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Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Down But Not Out!

A short post to update you on my current circumstance after an injury aboard!

I regret there has a been a long period of no new posts. There is a reason for this.

in the last days of 2018 I was in Koh Samui, Thailand after a very fast and successful sailing passage from Japan.
After leaving Hakodate, Hokkaido I made my way (again single handed) south to Okinawa, meeting Carol in Honshu, and we then set off for the Philippines. From there we went to Malaysia and on into the Gulf of Thailand and Koh Samui where Carol had a House Sit booked, and I was looking for yards where I could make use of cheap labour and skills to deal with brightwork and other minor maintenance on my boat.
I will post more detailed blogs on the journey to this point later on.

Once in Koh Samui and on anchor in Bang Rak (above), being tourists on the island and caring for a bevvy of dogs at the house sit, I had made a paddle board trip out to the boat to list out the work needed on the boat. Nightfall came and I had not returned to the housesit, so Carol organised some friends to come and look for me. I was found just regaining conciousness having ended up injured and lying in my own blood in the saloon. To this day I have not regained any memory of the events before and after the incident. Nothing was taken from the boat, but my injuries seemed excessive for just a small fall, the boat being on anchor, flat calm, and no likely contact with the boom, etc.




Anyway, I ended up in hospital in Bangkok, Carol taking on the huge job of first emergency response and then ensuring my care, an absolute miracle worker, and then taking on the task of getting me home to New Zealand for care and treatment after a severe brain trauma, which normally takes from 6-12 months. I owe her hugely!
My family have provided wonderful and generous care and support, for which I will forever be indebted and exceedingly grateful.

Its now six months after the event, and my recovery has progressed well. I soon will be fully recovered and have every intention of completing my stuttering project to explore the Ring of Fire.
I am now working on my Passage Plan for the leg to New Zealand from Thailand, a distance of some 5,500 nm. The now familiar but more essential search for crew, funds, and resources is now getting underway. And the delayed blogs/stories will come now that I am recovered, finished with the intensive period of treatment and more readily to recall and write!


Sailing again, yay!                    Carol and I On Pete Baddeleys Yacht,  Hauraki Gulf



And my much deferred 60th birthday celebration put on by my loved ones




Pic of Carol up the mast doing the concussed skippers work!

Haida Gwaii

A story from 2016, Queen Charlottes

We are in Prince Rupert (a port city on British Columbia’s northwest coast, a gateway to wilderness areas like the Khutzeymateen Grizzly Sanctuary bear habitat) for laundry, packing, preparing for Iain Sara & Jackson to leave the boat on their return journey to New Zealand.



















Carol arrives for the next leg. We explore Prince Rupert and take in the museum then provision. After bidding adieu to Iain and Sara we try to fuel up but docks were too busy. Overnight at Pillsbury Cove. We catch 4 massive Dungeness crab and toast our good fortune. Sweet white flesh compartmentalized like cloves of garlic sheathed in cartilage instead of a papery skin. We feast with abandon licking lips and throwing shells overboard.



In the morning we brace the Fuel dock fiasco and made Graham Island after 10 hours sail in time for an amazing sunset (10 pm) and a rainbow over Tow Hill. We are now in the Queen Charlotte Islands the historic lands of the Haida people.





0930 anchor up and sail to Massett under foggy conditions. Landed at the public dock,3 Native fellows sitting passing the time. They wave as we pull alongside in huge currents. They then offer us fresh picked berries for sale although theirs, in plastic bags after all day, do not rival the fresh berries everywhere . We walked around town then to Old Massett and Sarah's art gallery. We find a new pole underway and discover an old pole in a storage shed adapted for rail transport. We walk the beach exploring old boats and hitch hike back catching a ride with Sarah. Set sail at 7pm & anchor at Strial Islands inside the outer bar.




Up early, we sail around Rose Spit outside of Graham Island to Skidegate and anchor inside Jewel Island at dark. A restless night is passed with the watch commander alarm set every 90 min to check anchor.


