After a year of small towns, remote atolls, island villages and the rare supermarket, it has been a bit of a rush to visit Nagasaki, our first real city since Auckland. Our arrival coincided with the end of Golden Week and the park near the marina was packed with people, food stalls, live music and a giant blow up Pokeman character. The marina is in the center of the city and the crowds were streaming by as we docked and absorbed being in such a fantastic place. The piers for the several large high speed ferries is also close to the marina, all day there are the blasts of horns signaling arrivals, departures and maneuvers, along with the roar of the massive engines. There is a high speed hydrofoil ferry that sounds like a row of 747s when it leaves the dock. The ferries through a decent wake so the waters in the marina are choppy and we roll quite a bit. In the evening the marina quiets, the ferries end their rounds, and it is a lovely place to be.
Dejima marina is at the waters edge of what was once the small island where the Dutch were constrained for their trading operations with the Japanese for over 200 years. In this neighborhood the Dutch had an exclusive trading arrangement and kept a small outpost on an island where they could trade goods from throughout the Dutch trading empire for all sorts of Japanese products and raw materials. Sugar, wool fabrics, various European manufactured goods, spices, medicinal herbs and the like were traded for gold, silver, copper and a variety of Japanese crafts and art work, such as pottery. The Portuguese had set up the initial relationship with the Japanese and Europeans but the Catholics over stepped their boundaries and there was a pretty violent response to Christians in the region, with the Catholics and the Portuguese banned from trading and the Dutch with an exclusive contract. An amazing bit of wrangling I’d venture. It’s also worth noting that for 5 years, during Napoleon’s reign and while France ruled over the Netherlands, this outpost was the only place in the world flying the Dutch state flag.
There is a recreation of Dejima village where the Dutch had homes and warehouses, it’s done really well and is an interesting museum. There are rooms that have been recreated based on paintings from the era, showing how the Dutch lived with a mix of European and Japanese goods.
We also visited the Nagasaki Peace park and Atomic Bomb Museum, a short tram ride from the marina. It is a saddening experience. That as a species we have managed to create such devastating weapons, and to increase their efficiencies to the point where whole cities can be vaporized and the area polluted and toxic to all life is madness. There is a wall that has a timeline showing when nuclear weapons have been used in testing and when there have been accidents, such as planes dropping a weapon by mistake, or a plane crashing with a nuclear bomb on board, etc. The museum makes a point of demonstrating the horrors unleashed by one bomb on a city and leaves to us to imagine what a modern bomb so much more powerful than that dropped on Nagasaki would accomplish. After spending time viewing the photographs and evidence of what one bomb could do to Nagasaki our lesson should be, never again. But, as a species we do not seem capable of learning from our acts of violence.
Nagasaki is a beautiful, vibrant city and the people have been welcoming and kind. We have enjoyed our visit here immensely and appreciate that this is a place with a powerful, rich history and has been an important place for us to visit. We’ll leave with fond memories of our time on the waterfront and walking through the various neighborhoods as spring begins to take hold, with plants and trees in bloom. The marina has been a wonderful base for us. There have been many Japanese sailors coming and going and we’ve had some good conversations. We spent a wonderful evening talking with Kirk Patterson who sailed solo around all of the islands of Japan. So much knowledge and information! Kirk is working on a guide to cruising Japan, something that will be incredibly valuable to those wanting to explore Japan by boat. We look forward to seeing him in Fukuoka.
In the morning we depart for Ike Shima, a small artificial island built on top of a coal seam. It was a coal mining town until the mine was shut down. It is supposed to have interesting buildings open to the public to explore. From there we plan to make our way to Fukuoka with a few stops along the way. We hope to work on a couple projects in Fukuoka before sailing into the Seto Naikai, or the Inland Sea in english.
Yamagawa to Nagasaki
Below are our Farkwar postings from the places we visited between Yamagawa and Nagasaki.
April 28, 2019 We had a short day on the water, out of Yamagawa at 08:20, tied to the wall at Makurazaki at 13:30 - quite a change from the passages we've been doing the past few months. Fluky winds would gust to 20 knots then drop to 8 knots, one moment dead downwind, then on the beam with seas that were confused with a growing swell that had us surfing the last hour and past the breakwaters. Most likely influenced by the topography, we passed a couple headlands, a volcano and the valleys between, the southern end of Kyushu is basically open to the East China Sea and the Pacific so all that ocean is rolling up on the shelf here. Makurazaki is a fishing village and looks quiet from where we've tied to a sea wall surrounded by fishing boats, a couple streets off the water there are several large stores, the biggest grocery we've seen since Saipan and a mega pachinko parlor. We attempted to tie to the a green floating dock we thought was a municipal dock but were waved off by man driving a forklift. With winds gusting to 20 knots as we tried to tie along the sea wall we cast an envious eye at the deserted green dock down the way. We had planned to go to Kasasa tomorrow but the forecast is calling for stronger winds than today so I think we'll stay put until that system passes. All's good on Tumbleweed
31º 12.192' N - 130º 38.028' E
April 30, 2019Pouring rain, grey, chilly, green,gorgeous rugged shoreline. Are we in Japan or back in the Pacific Northwest? Yesterday a gale was blowing and there was a high seas warning so we stayed in Makurazaki. Today the winds had died and the seas calmed but for a large gentle swell. With winds at 3-5 knots we were forced to motor and keep a watch for the floating seaweed. We arrived at the Ebisu hotel at 13:30 and were surprised to see Ken on the Yacht Happy, who we met in Yamagawa, waving to us from the hotel. He was tied to the dock and came down to move his his yacht to the shorter end tie and let us take the long side of the dock. Very nice, as we would have not fit on the end. We are at the dock now and enjoying the luxury of being on a dock vs a sea wall with fresh water available. We have not had the convenience of fresh water to the boat since Fiji. This is a big deal for Tumbleweed. Depending on weather, and depending on how addicted we become to easy water, we'll either stay another night or head for Sato Ne in the morning. All is well on Tumbleweed.
