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Old 05-01-2011, 20:58   #1
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Passage Planning: Philippines to Japan

I've just started seriously doing some planning (I hope to be departing in June of 2012). I'm looking at cruising through the Philippines, then island hopping to Japan via the route indicated in the image (in dark green; the light green was another option I was considering).

Now, tropical storm season for the area shaded is from June to December. So my thinking was to arrive in the Philippines around January 1 and depart Japan for the west coast of the United States around June 1. That would give me five months. The potential problem I see is that, according to some research I've done, the prevailing winds appear to be out of the north/northeast from January to March.

For those who have cruised this area during this time, do the prevailing winds pose a problem for the intended route?

Thanks.

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Old 05-01-2011, 21:07   #2
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Depends on what time of year you are planning to go whether the weather poses problems or not. This year the North Easterlies seem to be real strong due to El Nino year. We are planning your track that goes via Guam. But we are still in Busuanga. Just got beat up trying to head a bit north east towards Puerto Galera and finally turned around.

The right hand trip is hard to Guam as you have to head so far south, that is why people go to Pulau on the way. After Pulau you continue south and east until you feel you have enough angle to make Guam. From Guam it is easy to do the rest of the route. But pick your seasons.

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Old 05-01-2011, 23:12   #3
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Hi Jay,

I live in the Philippines and have cruised all those waters since 1994 so I can give you some detailed thoughts.

But it is not clear to me which direction you are coming from towards the Philippines or Palau, as it changes many things to find a workable solution?
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Old 06-01-2011, 09:36   #4
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Thanks for the replies.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pelagic View Post
But it is not clear to me which direction you are coming from towards the Philippines or Palau, as it changes many things to find a workable solution?
I was thinking of approaching the southern Philippines from Borneo or Celebes around the beginning of January and cruising northward through the islands. After a couple of months, I would then head to Palau, Yap, the Northern Mariana Islands, and then turn north toward Japan.

One interesting thing I'm learning is that often the best time to go in terms of prevailing winds is during tropical storm season. One example is that I wanted to visit Oman and then explore the western coast of India. Traveling from Madagascar or the Comoros Islands, the best time in terms of prevailing winds, would be from April to September. However, the season for tropical storms for that region is from May to June/October to November. I'm starting to think that maybe you don't just automatically discount sailing in/through a region during tropical storm season. Maybe you can, but you just need to be careful.
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Old 07-01-2011, 16:19   #5
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north/northeast is right and if your boat is a 28ft you can forget about it.you will be on a lee shore all the way with stong currents as well...I beat into strong wind,current and wave for a day and a night on a 35 ft at the bottom of the Davao gulf,only to find myself in the same spot the next morning...i had to turn around and gather myself in a protected bay near General santos...originally,my plan was very similar to yours (light green option) except that i started from western australia.i end up going thru the sulu sea and up the east coast of luzon...end up in Hong Kong somehow !...go with the flow,i'd say...going north/east in these waters is hard work unless you're protected by some land mass and all the straits and channels between islands are funnelling some unpredictable currents...you definitely feel like a cork floating around...tense fun !!!?...
the other boat i was cruising with for a while did go to japan through the taiwan strait without drama except having to dodge a million fishing boats with dim lights(or none at all...)
fair wind
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Old 07-01-2011, 18:32   #6
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Pelagic and others,
I plan to leave Thursday island, North Australia in April (after cyclone season)
First port, Meurake, Irian Jaya en route to Ambon, Manado, Indonesia and then Sandakan Malaysia to Palawan Phillipines.
Hope to be in the central Phillipines by August? and will stay a while.

I have a 42ft motor/ sailor Trimaran with a 1 ft draft.
We have plenty of time, and are in no hurry.
We hope to island hop as much as possible

Any suggestions from other cruisers who have been in this area.
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Old 07-01-2011, 19:39   #7
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You might take a look at the website of "Alishan" www.syalishan.com - they have done the Phils-Japan trip a couple of times and their site is quite detailed with lots of dialogue, photos, maps etc.
Cheers!!
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Old 07-01-2011, 20:54   #8
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since it's in your way,try to make a stop in BANDA NERA in the moluccas.friendly and cheap.you anchor anywhere you can when you arrive and a guy in a dinghy appears from nowhere to show you where the "yacht club" is ,then helps you tie your line(s) to a big tree !!!...just in front,free !...they will wash your clothes,bring you dinner on board,organize trips around the place without you asking anything...amazing.

-if you deal with officials in Ambon ,expect a bad attitude and corruption.they will invent special stamps you absolutly need to pay for...they will even give you a receit for it !!!?give it a wide berth if you can...i beleive you can clear in Manado.

-I didn't go to Manado,but the HALMAHERA group offers good secluded anchorages with free fresh spring water(the locals know where...)and you'll be able to see some of the last orang utang in the wild.

-TIDORE and TERNATE are interesting "old dutch"places but watch out for mad russian cargo ship coming to load copra with no chart and no pilot !...at night !!!...friendly but mad...

