Golden Week 2023 Sail Report

by Timothy Langley, May 15, 2023 Tokyo (revised September 26th)

Overview: The following describes two hearty sailors setting out over the long Golden Week to outline the boarder of their licensed area, Region One, in Japanese waters. This journey took 7 days.

Vessel: Yamaha ‘26C sailing yacht (1983) Santana.

Crew: Timothy Langley & Evan Burkosky.

Journey: traverse Region One (Santana’s registered area) over 7~8 days. Ultimately, sailed 7 days, traversed 270 nautical miles, hit islands Oshima, Niijima, Miyakejima; returned to touch Shimoda (Shizuoka Prefecture), then home-port sprint to Awa-Katsuyama. One nighttime sailing leg of 16 hours (Port Ako Miyakejima to Shimoda).


Leg One:  4/29 Saturday, depart 4:30 am from Home Port Awa-Katsuyama (Chiba Peninsula) for Habu Harbor, Oshima Island. Head-on wind required extreme tack into Sagami Bay for ~5 hours, tack back, then hug the shadow of Oshima Island to shelter somewhat from tremendous building winds and seas. Mainsail set throughout at 3rd reefed position. Storm approaching from the south, hitting in several hours.  14 hour sail.

Leg Two: 5/01 Monday depart (one-day layover) Habu Harbor at 4:00 am for Niijima Island. Very brisk crossing and almost entirely over/through the Kuroshio current; very choppy & confused waters, lots of leaping tuna. 9 hour sail. Sail almost exclusively on Spinnaker, consistently maintaining 6 knots/hour! Trouble: when bagging spinnaker from the bow, sheet inadvertently fell into the water (unnoticed) and got immediately caught-up in prop; Captain Evan’s dive under the boat to untangle quickly achieved success… no damage but close-call.

Leg Three: 5/02 Monday arrive Niijima Port at 1:40 pm (7 hour sail). Tie-up, walk to sea-water hot springs “Yunohama Ryoten Onsen”. Drive around island care of new friend (JET Teacher assigned to Niijima Education System) Freddie Snoxall. Forced-feast at Chinese restaurant. Early next-day departure.

Leg Four: 5/03 Tuesday depart Niijima Port at 4:00 am heading for Miyakejima Island. 21 nautical miles, with new crew member Freddie. Very swift crossing over rough waters but made excellent time, arriving after only 6 hour sail.

Leg Five: 5/03 Tuesday arrive in Ako Port on the south-western side of Miyakejima at 10:00 am. Walk to nearby “Furosato-no-yu onsen”; a hearty lunch at Kairaku Hotel; puffed on cigars on the massive breakwater; walk around unsuccessfully searching for dinner (town completely rolls-up at 7:00 o’clock); brief visit to Snackbar Azabu for drinks. Next day scooter riding through winding roads, lava fields, the highest accessible points on the island (much of the island is a no-go due to volcanic activity), etc.. Lunch at yucky, almost unbearable, Chinese shack.

Leg Six: 5/05 Wednesday depart 5:30 pm for night sail (while the sun is still up): destination Yaizu City in Shizuoka Prefecture, Oi River (the western boundary of Santana’s registered sailing area). Trouble: once in open water, bowlight shorted-out (still in daylight but nightfall approaching). Captain Evan springing again into action with trouble-shooting, finding spares within Santana, repaired in the dark while underway in rough seas. Pretty tense as seas rough; head downwind at slow clip (see sailing diagram, below), Evan dangling on the Bowspirit to reattach the entire housing, with success finally. 16 hour sail (only slightly due to the bowlight issue). Navigating by the stars and treated to constant meteor shower!

Leg Seven: 5/06 Thursday arrive Iritahama Beach in Shimoda at 9:30 am, due to unfavorable winds forbidding the full Suruga Bay traverse; 16 hour overnight sail. Brief 3 hour anchor off the beach, then 1.5 hour sail into Shimoda Cove, Admiral Perry Visitor’s Pier arriving 12:30 noon. Overnight layover: lunch in-town; glorious bath at Thousand-People Kayaya Ryokan Onsen at Rentaiji Station; bbq ribs dinner; hit Tosaya Soul Bar on the warf until 1:00 o’clock.

Leg Eight: 5/04 Friday depart Shimoda Cove 4:30 am for Home Port Katsuyama (expected to be ~14 hour sail in rough seas in following 25+kt winds). Only sail 40% of jib-sail, no main-sail throughout. Turns-out to be the best day of sailing in strong winds for first 2/3rds, then extremely strong winds in last 1/3 but arriving earlier than expected at 4:30… a 12 hour sail! Averaging 6 knots the entire day on the sliver of a foresail!

End: 5/05 Friday, hit Home Port Katsuyama on the Chiba Peninsula at 4:30 pm; 12 hour sail.

Interior of Santana, prepared for journey (Leg 1).
Captains Burkosky and Langley strapped-in (Leg 1).
Evan in full rain gear, safety harness, before
departing (Leg 1).
Hunkered-down in Habu Harbor, driving rain while
stuck in-port (Leg 2).
Circular Habu Port (a collapsed caldera that opens to the sea) (Leg 2).
Sometimes treated with scrumptious food (Leg 2).
Tied-up in Niijima Port (Leg 3).
Exploring the volcanic island of Miyakejima (Leg 4).
Chillin’ while attending to the many issues that naturally come-up while
underway: sail repair, re-organizing quarters, drying things out. Note
the rope-ladder for when the tide drops and we need to clamber onto the quay (Leg 4).
Magical Miyakejima with other Izu islands in the distance (Leg 4).
Still very active volcano in the center of the island: no-go zone
encircling the center, smoke-spewing caldera (Leg 4).
Spinnaker repair while in-port (Leg 4).
Must-do bowlight repair while underway, heading into
night-sail, rough seas (Leg 5).
Always strapped-in while on-deck. Evan Burkosky (Leg 5).
Centennial outcropping off Miyakejima.
Strapped-in (Leg 5).
Shimoda’s Iritahama Beach, where we anchored briefly
after overnight sail of 16 hours (Leg 5).
Santana tied-up at visitor’s berth in Admiral Perry
Cove, Shimoda (Leg 5).
Well-appreciated dinner & hydration after long
soak in nearby onsen (Leg 5).
Fortitude for next day’s 4:00 a.m. jaunt across both Sagami
and Tokyo Bays, Soul Bar Tosaya… until 1:00 am (i.e., three-hour shut-eye)(Leg 5).
Brisk sail under a sliver of a foresail, heading home after 7 days of
 sailing; 25~30 kh winds at our backs: hitting 6 knots for 12 hours (Leg 6)!
Home Port Awa-Katsuyama on Chiba Peninsula! Whew (Leg 6)!

About Timothy Langley

I have only been sailing for the last 4 years or so, drawn to TSPS and the suggestion of sailing (I wasn't really looking) when a friend invited me to a Keelhaul. Several friends and old-timers who I never imagined were connected to the sea were active Members. After a few pints I thought, "why not...". I stopped hitting the sauna on weekends and working on old cars and, in no time, was sailing regularly. I soon stumbled on a decrepit yacht that needed some attention. So I purchased it, fixed it up and sailed the heck out of it. It is now a very proper and reliable sailing vessel. And, as a consequence, I have become somewhat competent as a solo sailor. I long for something bigger (Santana is a 40 year old Yamaha 26' possessing a proper enclosed head, a good galley, two berths, dry, comfy, reliable: sleeps 4) but in the meantime I am out on the Pacific almost weekly. Completely smitten.

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