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  • Writer's pictureJojo

Fortune Island Notorious Waves - 2019-02-01

Updated: Feb 13, 2019

Around 7:30AM, Friday, Johnny went to my place in Fort Bonifacio to pick me up and I volunteered to drive all the way to a boat shop, based in Rosario, Cavite, to pick up his 28-footer adventure boat. His boat was built custom made by The Boat Shop Corporation, powered by a Yamaha 150HP 4-stroke Outboard engine. His boat trailer is custom made as well, newly built, galvanized steel with two axles, and the boat tire hubs were bought from Good Catch/Fishing Buddy Tackle shop. A few days earlier, en route to Nasugbu, one of the trailer tires suddenly got detached from the trailer! The good thing is it did not cause any accident, or hit anyone or anything. We were able to have the wheels re-attached and was able to safely bring the boat back to the shop. Since I freed my whole Monday for this, I offered Johnny that we go to Pasay area and look for high tensile bolts and nuts to replace what came with the hub. Surprisingly, it was easy for Johnny to find the replacement bolts and nuts which cost only Php25 per set! He bought 25 of these high tensile bolts since there are 5 bolts per hub x 5 to include the spare tire.

Back at the shop, Tatay Liloy, the owner of The Boat Shop Corporation, a veteran, a living legend and an icon in the boat building industry in the Philippines, assigned the task of removing all the hubs from the trailer to one of their very experienced employees named Alex. Tatay Liloy had Alex remove all the hubs from the trailer, replace the bolts with the high tensile ones then have them spot welded in place to add extra protection. Problem solved! We opted to delay the towing till Friday when we can start early and bring someone with us for "just in cases".

Selfie with the veteran, living legend and icon of the boat-building industry in the Philippines, Tatay Liloy.

So come Friday, we were at it again, towing the boat. Johnny asked Tatay Liloy if it's possible for one of their boys to assist us in the transportation of the adventure boat. He happily volunteered Alex.

So off we went and the first technical stop was at a Shell station along Tanza to check the nuts of the wheels of the trailer if any has loosened. So far so good, nuts were still tightly secured. Next stop was Petron in Naic, our usual fuel station stop. Jeff, our suki pump boy, looked elated to see us again now with a much bigger speedboat in tow. Johnny's adventure boat had his fuel tank modified which now can hold as much as 500 liters of fuel! With that amount of fuel, according to him, it's already enough to get the boat to Apo Reef and back. We had the speedboat fueled up with 245 liters of XTRA unleaded gasoline. With that big amount of fuel, Jeff, was so kind enough to suggest and offered Johnny a Petron Value card to have the points counted. Sayang nga naman ang points! Thank you Jeff!

Next stop, Lolo Claro's in Maragondon. It was perfect for us. We found a space on the side of the road to park, opposite the restaurant. You guys should try this place.. Their food offerings and meals are mostly under Php200. Their specialty is their chicken, much similar to how Max Fried chickens are cooked, less the price! We had the chicken-pancit combo with a glass of ice tea, and Johnny had the chicken-veggy combo. Ordered an additional fresh lumpia. Sarap! Total bill was under Php500 for three persons.

We breezed through the zigzags of Ternate - Kaybiang Tunnel - Pico de Loro route till we reached Tali Beach Main gate. We went straight to Johnny's Mansion House to swing by for Francis, the caretaker assigned to the place, and get some boating equipment onto his speedboat. We were on the water around 11AM. Met two British Anglers at the ramp, Ian Atkinson, who looks like a mix Between Mel Gibson and Russel Crowe, and his close buddy from England, Damian. They were in the process of retrieving their aluminum boat and both looked so roughed up. Seeing how windy it was that day, I'm sure they struggled through the waves that morning. Got Ian's contact number and told him that we'll be back next week. His friend said, Ian is really into fishing and has complete gears, rods and reels and is willing to lend us equipment. That's too good an offer to pass so I told him that I'll get in touch soon and invited him and his friend on the spot to join us on the 5th of February, since I will be there to test some equipment on my boat. And as of this writing this, I was able to got to his place at Park Place, in Tali Beach, saw all his gears and met his fishing team (comprised of a veteran boat captain). Ian also showed me a styro cooler with an air pump attached full of live small shrimp baits. Spent half a day from breakfast until 2pm at this place and talked about his various fishing adventures around the word. This will be subject to another blog.

