On my way, kind of.

Submitted by jono on 31 May 2024.

A lot to report on in the last few days. It was only a week ago that I arrived in Japan and dragged a 3.8-metre-long windsurf board through Tokyo Narita customs. Getting the board to Japan had been a problem to arrange, but on the day it had gone like clockwork. Carriage of the board was a special favour. Consequently, at her request, both the friend who arranged the heist and the airline she works for will remain anonymous. Nonetheless, a thousand thanks are due.

Once in Japan, into the scorching (hotter than Clacton) sun, my pal Pablo showed up. We have a bit of shared history from half-a-lifetime back. Without Pablo - and the happy coincidence that he lives in Japan, on the beach, and is the nicest, most go-do! person you could hope to meet - I wouldn't have booked myself onto a flight and hoped for the best. I have an adventuresome spirit but a timid underbelly. That the Japan idea became a plan owes everything to Pablo.

The board had picked up a few bruises, so these were patched up at Onjuku, on the Chiba peninsula, where Pablo lives with his wife, Shizu, and their little girls Yurika and Aika. We checked the weather forecasts that told of rough days to come and an approaching typhoon, and it seemed to make sense to sail ASAP.

So, a day and a half after landing from the air I launched into the sea. Pablo gave a push to get me through the Onjuku surf, and the voyage northward had begun.

26/05/2024 - Day 1 - Onjuku to Kujukuri

Not much wind to begin with. In fact barely enough to scrape through the floating seaward over the Onjuku reef. Here I saw a turtle, which I considered a good omen indeed. After the pretty cliffs of Onjuku came miles of surf beaches, and a bit more surf, enough to complicate landing and launching. I clocked a decent distance, to Kujukuri, where is was no bother to make a landing inside the harbour, itself protected by moles that were denying entry to the worst of the swell.

Pablo made an appearance, ensured I eat a good dinner, then tucked me into bed under my sail before heading home again!

27/05/2024 - Kujukuri to Chosi

There was a bit of wind and rain through the night, but early morning was suitable for a dash to and hopefully round the peninsula at Chosi. I was sailing by 5:30am, aware that the forecast was for more wind and a building sea.

I zigzagged downwind, surfing the waves, and as the coast bent round and the wind built an hour later was pointing in the direction of the headland and planing at full speed. 

On previous journeys the video footage I have managed has been a bit ropey, so I have invested in a camera to up my game in that regard. The video attached to this post, while heading toward Chosi, is a first attempt with the camera. If you can hear the audio I am explaining that Chosi is where the north and south flowing currents of Japan's Pacific coast meet. It is reasonable to expect that it could be quite rough.

After recording this clip, the miles tumbled until Chosi was in my sights. My intention was to give it a wide berth because or rocks and shallow water. Unfortunately, as I was considering how much sea room to leave, I heard a loud "crack!" and knew immediately that something had broken. Dammit! The barrel carrier itself had failed in a major way and was now in 3 pieces. The barrel was still tied to the cradle, but the pairing was dragging in the water, and it only thanks to a secondary strap that it didn't escape, to be carried away by the waves and wind.

I made good as best I could, aborted the attempt on the headland, and limped shoreward towards the masts of Chosi yacht harbour that were now about 1 nm downwind of me. A mole-protected beach presented itself and in I went.

To keep this brief I won't go into a comprehensive analysis of the failures (materials, design and pre-voyage testing!). It suffices to say that major repairs would be required.

Guardian Angel Pablo should really have been out of support range by now, but once again he jumped in the car and came to the rescue. That evening he got on Amazon and ordered carbon fibre and epoxy for next day delivery.

Since then, until now...

We have been operating morning and afternoon on the barrel carrier to in theory make it sufficiently strong and reliable. Fingers crossed my work has been up to scratch this time.

In fact, it had been a shame to rush off from Onjuku so soon after arriving, so for me (at least!) it has been a gift to return and stay a few more days with Pablo and family. The days have been full, and several have had wind and rain too strong for sailing, and that also wouldn't have been much fun for sleeping under a sail. The bad weather seems to pass quickly though, so we have also been biking. The nearby coastline is glorious; the forests are lush and dense and inhabited by birds that to my ear make them seem like jungle; and the food is bloomin' brilliant! Pablo's family are unremittingly warm and endearing, and tomorrow (Saturday) is Sports Day at the local school, so we will go to watch Yurika in her running race. After that, I should be on the move again.