Thursday, May 31, 2012

Famous in Kobe

Hello All,
It has been a few days since I wrote. I have been busy preparing for my crew Stefan, he will be arriving in the morning. I have been cleaning from end to end and getting the boat all ship shape. I think its as ready as it will ever be. I have been tracking a tropical depression south of us. So far it has not developed into a Typhoon but I will be keeping a watchful eye. Typhoon or not it will be off our coast by Sunday or Monday so the earliest we could leave the Country is Tuesday.

I had a surprise visitor today, Kinny, a local news paper reporter wanted to interview me. He was here covering the Yacht race a few weeks ago and saw my boat. He was amazed that there was a yacht from America here and thought it would be a good story to print. We visited a few hours and he took heaps of notes and took some pictures. He said this will make a good story because foreign boats never come here, at least to Kobe. He also told me it should print before I leave so he would bring down a paper for me. Kobe only has one paper for the whole area so this is a big deal. I will be the famous foreign boat of Kobe.

Saturday Toshi is going to give me a ride to get fuel for the boat. There is a fuel dock here but he said it is to expensive so we will make a few trips to the gas station with my jerry cans. If the weather is descent we will take the boat out for a cruise in the bay Sunday.

Almost time to go North, I am looking forward to the adventure of seeing Southwest Alaska, I hope I can see it though the fog anyway.

That's all for now so I will talk to you soon.


Sunday, May 27, 2012


Hello All,
Saterday I helped Toshi put some wood rails on his boat. I forgot how much work and time it takes to cut and fit wood on a rounded hull. He also hired a carpender to help out which was good because he had all of the right tools for the job. The carpender and I had a really good time working on the boat together. He spoke really good english and has done many ocean passages when he was young on ships, He has also sailed allot so we had lots to talk about. He was in Los Angeles 40 years ago and saw the Westsail fleet when they were new. He is very impressed with my boat and I will sum up his comments about the boat by saying " very strong".

Yesterday I headed to Kyoto in the morning. Misaki her 4 year old son and another guy I met at the festival last weekend, Naoki and his wife all met me at the train station. They had the day all planned as to what and see and do. There is allot to see there and one day is not enough by a long ways but they showed me what they thought is a must see for a tourist. They took me to 2 very famous temples both built at or around the 7th centry. I have never been around anything that old. Where I am from we talk hundeds of years. Here they speak of thousands. The temples are very carefully looked after and if anything is old or rotten they replace it just the way it was built back in the day. They are beautiful buildings and have withstood earthquakes, Typhoons and what ever mother nature can throw at them. It is a testament of the building skills and attention to detail. We also visited a fresh market that took up 6 blocks. There was a shop for just about anything you like to eat, Jananese food of coarse. We had a wonderful lunch at a very old Cafe in the market. They told me it has been in business for 80 years.

The highlight of the day was returning back home. Naoki said the regular train would take to long to get back so he told me we will take the fast train. I have heard of this train in the states, I called it the Bullet train. On long stretches it is capable of 200 miles an hour. It was an amazing ride and the inside looks like a jet plane. It took us a half and hour to get from Kyoto to Kobe, less than half of the time on the regular train. The Bullet train runs about a thousand miles of Japan connecting North to the South. It takes 7 hours to go from end to end, thats an average of 142 miles an hour.

I had a really good time hanging out with my Japanese friends and they were great hosts.

The next 2 days I will finish my varnish work and get the boat all ship shape for Stefan who will be here Friday morning. I have been studing the weather systems for the whole route and it is a mixed bag of wind and pressure systems. It will be like a box of choclates , you never know what your going to get.

I will get busy now so I will talk to you soon.

P.S. I will add some pictures to the album under Kyoto.


Thursday, May 24, 2012


Hello All,

I had a great time touring downtown Osaka and met up with Misaki and a few of her friends for lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe. They told me that even though it is walking distance from where they work they never eat there. I joked with them saying that its not a very Japanese place to eat with cheese burgers and french fries on the menu. They didn't have much time so our visit was brief. They did take me a few blocks to where they work and took me to the very top floor, 28 stories ,where there is a cafe for the workers and 360 degree view of the city. Osaka is the second largest city in Japan and number 3 for commerce behind Tokyo and Yokohama. They work for the largest leasing company in Japan and there building where they work is a year old now and very nice.

It took me one hour to get to Osaka from here which is about 25 miles away. The public transport system here is very efficient. It is not that hard to use even for the non Japanese speaker. I had to make 3 train switches to get there and didn't get screwed up once. For me having never used such a system especially in a foreign country I commend there transportation lay out.

