Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Calaguas: Battling the Waves

Calaguas: Battling the Waves
Vinzons, Camarines Norte
January 29, 2011

The minute our small rented outrigger boat sailed across the river estuary passing by the overgrown mangrove trees, I know the adventure was just about to begin. I never realized I will get more than what I’ve bargained for.

Boat ride amidst the mangrove area. The river runs into the sea.

Unplacid Water

As we anchored for a few-minutes stopover, I look out from afar, beyond the sea horizon and I silently shivered a thought. “Guys, are those waves big? Cause they look like arggg…terrifying?”

One never really realized how big the waves are until they are literally at the mercy of capsizing. I gripped my life-vest as wave after wave hammered our boat. Humungous waves, the likes I’ve never seen before.

 And yeah, they came in any (unexpected) directions, as if the gods were playing havoc. I almost died of shock watching as our boat sailed across such gloomy water. 

I stopped looking at the sea... 

Those moments I asked myself why I go on pursing these kinds of trips. And I can’t seem to find the answers. All the while, I was imagining all sorts of things. In a desperate mode, I even remember analyzing strategies on how to survive in case something unlikely eventually happen. 

            Agile boatmen of the East. Surging past the currents.  

Perfect Storm

It rained hard that day. The horizon eventually vanished. Thick fog soon blocked the little rays of sun left laminating our path. I realized if one doesn’t die of drowning here, one surely would of heart attack. 

The scene before me, was like cut from one of those disaster / fantasy flicks you see in big screen (where adrenaline rush only begins when the protagonist enters all sorts of death defying scenes). The only difference: it was all real for us. No script. No acting. No-sub. Definitely no re-take.

White Washed Rocks at Tinaga Island in Calaguas.

I scanned behind me and I saw one of our agile boatmen literally removing buckets of water out from our boat. My heart skipped a beat realizing why. I can’t remember how many times I’ve silently recited litany of prayers. Realizations were dawning on me like some newly-opened dike. 

 I promised myself (if ever I survive) to write all my experiences down here (one full-blog entry) to remind me how fragile life is. We are always at the mercy of elements even if we are the one holding the helm.

Wet from the splash of sea and rainwater, I was also shivering involuntarily: fighting a silent battle of hypothermia… Behind me, my friends were all silent. I can sense they were asking same questions that I do. But no one really dared to say anything.


We were four (4) hours sailing across the tempestuous water when we finally saw from a distance a patch of dotted islands. For a moment all eyes were fixed on those islets like some shining gold in a mound of dark rocks. Somehow, relief (of finding a patch of land after those gruelling hours) was painted all over our fear-stricken face. We were like starved predators finally catching our prey 

(I can just imagine the feeling of sailors from Galleon Ships during the Spanish times).

Soon, the captain of our small boat finally declared that we will be anchoring in Halabang Baybay (Long Shoreline) in Tinaga Island (one of the main islands in Calaguas) in few moments. Almost instantly, laughter erupted. It was infectious. Suddenly, everyone was smiling and talking...cracking jokes. The enthusiasm to reach the shore was overwhelming. 

Group pic after that grueling six hours ride back home. 

I look back behind me. As I gaze at the tumultous waves hitting the rocks, a cold feeling run down my spine.

With a sigh of relief, I shrugged my shoulders.  

We were just lucky.

"Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened."

Notes (to myself)

1. Never sail in this area during months with strong waves (-ber months including Jan-feb). It took us more than four (4) hours to reach the shore. More than six (6) hours going back. I'd would not want to repeat the same experience again. Maybe in another decade or so.

2. Never go here if you aren't prepared for everything. That includes emotional shock.

3. This trip is never recommended for faint hearted. You'd die of heart attack. 

4. Never sail without a life vest. In this area, no matter how good a swimmer you are, you'll not last 
without life jacket. 

5. I have had so may realizations during this experience. I'm not saying it's good though.

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