Sunday, December 27, 2009

Japan Again 6


Our claim to fame here is that we are the first foreign yacht to visit, according to Coastguard, who once they got over their surprise at our appearance in their office, were extremely helpful. They gave us maps marking shopping areas, KFC etc. Tourist Information were also surprised to see us. They gave us great information all in English. We wandered through the Street Of White Walls and an open house. The English speaking guide gave us a very informative tour. Yanai is a clean and friendly city. We had a steady stream of curious visitors who have enjoyed our conducted tour of Charioteer. We had a very enjoyable evening with our new friends, dining from Bento boxes, talking and laughing.


Another wonderful place. Officials are extremely helpful as is the local ferry owner. Being tied to a commercial wharf means we have had very few visitors and this has enabled us to catch up on housework. Everyone we do meet is warning us to expect snow...and YES we have awoken to find snow on Charioteers deck.
Iwakuni has the most amazing bridge, opriginally built centuries ago. After a typhoon semi destroyed it, it was rebuilt in 1953, to original plans. There is also a Castle and an Art museum.Our bycycles have been in daily use which ios just as well as we are eating heavy winter food. Our diesel heater is a godsend.


Here we spent Christmas. Our present to us was ....a marina stay, a new outdoor table, two deck chairs and about 20 second hands books,
Here we were to meet our fishermen friends from Ya Shima. When we were collected in a chaffuer driven Lexus we began to think there was more to these fisherman than we had realised. We were driven on a tour of Hiroshima city and one of the places we visited was our hosts business which has 75 employees........we had a lovely afternoon tea at his house that had the most incredible views over Hiroshima. That evening we had a delighful meal complete with Christmas cake at a beautiful restaurant.
By now we were sure that Kozi and Tochi were not your average fisherman. Kozi invited us to join them at the Rotary Christmas party the following evening. Once again we were collected in the Lexus and upon arrival meet the President of the oldest Rotary Club in Hiroshima....guess what it was Kozi !!!!!!!!
To return their hospitality we invited them to Charioteer in the afternoon of the 25th December for Christmas pudding, cake, pavalova . We had also meet a lovely American who we had invited to join us for Christmas Day.
And so a day that can often be sad when one is away from home became a joyous occasion. Plus we had the added bonus of actually being able to talk to our family.

Hiroshima is one of the Japanese citys that had an atomic bomb dropped on it during World War Two. We visited the Peace Park and viewed the sad remains of buildings that had survived and are now preserved, the museum thats hold the memories of survivors. We thought we may have felt guilty....we certainly felt sad...but not guilty. We will only feel guilty if we do not help the world to stay safe from this type of weapon.
The people we met were once again friendly and giving...Charioteer is over flowing with oranges...I maybe able to start up a roadside stall!!!!!!!!!
Today we leave Hiroshima and continue our crusing. To any yachties planning a trip here the Kanon Marina is clean and friendly. The management were happy to negoiate a good price and the showers were fabulous.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Japan Again 5


Here is where the Human Suicide Torpedo was built during the war and there is one on display just near where we are tied up.
Our first stop here was the Transport Bureau and once again we found people eager to help. Leaving everything in there hands we explored Tokuyama and found, to our delight, all the shops located by the railway station and a supermarket close to the rail line. The streets were lined with trees wearing autumn foliage giving us technicolour pleasure. Charioteer was side tied to awharf and for company we had two big tugs and ten coastal freighters that were all tied stern to. We felt rather insignificant amongst them all. Our permit arrive, and were finally free to start cruising.


A huge sports complex with a pontoon was our destination. Upon arrival we were inundated with visitors, mainly sailing school students. Once things had quietened down we went for a walk and discovered a huge hardware/homeware store. We spent an hour in their drooling and decided to return to Charioteer, make a list, and return the next morning with our wallet.
But oh no horror..the Sports Complex had a rule...No over night now it was too late in the day so we were given permission to stay for two nights. Next day we spent time in hardware heaven.


At anchor in the beautiful bay, sun sparkling in the calm water, fishing boats dotted around, peace, birds song and ....oh no here come Customs. They had no paper work at all with them and after 'discussions' they drove us back to Hikari to the sub office and once again we put the same info down on the same form. They then drove us back to Charioteer. It gave them something to do and wasted several hours for us.
This place has many shrines and temples and we would of loved to be able to have found someone who could of explained the history of the place. But other than people praying and giving money there were no monks around. The peace and serenity of this bay is wonderful...a little bit of heaven.


Wind speed for 12 hours average of 20 knots, high of 39......the barometer plummeted and this was the weather we got. We were tied to a small wharf and every now and then the waves threw saltwater over the seawall and onto us. Weather aside we have had a lovely time here. Dark at night, torches flashing we found ourselves invited to a local house for drinks and karaoke. The owner lives in Hiroshima and had come over to the island with some friends on a fishing trip. The next day wev were fed a Japanese breakfast and then driven over to the other side of the island to view a 150 year old shrine. Upon the return of the fisherman we were given two fish for our evening meal, but taken to the house for lunch. The 120 year old house has been modernised inside with the upstairs being a private art gallery. This island was once home to 3000 people, but now there are only 30 locals. The empty houses are derilict, but this island is not dying without a fight. There are flowers growing everywhere, even old boat hulls have flowers planted in them. There is an incinerator for rubbish and vegetable gardens are well tended. Every house has a wheelbarrow, cars are almost non existent. Our kindly host has invited us to a Christmas party on December 23rd in Hiroshima.


Japanese oranges everywhere, there are just like mandarins. While we were out walking we met the local post woman who took us to a house where we were give a box of oranges. Then later she delivered another box to us. Everywhere we went we were given oranges. We met several older people who had visited New Zealand and it was a pity that we did not have enough of a common language in which to share experiences.