Today I was suppose to help Toshi, my new sailing friend for those that haven't kept up on my blogs and help him put some new teak on his boat. It has been raining all day so we will try again tomorrow. Sunday I will take the train to Kyoto where I will meet up with Misaki and a few of her friends for a day tour of there famous city. I will get up there before noon so will will have the rest of the day to tour around. There is lots to see there so we will be busy.

I will add some pictures to the album I took so take a look when you get a chance.
Thats all for now so I will talk to you soon.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Osaka Tour and more

Hello All,
Things have settled down around here since last weekend. When Toshi took me to the marine store I found some varnish so today I put one coat on the cap rails. It has been holding up good but there were some thin spots so I will put a few coats on for good measure and hope it stays on till I get home. A few cruisers I have run into since I varnished the teak have commented about it, they always say you must not take the boat offshore, I say, I always take the boat offshore, there comment is , good luck keeping that varnish on. It is not easy but so far so good.

Tomorrow I will take the train to Osaka, I will be meeting a few people from the yacht club at the Hard Rock Cafe. They work close to the Cafe so they invited me to there lunch break. It sounds like an hour train ride to get there so I will get started early just in case I get lost. I have to switch trains in Osaka so this should be an adventure. On Sunday I will meet up with a few of the same folks in Kyoto. One of the girls, Misaki, lives there so her and a few friends will give me a tour. It is suppose to be very traditional Japanese and has 20% of Japans national treasures. That train ride is 2 hours inland so I will get started early so I can get back the same day.

Time is flying by so I am trying to see all I can till I have to leave which is less than 2 weeks away.

I will talk to everyone soon and let you know how everything goes.


Sunday, May 20, 2012

Festivals and more new friends

Hello All,
The last few days have been a lot of fun. The sailboat race happened yesterday, it was very strong wind and wasn't a big coarse so it didn't last very long. It looked like 30 boats entered the race, the dock was teaming with activity. The festival that happened on Saturday night was a blast. A few of the yacht club members showed me around and introduced me to a lot of folks. They had a bunch of booths with all kinds of Japanese food. It was all for sale but was very reasonable. They had a live band and lots of activities for the kids including tug of war. I got to help with that and we won 2 out of 3 times. They also had a bingo game and gave away all kinds of stuff. As usual I didn't win a thing.
Last night I was talking to a few of the folks at the yacht club and after it closed I was invited to one of the members home where he put on a really big spread of food . Chicken, fish, raw fish, to much to remember. His house was walking distance from the marina and we didn't get out of there till 11 pm. It was a good time had by all. They were really impressed with my chop stick ability. I find it really easy to use them. All of that being said I over slept for the eclipse. It was suppose to happen at 8 am but I didn't get up till 9. As it turns out it was pretty overcast so I didn't miss much.
I managed to get all of the groceries put away. It took me about 5 hours reorganizing and packing it all in as tight as I could. It all fit but it was very close. I think I am stocked up good now. I also rebuilt all 6 of my line winches used to raise the sails and put in reefs. They were in desparate need of a good cleaning and reoiled. It's one of those things that you forget about but so important to have.
That's about all I know for now.


P.S. I will be adding some pictures to the Kobe album so take a look.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Sailboat race this weekend

Hello All,
I got back from Toshi's house this morning. He picked me up at the marina yesterday afternoon and he took me in his car to Osaka where we found a marina store. I got a few rope blocks to replace those that were broken on the boat. Marina stores are few and far between here. If he has time Toshi orders parts from West Marine in California, because of the lack of parts found here. We also went to COSTCO wholsale, it was interesting shopping there. A mix of American and Japanese food all in bulk like at home. I loaded up on pasta and sauce to go with, olives, corn and a few staple items. The boat is pretty well stocked now between what I got here and Guam. I will go for fresh stuff locally when the time comes.

After all of the shopping we went and picked up his wife from her work and they took me to a very nice Sushi bar. Wow that was really good. They had me try a few things they like and it was wonderful. We went back to their home after that and visited and watched TV for a bit. They have a very nice home on the hill side that over looks Kobe and Osaka. We had a great time and they were very good hosts. They were very kind to invite me to stay at there lovely home. It is very cool to see how the Japanese people actually live.

We were watching the news last night and they were talking about a Solar eclipse that is suppose to happen on Monday. I haven't seen an eclipse since 1986. That will be cool to see again. Also there is a yacht race happening here tomorrow so lots of boats have been showing up today. They are setting up some big tents by the office and I think they are having some kind of feed tonight. I will go check it out later.

