Feb. 21, 2011
Port Bonbonon, Negros, Philippines

Hello Friends and Family,

I was joined Nov 2 in Majuro, Marshal islands by 21 year old family friend Forrest
Barker, taking a break from university for a shift in major and to get a 3100 mile
adventure sailing to Cebu in the Philippines. Should 3100 miles sound like a tough
first voyage note that Forrest is a high performance ski racer, rock climber, balloon
artist and life liver of the first order. Also sailing through Micronesia allows frequent
interesting stops. Our mileage runs to each of our visits were, Kosrae 509 miles,
Ponape 320, Puluwat 575, Lamotrec 170, Yap 515, Palau 265, Port Carmen
Philippines 765. Nice cruising for a sailor.

Kosrae is a lovely high island where we anchored in Lele Harbor on 11-8 after 4 days
of nice sailing and a night lay to in big squalls just before arriving. The place is so
nice, the people so welcoming, that I wondered why I had spent so long in Majuro.
We suggested to the Lele Major that he have a few moorings laid to get some yachts
there in the winter that are now in Majuro in growing numbers. There are two small
dive resorts on the island that offer good meals reasonably, fair shopping and two
large hardware stores.

Ponape is the Capital Island of The Federated States of Micronesia and has the
expected government bureaucracy requiring 3 hours to check in at the big
commercial dock after a lumpy passage just over 2 days. The anchorage was a bit
crowded but nice, the shopping good, the haircut a bargain. There is an immense
550 foot high, sheer rock wall to stbd as you enter the harbor. Forrest, the climber,
started planning to rappel off the rock to the bush below as soon as we anchored,
hunting climbing gear and figuring how to get enough rope by joining jib sheets to
the rope available. This all provided a lot of entertainment for we gray haired lesser
beings. The harbor has a run down hotel with restaurant and a Polynesian village
ashore that helped provide breaks from the heavy rains we experienced. One clear
day we took a van trip around the island that was a bit of a yawn except for the lunch
spot where Forrest entertained the staff with balloon tricks, a great girl attractor and
crowd pleaser.

We left Ponape in nice downwind sailing, much under spinnaker, planning to next
stop at Lamotrek, a seldom visited island where a traditional life is still lived. One
night we smelled what seemed to be hot electric connections. Finally the autopilot
gave it up, so we diverted to Puluwat, a beautiful small atoll with a very narrow
entrance and a lovely small lagoon 75% enclosed. Connectors had fried on the
autopilot power board, but we (thanks Forrest) were able to solder in repairs after a
lot of very careful work. We later ordered and received a spare board but the
autopilot continues to work just fine. Puluwat really offers no supplies or even an
emergence airstrip, but two pretty villages of nice people dressing in the Yapese
style (topless!).

After an overnight sail in overcast, squally weather we arrived Lamotrec and
anchored in front of the very nice village to be greeted by Francis, the preschool
head, who introduced us to the chief, Emanuel and his family. We gave the Chief a
small gift and effected a solar panel repair. The yacht Katie Lee and blown out its
mainsail just after leaving Ponape and were concerned they might have to power all
the way to Yap and might lack enough fuel. We agreed to wait and supply if needed,
so stayed a week in this wonderful place. We stayed active meeting everyone, going
to dinner at Francis’ house twice, attending Men’s House daily where Forrest was
able to amply sample local palm liquor and make balloons for many. Life here is very
traditional. On Sunday we went to church and I was the only person in the
congregation over age 5 clothed above the waist, very different from most Pacific
islands but sensible and attractive for some. On the other hand, the local school was
well equipment and many of the teachers were educated in US colleges, the rest on
Yap.  Almost all of the island cash came from the teachers, but was shared in this
one-talk communal society. Katie Lee arrived just before a government patrol boat
with some politicians who were visiting for a day. The boat sold Katie Lee the
needed fuel and two days later the Mainsail was temporarily repaired in the yard of
the primary school. After a day of fairly nice scuba diving and some study of the inter
island sailing canoes that are used here for some very long passages, we sailed for
Yap on 12-18.  The wind was very on-and-off but we completed the 515 miles in 3
days.

Yap is an unusual place. The anchorage is off Colonia, which is the only commercial
or governmental center on the island and almost no one lives there. Workers arrive
from villages in the morning and return after work to fairly traditional village life.  
Services were surprisingly good. At the fisheries shops I was ably to get Stainless
welding done, and haul outs can be done here at reasonable prices, though bottom
paint is rare on the island. Bo the grocery and hardware shopping are good. There is
limited restaurant choice, but at least one was very good. We celebrated Christmas
and New Years with the village of people from Lamotrec with whom we had friends
in common now. There was endless food. The buffet table contained many starches
and deserts but also 2-3 types of chicken, 3 pork dishes, two large turtles prepared
in 3 dishes, fish and squid. Celebration for the New Year was heavy in food and
traditional dancing. We did some reef snorkeling and found some nice coral, but not
much. Yap is a big rainy island.

The passage to Palau was good sailing by day and squally at night, two days. Palau
is a government nightmare. There were 7 officials on the very rough commercial pier
to check us in. The government fees were so many it is difficult to remember them
all, but it was over $300 and I hear a new $85 line securing fee was introduced after
we left. A friend grounded on the entrance to the yacht anchorage as the pass is
mismarked. The grounding spot had been hit many times but the government had
refused to restore the marks. While we were working on freeing the boat, police
appeared to send two divers down to survey damage to the coral and presented a
citation for $10,000. The fine will probably be settled for around $200. On the other
hand, the Rock Islands are beautiful and serene; fuel is easily available at Sam’s
Tours who work very hard to make the life of yachts better. Dive tours are very
reasonable, discounted for us and Sam’s provides moorings at no charge. It is a
very nice dive island, but I would not return.

On 1-21 we gratefully departed for Cebu, Philippines. We had a good, fast sail to Lete
Gulf, squally the last day, which seems to be common. Including the last 170 miles to
Port Carmen the passage was 4 days. On a windy approach to Pt Carmen, north of
Cebu City the transmission acted up. We did temporary fixing and were led through
the pass by a dingy from another yacht to find the anchor windless also failed. The
next day we went to Zeek’s marina where his people helped us in getting repairs at
low cost. Zeek really is very helpful and his staff of 35 is very good. The windlass
motor needed to be rewound, done in 3 days at a shop cost of $85...I like the
Philippines! Port Carmen has the small city of Denau nearby and bulletproof
typhoon storage for yachts. We motored the 22 miles to the Cebu Yacht Club where
we met guests George and Sue Tamblyn from Seattle. Cebu is a VERY busy large
city.

My guests arrived 2-6 and we headed south to the dive island Balicoote to moore
and dive two tanks then sail to Bonbonon where I now am. Forrest flew out to Santa
Fe on family matters. Tamblyns and I powered to Apo, an even better dive island, for
another two tanks and nice dinner, returning to Negros in the morning. They have
now flown out and I am relaxing contemplating the next chapter.

May we all sail faster than floating garbage, Denny Morgan

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