Tropical Boatpacking

Sailing the Philippines on Flash

In which I buy a 'paraw' – a traditional outrigger sailing boat – and explore the most beautiful places on earth by sail

Linapacan Passage – Sailing up to Coron

Mid-April is a beautiful time to sail the Philippines. The strong Amihan winds are becoming lighter, the water is becoming clearer, and the sun is high high in the sky. With new crew, Margherita, May and Florent, we took Flash back up to Coron. It was a much easier trip than the trip down in…

Sailing down into Malampaya Sound

I’ve often sailed in San Francisco Bay and longingly wondered what it must have been like to have been there as an explorer a couple hundred years ago. To see hilltops still covered in trees, untouched beaches, small settlements with inhabitants both excited and apprehensive about visitors. That chapter of SF bay has long since…

South to El Nido, via Linapacan

We left Coron in mid-February to sail down to El Nido. 9 days on the water with some odd winds…. what should have been a downwind trip was often a beat as north winds wrapped around Culion. It was also an exciting trip as I outlined in my last post, but there were some beautiful…

Wind, waves, tides, sun… sometimes friends, often enemies.

The last week has been tough. Amazing, but tough. On facebook I will soon be able to post phenomenal photos. 9 days on the water, five of us, camping on empty beaches. The scenery has been incredible. The sunsets majestic. Crystal clear waters and rich reefs teeming with life. But the wind has been fickle, ocean…

West Busuanga and the Coron channel.

Brendan came out from SF to visit and with Alex, Susie and Rey we took Flash for some adventures to see the west side of the Coron channel. Our initial plan was to circumnavigate Busuanga and visit Apo Reef, but getting round the east side of Coron was hard with the strong Amihan winds. Still, we found…

Sailing around Coron

After our first trial sail, we loaded up Flash in preparation for a day trip to one of the local beaches. With new crew volunteers picked up from travellers the bar, we set off for an adventure that didn’t last terribly long. On our second tack, with Devin enjoying moving his weight out on the…

Sailing Again!

Boat projects always take longer than you think: You start taking undoing lines to investigate problems, the crack is bigger than expected so you pull it apart, then you see another crack and before you know it, the boat is in pieces. You spend half a day going to the hardware store, only to get…

Boatyard Blues

Flash has spent the summer at anchor and under the watchful eye of the fantastic people at the Discovery Island Resort. We weren’t really sure how it would fare, but I was delighted to come back and find Flash pulled up on the beach and waiting for my arrival. After nine months sitting in the…

Until next year….

We arrived in Coron with a great deal of anticipation. We had expected this to be the mid-way point on our journey, but it turned out to be the end. We all had jobs to return to; we all wished there was more time. Coron is a fairly grotty town surrounded by some amazing landscapes.…

Camping on Calachuchi

We spent our last evening on a beautiful beach across the water from Coron. Our arrival was testament to our improved teamwork, and experience passing over reefs before the beach: Oliver at the helm, a slow approach, myself up forward keeping an eye for the deepest entrance, JT with poles at the ready, and everyone…

Beautiful Beaches, Empty Reefs

The next day, we had only to sail about 5 miles south before we passed a small craggy island off the main island of Coron with another beautiful beach. In a lazy mood and with plenty of food and water in reserve, we opted to hang out for the day on the island. Again, this…

Sailing to Palawan

After a night in Ambulong and a rest-day to provision in San Jose, we were ready to attempt our longest open water passage: the crossing to Palawan. We set off early at 5am with light winds out of the east, it proved to be a fair and uneventful crossing. The wind built slowly after sunrise…

A warm welcome in Ambulong

Guest post from Jonathan After we embarrassingly crash landed our way over the reef to the town of Ambulong, we pushed the boat up onto the beach and watched as a curious crowd slowly gathered. While our landing was surely a sight to see, our boat and gear (lots of it) were certainly out-of-the-ordinary for…

Downwind Sleigh Ride

In which we head off downwind in big winds, following seas, and lots of excitement.

A broken outrigger and a sinking boat.

In retrospect, we left Sibalon fairly late at 9am. The best time to travel here is early morning and late afternoon. But by the time we headed out for the second half of our voyage across the Tablas Strait, the wind was building and the sun was high in the sky. . We chose to…

The Adventure Begins…

One of the biggest potential flaws in our plan has been that the most challenging part of the trip, crossing the Tablas strait, was right at the beginning. The Tablas strait is 35 miles of open water between Tablas and Mindoro. The winter monsoon winds funnel through this passage, and with over a hundred miles…

I came looking for a boat, I found friends!

I came here last week looking for a boat and not knowing anyone. I managed to find a boat, but what I didn’t expect to find was so many warm and generous people willing to give their time and energy to making this trip possible. In particular Evelyn Tolinero and Chris Lejeune have shared countless…

Flash gets ready, training begins!

The rest of the team arrived late Sunday evening after an equally long flight via Taipei and Manila. After a solid breakfast of eggs and sausages and mango smoothies we headed over to check on our boat. Since I last saw her, Flash has had a new coat of paint, and best of all, it…

2015 Iloilo Paraw Regatta

Quite by coincidence I planned this trip at the same time as the Iloilo Paraw Regatta. Iloilo is the largest city on the island of Panay, about five hours drive from Caticlan, and this regatta has been going on for some 43 years. As far as I am aware, it is the largest sailboat race…

The weather window…

There are now a lot of variables up in the air, and any one of them could sink this plan… quite literally. One of our biggest risks is weather. From Boracay, we must sail west into open sea and the Tablas Strait. In the middle of the crossing, the winds can be much stronger than…

Some observations on life in the Philippines

Life is much different here. It’s been a while since I last travelled, and it’s a long overdue refresher on how lucky I really am. My relative wealth provides a needed reality check. Back home, it’s easy to feel like you’re not doing that well, when in reality you are. It’s funny to think that…

Goodbye Janszen, Hello Flash

Boat prep is coming along. It’s had a fresh lick of paint in the last 24 hours. I met the name-painter this morning, so we had to make a quick decision on the name. The team has been feeding ideas in by email while we nail down the last minute purchases we’ll need to make…

I just bought another boat…

The big question for today is what to name our new boat! That’s right, We will soon be the proud owner of a class-A Paraw. The logistical challenge of getting the boats back from Palawan was making rental a difficult problem. Palawan is downwind and getting there is easy. But getting back is hard. All…

Would you like to go island hopping sir, or massage?

It turns out there’s only one reason that single guys come to Boracay, and apparently it isn’t to rent a sailing boat to Palawan. I’ve given up trying to explain it to everyone, and if I don’t come back to my hotel tonight, I doubt the hotel staff will really believe the story I just gave them about leaving at 3am to sail to Iloilo.

A great idea or a crazy idea?

This idea has been many years in the making. Unfortunately, when I first came up with the idea of sailing, I didn’t know how to sail and I didn’t know a thing about boats. But I was inspired enough to return to the US, learn to sail and even take an apprenticeship in boatbuilding. That…