Japan Again 4

Finally we approached the huge bridge on the Kanmon, a passage between Kyushu and Honshu. We had been told and read about the ferious tidal currents (7 to 8 knots)., the huge ships and and we were both rather nervous. But we were able to wait until the current was slack and beginning to turn in our direction and we motored through in the company of many ships, which was not a problem and we reached the wide open spaces of the Seto Nakai unscathed and relaxed.


We knew nothing about this city other than it was here that we would apply for our cruising permit. Coastguard were extremely helpful, translating into Japanese all our proposed anchorages and we left them with their assurances that they would be able to organise our permit. Next stop was Customs and the many forms to be filled in, then we were free to explore.
The City hall was our first stop and here we found the very helpful International Section, staffed by friendly English speaking Japanese and lots of information in English.
Ube is a city of Sculptures, they are to be found everywhere. Tokiwas Park has a vast area dedicated to works by International artists and was worth the effort to cycle there. There is also a beautiful lake complete with ducks, swans and pelicans.

The next day we decide to devote to retail therapy or in our case window shopping.
We were meandering along when we were accosted by a voluble women who insisted we join her for coffee. This led to us having eight people on board for a look see and coffee. They reciprocated by collecting us in the afternoon and taking us to view a private European style garden and then to a feast....marinated beef, homegrown salad, rice, shrimp rolls (Vietnamese style, chicken on dumpling wrapper, fruit cake, fruit salad, lemon tea made with freshly picked herbs from the garden followed by coffee. Our hosts inundated us with grapefruit, huge huge radish, mandarins, exotic jelly type of sweet and two amazing pot plants.
By now Coast guard had let us know that we had to proceed to Tokuyama to finalise our permit. So once again we waved farewell to friendly people, untied from the pontoon and set off towards an area that had not been on our schedule and so was going to be an unexpected treat.


Monday, November 30, 2009

Japan again 3


Japan Again 2

O Shima.
We motor sailed to O Shima...another island with an aging population. The weather was beginning to deteriorate..our baromater over three days went up and down like a yoyo..from 1032 to 1020 to 1018, We had 48 hours of continual winds inthe high 20's with our maximum gust being 48knots. We were only going to spend a night here but it was six days before the weather was settled enough for us to move on and even then we should of stayed another day.
On our walks around O Shima we came upon a temple with a resident monk and we spent an enjoyable hour with him, drinking tea and learning the history of the temple.

Next stop was Aino Shima. an island with two small harbours, a clean well stocked supermarket, WIFI accessable from onboard, friendly people, cats everywhere, abandoned fishing nets, polystyrene buoys, old abandoned vehicles filled with old tvs,heaters,radios,bycycles,old fans and rubbish. In one harbour rubbish was burnt on the seawall, leaving tins and plastic floating at the waters edge. In the other harbour the rubbish was thrown into the sea or into the jungle/bush/scrub growing beside the breakwater. There were many fishing boats tied to the wharf but no signs of the fishermen, many houses appeared to be closed and empty. This island felt to us, desolate and unloved.

Japan Again

We arrived back in Japan on October 27th and it has taken us until then (Nov 30) until we reached the Seteo Nakai with our Cruising Permit.
We knew that winter was coming but we never expected the type of weather we have been having. The locals are also surprised.
Our first stop after our entrance port was Iki Shima and the port of Ashibe. This place has one of the biggest supermarket department stores we have seen in a long time. Once our bycycles were unpacked we set of towards the ferry terminal which we have usually found to be a good source of information. Even if it is in Japanese there will usually be a map with numbered pictures and we have found many interesting sites this way. Iki did not lets us down and we found the brochures and then we met the delightful ladies who ran the ferry terminal concession stalls. Amid lots of laughter we finally managed to get away, knowing the ladies were going to join us for coffee in the afternoon. A very enjoyable time we had with them...lots of laughter and lots of miming.
The next day we cycled for miles...up and down hills until finally we reached a shrine/temple that had stone monkeys as guardians.
On the way we had stopped for a breather and were invited in to the house of a Kite Maker......the room was filled with tiny wee kites to gigantic ones. We left carrying two medium sized kites as gifts.
That evening as we were relaxing onboard we had another visit from one of the ferry ladies who had her family with her.
The following morning as we were getting ready to leave they arrived bearing copies of the photos they had taken. So from arriving unhearaled we departed Iki with new friends waving goodbye.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

South Korea (not north) continued

Sailing is pleasant, with something of interest along the coast line..( we have seen many Nuclear power stations...). The south caost has hundreds of islands, often rugged, all interesting. We sail only in daylight because of the many fishing obstacles. Also many islands have huge bridges connecting them to the mainland, and electricity cables are strung between islands. Neither cables or bridges have air clearance posted. Power cables are suspended from pylons high on the cliffs, but in the centre the clearance is not great. So we hug the coastline watching the cables and the fishing buoys close to shore. Currents are often running which can help or hinder progress.
Marinas are rare, so it has been mostly tieing to a seawall. One port had a marina which consisted of floating plastic pontoons which looked good. Seven local yachts and several small fishing craft filled the three piers. This was a most unusual setup in that there were no poles, instead there were cables holdong everything in place.
A local yachtie had arranged to take us to a Historic National Park on a particularly windy day. His English was about 12 words, and you know our Korean is less. We were enjoying ourselves when his cell phone rang......oh no disater...."we go now" he said setting of to the car at fast trot. "Whats wrong?" we asked..but the only thing he could say was....marina broke.....hell we were not interested in the martina..what about our this the reply was ...not good!!!!!
It took us an hour to drive back and as we approached the port over the hill, we could see Charioteer at right angles to where she had been and instead of being on the outside of the pier she was in the middle. Winds were under 40 knots but our pier broke away and swung Charioteer side on into the next row of boats which were rough fishing craft.
So we could see much gouging on the side and two broken windows in the hull...(but she was upright and floating...hooray). After packing as many fenders as we could between us and the fishing boats we managed to organise for a large launch to hook a rope to our stern and haul us out. We had a local guy on board who directed us to a very strong mooring and helped us endeavour to pick up the mooring rope in 35 knot winds. We thought this guy may have been staying the night but eventually a fishing boat came and collected him. Next day a TV news film crew arrived and once again we were on Korean TV.
The broken windows were of thick toughened glass, the same as a vehicle widows, so yes there was ( and is ) glass everywhere, some of it is like grains of salt it is so small. They have now been replaced with the polycarbonate and epoxy filler to the hull bashing. We firmly believe that if our hull had been of any other material than steel, we would of been holed.
We are now back in Pusan and the very helpful and friendly Mr. Kim, of Power Marine, organised the polycarbonate for the replacement windows and the correct sealant, while Brian epoxied over the chipped fairing.
We have walked miles around the narrow streets of the fishing harbour looking for two pot primer paint and eventually finding a 4 litre pack that cost only NZ$30.00.
We also tried for a filter but the language barrier was to hard to surmount.
So now we are stocking up on food, clothing etc as here is cheaper than Japan. We are also buying two new bikes.
Photos to follow in the next blog

