Friday, April 11, 2014

Pumped up by Pujada Island (Part 2)

Time passed by quickly in the island. It was almost two o’clock in the afternoon when we packed up and headed back for Blue Bless. Sailing home, however, turned out to be tougher than I expected. As Blessie Mae cruised the bay again, we braced ourselves for the wild waves that were waiting for us somewhere in the vast waters. 

We were approaching Waniban Island when they attacked. Stronger swells, coming one after the other, slammed the boat incessantly. Blessie Mae’s bow began to dip into the turbulent waters and then buoyed upward as it plowed through the wild waves. I began to feel uneasy watching how the little monsters scared the passengers.  

Lunch by the beach
The crew of Blessie Mae
As the mischievous swells kept pounding Blessie Mae, shrieks filled the air, punctuating each splash. It felt like we’re on a rollercoaster ride gone awry! As the harassed boat continued sailing through the rough waters, the fuss and furor diminished into sighs of desperation and then dissolved into sounds of silence.

A chill suddenly swept over me as nagging thoughts rushed inside my head. Will our vessel withstand the badgering? What if it cracks under pressure? What if it loses its balance and capsizes? Clutching the boat’s window sill, I whispered a little prayer, asking for divine intervention to calm the troubled waters.

Fighting his fear, I heard Jobots’ tense voice as he prayed aloud. I looked around and noticed that the others were also scared stiff—except for Judith who was happily taking a video of the darn waves! Gazing at my companions’ worried faces made me wonder what’s going on in their heads. Geez, are they thinking what I’m thinking?

The "unsinkable" Blessie Mae
In a bid to reassure his panicky passengers, the “captain” came down from the boat’s helm and shared his plan to us. “I’m trying to find a way out of those waves and drive us towards the shoreline. If I can do that, then we’ll be safe.” His words failed to assuage me. Neither did I see any sign of relief in the faces of the other passengers. 

For what seemed like eternity, the waves continued to furiously beat our boat. Despite the tense situation, I tried to keep calm. The vessel slowed down many times, riding with the crests. I guess the "captain" had to lessen the boat’s speed to enable him to negotiate with the swells and the winds coming in from the Pacific.

White-sand beach in Pujada Island

Within the next hour or so, we seemed to be going nowhere as the seconds ticked off at a snail’s pace, prolonging the tension gripping those aboard Blessie Mae. Many of my companions looked seasick. Good thing, I wasn’t. OMG! It was probably the longest one-and-a-half hour cruise we’ve ever taken in our whole lives!       

Perhaps fearing the worst, I heard someone reminding everyone to put on a life jacket. I pulled one for myself after all the others had donned theirs. Darn luck! I was left with one which had a broken zipper! Good thing, I was able to tie the two torn straps together. Geez, I hope this works when the going gets rough, I thought. LOL!  

The swells were hitting our boat from the right, and the "captain" seemed to be turning the other way. He began making his turns early, but the vessel had difficulty cutting through the waters—it was in fact starting to turn the wrong way! I stared at the deep blue sea and something hit me: The rough waters were taking control of Blessie Mae

Waniban Island

For almost half an hour, our situation hardly changed. Despite the crew’s best efforts, it seemed as if we weren’t moving towards the direction the “captain” wanted to take us. Goodness gracious! The strong winds seemed to be in cahoots with the stubborn waves—they’re both conspiring to toss Blessie Mae towards the open sea!  

No matter how hard they tried to bring the boat ashore, the crew’s efforts always ended up in vain. There seemed to be no escape from our predicament! The winds and waves were just too unwieldy. Then, when it seemed hopeless, something happened. The "captain" found what he’d been looking for—a way out of the little monsters!

With dogged determination, he revved up the boat’s motor and tried anew to cut through the weaker part of the rough swells. From where I sat, I could sense he was trying to put the boat’s rudder all the way over, probably wishing for all the rpms it could give him. Slowly, he pushed his way around and won over the wild waves!

As the "captain" successfully steered Blessie Mae into less turbulent waters, the wild waves gradually weakened into rickety ripples that gently tossed the vessel towards the shores of safety. I heaved a sigh of relief. Others fell asleep, perhaps too weary to talk about the ordeal they went through just several minutes ago. 

OMG! It’s my third time to survive such troubled waters—first in Davao Gulf, particularly in Sta. Maria, Davao Occidental when we were in Little Boracay Beach Resort years ago and then in Palawan while crossing the West Philippine Sea in 2012 to reach the Puerto Princesa Underground River at the height of Typhoon Lawin at that!

Feeling safe and secured

Relieved, I resumed taking snaps of the picturesque seascape. Geez, here’s a beauty so wild, so wind-blown and so wickedly treacherous! For a while, we sailed through still waters. Then, from a distance, the stilt houses of Blue Bless, Cinco Masao, Gregorio  Dita and  other beach resorts came into view. As they grew bigger and nearer, hope and joy sprang in our hearts. We’ve made it!

Floating cottages on stilts at Blue Bless Beach Resort
Like Jobots and the others, I was shaken by the experience—but so grateful we came through. It felt like we went to the infernal regions and returned unscathed, a sojourn that Jobots would later describe as “a ride through hell”. Heart still pounding vigorously, I joined my companions as we headed back to our respective cars.

Days later, I tried Google-ing for the meaning of the word pujada—geez, it means “rise” in Catalan, a variant of the Spanish language! Was the bay, including the island, named after those treacherous rising waters? I would like to think so after experiencing how those shape-shifting monsters rocked Blessie Mae. LOL!

Gregorio Dita Beach Resort
Lest I’d be misinterpreted by Mati’s drumbeaters, cruising in Pujada Bay is fun—the seascape is exceptional, the islands are enchanting, the destination points are exciting. Sailing there, however, isn’t for the faint-hearted, the seasick or the hypertensive. And if you’re going to do it, go there early in the morning when the sea is calmer.

Cinco Masao Beach Resort
It’s never fun watching huge waves coming from the Pacific badger your seacraft. It’s never fun hearing screams of fear reverberate throughout your cruise. And it’s never fun waiting for the crew safely navigate the vessel out of the dangerous waters. Geez, how can there be fun when life and limb are already at stake? 

As I pondered over our narrow escape from that near mishap, I discerned one of life’s most important verities. Like our sojourn to Pujada Island, the voyage in the sea of life isn’t always a pleasant cruise; there will be some rough sailing somewhere along the way. What matters is that we are always ready to confront any trouble.  

Nobody knows, however, when these troubles would strike. There is no warning whatsoever. So we have to be always prepared to face them. Courage alone, however, cannot tide us over to the shores of safety. Unless we have faith and draw courage from an unseen higher power, facing life’s difficulties will be tougher.

As I continue my sojourn in the sea of life, I keep on thanking Divine Providence for the new lease on life that was given to us. In more ways than one, the Pujada Island escapade gave me the pumping up I wanted to have this summer and so much more. The life-threatening experience also pumped up my faith once again. :D

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