We left Fukuoka on September 20th, a little later then planned due to our upcoming residency status, which after 6 month still wasn’t decided, and once we got those stamps in our passport, typhoon nr 13 (Shanshan) paid us a visit. Luckily that was the only typhoon that bothered us on our way south, that means UNTILL we were in Japan’s last harbor, Ishigaki.
But first things first. Our first stop was in the most uninteresting
Around the corner of Kuyshu’s NW point lies Hirado. An idyllic town worth a visit if only there was room for a 43ft yacht. We had stopped there on our first run in
Now, where??? should we go??? There was lots of big ship traffic around us. We were dodging them this way and that, discussing the possibilities, when a little Sasebo Port Control boat drew up behind us and a man pointed his finger to a little pontoon. There, to our big surprise, where 2 uniformed officials, waving 2 flags, one yellow and the other the Dutch red, white and blue! Apparantly Imari had phoned, so they prepared this little welcome for us. Jaap asked if they did this for every foreign yacht, but no, we were the first.
By now the fact that we had left
Huis ten Bosch, a little piece of the
At the trick photo gallery.
Henk on one of his specials
In the yacht harbor we met some other live-aboards, it was great to talk to them. In
Just when the weather was getting better and we were planning to move on, an old friend stopped by. Jan from
Interview with Floortje.
And then the day came we finally left for the Goto.Retto We had given up on that most northern place, the fisherina on Uke and headed straight for Nama. The town had changed little. We had been there 17 years before during a summer festival and it was noisy and lively then, but now the place was dead quiet. We kept some photos of that time and showed them to the people who dropped by. “All the young men have left” they said, “looking for better jobs in the cities.” But what hadn’t changed was the hospitality and generosity of the people. We got loaded with potatoes, onions, rice cakes and cookies.
The next day we sailed to Wakamatsu. The winds were light again and we motor-sailed between the islands, enjoying the scenery.
Alishan in Wakamatsu
What we still missed was decent fishing gear, so in Wakamatsu we took out some gift envelopes that we got in
Look at his grin!
When we got into the
The first day Nori hurt himself when he made an unauthorized and uncontrolled jump for freedom ashore. The scratch needed stitches badly! We asked the lady at the front desk of the inn where to go and she kindly lent us her car. Nori was fixed in no time, but needed to rest, so we stayed a whole week. And that was a week of walking, cycling, running and eating fish, fish and more fish. Mainly squid and mainly raw.
Ikezukuri, the best way to eat raw squid, prepared onboard by a local fisherman.
Something else, very tasty on these islands:
Sea urchin eggs on top of a bowl of rice, accompanied by a sweet pickle, fried or baked fish, miso soup and cups of green tea. The yellow stuff is pickled radish, good for digesting all that good food.
When we left the Goto Retto it wasn’t for Yakushima, as we had planned. The winds had been blowing steadily from the NE for a while and that left the only suitable anchorage quite exposed. Yakushima is higher then any mountain on
Ah well, we can come back and it doesn’t look like this island will go very far……
So we made a bit of a jump to Amami Oshima, south of
Back to the sailing: Arakawa –> Amami, 260 miles.
What a great start of that trip: 2 miles out Jaap discovered some stitches on the jib had come undone. We should have turned around to fix it maybe, but we didn’t and then decided not to use that sail at all incase it got worse and so we motor sailed mostly…there was hardly any wind anyway. Apart from that it was a pleasant 3 day trip. The cats were a bit at a loss their very first night at sea, wondering why we did not all go to sleep at the right times and changing watches was a 12 legged affair.
On the second day we saw something orange floating in the distance. Not so strange, there is a lot of garbage in this piece of sea. But it looked kind of nautical and we changed course. When we picked it up we saw it was a lifejacket. With thank goodness, no body inside.
Naze, the main harbor had no place for us, so we turned the corner and tied alongside a concrete wall in Daikuma. The sewing machine came out and we fixed the sail in just an hour. We managed to get a cruising permit for the
Some local yachties introduced us to Keimeishi, (a chicken dish) and local music, played on a 3 stringed samisen. We generally spend a lot of time with the locals, because many people love talking to foreigners – in Japanese.