For now I am trying to find a place for all of these groceries. I figured if they were easy to put away I don't have enough so I will let you know how that goes.


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Japanese People

Hello All,
We had a beautiful day here after the rain the day before so I climbed to the top of the mast and inspected my rigging. I polished all of the stainless parts and enjoyed the view from 47 feet in the air. I am not a big fan of heights but I couldn't talk anyone else on the dock to do it for me. I also replaced one of my sail lines that lift up the staysail. I keep a lot of spare line on the boat just in case I need such a repair. That took me most of the day, I did take a break in the middle and got a long overdue hair cut. There is a barber shop close by so I decided I needed to get rid of my mop I had for hair. Wow I feel so much better, the last time I had it done was in Port Vila, Vanuatu, that was in September.

I just emailed my friend Toshi and I am still on for hanging out with his family tomorrow night. This should be heaps of fun, I will get to see how the Romans live. The Japanese culture is so much different than ours when it comes to foreign visitors. Every one that I meet always asks where I am from and welcomes me to there country. They are extremely polite and offer to help in anyway they can. The language barrier makes it interesting but I can usually get the point across. Like in French Polynesia English is way down the list of languages spoken. Most of the yachties here speak some English but that's all you have to do is go a block into town and I am back to sign language and pointing to stuff that I want. I was at the store yesterday for lunch and I was looking for sweet and sour sauce. After 20 minutes of looking at 100 different types of sauce I finally decided I didn't need it that bad. You can't read the labels and who do you ask. It makes it a lot more fun to shop this way. You never know what your going to get. I will be interested to see what this COSTCO store sells tomorrow. I will bring a list and see if I can find the stuff I need.

I am heading off for lunch so I will talk to you soon.


Monday, May 14, 2012

Rainy weather

Hello All,
The last 2 days I have been using my dingy to go around the boat to clean the hull and inspect all of my rigging and polish the stainless. Not exactly exciting but it has to be done. I also ran into an issue with filling my propane tank for my cook stove. One of the local boats here in the marina did me a favor. He took my bottle to have it filled and they would not fill it because it needs to be pressure tested by Japan. So he did me another big favor. I gave him some money to buy a replacement bottle and he will have it here by tomorrow. They use the same fitting in the U.S. but I had no idea that it would be this big a pain to fill it up. I guess I will have a spare now , which is ok. I have survived by only having one bottle but that has been a pain to deal with also. Now I will have gas for a few months.

The weather today has been overcast and rain off and on so I have been busy in the cabin sorting things out and have studied my charts for the passage home. I also have been looking at the weather for the passage everyday just so I know what to expect. The weather up north is still a little unsettled and I hope it mellows out before I get there. I talked to mom last night and she said there is still snow on the ground and the lake still has ice on it. It looks like summer will be a little late this year so making landfall in the Aleutian's in July should work out good.

Tomorrow is suppose to be better weather so I will continue my deck work and get everything ship shape and this weekend I will be hanging out with my neighbor Toshi and his wife at there home.

That's all I have for now so I will talk to you soon.


Sunday, May 13, 2012

New friends and Mothers Day

Hello All,
I have been busy doing more exploring on the bike and I just finished patching up the dingy. A few of the seams in the back were coming loose and it was letting in water on the floor. I have been letting it dry out on deck for a week and I just put it in the water today and I think its fixed. I bought it new in Tahiti 2 years ago but constant use and the tropical heat has really taken a toll on it. I wont be using it much anymore but when I do need it at least I wont have frigged cold water coming in.

I have been visiting with my neighbor boat when he comes down to work on it. Toshi has a really nice Japanese built sailboat that he bought in disrepair last year. I helped him remove some rotten rails yesterday. We also had a nice visit, he speaks very good English and is a real character. Toshi and his wife invited me to there home next week for dinner. He will also take me to a marine shop where I need to get a small block for my rigging then after that we will go check out the new Costco grocery store that is close to where he lives. I am really curious what they will have in there. 100 pound sacks of rice and 50 pounds of sushi perhaps.

This week at the Marina there will be some sail boat races. They were having a small sailboat race today and the big boat races will be some time this week. A bunch of boats have already showed up for the big boat race so it should be an interesting week here in Suma.

That's all I know for now so I will talk to you soon.


