Lars Alfredson
Mon 18 Jan 2016 03:53

I was woken for the dawn watch on the approach to Donsol at six in the morning and stumbled up to deck bleary eyed and less than half awake. Kenneth dutifully informed me of all the pertinent information about sailing conditions and nearby boats, my only response to each bit of news was a dull 'okay'. I retained none of the facts, but I'm sure if there was anything really important it would have peirced my early morning haze.

The sea was relatively empty when I first got up but soon after I had raised the sails tin the freshening morning winds hordes of small fishing boats began appearing from all directions. They seemed to come in swarms and at first I sought to keep track of each one and its heading and speed making small adjustments to my own course in an effort not to hit any of them. As more and more appeared though I soon gave that up as a bad job, Dawnbreaker is over 30 tons and has an aluminium hull and I decided that the small wooden and fibreglass boats could avoid me. My new found confidence lasted about 15 minutes and was abruptly shattered when I noticed a large container ship motoring right for us. Just as I had deemed the small bangkas beneath me but I would be surprised if this ship even noticed us and I quickly altered course.

After this I was quite happy to reach Donsol and anchor near the mouth of the river that runs through the town. Once we had got our things in order we piled in the dinghy to head ashore weaving our way over the shallow sandbars and up the river itself and only hitting ground twice we landed along with a number of local boats near a bridge. Getting ashore here was an ordeal as the low tide had exposed a large strip of mud along the bank of the river. This mud had the curious property of being both sticky enough to coat anything it touched in a thick layer and slimey enough that maintaining balance required a supreme effort. We were all knee deep in the stuff on our way to shore to the great amusement of watching locals. Once we had gained the high ground of the bridge we saw to our chagrin that ten metres farther we would have had solid ground to land on. Indeed looking around from the bridge we had chosen pretty much the only difficult spot to land in the river. The local bystanders smiled at us and pointed out a small creek we could wash off the mud in.

From there we walked to the whale shark centre to see if any had been sighted that day, naturally none had been seen, but as the centre was right on the coast and had a nice sand beach landing rather than noisome mud we decided to anchor the boat off shore of it. This was done for convenience and health reasons and the proximity to the bar had little to do with our decision.

We waited around for the rest of the afternoon but as there were no sightings retreated to the boat for the evening, the next morning our bad luck continued and, deciding that we could only wait for the elusive sharks for so long decided to head out. This had to be put off for a short time because of a visit from the coast guard asking to see our papers but once these were retrieved and he snapped a few pictures of them with his phone we were on our way once more, this time headed for Romblon.