Korea South (not North)

Korea, south that is and not north..if it was north I would be writing this from jail.......
South Korea including the most southern island is only 500 km long. With a population of over 50 million it is one of the most densely populated countries. (actually nearly 500 people per sq metre)...So urban living is in appartments, multi storied, from 15 to 50 stories. newer appartments are much higher and have Helipads on top. the rural areas are mountainous, up to 2000m, covering 70% of the land. anywhere flat and rural is used for rice growing, vegetables, fruit.
Roading is extensive and great. All tunnels and bridges. Fast trains and and extensive city subways.Buses are very cheap and frequent. Food costs are about the same as new Zealand, although fruit is expensive.

But what about sailing Korean waters....Like Japan there are protected harbours every few miles but officials are the bane of sea travel.Permission must firstly be obtained from Coastguard.Their forms are in Korean only...great......"when will you depart? when will you arrive"..this gets me (brian) most aggitated. I point to the sails, asking what are the winds, currents the hell do I know !!!!!! but to no avail..we must have a time. yet it doesn't matter at the next port. then at ports with Customs the same again, except the questions are for first arrival from another country..To all this paperwork we smile through gritted teeth, muttering something about 'just another tree'. But rules are rules and as in Japan procedures are followed to the letter and never questioned.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Cruising Korea 4

Ater all that had happened to us in Busan we were thinking it was time to move on. We had learnt that we had to let Coastguard and Customs know that we were leaving. We thought this would take us only a few minutes but that was not to be our exit from Busan took place nearer to lunch than breakfast.
Trouble was continuing to follow us.....the motor for the mainsail drive would not work, the main engine generator would not generate and the GPS had stopped talking to the laptop with our navigation programme on.
So we were doing it the old fashioned way, eye ball and we were able to use the electronic charts as if they were paper ones, marking our course as we went.
Coastguard kept in touch all day....driving us mad witheir continual requests for location or wanting to know how many people were on board. We found a nice bay and pulled inpreparing to anchor for the night.
Suddenly the air was full of the noise of gunfire..and we do not mean little peashooter things.....did we stay there? No we high tailed it out and moved to the next bay where it was calm and quiet.
Next morning we decided that Tong Yeong Marina would be a good place to head for and try to get our broken things thats what we did.
This is a simply stunning area, many islands and sheltered waters. The marina has only one finger with poles in place for another finger. Within in an hour of our arrival Brian was out getting introduced to a man who fixed out sail drive motor and repaired/replaced our main engine generator. We have had no luck finding someone to help us with our gps/laptop problem though.So until we do it will navigating the old fashioned way for us.
The marina is part of the Choung Mu Resort and because of that we have very good, very fast wireless internet connection onboard which is why I have been able to enter so many blog chapters. Enjoy them please and I hope to be able to add more at our next port/ anchorage...but there maybe a bit of a gap.

Cruising Korea 3

Early next morning we were up and Charioteer was jerkily sliding back into the water...oh the relief to be there right way up and with a clean bottom. We motored back to the marina. In their wisdom they put us on a different finger, right at the end. There was a typhoon battering Taiwan and we were getting the outside ring of weather in Busan. We carry with us polystyrene fenders of several sizes...and the wave surge in the marina was terrible and we banged and crunched against the finger all night,decimating our fenders.
Morning arrived and we had another problem.....Brian had another kidney stone moving on down. Doctor Jenny arranged for Brian to attend an out patients clinic so I put out another fender or two and off we went. Poor Brian in agony in the back of the taxi, the taxi driver with no English and us with no Korean. But Jenny had drawn us a map so after fighting our way through rush hour traffic we arrived and within half an hour Brian was again hooked up to an IV and being used as a pin cushion. the day passed and we returned to Charioteer to find Mr.Kim had given us heavier ropes. After a visit to the marina office and a request for another berth, one with a bit more protection, we moved. Brian was only capable of standing and hanging onto the steering wheel and geeting us into our new berth. Mr Kim and his staff were there to help do the tieing up. Without them I do not know how I would of managed.
Once we were secure it was time to relax...Brian was a lot better but not one hundred percent. For the next week he suffered on and off with kidney stone attacks. But we managed to keep the pain at a controlable level with pain killers from the hospital. Doctor Jenny gave me lessons on how to and where to administer injections, but thank goodness that skill was not required.
We now had two other European yachts for company....LEV with Mike and Barbara and YELO with Daniella and Rolf. Oh the joy of being able to talk in English without thinking.
Brian spent several days in recovery mode and slowly regaining his strength and energy.
Busan Marina was built for the Seoul Olympics in 1988 and is still used today for the Asian Games. So the maintainance is pretty good. The marina is nestled beside a 7.2 kilometer (seven . two) double tier suspension bridge....a most amazing sight.The marina was not built with todays size of boat (up to 80feet) in mind so many motor launches and yachts hang well out from the end of their fingers. The river surge in here can be so bad that there are usually one boat per pen.
The types of boats range from huge motor yachts to wee dinghy sized yachts, jet skis are a frequent high speed passerby and on the weekend every man and his dog get onto a yacht or launch and go out for an hour or two of enjoyment. Numbers can vary but we have counted up to 25 on a 40ft yacht......

