We are drifting fast down the coast of Mindanao. The wind is directly behind us and the sails are configured opposite of each other, so called wing on wing. It’s barely enough wind to fill the sails, and sometimes we drift so fast that the sails back off, but still we are going fast. 5-6 knots in barely any wind, and no motor.
The Mindanao Current
We are in the strongest part of the Mindanao Current, the reason for our speed despite of little wind. All the water from the Pacific that has been flowing west in the North Equatorial Current (NEC) has met its barrier, the Philippines. Here the NEC splits into two, going north and south, and we are riding the south-bound current, called the Mindanao Current. Kind of like the turtles in the movie Finding Nemo, except we are floating on top (thankfully).
We have been super blessed by the timing of our entrance into the Philippine Sea. This stretch of water is completely exposed to the whole Pacific Ocean, and there are few places to hide. If you sail here in the wrong kind of weather, you will have a rough ride and even rougher sleeps. By the time we entered, the worst winds and waves had abated and we have enjoyed a week of little wind, relatively small waves and mostly sun.
If everything had gone according to my plan, we would have been here a month earlier. Then we would have furious winds and large seas, with over 5 meters swell. But the multiple delays after our launch, including having our masts made longer, caused this delay of which I am thankful. Delays are never fun in the moment, but now I see there was a purpose for it. God’s timing is better than mine.
So here we are, drifting fast towards the finish line. In about a week we will be in Samal island, near Davao, where we will take the boat on shore and store it until next year when we will sail to the Solomon Islands. This season in the Philippines has been very valuable and now I know much more of what it takes to sail the Vaka Hop’e through Indonesia and Papua New Guinea to its new home in the Solomon Islands.