This is an authorized translation in English of a post in French by @marc-allaria: DECOUVREZ LES PHILIPPINES#5 : Scènes cocasses...! en mer...
As my primary language is not English, there are probably some mistakes in my translation.
Remember that the person who speaks here is NOT me, Vincent Celier (@vcelier), but Marc Allaria (@marc-allaria), a French guy.
Funny situations ...! at sea...
Arrival in the Philippines ...
There are sometimes situations that are quite funny ... How did I manage to find myself with my legs in an almost wide gap between the front pulpit of my sailboat and the cockpit of the boat of my friends "Ibildun", a little tipsy I have to admit it, and all this in the middle of the Philippine Sea with 3000m of depth between the legs ...?!
I am not Breton or even born on a sailboat, and I have never had any sailing education. In other words, marine traditions, proverbs linked to the sea and the superstitions of navigators ... I do not know. So I dress up on Fridays, eat rabbits on board, do not baptize my boats, and do not even know that the tradition is that an offering be made to the sea at the crossing of the equator. Pour a little pastis to the sea for a Breton tradition, imagine what it can represent as sacrilege for a Provençal! But hey, the pastis has sunk, and not the boat, this is the essential! It was therefore through VHF and my friends from Ibildun that my initiation to marine traditions began. When we cross the "line", the sea is beautiful, the wind very light, our boats follow each other at a speed of 3 or 4 knots, everything is fine. So, that when we make the decision to meet all together around the same table to celebrate the passage of the equator. As soon as the idea was suggested that a rope was sent to me. I retrieved it from the surface of the water, knocked it on the cleat and waited for my friends to use their winch to bring our two boats close enough. A perfectly executed maneuver that propelled me with ease into the cockpit of Ibildun from which I could then observe my own ship in tow situation, and no one on board ... Curious feeling, I admit it!
The meal was exquisite. Some homemade canned crayfish were waiting for me. A good aperitif too, and a bottle of wine worthy of the meal. In short, you will have understood that the return maneuver was more complicated and the explanation of the "comical situation" #1 I was talking about in the introduction will appear much more obvious to you now! But everything went well. I was able to get back on board my boat, relaunch my sails and enjoy the chance to experience such a wonderful moment with a marvelous boat, extraordinary friends and all surrounded by the most beautiful of the elements, the sea.
The rest of this navigation was rather quiet, punctuated by the household chores on board, some repairs on a capricious fridge, a little reading, and a multitude of tests on a line of drag that for the first time since the beginning of my trip left me totally empty-handed. And then, four days from the Philippines coast, a little distraction was provided by Ibildun. My friends are smokers, and more specifically heavy smokers. And a cigarette outage, at sea, 4 days before arrival can become trouble on board. So much so that in the middle of the afternoon, I was suddenly out of my nap by a voice with a strong southern accent emitting on channel 16 of my VHF in a language with which the interlocutor was obviously not familiar. This call gave something close to: - "Saillelingboat, Saillelingboat, Saillelingboat, for bi-gue shi-pe for bi-gue shi-pe, I have a probleme, I do not have cigarettesss. Do you have some for me ... " Pronounce obviously with a strong accent of the South of France, you will have understood!
Calling cargo ships
So here are my friends making VHF calls to all container ships, tankers and other cargo ships for the purpose of getting some fags. Funny situation #2! It must be known that times have changed. The Moitessiers, Antoine, or Slocum, whom we all read with shining eyes of dreams and travels, those are definitely in the past. At that time, the freighters would modify their route to greet an isolated sailboat or offer her some moral and material comfort. From now on, the road belongs to them to the point that it is necessary to be extremely vigilant when our roads cross each other and not to count on a maneuver of avoidance on their part. Most will not even answer the call of my friends. This makes you wonder if someone is watching the helm station on these huge ships. Some will respond, which will give rise to very friendly exchanges, Anglo-Asian VS Anglo-French, but will find an excuse not to stop. I understand them. And then, there was this cargo ship, almost without a window, a kind of huge submarine, stationary for some reason. A polite response, a joke, a second, a few laughs, I do not believe my ears, the ship agrees to send them cigarettes! But the case is not won, it is now necessary that a small sailboat 12m long in polyester can catch a small package launched from a pile of scrap 250m long ... The decision is made to throw the package into the sea. everything is packed, thrown, seems to float, but by the wave of the ship, here the bag is lost under the hull of the giant ... Everything is lost ... No, incredibly, the bag comes out in the wake of the cargo, it floats, my friends rush to him and recover him. It is with a cigarette in their mouths that they announce to me that the miracle accomplished. We are able to resume our course after 2 hours of total distraction lived on the VHF!
My fishing line always leaves me empty-handed. Nothing. When I think that in Melanesia my fishing sessions lasted only two hours at most before catching a fish big enough for a week of food. Obviously Asia is approaching and as I feared, with it, another scale of population ... Only two more days, it's six o'clock in the morning, I'm lying inside, a little tired by these sessions of 45 to 90 minutes of sleep. It's finally a Harley Davidson engine noise that makes me get up from my bunk. Where are we? The land is yet two days away ... I go in the cockpit, a look to the right then to left, and finally I see a canoe that is coming close. On board, a Filipino on a tiny canoe. They are several like that and they fish for bonito that they will bring back to the mother ship located not far from there. Two greetings, two smiles, no words, the fisherman then disappears at the bottom of his canoe and comes out with a small tuna he launched me with surgical precision inside my cockpit. Funny situation #3, my fishing is done!
The land is in sight, we arrive in Asia through the East of the Philippines and find refuge in the evening at the edge of Dapa, a small coastal town. Night falls quickly, after 11 days of discomfort I finally fall asleep quietly. The day is just starting, I go outside, looking forward to observe my surroundings. Around me, everything is moving. The mist still covers the city from which only the roofs of the houses stand out, the noise of the cars is perceptible from the boat, the canoes flutter in all directions, I do not understand everything. Melanesia is now far away, I start a new journey ...