Philippines Security Advice

Philip Maise of SV Hot Buoys gives his tips and suggestions as to where is safe to cruise in the Philippines and which areas should be avoided.

Published 10 years ago, updated 5 years ago

Owing to an incident in the Philippines in 2014, I am publishing the following advisory.

First an apology.  It is my duty to render aid to other vessels and sailors.  Therefore, I must publish what I know.  This advisory will have a direct impact on people and businesses in areas mentioned.  Fewer sailors, and travelers in general, in these areas, will result in lower immediate and long term spending.  If you know of two missing German sailors, inform those holding them how they are affecting you.

To my fellow sailors,

The Philippines is a fantastic country to visit and you should not miss an opportunity to come. By following a few simple recommendations your visit will be far safer.

1. According to a first-hand account in August 2014, any vessel, traveling in an informal exclusion zone as detailed below, will likely be boarded, and escorted by Philippine authorities to a safer zone.

Stay clear of an area defined as:

North Eastern boundary, Mindanao Island at Calian Point 6 07N and 125 44E.

Northern boundary,  Mindanao Island at Blanca Point 08 28N and 122 60E.

North Western boundary, 08 28N, and 120 39E.

South Eastern and Southern boundaries the border with Malaysia.

South Western boundary 07 41N and 118 15E then South to the border with Malaysia.

Note: For years this has been a strongly recommended No Go area.  The major difference is it now appears all vessels will be removed if the recommendation is ignored.

2. The North Eastern side of Borneo has been debated safe or unsafe.  Sandakan and Tawau are tempting passage stops.  It appears now more sailors believe them too close to problem areas in the Philippines.  Raids inland have occurred recently.  No travel by yacht is suggested.

3. If you are coming up from the South East, checking in at Davao on Mindanao Island is considered safe.  It is also BTW a good spot to regalvanize chain.  55PHP per Kilo.

4. Check in at Cebu / Mactan Island is mainly a problem owing to strong tide currents.  Do not leave vessel unattended.  Read my report on Noonsite.

5. You can check in at Dumaguete on Negros after anchoring / mooring at Bonbonon Bay 09 03N and 123 07E.  Do not attempt to enter at low tide or storm conditions.  Anchor if need be at 09 03.42N and 123 06.15E.  A vessel ran aground this year attempting to enter in a storm and the family was lucky to live.

6.  If approaching from the South West, be advised that the Philippine Coast Guard has been allowing vessels to stop in Balabac before check-in. 07 60N and 117 04E.   Anchor in bay. Go meet officials at their vessel and provide details and plan.  If you want to see some sites or dive in area, hire local operator.

7. Most sailors check in at Puerto Princesa on East Coast of Palawan.  Stay well offshore and make no stops until you are at Rasa Island.  A stay near Rasa no more than two nights is considered safe.  Rasa is a bird sanctuary.  Do not go ashore without a guide.  BTW My particular vessel is never left alone.  A squall came directly up the channel here and engine assist was needed to hold anchor.  09 13.9N and 118 24.5E.  Ask for and find Coast Guard official in Nara town.

8. It isn’t a big danger, however just so you know around 09 30.8N and 118 49.3E you may find your boat turns a 180.

9. When checking into Puerto Princesa you can anchor in front of the town or at the yacht club.  Please be aware your vessel may be at great risk.  If at dusk, many bugs start landing on your vessel they are likely to be termites.  Termites cause more damage and cut short more cruising adventures than humans.

p.s. Tabon Caves are cool.  Ask to see the giant skull and elephant sculptures I found.

Other recommendations:

A. Don’t fear a small fishing boat that is offering to sell you a fish.  About 200 PHP per kilo is a fair price.

B. Have small bottles of local whiskey to give as gifts.

C. Smile

Philip B. Maise

Hot BuoysSV., Volcano Hawaii

Read and Post Related Comments

Related to following destinations:

You must Login or Register to submit comments.