The magnificent poles and architecture of the Haida Gwaii Heritage Center reveal themselves at dawn and we row ashore for our exploration and interpretive tour. This park Gwaii Haanas is unique in Canada and it is celebrating 20 years of joint stewardship between Parks Canada and the Haida people. The Watchman program is also unique and places Haida at the historic sites of Tanu, Windy Bay, Skedans and SGang Gwaay to welcome visitors, provide interpretation and ensure the security of these sacred sites. we try to take part in 2 planned tours but somehow miss both.

We eat salmon berries & walk to town for coffee and wx wifi. We walk the beach & old Skidegate looking for Balancing Rock, then hike the trail at Spirit Lake. Carol finds a white eagle feather after asking brother eagle for just such a gift.

Back to the Heritage Center at 9am for our Gwaii Haanas orientation. We are told the park is full till 20th which will not work for our sail plan. There are caps on the number of daily visitors as well as per site to manage traffic. We are given special permission and are able to purchase our passes allowing us to make plans to start the following day.  We set sail to Queen Charlotte for wx update & supplies leaving at 4pm making way towards Louise Island. 5kn winds and a broad reach is what was expected but winds 25 gusting to 33 and close hauled is what was experienced -we were not organized so things broke including Craig's waterproof camera.

We leave Sheldon Bay and sail to McCoy Cove where we row ashore for a beach fire & picnic.


We attempt to walk thru to the other lake but the forest is so thick we retreat back to the shore there are still no bears but a gorgeous forest setting and afternoon in the sun. We tramp around and deer greet us along the beach. Here we see heaps of the plastic detritus from the tsunami in Japan gathered and awaiting removal.
Up early we make our way to Skedans and and are again greeted by deer on the beach. We walk among the totems and are joined by Nick a young Haida Watchman. Nick is 20 something and intensely proud of the fact that his family heritage is tied to the site. He sometimes struggles with the script of dates & names but beams with pride when he puts it together. Skedans was an intensely occupied site and there are numerous poles still standing although many were taken from this site to museums like Royal BC Museum in Victoria. This is the family village of artist & carver Bill Reid who is here, marked by a simple but beautiful wood plank with his Haida name. Many poles here were righted in the 1980s but now will be allowed to fall and return to the earth.  Nick tells us that in Haida culture a mortuary pole stands in memory of a chief until it falls and releases the spirit into the seven levels of the afterlife. We see poles commemorating chiefs who have hosted as many as 13 potlatch. We collect mussels by the cliff painted by Emily Carr and return to spend a lovely afternoon drifting, fishing & watching a pod of killer whales off in the distance. We make way towards Tanu & stern anchor out at 1130pm spending the night rocking & rolling.




Across to Tanu we meet Walter who has been a Watchman since 2009 and has spent 6 years at this site. He lives here with his wife Mary & their young daughter Raven. Walter is very keen to take us thru the house sites & ancient village. It is obvious he enjoys sharing the site, interpreting and making connections. Mary invites us to the cabin to have fresh fry bread while young Raven, 3 years old, insists on being called her Haida name. This is the first time we see crowding by groups as several private boats come ashore along with 2 tour operators at essentially the same time. This is why they have a cap on the number of visitors each day in the park and a maximum of 12 at each site at one time. We leave and make way to Windy Bay home of the Legacy Pole ( carved and erected to commemorate the stand off between Haida natives and Canadian loggers, resulting in protection of Gwaii Hannas and joint management by Parks Canada and The Haida tribes.)


We meet Vince who is soft spoken, eloquent, has a twinkle in his eye and a somewhat mischievous grin. During our time together, Vince reveals bit by bit & story by story his background. He is both an international ambassador for Haida culture & an elder involved in the repatriation of his ancestors remains. He shows us the ancient forest & leads us on a forester’s holiday to “the big tree” an 800-900 year old Sitka spruce. There is a group of young people on a week long Haida program based here. The students are staying in the traditional longhouse named Blinking Eye House after the entryway. We bid adieu and after 2 hours, make way from Middlesbrough to Burnaby Narrows & anchor for the night.