Cruising korea 2

So here we are, high and dry. We had arranged for black antifouling paint to be delivered. But oh no it is very dark blue. "But we wanted black" we said. In all seriousness we were told.... "this is so dark that when it is wet it looks black"....
what could we say but..."ok".
Brian and I were doing the job ourselves so it was on with old clothes,..(and after all this time cruising we have plenty of old clothes to chose from) and armed with scapers on poles we set to work. It had been two years since we had antifouled and we were plesently surprised with the state of Charioteers bottom.
At the the end of a hard day, we had a shower and wandered off to buy pizza for dinner. As we walked Brian complained of a pain in his the stitch...we just thought that he had strained something moving the heavy ladders. But
10pm he was writhing on nthe bed in pain and by midnight he was in hospital, on a drip and pumped full of pain killers....kidney stones..
We had been very fortunate in that one of our new aquaintances was a Doctor and she was able to assist us in getting Brian to hospital. So there we were...Charioteer high and dry, Brian flat on his back and me beginning to melt down. For Brian it was a rugged night even with pain killers, but by 8am the stone had moved on down and he was pain free. So he discharged himself and Mr Kim from Power Marine Busan was on hand and drove us back to Charioteer, via a restaurant for lunch. Mr.Kim had been instumental in negotiating the good slipway price for us and was proving a real asset with his assistance and support. He had contacted the slipway for us and by the time we returned to Charioteer they were underway with doing the antifouling. Brian of course was rearing to go and so we both continued the painting with able assistance from the slip yard crew. Two coats were put on and we retired exhausted but happy that the job was done and that Brian was feeling well.

Cruising Korea

We arrived at the Busan Marina and after locating the office, we waited for Customs and Quarantine to arrive.Then off we went to Immigration. The young man whose desk we sat at was most surprised to find we wanted three months...."why ? " he asked. "So we can cruise around and visit the islands" we replied. "Okay" he said and stamped us in for three months. We felt a bit braver on our return and we took the underground train. Several people on the train 'adopted' us and made sure we knew where we were at each station. At one stage we had to change trains and lines and once again we were 'adopted' and helped each step of the way.
Once back on Charioteer we thought ..hooray a wee rest and a relax....but no way. We arrived at the tail end of the main holiday break so there were plenty of locals and out of towners to view us. The questions are always the same....'why are you here? when are you leaving?..... Without thinking we said 'oh we wanted to do the antifouling (bottom paint) on Charioteer. Before we knew it there were about four people arranging with the slipyard to haul us out. This was great..except for one thing. At the slip yard there are two operators, side by side. The first one was going to charge us 1.2 million won, the second one's price was six hundred thousand won....and he was the one we went with. The haul out was arranged for Wednesday and so we had a few days in which to explore.

Wednesday morning arrived and with trepidation we motored over to the slipway. We had as our aiming mark a piece of bamboo sticking up out of the water which we had to keep to our port side. After a bit of manoeuvring we were in the right place and slowly and jerkily we hauled out and up the slipway.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Cruising Japan...Kyushu


This council owned and run marina offers visiting yachtsmen 14 days free.....after 14 days it cost us (in July 2009 for a 16m yacht) Yen 4700 per day. Water is an extra Yen400. There was no power and rubbish disposal facilities were very hard to find. Hot showers are available at a cost, but we did not use them so I am not sure of the cost.
The visitors berth are neglected and deteriorating and we would not like to be there in bad weather. The marina Management suggested that if a typhoon came we would be wise to move to the better private marina next door. The marina manager had very limited English while the office staff had none and were a hinderance rather than help whjen we applied for our continued cruising permit.
We were fortunate in being given the contact details of a local sailing enthusiast - Mena Santo - who was able to help us in so many ways.
Family were coming for two weeks and Mena was able to arrange a friendship house for them...never having heard of this before we now thoroughly reccommend it. for Yen500 per adult per night the accommodation was a two bedroomed house...with large family room, cooking facilities,shower, toilet and this house had the added pleasure of a lovely outdoors area. The friendship House was very close to bus, subway,supermarket,laundry, fantastic park with fly foxes,grass sled rides......
All we needed to add was some cutlery, a few extra towels and food.

WE had a fabulous two weeks reaquainting ourselves with our (now) eldest grand daughter, meeting our new twin grand daughters and enjoying the company of our son and daughter in law. We did all the tourist things we could including a ride on the bullet train.
The Friendship House owners gave freely of their time and one evening took us to dinner at a local restaurant where we all sat with our feet in a pit under the table while dining on local cusine. At other times we at from the "take a way' section of the supermarket...never quite knowing what was under the tempura batter, or we ate from the local Hoto Moto Food chain store.
Our dining highlight was being guests of Kojie and Masa at a very upmarket hotel restaurant. We entered a private room and their was a big "Welcome Boswell Family" banner.
While the children dined on exquistly designed and served soup, tempura prawn, potato and other things , plus icecream we were also spoilt with the feast for our eyes and stomachs that kept on arriving at our table, The highlight being the 'melt in your mouth' Beef. (Although I think Brian enjoyed the dessert the best !!!!)
We had met Kojie in Subic Bay Philippines and enjoyed his company there so it was pleasure to be able to renew our acquaintance. We enjoyed his company several more times either onboard Charioteer or sampling horse meat in a local restaurant.

