About this Blog


Via this Blog you should be able to figure out why it is so much fun to Cruise Japan.

And get all that information you'll need to tackle The Paper Work (PW) you'll be hit with, even before you make landfall.

Other boats have been here before and:

ALL complained about the PW (hey, the officials just do their job) but it's all done for free,

ALL are so pleased they have come here...so most have come-back plans.

If you need more info, go the right hand side of this Blog, there is a list of Blogs...

As yet the links are to the boat's HP and so you'll have to roam around a bit to find that Japan Info.

Happy reading and see you at the sushi bar!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

sy JIJI report 2011. From Hong Kong to Akita

Sy JIJI sailed from Hong Kong to Akita (NW Honshu) in May & June 2011.

Jo wrote:

Below are, briefly, now some of my experiences and port info for your blog:

"jiji sailed from hong kong to akita in the month of may, 2011, stopping at kaohsiung (taiwan), okinawa, fukuoka, fukui (planned), and made one unplanned stop at ikitsuki ko on ikitsuki island, nagasaki prefecture because of engine failure. the trip took one more one month - may 1 to june 7. we choose the month of may after consulting the april, may and june u.s. gov't pilot charts for the east asia region, plus reading a lot of typhoon related information. we thought the month of may would minimize the chances of running into typhoons. however, as it turns out, we were quite wrong. we had to take evasive actions for the first two typhoons of the season, both of which came our way -- we were one day ahead of the eye of the typhoon going into naha ko in okinawa honto, which got a direct hit. then, when we were in fukuoka, the second typhoon, a super typhoon, passed by. even though this one went to the east side of honshu, there were strong winds in the sea of japan,
and we had to stay in hakata wan in fukuoka for four days to wait for things to clear. we were fortunate, though, as the max wind speeds we experienced while at sea was 35 knots. 

the port of kaohsiung was easy to get into. the customs dock was right inside the entrance of the harbor on port side, and after clearing it, we went into the only marina, a very small one with perhaps ten slips run by the city government, which is located not more than 400 meters away from the customs dock by turning into a short waterway on port. the customs people wore bright orange jackets and were impossible to miss. after berthing at the marina, the immigration people came to the boat to process our entry. no fuss. very professional. there is water and 110V electricity at the marina. marina charges were incredibly cheap, at about 5 usd a day for a boat our size (11.5 meters). onshore, walk to the right along the shore drive for about 200 meters, there is a sailing club (occupying one street-front shop space). the manager, mr peter pan, was most helpful. there are convenience stores where one can get cash. wi-fi is available at the mass transit station about 20 minutes from the club walking. further along there is a small supermarket and other stores. opposite the marina on the other side of the waterway are stores that sell fishing and boat stuffs like ropes, hooks, some hardware, etc. all very cheap and they are mostly for fishing boats and of good quality. diesel has to be trucked using your own plastic buckets from a gas station quit some distance away. (you need to arrange transportation for that. some taxi drivers are willing to help out on a small payment.) need to clear with customs again before departure. 

we entered japan at naha ko (open port) in the main island (honto) of okinawa prefecture. the naha ko customs docks have high walls with wood columns, so docking was a bit difficult. our boat actually waited in the middle of naha ko (within embankments) for 20 minutes after calling the coast guard on VHF; they sent a cutter to lead us to the customs docks on the south side of naha ko. the officers were very helpful and courteous - as the typhoon was approaching, they asked us to leave the boat at the dock and helped us to secure her with huge fenders and several 400-ft ropes. the also let us use a net-like rope-ladder for climbing up and down the seawall, spiderman fashion... so we left jiji there for two days and checked into a hotel @6,000 yen per person per night or so. we had to go to immigration by car, but then the customs people kindly drove us there. after the typhoon went away, we left naha ko and sailed several miles up north into the ginowan marina, which is a nice place - free water, free wi-fi, and cheap berth @ 1950 yen a day for jiji. the staff spoke little english, but since we are chinese, we can communicate with them in kanji more or less adequately. we noticed that foreign boats buying diesel has to notify the customs people and inform them how much you buy and the name of the vendor - not necessary elsewhere in japan - allegedly because of a serious marine crime-related problem there.