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Ocean Passages

Hello All,
I thought I would take the time to write about ocean passages. I know I write about them on a day by day basis but they lack reflection, looking back on the passage as a whole. I look at it like a score board, one day you get behind just to make it all back up the next. In the end it all seems to average out. This passage was an exception because of my mechanical failure which, quiet literally changed the coarse of my trip. There has been only one other time this has happened. I had to skip a Cook Islands atoll so I could get to Samoa to fix my RADAR pole. This stuff happens so you just have to shape your trip around it. That's what makes this way of traveling so interesting. I say interesting now but when I am out there dealing with it I have a few different words to describe "Interesting".

Having all of the different people on my boat I will say that this way of traveling is not for everyone. 48 hours into the Guam to Japan crossing Stephen looked at me on a nice sailing day and said, I think I know what its like to be in prison now. I have never looked at it like that but i can see what he is saying. Days, weeks or a month without seeing any one but each other, only 32 feet of living area, no sign of life at all not even a bird. When you do finally see fish jumping or dolphins swimming and birds flying around it is a very exciting moment. Stephen was a big help on the passage but he did tell me this would be his last. You just never know if you will like it till you do it. I myself am not a big passage fan but it seems to agree with me just fine. I would say it would be easier to beam the boat to the next port but then you would miss out on the excitement of seeing land on the horizon and the feeling of accomplishment that it took to make that happen. I always use the old Alaska saying, "You would never appreciate spring in Alaska unless you spent a whole winter there".

Everything that you do on a passage is a challenge, making meals, doing repairs and even trying to sleep. I have never been so busy trying to hold on in my life. Your always holding on, I should have arms like Poppy. You work muscles that you never knew you had. I always lose weight on passages, not from lack of eating but because your body is never at rest, which burns calories. I should patent this and advertise, lose 20 pounds in a month guaranteed. Outside of the down falls I have just mentioned you will never see the stars at night like you can on a passage. My Ipod has an app for finding all of the stars and myself and my crew have spent hours at night finding all of the constellations, planets and stars you would usually never see. Making passages gives you allot of time the think also, maybe to much time.

I actually keep very busy between studying weather forecasts to figuring out sail arrangements to conditions, keeping up with log entries, speed and coarse corrections. Keeping track of where you are and where you are going. Even with modern navigation equipment you are always making sure that you are heading the right direction. It is a big ocean out there and just a few degrees off and you can miss an Island the size of Japan at a thousand miles out.

I mentioned before about sail arrangements, this passage was a big exception for that because once we got out of the NE trades the wind was irregular coming with gusts. I was under sailed 60 percent of the time because of the 40 percent gusts. It would hold at a steady 15 knots and then out of know where it would blow 25 knots for a few minutes just to return to 15 knots. Having canvas up for the 60 percent 15 would have your mast in the water at 25 so after making 20 plus sail changes in a 12 hour period i just settled for being on the safe side.

In conclusion I would say that if it was easy everyone would be doing it and that being said 80 percent of the time it is easy. it is the 20 percent that could be left out. A friend I used to work with said it best, "It is a fine life if you don't weaken"

I will leave you now with my fine rambling on Ocean Passages.


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

New picture and location updates

Hello All,
I just added heaps of pictures to my photo page. I also added more pictures to the Guam Album so check that out also.
Today it has been raining off and on so I have been just sorting through pictures and getting caught up on the Internet. A pretty uneventful day so far. I will take the bike into town later and see what I can find for dinner. The food here is pretty reasonable so long as you eat what the Japanese eat, pork, rice, sushi noodles and chicken.
I will be writing some articles on the the passage here and a few other things so keep tuned in.


Transmission installed and working great

Hello All,
I received my transmission yesterday afternoon and spent 4 hours installing it today. The verdict works great, no more bangy bangy, nice and smooth wow. That really made my day. That is the first time I have had to do something like that since I bought the engine new. My engine room has lots of room compared to other boats so the removal and installation went fairly smooth with out to much heart ache. I will take it out for a spin in the next few days just to give it a proper run in.
I took the bus into town yesterday morning and continued my tourist tour and got some good pictures which I will post tomorrow. I was also looking for a Hard Rock Cafe that I was told was in downtown Kobe but after doing some research I figured out that it closed. The only one left is in Osaka which is quiet a ways from here but I will take the train there before I leave the Country and get some souvenirs by request. I will spend a few more days just looking the boat over good and re polishing all of the stainless parts on the rigging and rails.
Outside of mechanical work things were very quiet around the harbor today. Everyone must be busy working.
That's all I have for now and I will get you guys some pictures tomorrow.


