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........