Japan

To the Aleutians, Attu, and Adak

The passage from Kushiro to Attu, the westernmost point in the USA, is about 1350nm, which takes about six and a half days. Our previous passages were in the trade winds, where the weather is generally quite stable. This passage is most definitely not in the trades and has potential for challenging, variable weather. We watched the forecast for weeks. Once or twice each week, a low pressure system with seriously bad weather–winds in the 50 knot…

Hakodate and Kushiro

Hakodate turned out to be one of our favorite stops in Japan. A big part of that was our moorage, which was right in town. It wasn’t at a marina–there was no power, no floating dock, no amenities at all, really. But it was in a charming neighborhood, touristy in a good way. The formerly-industrial area where we moored was full of historic brick buildings that had been carefully restored. Restaurants were just steps away….

Takaya, Sado Island, Awashima, Toga, and an Earthquake!

After a week in Tokyo, I returned to Starr via train–four trains, to be exact. As I got further from Tokyo and transferred to progressively slower, smaller trains, the other foreigners disappeared. By the time I got to Mikuni, only the conductor and I were aboard. The transition from bustling city to nearly-silent fishing village couldn’t have been starker. The next morning we departed Mikuni at first light, not entirely sure where we were going….

Passagemaking with Dementia

Four years ago, Sharry was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s dementia. Still holding hands after 60 years She is now in mid-stage. That means she might not know where she, except she knows she is on Starr. She often won’t know what happened 10 minutes earlier.  She does funny and sometimes frustrating things, like taking other people’s stuff and hiding it in our stateroom. We know most of the usual places to look but sometimes it might…

Sakaiminato, Ine, and Mikuni

On Saturday the 29th Captain Sam departed for his vacation in Tokyo meeting his wife Anna there.  The same day, Don and Sharry’s “hanai” granddaughter, Azusa Maruyama, joined us on Starr in Sakai-Minato. The friendship with Azusa‘s family started many years ago and included Sharry and her friend Shari Walker helping Azusa move into the dorm for her study abroad semester at the University of Portland. Azusa is now a successful business strategy consultant, working…

Tsunoshima, Hagi, and Izumo

Our first stop after leaving the Inland Sea was an island named Tsunoshima. We arrived late in the afternoon after a long day underway. Eager to see what was around and stretch our legs, we set out for a walk. We stumbled upon a lighthouse with a small museum. Ready for some extra exercise, I paid the 300 yen entrance fee and bounded to the top. The Tsunoshima Lighthouse was built in 1876 and is…

Onomichi, Su-Oshima, and Exiting the Inland Sea

After a wonderful four day stay at Suma Yacht Club, we began our westbound trip out of the Seto Inland Sea. We left at the crack-of-dawn to take advantage of favorable current through Akashi Strait. Starr reached nearly 12 knots as we passed through the narrows and under the Akashi Kaikyō Bridge. Until 2022, Akashi Kaikyō Bridge’s 6500-foot central span was the longest of any suspension bridge in the world. We followed our track 100nm…

Suma Yacht Club

Suma Yacht Club and Seattle Yacht Club have a long-standing friendship. Every three years, members from one club fly to the other, alternating who hosts and who travels. This year, 31 Suma Yacht Club members are traveling to Seattle, where they’ll be hosted at the homes of Seattle Yacht Club members, compete in sailboat races, and to enjoy Opening Day festivities. We visited Suma Yacht Club just a few weeks before the members departed for…

Miyajima to Suma Yacht Club

On our last morning in Miyajima, Brooke, Shannon, and Kat departed Starr. We’d had a great visit, but they needed to return to their real lives in Seattle. After sending them off, we got underway for Onimichi, about 50nm away. Cruising on the Inland Sea has a lot of parallels with cruising the Pacific Northwest. Many of the passages are narrow and winding. Currents are strong, often a few knots and occasionally five or six,…

Family Time

The hardest part of going long distance cruising is missing our family and friends back home. Sharry and I have spent most of the COVID years in Hawaii, which has made visiting our two sons, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter particularly difficult. When our son Brooke, his wife Shannon, and our granddaughter Kat expressed interest in joining us in Japan for spring break, we were thrilled! They arrived in Fukuoka after a long travel day from Seattle….