Saturday, May 5, 2012

Lots of bicycles in Japan

Hello All,
I got out my bike yesterday and started riding all over town. Japan is very friendly to bikes so it is very easy to get around. I also aired up the dingy and cleaned it all up. I have some seams I need to glue on it also, it is leaking water into the inside. Outside of that things are pretty quiet. Yesterday we had a beautiful day, It was flat calm and sunny. I think it got up to 75 degrees. The next nice day we have I will head back downtown and get some good photos. There are some really nice parks and lots of shops.
That is about it, I will write more later.


Friday, May 4, 2012

Hello All,
Yesterday I had an unexpected surprise. I was invited on to a local power boat to go across the bay for a picnic. We went over to Awaji Shima Island about 8 miles from here. The weather wasn't that great but with 400 horse power we got there in about 40 minutes. There was 4 of us on the boat with one guy from Scotland. He has been living here teaching English for 7 years and was giving private lessons to the owner of the boat. Forgive me but I can't remember everyone's names but we had a great time and had some great food. The Japanese picnic in style. They brought tables and chairs and had electricity also. We tied up to a small dock and took everything off of the boat and put it on the concrete dock.
The docks here look like bunkers made of concrete and steel. Their harbors are very protected from the Typhoons that hit the area from time to time. We had a great lunch and returned back to Suma in the late afternoon.
I have some pictures and will post a few on the blog.
My transmission has been sent FedEx as of yesterday so I will be looking for that early next week.
That's all for now so I will talk to you soon.


Thursday, May 3, 2012

Partly cloudy, windy and 65 degrees

Hello All,
Yesterday was pretty uneventful for touring. I talked to the Harbor Master in the morning and got an address from him so I can have my transmission sent here. It should arrive sometime next week. My Swedish crew, Pontus and Robin spent the day with me and left to Tokyo last night. We found a small cafe on the way to the train station and had a really good dinner. It was all a mystery when we ordered because there was no pictures on the menu, only Japanese script. It all worked out good though, egg soup, chicken BBQ with onions and rice. Most of the places we have eaten before have pictures of the food so it makes it easier.

Pontus and Robin were great guys, it is to bad my plans got foiled, they would have been a great crew to have on the boat. It will all work out in the end and in hindsight I was not giving myself enough time to anchorage hop up to here anyway.

The weather is not very nice today so I will go clean up the boat and maybe take a little walk a little later. This place is very popular for bikes so I will dig mine out today.

P.S. I updated my route so take a look. I am almost all the way around.


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Sake Brewery Tour

Hello All, Yesterday morning it was pouring down rain and the wind was gusting at 30 knots. I wasent sure if we were going to get to go out and explore but by afternoon the rain stopped so we caught a train and went to find a Sake Brewery we had read about. When we arrived the brewery had a museum you can tour which is full of old wood barrels and the old tools they used when they made it by hand. I have forgotten the name of the place but it is the largest Sake exporter in Japan. It was late when we got done with that so we just came back to the boat. I thought I would comment on the food here and the grocery stores. We found a really big Super Market downtown 2 days ago and it was amazing. The amount of prepared food ready to eat would blow your mind. And the fresh veggies and fish take up half of the store. I will get some pictures to show you, it is hard to explain but amazing to see. I think most Japanese are to busy and tired to make food at home so they buy stuff ready to eat, which is handy for us walking around looking for lunch. It is not a bad price either. Lots of different kinds of Sushi and cooked pork are the staples for the prepared food. Kobe is also famous for there beef, I am told they treat the cows like pets, bath them give them massages to make the beef tender before they kill them. I havent tryed any yet but I will keep looking around for it. Thats all for now, I will talk to you soon. PEACE

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Downtown Kobe

Hello All, Yesterday we took the train to downtown Kobe. The public transport here is amazing. We really had no plan so we just walked around and checked out a few flee markets and went to a Memorial Park dedicated to the 1995 earthquake which wiped out the port and left the city in ruins. Kobe recieves 40 percent of the shipping goods to the country so it is a massive facility. This is one of the most modern cities I have been to in my life. The weather today is rainy and windy so we are just catching up on Internet stuff at the Marina Office. We put Stephen on a train to Tokyo yesterday morning. I am sad to see another great crew member and friend go again. My swedish crew are leaving for Tokyo tomorrow night so I will be solo again till the 1st of June when my Japan to Alaska crew shows up. I have a lot more to write about and will get everyone caught up in the next few days. PEACE