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Sailing the Izu Islands and Beyond
On sailing to Oshima and Gearing up
27 April 2012 | Underway: off Yokohama
Sailing to any island is an adventure. For no particularly good reason it is much more satisfying than sailing along the coast. It may be because when you get off your boat you have arrived by a different method than most everyone else and this gives you a special feeling of satisfaction. The first island I sailed to on my own boat (a J24) was a small island called Sarushima (monkey island) on the western side of Tokyo bay near the US navy base at Yokosuka. I anchored poorly with a fairly useless anchor and not enough scope but ignorance being bliss, when I swam in to shore and I looked back at her bobbing in the waves, I was truly content. That lasted for a few weeks and then I started looking for the next island.

Oshimais the first of the Izu islands and for any sailor based in the Tokyo area and looking at a nautical chart, it is the first dream on which to waste time and money. From the northernmost port of Tokyo Bay, the port of Habu on the southern end of Oshima is only 65 nautical miles away and it's everything a first time island port should be. It is a big natural bowl with mountains on 3 sides and squeezed in between the harbor and the mountain is a narrow paved Japanese street lined with the smell of mossy age. This first 65 miles, however, can be very very long. 65 miles of broad reaching at 6 or 7 kts is one day of pure magic. 65 miles of an upwind slog directly into the wind can make you wish you had become obsessed with something besides sailing. Thinking of the distance and the significance of this first island voyage can lead to taking careful thoughtful precautions to prepare but it can also lead to a prolonged period of "gearing up" (this is the constant state most boat owners are in). Gearing up leads you to spend more money than you need to on all kinds of kit, some of it not so necessary but still very cool, and some of it very important. When I partnered on my 3rd boat I found the boat stuffed with water bottles everywhere. My new yacht partner had recently gone through this phase in preparing to go to Oshima and had fixated on the fact that he didn't want to die of thirst (neither do I incidentally). I don't know what other spares were on board by way of shackles, clevis pins, blocks, or halyards and sheets, but no matter what happened he was not going to run out of water. Give a boat owner enough time to plan for a trip and he'll be repainting his water line because of the stuff piled in the boat.

In keeping with tradition, today I bought 3 last minute items which mark the end of my "gearing up": guitar strings, a hacksaw and a leatherman.

It's 7:50pm now and we're underway in 20kts of wind from the north. With just the gennaker rolled out we're running dead down wind at 6.5kts. It's a easy comfortable ride--should be good for the kids to sleep.

The picture is dinner...and it's time for me to eat mine.