as the last resort. I wouldn't rely on VHF, because SOLAS ships don't have to listen to it anymore and the Chinese fishermen won't understand, unless you speak Chinese (same for Taiwan). Actually I wouldn't count on many of the "officials" to understand either. Some people carry sat phone, you can borrow one, but they seems unreliable.
I think you could actually make it with a bit of luck. E.g. we have crossed from Bolinao to HK in late June and the sea was almost flat for 3 out of 4 days. Of course, then a tropical storm went through. It can get very bumpy in NE monsoon especially.
For weather, we are very satisfied with our NAVTEX receiver (our is from NASA Marine, Clipper something). We have regularly received messages from 300-400nm. I think that's all one needs.
As for Taiwan, the boat can stay as long as you want (in international ports like Kaohsiung, Kenting, not sure about Tainan, but I think that one too). They like you to let them know in advance, but it's no big trouble even when you come unannounced. See noonsite for contacts. With a small boat like yours, you should be able to find a spot, but it's getting more and more crowded here.
I wonder what is the boats range under power and how much gasoline (and water) you can carry and what that additional weight will do to the boat.
Does it have some autopilot? Will you have another crew to steer?
Generally, motoring is dauting, but one gets used to it (of course I don't know about MacGregor). In SW monsoon be prepared for plenty of that. Especially because MacGregor does not go well to weather, as I hear. And you want your passages quick. Especially from Taiwan, because there you have just few days (2-4?) before a storm hits you once you learned about one.
Also I wander how reliable is the steering. I have no personal experience with them, I have only seen few here in Taiwan. You probably want to prepare emergency steering if it breaks down.
Have you considered shipping it? I believe it fits the large containers. The most expensive part of shipping is the paperwork. You'll have your boat much faster where you want it and certainly safer.
Good luck
Petr
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Old 06-03-2011, 17:32   #3
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Re: HK to PI via Taiwan

My own experance of the Chinese coast guard is if your out far enough they are not intrested bar a "drive by" ( on a couple of ocasions we were buzzed by by a torpedo boat within 10 meters of our hull, one by day the other by night, no sign of the crew they just wanted to see under what flag we were sailing (KIWI)
However you dont want to enter their ports, way to expensive and you need to have an agent set up your arrival ( was held for 6 days because we came in 12 hrs early due to storm front $$$ ouch) if you go as high as Qingdao i sugest you use the Rizhao port as they love sailing boats and have everything set up for international boats. full compliance cost in 2008 was 2000rmb we stayed for 4 months.

If you cross from Tiwain try Ishgaki island, a realy nice local sailing comunity.

have a great trip
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Old 08-03-2011, 07:22   #4
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HK-PI via Taiwan - On your questions ...

Hi Klubko,

Thank you so much for your reply. This is exactly the kind of info I need.

In reply to your questions, the following apply:

1. I have heard that, if you anchor just a hundred yards off shore, in the HK area, in a relatively isolated spot, the Chinese authorities will not bother you. However, that is just scuttlebut. Not sure of the actual situation. Regarding further up the coast, I haven't heard anything, which is why I, like you, am interested.

2. Good point on the Mac 26, or, at least Roger would agree. Since I plan to fill the hull with Jerry cans full of extra gas, that should help by creating ballast when I'm afloat, and floatation if I sink (gas is lighter than water right? : ) As per your related question, it will indeed slow the boat down under sail and under power. Also, I am going to have to place it and secure it well, so as to not create instability (already and issue with the MacGregors) and to not significantly undermine how the boat handles

3. Seriously good point on the China officials, communication problems etc. This could be the greatest obstacle I might face. I hope that more folks like you and Lyndon, with actual experience jogging up the coast, can give us more insight on this one. If worse came to worse, I could make the first 150 miles along the China coast sailing day and night. I am a bit worried about that however, for fear of running into coastal traffic, unlit fishing boats, and relatively invisible fishing nets.

4. Thanks for the tips on the weather and Taiwan. I have looked at Noonsite and found it very helpful regarding such issues. Regarding the boat, the steering is OK; there is an autopilot, and I plan to have crew aboard. Emergency steering is a concern, but, in fact, I may simply buy a small outlboard, which I can hand-steer as a backup. I would add a second, small motor mount before leaving Macao, and I would use that for a quick, emergency motor "installation" if the main outboard failed. Still working on that idea.

