Romblon Island

Lars Alfredson
Mon 18 Jan 2016 03:55

pos 12:34.96N 122:16.23E

The crossing from Donsol to Romblon was short and was made a good bit shorter by the excellent sailing winds we had throughout. My watch was the first, from eight to ten, but as we were projected to arrive around midnight no one seemed inclined to go to bed at all. Lars said said that anyone who wanted to take a rest could and though it was technically my watch it is not in my nature to reject a chance to grab some sleep. I thought someone would wake me in an hour or so when they wanted to rest as well but when Lars did wake me it was around midnight and we were approaching the harbour.

Entering the harbour at night was something of a challenge as our charts did not really agree; one said that there should be a red light the other said a green light. This turned out to be somewhat immaterial because we saw no light at all. No matter though as our guide gave the precise co-ordinates of a number of guest moorings so we went from one end of the harbour to the other but of course none of these were to be found either. Giving up entirely we dropped the hook in a small bay at the end of the harbour right between the cemetary and the carnival complete with ferris wheel. After the stress of looking for none existant lights, argueing over the origins of existing ones, and checking floating bits of garbage to see if they were moorings for over an hour we all had a beer and went to bed.

Luckily Romblon was well worth the effort the town is small enough to walk around but energetic and interesting. Judging by the signs on the streets there were about three festivals operating simultaneously. Bunting and flags were draped from the lamp poles and over the square and restaurants offered special festival menus.

I found the most interesting part of the festival to be the pedi-cab race. A pedi-cab is a bike with attached sidecar that forms the cheapest and shortest range of the myriad transportation options in the Philippines, a country in which half the country seems employed moving the other half around. For the race the riders had stripped all the unecesarry weight from their steeds throwing away the seats and panels and leaving only the bare bones of the structure in an attempt to lighten their rides. The race itself was a circuit of the main streets of town none of which were shut down for the event though a police car did lead the pack and clear away at least some of the obstructions. They appeared to take the race quite seriously and the front runners were certainly moving, relief stations held out bottled of water which the racers would snatch as they ripped past, and one unlucky bystander got mowed down by a rider taking the corner a bit too tight. With the addition of the side car a pedicab is a stable thing so the rider hardly slowed down though the spectator took quite the spill, luckily he appeared unhurt.

After wandering town for a few hours and dodging a few racers we moved the boat to a beach anchorage a little way up the coast from town trading easy access to town for clear water and gorgeous white sand. Snorkelling along the beach all you really see is hundreds of lethal looking black urchin, I had given up on seeing anything more and was swimming hard for the boat and a cold drink when an absolutely massive turtle swam right across my path, soon followed by snother smaller but still sizable companion. I can only interpret this as a sign that the turtles are becoming angry with me for failing to have their image inked on as promised. A warning, of sorts.

That night we took a tricycle into town for dinner, a tricycle is similar in design to a pedi-cab but uses a motorcycle rather than a push bike. Each one is different offering a variety of seating configurations and decoration. They can usually take about four passengers but are quite happy to take more simply seating the extra people on the roof of the sidecar.

All the other sailors we talked to in town had stayed for weeks but after two nights we were quite prepared to get going, it is a very nice town with very nice people but I can't imagine what I would do there for one week, let alone longer. And so we headed out of the harbour in daylight this time and there barely sticking out of the water were the fallen remains of the lighthouse we had searched so hard for the first night. The concrete post lay on its side atop a reef, encrusted with marine growth on all sides, we motored slowly past it. I still couldn't tell if it was red or green.