Day 477 [Jan. 22/10] -- More photos

Rose sends more photos, as she describes at bottom. These are some of the great folks who have been assisting in the final days to departure.

During one of our nearly daily Skype calls from the home of Rose and Pablo.

Rose writes:

Saito San is here at our house to talk to you a bit later about his day on Skype (Photo 257) if you are free please.  Mike too if poss, can be done separately if required. We have had a long day on the road, driving from office to office to sort out his documents for Port Clearance and Visa and Passport and Immigration.

All is going well there and the whole procedure should be finished by tomorrow. We need last word from Hanoka San and Gonzalo. Camillo, (Photo 277) Hanoaka San's Ship Mechanic has been a real brick with fixing little bits and bobs and has been translating for us most of the day.

Roberto (Photo 287, moustache, in dark jacket with Saito) the Magic Electrician has been on the boat to sort the problem of the radio which cursedly stopped working, he says the auto tuner is bad and took it off board to mend.  Should be back tomorrow.

The man in the hard hat is Juan Barria (Photo 262) on the Scientific rescue boat with his crew, (Photo 280) they are not scientists, their boat  “Del Mar III”,  has most of the time moored alongside Nicole BMW, he can speak Japanese and has been a source of light relief at times for Saito-San such as making him coffee and meals and kept a friendly eye of Nicole BMW.  He also assisted with putting the staysail back on its rigging yesterday morning at 7:00 am before the summer winds get up for the day.

There is a photo of Nicole BMW with Tierra del Fuego in the background in the fishing harbour of Rio Seco. Today the winds, 40 knots, Saito San estimated, have been fierce but warm from the northwest.  Tomorrow morning we will visit Hanoaka San and discuss the final stages for Saito San’s voyage.  Minoru asks please may we have another weather report update.

And not least, Hanaoka-san (dark blue jacket with red stripes) and Saito-san, in 50-knot gusts.

Many thanks,

Blue Water Medal for Sir Robin Knox-Johnston

We just received this in the morning email and wanted to pass it along. Sir Robin is a long-time friend and BOC / Around Alone single-handed race fellow competitor of Saito-san's. If there was anyone who ever deserved this special "undated" honor, it is Sir Robin! The Blue Water Medal is considered the most prestigious of all sailing awards, of which Saito-san was presented the annual prize for year 2006.
Hello Hunter, I thought Saito-San might enjoy receiving this news. My best wishes as well for a speedy journey!

--- Dana 

Contact: Dana Paxton, Media Pro Int’l for CCA, 401-849-0220

Cruising Club of America to Present Blue Water Medal to Sir Robin Knox-Johnston
Only Seventh Person in CCA’s History to Receive Medal Without Date

New York, N.Y., USA (January 19, 2010) – The Cruising Club of America has selected Sir Robin Knox-Johnston to receive its prestigious Blue Water Medal, without date, for a lifetime devoted to the advancement of sailing, sail training and youth development and on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of his singlehanded, non-stop circumnavigation of the world. In the 85-year history of the CCA’s Blue Water Medal only seven Medals have been awarded without date. The medal will be presented to Sir Robin Knox-Johnston on March 5, 2010 by CCA Commodore Sheila McCurdy (Middletown, R.I.) during the club’s annual Awards Dinner at the New York Yacht Club, in New York.

Born March 17, 1939 in Putney, London, Knox-Johnston went to school at Berkhamstead in Hertfordshire. He served as an officer cadet in the British Merchant Navy in 1957 and later gained his Masters Certificate in 1965. Between sea voyages in Bombay he built Suhaili, a 32-foot 5-inch LOA (length overall) India teak ketch of the Colin Archer type and sailed her to England.

With Suhaili he entered the 1968 race for the Sunday Times Golden Globe Trophy for the first person to circumnavigate the world nonstop and singlehanded. Suhaili was the only boat to finish the race, completing the 30,123 mile course in 312 days. Robin Knox-Johnston donated his £5,000 prize to the widow of his competitor Donald Crowhurst, who was lost at sea during the race.

