22 April 2018 | Marin Pia Marina, Kunasaki
30 March 2018 | Marin Pia Marina, Musashi, Oita
25 February 2015 | Puerta Galera, Mindoro island
07 February 2015 | Pinoy Boatyard Port Carmen
03 April 2014 | Port Carmen, Cebu Island
05 March 2014 | Anini-Y, Panay Island
30 July 2012
25 July 2012 | Miri to K-K
22 July 2012 | 04 23.07'N:113 58.34'E
18 June 2012 | Terengganu, East Malaysia
01 June 2012 | Tioman Island
28 March 2011 | Langkawu, Malaysia
14 March 2011 | Port Blair
06 March 2011
24 January 2011 | Nai Harn, Thailand
07 April 2009 | Langkawi
23 March 2009 | Thailand
02 March 2009 | Phuket, Thailand
09 February 2009 | Rebak marina, Malaysia

Tourists in Japan

22 April 2018 | Marin Pia Marina, Kunasaki
Jo
We wanted to do some of the tourist sights of Japan in cherry blossom season, so Easter Saturday saw us heading off with a small rucksack each for the five minute journey down the road to catch a flight for Tokyo, and the prospect of 10 days of travelling and sightseeing ahead of us.
The sun was shining, and Tokyo, which is a difficult city to get to grips with was looking its best. The cherry blossom culture of everyone picnicking under trees laden with blossom was everywhere. It is almost institutionalised, in Ueno park, huge areas are set aside to picnic in, big bins provided, and food stalls selling everything from champagne to delicious food all noisily vie for trade.
The atmosphere was great, and it was replicated in almost every park that we went to. The blossom season is early this year, and ‘sakura’ was nearly over, but many other varieties of blossom take over. We got to Tokyo Fish market a bit late, but there are lots of stalls and activitiy going on around, and I kicked myself for not buying a beautiful Japanese kitchen knife. From the nearby gardens of Hama-rikyu-teien, we took the river boat under very low bridges to Asakusa, and concluded yet again that Tokyo and indeed Japan has probably the worst architecture in the world.
The metro system in Tokyo, is very comprehensive, but what looks like a quick change to a different line can frequently mean a 15 minute walk and finding another station!
We were pleased to get out of the city after three nights, and begin to use out Japan Rail Passes, an expensive item to buy, but which allow you to travel on almost every train, and save endless hassle. From Tokyo we were heading north into the mountains, close to the skiing areas of Japan, and by leaving early we had time to have a worthwhile stop in Matsumoto to see one of Japan’s oldest and least restored castles. Because we had moved north, the cherry blossom was even more perfect than Tokyo!
The small town of Narai, is one of only three villages in the Kiso Valley which has survived intact with lovely wooden houses. Historically this series of villages had been staging posts for weary travellers climbing up rugged mountain passes beset by bad weather, thieves and brown bears. We stayed in a ryokan (Japanese homestay) for the night, on tatami mats and futons, served with delicious Japanese food.
Next day a morning train for one stop proved a convenient way to hike the mountain pass between villages, and unencumbered by luggage, in perfect weather walked the steepish 7 km, back to Narai, occasionally stopping to jangle the bells provided to deter the brown bears!
So, back on the train, we headed on to meet John Hamilton, a cousin in law of Giles’s, who has lived in Japan for 37 years, and is on the point of returning back to the UK. He collected us from Okazaki station, south of Nagoya, and then having collected an old friend Chieko we headed straight off to the public baths. We have had onsens in Japan, and this seemed similar to us, you indulgently soak in communal heated baths, some bubble, some are outside, and others have healing properties. They are segregated, and no one has any inhibitions about naked bodies! You feel very invigorated afterwards!