One of the richest intertidal areas in the world we are keen to explore in the morning. With low tide at 530am we row in and viewing is good but the light is flat. Highlights include sole, kelp crabs, massive mussels & huge urchins. Huge egg like jellyfish stream by in their thousands. Craig catches a red rock crab with his bare hands. We collect sea asparagus, 3 crabs, clams & mussels. The video shot underwater is blank & we decide to stay to next low tide. Craig paddleboards as Carol rows but with a higher tide the experience is completely different. We hike discovering huts & eagle bones then follow deer thru grassy meadows. We run the narrows aligning the markers and make way to Ikeda Bay 8km on in flaky winds.










Fresh bear scat on our forest walk











Ikeda is a beautiful bay ringed in pristine forest. Still no bears but it would be postcard perfect if there were. We set sail with 2 reefs in the main but both are shaken out in short time. We sail thru Rose Inlet enroute to Anthony Island and the SGang Gwaay site. There is a small anchorage in the north bay and we try twice to get a bite. We dingy in and are met by Harold another young Watchman from Skidegate. His family is tied to this site. Harold points out the double finned killer whale crest which belongs to his family. He is related to both Mary and Nick of the other sites. Harold is critical of Parks Canada but seems supportive of joint management. We walk the rich, dark humus paths to an open bay and the village site. The site is moss covered and lush with small diameter trees with many- strewn across the forest floor. We do not see seabirds although 40,000 nesting pairs are meant to call this home.

There is a Bald Eagle swimming, a very rare site and we are in an enchanted forest of moss and fungi. The poles are massive and numerous, especially funerary poles. Smallpox was brought to the village and killed most. Their bodies lie buried over a large area of the site, where we are asked not to walk. (Smallpox decimated the Haida, reducing their population of around 10,000 to a few hundred!)







 Departing for Woodruff Bay we hit an uncharted rock but all seems well. The miles pass quickly but we are sometimes enveloped in thick fog.  Luckily it lifts as we round the southernmost tip of Gwaii Haanas and we are able to take in the raucous Stellar sea lion colony at Cape St James as well as flocks of puffins, auklets and cormorants. There is much life here at the edge of Gwaii Haanas and all this coupled with the setting sun mark this end of land as special and special is something commonplace in Haida Gwaii. We anchor off a pristine white sand beach in Woodruff Bay, and settle in for our last night in the Queen Charlottes with a full moon rising.


Up early, the light of the moon is obscured by the fog which has settled around us. We can hear sounds coming from the beach- dogs? bears? but cannot see the short distance to shore. We make a 160 km push to Port Hardy and the majority is sailed in limited visibility, the spinnaker filling softly, the waters eerily calm for this notorious piece of water. We pass an uneventful night and have winds in the morning for a few hours but then it drops below 4kn and the diesel roars to life after 24 hours or more of silent sailing. The Queen Charlotte Strait is glassy calm as Vancouver Island come into view. We anchor out at Port Hardy just off the municipal docks where 2 tall ships are tied. We row in for provisions then tuck in for the night.







Another early start, we check out PacificGrace and Pacific Swift.Two huge and beautiful SALTS training vesselshere for provisions and to take on their new trainess. We make way to Kwatsi Bay, floating up and down by the delightful Lacy Falls for a sundowner and dinner. Kwatsi Bay is small but beautiful and as the full moon rises we settle in.


By early morning the fog has engulfed us and we cannot even see the boats in the small marina across the bay. As the sun gains strength it burns off the fog and we spend a long lovely day traversing inlets & narrows looking for bears which remain elusive. We do see majestic forests scarred by logging and pass 2 pods of dolphins as well as fur seals and of course eagles. We make Brown’s Bay at 11pm and tie up to the fuel dock in the strong current.. The morning light reveals we were tied beside a sign that says “Absolutely NO Mooring on Fuel Dock” which we did not see in the dark last night.




We leave before 7am with the moon still large as the sun comes up. Underwhelmed by Seymour Narrows crossing and then industrial areas too visible on Vancouver Island we put up the sail at Campbell River and continue down to Quadra Island where we explore the beach and having been given the OK to pass through a missile testing area, head to pick up a mooring at Ballenas Island for our last evening onboard.
Up early, we make way to Gabriola and anchor again off of Lily Island just in time for Carol to get to work.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

Experiencing Haida Gwaii and its unique culture was a highlight of the 2016 sailing season.