In 1988 Suhaili started in the OSTAR Race across the Atlantic, but had to retire after 800 miles due to leaking seams. In 1989, after re-caulking, she set off across the Atlantic following Columbus’s route using only an Astrolabe for navigation. Arriving in San Salvador after 3,000 miles, they were only off 8 miles in latitude and 22 miles in longitude. On the return voyage in November of the same year, a large storm knocked them down four times and they lost both masts. Under jury rig they sailed 1,400 miles to the Azores.

In 1990 Suhaili sailed north of the Arctic Circle to Greenland’s east coast so that a small team might attempt to climb a virgin peak. In 1992 Knox-Johnston was invited to become President of the Sail Training Association, a youth development organization which operated two topsail schooners. He also organized annual tall ship races and, before he retired from the post in 2001, £11 million had been raised to replace the two schooners with two larger brigs.

Since winning the Golden Globe Trophy in 1969 Robin Knox-Johnston has participated in seven quadrennial double-handed Round Britain races. He skippered Condor to line honors in two legs of the 1977/08 Whitbread Race, co-skippered Enza New Zealand with the late Sir Peter Blake in 1994 to take the Jules Verne Trophy for the fastest circumnavigation of the world, and completed the Velux5Oceans solo around the world race in 4th position in 2006/07 at the age of 68.

In 1995, Knox-Johnston was knighted by Queen Elizabeth and retained the honorary title ‘Sir’. Notably, he has been named the 1994 ISAF World Sailor of the Year, the United Kingdom’s Yachtsman of the Year three times, and in 2007 he was inducted into the inaugural ISAF Hall of Fame. He has served as a Trustee of the National Maritime Museum and is currently President of the Little Ship Club and Chairman of Clipper Ventures.

About the CCA’s Blue Water Medal
The prestigious Blue Water Medal was inaugurated by the Cruising Club of America in 1923 to reward meritorious seamanship and adventure upon the sea displayed by amateur sailors of all nationalities that might otherwise go unrecognized.
Blue Water Medalists have included such luminaries of the sailing world as Rod Stephens, Eric and Susan Hiscock, Sir Francis Chichester, Eric Tabarly, Pete Goss, Rich Wilson, Minoru Saito and Bernard Moitessier. In 1940 it was awarded to the British Yachtsmen at Dunkerque who helped in the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force in June 1940.
The Medal itself was designed by Arthur Sturgis Hildebrand, a member of the Cruising Club of America, who was one of the crew of the yacht Leiv Eiriksson, lost in the Arctic with all hands in September of 1924.
Blue Water Medal awardees – without date (all award years are approximate)
Circa 2000 Cloud Nine, Rodger B. Swanson (USA)
160,000 miles of remarkable cruising, two circumnavigations via Antarctica

Circa 1978 – Humphrey D. E. Barton (GBR)
A lifetime of cruising, racing, 20 or more Atlantic crossings, founder of the Ocean Cruising Club

Circa 1961 Seacrest, Dr. Paul Sheldon (USA)
Extended cruises in Newfoundland, Labrador

Circa 1959 – Vito Dumas (ARG)
Global Circumnavigation 1942-1943 and other singlehanded voyages

Circa 1956 – Carleton Mitchell (USA)
Meritorious ocean passages, sterling seamanship and advancement of the sport by counsel and example

Circa 1937 Igdasil, Roger S. Strout (USA)
Circumnavigation 1934-1937

Circa 1932*– Jolie Brise, Robert Somerset (GBR)
Award for a remarkable feat of seamanship, the rescue of 10 crew off burning schooner Adriana in the 1932 Bermuda race
*(no actual date appears in the CCA Yearbook)

