09 September 2016 | Miyajima, Seto Naikai (Seto Inland Sea), Japan
09 September 2016 | Iwakuni, Seto Naikai (Seto Inland Sea), Japan
09 September 2016 | Obatake-Seto, Seto Naikai (Seto Inland Sea), Japan
09 September 2016 | Kaminoseki, Seto Naikai (Seto Inland Sea), Japan
08 September 2016 | Kanmon Straits, Japan
08 September 2016 | Odo Marina, Fukuoka, Japan
28 June 2016 | Odo Marina, Fukuoka, Japan
27 June 2016 | Gonoura, Iki Shima
24 June 2016 | Miyonoura, Yakushima, Japan
23 June 2016 | Miyonoura, Yakushima, Japan
21 June 2016 | Omami Shima, Japan
21 June 2016 | Amami Shima, Japan
21 June 2016 | Ginowan Marina, Okinawa, Japan
20 June 2016 | Ginowan Marina, Okinawa, Japan
18 June 2016 | Ginowan Marina, Okinawa, Japan
17 June 2016 | Ryuku Islands
16 June 2016 | Ryuku Islands, Japan
16 June 2016 | Ishigaki, Japan
12 June 2016 | Ishigaki, Japan
11 June 2016 | Southern Tip of Taiwan

Miyajima (Itsukushima)

09 September 2016 | Miyajima, Seto Naikai (Seto Inland Sea), Japan
Jens / fine weather, calm winds
"an Island where People and Gods Live Together"

We put the anchor down in front of the iconic Miyajima Torii where we spent the night.

A torii, literally bird abode, is a traditional Japanese gate most commonly found at the entrance of or within a Shinto shrine, where it symbolically marks the transition from the profane to the sacred. The presence of a torii at the entrance is usually the simplest way to identify Shinto shrines, and a small torii icon represents them on Japanese road maps. They are however a common sight at Buddhist temples too, where they stand at the entrance of the temple's own shrine, called chinjusha and are usually very small.

The presence of a Shinto shrine near or in a Buddhist temple seems to have its roots in the efforts made by the Japanese to reconcile local kami worship with imported Buddhism. It reminds me of the European practice to build new churches on top of old churches or mosques on top of old church sites and vice versa. The Japanese seem to perform the reconciliation peacefully.

Miyajima itself is quite pretty and natural. It is separated from the main island of Honshu by a narrow oyster farm filled channel.
oyster farm

With just 6 miles remaining to Kanon-Marina in Hiroshima we enjoyed a leisurely Saturday morning breakfast courtesy of Jaap while watching the large groups of tourists visiting the shrine.

Sunset Over Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni

09 September 2016 | Iwakuni, Seto Naikai (Seto Inland Sea), Japan
Jens / fine weather, calm winds

Obatake-Seto Bridge

09 September 2016 | Obatake-Seto, Seto Naikai (Seto Inland Sea), Japan
Jens / fine weather, calm winds
There were no clearance issues with getting under the massive Obatake-Seto Bridge connecting Honshu with Yashiro-jima. However the currents can run strong here and even though we are very near neaps, the current was against us and the eddies and whirlpools tossed Escapade about a little. No real dramas to speak of though.

Kaminoseki Bridge

09 September 2016 | Kaminoseki, Seto Naikai (Seto Inland Sea), Japan
Jens / fine weather, calm winds
We decided to take a bit of a short cut under the bridge at Kaminoseki. Jaap was not sure of the height under the bridge although he thought that all the bridges in the Seto Inland Sea had 23 meter clearance. Escapade's factory sail plan shows a mast height above water of 19.5 meters but we have never measured it. Plus there are a few bits up there such as wind instruments, vhf antennas etc.

I didn't think it prudent to go sailing under a bridge that could have a few knots of current without knowing the exact clearance. So I logged on to the Japan Hydrographic Office Online Store and downloaded the S-Guide H804-04.

JHA store

Sure enough, there on page 76 the clearance under the bridge is shown as 23 meters.
bridge clearance
So the intrepid skipper manned the conn to take her through.
jens at helm
The suspense was building...
and then the critical moment...
under bridge
and we were through!

Kanmon (Shimonoseki) Strait

08 September 2016 | Kanmon Straits, Japan
Jens / Clear night, a bit overcast.
We arrived at the entrance to Kanmon Strait a little after dark. We had previously decided to skip the port at O-Shima and make the most of daylight. Now we had the option to either anchor in one of the industrial ports along the strait for the night or continue on through.

