Day 552 [April 7/10] -- 150 miles out, and 5 miles "up"

Today's Report
April 7/10 0800 JST

15°27'S, 78°04'W (South Pacific Ocean, 1,477 nm from Valdivia / 1,829 nm to Equator)

Another nice day of favorable but light winds, with 107 nm under sail. He's sailing parallel to the coast of Peru about 150 nm out, and well out of the way of commercial ship traffic.

There's another distance you tend to forget about on the broad expanse of water, however. That's what's below you.

For the last week he has been sailing alongside the Chile-Peru Trench, one of the major trenches of the oceans. This sea chasm is the result of the collision of tectonic plates that caused the 8.8 magnitude earthquake in February as well as the towering snow-capped Andes mountain range that dominates the coastal view, although Saito-san is too far seaward to enjoy it. 

What might be disconcerting to some boaters traversing the trench is that its bottom in places is an incredible 26,480 feet down, or 5 miles -- that's roughly the cruising altitude of trans-oceanic jets!

Long-time Punta Arenas businessman Hitoshi Hanaoka, who provided assistance to Saito-san on the Strait of Magellan for nearly 10 months, has sent a message in answer to a request of friends of the missing Japanese sailor Keiichi Chinami. We received a cc and read that he has already alerted fishermen in the area and that he would investigate the rental cost of a search plane.  

If the 35-foot ketch "Kifu" was disabled there are scores of small inlets and islands where the solo yachtsman may have ended up on the rugged Chilean coast. Fishermen are being asked to keep a lookout for him. It's been almost a month (since March 11), but the relatives and friends of the Fukuoka, Japan, sailor have not given up hope that he'll be found alive and well.

The family has expressed appreciation to everyone who has tried to help, including a worldwide HAM radio network and several cruising web sites that posted notices. We posted the URLs earlier but here they are again in one place:

Distance in last 24 hours: 107 nm
Distance completed: 19,031 nm
To Yokohama: 9,239 nm (distance remaining: 32.7%)
Heading: 300
Reported boat speed: 4.8 kt (day's average: 4.7 kt)
Weather: Overcast 
Temperature: 22.0° C
Barometer: 1008 hPa (down)
Wind (from): Favorable 8-14 kt SSE -- expected to stay 11 - 16 kt mostly out of SSE
Waves: 1.0 m
Current (from): 0.2 kt S
Engine rpms: 0.5 hrs @1500
Generator: 8.0 hrs
Sails: Genoa 0%, staysail 100%, mainsail 1-pt reef

Position Map (click to enlarge)