Monday, April 21, 2008

April 12 & 13, 2008 - Beach Cruise to Mitohama

April 12, 2008 - Saturday

Arrived at Zushi at 7:30, Stuart’s boat and tent were on the beach. Changed into my sailing gear and waited for the club to open. Winds were light from the east and conditions looked good for our first beach cruise of 2008.

Set off at about 09:30 in light but gusty winds, flat seas and overcast skies. As usual there were a number of nets to navigate around but seaweed presented a particularly difficult hazard requiring us to divert from our preferred course on at least three occasions .

Arrived at Miyahama at 12:30. Stuart landed first and before I set down, was asked to move to the other end of the beach by an angry fisherman . We pulled the boats up the steep beach and set about exploring.

We checked out the dinghy sailing club on the north side of the beach - nice club, really friendly people. When we mentioned we had sailed done down from Zushi they reacted like we'd arrived from another continent. Later we checked out some potential campsite locations at the west end of the beach but decided we had selected the right end of the beach (near the angry fisherman) to begin with, so we picked up our gear, leaving the boats behind and trekked back to towards the south end. We popped into the Mitohama Hobiecat Fleet; great day for sailing but no one was out or about. I wasn’t impressed.

We also checked out the local small but beautiful Shrine - its at the end of an avenue of tree, many of which appear to be tropical.

The beach at the other end turned out to be the perfect – sheltered, private, flat etc. We selected spots to set the tents and then realized we needed beer. Some bikers camping nearby took pity on us and gave us a couple of cans before we set off in search of a convience - the 50 round trip significantly impacted Mitohama's ratings.

It being a little early in the year for a beach trip, we had decided to cook on the beach rather then forage for food. I brought some pasta and some sauce but didn’t bring salt or oil because it I thought it was ‘un-camperlike’. Needless to say the pasta was stogy but served a purpose. Later the bikers asked us to join their camp fire. There six guys had more camping gear than I’d ever seen – tables, chairs, cooking stuff and a great looking inverted pyramid shaped barbeque. They cooked for us and we wiled away the evening around a campfire.

April 13, 2008 - Sunday
It rained overnight and the next morning we woke to howling winds and grey skies. After another feed of stogy pasta and sardines followed by hot coffee. I received a call from the sailing club warning us that the wind was going to pick up and strongly recommending that we get back ASAP. Following a lengthy debate over whether to run the jib or not, Stuart suggested that it would be a bad idea – great decision! My thoughts were that I should run it and get home quicker, Stuart could already see that catching wind wasn’t going to be a problem – the challenge was going to be handling the overpowering gusts, or as he called them, bullets.

We set off and immediately ran into problems with seaweed – well I ran into problems, Stuart kept a safe distance away. Once we’d exited the bay we were sailing dead against the wind and started a 5 hour tacking session. I messed up at least half my tacks but managed to recover every time. As time went on the winds held at about 10 – 12 m/s and I got used to the conditions but not overconfident. There were moments when the waves seemed to come at us from 3 different directions but as long as we had steerage and were moving forward we were able to stay upright.

Unfortunately I couldn't take any photos or even glance at the GPS (or change its batteries!) so, the visual record is a little light for the Sunday leg of the trip.

By the time we returned to Zushi the Marinebox sailors had given up for the day. I was shattered but it felt great to look up at my dry sail.

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