Monday, October 1, 2018

Around Hokkaido in 3 weeks

Festival celebrations continued in Otaru, an Onsen here and there, boat , sail and gooseneck repairs courtesy of Toru, Japanese sailor extraordinaire, departure of John for the States (which brought a surprising and prompt reaction from the Coast Guard), and soon it was time to explore Hokkaido.

Sailing south west with a good forecast we (Eric, Roberto, and myself) suddenly found ourselves bashing into the teeth of a gale around Misaki cape, and making no progress so we anchored close in on a shallow bay only to be tossed around for the night by katabatic winds and rolling swell. Dawn couldn’t come quick enough and we weighed anxhor at first light and found the sea sage had eased enough to round the cape and bear away to good reaching conditions. The winds soon disappeared altogether, and after motoring for a while I switched tanks only to hear the motor struggle and die - fuel issues for sure. After replacing the racor and primary filters and bleeding the injectors the same problem reoccurred on the aft tank- water and contaminated fuel with algal growths!
While working on this, the guys decided to take a swim, discovering that the water was toasty warm and clear. We also saw some large tuna swim by. Yes, lower latitudes here we come!
Further south we decided some snorkeling at a tiny offshore island would be a good way for us to finish the crewed part of the trip, and put into O-shima for a layover. The snorkeling was great, the climbing ( to an active crater) less so due to the rich growth of vegetation and steep slopes with too many scary slides to the water far below.




The following day we glided across towards Hakodate in following winds before catching the 6 knot current through Tsugaru Strait, arriving in Hakodate much earlier than expected.  Mizuno-San met us at the docks and directed to us the most perfect mooring in the downtown tourist centre, and suddenly we were the main attraction, with groups of tourists taking selfies in front of Whakaari, engaging us with Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and even a few European and Kiwi accented visitors.




The lads couldn’t believe their luck -free moorage in a beautifully sheltered harbour, with a constant trail of young women wanting their photos taken with intrepid foreign sailors.

Mizuno-San gleefully informed us we could stay for a month, a year, whatever we wanted! I started thinking -maybe this is the place to take some time and let the typhoon season move through some more, and spend some precious time with Carol back in BC whom I hadn’t seen for six months.


Eric returned home from Hakodate, leaving Roberto and I to explore the town, including a hilarious trip up the “ropeway” to Mt Hakodate, another great brewpub, and of course the all important boom repair by Konno-San and his welders.
This was the most cost effective option, and so far is holding up well throughout some pretty tough sailing.

We soon left Hakodate for Tomokamai to the east, Roberto having decided to make a move and take possession of his sailboat in Chiapas, Mexico.
An exciting and fast run brought us to Yufutsu Marina, where we were welcomed by the local sailors and promptly taken to an onsen then out to lunch as is their custom of welcoming new cruisers.

Roberto was whisked away the next morning to Sapporo airport and I was left to ponder my next move with a typhoon approaching fast. I looked at nearby Port Tomokamai as the marina wanted to charge me $100 per day, but then I was instructed to stay put by the Coast Guard due to worsening conditions outside the breakwaters. (Impressive waves smashing over the seawalls around the Marina)

So I prepared Whakaari for the predicted 60/80 knot winds and sea surge - a process I was to become very adept at as the typhoon season progressed: two side anchors set out off the bow and stern to hold her off the moorage wall, all sails wrapped with spare halyards and lines, dodger and bimini strapped over with bungee cord, dinghy removed to hard ground and tied down, every available fender and mooring line set and tensioned, radar reflector, flags etc removed, wind turbine blades tied tight, and a quick scavenger walk around the docks to see where I could borrow Japanese style fenders and tyres should the storm surge overpower my own resources. Then it is a matter of sitting tight, tracking the storm path, and a few stiff drinks when the anxiety rises too much!
Happily the storm veered out south east and apart from having to wait another day for the swell to ease before I could safely negotiate the passage between the breakwaters. A long bike ride took me to downtown Tomokamai and I found a street full of bars and clubs that was definitely worth checking out later that evening- some fun Karaoke, people watching and learning more Japanese.




