With brevity & haste consistent with these busy times, we last reported-in upon arrival at Shimonoseki where we greatly enjoyed a three day visit—-warm friendships and hospitality, leisurely sightseeing, provisioning & fueling, and happy times together with old friends. Fine spring weather, karaoke, the exciting navigation of busy Kanmon Straits & pleasant coastal bicycle-navigation from Shimonoseki to nearby, charming Chofu were memorable highlights.
After too brief a time with our many good friends, old & new, Westward sailed 13th May from Shimonoseki overnight to Busan, South Korea.
Following recent weeks of daylight-only navigation in Japan’s busy coastal & inland waters, it was a demanding run—-a moon-less night of thunder-storms & dense steamer traffic, illuminated by brilliant lightening and fleets of fishing boats, both Japanese & Korean, often fishing squid with bright incandescent fishing lights which easily evidenced their presence but blinded us to other traffic. It was an important night for vigilance and for radar & AIS navigation!
At burgeoning & bustling Busan, Westward moored in the yachting center built for the 1988 Olympics there—–center-stage beneath the monument where the Olympic Flame once brightly burned:
There were abundant highlights of our stay in South Korea—-a country whose history & hospitality rivals that of Japan.
At Busan we scoured local markets, took care of business at the World Aquaculture 2008 Convention, witnessed the start & finish (at Westward’s door-step), of the Busan Marathon (with Teresa’s spontaneous participation in a rain-drenched 3 km walk (while I awaited delivery onboard of a new battery-bank for Westward’s 24 volt DC system in the midst of the Marathon’s excitement). We attended a concert by, and visited onboard with, charming Thibault Cauvin, a fine French classical guitarist—–idol of innumerable young Korean darlings & pal of Spencer’s—–who was performing nine Korean concerts (in nine days) as part of his peripatetic annual concert schedule (see: www.thibaultcauvin.com).
We also enjoyed a busy week-end in Seoul, conveniently reached via Korea’s new French-built, high-speed train (300 km/hr, an equal to the TGV of France). After the (modest) deprivations of life onboard Westward, we were especially comfortable at the Seoul’s five-star J.W. Marriot Hotel, owned by wonderful friends from my early shipping days. A special treat in Seoul was sharing all with daughter Elena with her husband, Todd Madsen—–visiting artistic & historic Seoul’s extraordinary castles, museums & galleries. Family, dear friends, excellent foods, some productive business meetings & introductions, and even a bit of nightlife all made for a most memorable Seoul visit.
We were sad to leave Korea, where there is so much to see & do. But we reluctantly departed Busan at midnight on the 25th, for minimal night-time running, to arrived26th afternoon at charming Hagi, Japan—-an ancient samuri & castle town, also rich with recent history. as home of many of Japan’s Mejii Restoration’s founding fathers. Hagi is noted also for its many onsens (hotspring bath-houses), the nearest adjacent to our moorage. We shall try to check them all in our few days here!!
From Hagi we will turn northeast, along Japan’s Sea of Japan coastline, on the following (approximate) itinerary:
<Ports of call>
- Hamada: 29-30 May ??
- Dogo Island: 31 May – 2 June??
- Maizuru: 3-5 June ???
- Sado Island: 6-8 June ? ???
- Niigata: 8-11 June ?
- Akita: 9-12 June? ?????
- Muroran: 14-20 June
- Kiritappu: 21-23 June
Our ETD Japan is June 23rd from Hokkaido for Aleutian Islands and Dutch Harbor. Frustrated with the endless challenges of obtaining permission to visit the Russian Kuril Islands, we have forsaken that objective to extend our stay in far more welcoming Korea & Japan, hoping foremost for mild northern summer weather before we brave the North Pacific to the Aleutian Islands & Alaska.
We have a great deal of Japan still to see in the weeks ahead, but our remaining time feels short; we will be sad to leave after so much enjoyment here, from seeing many treasured friends and traveling & sightseeing along this welcoming country’s beautiful & welcoming coastlines.
All’s well aboard