TSPSer Kirk Patterson Departs Hawaii For Hokkaido

Kirk Patterson Aboard Silk Purse

We received the following message from long-time TSPS member Kirk Patterson, who over a year ago began a trans-Pacific voyage from Victoria, Canada to Hokkaido, Japan aboard his vessel Silk Purse. The threat of encountering tsunami debris and the onset of typhoon season, however, caused Kirk to lay up in Honolulu for almost a year, where he wiled away his time working as a bartender. He is now ready to finish the crossing and will soon depart on what could be a 35 to 40-day voyage from Honolulu for Hakodate, Hokkaido.


Hi, TSPS Friends,

I trust that this finds you and everybody at TSPS well.

Well, I have had a very interesting, enjoyable 10 months here in Honolulu, including working full-time as a bartender (!).

But now I am ready to resume my voyage to Japan. I will leave on about May 1 and sail non-stop to Hakodate, probably arriving between June 5 and 15. After a couple of weeks in Hakodate, I will circumnavigate Hokkaido in the summer, go south along the Sea of Japan coast in the fall, spend the winter some where in Okinawa, and then go north back to Hakodate in spring/summer 2014.

After that, I might stay another 1-2 years in Japan…or return to Victoria…or head to the South Pacific…or ???

I will probably get to the Tokyo area in May 2014, so I look forward to seeing you all then.

Best regards,


S/V Silk Purse

 P.S. If interested, you can track my progress across the Pacific by going to www.winlink.org/userpositions…at the bottom of the map on that page, input my callsign — ve0krp — and click “Search”. The blue/green dots will show my current/past locations. I will try to do daily position reports, but please note that if I am unable to connect to winlink relay stations then I will not be able to post position reports. FYI, my boat email addresses are cfk9236@sailmail.com and ve0krp@winlink.org.


While we don’t know Kirk’s course just yet, it’s not uncommon for sailors to head west from Hawaii with some southing in their course until they reach a longitude near and east of the Bonin Islands (Ogasawara), then make a turn north. If Kirk follows this course, he can expect good winds from the north-east to push him along until the southerlies fill in for the ride north to the Kuroshio current, then a sleigh ride up the east coast of Japan.

Regardless of the direction he heads, we at TSPS wish Kirk only the best of luck and weather, and a very safe passage.


[box]After arriving in Hawaii, Kirk wrote the following informative article in the Hawaii Yacht Club Bulletin.

Aloha, HYC Members!

You may have noticed my boat, Silk Purse, at the Aloha Dock & seen me at the Club, so I thought I would take this opportunity to introduce myself.

After a 25-year career in Japan, I retired in late 2007 and moved back to Victoria, B.C., Canada, to pursue my long-postponed desire to get into sailing. I bought Silk Purse, a 40-foot custom steel cutter designed by Mark Ellis (of Niagara 35 and Nonsuch fame), and then set about learning to sail and, more challenging for me, learning how to maintain and repair a boat. I sailed extensively in British Columbia, including two circumnavigations of Vancouver Island and a trip to Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands), and made two trips up the Inside Passage to Alaska. All my sailing is done solo.

I arrived in Hawaii in early June, planning to make just a brief stop before continuing on to Japan. However, being a bit behind schedule and having lost more time due to repairs, the typhoon risk of going to Japan is now too high, so I will stay in Hawaii until next April. My plan is to spend about five years sailing in Japan, starting with a full circumnavigation of the Japanese archipelago, something that apparently has never been done by a foreigner. Although there are many challenges involved in sailing in Japan – bureaucratic red tape, lack of anchorages and marinas, frequency of typhoons and fog, lots of shipping, ferries, and floating fishing nets, and more – many cruisers have told me that the friendliness and helpfulness of the Japanese people, the beauty and diversity of scenery, and the history and culture more than make up for the challenges.

I will write articles about my voyage in various English- language and Japanese-language sailing magazines and other publications. In addition, I plan to write three books: (1) a book about the voyage itself; (2) an academic analysis of the cultural and historical roots of Japan’s “ocean-phobia” (unusual for an island country and in sharp contrast to England); and (3) a cruising guide to Japan (there is currently no such guide, not even in Japanese).

In undertaking this voyage, I am very grateful for the official support that I have received from various organizations, including the Japan Hydrographic Association, the Japan Sailing Federation, the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo, and the Institute for Global Maritime Studies in Massachusetts.

Finally, let me express my deep appreciation to HYC and its members for your warm welcome. HYC is a very special organization and, being at “The Crossroads of the Pacific,” plays a truly unique role in bringing together sailors from around the world. It’s an institution of which you can be justifiably proud.

I look forward to getting to know more HYC members (especially members with Japan sailing experience), so a coffee or a beer is waiting for anybody who wants to drop by Silk Purse.

Kirk Patterson S/V Silk Purse 


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