Next day John took us over to see his neighbour Sugita who has a wonderful garden, he is a plantsman, and amongst other things he created one of the best known hostas, he is also a huge collector and creator of camellias. See the photos in the attached album! John took us back to where he had lived for many years, a delightful rural spot amidst urban Okazaki, Nagoya, Toyoto sprawl. We called on another old friend of John’s, a tiny wizened friends, Eiko Miura, who used to teach ‘Tea Ceremony’, and fittingly gave us a cup of green tea, Macha.
We left John feeling that we had got properly off the tourist trail, and had an insight into how real Japan lives and works, it was a lovely contrast to the next few days of hard grind tourism!
Next stop was Nara, an early capital of Japan, where most of the temples are in the old deer park, and some of the mangiest looking sacred deer try and come and beg a biscuit from tourists! We managed to get around the famous Isui-en and Yoshiki-en gardens before the rain came. Nara’s most famous site is the largest Buddha in Japan, the Daibutsu who lives inside the largest wooden building in the world, built in 1709.
Kyoto, another early capital of Japan, is full of temples and wonderful gardens. The rain hadn’t let up since we left Nara, only a short journey away, but we managed to find a bus to the scruffy shoe box sized apartment where we were staying for three nights.
The rain had stopped for us next day, and we tried to pack in as many temples and gardens as we could. First to Daitoku-ji, a collection of Zen temples, many with small very perfect gardens, mostly raked gravel and some planting, then by bus back to Kinkaku-ji, the Golden Pavilion, to join the crowds who queue to see it in its very lovely setting. A walk from here took us to one of the world’s most famous Zen gardens Ryoan-ji, where 15 rocks of varying sizes sit in a sea of raked sandy gravel. Another park and garden later, and then a train on to the bamboo grove of Arashiyama, by which time it was raining, and tourists, umbrellas and selfie sticks made it an ordeal, mitigated by the garden of Tenryu-ji!
Our second day in Kyoto thankfully turned into a more relaxed experience than day one, another series of temples and gardens, and meticulous raked gravel. Ginkaku-ji, one of my favourites, has a flat topped cone, which made us wonder how it stayed up in the heavy rain. If I was building a sandcastle a torrential downpour would demolish it!!
There are temples everywhere in this area, and you cannot hope to do them all, so after Honen-in, we wandered off under the faded cherry blossom and pretty flowers lining the ‘Philosopher’s Path’, which runs alongside a small canal, and led us to our next temple of Nanzen-ji, where curiously a brick built aquaduct bisects the site rather attractively. We climbed up an underused path to a tiny shrine amongst the rocks where candles quietly burnt and a red bridge spanned a stream.
Our last Zen garden for the day the justifiably well known Kodai-ji, was a good stopping point before we were totally befuddled by it all!
I wanted to wander down the old Geisha district of Kyoto, and then go to the lively Nishiki food market, where the scallops on a skewer with slightly sweetened soy were absolutely delicious, as was much more besides.
Next day feeling totally exhausted by being tourists, we took the Shinkansen westwards, changing a couple of times before getting back to Beppu, and then an airport bus to Oita, saw us back in good time on Monday afternoon to organise our launch date for the next day!

Picking up the pieces in Japan

30 March 2018 | Marin Pia Marina, Musashi, Oita
Jo
Here we are on Brother Wind again, after a couple of days in sunny Seoul on the way out to Japan, then back to four days of non-stop torrential rain as we cowered below decks, high up on the hard. Since then the weather has redeemed itself, and Japan is bursting into bloom. Cherry blossoms are just coming out, Magnolias are in flower and Camellias are just fading. We were even taken on a trip to admire the oil seed rape, which amused us no end, particularly as there was a special viewing platform, and plenty of people viewing!!
Work on Brother Wind is slowly progressing, with many of the usual frustrations, and lots of language barriers! Our large box shipped from the UK containing a new loo has arrived, and Giles installed it, but other items we’ve ordered still seem to be stuck in customs in Tokyo, which is frustrating, and impedes progress.