Almost a week into my now singlehanded circumnavigation of Hokkiado I was bound for Kushiro, which involved some slow days waiting for wind and conserving fuel, having only one 33 gallon tank and five jugs on deck now that my (full with 75 gallons)) aft tank was out of action. Arriving in Kushiro in glass calm seas I was again treated to amazing Japanese sailing community hospitality, courtesy of Seki-San (again, he didn’t answer my phone calls on my way in but there he was, how did he know?) who called up a full tanker, paid for the fuel until I had a chance to change some dollars into yen, toured me around the town so I had my bearings and could find markets etc, then he was gone, to work on his catamaran.
The same impressive tall ship we had seen in Otaru, then Hakodate, and now here, was tied up nearby, and had I not been delayed again by Coast Guard protocol I would have gone over and asked for a tour of the ship, but when I was finally finished with the OTT form-filling, the ship had sailed.

i wasn’t impressed with the mooring conditions in Kushiro , esp with the heavy fishing boat traffic passing by at speed- another unprotected concrete dock designed for big freighters, and it was clear I couldn’t leave Whakaari unattended over the tidal cycles. I stayed one night, enjoying conversation with some local people in a tiny Saki bar in “Gasoline Alley”, then left early the next day for Abashiri, two-three days away on the north east coast where I hoped I could go inland to explore the Shiritoko Peninsula, a World Heritage Natural Area.

The passage from Kushiro to Abashiro involved passing thru the reasonably narrow Nemuro Strait, between Hokkaido and Russia (the islands taken by Russia as part of Japans surrender in WW2 but still contested by Japan). I was pushing wind and current for a very long day, dawn til midnight,  tacking across the part of the channel I was permitted to use. Shore fixed fishing nets extend perpendicular off the Hokkaido coast for up to 4 miles, and the Russian coast guard wont let Japanese vessels cross the mid point of the channel. So for much of my beat northwards through Nemuro Strait I was limited to 4-6 miles on each tack. Occasionally I would push the boundaries, so to speak, when I was getting a lift and as soon as I was overstepping the mark the VHF would spring to life and I would be hailed and instructed to change course immediately. The Russians initially had me switch to Ch12 and I was ‘interrogated’ as to my intentions, my homeport of registry, passport details etc. Many times I have considered turning off my AIS as the surveillance is constant, and in addition the Japanese make very effective use of AIS. They have AIS transmitters along the coast that auto-broadcast information and warnings as soon as you come into range, and the AIS alarm goes constantly if you don’t acknowledge and save the messages!

My arrival at Abashiri was very well attended by the authorities! Not just two Coast Guard and two Port staff, but two impeccably dressed Police Officers who insisted on boarding Whakaari, even tho their patent leather shoes were scuffed getting up and down the seawall. Turns out they were just curious about why someone would do what I was doing!? Nice guys who wanted to stay and chat but I was tired and ended up asking them -Are we done?
Can I sleep now?
On entering the port, which involved some well timed gybes on my part in big seas and narrow entrances until I could get into shelter to safely stow the main, I was waved into a nasty concrete dock and told this was the only place available. Well, that dock caused considerable damage to Whakaari’s beautiful teak caprails, and without huge Japanese style fenders there was nothing I could do about it. The corroded steel edgings on top of the concrete seawall chaffed through my mooring lines constantly, and by the time I left Abashiri, I had lost four fenders and four mooring lines, all torn apart without mercy, within the first 24-36 hours of my arrival.