Our exit port in Japan was Izuhara on the island of Tsushima. This is a town where tastefully modern rubs shoulders gracefully with ancient temples and castle remains.
We changed some Yen into Won at the 18th Bank, did our clearance formalities and once the weather was in our favour we left Izuhara. The plan was to go through the strait, under the bridge, an over night stop and then off to South Korea.
And thats what we did...under the bridge sideways as the current grabbed us and spat us out on the other side into calm waters. Through the bay and into the open sea for our passage to Korea.
We had checked the weather, watched the barometer and talked to the weather gods.....but as usual the wind was all but on the nose, the sea was a bit fact we had our usual sailing conditions.
But we made it and now we are in Busan south Korea.

Cruising Japan...Kyushu


We had heard the stories about the extreme currents, tidal rips and flotillas of ships using the strait so we approached with trepidation. Favourable tide was due the following morning so we anchored out of the way of the expected busy traffic. A few fishing boats roared by along a with a couple of coastal freighters....all taking advantage of the tidal flow.
A fishing boat approached us and with hand signals indicated that we were anchored over their crab pot area. They led us to another spot and as we reanchored they presented us with two live optopus and 5 large crabs. After they left we released the octopus, but the crab we njoyed for our dinner.
The next morning we went through the strait with no other vessels for was a wee bit of a let down, but perhaps the world economical situation has affected the number of ships in the area.

Our last night before Fukuoka was spent in a bay at anchor. In the middle of the night we were visited by the Coast Guard Police who were very excited with the change in their routine we offered. We filled in the forms by torchlight they passed to us via a fishing net, answered their questions and then they disappeared into the dust and we went back to bed.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Cruising Japan...Kyushu

Mie Nagasaki
This is a large commercial port and we were able to easily spot where the fishing boats went, but what about us. After motoring around, trying to (once again unsuccessfully) contact someone on channel 16 a friendly fisherman pointed us towards a brand new pen area. Nice wharf steps, inbuilt fenders, typhoon fencing and all for no cost.
Once secure we did the usual walkaround. past the gambling palaces, found a supermarket, had an icecream and returned to Charioteer for a good nights sleep.
Next morning we were joined in the pen by a fishing boat and recieved a gift of a just caught fish.
After breakfast we cycled off for some exploring. In the window of a store we saw the unbiquous polystyrene fenders...hooray a chandlery. Inside we were met by the smiling fish giving fisherman, who we learnt was the owner of several boats and the chandlery. Shinichi greeted us as long lost friends and in no time we had access to their computer, were drinking tea and Brian was negotiating the purchase of engine oil. The engine oil was delivered to Charioteer along with a Japanese teaset and a huge wall hanging flag. After thsi amazing time we continued exploring enjoying the contact with the locals. The previous night we had watched a dragon boat team practising and to our delight we were able to watch the competition.
We spent our last evening dining with Shinichi and his son Koji at a very nice Tempura restaurant. After dinner we returned to their house. Koji showed us his english lesson books and we had an enjoyable hour talking English with him.
Time was pressing and we still had a way to go before Fukuoka so after a couple of enjoyable days here we moved on.

Cruising Japan Kyushu

Sendai 31.50 north 130.12 east

The Sendai river has been divided in two by the ever popular high concrete wall. This way the port does not silt up and the fishing fleet have a safe harbour. Once again we tied up to an uninviting disused wharf, putting out plenty of fenders. The tidal range was about 1.5 metres so at low tide our view was of the busy crabs on the walls andit was impossible to see land from the deck. We have a ladder which helps exiting at these wharfs, but I find it a bit daunting.
After we were secure we did our usual stroll around the area..."hey you guys, where are you from, I'm Malaysian" came a voice. We turned around and met Chai and enjoyed another one of those unexpected experiences. Chai is a busy man who flys arounds visiting the various branches of his business.He was as happy to spend the evening talking English as we were. He drove us into town, took us to a beautiful restaurant, where we dined in style, gave us access to his office computers for weather reports. And the next morning he was gone to another part of japan.
A macgregor 26ft yacht arrived as we were having morning coffee and Brian went to help with the ropes and invited the owner over for coffe.
Hiromi arrived, wearing a big smile, clutching a big book and with his brain desperately trying to dredge up any english he had learnt at school 60 years ago. The book was a very upmarket atlas on japan and after proudly showing us where he had sailed from and where he was going, Hiromi presented us with this marvelous book. Later in the day Hiromi caught the bus to Kagoshima and his anxiously awaiting family.
We off loaded our cycles and explored for as long as the heat would allow, before returning to Charioteer.
As we sat enjoying a cool drink and some shade Jiyoji (aka George) arrived for a look see.....and this became another of those very special experiences. Jiyoji is a film director and during our time in Sendai we were priviledged to see a sample of work from this talented person. Jiyoji and his daughter Kyia really spoilt us..taking us on a visit to an extra ordinary temple at the top of a hill, giving us access to his computer for weather reports, taking us to the supermarket, arriving bearing the most delicious fritters....crumbed camerbert fried.....yummy. Jiyoji celebrated his birthday while we were here so I cooked a chocolate and walnut cake which we served complete with candles. Another enjoyable evening in very enjoyable company.
In between Hiromi coming and going to Kagoshima and always returning with another special delicay for us to sample, Jiyoji and Kyia spoiling us we met a merchant seaman who had fond memories of his times spent in New Zealnd ports and was keen to return the kindness he had recieved. We were inundated with fresh homegrown vegetables and fruit plus he arranged for us to buy diesel at fishermens prices !!!!!
Due to the weather we stayed in Sendai longer than we intended. But the company was so good we were not complaining. What we didn't enjoy was the sand blown onto Charioteer during the strong winds....the cockpit began to resemble a sandpit!!!!!!!! and we were happy at lowtide for the opportunity to use our washdown hose to clear the stuff away.
Fukuoka was calling and it was with regret that we cast off our lines and continued our journey