31º 24.954' N - 130º 8.064' E
May 2, 2019 We are tied to a concrete sea wall in small fishing village on the island of Kami Koshiki Jima, some twenty miles off the coast of Kyushu. We had a sunny, near windless day crossing over from Kasasa, avoiding kelp and arriving in the early afternoon. Until recently there was a large hotel here that kept a pontoon in front that was reported by previous cruisers to be a good spot to tie to, but we were told by Kirk on Silk Purse that the hotel had recently closed and the pontoon was no longer available so we were prepared to find a spot on the sea wall. A man from the fuel station drove over with his son and directed us to a spot where we could tie up. It is really kind when we people take the time to help out us confused sailors. We knew we could tie up somewhere but we want to avoid spots that are preferred by or reserved for the fishing fleet. We had a short stroll around the neighborhood, this end of town is where the local fishing fleet and fish processing plant is located. It is pretty quiet here as in the other towns we've visited it appears commercial fishing is in decline. We stopped into the local market for a few supplies. While walking around Ravens were working over our cockpit looking for snacks, when we were a few hundred yards away they took flight leaving snack wrappers and a shiny marlin spike that were in the cockpit bag out on the cockpit benches. They also left a present to show their unhappiness at finding no snacks. All is well on Tumbleweed. It's a beautiful, wind still night and we are looking forward to a glass of wine and some pasta.
31º 50.814' N - 129º 55.338' E
May 3, 2019 Another near windless day, though beautiful with clear sunny skies, as we crossed from the harbor of Sato Ne to the town of Ushibuka back on Kyushu. There is a series of concrete basins inside the massive breakwater that shelters the town and harbor, we worked our way back to the innermost basin but found that it was filled with fishing boats. In the next basin we found a spot along the sea wall and made ourselves fast at 13:30 this afternoon. The infrastructure is geared toward fishing vessels, mostly on a scale a couple magnitudes larger than Tumbleweed. We arrived at low, low tide and the bollards were far above our heads, we were down below aligned with the barnacles. A fisherman came to our rescue and Douglas was able to heave a line up to him and he helped get us tied alongside. Though the innermost basin if full, the outer enclosures are mostly empty and there were many options for tying alongside. We had a walk through town and stopped to buy produce from a little truck that was stopped in one of the neighborhoods, a woman gave us some sort of candy and the owner of the truck gave us some bread. We got good laughs out of the neighbor ladies. Later we stopped at a smoke house to ask what they were smoking and if we could buy some, it smelled delicious. A man sold us a bagful of small smoked fish for a dollar. We found out later they are for katsuobushi, so we'll make some soup and dashi broth from them. Tumbleweed is now smelling of sweet smoked fish. The town was very quiet as we walked around, it is Golden Week, but it might be quiet in general. All is well on Tumbleweed.
32º 12.03' N - 130º 0.624' E
May 4, We arrived at Nomo Ko after several hours of motoring from Ushibuka. Big day for fishing, the last weekend of Golden Week and the waters are calm so many boats hit the water today. Nomo Ko is a lovely village, very quaint. We attempted to dock at the floating pontoon recommended by previous cruisers but were asked to tie at the sea wall instead, the pontoon is to be used only by small, light craft. A Japanese cruiser moved to another pontoon and gave us his spot on the sea wall so we can go ashore, otherwise it would be tricky getting to shore at low tide, the top of the wall was well above us as we arrived. We spent a couple hours wrangling fenders and line and fender boards and tires to try and keep us from being gouged by oysters and barnacles. We lost a bit of gel coat at the bow coming in when we barely touched one of the rubber fenders bolted to the wall but covered in rough shells. Extra large fenders are on the wish list for Nagasaki. We'd been warned and thought we were covered with fenders, but I don't think you can have too many or too large of fenders. These harbors are set up for working fishing vessels not yachts. We were reminded again of how kind and gracious people are in Japan. The port manager, after asking us to move, which we completely understood and after we apologized for inconveniencing him, came back a few moments later with beers and ice for us. And the kindness of the yachtsman who saw our predicament with the sea wall and no access to a ladder, etc. and somehow negotiating the ability to move to another pontoon that would accept his lighter boat but not Tumbleweed, both examples of the interactions we are experiencing during our visit. All's well on Tumbleweed.
32º 35.016' N - 129º 45.222' E
May 5, 2019 This morning we arrived at Nagasaki after motoring over calm waters with no wind from Nomo Ko. It is overwhelming to be in our first real city since we passed through Auckland in March of last year. We have spent the past year in the islands mostly in small towns, remote anchorages or villages. This is quite the change. A busy port with a large shipyard and many shipworks, docks, repair facilities, ferry terminals, etc lining the waters. We are tied up at Dejima marina in the heart of the city. This is the spot where the Dutch had set up their trading post and where they were confined in Japan. A lot of history in this city. We plan to spend a week visiting
32º 44.616' N - 129º 52.206' E