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.