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Cruising Japan...Kyushu

Kusi Wan Bo
Latitude 31.16 N Longitude 130.13 E
We arrived late in the afternoon and tied up to the empty wharf. After dinner we had a small walk to stretch our legs and then we went to bed. In the early hours of the morning we were awoken by a gentle knocking on the hull...."please would we move, the fishing fleet need the wharf space. We had a quick wash, put on our clothes and motored into the middle of the harbour looking for space. Eventually we dropped anchor and went back to bed.
Looking around the next morning we thought that perhaps we had finally arrived in the 'real' Japan. WE could see a temple a all the houses looked 'Japanese". We launched the dinghy and once ashore we meandered through the small town. We enquired about internet at the post office and after a staff group discussion we were directed 'over the hill...big town' (and far away). We returned to Charioteer with those important necessities - mild, bread eggs, potatoes..and for Brian...icecream.

Next morning we returned to land intending to explore the other side of the town. A large building flying the Japanese flag was found to be the library and information centre. the reception area was manned by an enthusiastic english speaking local who had soon organised an internet connection and then gave us tourist brochures in English. Hiroyuki then took us a short waliking tour of his area. After a refreshment break of green tea and sticky buns in his office Hiroyuki oversaw the closing of the library for the dayand then we piled into his car for a trip to the supermarket.
In the cool of the morning, armed with our brochures we discovered more of the hidden treasures of the area. That afternoon as we sat in shade on Charioteer we heard someone calling us. Imagine our surprise to see a middleaged man in the water asking if we wanted to go to the 'supa'...we were so surprised we just said a polite 'no thankyou' and watched him dog paddle away to land.
Our last night here was spent with Hiroyuki eating homemade pizza. We knew he was enjoying it when even before he had finished his first slice he was asking for a 'doggie' bag to take home for his mother........

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Cruising in Japan

My first introduction to Japan was about 40 years ago when I read a story about Miss 1000 Cherry Blossoms. Since then there have been many books and many films, the last one being the last samurai.
The southern Japanese Island were severly damaged during the intense fighting in WW2 and after the war it was the Americans who did the rebuilding so intially all the buildings looked familiar. But as we have slowly moved up the chain of islands the Japan of my imagination has slowly begun to appear.
Our routine is the same at each port. We tie up and make sure we are safe and secure. Then its on to land and off for a quick look around. ( I am looking for that elusive gheisha, Brian is looking for a shop that sells icecream !!!!!!)
The people we have met have been generous and friendly. Generous with their time, given freely, to show us the special places where they live, generous with their gifts from the vegetable garden and orchard. And generous with their acceptance of our fractured Japanese.

The things that have amazed us so far;
the amount of concrete that is used to build safe harbours for a few fishing boats, the huge wharfs for an island that has a population of 120 people....
the number of discarded bycycles..all they ned is a bit of TLC.....
the drink vending machines that can be found everywhere.......

Every day we wake up and wonder what will be the days is some of them..
a gift of three new blades and a nose cone for our damaged wind generator...which is now know as the Mighty Quinn...(thanks Mike)
Fishermen giving us `just caught` fish
Our first Onsen...Nude thermal bathing....(thank goodness the sexes bath in separate areas)
Islands with a population of 120, 11 of whom are of school age, and the school has a staff of 12......
the polystyrene fenders washed up on the shoreline..(they look like legless sheep)
seeing more turtles here than in the South Pacific
Supermarket picture and by feel. ( I cant read the labels!!!!!)

We are now in Fukuoka. Andrew, Avril and the girls have arrived for a two week vacation and one of Andrews jobs while here is to get my computer organised so we can have internet connection onboard. We are hoping that this will enable us to keep our blog more up todate.

We will be leaving for South Korea early August......
so keep watching this space

Friday, May 29, 2009

Japan at last

01 May bye bye Taiwan, next stop Japan.

First though customs and coastguard. Exiting the harbour in Taiwan had us beating into a big rolling swell. The swell gradually eased but there was that old head wind again. Thirty four hours of zigzag motor sailing saw us arrive at the Japanese Island of Ishigaki. It was late in the day so weanchored out for the noght. Next morning we were invited to raft nex to Spirit of Lorilie an Aussie yacht. First official was quarantine, next customs followed by coastgurad. Coastguard seems to be a means to employment and this did not go well as we had not done our arrival procedure correctly. Lastly for photo and fingerprinting. Did not feel like it somehow but we are now in Japan.
We stayed a week in Ishigaki cycling around and organising our required cruising permit. Not an easy thing to do. Japan has closed ports and open ports, with arrival and departure times. Our application had destination names and their latitudes and longitudes...that was useless as the Marine office only had a Japan Atlas. The difficulty we had with this (also at Naha) could fill a chapter in a book...but it was all done with smiles and bows.
Time came to move on so at 6am were about to leave when a local yachtie presented us with apples and passionfruit, just as we were moving off he reappeared with a huge bottle of Saki.
Next island Tarama....small and low with two ports. We cycled around the very narrow streets of the town, the country was mostly in sugarcane. These ports are where there is a break in the coral reef and have a series of man made barriers to stop the ocean swell. Inside is a complex of concrete walled dividing pens to tie up to. Later that day, three police arrived who had no English, so they had organised for a woman to help...why were we here...who gave us permission etc...they were shown our permit (all in Japanese) our passport visas (which they could not read). After about 30 minutes Brian became a bit tetchy and said arrest me and call my embassy.....shock horror, that worked...Oh no all is okay.
Next Island...Onikawa and to its capital Naha. We entered where we believed there was a small marina, but it is no longer. Some local fishermen ( one the size of a small sumo wrestler) helped us tie up to a wall. The trip to here was 160 miles and although the wind was light we were able to sail using the code zero.
Next morning we moved to the new marina at Ginowan. WE stayed three days, with more cruising permit applications. The marina cost for us was NZ 45 per day. but when we came to pay we were only charged for one day,
Ikema was our next stop. Again tied to a wharf...Two coastguard officials came to check us out and were very friendly and helpful. Next day we had another five from Coastguard come...they are really curious ....
A local business couple took us to their house for internet and for the three days we were there every morning they provided us with a weather forecast printout.
The next day was a longish trip with a 6am start, this couple had already given us strawberries but came runnig down to wave goodbye and present us with some more gifts.
Ariving at Ie Island we saw two other yachts, but it was too shallow for Charioteer to go where they were so we once again tied up to the main wharf.
The yachts were Japanese, one owner cycled around with lots of advise for the next port. Another local is building a Wharram Catamran and he also was full of information. This island is flat except for one sharp hill that shows up for miles out at sea.
These southern island were hard fought over during the second world war as Americans and Allies advanced northwards. It really showed at Ie Island where there is a monument with the names of all those who died.... 3500 peopl, or put survivors.
A short voyage next to Yuron Island. A couple of locals had been advised of our arrival and came out in a small boat to guide us in. Just as well as it was not easy. A welcome party for us that night. Now we had read about a custom on this island involving saki made from sugarcane. A group of people each one in turn makes a speech then downs a full glass of saki. Not a good feeling the next day. There generosity knows no day we went to the local internet ...the usual questions were asked and name cards were exchanged and our one has a photo of Charioteer on and is quite a hit. They gave us coffee and a bunch of grapes. We invited them to visit us next morning and when they arrived they were carrying rock melons and a 10 litre box of water.....
It is a catching attitude in Ishigaki an expat American with a yacht charter saw our damaged wind g enerator..the next thing he presents us with three new blades, plus a nose cone...probably saving us about NZ1500.......

