Day 1079 [Sep. 16/11 JST] – The Final Day

Today's Report
Sep. 16/11 1300 JST 

Position:  35°08'N, 139°36'E
Remaining to Yokohama:  20 nm / 99.9% finished, (ETA: Sep. 17)

The weather gods have smiled kindly on the last day of Saito Challenge 8, for which we thank them and forgive the five recent typhoons, the one possibly coming early next week, and even the three-day gale that stopped Saito-san dead in his wake at Cape Horn and delayed tomorrow's return by more than 2 years.

It may or may not rain a bit in the morning but that will seem like fair skies after 3 years of dealing with weather as if it was a life-or-death matter. That's because it was.

Nicole BMW Shuten-dohji III is still on schedule to reach Yokohama tomorrow morning between 10:00 and 10:30. Saito-san is expected to come in with the sails raised (as much as the Hawaii repairs allow), do a few victory laps, dowse the sails one last time, then settle NBSDIII at the floating dock like a big, tired seabird finally coming to rest.

He left Japan 1,080 days previously, facing huge risks, knowing the chances of failure, even death, were substantial, but never wavering with a broad smile that could probably have been seen from the top of Mt. Fuji.

Here is the last time we saw him with his chase boat, Magellan Major, from a lookout point near the Kenzaki Lighthouse Start Line 20 nm south of Yokohama. 

Photo evidence that he was STILL smiling...!
Oct. 2, 2008
Arrival Time & Place:
10:00 a.m. – 11:15 a.m., Saturday, Sept 17, at Minato Mirai Pukari Pier, Yokohama

Following the welcome, NBSDIIII will move to the jetty at nearby Elephant Nose Park where she will remain for the rest of the three-day weekend.

Day 1078 [Sep. 15/11 JST] – Saito-san Leaves Just in Time!

Today's Report
Sep. 15/11 1300 JST 

Position:  33°30'N, 139°47'E
Remaining to Yokohama:  90 nm / 99.9% finished, (ETA: Sep. 17)

Nicole BMW Shuten-dohji III is on schedule to reach Yokohama Saturday, with weather and winds cooperating -- but just barely. Saito-san has never sounded as upbeat as he has the past several days as the anticipation builds.

In Tokyo and Yokohama, media arrangements are being made, with two of the six main TV channels sending camera crews, and several major newspapers, and at least one foreign one, planning to send news teams.

Saito-san will meet up with Magellan Major, the spotting boat that saw him off on October 2, 2008, at the official start line at Kenzaki Lighthouse.

The weather continues to look quite favorable over the next 48 hours, expected to be cloudy and fair on Saturday. 

There IS an area typhoon, in fact TWO but the first and bigger one (Roke) has moved sharply west and does not present a problem.

The second smaller one, No. 19, is closely following Saito's path but he will be in Yokohama before it nears Japan according to projections. It has only appeared on the weather screen in the past 8 hours.

Two typhoons shown in 36-hour projection

Next week's forecast calls for rain & thunderstorms for Yokohama from Monday or Tuesday straight through to next weekend. Typhoon No. 19 is projected to veer to the east before it reaches Japan, but Hachijojima looks like it has at least some chance of getting clobbered as early as Tuesday.

So a day or two later departure date might have caused still another drawn-out delay.

Whew. We would NOT have wanted to break that bit of news to Saito-san!

Please note that the arrival time Saturday has been moved up 30 minutes.

Arrival Date & Place:

10:00 a.m. – 11:15 a.m., Saturday, Sept 17, at Minato Mirai Pukari Pier, Yokohama
Following the welcome, NBSDIIII will move to the jetty at nearby Elephant Nose Park where she will remain for the rest of the three-day weekend.

Day 1076 [Sep. 13/11 JST] – Arrival Set for a Befitting National Holiday Weekend

Today's Report
Sep. 13/11 JST 

Position:  33°08'N, 139°48'E
Remaining to Hachijojima:  In port
Remaining to Yokohama:  140 nm / 99.8% finished, (ETA: Sat., Sep 17) days)

We set the date for his arrival, which may be wet, but at least – right now – there is no typhoon in the forecast. If you are in Japan, come welcome him this Saturday at 10:00 --11:15 am in Yokohama. [Please note the slightly earlier time change.]

Strictly by coincidence – honest! – Saito-san returns to Japan at the start of a three-day national holiday weekend. Monday is the nation's annual "Respect for the Elderly Day."

If we'd had the pull, we'd have asked the powers-that-be to set it aside especially for him, but this is the next best thing: He will be 77 years, 8 months, and 10 days old on arrival.

Read here for the news story we prepared and Mike Seymour arranged to be published today in JapanToday.

You'll find there are already a lot of comments, including from one person who has proposed Saito-san as the next Prime Minister of Japan.