I don't want to write a book about the philippines,so to the main points i remember :
-puerto princesa itself is not a good anchorage.there is a small bay on the port side when you arrive in the PP bay ,shallow but a lot better...
-remember palawan still has a lot of yellow fever,cholera etc...be carefull...
-ARACELI on DUMARAN island is a beautifull place to snorkel and get local produce from the market...don't be too eager or the locals will offer you a dead /skinned white dog-they are the best- for dinner (you still got to cook it !!!...)
-CORON on BUSUANGA island is very spectacular-especially the enclosed bay-but not very good anchorage close to town (a lot of rubbish)
-i'll finish this with the must see on the MINDORO side.two crazy frenchman bought this island and turned it into a "family style resort",if you can imagine it !?...it's bordering a nature reserve on one side,so it's a diving paradise.good anchorage,good food,friendly helpfull owners,they will bring you to town and back (by boat)to provision...they also have diving trips to APO reef national park try it...it's called PANDAN island-near SABLAYAN

anyway,you'll have a wonderfull time wherever you go around these waters.the locals have very little, but they'll give you everything (especially in Indonesia).instead of trying to pay for everything they gave me,i had heard that they were short on rice ,sugar and salt,cookies.so i stocked up in Australia and"exchanged" for what they had...i end up with 25 kg bags of mangoes,coconuts,squids,one live chook in a box and i had to leave in a hurry before they sank the boat...

AND THAT WAS A "QUICK REPLY" !!!...
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Old 07-01-2011, 21:46   #9
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ICIELA,
Thank you for that, it was precisely the sort of information I was looking for.
I used to have a Hammock importing business that went out of business. I have lots of hammocks left over, I intend to take a number with me and give them out as gifts.

Please supply more information I love it all.

We are currently learning a bit of bahasa indonesian.

Any other "gifts" you can recommend, we were told crayons and those solar garden lights.
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Old 08-01-2011, 02:23   #10
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learning bahasa indonesia is good.easy enough to pick up and one word is usually all the locals need to make the whole sentence...if you're planning to cruise off the tourists'itinerary,you'll mainly deal with fishermen and village folks.they don't communicate in english.
the garden lights , the hammock and the crayons are nice but these won't feed the family and again,on small islands,supply is what is lacking.they have one cargo PER MONTH (in fine weather...),the whole family camps on the beach-sometimes for a week or more- waiting for the boat to be the first to get the good stuff.hard to believe but rice, which is the main food,is expensive (for the locals) and it's third grade ****...that goes for a lot of products priced for the locals .indonesia has very good cofe,but the locals loved my instant crap...with 8 spoonfulls of sugar !!!...canned corn beef from the army canteen is a luxury !!!...definitely bring extra food and every body loves cookies everywhere...
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Old 10-01-2011, 13:04   #11
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Before getting into specifics about places, choosing the best weather time for cruising thru the Philippines (South to North) is your most important decision.

Keep in mind, there are strong currents meeting from the Pacific/China and Sulu Seas within the Islands to set up some really nasty sharp action with opposing winds, so don’t expect to beat into it with a smaller yacht or multihull and win.

Ideally you want to make your northing during the late stages of the SW monsoon period (July to October), when it transitions into NE monsoon by November. You can leave earlier in the Monsoon as long as you monitor Typhoon formation in the Pacific

Typhoons can happen in any month so once you get above 10 degrees you are always measuring distances to Typhoon Shelters by choosing a passage that harbor hops thru the islands rather than long exposed routes.

Just like the Caribbean with the Xmas Trades, December/ January can blow hard NE as the monsoon establishes itself. So this is a good time to tie up …see the sights and enjoy the festivities

March to June is my favorite cruising period as by April, transitional winds or calms opens up some really beautiful anchorages.

If you are heading to Japan, leaving the Phils in April can get you into the Cherry Blossoms Season as you head North

I like Beau’s idea to stay a while. There is so much to see, you can not do it in just one season without feeling that you have just done a delivery

Kudat is my favored departure from Borneo towards the Philippines as it is a lovely place with convenient clear out and very friendly people.
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Old 02-03-2011, 14:49   #12
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Re: Passage Planning: Philippines to Japan

Hi all,

interesting discussion. I'm going to buy a boat which is located in Japan and want to go to the Philippines.
It seems to me that going via Taiwan would be the best choice but what time of the year is best?
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Old 05-03-2011, 09:32   #13
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HK to PI via Taiwan - For Triton, Pelagic, et. all

Triton - Good Questions,

I am also planning a less adventurous trip over some of the same territory, and, since everyone on the thread seems to have significant experience cruising the China Sea and PI, I was hoping to get some feed back as well.

I will be purchasing a MacGregor 26 in Macao and sailing / motoring it back to PI based on the conditions I encounter. Since the Mac is not exactly a blue water cruiser, I am planning 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; 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.

I like Pelagic's idea of using 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 only problem is that the last stretch (from Kenting Taiwan to Appari, PI) involves 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.

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 everyone's take on such a course might be, noting that the only significant passage would be a 175 mile passage from the China coast to Pescador Island and a 125 mile or so passage from Kenting, Taiwan to Basco Island in the PI. A key concern for me is whether sailing or motoring some 200 miles into the SW monsoon in 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".

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. I tried to attach a map with my route below, but unfortunately the file was too big to load onto this site. Will try to add a smaller version soon. Please consider the questions above, and feel free to comment as appropriate.

Thank you all for the insights provided on this thread,

Best regards,

Gone2long
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Old 05-03-2011, 09:35   #14
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Re: Passage Planning: Philippines to Japan

Iciela,

Great insights. Check my post at the bottom of the thread, and please offer any advice which you might consider relevant.

Best regards,

Gone2long
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Old 05-03-2011, 09:40   #15
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Re: Passage Planning: Philippines to Japan

Pelagic,

Certainly good advice to Triton regarding typhoon season. Ive witnessed a number of "off season" typhoons in the area over the last 10 years. Not only that, but their courses seem to be less predictable of late, and, in general, they seem to originate a bit further north.

Please check my post at the bottom of the thread, and offer any advice which you might consider relevant.

Best regards,

Gone2long
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