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Sunday, January 29, 2006

January 28, 2006-Verde Island Passage

Verde Island Passage, as usual!
wingssail-Fredrick Roswold

It was a windy beat across Verde Island Passage again this year, same as two years ago, but unlike that trip, there was never a doubt today that we'd make it in before dark. Leaving Cape Santiago at 1:00 PM with only 20 miles to go will do that for you. And the last bit, the glorious beat up to Galera past White Beach, in flat water and 20 knots of wind, under the ominous grey cloud shrouded mountains of Mindoro, was just as much fun as it was last time. Pointing high and sailing at 6.8 knots, past some of the most spectacular scenery we've ever seen will do that for you too.

Still, we arrived salt-encrusted and tired; the Verde Island Passage during the NE Monsoon is almost always wet and rough, and when you spend four hours in it you know you've been sailing.

Staying dry can be a challenge
wingssail-Fredrick Roswold

Late Arrival in Puerto Galera, gorgeous!
wingssail-Judy Jensen

This year's cruise in the Philippines, once we got past Bolinao, has been all about going back to places we've been to before. Tonight we are anchored in Puerto Galera, on Mindoro Island, close to where we moored in 2004. The two previous nights we were anchored in Hamilo Cove, where we complained about Karaoke in 2004, and before that, Subic Bay, where we stopped with Carol on our way to Hong Kong.

But there are differences: Going back to Hamilo Cove was like returning to an old friend. We knew the route into the harbor and where to anchor, and we expected to hear Karaoke singing from the town, which we did. It was OK. We stayed an extra day in Hamilo because we knew that the next leg, across Verde Island Passage, would be rough.

Subic Bay was better this time than last time also. In 2004 we didn't like Subic at all, but this year it was a great stop. The weather helped. Instead of muggy low clouds and rain, we had weeks of clear blue skies and fresh breezes. Plus, we were at the plush, if slightly run down, Subic Bay Yacht Club, with its excellent facilities and helpful staff, not tied to a broken down float in the sewer outfall where we tied up in 2004. Most of all, this year we met some great folks at Subic, some of them old friends we knew from other places.

And today we sailed back to Puerto Galera, Port of the Galleons, the only way you can, the hard way, up Verde Island Passage in a stiff ESE breeze, just as we did in 2004. It was rough, but not that rough. We had 20-25 knots all day until the last approach to the rocky Mindoro shore when we saw 28, unlike the 25-30 we had last time. Still, it was blue water sailing at its best: windy, wild and beautiful. We had two reefs tied into the main and a small headsail sheeted tight, we were doing 6-7 knots and the spray was flying. You don't always like it when you're out there, but afterwards it seems pretty great.

Mindoro's rocky and ominous shore!
wingssail-Judy Jensen

Now we've got a few days or weeks here before we head off to new destinations. We want to go to Borocay for some windsurfing after Galera, but in the meantime we intend to revisit some of our old haunts here.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Mindoro Island

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