May 26/11 0600 JST (May 25/11 1100 HST)
Position: 21°17'N, 157°53'W (Honolulu)
Remaining distance to Yokohama finish: 13.4%
Following dockside interviews by Hawaii's two main TV stations, with handshakes and hugs all around to Team Hawaii and well-wishers, Saito-san slipped the lines of Nicole BMW Shuten-dohji III at 11 am to begin the final leg of his epic circumnavigation, now in its 966th day.
Weather was clear but a large high pressure system to the north prompted a Small Craft Advisory for the area, with winds between 25 to 33 kts from the ENE and gusting higher. It was expected that since Saito-san will be sailing in the lee of the island as he heads NNW, he should instead see tradewinds in the mid to high teens, reducing in the next few days.
We received this email from Dave Cooper who delayed his own plan for a week's cruise and could be on hand for Saito-san's departure.
Aloha, with a bit of fanfare Saito-san and Nicole BMW sailed out of Kewalo Basin at ~1100 today. Just shy of his first arrival here 1 year ago!
We had KHON & KITV on hand to record the event and a last minute interview of Saito-san. He was in top spirits and a bit misty eyed as we all shook hand and hugged. He has been an inspiration to all and a good friend during his unexpected long stay here.
We wish him well and turn his tracking over to Team Japan
Winds here today are hovering around 20 and the seas offshore are 8-10’. It will be a day before he clears the lee of the Hawaii Islands but the winds are expected to drop down to the high teens. So he should make good time for the next week or two.
Again thanks to all the Team Hawaii folks and to his friends who gather for the sendoff with cookies, leis, and other sundry gifts.
PS: Nicole BMW demonstrated that she was reluctant to leave as she would start this AM. I planned to move her to a dock that would be easier with the wind for Saito-san to depart from. A quick dive into the engine room to diagnose the problem. The transmission neutral switch in the transmission is intermittent and needs to have the transmission lever jiggled in order for the Yanmar to start. Saito-san was shown and briefed on what he needs to do if it doesn’t start so I don’t expect that it will be an issue for him. However it does point out that no matter how much is fixed there’s always one more place to act up.
Our huge thanks again to Dave and all members of Team Hawaii. We plan to review their prodigious, amazingly selfless efforts over the past year in a follow-up post. For now, our congratulations to the indomitable Minoru Saito as he sets out once again on his historic voyage, one year older at age 77!