Miyajima

Miyajima, also known as Itsukushima, is a small island in the Seto Inland Sea, just a few miles from Hiroshima. It is most famous for its iconic Itsukushima Shrine, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Japan’s most photographed landmarks. The shrine is built over the water and is known for its beautiful torii gate, which appears to float on the sea during high tide. The torii gate as seen from Starr. Don, Brooke,…

Entering the Seto Inland Sea

We left Fukuoka after an eight day stay–the longest we’ve sat still in a couple of months. It didn’t feel like we were there too long, but we were ready to see new places. After much debate, we headed for the Seto Inland Sea. We waffled between a detour into in the inland sea versus a more leisurely cruise north along Japan’s west coast. The clincher was the opportunity to visit the Suma Yacht Club,…

A Trip to the Doctor

Sharry and I are part of a 20-person hiking group on Oahu. We hike twice a week and cover 4-6 miles, usually with around 1000ft of elevation gain and occasionally up to 2000ft. Sharry was complaining of butt and leg pain and her physical therapist recommended a series of stretches and exercises for what he thought was sciatica. Prior to leaving in February, even with the exercises, her pain had been getting worse and exercise…

Fukuoka

After leaving Yobuko, we made the short, 20nm trip to Fukuoka in calm, sunny conditions. Fukuoka, population 1,500,000, is the largest city we’ve visited in Japan so far, the largest city on the island of Kyushu, and the sixth largest city in Japan. The skyline is notably different than the villages we’ve become accustomed to. Kirk Patterson, our agent at Konpira Consulting, arranged for us to stay at Marinoa Marina. He was on the dock…

Nagasaki, Hirado, and Yobuko

We arrived at Dejima Wharf in the middle of Nagasaki and found plenty of empty space. The slips are small–maybe 40 feet–but the end ties are 100+ feet and both appeared available. Unable to raise anyone on the phone or radio, we tied up, only to find we were trapped by a locked gate. Turns out it was a holiday in Japan and nobody was working in the office. There we were in the middle…

Overnight across the Kuroshio Current

Originally we planned day-hops north from Okinawa all the way to Kyushu, the southern-most of the three largest Japanese islands. But as we sat in Amami looking at the weather forecast and our schedule, it became clear that we should probably skip a few of those stops and head right for Kyushu. Several things contributed to this decision. A few of the stops we’re skipping are tiny islands. They have populations in the low triple digits….

My 80th Birthday

We were having dinner in a small izakaya (pub). We’d struggled a bit to find a good restaurant for dinner. The first place we tried was full, but they recommended another restaurant that we eventually found. When we arrived it was empty but the proprietor turned us away. As we left, they waved us back in and offered us a table. We were early and I think they hoped we’d be gone by the time…

Zamami to Amami

We departed Zamami Tuesday March 14 heading north. Pulled into Iheya Shima after 64nm of nice cruising.  Iheya has a population under 1000 and is a very quiet village. Starr on the seawall in Iheya. A rough seawall! We found a Saki brewery where the young manager gave us samples and a brief tour. After our visit there we searched for a place for dinner and the well regarded places we would have liked to…

Zamami Island

We arrived in the port of Zamami Island and idled over near a fishing boat to ask the crew the best spot to dock.  The fishermen pointed over to a large area near the ferry dock.  The dock didn’t look particularly well used but we didn’t think we would fit on smaller docks further in.  Tides here vary by as much as 3 feet so we tied off with this in mind, knowing that we…

Yonabaru, Okinawa

As soon as we finished clearing into Japan and drinking our champagne toast, we set out on foot to explore our new neighborhood. Yonaburu Marina is located in Yonabaru (pop. 19,000), on the southeast side of Okinawa. The marina is spotlessly clean, with excellent floating docks, good shore power (60hz, 200v), and potable water. The staff is friendly and helpful. The price–about $53 USD per night–is exceptionally reasonable for such a nice facility. The marina…

Guam to Japan

Guam to Okinawa, Japan is a “short” 1200nm hop across the Philippine Sea—about six days at Starr speed. Unfortunately, the perfect trade wind conditions we’d enjoyed for most of the trip from Hawaii to Guam wouldn’t continue on this leg. Immediately after leaving the harbor in Guam, we were rolling around in beam seas to 15 feet with 30+ knots of wind on our starboard side. Not the most fun, but we were hoping that…