The winds have gone back to the north and in the hifh thirties so the seas are rather rough. We will wait it out, kepping it in mind that there are still 500 miles to go to Fukuoka.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Taiwan Cruising....Kenting...Huelien

Seemed logical to go north around the top of Taiwan to head for Japan. Oh no we were told. Bad currents, bad winds,bad everything. Okay all the way south again into Hobihou Marina, Kenting. Sadly the Asian thing, built beautiful but now on its way to ruin. It is close to the Nuclear Power Station, some wind generators and a huge solar set up. Well now, where there are wind turbines...its because there is wind. This was the only time we have taken off the bimimi and lowered the boom. Alas it was too much for our wind generator. One hell of a bang..WHAT WAS THAT?...a blade took off damaging one other on the way.
For some reason immigration drove three hours to book us out, even though we were heading north to Haulien. This trip turned into an overnight, calm at first but gradually that weather god that has it in for us started up....30knots going up to low 40's from right in front. Rain and blowing spray until we crawled into harbour to the usual security check stop. A MT.Chou was there to meet us and help with formalities. Immigration didn't know what to do, but eventually gave us a Ships Pass for the area for another seven days.
Sometime past a Japanese sailor lost his eyesight by getting to close to his wind generator, result being he donated his yacht to some keen people at Hualien. Mr. Chou and friends looked after us..the highlight being taken to Taroko Gorge. A mountain pass across the island. The mountains as over 3000 metres high, mostly of marble with a river cut through at an incredible depth. Fifty years ago Army personnel cut a road through, using hammer and chisel...over 450 people lost their lives building this road. The walls in many places are sheer so you drive on a road that is like a tunnel, with the outer wall missing. There are tunnels as well to make it a truly incredible place.
One night we came back to our boat to find several bags of fruit on board with a business card. We txted a thank you and the next thing we were invited to lunch next day. This turned into a huge affair, followed by a drive to the supermarket to stock up on basic supplies. We made it clear that we were paying for these things, but did not notice that our host had already left money at the checkout. So $NZ50.00 worth of groceries made this man so happy he danced out of the store singing...I fooled you, I fooled you......
This is just one case of the generosity of the people we met in Taiwan.
We had dinner with another young artist couple that evening, before leaving the next day.
Next morning we cleared Immigration and then security and used up our left over Taiwan dollars buying diesel. We had friends to see us off, so with lines cast off we left the wharf. "Whats this?"...a car pulls up and out jumps a man carrying bags....everyone is getting excited as we reverse up to the wharf to get this gift of biscuits,cakes and lollies.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Taiwan Cruising...Kaohsiung

Tomorrow we head north ...actually we are heading south first and then north up the east coast of Taiwan. There is a rally leaving from the top of Taiwan...(Kee-Lung...Bisha Harbour)...for Ishigaki Japan and we are joining it. For a change there will be more than just us out there on the ocean.
Kaohsiung has been a pleasure to visit. The people have been great, the scenery fabulous and the food just amazing.
We took the fast train (300k p h) to Alishan where we were going to watch the sunrise, but it instead we saw mountains reaching through the misty clouds.....but it was a great trip.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Taiwan Cruising

It is inevitable that we compare country with country. Compared to Philippines Taiwan's streets and waterways are so much cleaner, buildings are finished...none of the Philippine tax system rip off....(unfinished buildings do not attract tax).
Prices for food here in Taiwan is comparable to Philippines but wages are much higher so the living standards are soooooo different.
On the second night I (Brian) was sitting on the front deck relaxing and people watching when I was approached by a young woman and her parents....'were we really from NZ, How long will we be here..etc etc......We invited them aboard for a look see and WOW...the next thing we were being taken to the night market and the offer of a trip to Kenting National Park the following day. We gratefully accepted this offer and the following morning we were picked up at 8am.
This is an absolutely beautiful park...forests, mountains, golden beaches and right on the waterfront beside the most popular beach is a NUCLEAR POWER STATION !!!!!!!
The whole day was a totally amazing experience...we were treated like royalty, feed,watered and not allowed to touch our wallets once.
The nuclear plant had the most amazing visitors centre, showing both the good and bad side of the system.
Not far from here is another for three boats...

