Posted by: powellpjc | May 4, 2011

7,000+ Islands and 84 million people. The Philippines.

I made it through Surigao Straits with no drama–for once
having checked the tide tables. The drama came before the main strait as I
thought I could sneak through a narrower pass. It had plenty of water depth and
was very pretty going until I spied an unusual pole leaning off the side of a
sandbar. Not a navigation standard but tall. When I was within 100 metres the
power lines showed themselves. I am no stranger to power lines and immediately
turned on my heels. The next pass had the same spider web waiting for me but I have learned my lessons well and turned tail again.

I could see no pleasant place to stop for the night so I carried on with mainsail only, making 2 or 3 knots and getting up every 30 minutes or so to check on traffic. There is a LOT of traffic in these islands.
Fishermen, ferries, tankers and a lot of other ships I’ve never seen before.
The fishermen scoot about in their ‘spider boats’, a craft perfectly suited to
these lagoon-type waters. No big ocean rollers, no tough weather (until a
typhoon comes callin’, round your cabin door) and always warm, warm, warm.

I spied a collection of small islands north of Bohol and dropped anchor off Maumanen. I thought the little, isolated islands would be uninhabited. Suitable for a hermit like me, but no chance. 800 souls lived on Maumanen, fisherfolk all.

Most of the kids of the village turned out to see the strange guy

You can probably pick me out amongst my new friends.

I had two pockets full of bubble gum and hard candies so I was king for a few minutes. A group of ladies were keen for information and one of them, a fishmonger and mother of 4 took me around to visit the school, the principal and the ‘Capitan’ or head man of the village. All the men were out fishing.

Some of the smiling gals of the village. Smiling because their men are away or because their kids will soon be back in school? My guide for the day is at far left.

I had a bag of pens and toothbrushes for the principal and she invited me for lunch. All in all a very interesting day.

Lunch with the headmistress. Fish and rice, baby. You gots to love it. And you better because that's it.

Drawing water at the well. Now, I'm going to irritate some folks and say that it is women's work. But, look. That's a women and that is surely work.

After lunch I was invited to the graduation ceremony of the ‘VBS’. That is ‘Vacation Bible School’ and it was quite delightful. 8-year olds reciting chapter and verse. I did find that puzzling but they were happy.

The bible class. Maybe they're smiling because I am such a strange looking dude. Could be the good book.

It is really, really tough to smile when you've lost your two front teeth.

It seems to be a very religious part of the world and Roman Catholic all the way, except for some of the southern islands where a few pockets of Muslim extremists work their magic.

Made it to Port Carmen the next day and will stay here for a few days doing the usual jobs. Bilge pumps, pressure tanks, laundry etc. and then north, slowly, through the archipelago to Puerto Galera.

Typhoon cooking up 500 miles east of here (May 4). I don’t really know what to do but will figure something out.

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