The saddest and strangest thing that has happened since our return is the disappearance of a Japanese yachtie, who sadly seems to have fallen overboard when the weather was bad. Two or more days later the police arrived with 6 divers, who did a pretty half-hearted and unsuccessful search for him, and then went off. His wife appeared and cleared the boat, and that seems to be that, no further searching for the body or anything else. So every time I see something in the water I immediately think the worst!
A Belgium couple who live out here on their boat, have provided us with good company, and another couple of French Canadians have arrived back. They like us are heading to Alaska this year
Meanwhile the sun continues to shine, and we are going away for 10 days of land travelling, flying to Tokyo for three nights, and then using our Japan rail passes to tour around, ending in Kyoto for three days before taking the train back here. Then it will be launch date for Brother Wind, and we’ll be off soon after I hope.

Sailing Again!

25 February 2015 | Puerta Galera, Mindoro island
Jo
The Normanton's arrival was our saving grace, deadlines are a necessity that sometimes prove a blessing!
The night before their arrival, we were up at 0100 to catch the last high tide for 10 days, and extricate ourselves from the spider's web of lines that crossed the 'dirty dock'. The chaps from the yard moved the intricate array of mooring lines, while the Republic Dry Dock had to get their blokes to move an enormous rusting hulk that blocked our exit. In the moonlight we crept through a tiny gap between two ships which towered over us, releasing us to relative freedom!
We tied up in front of the lovely Yacht Club building, so that when the Normantons arrived at 7 a.m. to wake us, they were initially under the illusion we had been in such a nice spot all along! This was quickly dispelled when they saw our thilthy decks and the fine black sand blasting dust that coated everything, in spite of my best efforts.
We now had a trickle of running water, so after breakfast they were set to work to scrub the decks!
Our plan to leave the next morning on the midday tide was rapidly changed when we met Zeke in the Danao market, who told us that our long awaited inverter had just arrived! He whizzed Giles back to Brother Wind on the back of his bike, and they set about organising Tony the electrician to come up from Cebu City early next morning. Meanwhile, we diverted Lando from the boat next door, to help fit the inverter in place, and put the new cupboard catch on the computer cupboard, which the Normantons had brought out.
Simon and Pippa were very relaxed and understanding about the delay, luckily they had a 5 week break and no particular itinerary, and were happy with the breezy Yacht Club and catching up on wi-fi. They begun to understand that although we had been in a pretty grim place, where else can you say to Alex the stainless steel fabricator, 'we need a new fairlead', and next day he has copied the others and made us one! There were many other similar small triumphs that we finally resolved!
By lunch time on the 10th February, almost 6 weeks since we got back to Brother Wind, we finally set sail!!
We had a lovely fast sail, impressing Simon with 7.9 knots (very unusual), and anchored at the south end of Pacijan Island, tucked around a little headland with nobody in sight. We were straight into the water for a swim before dark fell, and basked in a sense of release and well-being .
We had inevitably left Pinoy Boat Yard in rather un-seamanlike style, with a lot of stowing and making ship-shape to do, so after a late start by our standards, we weighed anchor at 08.30, and headed on to Leyte Island, and the small port of Polompon. It was Pippa's first trip to the Far East, so she was fascinated by the stilt village built over the water, while the rest of the town was a typical busy bustling place with motor bikes, motor-tricycles and trikeshaws everywhere, as well as a few jeepneys, the local minibus, usually very colourful, and often with people on the roof as well. As usual, we walked around in a cacophony of 'hellos', and 'what are you doing'!
We awoke next morning to find that our anchor had dragged, and we were caught up by a banka (the local boat). Actually just as well, as we might have gone rather a long way onto the muddy shallows!
When we got to San Isidro, further north in Leyte Island, we decided to do a foray into the interior, and cross the northern peninsular on which it sits to get to the east coast and cross to another interesting sounding island on that side.
