MILFs and motor trouble

captain alex

11 February 2011 | Cebu, Philipines

We did an overnight in Surigao on Mindanao island rafting up with a fishing vessel with 20 or so Phlipinos aboard. We had been warned to watch out for MILFs (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) who had been trying since 1978 to set up an Islamic state there but instead encountered only friendlies on our short stop. Walking through town that evening the liveliest event happened to be a funeral held on main steet with the streets blocked off with tables and chairs where family members were each sipping on their own bottle of Tanduay rhum. Thinking it was a bar with everyone stumbling in and out of an adjacent building with drink in hand Ben and I proceded inside to find ourselves directly in front of a casket. We were invited by the family to stay and we spent the night drinking rhum, eating soup, and saying local prayers to the deceaced Felix.

The next morning as we pulled out of Surigao’s harbor the engine died with no warning and with the wind picking up and a potential typhoon approaching we continued on sailing towards Cebu (a typhoon shelter over 100nm away). I changed fuel filters and bled the engine repeatedly with no luck of getting it started again. Later that night with no engine and becalmed I became worried as we drifted towards the reef on the north side of Bohol island but the wind gods smiled upon us and after an hour we were sailing again, however with no engine to cut through the reef pass in the dark we had to extend our trip 25 miles going around the trecherous reef and numerous fish traps in the darkness.

By morning we were on approach to Mactan island and the channel that seperates it from the much larger Cebu island (2nd most populuated area of the Philipines) and with current taking us swiftly through the channel and winds at our backs we were only going to have one shot at making the tiny yacht club entrance with no engine. With Ben at the helm and Shannon on look for fish traps Kirk and I readied the dingy and when Kirk handed me the bulky 15 hp Yamaha over the stern rail I nearly lost it as we were simultaneously rocked by a wave. I fired up the dingy and ran ahead of Bubbles into the yacht club looking for help (nobody has vhfs on here) and was pleasantly surprised to see a Canadian friend Steve (first met in Bora Bora) who immediately jumped in to help and along with the help of JoJo and the jet propulsion dingy from one of the super yachts we backed Bubbles into a half-slip space (the marina was full) with a little tetris skill right beside our French friends on the catamaran Pirates.com (who we had been cruising with since PNG). A party was quickly arranged aboard Pirates.com to celebrate our arrival and we exchanged stories of our passage from Palau over local beers and rum and even (of course) French wine and cheese which Ben particularly seemed to enjoy.

The next morning work started on the engine and with some help from other boaters the thought was that the injectors were bad and so after removing them I ran them into a shop in Cebu by taking the local transport of a jeepny (basically a colorfully painted pick up truck with bench seats in the back of which the 45 minute ride costs only 15 cents). Upon my return I was surpised to see the entire yatch club abuzz with activity as lines were being spiderwebbed all over the place to anything solid. I asked Steve what was going on and was told that NOAA had just put out the chance of a typhoon hitting at 60%. I worked my way through the webbing back to Bubbles and emptied the lazerettes for any and all line we had so we could make our own spider web and then we waited.

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