Between the south of Palawan Island in the Philippines and northern Borneo, the expedition has crossed - finally without a hitch - one of the world's most ill-reputed regions. Not without having, however, made exceptional arrangements to avoid nefarious encounters. Log book
« We leave Pirates Hold northwest of Palawan on the night of February 14, 2018. The announced tropical storm finally disintegrated into the Sulu Sea and we take advantage of the winds to continue towards Sabang, one day’s navigation away. It's quite ironic to have taken refuge in this "pirate shelter", a small bay perfectly sheltered from the winds, just as we are about to approach, further south one of the world's most ill-reputed regions. ...
During our southwesterly descent, we stop in an unnamed bay where our nautical charts indicate "fresh water". A small house on the beach, a rice field and finally a river allows us to fill a few canisters of fresh water. Sadly, we leave this peaceful place quite quickly to continue our trip in order to arrive during daylight hours in Sabang. At first glance, we are having troubles finding the village but the many bankas (traditional boats with double pendulum) at anchor clearly indicate that we are in the right place.
Pietro and Candy leave by minibus for the small town of Puerto Princessa, located on the east coast of Palawan to complete Fleur de Passion’s departure formalities from the Philippines while Aurore, Pierrick, Ugo and the passengers visit the village, the surrounding areas and take care of the bunkering. Arriving in Puerto Princessa, oh surprise! This Friday, February 16, 2018 is the Chinese New Year and immigration and customs are closed ... "Come back on Monday", we are told. That is absolutely impossible, we must leave the next day, Saturday to meet our schedule dates. Indeed, the boat is expected February 22 in Brunei in anticipation of an event on board the 26. What to do! We finally manage to do the immigration papers at the airport. It takes only four and a half hours (excluding the Sabang - Puerto Princessa trips), which is not so bad compared to other exit procedures at previous stops.
On Saturday morning, February 17, Stephen the diving instructor leaves us after three months of good and much appreciated services rendered on board from Manado, Indonesia. We prepare the boat for an afternoon departure. Without being heavy or weighted, the atmosphere surrounding the departure of the Philippines is very peculiar. From Sabang to Brunei, on the island of Borneo, the expedition is preparing to cross one of the most dangerous parts of the world because of rampant and endemic piracy. Very exceptional arrangements were therefore made to minimize the risk of ill-fated encounters during the following four days at sea. Thus it is almost all sails out but especially all lights out that Fleur de Passion heads off, due west towards the Spratley Islands, to avoid as much as possible the south of Palawan.
It is not without deep emotions that we leave the Philippines after having stayed there two months since the arrival of the expedition to Cebu in early December 2017, and have multiplied so many beautiful encounters. Goodbye Philippines and thank you for your welcome, your support and your enthusiasm, this stop - and not least from a symbolic point of view - was magnificent!
Our stealthy navigation is complicated at first for lack of wind (force 2-3) but becomes very pleasant towards the end (a good force 4), this time with all the sails out (mainsail, mizzen 2 reef, staysail, yankee , jib-stay). Thousands of miles offshore from Palawan, far enough off the coast to avoid nefarious encounters, we veer south towards Brunei.
On Wednesday, February 21, off the wealthy sultanate, we start seeing the first offshore oil platforms that make Brunei’s fortune, as well as some cargo ships. The next day, as planned, we arrive in Bandar Seri Begawan Bay and find an industrial and oil complex - greenish and brownish water - which starkly contrasts with the natural splendours encountered during the three weeks since leaving Puerto Galera. This is where we stop for four days, including the time to welcome aboard schoolchildren for a short trip out at sea. »