May 1, Holiday on Tuesday, so ideal for a long weekend, except to my upcoming trip to Myanmar, for which I will have to leave on May 1. But at least by taking Monday off it is a three day weekend, good enough for a sail and to do some house spotting.
Another short notice short holiday
On Thursday last week we decided to go. Another IRRI friend thought about coming but then preferred to go to Anilao for diving. Luckily this time Mavic found a hotel room immediately.
We left on Saturday morning shortly after seven, as planned, and hoped that there would be less traffic than two weeks ago, when we had to face the “go to White Beach instead of Boracay” crowd. Traffic on the highway was bad again, but not that bad, so we were at Batangas port around 9:30. Indeed not as bad as last time but there was still a considerable crowd and we got a “Kissing lips” speed boat only at 11:15. The crossing was uneventful, but you don’t want to be on that boat when something goes wrong, 158 passengers all inside a narrow cabin and one exit in the front and one in the back.
Our boatman was on leave, but we were late anyway, texted the yacht club that we would sail the next day and checked into BadLadz Dive Resort just next to the coastguard office on the pier in Batangas. Nice Guesthouse with a Mexican restaurant that imports the beans and tortillas for their meals from San Diego. Lunch at Le Bistro on the pier and making plans for the weekend.
A sentimental trip to Sabang
The girls then went swimming at the Sand Bar and in the evening we took a “deadly tricycle” to a sentimental trip Sabang for beers at the Point Bar and maybe dinner at El Galleon. Sitting on the back seat I almost got my foot chopped off by vehicles driving on the opposite lane twice. And Iower back pain started creeping up, just in time to leave this dreadful vehicle. I had not entered Sabang from the landwards side since years and I think my last visit with Joe coming from the seaside was around 2 years ago. It was a downer. Lots of new concrete, crowded, sex tourism still the same, or even wors, it has just shifted from white old males to younger Asian males, Koreans mostly and a few Chinese judging from the few words spoken. One piece of good news, Sabang gets a sewage treatment plant, at least according to a big billboard on the beach. Frontier Divers was already closed and Rick had not responded to my earlier text, originally Miriam and I thought about diving Monday morning.
The Point Bar was quite empty, 5 guests, but looked very different. They had moved the bar from the back to the baluster, where the bar chairs used to be and one could just hang out and enjoy the evening view. Do drinks need a few? Only a short space is left to sit at the baluster. That ruins the Point Bar.
We did decide to go to El Galleon for Dinner. Antoine is not there anymore, he formally retired and is now living in Calapan. I ordered a Chocolate Mousse and a vanilla ice cream, Chocolate mousse being the best dessert the restarurant had to offer. Not anymore. Probaly because the chef is retired.
I then walked down Small Lalaguna beach. The small resort that used to be Sunsplash was quite busy, it was taken over by a Brit some years ago. It had people in the restaurant, a new bar and there was lots of seafood on display offered for BBQ. That was nice to see, I like the garden style place. Then Mabuhay, also busy with mostly Korean visitor. A new beach bar and a life band playing. But after that – a beach in distress. An empty lot, then Portofino all dark, palm tree branches on the ground, pool empty, no furniture outside, just in one room there was some dim light. What happened? This was a place where people bought apartments, embassy people and the likes. The Management then rented the apartments out for them when they were not around. Imagine we would have bought an apartment there, which at some point I at least theoretically considered. The next place, once called Banana Something, completely dark too and fenced in, with an old “for sale” sign on it. And Red sun, highly illuminated at the dive shop, but most rooms dark. What happended? Did this part of the beach get unlivable because of some deadly disease outbreak? Pollution? Or was it just too proper for today’s customers? Makes one re-think any idea to invest somewhere.
The next day – Sailing
Sailing the next day was great. While we had breakfast at the Yacht Club Neng collected motor, tank and the sails and then set us over to Magayon II. A bit of cleanup was needed since two beer cans left over from the Easter Regatta had exploded in the starboard hull, making it smell like a brewery. We got the boat ready, tightened the two inner aft cross beam lashings that had become loose during the last sail with David, and then detached from the mooring. Another Wharram entered the port and docked at a buoy. Slightly bigger than ours and with modifications that imply longer voyages. We circled once around it on our way out but only a Pinoy boatboy showed his face. A French flag flying on its stern. The modifications did not make it look much better.
We set sails in the bay and then sailed out eastwards through Manila Channel. All the way to white beach, further to Aninuan beach and Infinity beach and around a mile further. Then turned around and tacked back, which took around 2 hours. We intended to stop at a beach for some swim but not knowing the rules for anchoring and using buoys decided to inquire about those first.
This time we took up the challenge and tacked against the wind through Manila Channel. It reminded me a lot of tacking up the Krka in Croatia, once you tacked you had to get immediately ready for the next tack because the narrow channel does not allow long legs. In addition there was heavy Bangka traffic with boatmen who did not seem to know that sailing boats have the right of way. Several times we had to give way and lost valuable height. Anyway, we did it and it was good fun. We then lowered the sails and motored back to our mooring.
When Neng picked us up he also showed me some damage done to our starboard rudder by one of the commercial bangkas when it maneuvered backwards to turn around. He had reported this to the coastguard, who said he should just use some paint to cover the damage. It’s more fun in the Philippines.
We brought the stuff to the Yacht Club and had a round of drinks chatting with some of the regulars. Referring to Martin: “Look Iggi Pop.” “Who is Iggi Pop?” – one pointing at Miriam “Ask her, she would know.” Miriam did not know either. But they did know answerd to all the important questions I had: Is it allowed to beach our boat and go for a swim? It is. Is it allowed to use one of the buoys if they are empty? It is, until a dive boat comes and chases us away. Where should we go to get information about property for sale? It is difficult, no agent, should try the hinterlands of Aninuan beach.
Magayon II the best looking Wharram around since owners to all kinds of modifications. Also asking whether our last race during the regatta was wet. It was, but not only the last one, the second day towards Verdi island was actually a lot wetter.
The next day we rented a motorbike for 300 Pesos and checked out the hinterlands of Aninuan Beach, White beach and also the Ponderosa regarding potential houses for sale. There were several lots and a few houses. This will need a coordinated approach with inquiries, appointments and then visits. There are some nice villas around but they are not for sale, so it will be difficult to find a dream house there.