Day 372 [10/10/09] Radar glitch delays departure

Radar recalibration problem is revealed; everything else seems fine or fixable in preliminary sea trials
53 11 S, 70 55 W --- Rafted in a harbor in Punta Arenas, Chile

Today's Report [0950 JST]

Initial sea trials held yesterday revealed, predictably, that the radar needs to be recalibrated after the faulty magnetron was replaced last week. This became apparent once the vessel was on the open waters of the Strait of Magellan. Saito-san said it appears to be off by about 10 degrees.

The jib furling system, rudder and hydraulic rudder control all checked out, Saito-san reported by Iridium sat phone from the fishing harbor in Punta Arenas. The Iridium signal faded as he gave details, but basically he said that everything seemed to check out except for the radar. Another sea trial will be conducted in the next few days.

He said the engine needs a bit of work, after a mechanic from Hanaoka-san's company determined that the starter relay needs replacing. The part can be sourced locally.

Saito-san said he expected the radar recalibration and final engine adjustments to take place Monday and Tuesday, delaying his departure for a few days.

He said the Chilean Coast Guard made a departure inspection yesterday and BMW Shuten-dohji III passed. However, they noticed his visa had expired recently and so a visit to the immigration office has now joined Saito-san's list of last-minute departure tasks.

Additional Report from Saito 8 Safety Officer

The following report was additionally supplied by Mike Seymour, Saito 8 Safety Officer:


- Rudder and autopilot are ok and functioning normally. Hydraulics are good.

- Jib furler and staysail are good to go.

- Generator is operational, however he is unable to get more than 2000 rpm out of the

main engine. Probably due to carbon build-up. They will clean the turbos and try again.

- HF radio seems to work (he was able to contact Chilean coast guard) but is unable to

reach Japan or America from his current location. He probably won't be able to test it

until he gets above 40 degrees.

- VHF [the short-distance radio] is down and will require a new antenna. They are looking for a replacement now.

- Radar is 10 degrees off. He doesn't have a manual and doesn't know how to calibrate it.

He will contact the local Furuno agent for help.

- Both the surveyor and insurance agent visited the boat and inspected it before the test.

- Everything else is good to go.


- He has overstayed his visa! Hanaoka-san is now talking with the local authorities, but it

appears he will have to pay some kind of penalty. Monday is a national holiday in Chile, so

they will not be able to do anything before Tuesday.

Accordingly, he will not be leaving tomorrow. The visa issue seems to be his biggest concern.

Hopefully Hanaoka-san can work it out for him. He will call again after talking to immigration

on Tuesday.

Day 371 [10/09/09] Sea trials today

Sea trials scheduled today as countdown proceeds

53 11 S, 70 55 W

Today's Report

Sea trials were to be held today as Saito sought to confirm the repairs to Nicole BMW Shuten-dohji III.

Key among these are the replaced jib furler system, rudder, engine and propeller, and the crucial self-steering hydraulic rudder control.

No word had been received from him by 5 pm JST on the outcome.

If everything checks out during the sea trials he will leave tomorrow at 8 am local time, 6 months almost to the day after the 56-foot yacht was disabled April 12 at Cape Horn.

Day 370 [10/08/09] Jib furler replaced

New furler goes on for tomorrow's test sail.

Our thanks to the many who have helped!

New daily blog starts as we try something different... your comments are appreciated!


53 11 S, 70 55 W

Rafted in a harbor in Punta Arenas

Today's Report

Saito-san informed us by Iridium this morning that he and the rigger who flew down from Santiago were able to install the new jib furler, with Saito-san climbing the mast several times, assisted by workers from the fishing company of Hitoshi Hanaoka.

If all checks out during the sea trials tomorrow he will leave on Saturday at 8 am local time, exactly 6 months to the day after Nicole BMW Shuten-dohji III was disabled at Cape Horn.

We were sent photos, below, of the sails being prepared.

The all-steel yacht shows the rusty blemishes and scrapes of the hard times she's been through -- and Saito-san himself looks thinner after 14,000 of nearly nonstop ocean miles followed by a rough 6 months being jostled in a packed harbor in Chile.

But both are near ready to resume the interrupted circumnavigation.

Despite the delays caused by myriad difficulties -- language barriers, legal wrangling, insurance deliberations, equipment inspection/replacement/repairs, and Saito's emergency abdominal surgery last month -- the weather window is just now opening up as spring starts to arrive in the southern hemisphere (though it was still just 0 degrees C today).

He's leaving about the time he would have anyway, having tentatively set a departure date of early to mid October, following the start of the full moon. That date was calculated by Saito-san back in July.

From almost the first week after his arrival in Punta Arenas, he has had the tremendous support of Hanaoka-san, an expat Japanese owner of a 60-employee fishing company.