Two days of wet, windy weather ensued, while I paced the docks begging and borrowing fenders and tires, and then finally calm conditions, blue skies and a good forecast, so I readied my folding mountain bike, some gear, and took a bus to Shiritoko Peninsula to finally get some time inland exploring.
The bus route ended at the entrance to the national park, and I found a really good Ramen Noodle bar for dinner (spent some time talking with Chinese tourists) before riding out of town to a small port where I made my bed for the night - on a rocky beach between two rock pillars and as it turned out, under a seabird rookery! so I was well awake by 3 in the morning (its light about 4.30 am, but the birds are up early, and you don’t sleep thru that!) and packing my gear ready to ride.
I enjoyed the riding into the wilderness, just a beautiful time of year, green green green! Deer and foxes on the highway verge, waterfalls and trails tastefully enhanced with typical Japanese architecture, amusing Anime-style signs about how to be careful around bears, gatherings of locals    (and their tidy lines of bicycles) at the river mouths fishing as the sun rose from the sea. By 7 am I was at the National Park Visitor Centre and not a soul in sight. I rode on another 25 km to the Goro Five Lakes and told to wait by security guards before riding further to the entry point. Met a young Tokyo woman while waiting who had climbed the highest peak in this area the day before, and she told me of all the hiking opportunities here, and a lovely hot spring that I would later find on my return ride.
Once allowed to proceed I was soon “being processed” for my experience, sitting thru a compulsory lecture on bear safety, environmental awareness, and how to walk sensitively! I kid you not, these park managers take their role seriously! Coincidentally, the ranger that gave the talk I attended ( all in Japanese) had obtained his job as a result of his course at Mt Aspiring College in Wanaka, NZ a year previously - prob. trained by my son Llewellyn!
The walk was only about 2.5 hrs, with every effort in trail design made to ensure you were rewarded with every possible aesthetic view of each lake, and concluded with an incredible raised boardwalk complete with electric fencing and controlled gates so that no-one could ever possibly be confronted by a bear. By the time I was back at the Five Lakes visitor centre the place was teeming with Chinese tourists, huge buses disgorging more every minute.
So glad I was wakened early by seabirds!

The hot spring was at the end of a narrow winding road along a river with the occasional fly fisherman, and then it became a twisting gorge and the road climbing through broadleaf and fir forest, but in contrast to the remoteness , cars were lining the roadside, parked in difficult places, straddling the water table, and I wondered if this hot spring would be overrun by tourists. At the roadend was this huge Hotel and Spa, and I guess everyone was there, tho no-one in sight.
I walked up valley only a few hundred meters and came upon this delightful little hot spring, no-one but me, and soaked for hours in nature, completely undisturbed.
Returning to the Hotel I found out from the concierge that out back was all manner of overcrowded spas and pools, at a high price, that everyone had come here for. I asked if here was a bar in the hotel but no, just the ubiquitous coin operated dispensers- but at least they had good brands of beer in stock and I sat in the large atrium chatting with two Australians and two Germans (who had hired a local Japanese guide who didn’t know about the hot spring) while enjoying Pure Malt Sapporo after a great private hot spring soak and ready for a mostly downhill ride back.

After a few hours back at the World Heritage Visitor Centre, doing all the hikes in that area and some more stunning downhill riding, I arrived back at my starting point in the late afternoon! So I decided to keep riding until I found a nice spot to camp along the coast somewhere. I would stop at a 7 Eleven and get some snack food and a drink, stop at a convenient place and soak up the view. The weather was dry and warm, perfect riding, and gradually the miles slipped by until I found myself leaving the coast and riding through market gardening country, people working the fields harvesting and the evening light just sublime. I kept going, stopping in a few choice places enjoying the activity around me, then encountering road information signs flashing warnings about thunder and lightning, so I kept on, keen to get back to Whakaari if indeed another storm was threatening. By 9pm I was back aboard and had covered 120 km plus my hikes for the day!

In the morning I was greeted with a most unusual sight - the water around Whakaari was bright lime Kermit green! All my mooring lines where they touched the water were green too! I was told later that Lake Abashiri upstream, grows this amazing algae,(completely natural, no pollution) and it drifts down to the port coating everything in its path. I spent a good two hours scrubbing the stuff off what was left of my fenders and lines-I’ll never forget it.

During the day I was troubleshooting my wind generator wiring and found a broken earth wire down in the lazarette - as I came up for tools a tiny Japanese guy sucking on a cigarette asked if I needed anything. I showed him the end of the cable in my hand and he came back with this heavy duty crimping tool -just what I needed, and didn’t have aboard - how do they know?! Everytime they’re in the right place, at the right time, with the right stuff! Everytime!? Turns out he’s a sailor with a rep as well, knows all the sailors I have met since arriving in Japan, and he’s clearly got Emphysema, but keeps lighting up on the strongest cigarette you can buy in Japan, saying he would die if he didn’t smoke! Then he climbs aboard, checks out my boat quickly, spies my guitar, retunes it to Open D and plays me Norwegian Wood then leaves! Most of our conversing being Hai, hai, hai!

