We anchored outside the Cebu Yacht Club on Mactan Island. It was pretty easy to get around from there as we could leave the dinghy inside the yacht club (for 200 pesos per day) and catch a taxi or jeepney just up the street. While there, we took a tour of the Mactan Guitar factory famous for Alegre guitars, shipped worldwide.
Cruiser Notes: 10 19.7N; 123 58.4E Outside of the Cebu Yacht Club. The Yacht Club is small and crowded and expensive. They charge 4,000 pesos for the first 10 days whether or not you stay the whole 10 days, then 5,000 pesos for the next week, then 3,500 pesos per day after that. It was safer to bring the dinghy in there than leaving it out by the restaurant as the pier would dry out at low tide and the kids from the stilt village use the pier as a diving platform. For that, they charge 200 pesos per day, but we call that insurance. Broadwater has a store in the yacht club grounds. There's a taxi stand just up the street at the corner, a very good supermarket, lots of restaurants, and a laundry about 2 blocks away, just past the skywalk. You can get a taxi or jeepney into town very easily. We checked out from Cebu. They have a bad reputation but we weren't sure we could make it to Surigao in time before the holidays so we toughed it out in Cebu. The customs office is near the airport, so from the yacht club it is a short taxi ride or within walking distance. The officer looked at our paperwork, kind of gave it some thought, then said, "I think I'll charge you 1,500 pesos." I was actually relieved at that because we've heard some stories where people were charged much more and given a hard time, to boot. But when I handed him the three 500 peso bills, he promptly put 2 of them in the desk drawer, gave the other one to his aid to go to the cashier and the aid brought back the receipt and 350 pesos in change. Which means, the actual charge to clear customs should be 150 pesos. Good luck to you if you think you can beat them at their game. Then it was on to the other den of thieves, immigration, which is a taxi ride away in Mandaue. There the officer took us to a back room, asked us how much the customs guy charged and sniffed when I told him 1,500 pesos. He then said he would charge us 3,000 but I protested and said I didn't have that much, which was true. He then asked, "How much do you have?" and lowered his fee to 2,500. I still protested as it would not leave me any money for a taxi, so he pretended to have a conference call with his boss, and then said it would be o.k. to pay 2,200. I handed him 2,000 and told him that was all. He stamped and we left, frustrated, a little angry, but also laughing at the outright bald faced corruption.
After retrieving our laundry we decided to head up to Port Carmen to stay at Zeke's boatyard while we waited for our sail. Good thing, too as a big storm developed in the Pacific and headed straight at us. We prepared for the worst, but for us we had a miss (good as a mile) and it went down to Mindanao and across to Puerto Princessa. The town of Cagayan de Oro suffered greatly on the west side of Mindanao with flash floods that killed nearly 1,000 people and wiped out whole villages. We didn't even get any significant rain. On our way up we had some company. We don't see this often anymore.
We were snug as a bug in Zeke's basin,. which was two-blocked with boats and he crammed us and another boat in with a unique tie up. We were against a catamaran, which dwarfed us, and behind a small power boat. Later we moved farther into the basin when a spot came open.
We had a nice neighbor, Jun Jun, who worked on the catamaran. At one point, I noticed he was watching movies on a small disk player and asked him if wanted more movies. He jumped at the offer as he was watching, it turned out, the same movies over and over again.
Zeke himself is a real character. He arrived in the Philippines by sailboat 20 years ago, found a wife, decided to stay and has built this boatyard of his over time. Now he has two basins full of boats. He does all sorts of boatwork, all in the water, except for a grid where he can haul a boat out for a short period. Recently he added a club house to his property and serves a few meals; no menu, just what he happens to get at the market. We had some great times there as many of the yachties go up around 5:00 for a beer and to get dinner. Beer, wine and meals were very reasonable.
We managed to get into Cebu once while out there at Zeke's. Its a process. First walk up to the road, then flag down a bus that's headed to Cebu. Packed like sardines, the bus ride was nearly 2 hours due to heavy traffic and many stops to pick up or drop off passengers. Finally, we reached our destination......a busy street with nothing there. No worries, a taxi showed up and we hopped in to go the rest of the way to the old sector of Cebu where we visited a couple of churches and a replica of Magellan's Cross.
10 34.59N; 124 02.28E – marking the entrance to the harbor. This position gets you through the reef into Port Carmen, then you curve left, keeping in between the fish traps. We had a low of 7 feet on our depth sounder at low tide. Zeke charged us 3,500 pesos for two weeks. He charges everyone the same rate irrespective of size. You can get a lot of things done at Zeke's but it isn't easy. We used the water out of the hose, others warned against it, however, we added a dollop of bleach to each tank and we've had no problems. We'll let you know if we grow horns in the near future, though. There is also an anchorage off Port Carmen, there were several catamarans there, so not sure of the depths. There's laundry in Danao and a big Gaisano department store with a supermarket. You need to get fresh foods at the town markets, there's one in both Danao and Port Carmen. Some fast food places in Danao. You can also arrange to get laundry done at Zeke's, some independent women come and fetch it. Bottled water is delivered regularly if you prefer that route.
We finally received our sail, broke camp (so to speak) after buying some fresh honey delivered right to the boat, and headed to Surigao where we would wait for a perfect, or nearly so, weather window to cross to Palau. This is where things get difficult as from now on and until we reach Hawaii in the next couple of years we are going against the wind or going where there is very little wind and we will depend on motoring to get us from island to island in the equatorial belt.
We have been visited while at anchor in Surigao by these young boys who paddle out on homemade paddle boards to visit the ferries that come and go and challenge passengers to throw coins that they catch in little nets. You can hear their chatter as they kick their way across the bay. Some of them have small, hand made, wooden "fins". Others just frog kick. Amazing how they "recycle" everything they can here. Some of the boys float on rice bags filled with styrofoam chunks. When they came by us we threw candy.
We have waited for nearly a week in Surigao for this weather window and finally we have it. Now we have to time our passage through the Hinatuan Straits with the tides and tomorrow we will be out to sea. While here we celebrated Christmas, a kind of lonely one, but we decorated a little and had a real turkey dinner with some of the trimmings and a lemon meringue pie. My meringue did not whip into peaks this time, so it was kind of flat but the lemon parts the best anyway so all was good. We had problems with our computers so we could not Skype our daughters but did manage to "chat" for quite a while. We were comforted with the fact that they celebrated the holiday together in D.C. So as we leave, we wish everyone a Happy New Year. Ours will be at sea.
Cruising Notes: Surigao 09 46.754N; 125 99.992 We're anchored in Bilang Bilang Bay, just off the pier and out of the way of the ferries that come and go. We've been very comfortable here. The Petron station is only a few hundred yards from the point where we tied up our dinghy. Jim carried in 5 jerry jugs and a captain from one of the cargo bancas ordered his crew to grab the jugs and take them up to the station, fill them, and carried them back for Jim. Jim said he had to trot pretty fast to keep up with them. The captain, of course, charged a fee for this service but was well worth it. Tricycle taxis can be got there to get into town where there are a number of fast food franchises all within the same block. There's a new Gaisano store out of town, you need to take a multi van, usually marked gaisano or terminal, which pulls up in front of the fast food places. Cost is 9 pesos. I did laundry by hand on the boat with sufficient rain water this time.