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Monday, February 20, 2006

February 20, 2006-Borocay

Borocay Beach

The white sand beach at Borocay Island: several miles long, beautiful, famous, crowded, touristy. From offshore you see this beach, like others in these islands, blinding white in the sunshine with the green palm trees waving behind and clear blue and aquamarine water off shore, and you just want to go in there. It allures.


But actually it gets mixed reviews as a cruising destination. That’s the best I can say.

We did go to Borocay, and we spent a week there. We hated the place for three days, but it grew on us as the week went on. Now we’re ready to go from here, but we do have a better feeling about it.

We spent most of our time ashore, and it turned into to kind of a holiday.

Here’s the bad news about Borocay:

The bancas which I liked so much in Puerto Galera have evolved here into a different beast. They are crude, with plywood cabins and bad, flaking paint jobs, and sound like old Mexican buses. They roar by every 30 seconds with their unruffled diesel engines belching black smoke and throwing up wakes that rock you almost to beam ends. Add a few dozen dive boats, hundreds of small bancas taking passengers for joy rides, the speed boats towing “banana rides”, bouncing along in all their yellow glory with half a dozen Japanese tourists yelling as loud as they can to prove how good a time they are having, and you get the picture. The water is rough here.

The beach is a hard one for dingy landings, lots of green algae to wade through that clings to your feet like angle hair, big tidal ranges, and waves, lots of waves. We struggled with anchoring the dingy off the beach and wading in but eventually we gave up and put the wheels on. That made it lots better. So we were learning.

We moved the boat a couple of times and possibly the traffic was less where we ended up.

Sailing Bancas

On the good side, we loved seeing the sailing bancas, those slender hulls with large colorful sails and bamboo outriggers barely keeping them upright. They look a bit like daddy long legs spiders, with their wide curved crossbars, quietly racing past with tourists making up the needed ballast.

Welcome to Borocay

And we found that life was better ashore than on the boat. The boat was rocky and the bancas noisy, but ashore we found a little bit peace and quiet. Away from the bustle of the shops and vendors along the beach, we found quiet lounges with ocean views where we could sip mai tai’s and relax, while the sailing bancas plied the water and tourists strolled the beach in front of us. We stayed ashore most of the days, and we did no cooking aboard.



Judy had one day, one unpleasant day, longer in Borocay than I did. We arrived on Tuesday night and at 06:00 Wednesday morning I caught a banca to Caticlan and then a domestic flight to Manila to join the crew of FreeFire,


Sam Chan’s 70 foot flyer, for the Manila to Borocay Race. While I was gone Judy got her head banged a good one by the solar panel, developed a bad tooth ache, and generally was miserable. But she had enough spirit to come out in the dingy to greet us as we crossed the finish line Thursday morning, and she tied the dingy behind and came aboard for a beer and a tour when we anchored FreeFire. I was gone only 28 hours, including the ferry, flight, breakfast at Manila Yacht Club, helping prep the boat, and the 205 mile race.

Racing to Borocay

Riding The Rail



Pretty fast trip in all and there is little finer than gliding along on a moonlit night at 15 knots with the pole on the headstay, the “monster” kite up, not making a sound. We startled more than one fisherman as we flew by their bancas, coming out of the darkness like an apparition.


Chaos Below

FreeFire finished second but corrected out to fourth. That was bad enough to take, but then the Yacht Club gave us a first place trophy for “Cruising Class” which irked each and every one of us.

Awards Party

The awards party on the beach at Borocay was outstanding, surreal even, with a fully catered meal and tables covered with linen clothes and set with fine silver, waiters everywhere, and surrounded with a Stonehenge circle of sponsor’s banners flying, all under ten million stars and breathed upon by the soft & warm Borocay wind. Some local Filipino native dancers put black war paint on our cheeks when we went to stage to collect our trophies.

Wing’s own trip down to Borocay was not nearly so fast and included some unwanted drama. Coming into the anchorage at Meastro de Campo Island we turned up wind to drop the main but it refused to come down. We let it luff and flag and tried everything but it wouldn’t budge. Meanwhile darkness arrived. We had to anchor, with the main still flagging furiously, and Judy ran me up the mast on the anchor windlass and I banged the top slug back into the track with a ball-peen hammer and then it fell down. We stayed another day at Meastro and I modified the top of the main so that wouldn't happen again, hopefully.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Borocay

Borocay Island is located at: N11 degree 56.040 minutes Latitude, E121 degrees 55.000 minutes Longitude

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