I had assumed that there would be jeepneys running, but their timing tends to tie in with work times, so we accepted a ride on a couple of motor bikes, Giles and I pillion behind one chap and the Normantons behind another. It was 16 kms of climbing, windy roads, and then down the other side, and apart from the agony of legs too long to go happily on foot rests, it was a good ride. Once, there our driver found a banka who would take us across to Bileran island on the other side of the lagoon. Then more pillion rides on motorbikes, this time with built in roofs over our heads, and on we went to Caibiran water fall. The main joy of which was swimming in the gorgeous fresh water pool at the bottom. Bileran was very scenic, with paddy fields and water buffalo, and the whole journey was a fun way of seeing some of the interior.
Next day we sailed NW towards the large boomerang shaped island of Mabate. There were no obvious anchorages, so we thought we would try a tiny island on its SE, called Guinauay. We anchored just off the reef and fish traps there, and almost immediately a banka came out to greet us, eager that we should go and visit their island. Hilarious guide book dictionary language and much gesticulation, and we thought that we had arranged for them to come back in a couple of hours, giving us time to swim. Sure enough an hour and a half later there they were to fetch us ashore!
It was a truly 'royal' reception, hundreds of children lined the shore to see us, and lots of adults too. The local Captain of the Baringay (elected head of the community), was summonsed, and took us on a walk around the island, accompanied by everyone! The captain and one or two others spoke reasonable English, and we gathered that in this tiny community there were 3,000 people, and 500 school age children. The soil was mostly sand, which made growing vegetables almost impossible, so apart from a few banana trees and coconuts, they lived off fish, and some people crossed to Masbate to work in the local town, and to sell fish at the market there. There was no running water, it all had to be collected from one pump, and that was unfit for drinking.
A week had flown by sine the Normanton's arrival, and they decided to jump ship in Manoan in SW Masbate, where we managed to get a jeepney into the main town an hour and a half away. We thought we would accompany them to see some of the island, whose speciality is grazing cattle. In May they have rodeo competitions, so they also have horses! All very unusual from the normal rice paddies and water buffalo, which they also have.
We were keen to move on to the Romblon group of islands, Sibuyan, Tablas and Romblon, and had an easy sail to the dramatically mountainous island of Sibuyan next day, where we anchored off the SW. Unfortunately we didn't get ashore here, which was a pity, as the island boasts five mammal species that are unique to the island, (not that we would have either seen or recognised them!)
However, our visas were a week away from expiring, and we read the erroneous details about immigration in the tourist island of Borocay, and decided we needed to get there for one of the alleged two days of the week it would be open!
To get to Boracay we were amazed by crossing quite a lot of commercial shipping, which put our new AIS to very good use. Usually our lookout duties are for the quantities of fishing buoys often a long way from shore, which can make watch keeping tedious. We cut through the narrow Tabon Strait at the south end of Boracay, and as we emerged on the SW corner of the island, an alarm went up from the engine. The fan belt had been making squeaky noises, so we guessed that was our problem, and luckily we unfurled enough genoa to sail gently into some shallow water near the ferry jetty, and dropped the anchor. We quickly got the dinghy out and me ashore to go and find immigration, while Giles remained on board to fit a new fan belt.
Eventually I had all the right photographs and passport copies to satisfy the chaotic little office, and they agreed to do a rush job and have our passports ready for collection next day; a bit of an act of faith, as they wouldn't give me any kind of receipt for the passports. Meanwhile we moved to a very busy anchorage, amongst lots of tourist boats, and a couple of yachts! Certainly our lumpiest and most uncomfortable anchorage so far this trip. The bonus was watching the fast local paraws trimerans like bankas, racing each other in the sunset.
Next day was the eve of Chines New Year, so after restocking, looking at the tourist tat and collecting passports, we ventured back ashore for a blustery and choppy dinghy ride, and enjoyed a delicious Chinese New Year buffet, which coincided with the first day of our Lenten abstinence!
We were pleased to see the back of busy Borocay, and headed off to the huge natural harbour of Looc on the SW side of Tablas island. Although it was a national holiday for Chinese New year, the market ashore was still operating, and after snorkelling on their protected reef, we had a delightful walk ashore up a sylvan fertile valley where small plots of vegetables, rice and fruit were being unusually well tended. Our path at one stage was lined with Pac choi growing. We were inevitably joined by some children for some of the walk.
