Lars Alfredson
Sat 30 Jan 2016 14:21

pos 18:20.75N 121:38.06E

Hello again,

I'm writing this sitting with a gt watching the sun setting over the longest river in the Philippines, the Cagayan just South of the town of Aparri, this being our last port on Luzon. Lotta and Jonte are supposed to join us later today.

We had a few interesting things happening the last few days, in addition to what Darryl told you earlier. First, the place we anchored in order to get to Vigan, Porto Something, was as always not what it was supposed to be, not where, how deep or how "sticky", that is bamboo sticks sticking out of the water all over the place. As we came in at night,  as usual,-Darryl calmly, at least almost,  told us there's a stick two meters in front! We didn't hit it, but the next morning I found the dinghy tangled to another stick!

We went to Vigan by foot (about a mile and a half), tricykle (3-4 miles) and bus (20+) admiring the lush landscape with corn and rice fields, loads of cows, the type youv'e all seen on pictutes from India, all against rolling mountains. Quite a change from the blue sea.

In Vigan Lars decided to get his hair cut, it was long! Well compared to mine he had a crew cut, but anyway. 50 money made him loose half of it. During the ceremony a lady with a hughe basket on her head and a big bag of something that looked as giant popcorn came in the barbershop, that is hole in the wall, selling cooked corn for ten money for five! That is 20 us cents for five cobs!

We had a nice lunch in a local eatery, especially my fried squid rings was excellent, and went to the bus station. Asking the guy in charge about when etc. i got three pieces of carton with numbers on them, 9, 10,11, our priority numbers. Well, remembering the trip here, when three people were queezed on two seats, among them Darryl, and some still stood in the isle, I realised our numbers were good. The bus was supposed to leave in 15 minutes, so we had time for a beer. We could easily have had four, because the bus left about an hour later.

In Porto Whatever we had one more new boat experience. Some of the local guys fished from bamboo rafts, six bamboo sticks of about four meters tied together and bent a bit   to make a fore and aft. The guy dove from the  "boat" after something or used a net to fish.

The sailing to Aparri was quite uneventful, though I had a vey pleasent 2 to 4 watch with an almost full moon, loads of stars, including both the Polar star and the Southern Cross, and an eaqually almost calm sea with a long two meter swell and winds between 10 and 4 knots from about 40 degrees. I challenged myself to make the boat go faster than half the wind speed and managed until the wind went down to a sready 4 and the speed to 2,5. Reluctantly I took in the genoa and put on the engine.

Around noon we apprached Aparri and according to the charts there was supposed to be some kind of port in the river. There also was supposed to be some kind of "channel" to get in to it by. Well, as usual, the two different charts have diametrically different opinions of where the "channel" was,  how mutch water there was and where etc. One fishing boat showed us roughly the way and we went that way, but when we got soundings of five meters, I hailed another one and he told us to follow him. This led us all the way up the river about a mile and a half to the place where a smaller river joins the big one. We anchored on five meters in silty water at 14.00 having done 93 miles in 20 hours.

Lars and I took the dinghy up the small river amongst a load of speeding flat bottomed boats without outriggers and a few ordinary "spiders" (a doublesided outrigger). On the way we saw a cow being unloaded into the water (mind you only about a foot or two) from a big spider!!!. Eventually we found a jetty and it was just by the as it proved to be very big market. We strolled along in town, had a beer and some very local lunch, bought some internet minutes and went back to the boat to learn that Darryl had been proposed
,by some guys who wanted to buy our fishing gear, paying with a girl. (No deal)

The next morning we woke up to the local commuters, covered boats of about 8 m taking at least 30 locals, crusing by at about 10 m from the boat. After breakfeast we dinghyied to town in order so find immigration, customs, gin and rum, not necessarly in that order. I found a couple of coast guard guys sitting at a table at the market, what they had to there remains a mystery, and asked them where the coustoms office was. Well, guess what, they didn't know, but directed us to their head quarters by tricykle.

30 money and we found ourselves in a closed compound surrendering our passports and having all our papers copied by gofers to the litterally big boss (he had an even bigger belly than our boss). After this, very polite and friendly hazzle, the big boss came with us out the gate and told us not to pay more than nine money per person for a tricykle within town. He also told us where the customs and immigration was, having earlier confirmed by phone  they were closed today.

We went anyway and found the place and walked down the pier past the peculiar blue tower with a big white ball on top of it, the one we'd seen coming in and believed to be a lighthouse out of order. No, it was a token of Japanese bad concience, a weather radar station paid by Japan.

A tricykle took us back to the market and as it was hot (it was 32 at 9 o clock) we looked for a place to have a cold drink. It was all but easy and after a walk of at least a mile we took a tricykle to - the market. As we knew there was an eatery close by we went there and found a cold San Mig. Eventually we had lunch as well, and a couple of cold ones. Afterwards we started the serious business, that is the hunt for the cheapest rum in town.
We found some in a wholesale shop and bought a few for a very competitive price, about 1,5 usd a bottle, including bonus promotional plates and cups.
The gin hunt proved to be even more successful, I found a wholesale place where the shelf price was 80 money for a bottle, but but a bit if haggling brought the price down to 64 (usd 1,12) when we took a whole case. Lars will be well stocked until he gets to Kamtjatka and can buy cheap vodka!

Eventually back at the boat having a quiet sundowner I got a message from Jontte that they were about to land, by bus that is, in Aparri, and a bit befor six I picked Lotta and Jonte up by the market. We had a welcoming drink and then a fish curry cooked on the tuna cousins I found at the market earlier. They told us parts of their adventures in Cambodia and Vietnam and retierd quite early having travelled most of the day. It's nice to have a full crew again, though even if I say so myself,  we did quite well the three of us.

Take care, Kenneth

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