Arrival Date & Place:
10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m., Saturday, Sept 17, at Minato Mirai Pukari Pier, Yokohama

Day 1075 [Sep. 12/11 JST] – In Port at Hachijojima

 Today's Report
Sep. 12/11 JST 

Position:  33°08'N, 139°48'E
Remaining to Hachijojima:  In port
Remaining to Yokohama:  140 nm / 99.8% finished, (ETA: 5 days)

An easy arrival just in time for lunch yesterday closed the 380 nm move from Chichijima Island to Hachijojima Island, with all onboard systems working well, and the weather also cooperating. Assisted by improved winds he was able to sail up to the last hour and then motor the rest of the way into the fishing harbor at the northeast corner of the main island, arriving a bit after 1100. He was given assistance at the pier by Mr. Takeuchi, the owner/operator of a Yanmar-certified marine services company there.

Fishing harbor on Hachijojima
 As we mentioned yesterday, Hachijojima has an interesting history as the outermost of the Seven Izu Islands, going back thousands of years to the Jomon Period. We've always been fascinated by the stories of the criminals and political exiles banished to the islands back in the 16th to 18th centuries. Elaborately long expositions can be seen written into walls of volcanic rock deeply etched, apparently by prisoners, but in Kanji almost indecipherable to modern Japanese eyes.
Hachijo – its popular nickname – is both the furthest out of the Seven Izu Islands, and among the most beautiful of the volcanic islands that stretch like a gorgeous string of pearls beginning near Tokyo Bay all the way out to the two Hachijo islands 140 nm distant (Hachijojima and the much smaller HachijoKO – "child" – jima). One can hardly fault Saito-san for his impatience to get there, nor for his obvious joy that came from his easy arrival at a place renown for its bountiful seafood and a wide choice of relaxing hot springs.

Details are still being worked out for how long he will stay there before the 30-hour sail he expects it will take to go the remainder of the way to Yokohama.

Day 1074 [Sep. 11/11 JST] – Hachijojima Arrival by Mid Morning

Today's Report
Sep. 11/11 0700 JST 

Position:  32°58'N, 139°59'E
Remaining to Hachijojima:  10 nm (ETA: 2 hrs)
Remaining to Yokohama:  140 nm / 99.8% finished, (ETA: 6 days – TBA)

Saito-san called an hour earlier than normal this morning to report he had the islands of Hachijojima in sight, their majestic 701- and 854-meter dormant double volcanoes easily visible about 7 nm off his port bow.

Hachijojima and Hachijokojima Islands, Wikipedia
Saito-san was planning to furl sails and turn on the engine in about two hours to motor the rest of the way in to a fishing harbor on the northeast corner of Hachijojima.

He sailed 102 nm in the period, reporting no particular problems as he moved to within a bit over a day of sailing time to reach the official ending point of his nearly 3-year circumnavigation. He will stay in Hachijo until mid-week, then depart – typhoons allowing – in order to make a scheduled Saturday morning, September 17, arrival in Yokohama.

Final word on the Yokohama arrival location and time will be issued later in the week as weather conditions are assessed for next weekend. Japan is currently at the height of the typhoon season, with 14 North Pacific storms already officially recorded. That number already matches the total number of storms in 2010, despite still another 2 months still remaining in this year's storm season which ends in November.

It is expected that the final 140 nm into Yokohama will take under 2 days to complete, which is the "weather window" he will require. Winds are notoriously weak in the Tokyo Bay area in August (showing this morning as being less than 4 kts).

Winds were good during the night mostly from the east at 11-14 kts. He called again at 0800 and said they had fallen to under 8 kts with boat speed dropping to 3 kts. "That means another 2 or 2½ hours before I can get there," he judged.

Weather continued to be unthreatening on ClearPoint projections – at least for the next several days.

A developing tropical depression is presently 700 nm SW of his position but looks to be staying on a safe track to Saito-san's northwest. (On ClearPoint it is shown to be roughly following the earlier path of Typhoon Kulap.) Meanwhile, a new and growing tropical storm can be seen 600 nm to his SE in the 4-day projection (image).

Distance in last 24 hours: 102 nm DOG / 102 nm DMG
DMG over last 5 days of sailing: 379 nm
Total distance completed: 28,355 nm
To Yokohama: 147 nm (measured)
To Hachijojima: 10 nm (measured)
ETA, Hachijojima: 3 hrs
ETA, Yokohama: 6 days (TBA)

Heading: 358°
Reported boat speed: 3.0 - 4.0 kt
Average boat speed: 4.4 kt
Weather: clear, scattered clouds
Temperature: 28.0° C
Barometer: 1018 hPa
Wind (from): 11-14 kts ESE & E
Waves: 2.0 m
Sails: Genoa 90%, staysail 0%, mainsail 2pt reef
Engine: 0 hrs
Generator: 9 hrs

[Weather and wind forecasts are from ClearPoint Weather, a Saito 8 Supporting Sponsor.]