My next destination, according to the passage plan I had lodged with the Coast Guard, was Rebun To, a small island at the very extreme north of Hokkaido, It is a closed port and had required me to apply one week in advance to visit. But as I gleaned more information and received advice from my friend Akira back at Otaru on the next typhoon I decided it would be better to go to Rishiri instead, an island also, a more protected harbor, and, more invitingly, home of one of Japans top 100 most famous mountains, an extinct volcanic cone that is essentially the reason the island exists.



However, after an energetic sail from Abashiri, rounding Soya Misaki (cape) I encountered the full force of current and wind originating from the Kuril Islands and was virtually at a standstill in big messy seas and 30-35 knot winds. Coming closer inland wasn’t an option because of very dense fishing net areas, and going further out was more current, and I was still in the mindset that I needed to nurse the repaired boom, so I motored/laboured into it until I had no choice but to turn downwind so I could get some fuel into the forward tank. That manoeuvre put me very close to the fishing nets and the Coast Guard hailing me on VHF was constant until I had to tell them to let me deal with the conditions and leave me alone! (That resulted in some very serious but polite questioning when I eventually pulled into Whakaanai port on dark, in need of respite instead of continuing on to Rishiri non stop)
Whakaanai seemed far too exposed to me, and again the nasty concrete docks with no protection from chafe, so I headed for Rishiri in haste, to be safe in port before the typhoon arrived.

The sailing to Rishiri was some of the best I had had in Hokkaido, 20-25 ones and slight to moderate seas, and I arrived right on time, as notified to Caost Guard when leaving Whakaanai, tying up to a good looking seawall with new fenders and clean steel. However, as the storm approached, I soon realized that the swell entering the harbor, and the place the Port staff had insisted I use, would be dangerous to Whakaari. I went thru my storm prep, setting out anchors etc but by late evening I knew I had to move to a better place before the serious winds and seas started. I called the port and insisted on moving and asked for assistance. They were there almost immediately, and with five of us we managed to get Whakaari off the dock and around to a head to wind position, right off the Hotel with Onsen etc.
The conditions deteriorated quickly and I soon knew what was ahead if I stayed where I was - I had gathered tires but each swell snapped the lines securing them - nothing for it but to go on anchor inside the harbor. I managed it alone, and enjoyed a comfortable night on the CQR on 200’ of chain. Maybe one can imagine the effort required to paddle out on my SUP to set then free the side anchors in the wild winds, then once on anchor, go and pick up the bouys I had put on the anchors and secure one as a stern anchor to contain the swing in the confined space.

The typhoon passed through fast, and soon the mountain was visible looming above me -time to get back to the dock, set the boat up for some time ashore, and climb a volcano!

A memorable day, a rewarding climb in great conditions,
and to top it all off, an Onsen to soak tired muscles before
returning to Whakaari and set sail for Otaru, to complete my
circumnavigation of Hokkaido.







I arrived in Otaru nearly a whole day earlier than I had posted as my ETA,  having picked up some unexpected winds on the beam. Akira and Toru were there for me, having arranged a rotary pump and drums so I could pump out the contaminated fuel and separate the good from the bad. And guess what? Another typhoon on the way, and if I wanted to make that flight out of Hakodate to Canada I had to move it -waiting the storm out was not an option!
Thankfully the work went well, and two days later I was saying farewell to two very good men, and making the 220nm passage south to Hakodate for the second time. Again I had great conditions and arrived in the early morning 12 hours ahead of schedule. Then commenced the whole storm prep procedure I had become familiar with, to set up Whakaari for a period of absence, and potentially during typhoon events.

Totally unexpected, as they tend to be, an 6.8 earthquake rocked Hokkaido the day before I was to leave, shutting down all the power plants and plunging the island into semi-chaos. Mizuno-San insisted on taking me to the airport the evening before my flight to check if it was still possible. As it turned out everything (except late passengers that almost made me miss my Tokyo connection) worked out fine. Mizuno-San even spent time finding some Sea Urchin for me to take with me, after all the markets were closed due to the power outage. What a great friend!