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By No owner — last modified May 30, 2017 02:37 PM

 Philippines - Profile

Facts

  • The Philippines is an archipelago of over 7000 islands lying between the Pacific Ocean and the South China Sea. They are divided into three regions: Luzon to the north, the Visayas in the centre, and Mindanao in the south.
  • The Philippines has been a popular cruising destination for many years. Day- sailing through the archipelago is undoubtedly the best way to visit this vast area and one can find a good anchorage every night. This also avoids the danger of running into one of the many unlit fishing boats, as well as their nets or traps. Cebu and the surrounding islands have some of the most attractive anchorages and places such as Romblon and Puerto Galera should not be missed.
  • Although the government is trying to stamp out corruption and also to standardise the entry and exit charges applied to yachts, the situation is confused. On the positive side, however, the Philippines have a lot to offer the cruising sailor and in spite of such inherent difficulties, it remains a country well worth visiting.
  • There are small boatyards in various islands and the Filipinos are skilled workers, particularly in wood. Teak is still widely available, but while its price is steadily increasing, its quality is deteriorating.
  • General repair facilities, such as engine or electrical repair, are also available in most centres, the widest range being concentrated in and around Manila. Most marine supplies have to be imported, but local nautical charts are available both in Manila and Cebu.
  • The majority of Filipinos speak good English as a second language and almost all newspapers are published in English.

Security

June 2017:

Martial law has been declared in some parts of Mindanao, due to fighting between the Duterte Government forces and local Islamist groups. Anywhere south of the island of Cebu should be avoided.

There have been more deaths associated with extrajudicial killings related to drugs, than there have been with the terrorists.

Current Travel Advice from UK Foreign Office.

Current Travel Advice from the US Embassy in the Philippines

May 2017: Sulu Sea Kidnappings - https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/malaysia

April 2017:

Major blow to the Abu Sayyaf as leader killed

The US, UK and AUS governments all advise against all travel to Western Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago due to the high risk of kidnapping of international travellers and the increased threat of maritime kidnappings against small boats.

There are persistent rumours about the danger of pirates in the south of Mindanao and the Sulu Sea and yachts generally avoid this area. General advice seems to be to stay away from the Southern PI, including South Palawan and be careful heading between PI and Malaysia.

Recent Incidents

February 2017: A German cruising couple were abducted by Abu Sayyaf, in Sulu from their yacht in November 2016. Jurgen and his partner, Sabine Merz, were attacked resulting in Sabine being killed and Jurgen taken hostage for ransom demands. Jurgen was held for 3 months and executed in February 2017 when the ransom demands were not met.

ReCAAP: Kidnappings Rise in Sulu-Celebes, Eastern Sabah Regions (November 2016)

A well known marina on Samal Island near Davao in the southern Philippines was stormed by armed men in September 2015 and four yachties were kidnapped. Two of the captives were executed and two were released. See report here.

A German couple were abducted from their yacht by bandits at Palawan on their way back to Sabah in Malaysia after island-hopping in Mindanao, in April 2014. Read news report here.

Useful Reports

For latest feedback on cruising Palawan see this report.

A long-term cruiser in the Philippines sent this report to noonsite with security advice and places to avoid if cruising the country.

Last updated June 2017.

Weather

The Philippines have a tropical climate. The rainy, SW monsoon season is from June to September, the dry season October to May. The average temperature is 81°F (27°C) and humidity is high. The Philippines have a high incidence of typhoons, which are most frequent between June and October. The best season for cruising is from early January to mid-May when the weather is pleasant and the danger of typhoons is minimal.

Brunei Bay Radio operates a regular voice broadcast sked of METAREA and local coastal forecasts for SE Asia waters, the NW Pacific and eastern Indian Ocean. For details of Brunei Bay Radio broadcast skeds and frequencies, see http://www.bruneibay.net/bbradio/bbrschfvoice.htm and http://www.bruneibay.net/bbradio/bbrscweathMSIbcasts.html

Davao City in Southern Mindaneo is typhoon free and winds are mostly not stronger than Force 4. It is a safe haven for riding out the typhoon season and for storing vessels.

Two useful websites for typhoon information are http://www.typhoon2000.ph and http://www.tropicalstormrisk.com

Last updated June 2010.

Philippines Weather Forecast.

For links to free global weather information, forecast services and extreme weather information see the Noonsite Weather Page.

Main Ports

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Robert Straghan
Robert Straghan says:
May 27, 2017 10:49 AM

Just left HOV Marina on Samal Island, Davao,and glad to be out of there. Abu Sayaf and martial law aside, the marina is run by an absentee Filipino manager who avoids customers and does not manage his staff.
For some odd reason marine time is 15 min ahead of world time, and the employees use this to their advantage at starting, lunch, break, and stop times so as to cut 1.5 work hours from each day. Management is aware, but insists on charging for time not worked.

