Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Visiting the navy and express trip to Puerto Princessa

Oyster Bay (inside Ulugan Bay) is one of the safest places to leave the boat while traveling to Puerto, so that was what were were going to do. That is Oyster Bay's only plus side. The down sides are that it's 4 miles from the anchorage to where the jeepney leaves (in dinghy) and that there's only one jeepney that does the trip a day. The anchorage itself is very sheltered, basically typhoon safe. But, it's literally in the middle of nowhere. Except for the small navy station.

For some reason we though the village was actually in the bay where we were anchored, but a quick dinghy trip around revealed no village, so we decided to go ask the navy guys. There's this long pier and we could see a few buildings also, but weren't really sure what to expect, the guide book said they are unpredictable and vary from friendly and helpful to firing warning shoots! We waiting in the dinghy until somebody came to greet us before we jumped up. But, it turned out we were more than welcome. It's only six guys manning the station and they were thrilled to have visitors. So thrilled that in the couple of hours we were there, a bottle of tequila and half a bottle of brandy were comsumed :-) We don't think that was just because of us though, there were a lot of bottles around. They were super friendly though and spoke OK English.
They told us it was only half an hour's dinghy ride to the village from where there was transport to Puerto. It sounded like the first one was at 6am, maybe a van or something, and then a jeepney at 7am, so it was suggested we leave at 5.30, one of them was keen on a ride with us and could also guide us there. We asked several times if half an hour was enough, because our dinghy is very small and only has 2.5 hp, but they assured us it was fine.

Phil and I got up just after 5am next morning and went to pick up the navy guy and started our trip. Phew, an hour and fifteen minutes later we finally got there. The good thing was we didn't have to wait too long for the jeepney to leave, it was already pretty full too. Then it drove around and picked up fish in big containers, even full of water, it all went up the roof, but not without spilling a bit into the jeepney. All part of the Philipino jeepney experience.

Two hours later we arrived in Puerto but were told we had to be back at the terminal already at 12pm again, as it was the last (and only) jeepney. That only gave us three hours to a bunch of errands. Most important was getting our exit stamp in the passport. This went pretty smoothly, except when they asked where our boat was. We should just have said in the harbour or by the yacht club (in Puerto) but silly honest us, said it was in Oyster Bay on the west coast. We were then told that wasn't very good, and it would cost us some money (500 pesos, NZ$15) because if they had had to come see us, it would have been very expensive. Again it helped that we counter-argued (as nicely as we could) and said it made no sense, because we had actually come to them, and she quickly gave up and said, don't worry.

After this we didn't feel like going around to see more bureaucrats, so we decided to skip customs. We actually have a paper that says Foreign Port Clearance from Surigao City and all the old time cruisers here in Philippines told us it doesn't matter anyway and Malaysia will clear anyone in from the Philippines, whatever the papers.

We then went straight to the big mall, looked unsuccessfully for a Malaysia lonely planet and did a big shopping excursion at the supermarket and Phil had his beloved Jolliebee (fastfood like KFC). After this there wasn't much more time left before we had to be back at the bus terminal. We had hoped we could go see Janeth (from Diapila Bay who got a ride on Sophia to El Nido).

The jeepney was already over half full, but there was some disagreement as to when it's actually leave, some suggested more like 2pm! Janeth was a champ and made it to the bus terminal to see us off, it was good to see her again and a shame we didn't have more time. The jeepney did finally leave at maybe 1.15, after having huge amounts loaded on top of it (empty fish crates among other things) and more people than it's possible to imagine. When you think, now it's really full and it's no possible to squeeze another person in, yet another person does find room. This happened several times, and in the end our butts were squeezed so tight in it was barely possible to move (seating is two benches along each side of the jeepney). There was even a person sitting on the outside of the driver, so the driver was on a bit of an angle to the wheel and pedals!

Hours later were were back at Macaracas village and faced with another long dinghy ride back to Sophia. It was much less fun than in the morning (when it was dead calm flat water) as there was now a bit of a chop and our bodies were already stiff from the jeepney ride, but we made it back just before 6pm and quickly crashed.

Next morning I baked muffins and we went to say good bye to the navy guys. Two of them came back out with us in their landing craft to take photos of Sophia. They were extremely photo happy and probably ended up with 50 photos of Sophia, most of them with me and one of the guys posing together, it was definitely more fun to have me pose with them rather than Phil :-)

We are now a couple of stops further down the coast, by Quezon and Shawn (Ohlala) has caught up with us. He's going to Puerto from here. The anchorages here in south Palawan are not great (= rolly), the charts are not very good plus there are lots of reef and shoals. We're considering hopping straight to Kudat, however, there is mostly only wind during the day, not night, and we're not keen on that much motoring. Furthermore there is some smuggling going on between the two countries so it's best to do the passage in the day time. We'll probably end up continuing day hopping and should be in Kudat, Malaysia in 3-4 days' time.

We got up this morning at 5.30 in order to catch some better internet, but it's still hopeless, so still no photos.

No comments:

Post a Comment