Next day was windy, and we had to make our way northwards, which proved an ordeal, and a memory of last year! We fought our way up the Tablas Strait, hoping to go around the north and drop down to Romblon Island, instead of which we battled for 10 hours, motor sailing against 25 knots of wind and steep seas, and unable to make it round the top of Tablas island, we headed for a deep bay at the south end of Maestre de Campo Island, relieved and exhausted to get there before dark.
Romblon was still on our 'must go' list, so next day we back tracked with a nice beam reach for the 40 miles back to the island. We certainly did not regret it, and spent 3 enjoyable nights there on a mooring supplied by the embryonic Yacht Club.
We hired a motorbike and spent a day going around the island, mostly on very bumpy stony roads, met up with local ex pats, and spent a happy evening chatting with ex yachties who live on the island. Romblon is unique in the Philippines as they quarry, and make and shape marble. Inevitably we bought a few small bits, but the weight does not make it an ideal thing to transport. We were very tempted to import some home, as some of the pieces are lovely.
Time to press on, and last night found us in an open anchorage, off the island of Marinduque watching the tiny local fishing boats head off to sea for the night with sails stitched together from old umbrellas, they all wanted to say hello as they sailed by.
Now we are en route to Puerta Galera, where for once we will find a yachtie honeypot. From here we are planning a foray to Manila to collect a float switch which has been languishing for almost a year, and perhaps in spite of all the dire warnings against it we ought to have the Manila experience to get a better overview of the Philippines!
Vessel Name: Brother Wind
Vessel Make/Model: Island Packet 45
Hailing Port: Blakeney, Norfolk UK
Crew: Jo and Giles Winter
About: Rolling selection of friends and family
Brother Wind's Photos - Jo and Giles round the world on Brother Wind (Main)
Photos 1 to 4 of 4
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IMG_0754: Brother Wind in Sydney Harbour
 
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Land travels in Japan
18 Photos
Created 22 April 2018
Sailing again
31 Photos
Created 25 February 2015
10 Photos | 1 Sub-Album
Created 5 March 2014
A trip up the Kinabatangan River in Brother Wind, with brother Jamie, wife Mel, and daughter Izzy
40 Photos
Created 23 August 2012
Jamie,Mel and Issy Cooper joined us in K-K, Sabah, for a dramatic trip north and then stunning islands followed by a trip up the Kinabatangan river
27 Photos
Created 12 August 2012
40 Photos
Created 22 July 2012
28 Photos
Created 21 June 2012
our trip back to Langkawi from the Andamans, with Mike and Laurian Cooper on board
15 Photos
Created 28 March 2011
7 Photos
Created 28 March 2011
10 Photos
Created 7 April 2009
12 Photos
Created 2 March 2009
16 Photos
Created 28 February 2008
10 Photos
Created 25 July 2007
16 Photos
Created 25 July 2007
Passage Brisbane north to Whitsundays
23 Photos
Created 8 June 2007
23 Photos
Created 24 May 2007
16 Photos | 1 Sub-Album
Created 8 May 2007
9 Photos
Created 2 May 2007
18 Photos | 1 Sub-Album
Created 2 May 2007
23 Photos
Created 10 March 2007
16 Photos
Created 10 March 2007
20 Photos
Created 10 March 2007
40 Photos
Created 10 March 2007
40 Photos
Created 9 March 2007
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Created 9 March 2007
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19 Photos
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107 Photos
Created 9 March 2007
129 Photos
Created 9 March 2007
20 Photos | 1 Sub-Album
Created 9 March 2007
60 Photos
Created 9 March 2007
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Created 9 March 2007
40 Photos
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Created 9 March 2007
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Created 9 March 2007
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Created 9 March 2007
34 Photos
Created 1 December 2006