Theft is an issue and marina provided workers are so unskilled as to be useless. Hire outside contractors if you must have work done, but I highly recommend going somewhere else.

The marina is located on an island and if you need anything it is a day wasted going into Davao by ferry.

They could not haul my boat due to the 2m draft!
The marina owner has plans to turn the marina into a condo hotel, and ignores what little existing marina business remains. There are much better places in the Philippines

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Feb 23, 2017 02:59 PM

Posted on behalf of Steindor Sigurgeirsson:

Just to update information on the safety of cruising the Palawan area, Philippines.

Early February 2017 we took our motor yacht from Busuanga to Kudat. The route was down the west coast of Palawan after re-fueling in Coron. We stopped overnight at El Nido, and Uluguan Bay.

Note that the Coast Guard wants yachts to register at their offices when they stop in Coron and El Nido. Nothing problematic, they only want to see the boat registry and get a crew list. We spoke to the officers in Coron, El Nido and the Coast Guard station of Ulugan Bay when we were there, and they claimed that there was no problem with safety on the south part of Palawan anymore.

During our stop in Ulugan Bay, we rented tricyles to go to Puerto Princesa for immigration and port clearance, and it went very smoothly. We asked the Customs officer in Puerto Princesa if it would be safe to anchor in the bays southward, and he had a different opinion to that of the Coast Guard. He said that we should not take any unnecessary risks.

So we decided for the remainder of the trip to stay offshore -approx 15-20nm - and go directly to Kudat. We had no problems during the passage, just the occasional fishing boat passed by and we had a very nice cruise.

Off Pulau Balambangan there was a Malaysian patrol boat moored, obviously monitoring the channel.

We arrived on Saturday, so immigration and customs were closed, so we went to Kota Kinabalu for immigration where the port immigration office is open 7 days a week. Customs we cleared on Monday, as well very efficient and only took a few minutes, same as for the immigration.

So an excellent trip and hopefully we will get further assurance of Southern Palawan being a safe place to cruise in the very near future.

Steindor
M/Y Solon Islandus

Norm
Norm says:
Nov 01, 2015 11:41 AM

Recently sailed from Surigao to Palau. Tidal currents are very strong but if you're traveling with the flow it's just a fast trip through the islands. After winding through the entrance reefs (the channel is quite narrow, suggest you do it with the sun high), we overnighted in Dapa, a very pleasant small town with a lovely anchorage just West of the ferry wharf. The main reason I'm writing is to warn of a danger we encountered several times between the Philippines and Palau. Five times we passed quite close to FAD's, floating cylinders (they looked like steel), about 3m long, anchored to the sea bed. They are not flagged or lit, we passed a couple at night, fortunately it was full moon so we could see them. On a dark night they would be impossible to see. If they are, in fact, steel, they present a very real threat to small vessels. We saw five close-by on the layline between Dapa and Palau. We also had a close pass from a Chinese bulk carrier which did not respond to VHF or HF calls. Of course, Palau is beautiful.
Norm van't Hoff
'Jumpa Lagi'
Leaving Palau for Raja Empat and Indonesia in November 2015.

bunny
bunny says:
Jan 07, 2015 02:40 AM

My name is Bruce Curran and in 2003 I published the book titled "Combing the Coral Carpet-Sailing Tales and the Cruising Guide to the Philippine Islands." The 1st edition can be found at the major yacht clubs in the Philippines, all copies have sold out but the 2nd edition is due out in the first half of 2015.

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Dec 02, 2014 03:16 PM

Posted on behalf of Yacht Carina:
Dangerous High Voltage Wire Near Surigao Strait
A vessel here at Oceanview Marina reports a deadly dangerous drooping powerline near the Surigao Straits. The vessel is approximately 40' and they struck the wire at about 2/3 mast height.

The wire is strung from Bucas Grande to Middle Bucas at the entrance to Port Batuecos at approximate location:

09 41.2 N / 125 58.8 E

The Google Earth picture we have of this passage is poor, but there appears a dark shadow at the location the skipper identified. The cm93 database chart is slightly off register here so the location of this waypoint appears to be on the shore when it is in fact mid channel.

The vessel survived hitting the powerline but just barely. All electronics including transducers were blown up. Literally, blown up. The lone crew was remarkably not injured.

Another vessel we met in Palau earlier this year also reported this wire - they came very close to disaster themselves - but we were not able to get a precise location from them.

Philip DiNuovo
Leslie Linkkila
yacht Carina
Samal Island, Davao Gulf, Philippines

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