About the Cruising Club of America
The Cruising Club of America is dedicated to offshore cruising, voyaging and the “adventurous use of the sea” through efforts to improve seamanship, the design of seaworthy yachts, safe yachting procedures and environmental awareness.  Now in its 89th year, the club has 10 stations throughout the U.S., Canada and Bermuda, with approximately 1200 members who are qualified by their experience in offshore passage making.  In even-numbered years, the CCA organizes the Newport to Bermuda Race in conjunction with the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club.  It also sponsors several Safety at Sea seminars and hosts a series of “Suddenly Alone” seminars for the cruising couple.  For more information on the CCA, go to

Day 475 [Jan. 20/10] -- Photos

Position (2000 JST)
53°10'S, 70°55'W -- Punta Arenas

Today's Report

We're still waiting on the final word. This morning Saito-san said customs clearance and the exit stamp on his passport should come by Thursday. 

So we'll use this opportunity to publish photos we've received over the past 11 weeks while Saito-san and the Punta Arenas team have struggled to get the boat back into sailing condition. It's now been 77 very long days for Saito-san since he returned to Punta Arenas for the second time.

Here's the highlights, in rough chronological order:
Sail repairs on the spare genoa... Visit to a visiting tall-masted ship... Field trip to the woodlands ... Repairs to the staysail furler... Test and calibration of the navigation equipment this week... And frolicking dolphins, with Rose and Pablo.

Our great thanks to Rose and Pablo for these pics!

Fingers crossed!

Day 473 [Jan. 18/10] -- Tests (and dolphins)

Position (2200 JST)
53°10'S, 70°55'W -- Punta Arenas

Today's Report

The last two weeks developed into a struggle as one mishap of nature and one of electronics gone bad delayed Saito-san's departure -- again.

After things began to return to normal following the extended New Years holidays in Punta Arenas, a well rested electrician sourced and corrected issues with the Raymarine navigation system, awakening it after a long slumber only to make it obvious that it was well out of calibration.

Initially, Saito-san and the electrician, Roberto, suspected that the compass sensor, and possibly its cabling, were at fault. The sensor is mast-mounted about a third of the way up, and subject to the whims of the weather and violent motion of the seas. So is its cable.

However, before any of that could be determined, the unpredictable Punt Arenas weather visited again last Tuesday with winds blowing into the mid-30s. Sometime during the night the staysail released and a tear was inflicted at the base of the sail, leaving a rip Saito-san estimates at about two meters long. A decision was subsequently made to patch the sail using cloth from the old genoa. It is expected that this will be enough -- along with the completely new genoa -- to get NBSDIII back to Japan.

Better news developed yesterday, as emailed from Rose and her husband Pablo, who went out with Saito-san to test and recalibrate the compass sensor. The electrician had been successful in restoring function, and the operation of the navigation equipment SEEMED to have been restored, but the only way to check for sure required taking the boat out.

As advised earlier through Skype by Mike Seymour in Tokyo, as he summarized the instructions in the Raymarine compass sensor manual (a component so complex as to need its own mini-manual!), the four-person Punta Arenas team piloted NBSDIII out on a gorgeous (southern hemisphere) summery day and took her through a number of wide, continuous circles. This had the almost miraculous effect of automatically recalibrating the compass sensor, which earlier had been a full 155 degrees out of sync with the magnetic heading of the boat's compass.

In her email last night, Rose reported the results this way:
We have had a success. Roberto the electrician that Hanaoka recommended was brilliant. The yacht was given a test sail, he tested the cables, all was fine there, the sensor was fine and working, the readings on the Raymarine autopilot compass were working, Furuno radar COG [course over ground] working. The BMG also working. Roberto realised that we had to move the compass unit, so he moved it and we fixed the 5-degree difference. Now it is 1 or 2 degrees difference, and Saito is happy with that. He knows it is not perfect but can [compensate] a lot easier now. 
And then almost as an afterthought Rose -- a self-taught wildlife researcher -- wrote us in a second brief email:
Oh yes.................We saw 10 dolphins. They followed us for a while. Fabulous!
The pictures were sent in a subsequent email. We'll try to publish those tomorrow, along with a further update on the final  preparations to depart, potentially as early as sometime this week -- fingers crossed, and the winds (and sail menders) allowing!