Zamami to Amami

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 have dinner were closed. Had dinner at a local dive and back to the boat.

0630 Wednesday: Under way in NE slop with winds to 25 and seas on our forward quarter. Sharry is sitting next to me in the helm chair. Wet and bouncy. Hard to walk without clinging onto something.

We have covered 70nm since departing Iheya and are abeam of Tokunoshima.

We are going to give it a pass and make port at Amami Oshima, another 33nm to the NE. A long day.

It’s amazing to have unlimited internet so we can do web searching underway. We are reading the Wikipedia information about Tokunoshima as we motor past. Wow!

Tokunoshima has the highest birthrate in Japan. This is a big deal, since Japan has been struggling with an aging population and no population growth for many years. It also has among the highest population of supercentarians (people living past 100 years). What’s their secret?

Surely not the venomous habu snake that lives here. These snakes frequent the volcanic islands of this region, including Takonoshima, but not the coral islands.  Apparently hiking is discouraged due to the snakes. Perhaps hiking isn’t the key to longevity!

Agriculture is a big deal here, and the local diet seems to be rich in locally produced sweet potatoes, rice, banana, ginger, tomatoes, carrots, and more. The produce isn’t always as pretty as what we get from the supermarket back home, but it tastes way better. Carrots are knobby, short, and fat, but crunchy and packed with flavor. Tomatoes are juicy and flavorful.

A thousand feet below us lies the wreck of Yamato, the heaviest and most powerful battleship ever built. She was 862 feet long, displaced nearly 72,000 tons, and carried nine 18-inch guns. Near the end of World War II, Yamato was dispatched from Japan to Okinawa, where she was to beach herself and create an unsinkable gun emplacement. American submarines sunk her before she reached the beach.

With darkness upon us we dropped the hook in a quiet anchorage in front of a small village. The plan is to find a place to tie up in the morning in Koniya when we have daylight.

As we approached the anchorage, the Japanese Coast Guard was very concerned about our approaching land and sent us warning text message on our AIS, followed by a radio call to us to make sure we were okay.

The JCG see their job as accident prevention rather than just saving people after they get in trouble.

In the morning light we moved a few miles to Koniya, which has the nicest seawall we’ve tied to yet. Shortly after arriving four Japanese Coast Guard guys arrived to see what we were up to. They didn’t speak much English, but we managed to communicate through gesturing and Google Translate. They recommended restaurants and things to do, asked permission to see our paperwork, and were so friendly compared to the more militarized US Coast Guard. The communication never felt like an interrogation.

Selfies seem to be a great ice breaker with officials here!

The Coast Guard sends a lot of AIS messages. We received this warning about a North Korea missile launch:

There’s not much we can do about missiles. We’re just a few hundred miles from North Korea. It’s sobering to think about the threats that Japan faces in their neighborhood compared to what we deal with back home.

  • Victor Hernandez
    Posted at 01:17h, 18 March Reply

    Great update. Good to see being polite and respectful works just about everywhere. Fair Winds.
    Victor Hernandez

  • Milt & Judy Baker
    Posted at 12:03h, 18 March Reply

    Loving your reports on cruising in Okinawa. Have you come across other cruising boats, or are you the only one with the chutzpa to cruise in winter? With spring just a couple of days away, prospects for good cruising ought to be improving!

    Sounds like a lovely, meandering, laid-back cruise now–so different from crossing the Pacific!

    Milt & Judy

    • Sam Landsman
      Posted at 23:05h, 18 March Reply

      Hi Milt and Judy! We’ve encountered a few Japanese sailboats, but no other foreign cruisers. We’re an object of much curiosity here. Lots of cars slowly drive past wherever we’re moored, people take selfies with the boat, etc. It’s fun!

  • Sarah Layman
    Posted at 16:29h, 18 March Reply

    Another EXCELLENT blog! Thank you!

  • Michone Walker
    Posted at 21:57h, 18 March Reply

    A beautiful place to anchor! Happy Birthday Don.

  • Sharon Porter
    Posted at 03:26h, 19 March Reply

    Engrossed in your journaling and pictures. Thank you for inviting me along on this journey

  • Mary Ann Underwood
    Posted at 04:34h, 19 March Reply

    Great pictures. John and I continue to enjoy your posts.

  • Bob A
    Posted at 16:49h, 20 March Reply

    Great pictures! Thank you

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