The Great Southern Route : 2010 - 2011
GSR | 133 from another fuel barge in Osaka, again arranged by Creation. As mentioned, Japan has a very modern marina infrastructure that can cater to vessels of up to 150 metres for dockage. They do not, however, have electrical installations for the large yachts so 99-100 per cent of the time you will be on generator. Water is often free at marinas and other docks. There are literally thousands of anchorages all over Japan throughout the thousands of islands. One captain described it as "Croatia on acid!!" A huge shipping industry in Japan means that navigation is definitely exciting! Although it is protected from the Pacific Ocean, tidal flows can rip through the islands of the Inland Sea with amazing ferocity and forming good sized vortexes so caution is necessary. These areas are well charted and documented and navigation aids, including massive electrically-lighted signs usually show current speed, direction, increasing/ decreasing, etc. Navigational aids are outstanding and always working. English speaking guides and experienced pilots are available. Charts are available through a local navigational supplier, Cornes & Co. in Yokohama and Kobe. Tip: buy the Japanese Coastguard charts. They are cheaper than Admiralty and are identical -- Admiralty reproduces these for their charts of this area! Japanese charts have both English and Japanese on them. Just before we were about to ship the yacht, Typhoon Pabuk hit Japan. Creation had everything in hand however and had us in a flooded dry dock, roped off in all directions and about four miles up a river in Osaka. We hardly knew that a Typhoon was on us! Since that first time in Japan I have been back 15 times in eight years and usually spend my summers here working and cruising on Japanese owned yachts, and even now have a Japanese wife! The country is still mesmerising to me even now that I speak a certain amount of Japanese and know the place well. It is without doubt one of the greatest cruising experiences I have ever had, from a cultural aspect and also the scenery, amount of destinations, and things to do. The owners flew from Kagoshima to Tokyo where they spent a night before flying back to the States. On the way back to Kobe, we stopped and waited until shipping time at Creation (our agents) own little marina in Osaka. The marina was old wooden floating docks and pretty junky, but when we arrived they threw us a massive barbecue party and opened the Tiki bar that they built on one of their docks. Eight years on and they are totally renovating the marina there and it will soon be a superyacht facility in its own right. I have told the owner to make enough electricity available for one or two large yachts and he has promised me he would. 40 to 45m will be able to go here in the future. While in Japan we used pre-paid mobile phones for our communications. Mobile phone will work here if they have 3G (WCDMA/UMTS 2100) capability and your mobile provider allows international roaming. GSM does not work here. Otherwise pre-paid phones/SIM packages are the next choice, as SIM cards alone are not available in Japan. V-SAT Internet is available through MTN. Also air cards are available through yacht agents that work at broadband speeds and through the mobile networks, and can be rented for unlimited use for the equivalent of around US$100 per month. Bunkering can be arranged through your agent for any part of Japan, however best prices are in Yokohama/Tokyo and Osaka. Fuel is tax free for foreign registered yachts. For fuelling during our trip we used a fuel barge on Yokohama also arranged by Creation and then topped up again From Kure we cruised on through the Kanmon Kaikyo straights between the Island of Honsho and Kyshu, a very busy shipping lane with ripping currents, and out of the Seto Nai Kai to Hakata, Fukouka and the marina at Marinoa. We only stayed here one night as the owners wanted to see more nature, but the marina is brilliant and the staff is wonderful. The marina can definitely take large yachts. We cruised on to some stunning islands on the western side of Kyshu called Goto Retto. Here we discovered some marvelous anchorages and the guests snorkeled and dived and made good use of the watersports gear. The water here is warm with coral reefs and the climate is like not unlike Florida. After two days on anchor we did a long overnight run to Kagoshima. I had meant to stop in Nagasaki and explore more of the coastline, but time was running out for our guests and they had to get back. I think I could have spent another two weeks on the western side of Kyshu and in Kagoshima, and, after looking at the charts more, I could spend months exploring the Inland Sea, the cruising potential is incredible.
2008 - 2009
2013 - 2014