December 30/10 JST
Position: 21°17'N, 157°53'W (Honolulu)
Remaining distance to Yokohama finish: 13.4%
As Saito-san waits out the stormy North Pacific winter, repairs continue, if at a more relaxed pace. Plans are now that he will leave Hawaii probably in mid to late March, giving him 4 to 6 weeks to make the last 3,500 nm. That would put him back in Japan by approximately mid-May.
He's also getting some medical care for a knee problem that is being treated with physical therapy and may require orthoscopic surgery, depending on what the doctors finally decide.
In the meantime, an auspicious date nears: Jan. 7, his 77th birthday.
We ordered a birthday present through West Marine that should arrive just in time, an all-weather sailing jacket from Henri Lloyd, the yachting clothing maker (and one of our contributing sponsors). Saito-san was provided an enviable wardrobe of foul weather and sundry other gear from Henri Lloyd prior to leaving Japan. But after more than 800 days and 23,000 nm, he's certainly due for a few replacements.
This new item in fact was donated, but this time not by a sponsor. Instead, we thought it fitting to purchase the jacket ($90 plus shipping) in the name of his general contributors, some of whom sent donations through PayPal. We thank them again for that and will make sure Saito-san knows it.
Meanwhile, the skipper continues to support his daily living expenses and various boat repairs through his retirement pension, personal savings, and, not least, the volunteer help (including the occasional meal and party invite) of Team Hawaii. This volunteer group of Honolulu residents has grown to include Dave Cooper, Scott Gilbert, Ed Abbot, Kimmy Apo, and more recently, Naomi Wasano (commander of the Honolulu Sail and Power Squadron, a unit of the United States Power Squadrons) and Derek Nakamura.
On another front, we are standing by for official word that Saito-san's request for extension of his six-month U.S. visa has been granted. About two weeks before the deadline he and Dave went to Immigration to make what they thought would be a standard extension request, but such things are no longer to be in the post 9-11 security climate.
This time it's taking a full review by Homeland Security, supported by an essay on why he couldn't leave Hawaii, other supporting documents, and a check for $295 written out to Uncle Sam.
This never-before-encountered scrutiny has nothing to do with Saito-san himself. It is now a standard requirement. If you have any lingering doubts about how dead serious vetting "foreigners" has all become, give a look here. This 10-page pdf explains the new requirements for persons wanting to extend their stay in the U.S.
Our deep thanks to Derek and Dave for helping with the extension request, and to Kimmy, Naomi, and Scott for assisting with Saito-san's knee treatments and clinic appointments.