5. Shipping is a "no go" for reasons explained on the dollars and cents thread.

6. If, for one reason or another, the entire deal or plan falls apart, I have considered shopping around Taiwan for a Mac or a shoal-draft pocket cruiser, so I would really like to keep in touch. Perhaps you could help me find another, suitable craft, if my current deal falls through. Also, I have contacted some kiteboarders in Tainan for their take on the weather and wind in May and would like to talk to more locals (hopefully sailors) about such stuff. PM me with a phone number or email address, if you are so inclined. In the meanwhile, I will try to contact you via private messaging as well.

Thanks sincerely for all your help.

G2L
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Old 08-03-2011, 07:35   #5
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Re: HK to PI via Taiwan

Thanks Lyndon,

I am aware of those unbelievable rates charged to enter the established ports on the China coast, which is why I have developed this "anchor out" strategy which I am not exactly sure will work. : 0

I definitely sympathize with your situation and have read on Noonsite that agents in Xiamen charge a flat $1,000 US fee, making a one day stay cost something like $1,687 US. Apparently, the Chinese port officials generally treat yachtsmen like commercial captains, and the exorbitant fees are applied across the board. Very scarry !!!!

Thanks for your insights, and I will consider them seriously before making any final decisions. Given your experience, it might be smart for me to make that first 150 miles along the China coast, by sailing round the clock.

Regarding that option, what about night time hazards along the coast, like commercial vessels and fishing boats and nets? How far off shore would you suggest going, and what would the winds and currents be like in May, sailing WNW along the China coast?

Any help you could offer would be greatly appreciated.

Best regards,

G2L
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Old 08-03-2011, 14:33   #6
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Re: HK to PI via Taiwan

I sailed from Ishigaki (Japanese Island close to Taiwan) north to Weihai (Shandong) 1000 NKm non stop it took 9 days with 3 days of that with no wind, just sat their which was lovely. This was in June 2008 and the day after we left the Island was struck by the seasons first cyclone.

The Japanese coast guard was awesome and flew over us every day in their Lear jet! and redirected a commercial fisherman to bring us a copy of a weather fax.

Like you I had to make some financial decisions regarding what to spend money on. I had to chose between a radar or an eperb,
a french sailor friend asked me if i wanted the ambulance at the bottom of the Cliff ( eperb) or the police car at the top ( radar) have to say the radar was the right decision. ( I had a sat phone, and not a hand held one which was a waste of money, was promised coverage, managed to make 3 calls in 9 days). To all those who will now right in .... I wont go to sea again with out an epirb...

I recommend you get across to the Japanese side asap as you will receive much more care and if you do set off an eperib you are more likely to get a response.

Having the radar was awesome to overlay the gps chart, would not do it without. However the radar doesn't work on some smaller Chinese wooden fishing boats, they do however have a 40wat light bulb set up on deck... maybe... If they are under steam they make a clear thump thump thump as the diesel engine runs on its one cylinder. If you are running on diesel they are happy to sell to you.

Also long line nets are set all over the place and lots of chart unmarked wreaks lie about normally with a boy /light boundary run around them ( these boys/lights are too far apart we felt and heard the keel scrape the cable going into one of these areas and upon leaving) all this was when we crossed over into Chinese waters above Shanghai.

So again i would cross as soon as possible into Japan waters. The current charts I can not find but if you are out in the middle it doesn't matter.

Have you considered buying from Japan, what is your budget? and ideal boat? if its in the 30' range there are some very sea worthy boats for a great price to be found. www.japanboats.com is one place to try.

good luck

lyndon
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Old 08-03-2011, 19:30   #7
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Re: HK to PI via Taiwan

Yes,

I have heard great things about Ishigaki. Been to Okinawa - loved it.

I have thought of Japan and checked out that site you noted a few months back, but did not find anything of interest. I'll check again, however, on your recommendation.

Have also looked into buying in Taiwan, which is closer to home, and that may be the best option for me.

Thanks for the China Coaster tips : )

Best regards,

G2L
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Old 09-03-2011, 01:54   #8
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Re: HK to PI via Taiwan

so sorry for the link, i just had a look, there is not much there that is price competitive. I bought my 44' through them back in 2008 and got an unbelivale deal (20k) that has given us a lot of joy. At that time there were 30' that were praticaly being given away. now it is not the case sorry for the bum steer.

LT
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Old 10-03-2011, 11:50   #9
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Re: HK to PI via Taiwan

No prob,

Any advice is good advice. It's all about the journey.

Best regards,

AB
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