Monday, September 27, 2010




Korean Cruising Adventure September 2010

On Sunday we were invited onto a Korean yacht for a day sail. Almost no wind and good visibility. Five Koreans crowded in the cockpit, Carol and Brian on the fordeck.
Aware of a fast approaching large fishing boat dead ahead, we called to the helmsman to alert him of this danger, but he didn't hear us. With the fishing boat fast approaching Brians yelling became VERY loud.
50 metres away one of the drowsy fishing boat crew members lifted his head up in response to the yelling. At last the fishing boat skipper heard something but too late.
Luckily the impact was down the side taking out the yachts staunchions...with one hell of a loud bang!!!!!!! He must of been travelling at between 10 and 15 knots.
Had the impact been head on the damage and injuries would of been major.
What really annoys us is the Korean Coastguard/Police make such an issue about yachties (local and visiting) doing everything by the book. Yet fishing boats seem to break every law with impunity.
Japan has the same problem with their fishermen being a strong union politically.


We had intended staying longer in China, but having assisted MARIA back to her home por meant going 200 miles further norh that n we had intended. MARIA's owner told us we would be reimbursed for fuel used and as Captain Cho wanted to leave on theFriday despite the wind on the nose forcast. So over three days and two nights we motorsailed for 51 hours.
Upon arrival we discovered that Captain Cho is 'famous in Korea' (
To us the Captain was just plain Mr.Cho an old guy who had lost his mast and needed help. Back at MARIA's homeport we were greeted like heros ourselves.
Because we are up in this area we have now been able to visit the DMZ, been whitewater rafting, visited temple sights, theme parks museums and got naked in a public huge hotelspa sauna .
We are now tied to a huge barge. It has been madeover into accommodation etc, almost like a house boat. Here we are able to relax and unwind. The sky is blue, the air is clean, life is good.
On the 29th we start siling southward to Tong young....believing we are entered in a race there...(better luck this time)


Our time spent in Qingdao has felt a bit like being in 'Wonderland'
WE were unable to travel much further than 30k outside of Qingdao. What we saw was dirty rundown towns with narrow ugly streets, people doing laundry in buckets.
The contrast with Qingdoa is like comparing chalk with cheese....did we perhaps get a glimpse of the real China?????

Qingdao is a city that was constructed especially for the Olympics to be used for the sailing activities. The shops are great...but DO NOT DRINK THE WATER.......

China appears free but everyone must register with the police within 24hrs of arriving anywhere...(foreigner and chinese alike). If staying in an hotel this is done for you and you do not know you are being 'tracked'

We think we always had a minder and we were passed along a chain.

So we have yet to visit China but we have been to Qingdao.
Not sure if we enjoyed ourselves here or not...when one is used to freedom this was an unusual experience.

Visibility was always restricted because of the smog/pollution but we hope you enjoy the photos we shall post later.


Talking with a family who were here during the GREAT LEAP FORWARD and the CULTURAL REVOLUTION has been interesting

The family lived in the shadow of the church. The grandfather and father were preachers and the mother was a doctor. The daughter was eight years old and can remember the flames as the Red Guard burnt their possessions...books, clothes and furniture that had the slightest western tinge, and other unburnable things were broken.
The grandmothers feet were bound inblack cloths and she used spare feet bindings to wrap a bible in and hid it in a dark place. For ten years it was the only bible the congregation had to read.
For this family, advice given to them from survivors of those terrible times is......
do not be proud, let people see you sharing your wealth how ever little you have, and try to be invisible just in case it happens again.



The Korean yacht Maria arrived in Qingdao the day after us. Whilst sailing one day MARIA lost her masts and while the Chinese Coastguard was helping her she sustained more damage. Once back at the marina, not one Chines official or sailor offered her Korean Captain any help. The remains of her masts and sails were in the sea still tied to MARIA and the wharf.
Brian helped with the mast and sail recovery. No one from the other crews (Beneteaus) offered a helping hand. Most unusual as sailors usually assist each other.


On the surface all is free and easy, but little things show us reality.
Information freedom is not allowed. We were unable to access Facebook or our blog site (hence the big lot all at once)
People are not encouraged to freely visit us. All need a special Immigration pass!!!!!!
And we have been handed along a chain of people..with dumplings always on the menu. These dumplings are what we call wontons...but instead of being fried they are boiled in plain unsalted water...and the highlight of the meal is to drink the dumpling water.

QINGDAO (pronounced Chingdo)was the Sailing centre city for the 2008 Bejing Olympics and for this city the freedom genie that has been released will not be easily recaptured.
90% of the tourist attractions relate to the Olympics, supermarkets are almost like shopping at home, western style bakeries are everywhere. Shopping malls are full of expensive stores (Tiffanys, Cartier, name atop expensive store and it is here. And not just in one mall. We have been infour malls and the customers are spending, not just looking.
The roads are clogged with cars...modern and expensive...BMW. Mercedes,Audi, Range Rover, Porche...etc. Talking of traffic it is amazing. Not much speeding, the rules are....there are no rules!!!!!!!! People usually drive on the correct side, they side fromlane to lane with a gentle toot. It is amazing to watch a major intersection.(6 roads) gridlock work its self out with the minimum amount of horn noise.