After a few days we hoisted the sails again to move to the southern end of Amami, to the small town Koniya, located on a sort small scale inland sea. But again, Alishan with a draft of close to 2m needs space and we had to leave the harbor again. No problem, lots of places to anchor, but it was nearly dark. So we phoned an old acquaintance, Swiss–French Patrick who to our surprise was still there and directed us over to his place, on
Kakeroma, one of the Amami group islands, is a kind of wild place, sparsely inhabited, with rugged, steep mountains covered in jungle like forests. About 40km east–west, but only 4 or 5km wide. Cycling across was a real challenge. The views are stunning and so are the little tucked-in bays where the Japanese used to hide their ships in WW II. Strewn about are a few villages of about 25 – 30 houses and one town of maybe 150. We went for drives in a Japanese Jeep and Marijke got her snorkeling gear out. We spent the days exploring, often with Pat and his wife Monica and in the evenings we sat together, talking boats, creating meals. One thing we had not counted on was the absence of shops. But a joined ferry-trip to the “city” across the bay took care of that. Although the temperatures had dropped below 20C in northern
Read here more about Kakeroma…..but come back neh.
The best thing for Jaap was Patrick and Monica’s bath house, it was filled every night, heated with driftwood and we all took turns. On this “remote” island our on-board internet connection didn’t work (of course;-)) ), but to our big surprise, the ferry terminal around the corner had a computer with internet - to be used for-free!
One person we met here who is trying to make a living for him and his family by taking customers out on the boat that they lived on for 3 years before their baby was born.
If ever you plan a visit, hook up with Ryu and Tae,
When Patrick left to deliver a Tashiba he’d fixed up to
Okinawa is a very popular holiday destination, nicknamed as
We thoroughly enjoyed our time in
Alishan in Kadena.
We had that cruising permit, so we could legally sail to the more remote islands just to the west of
Once in the Kerama we picked a lovely anchorage between little islands with steep green hills, few roads and houses and clean white beaches. The snorkeling was full on. The dingy was supposed to be our main means of transportation, but the outboard engine didn’t cooperate and so all the exploring was done in the vicinity of Alishan, but hey, this is paradise. Who wants to complain?
A few days later we sailed to Zamami, a bigger bay in the same group to meet with some
This little bugger of a coral block managed to keep us awake half the night, when we dragged anchor for the 3rd time in the well protected
We miss Jan Haring’s CQR proven anchoring set up.
After 2 more windy days in Zamami, we left for Miyako Jima, an overnight sail.
Like 15 years ago, the trip from Keramo Retto to Miyako Jima was a pleasant one.
Light seas, nice breeze and beautiful skies….Wow if sailing was always like this…
By sunrise we spotted land and a few hours later we tied Alishan alongside the wharf in
John and Naomi from
Sayaka, with son
What was for lunch? Looks yummy, and so it was: Goya Champuru :
We were even allowed to have her car for a day or 2. Nice isn’t it? Mind you Miyako Jima isn’t that big, but the main town was just too far away. Besides, the on board internet connection didn’t work so we had to take the laptop into town to check our email, the weather etc. (just the last 2 days of our stay I found out that the on board internet connection DID when we took the laptop on deck near the mast…OK if it didn’t rain;-))
Miyako Jima is green, that is, it’s very green as there are a lot of sugar cane fields. Water is NO Problem as there is plenty of spring-water. Besides the sugar cane there is a lot of cattle farming (btw, all calves are shipped to
Read here more about mysterious Miyako Jima…and come back.
Anyway, what did we do all day?
Well Marijke continued her shelling, snorkeling and beach combing and Jaap went for the odd run over the island. Of course some boat jobs were done, like filling water tanks, oil changes (2 engines, pfff), cleaning the SS on deck. Do you think I wish I had a proper job?
Of course the outboard engine got a service job: blocked up carburetor due to lack of use! Hope to avoid that problem in the future…keep on cruising J
And we met up with a lot of great people resulting in a couple of good feeds together. For sure we have to mention Chikako, who runs a catering service on the island…weren’t we lucky!
Marijke had met Chikako once in
chika-jacaranda(at)gray.plala.or.jp or take a look at her website HERE
or take a look at her website HERE
We hired (for some cookies) one of the local village dogs to keep Nori and Wakame on board. The cats didn’t like it, but they must have thought: Hey doggy-boy, you get cookies, but we are out of the rain…
During our stay we didn’t see much sunshine (real autumn weather) and it was very windy most of the days…but then one day it all looked okay so we left for another overnight sail to… Ishigaki Shima. (By now you’ve probably figured it out: shima or jima means island)
The overnighter from Miyako was roly-poly, with bumpy seas caused by the strong Kuro Shio and a dead down wind course. Somehow closer to
A few hours later everybody went there own way and as that overnighter was one of very little sleep we crashed by lunch time… only to be woken up 30 minutes later by a front with 40+ knot wind… remember that red sky… that broke the mooring lines of our neighbor and send us almost on to the rocks wasn’t it for that 1 extra line I had set… It took a good 30 minute struggle to get the 2 boats back to the pontoon. Pff what a wind and a rain! You’re never too old to learn…and to make silly mistakes.
Alishan in Ishigaki port, at the yacht pontoon, under calm conditions.
