Just Kidding Around in Palawan

Peregrina's Journey
Peter and Margie Benziger
Sun 23 Dec 2012 02:02

09:46.0N  118:45.0E

The islands of Palawan stretch from Mindoro in the northeast to Borneo in the southwest. The province is named after its largest island, Palawan Island measuring 280 miles long and 31 miles wide. It is located just to the Northeast of Borneo and belongs to the Philippines. The northern coast of the island is along the South China Sea, while the southern coast forms part of the northern limit of the Sulu Sea.

Peregrina sailed to the Philippines from Borneo for a couple of months of exploration.  The following picture shows our faithful and invisible crewmember “Otto”   helming Peregrina.  “Otto” the autopilot is a combination of a Raymarine brainbox hooked into a Simrad hydraulic ram. Other than consuming a little oil from time to time “Otto”  tirelessly steers Peregrina for long hours happily.  We love "Otto."

Navigating Palawan is challenging since the charts are not good and, in the anchorages, it is often difficult to find good holding ground. We went aground twice in the past month but were able to get off safely. This is always a relief since there are no tow boats services, coast guard or other formal rescue organizations. In the picture below you can see the grounding scraps on Peregrina's keel.

We generally try to get to an anchorage before 3pm since, after this time, the sun is low in the sky which makes seeing into the water to look for rocks or reefs impossible.  While this is good plan sometimes it is not possible.  The chart picture below shows a destination that was quite a distance and we calculated we would arrive around 5pm. We thought the entrance looked wide and straightforward so we were not so concerned about the late arrival.


When we arrived, we found that the entire entrance was blocked by bamboo sticks with fishing nets strung between them. It was impossible to enter. So, onward we sailed into the twilight looking for an anchorage.
Palawan is a land of fascinating boats. The Philippine boats have two outriggers and they come in all sizes and shapes.


Once we arrive at an anchorage, we are usually approached by smaller canoes, some with parents and their children,  many with just kids. We carry a very large supply of crayons, coloring books, chalk, stickers, teddy bears,  fun hats etc.  which the kids seem to enjoy. The kids learn to bail water at an early age!

In the picture below, Peter is teaching the kids to play a new game:  Tic Tac Toe.


Often, we take the dingy to explore the villages and meet the people.  In most villages, we find someone who can speak a little English and this person becomes our guide and interpreter.
The villages of Palawan(especially on the west coast) are mostly small fishing villages either located on islands or in small bays.Many have some houses built over the water.

The kids usually proudly show us their village and are happy, laughing and ready to play games.  In this photo, Margie has drawn a large Hop Scotch grid on the ground with chalk and is running a Hop Scotch championship.
One of the big hits we carry is make up kits for little girls.
Often,  you meet members of the community in a “before and after”  sequence.  Notice that in both photos the wonderful smile.

The kids seem to have lots of energy and their games are simple.

But,  don’t worry too much about the kids not having video games, TV’s and  Ipods because the children in Palawan seem just fine without all that.  They have big smiles that light up the world.

>From Margie, Peter and Peregrina our best wishes for a happy Christmas. Peregrina will resume her travels in February of 2013.


Peter Benziger