25/01/2012, 20nm west if Hsiao Lan Yu
Fujin covered around 120nm in the last 24 hours - a slightly slower pace given the size of the seas.
Fujin is once again experiencing heavy weather, with wind from NE at up to 55 knots earlier this morning - Ivan again had the warps out to slow the boat down. Waves are 5 to 6 metres.
As of a short while ago, winds have settled to low 40s and Fujin is sailing with just a little genoa out. Still high waves and about an hour ago they took another knockdown which flooded the cockpit.
Ivan plans to cross through the Luzon Strait close to the Taiwan (northern) side given the current wave/wind direction - some concern that there could be some overfalls in that area, but it will be good to get through the Strait as soon as possible, and into the slightly less exposed South China Sea.
It is interesting that the weather forecasting services we use all show a consistent picture of max 35 knot winds - well below the actual experience of Fujin. The forecast over the next 24/48 hours is for more moderate winds but still in the 20 to 25 knot range.
For those planning a trip in this area then, assume that the grib based weather services will substantially underestimate the actual winds, and prepared accordingly!
24/01/2012, 80 nm SSW of Ishigaki Island
Ivan seems quite happy with progress todate after another 140 nm day. The first 36 hours out of Okinawa were quite rough with 3 to 4 metre short period waves but wave period has now lengthened, giving a more comfortable motion. Winds have settled down to 20 knots from 35 knots ealier.
Sails were well reefed until this morning and they are now sailing with full sail with wind on the starboard quarter - nice sailing!
They should reach the Luzon Strait sometime tomorrow afternoon, all going well.
23/01/2012, South of Miyakojima Island
At midday on 23rd January, Fujin was just south of Miyakojima Island - this group of islands marks the western extremity of the Japanese archipelago. Fujin covered around 145 miles in the last 24 hours, for an average speed of around 6 knots.
I was not able to speak to Ivan today - he has the satellite phone on for one hour from noon to one. I hope to catch him tomorrow. However, weather looks settled so they should be fine.
The picture above is of the repair to the main sail - basically reinforcing the leach line.
I have received the bill from Ginowan Marina - Y21,000 for sail repair, 223 litres of diesel at Y116/l (relecting a lot of motoring given that the genoa was out of combat for much of the leg) and Y2,100 per night for the marina. The swivel plus installation was Y152,000... Let's hope the next stop is not so expensive!!
22/01/2012, Southern tip of Okinawa
Fujin and crew departed Ginowan Marina at 0800 this morning and are now passing the southern tip of Okinawa in good winds and making consistent 7 knots.
They have decided to lay a course direct to Brunei rather than for Hualien in Taiwan. This is because winds are good and in the right direction, so there is little point in stopping in Taiwan after 2 days. They expect to pass through the Luzon Strait and into the South China Sea on Tuesday 24th.
The genoa swivel was replaced yesterday and the crew sensibly decided on a morning - daylight - departure rather then during the night after a long day sorting out the genoa.
The mainsail was also repaired - the sail loft added some 3 metres of reinforcement along the leach of the sail to prevent a recurrence. I have a photo of the repair and will post this in a future blog for those interested.
The crew had a good time in Okinawa, enjoyed much local hospitality including island tours, etc. They even ran into Miura-san, the previous owner of Fujin....
At the moment. it looks like an arrival in Singapore on 10th February and a departure on 12th, after obtaining permits from the Thai embassy there. I still plan to join them so let's hope all goes well and they have fair passage!
16/01/2012, Ginowan Marina, Okinawa
Fujin arrived into Ginowan Marina shortly after 1500 today.
Ihara-san has taken a look at the swivel and we need a new one. He has found one in Osaka and it will take 2 days to get it down to Okinawa and a third day to fit it. It is not a straightforward job as he will need to use a halyard to brace the mast, slacken the backstay and then release the forestay. He can then slip the new swivel into place.
Skipper Ivan thinks that we could make do with refitting the circlip on the existing swivel but given that he has a 1,700 nm leg ahead of him, I think it makes sense to go with the rigger's advice.
There is also a 15cm tear in the mainsail just behind the luff - this happened early this morning when the crew were taking down the sail to run with bare poles. Ihara-san will take the sail tomorrow and fix this as well.
Customs and Immigration will visit them tomorrow so they need to stay in the marina until then.
So the crew can relax for a couple of days - I suspect that they will be in port until Thursday night or Friday morning. Hopefully the weather will be more cooperative on leg 2!
16/01/2012, 21 nm north of Naha
At 1100, Fujin was around 21 miles north of Naha. Winds were in the 55 to 60 knot range all morning (ie Violent Storm/Force 11 on Beaufort Scale) and the crew is running under bare poles and towing lines in order to slow the yacht and gain control.
When I spoke to Ivan at 1100, winds had moderated somewhat to 48 knots. Am now in contact with the yacht via mobile phone as they are close enough to land.
They will try to put into Ginowan Marina provided that they can enter safely. They can then meet Iraha-san to fix the genoa furler problem. Iraha-san is at the marina now awaiting their arrival.
If they cannot enter the Marina, they will carry on down to Naha Port and moor there for the night.
We've spoken to Customs & Immigration and they are happy for Fujin to clear in and out from Ginowan Marina instead of Naha Port, so this would be the easier option, swell permitting.
I will update again later once Fujin is safely moored.