03-Apr-2004 -- Saturday
This is my fourth successful confluence visit and my first offshore.
I took a weeklong leave from work to spend the Lenten season in Matobato, Calbayog City, Samar Island. This time, we, Santah and me brought along my two cousins, Elsa and Josephine, who featured in my first confluence visit in Bulacan, 15N 121E. We left Manila at exactly 2:00 AM to beat the traffic congestions and save on travel time for this 670-kilometer journey. Visiting this confluence along the way is only a secondary plan that depended on how bad the waves were in Lopez Bay during this time of the year when the northeasterly wind came from the Pacific Ocean. However, the long stretch of Alabat Island northeast provided a good shelter for the bay. Upon reaching Atimonan town of Quezon Province, I could see the sea from the highway. I switched my GPS to “goto” 14N 122E and watched the reading went down to about 2.8 km at the nearest point in Plaridel town along the coastal part of Maharlika highway. But it was still too dark at 4:30 AM and I thought I would have a hard time looking for a willing boatman to make this seemingly crazy trip at dawn so I decided to skip the whole idea and continued with our journey.
Then we stopped at our favorite Tintin Eatery just after the border of the towns Plaridel and Gumaca. I usually stop at this eatery beside the sea to break the monotony of the long travel and to take some hot fish soup for our weary stomach. Then I took some fresh air at the seawall looking towards the sea when at about 5:00 AM, the sky broke its first dawn light. The waves look manageable and the plan crept back to my mind. Then I saw this small boat parked on the beach so I asked the eatery waitress if I could see the owner of this boat. She brought me to the small sari-sari store nearby and woke the owner. I offered him 600 Pesos if he can take me offshore about 6.7 kilometers away. I knew that with 600 Pesos, it sounded like a heaven’s deal for Almer, the boatman, for him to refuse. I thought we could manage to do this diversion trip in about one hour and a half but I did not reckon that it was only a small boat with a 5-HP engine and worse, the boatman took risk running with almost empty tank. Santah & I wore the life vests I always brought along the trip just to be on the safe side on this unfamiliar sea. Elsa and Josephine stayed behind and besides, the boat was two small for the four of us. We took off just before sunrise. Checking with my GPS, we were only traveling at 7 km per hour so I asked Almer to speed up a little bit more. We had to stop three times for him to check the tank’s content adding more excitement to the trip imagining the complication if we ran out of gas midsea. After about 45 minutes we reached our goal. We slowed down and took some shots on my GPS but I had trouble looking for the exact spot when GPS direction didn’t work anymore at low speed plus the difficult maneuvering when the wind, waves and tide work against the paddling. I did not forget that my main journey was still to Samar, about 450 km away so I had to get my next best GPS reading and we headed back for land. This time the boatman decided to go straight to the nearest shoreline when it was clear that he was really running out of gas. We decided to ride a tricycle back to Tintin Eatery where Elsa & Josephine were waiting for us.
We continued with our journey with the sun up high on this beautiful summer day. We still made it to the 2:00 PM ferry boat at Matnog, Sorsogon and reach our final destination in Samar just before sundown.
All in all, it was a perfectly planned trip.