Kanmon strait is a very heavily trafficked, narrow waterway that experiences upwards of 10 knots of current during spring tides. There are large neon sign billboards on each end of the strait showing the direction and magnitude of the current in the narrowest part of strait as well as whether the current is increasing or decreasing.

Kanmon Strait Rules

Kanmon MARTIS is the Marine Traffic Controller for the straits and all vessels above 100 tons must report to them. There are many rules for transiting the straits as the above condensed version shows.

Luckily we were approaching neap tides and had every expectation of relatively slow currents. The easterly setting current was well underway when we arrived and the neon sign at the entrance showed the current in the narrowest part to be Easterly 3 knots and increasing. The weather was fine and the visibility good so we elected to go on through in the dark. By the time we approached the bridge, the current signs were indicating Easterly 3 knots and Decreasing. We drove through the straits hugging the right side of the channel and trying not to hit any of the red buoys.

The passage was uneventful and we were through in about 2 hours having experienced a maximum current of about 3 knots for a short time.

After exiting the straits we selected a spot to anchor in a large open roadstead outside the northern edge of the channel amidst a number of coastal freighters and fishing boats also at anchor. Had a nice dinner and off to bed for any early start.

Depart Fukuoka

08 September 2016 | Odo Marina, Fukuoka, Japan
Jens / Warm, clear skies, light northerly breeze.
Escapade departed Fukuoka this afternoon heading for Kanon-Marina in Hiroshima. Things have changed quite a bit since we left Escapade two months ago. I have accepted a Project Manager role with KAZMinerals at the Aktogay copper mine in Kazakhstan. It is a 2 year contract with 6 weeks on + 3 weeks off. That will affect our cruising plans a bit.

Meanwhile the America's Cup Louis Vuitton challenger series is coming to Fukuoka in November. Odo Marina would not allow us to extend Escapade's stay past October 1st as they need all available visitor berths to support the America's Cup syndicates. My start date in Kazakhstan is still uncertain but I will not be able to return before October 1st to move Escapade so we decided I should come up and move her now before starting my new job. Allyson was unable to come due to prior commitments.

Finding a suitable mooring for a foreign 47 foot (14.1m) catamaran in Japan is proving difficult. The overwhelming majority of slips seem to be 12 meters and few of those are available. Most marinas have visitor pontoons where we can fit but these pontoons are all 'side-tie' where we can only tie up one side. In a typhoon that means the boat will get hammered into the pontoon. Best to have a proper slip where we can tie up both sides of Escapade and 'spring' her out into the middle of the berth. Kanon-marina in Hiroshima has a few 15m berths and one is available so that is where we are headed.

Jaap Mulder Linkedin
With Allyson unavailable for the delivery it was fortuitous that Jaap Mulder was available to help me move Escapade. Jaap lives at nearby Marinoa Marina and has been keeping an eye on Escapade in our absence. I hope to make good use of his invaluable insight and experience from 20+ years living and cruising in Japan as well as his fluent Japanese language skills.

Jaap and I spent a day and a half waking up Escapade from hibernation. We removed the spider's web of docklines, checked out the engines, generator, started up the fridge, checked out the electronics and generally got her ready to go again.

Unfortunately the Digital Yacht AIT2000, an AIS Class B Transponder no longer seems to work. It boots up and works for a few minutes but then just turns off. So we are unable to see other ships equipped with AIS and are unable to transmit our own details so they can see us. Quite a disappointment as we will have to be extra vigilant in the heavy shipping lanes of the Kanmon Straits.

The sails that were on the boat when we purchased her were made of a cruising laminate and are now 7 years old. They were starting to delaminate before we left Subic Bay. We had the genoa mended in the Hyde Sail loft in Cebu. By the time we arrived at Fukuoka the sails were long past their use-by date. When I removed the mainsail two months ago it started disintegrating in my hands. I have ordered new sails but they will not arrive until the end of October. There is little to no wind forecast for the next week so we are not bothering to put the sails back on. This will be a motoring trip.

We departed Odo Marina about 2pm, headed over to Marinoa to top up on diesel fuel and were underway heading to Kanmon Strait by about 3pm.
Vessel Name: Escapade
Vessel Make/Model: Catana 471
Hailing Port: San Francisco, CA
Crew: Jens Yeager & Allyson Madsen
Jens Yeager [...]
After sailing from the USA, through the Caribbean and South Pacific for 15 years, we sold our 42-foot Whitby ketch "Indigo" in Australia and bought a Catana 471 catamaran in the Philippines. We are now getting to know "Escapade" and how to sail on the flat. We have enjoyed a small taste of the [...]
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