We have also met a university student (age about 25)who yachting crazy...he has also been able to find the bike tyre we desperately needed. And last night they took us to a HotPot restaurant where we had the interesting pleasure of eating, among other things, ducks blood which was like a wobbly jelly. Today we believe the taste sensation is going to be 'stinky tofu'
Today we are off to Tainan and then on Monday we are off for an overnight visit to Alishan.......
So our next report will be a few days away.
Brian and Carol

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


We have arrived here in did we get here?...we sometimes felt as if we were stuck in the Philippines and would never get away. But the wind blew favourably and the time was right so we untied from Vascos and headed north to San Fernando and did our exit there. Brian has now got very good at looking the corrupt official in the eye and asking them..."are you a christian?....."yes, oh a good catholic....have you heard of the commandment..thou shall not steal. Did you know that wanting money from us is a bribe and is stealing?" This has been a very good way of getting them to stop asking. Brian of course always checks to see if they are wearing a gun before he goes through this routine.

We sailed to the top of the Philippines, checked the weather and thought..okay it looks good, lets go. Of course the real weather and the weather forecast just didn't agree. What was meant to be a great sail turned into a two nights, (from dusk to dawn) of winds between 34 to 38 knots. The day between was calm...down to 15 to 20 knots.
We lost count of the ships we saw heading north, south,east and west. As we got closer to Kaohsiung we began to concentrate on the moving ships and ignoring the ships at anchor. The harbour is inside an island that runs parrall to the coast. Entrances are at each end. We needed the north entrance and followed a HUGE container ship in. Once inside we were intent on being out of the traffic and findin g the marina. Suddenly we say a big orange flag being waved at us and it was clear that we were required 'over here..NOW'. So we tied up at the security wharf. We had a brief security search. Then it was decided we were not dangerous...and we were given a six pack of beer, a specially cooked meal of noodles. They organised health and immigration. And then a guy (Kao)from the marina arrived and helped us move to the marina. Kao then took me on his scooter to the bank for an ATM and then organised marina paperwork for us and then got us a sim card (so we are now connected in Taiwan).
the cruising fraternity here in Kaohsiung is small (maybe 10 people)...they are so helpful and are looking after us so well.We have been given beer, had a curry, rice and lychee beer for dinner. Nothing is to much trouble. Currently I am sitting in a private office with a large cup of milk tea, using the company wifi connection.
The temperature is a lot cooler...down to 24 from 34 and we both feel great snuggled under the duvet at night.
We got a bit of water onboard during the crossing so we have spent the day drying out. Next on our agenda is to brave the traffic and head to the tourism office.
To all of you out there.......thanks for following our travels.

Monday, February 9, 2009

seize the day

We met a man who runs a training facility for sea men. Part of the training they do is learning how to evacuate the ship in times of disaster. After a few whiskys we were able to convince him that this was the very thing that we needed training in. Of course our life raft is nothing like what the big ship boys use...but we knew it was going to be knee knocking fun.
When we arrived on site we first had to sign waivers, then we were given the step by step briefing. Once that was finished we donned overalls, raincoats, gumboots and life jackets. We then clumped our way up several flights of steps and proceded to wedge ourselves into our seats. With our seat belts pulled as tight as could be we were unable to move at all. Then the man in charge asked "all okay back there". With our answers being in the affirmative, the all clear was given, the release mechanism was released and for a brief instant we were in free fall, before the vessel went under the water, then bobbed to the surface. The whole thing took seconds, but the buzz it generated in us lasted for hours.

It is not something I want to do again, but I am glad we did it.
Neither of us needed a change of underwear.............

After this experience we partook of another, more familar water activity. A hoon in a rescue jet boat.....YAHOOOOOOOOOOOO

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

New Zealand v Australia

Brian Homan has had a very successful career diving on wrecks and recovering artifacts, hence the name Pirate Brian. We are currently tied to his bar/restaurant, which is a lot cleaner and more fun than being in the Subic Bay Yacht Club Marina. But we all know that there is no such thing as a free lunch, and once a treasure hunter, always a treasure hunter.
We came back to Charioteer the other day, to find that we had been "arrested". Pirate Brian and one of his staff had woven yellow construction 'keep off / danger' tape over the duckboard ladder and hung a Philippine flag and a (very well done) "arrest warrant".
Oh no, what are we to do...Oh we know lets organise a Kangaroo Court and have a fun evening. And so on Saturday evening the "court" will convene...should be a fun evening. We have four counts to answer to .....insufficient consumption of alcohol, damaging the dock and mooring, failure to fulfill cooking lesson contract, failure to talk good old aussie bullshit........
Will let you know next week what the outcome is, but one thing we know for sure is that it will be a great evening.
until next time

Monday, January 26, 2009

The boys will play

But Cruiser Brian and Pirate Brian went out to play and guess what ?????? they needed the services of something big and grunty to get them out of the sandpit......
No matter where we are Brian usually manages to find 'heavy' equipment. Diggers, concrete mixers, big trucks...these bring a gleam to his eye. Where we go walking we have to pass a huge, and I mean huge yard full of diggers, trucks, front end loaders, etc etc....all second hand from Japan. Every few months this place has an auction and I am thankful that we have a small yacht and not something big enough to take this digger.
Kids and matter what country we have been in our dingy is not only our favourite method of travelling to shore, but it is a magnet to kids.
The weather is still great, the people are till fun and friendly but we are getting itchy feet. Once the part for the auto pilot arrives we shall look at starting to head slowly north. 'What part for the auto pilot' you ask...' oh just the part that allows us to go where we want rather round and round in circles.
Love you all

Saturday, January 17, 2009


if I can figure the system out this blog will include more than one picture. So here goes.