The idea was to spend 3 weeks in this group, exploring the outer islands and then leave
We started alright. That means the exploring part. We hooked up with Mike of sy Hanalee, who takes customers sailing, snorkeling, kayaking and on jungle trips.
The jungle trip was fun. Especially that last part of the flying fox.
Look out, here she comes…. And there he goes….
Friends we had made during our first time here took us for drives and trips to the small islands of Kohama and Kayama, where only rabbits live and the snorkeling is great.
Marijke with Fukami san, who we had met 15 years ago.
We took the ferry to Taketomi jima, an island like an open air-museum, well worth seeing. No “naijin” (people outside Yaeyama) can live there and all houses to be newly built have to be in traditional style, with typical tile roofs and Shisa, protecting lions, on top. Bright bougainvillea’s, walls of coral and unsealed roads make for a very pretty picture. No cars can go to this island, though the local tour guides drive minivans with tourists. The main way of transportation however is bicycle, or water buffalo-cart.
Indeed many flowers,… Looking down on Main Steet.
Just to warn you! “Public transportation".
Another fun 1 day trip was to Iriomote, where we rented canoes and hiked to one of the many waterfalls. We didn’t get to see the local wildcat, but saw some awesome colored birds and lots of different butterflies. Also the star shaped sand of the beach at the NW point. We drove from east to west and back – Iriomote isn’t very big – and decided to come back one day and see more.
13 Years ago we left
Here we are at a pit-stop at the Ishigaki Club Med….showing our visitors pass.
Together with friends they rent a piece of land to grow veggies and we were asked to leave our mark by planting a tree. Marijke planted a lemon tree and Jaap a mixed orange–lime type called Shikikan, pronounced she-key-can. The newspaper got involved too and we became famous celebrities for one day. That brought some other people on board we’d met 15 years ago. All in all we made and re-made friends all the time.
By now the temperature was going down and winter was coming. Time to move on. Jaap studied the weather charts day after day. Several typhoons, so late in this year, were moving over the
Typhoon Utor is heading into the
Then, one day, all looked okay. The variety of weather forecast programs showed a window of less wind between Friday night and Saturday afternoon. We planned to get to the entrance of the 40 mile channel in the early morning hours, to clear it within 6 hours, and continue the last 250 miles to
Officials were not happy, but they understood and we promised them we’d choose a better day next time.
So, we are back. Studying the weather again. By now the winter pattern has completely settled in and the forecasts give gale warnings non-stop. It doesn’t look like we’ll be leaving until spring. So today, the day of writing, it’s early January and we are at Ishigaki. Still. Too bad? I don’t know. Good things and bad things always come together. The morning we cleared back in Marijke lost a piece of tooth filling and headed straight for the dentist. Now, 4 weeks later, she is still under treatment and very glad she wasn’t at sea!
So we are waiting. We started some HK-planned jobs as waxing the deck, varnishing the teak and sorting out loads of shells ….. and of course we keep ourselves busy with socializing.
Christmas and New years’ Eve came. And so did our friends Nobuko and Kenichi Kakoh from
Some sights here in Ishigaki:
They like walls here, all to keep seawater where it belongs. Last September Typhoon Shanshan dropped by with 130 knots wind! With according waves! The wall on the left as they have been for 100s or thousands of years, the one on the right a more modern version.
There is no cemetery. After leaving this world the whole family gets together again in a building like a small mausoleum on a favorite piece of land. Found anywhere, all over the islands.
The hiking is good, there are plenty trails leading you in the dense jungle on
Marijke and Jaap are off again. So we stay behind looking after the boats on the pontoon.
Where did those 2 leggers go anyway???
Japanese lesson number 1: What’s written on this box?
This is a road sign, found on Iriomote: Please take care not to run over the rare Iriomote Nekko (indigenous wild cat). Only less than a hundred are out there, road kill is enemy number 1!
Hmm, another warning sign…No idea what it’s for…..
This is a vending machine we found on
Insert some money…and out come the balls…
Take you place at the T spot, ….swing the club….
That’s where you should aim for…80 yards, hole-in-one…If it’s low tide you can see your score…if it’s high tide???? Poor fish and crabs…
The girl looks happy; don’t know about the salary man.
Sign at the beach in Ishigaki. Warning for very stingy jelly fish. Next to the sign is a box with a bottle of vinegar….In case of ….
Very attentive to have the info also in English! A rare fact, esp. in the remote islands of
We are happy: It’s winter now so No Jelly Fish.
Yes that’s what you deserve…..It’s true, Japanese fishermen (pro and fun) like to catch fish and leave a mess…
This sign, spotted in a fishing harbor tells the bikies to STOP making noise…..
Hmmm, is that where tsunamis come from?