We sailed up the East side of the Philippine Islands on our way to Da Nang with our turning point at the top of Luzon. I recognized the names of many of the Islands as we went by from hearing exPOWs from WWII talk about their experiences as POWs of the Japanese. My dad was a POW of the Japanese for 3 1/2 years so this part of the trip was significant to me as I compared the weather we sailed through with the stories I had heard about the Philippines and the “Hellships” voyages to Japan!
January 31, 2016- On the way up we experienced the monsoons, rain, unbearable heat and what it was like to never quite dry out. The temperature became cooler and the seas more active as we got further up the coastline. I did learn as we sailed over the Yap Trench that it was one of the deepest areas of water in the world. We also traveled up the Philippine Sea and Luzon Strait. This area was also full of rainbows as talked about earlier. Besides having a great day helming (started watching the mast lean and reacting to it as I am still fighting having to keep my eyes glues to compass) and hitting 15.7 VMG (velocity made good), it was just a fun day.
February 1, 2016- Surprise, Clipper has added 1200 miles to the race as everyone was going too fast and the doldrums did not last long enough. Da Nang was celebrating their New Year and we could not enter there until the 17th. Yowee! as we were all excited to get there early!!
February 2 & 3 dark brown or black snub nosed dolphins were sighted yet they stayed away from the boat unlike all the others we had seen that came up and played with us. They also were much more subdued in the water. Only on the 3rd did they jump out of the water frequently.
Beautiful nights here. Big Dipper is upside down and Scorpio is standing straight up just below the moon. Simply beautiful! It is fun to see how they rotate as the night goes on.
ON the 4th we passed by Batan Island (all my POW and descendant friends, did you know there was this island? It is spelled differently than Bataan but it is up above Luzon and we sailed by it. I believe that we will go by it again on the way to China. Also on the 4th we turned to go on the new route that took us down the west side of the Philippines.
Now the big winds hit us as we ventured into the South China Seas. Many exciting moments as we were cruising along with the Code 3 kite up (winds 20 to 30) when all of a sudden the winds dropped to nothing for about 2 minutes and then BAM!!! we got hit with gusts over 40. Mark had begun setting up for a gybe and then the kite started wrapping around the forestay (front wire that holds the mast up and also the Yankee sail goes on). Bad news! We got part of the other watch on deck to try to get it down and it kept wrapping. The guys tryed pulling it but the kite is so big it was like trying to wrestle about 3 bulls at once. We gybed and then it unwrapped from the forestay and wrapped around the inner forestay. The guys wrestled with that for a while and Sean went up to see if he could unwrap some but he just got tossed around the inner stay like a puppet. Eventually Han and Ryan took a turn and no one could get it under control. Oh, no way was I going up there. Sorry but my good sense prevailed on this one.
All this happened around 5:30am. Later in the afternoon after sailing all day with just the main and the kite wrapped, we sailed for land with less wind.
Still could not get away from 20 to 30 knots of wind but did see a beautiful sunset and some great views of the mountains and land.
As you can see there are still some whitecaps (waves) out there so still plenty of wind so this did not work.
Nothing worked so the next move was to sail to Salomague Harbor and anchor. Here I wondered if this was one of the places the Hellship my father was on, the Canadian Inventor, pulled into for one of it’s many repairs on it’s way to Japan. We arrived there around 10pm and Skipper Matt goes up the mast with the thought to undo the inner forestay with the kite and lower it to deck where it could be unwrapped. Wrong!! couldn’t get inner forestay undone. After several hours of trying that and Sean, Ryan and Han going back up to swing around like puppets the order was given to cut the kite in the center of the belly and perhaps that would lessen the wind issue and it could be untangled and then sail repair team would get to work on it. WRONG again. They cut and it shredded. Then they cut the head and it flew into the water. Needless to say we no longer had anything we could even try to repair.
Next trick is to pull up the anchor and get back to the race.
Each boats fishing area is apparently set by a bamboo pole in the water. We almost ran over one in the dark and ended up right in front of it while anchored.
Some amazing shots as we left the area. Over 24 hours dealing with the kite and we still could not save it. The only good news? We were not the only boat to have issues due to weather and seas. Apparently over 22 incidents after the turn to the new course. The bad news, we lost ICharcoal and Da Nang during this time. Could we catch them?
The rough seas and the changes in temperature with heat and rain, etc. made me realize how amazing the Greatest Generation was. How could those men have survived the voyages on the Hellships through all that being stuffed in a hole of a container ship body to body with no ventilation and no food or facilities. We had a rough time, but what did they have. Unbelievable! I am glad my dad made it through all of that to come home. If not this post would not be written.
We went past Subic Bay area where a hellship lies on the bottom. Later we turned west and if we had turned east we could have gone to Manila Bay and Corregidor Island where my dad was captured. An unbelievable chance for me to experience the seas those POWs experienced.
OK, enough for now,. got to get some sleep as we journey to China in the morning.
Have a great couple of weeks and Believe it or Not, I will get caught up sometime soon!!.