Guam

The final 1000 miles to Guam were easy, comfortable, and quick. We enjoyed cruising downwind and got a nice push from the current. As we approached Guam in very settled conditions, we rinsed the salt off the outside of Starr. After more than two weeks of ocean travel, everything was salty. Guam comes into view after 18 days and 3300+nm Our destination was Apra Harbor, a huge, breakwater-protected harbor that caters primarily to commercial and…

1000nm to Guam

Note: this was written last week but we forgot to post it. We’re now en route from Guam to Okinawa and will update the blog over the coming days. One of the challenges we’ve had is figuring out what time it is. Apple devices, it seems, have pretty limited time zone choices. It’s a bit of a guessing game to figure out which city is in the same time zone as we are. If we…

Sharry

Day 16 15-15.4N, 150-35E 2967nm from Hawaii, 366 nm to Guam I got up at 0500 to relieve Sam. My watch starts at 0600. I did the Engine room check going thru the same motions we do every 3 hours. While the check list is useful, even more so is to listen, smell and visually inspect. Thankfully, our engine room checks have not revealed many surprises. After making a cup of coffee I say good…

Day 4.5 | Dead in the Water 750nm Offshore

I (Don) was woken at 0100 by Celeste saying we have a problem. The boat was stopped and the engine was in neutral. We were rolling 40+ degrees in the 20-knot breeze with 10-foot-at-10-second swells. Water washed over the side decks and unsecured items flew across the cabin. A check of the engine room confirmed that we had no water ingress and no apparent mechanical problems, other than whatever seemed to be wrapped around the…

Day 4 | Going with the Flow

The first few days of a passage are often the hardest. It takes a little while for the body to adjust to constant motion, strange sleeping patterns, new noises. My mind takes a few days to adjust, too. Do we have everything we need? Is that belt throwing off more dust than it should? What about the generator, is it running too warm? Are the fuel filters starting to clog up? Over the course of…

To Japan, again! 2023 Starr Voyage

We are preparing to take Starr on what will most likely be our last significant passage. I’m turning 80 next month and Sharry is three years into being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.  Sharry and I have been holding hands for 60 years. While we are both grieving the loss of her memory, we also want to keep living our lives the best that we can. We are told that the best thing for Sharry is to…

Passage to Hawaii -We are at the International Dateline

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What Day is it? What time is it? It’s a conundrum.

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Passage to Hawaii

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Sayonara Japan, Aloha Hawaii

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Stretching the Fuel Range to Cross the Pacific, Part 2

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Change of Watch aboard Starr

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What’s really going on at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant

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An amazing article from the NY Times

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Back to Japan

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Life in Japan Today

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Additional response from friends to 3/11

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Dangerous Debris

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Life in Japan after 3/11

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Stretching the Fuel Range to Cross the Pacific

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GETTING READY FOR THE PASSAGE TO HONOLULU, HI

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Nara: A Trip to Japan’s Ancient Beginnings, Part II

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Nara: A Trip to Japan’s Ancient Beginnings

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New Year in Kyoto

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Hiroshima and Miyajima Revisited (with Family)

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Dan Stabbert, 12-22 November 2010

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A Visit to Kyoto

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IT’S ALL ABOUT THE PEOPLE

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CHABA is Here?

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CHABA IS ON ITS WAY!

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More Barnacles on the Bottom . . .

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Kat Petron: A Guest’s View of Japan

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Engine Room Helper of the Year

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Don and Sharry are back in Ashiya

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Starr is back in Bellport Marina, Ashiya

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Yasugi, Matsue and Izumo-taisha

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Starr in the Sea of Japn – Hagi

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Otsunahiki in Yobuko

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A Small Town of "Sea People" and Our New Friend

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Hirado, Imari and Arita

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Ashiya to Nagasaki

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Hiroshima – The Flower Festival

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Hiroshima, Japan

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GSSR + 1

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Arrival in Ashiya, Japan

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Mechanical Issues on a 8999nm Voyage

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Our Japanese Courtesy Flag is Flying!

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Starr is on her way to Japan

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