on our way to fukuoka, just upon entering the sea of japan, our engine failed (ingress of water and diesel bug into the fuel system). it was blowing 30+ knots and my crew were seasick. so we called the coast guard to help out. they sent a cutter all the way from sasebo - 40 nm away - and reached us after two hours. then the cutter towed us for another two hours to reach ikitsuki ko, the closest port where we could do repairs to the engine. the place is a closed port, but since we were led there by the japan coast guard, there was no problem entering and staying. the people there, mostly fishing people, were most friendly and helpful. repairs were competent but very expensive (about five times as expensive as in hong kong). ikitsuki wan is a small town with 6,000 residents, a small commercial area with a supermarket and may be two restaurants nearby. the island has a bridge linking up to the mainland of kyushu, and the closest city is sasebo, two hours away by bus. since ikitsuki is close to fukuoka, we did not add fuel. 

after staying for three days to wait for the winds to calm down a bit, we bade farewell to all those kindly ikitsuki people and sailed on to fukuoka. we went into the odo marina in hakata wan (open port). odo marina, operated by the city government, is right next to the west fukuoka marina which is closer to the marinoa mall, but somewhat cheaper @3500 a night for jiji. it is a very good marina, with free wi-fi 24 hours a day inside the marina building, also open for 24 hours a day. the staff speaks some english and are most friendly. they also let you use their computer during office hours if you don't have one. however, shower is 100 yen per 3 minutes, hot or cold. then came the super typhoon, and we made the right decision of stay four more days, but the marina people just charged us one more day extra, saying that sailors ought not to pay for unexpected and adverse weather! also, one of our crew hurt his back on the way to fukuoka, and had to leave for home (new zealand) immediately upon arrival. a staff member of the marina was so kind as to drive him to the airport in his own car! really wonderful people. diesel can be purchased at the berth or in buckets; they send a truck to deliver it at the marina. the marina itself has no fueling bay. 

then we went onto fukui. but before we set out, we asked the odo marina staff to call the mikuni marina in fukui port first. it turns out that mikuni marina is for power boats only - there is a bridge outside it that prevents sailboats with masts from entering. the people at mikuni marina directed us to the uminpia ohi marina in obama wan instead. turns out that obama wan is a closed port, so even though we called the tsuruga coast guard and obtained permission before entering the port, the coast guard people that came to visit our boat maintained that we had entered the port without following due procedure - and that is to fax in an application to the relevant coast guard office before even we depart for such a closed port. but eventually they allowed us to stay after filling out and faxing them the required forms from the marina office. the marina is posh and expensive @ 3850 yen a night for jiji, but offers fere wi-fi 24 hours a day. shower is prohibitively expensive at 700 per person... so we just showered on our boat. the marina has resident (yamaha) mechanics, who helped us order and fit a new racor filter to jiji. the deliver was overnight and quick, but the tab for the repair turned out to be 70,000 yen including delivery charges, parts and labor... there is a good supermarket called the mama store, about 20 minutes away on foot. 

we had been told that the rule for foreign boats entering open port / closed port was: for former, arrive and call the coast guard; for latter, get permission from coast guard before entering. latter turned out to be inadequate: you need to fax in an application to enter a closed port, at least if you are not entering because of an emergency. for emergency to a closed port, you call them on VHF and they let you enter. 

then three days after leaving obama wan we arrived in akita (an open port), our destination, and berthed the boat at the akita marina, right outside and to the north of the akita ko.

for sightseeing, both okinawa and fukuoka have a lot to offer. the natural scenery on ikitsuki island is very, very good - we were kindly driven around the island by two local ladies and had a whirlwind tour of the various vista points, which took a bit more than an hour. obama shi is too small to be of much interest, although there is a very, very good japanese food museum there, with a reasonably priced restaurant on a floor above it. there is a train linking the marina at obama wan to obama shi that runs once an hour or so.

some info abut jiji: 

37-ft cutter sloop built in 1993 by pacific seacraft and designed by bill crealock
featured in franc mate's "best boats to build or buy"
modified full keel, 16,000 lb, two water tanks, two diesel tanks, 50-hp yanmar
shoal draft 1.4m, equipped with all the electronics and ocean cruising gears,
rigged to sail short-handed or solo. 

the name jiji (既济)is the second-last oracle in the ancient chinese Book of Changes (I Jing, 易经)
literally it means "finished crossing over the waters", with the connotation of itching for the next one. 

Top: at Ikitsuki shima.
Right: at Akita.

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