The passage was a fairly smooth one, except for the overheating engine and the broken autopilot. We hand steered the entire way, I did most of it during the day and Zach did most of it at night. This turned out to be extremely exhausting but at least the seas were small and the current and wind following which made it a little easier to steer. We had no squalls to speak of and for the most part the Pacific gave us a kind exit. We entered the Surigao Straights at about 5 am to catch the fair current and cruised into the inland seas of the Philippines.

The currents run very strong here, up to 4 knots on our way so as long as you catch the fair current passage is fast. The only problem is the large numbers of fishermen in nearly invisible dugout trimarans. You really don’t see them until you are right on top of them and sometimes they have long nets out. Zach tried to catch a net but we avoided it at the last minute and saw the buoys go down the side of the boat. The first night we anchored near Ichan on the Island of Leyte, near Asylum, a boat we met in Palau. The following day we made the 65 miles or so to Cebu. At first the wind was very light and we were not sure we would make it before dark, but then a squall came in and gave us the required wind to sail fast for a few hours. That was nice.

We anchored at the Cebu Yacht Club which is a really overpriced place. The next day we cleared though the required entrance agencies. The quarantine doctor was straight forward but everyone else wanted their “fee” to process the paperwork. It turns out that this is really a bribe or some graft, so after some arguing we were able to get the fee reduced, although we still had to pay, very frustratingly, but we were told to expect this. Needless to say the customs and the immigration officials where upset they didn’t get their usual $50 per boat.

We have stayed in Cebu much longer than we wanted, and probably the only positive is that I was able to repair the engine. It turns out that there was a massive clog on the engine inlet route, so after taking it apart, cleaning and back flushing, the engine pumps enough water and is cool again. Otherwise, we have had quite a bit of trouble here. One of the days the anchor drug, which has only happened a few times on this trip. Luckily the neighbors noticed and were able to rescue Slick. I wasn’t on board, but Zach was, so through a team effort the boat was re-anchored safely. There is loads of trash in the water, and I guess the bottom is made up entirely of plastic bags, which you see float by all day. Also, Duffy got loose twice, something that has never happened. Luckily the neighbors saw and brought him home, the other time was at the dinghy dock and he got retied. Also, Zach and I got food poisoning from the yacht club. So all in all, this has been a bit miserable. On top of that, there has been a series of lows move though giving us lots of wind to test the anchors, large ships go by at full speed throwing huge wakes making it all the more fun here, oh and the toilet clogged again.

On a positive note though, we went and saw the favorite after-church activity of Filipino men – cock fighting. I thought I would be a little disgusted by it, but it turned out to be more feathers than blood. Apparently the roosters don’t die every time and when they do it is fairly fast, since they are armed with 2-3 inches of razor on one of their spurs. We stayed for around three hours watching the fights. The gambling that goes on is incredible and the roosters are incredible fast. You really can not even see them move, it is just a blur of feathers and then one of them is laying on the ground. The betting was too confusing though so we opted out of that part of the experience.
Cebu is an interesting place though, mostly I think because it is a big city and we haven’t seen one of those in a long time. There is smog here, malls, traffic, and public transportation. The public transportation comes in the form of jeepnies, these little buses that I barely fit in. They are sort of like the collectivos of Central and South America but much smaller, still decorated just as loud though. The other thing you see a lot of here are very old western men with a very young Filipino girls. I title the picture to the left “Who Says Money Can’t Buy Happiness?”

All in all though, we have really spent too much time here and need to get moving. There are lots of things in the Philippines that I want to see but we only have 2 weeks left here on our visas and we need to be in Brunei by the 17th of March to pick up my friend who will ride with us to Singapore. “So we will have to skip too much. The one thing I really wanted to do was dive with whale-sharks but unless we can organize this somewhere else, it won’t happen.

We still wish we were in Palau though. The more I had time to think about it the more I realized that I left mostly because I have to finish this trip. When I was young I used to get in my car and drive in the largest circle I could. Now I am making about the largest circle I possibly can, and along with this I am very stubborn so I have to finish what I start. To me, it seems that if I would have stayed in Palau, and I may have stayed there forever, in which case I might as well have never left Boston.