As we recall, Hanaoka-san was alerted to Saito-san's sudden presence by a local newspaper article that sympathetically reported his predicament after NBSDIII was towed by a fish processing factory ship, then quickly impounded by local authorities in Punta Arenas, pop. 150,000. It took a number of weeks until the rescue / towing claim could be sorted out.

Out of curiosity, Hanaoka-san dropped by the boat for a short visit, which gradually turned into his own personal challenge and into a hugely time-consuming but potentially life-saving role of his own.

Not only has Hanaoka-san provided his home, shower, meals, and friendship, but has eased some of the payment matters as we have accrued expenses there. His tri-lingual (Japanese/Spanish/English) assistance dealing with port authorities, medical staff, boat repairs, delivery, local bureaucrats, and countless other matters has placed us in eternal debt to him, not to mention reimbursing him for Saito-san's hospital fees!

From the Saito 8 Committee we want to again thank our excellent sponsors for their continuing support, beginning with Nico Roehreke, owner/president of Nicole Group, for providing much-needed "bridge money" for boat repairs in Punta Arenas, in advance of insurance reimbursement. This was on top of funds Nicole Group provided earlier and without which Saito Challenge 8 would never have been possible from the onset.

Also our great thanks to Yasuo Toyota, general manager of Italian pasta distributor Barilla Japan, for his firm's continued generous donations to cover Saito-san's medical and living expenses while in Chile -- a new donation that committee volunteer Hide Katada of Ocean Dream was able to arrange just when we most needed it.

We thank as well Michael Seymour of GPlus Media and the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan for his expertise and patience in arranging shipments of repair items to Chile, working closely with Mr. Naoki Ohno of Nicole Racing Japan for his masterful shepherding of the deliveries to one of the most-distant spots on earth from from Tokyo.

We much appreciate the continued help by James Hayashi, of contributing sponsor Clearpoint Weather, for his company's donation of the Iridium communications, without which conversing with Saito these last 6 months would have been even more difficult (not to mention the phone's and global weather service's life-saving roles during Saito's rescue.) Thanks as well to Dr. John Marshall of Tokyo Medical and Dental Clinic for his expert advice during Saito-san's medical emergency.

And certainly not least, our special thanks to Gary Thomas, vice chair of the Saito 8 Committee (and managing partner of the Tokyo law firm White & Case), for his work in a volunteer capacity on a number of legal and insurance matters while providing guidance as we maneuvered the tricky legal waters of Chile. And who, with Saito 8 volunteer Per Knudsen of Global Expansion Network, worked closely with our insurance company to first get clear title back on the vessel, then deal with the insurance claims and continuing negotiations.

Now we need to get Minoru Saito and his boat back, safe and intact!

Looking a bit thinner but happy

Main goes back on



This is the daily position report of Minoru Saito on board the sailing yacht Nicole BMW Shuten-dohji III.

Minoru Saito is now on his record 8th solo circumnavigation of the world following the acquisition and refit of a 19-year-old, 56-foot steel-hulled sailboat. His voyage is solo and unassisted and was to last approximately 7 months, commencing and ending at an official starting point adjacent Ken-saki lighthouse about 2 hours south of Yokohama. The vessel was disabled at Cape Horn in April and Saito-san was forced to wait out the Chilean winter while repairs were made.

The Saito Challenge 8 Support Committee, an all-volunteer, international organization, welcomes you to this truly historic adventure as we follow Saito-san on his "wrong-way" westward voyage of approximately 25,000 nautical miles. He already holds the Guinness Book world record as the oldest non-stop solo circumnavigator, at age 71 (Saito Challenge 7, 2004-5).

He is now 75, so his next record might well be written this way when he returns to Yokohama in May, 2009:

"Minoru Saito today crossed the finish line on his record 8th single-handed circumnavigation, making him the oldest sailor to complete a solo circumnavigation at age 75, the most number of times (8), and the oldest solo sailor to complete a westward circumnavigation, going the "wrong way around."

We invite you to take a moment to visit the Saito Challenge 8 web page Please tell others about him, and if they want we will be happy to add them to this daily posting.

We thank our sponsors for their generous support of Saito Challenge 8 (and, yes, sponsorship opportunities are still available!)

Finally we thank you for your personal interest in this extraordinary man, who in 2006 became the first Asian to receive the Cruising Club of America's Blue Water Medal in the 86-year history of the world's top sailing award. (And the next year the Guinness Book World record.)

Hunter Brumfield

Saito Challenge 8 Support Committee



Nicole BMW and The Nicole Group of Companies (


(in alphabetic order)

Albion (

Barilla Japan (

ClearPoint Weather (

Fujiki Group (

GPlus Media (

Henri Lloyd (

Japan Radio Corp. (

Sunsail (

U.S. Dairy Export Council (

Yasuda Alumni Association (

Links of Interest

Saito Challenge 8 web page:

Nicole BMW web page, Japanese language updates:

Status of long-distance voyagers:

Japan Times article on Saito Challenge 8:

Saito Challenge 8 waypoints,