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Date Posted: 04/06/10

Sailing against the Monsoon, not in harmony with nature (April 6, 2010)

By: Arturo Valdez

Left the safety of Balangonan Cove for Caburan, JAS, Davao del Sur at 1:30 AM. Initially, swell was in rhythm but as we come closer to Butolan and Butuan Pts, seas got rough and swirling. Wind was northeast but waves was perpendicular. We closely monitored the Balangay hulls as it continuously banged against big waves. If it leaked badly as the last, I would abort the voyage and return to Glan. But also reached a point of no return if there was serious damage. Finally, at 6:30 AM, we reached the safety of Caburan Port 56 kms away. We're having damaged inventory before continuing journey to Malita tomorrow. Navy Patrol Gunboat 388 headed by Commander Richard Gonzaga escorted and assisted us the whole time.

Our forefathers in their ancient Balangays 'sailed in harmony with nature.' They will not travel the way Masawa and Diwata are doing it now - against the monsoon 'Norte' of Davao Gulf. Their ancient Balangays would have been smashed by the violent waters of the Gulf which we nearly experienced last March 15-16 near Butuan Pt until we structurally reinforced the horizontal and vertical braces of the hull to give it better chances of survival. That's how we made it today in Caburan, JAS. Our travel is now dictated by our adventurer's spirit, not the safe and conservative instinct of our forebears. Per my talk with Museum Balangay expert Rey Santiago, this route is hardly used by our forefathers because f the violent nature of the Gulf against wooden hull boats. We are now in a cove, middle  of the Gulf. We intend to leave at 3 AM tomorrow for Malita, Davao del Sur. We'll surely be the happiest crew once we get out of these waters.

To brighten our spirit, we are coincidentally hosted by Caburan Barangay Captain Vicencio Almano, one of the the 7Pinoys (they were once featured in the Reader's Digest book section) who survived 37 days at sea when their small banca drifted all the way to Papua New Guinea from Sarangani Island at the mouth of Davao Gulf.
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