As we were celebrating with our 'crew' one of the 'media' guys showed us his Police Badge.
We had assumed we would have a 'minder'and we had privately surmised which one it was and we were right. Most of the government officials we have met have been suspicious of us. But the ordinary people we have met are friendly and welcoming, and eager to practice their English. Each night we are taken out for dinner and last night we were also treated to a foot/leg massage.
But we still have to climb the marina fence.........


Sorry about any spelling errors etc...pushed the wrong button before editing.


After recieving our official invitation to join the Qingdao to Dalien China we race, we arranged our Chinese visa and set sail for China.
With our yellow Q flag flying we arrived at the Olympic Harbour Marina Qingdao. Tying to an outside pier we waited for entry officials. After several hours we were able to borrow a hand phone and contacted our host who called Customs, Immigration etc.

Quarantine insited we exit to outside the harbour where we rolled around waiting for their delayed arrival, three quarters of an hour later.
Quarantien Official" hullo, you ok, no fever?"
Us: "no we are well"
Q.O: "Ok take down yellow flag and come to marina"

So we returned to the marina.
Our host collected our exit port information and we now hads an 'agent'...Surprise.
Customs and Immigration officials came onboard. Brian had to intial approximately 40 (forty) pages of pre-prepared forms....we understood normal cost is Yuan 4000 for this but ours was free.
We were not allowed on land until all our paper work was cleared and so after eight hours we were officially allowed to step onto Chinese soil.


The following day we went to Yacht Race registration only tobe told by an official that "no were not allowed to be in the race"
"ok" we said.
"but if we took Media crew with us we could follow the race" the officials said

By now we had two new Chinese 'friends'...Nathan and Xiao....who were our designated crew for our 'non' race. The race is made up of two classes..ten Beneteau 40ft yachts and ten open class keel yachts over 36ft. The Beneteaus are Hong Kong registered, there fore foreign yachts and were crewed by 'foreigners'......(definition is as follows..they either live or work in China/are married to chinese/or are born overseas chinese). The open class yachts belong to the same catergory of people as the Beneteau crew.
There were only two genuine International Yachts here but we may as well been invisible. The organiserstotally ignored us, left us out from joining the skippers meetings and gave us no sailing or weather information.
One hour before departure two 'Media" guys arrived. Sunnhy and Mr.Lee. At our departure time (1700hrs and two hours after the Beneteaus) we were visited by a group of officials, we were handed a seal envelope to be handedto officials in Dalien, plus shore passes....(remember we are not leaving China) and Custom clearance. And we have to LEAVE NOW!!!!!!!!!!!

So we set sail and exit the harbour into squalls of rain and rolling seas....hooray we say to each other (yeah right) oh no say our crew...(Ever seen a Chinese go green just before throwing up??????? it is an interesting skin colour)
So hear we were sailing to the race start we were nopt in, with four crew who by is on his hands and knees vomiting in a bucket and the other three are dosed up to the eyeballs on seasick tablets and all in a 'coma' and deterioarating weather to 35 knots on the nose, confused seas, thunder, lightning and heavy rain.

With all the crew safely stowed, Brian and I resumed our three hour on three hour off night passage routine. With the engine running we plough through the night sending heartfelt thanks to who ever desisgned radar.
MNorning dawns and he crew surface briefly.....cigarette, toilet,cigarette, throwup, drink water, cigarette, throwup...the only English speaking one, Nathan, tells us they are okay and we musy keep going because our 'media' crew must be in Dalien to film the start of the race proper. So we continue to punch on towards Dalien.
Monday passes and by Tuesday morning the weather has cleared somewhat. Unable to see the sky through the pollution smog but the wind has abated and the seas have flattened. This effect on the crew is amazing. No longer are they tinged green, Carol makes pizza which is consumed with gusto.
All are busy with their mobile phones and then at 1400hours Nathan tells us that the organisers (who couldn't organise a beer drinking contest in a brewery!!!!!!) have said we must return to Qingdao. "Why" we ask we have only 80miles to go" We are told there are no officials there for us !!!!! so we turn Charioteer around and head back to Qingdao.
We now have a tail wind but the seas pick up a little and once again we have green tinged crew. Once in the afternoon and again late at night two Chinese dibleberately tried to RAM US.... our crew are upset about this and very concerned about lack of face. And suddenly we have four crew who can UNDERSTAND AND SPEAK English, busily apoligising and tryin g to explain it is 'an accidient' even as they are standing gripping the stays and yelling in Chinese to the fishing boats to 'go away please....( or perhaps telling them to F******K OFF NOW!!!!!!!!)
We learnt later that one of the Beneteaus was caught in a trawler net and winched up to the stern of the trawler. Of the 9 other 'internationally' crewed Beneteaus the only two that stopped to help were the boats with either NZ Chinese/Australian Chinese onboard. Until we arrived back in Qingdao Brian and I were on 'high alert'.
Once we returned to the marina the FUN CONTINUED....
Our first morning visitor was an excited Border Policeman who had not been kept in the loop. Then came someone else to collect all the papers etc given to us when we left and finally we recieved the all clear to land againfrom Immigration. The Beneteaus started arriving back...people were curious as why we had turned back. Word was out from the organisers that we had 'problems' ...we guessed that is called 'saving face'
The eight day "International "event ended with us joining inthe Finishing Parade and everyone was given strict instructions to 'be happy for the cameras'
WE wouldn't have missed this for all the 'tea in China' we just hope access to land can be made easier for us. Fence climbing is not a sport Carol enjoys!!!!!!!!!


As we were celebrating with our crew

Monday, September 20, 2010