Anyway, going back to Johnny's boat being launched at the Tali Beach boat ramp.. Once we cleared the boat ramp, Johnny asked me where do we go next? I quickly answered, "How about we try Fortune Island?" The infamous six words I would later regret that day, hahahaha! So off we went to Fortune Island downwind (wind was blowing towards the WEST).. Seeing how big the waves were already, every bump and passing minute I was beginning to realize that this was a bad idea and it will surely be a struggle going back to the beach house upwind. But Johnny was all confident that his speedboat can handle the waves. Nearing the island, we were cruising over 3 to 5 foot waves!

Nearing the island, we were cruising over 3 to 5 foot waves!

Our speed was about 35 knots, not a problem downwind. But upon reaching the South Eastern part of Fortune Island, we had to slow down, waves were really seriously big! Then suddenly, the waves turned into gentle swells to almost nothing and it was a relaxed mood as we reached the Western side of Fortune Island.

To our great disbelief and surprise, we saw a 17-footer boat with almost the same make as my speedboat (with an open bow), with a man standing, seemingly waiting for someone or something. We were truly shocked to find that kind of speedboat there with the kind of giant waves we experienced. Out of curiosity we asked the guy on the boat how he's doing and asked him how he was able to manage the big waves. He was quick to answer that they were there around 10AM coming from Matabunkay Beach Club. And that there are seven Korean tourists with him who are now on the island waiting for a rescue boat. I then asked him how he was able to manage to fit seven on the boat and his answered back that there were actually two boats and unfortunately one of the speedboat sunk at the South Eastern part of the island when it struck a big wave. Luckily, no one got hurt or drowned. We offered to help but the man on the boat said help was on the way. I left him my contact number just in case and then we proceeded northwards and decided to head back to the beach house.

Stranded boatman at Fortune Island, with 7 Korean tourist safe on the island, waiting for their rescue boat.

Upon reaching the northern part of the island, that corner, that's when we all started to feel a bit anxious. Wind was blowing so hard! So is this what gusting at 27kph looks like, as what Windy app indicated?! The waves were curling, --you know when waves have this white thingy on top, -- THAT'S MAJOR! The wind and splashes on the front of the boat were hitting us so hard it became difficult for us to see through the windshield, even with wipers on. And the cushion on the front deck, flew off! That's how serious the situation was becoming! We had to turn back to pickup the cushion. After doing so, we continued on with the fight. Decided that we do a zig zag move with the boat to avoid facing the big waves head on. The speedboat was dropping hard on the water. It felt more like jumping from a ladder and landing on the floor solid butt first!

To prevent any possible spinal injury or breaking my back, I was standing the entire time as we tried to maintain 26 knots, and try to lessen the impact on my body by bending my knees whenever the boat is about to drop and bang on the water like what I used to do and experience when I was still actively jumping waves with my Yamaha 1.8 HO Waverunner.. So we angled the boat 45° eastward and continued on like this for half an hour, aiming to the general direction of Canyon Cove, with its red roofs looking very visible from where we were. Looking back at the island from time to time, it felt like we're not inching anywhere away from it! Then I suggested we angle to the left, but that got us facing much bigger waves so Johnny quickly angled right again. Boom! Pack! Swish! The speedboat was taking a major beating! But all is good! It was very obvious the speedboat was built to withstand the rough waves we were smashing into. After a few minutes more of this extreme splashing on the windshield, wave jumps and sudden drops, the swells became smaller as we got nearer the coves. Phew! WE HAVE SURVIVED! Ok, never again, at this time of the year! Or never at all. I don't want to risk it anymore. I dread the thought of losing my speedboat. We were safely back at the beach around 2pm, I think. I lost track of time. I was still a bit shaken and recovering from the "a bit" nerve-wracking experience.

While waiting for Nina and the kids to arrive at the Tali Beach boat ramp, I asked Johnny if we can test the sonar of his Garmin and lo and behold, so many fish icons being displayed at the spot where we were at! I was all smiles!! Definitely a good spot!

After having a hearty late lunch at the beach house, Alex and I headed for home and rode on a van this time, with Johnny's trusted assistant, Ron, driving. Johnny and family stayed at the beach house for the weekend.

Key takeaway from this trip:

1. NEVER DARE GO TO FORTUNE ISLAND DURING AMIHAN SEASON! Buwis buhay! Better yet, never dare at all using a 17-footer open bow speedboat. Not worth it. Or... if you still dare.. it may be safe to try between 6AM up to 9AM tops. Wear life vests!

2. You should try Lolo Claro's in Maragondon.

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