From the Kasasa Ebisu hotel we sailed to Akune and spent the night there. From Akune, we sailed to Nomozaki and again spent the night there. We have been told that night-time sailing along the Kyushu coast is a bad idea due to the amount of fishing and commercial vessels in the area. However, the amount of vessels hasn’t really been a problem for us so far, as we have experienced many more boats at night in sea areas around Hong Kong, Vietnam, Singapore and the Philippines and are quite used to evading them even in total darkness. What could be more of an issue is the amount of fish farms in this area, as they are difficult if not impossible to detect in the dark. Mostly though, we have just been quite pleased to have been able to moor somewhere, make dinner with a normal pot and pan as opposed to our pressure cooker and then have a good night’s sleep. Well…at least a night’s sleep, because naturally it isn’t always a good sleep due to the wake from fishing boats driving in and out of the working ports at night and also due to the tidal changes that are always worrisome when you are moored onto a hard – and sometimes very uneven – concrete wall filled with barnacles and other protruding bits.
The journey from Kasasa to Akune was unforgettable. We had a visit from a pod of 20-30 dolphins who swam and played around our boat for close to an hour. We have seen dolphins around our boat before (this year we saw them on the leg between Hong Kong and Subic Bay in the Philippines, and then along the coast of the Philippines, but haven’t seen any since), but never so many, so playful and for so long. It was a great show, and a great feeling to witness it from one’s own boat – it ticked one item off of everyone’s bucket list!
There is little to say about Akune and Nomozaki as such. Akune is a fairly large town of over 20,000 inhabitants, but the houses are spread out and the town has a feeling of a place that many people have moved out of and that is slowly dying. Nomozaki is much smaller, there are only around 5000 inhabitants, but we got the same feeling that it is not a place that is currently thriving. It is a pretty little town though and the access to it is very beautiful (although slightly scary) through a very narrow canyon-like entrance. Fishing seems to be the main livelihood in both towns.
If there isn’t that much to say about the towns themselves, what we can (again) say is that pretty much everyone that we met in both places has been super friendly. When we arrived in Akune, we had a hard time docking as the wind was pushing us away from the dock and we couldn’t move much forward for fear of bumping into a fishing vessel or much backward due to the water being too shallow. There were two boys fishing on the dock, and when they saw that we might need a helping hand, they rushed over (no parents around to tell them to help!) and grabbed our lines. They were extremely polite and smiling even though only barely over 10, and our girls gave them cans of cold coke and some small gifts as a thank-you. One boy then took off, only to return ten minutes later with small gifts for the girls. We also had a visit from an older gentleman who brought us a high-visibility band, presumably because he was worried that we might not otherwise be easily seen when it is dark or foggy (we have plenty of lights, and high-visibility vests, but it was a lovely gesture from him anyway). Finally, on the morning when we made our first attempt to leave Akune (more about that below), a fisherman came over to us and handed Mr Finn a mahi-mahi from his catch! Fishing is not something that we are good at at all (Mr Finn is infamous for having caught his finger on the hook some years ago when far from land between Malaysia and Vietnam), so getting such a nice “catch” was for us a very special surprise. Mahi-mahi is a seriously delicious fish, and we had a very tasty meal that day. In turn, we gave the fisherman a can of Finnish fish, although we fear that as someone used to delicious fresh fish, he may not find the “muikku” to be too tasty. But at least it will be exotic for him! It is a shame we could not bring chocolates with us when we visited Finland (if someone doesn’t know, Finnish chocolate is the world’s best!), but it would have melted in the heat already many times over.
So why did I say “our first attempt to leave Akune”? We left Akune on Saturday morning a week ago, but turned back two hours into the journey to Nomozaki. This was the first time we had to turn back on any leg. The reason for our decision to return was that we were just not making enough headway due to the wind being on our nose, and would have only arrived in Nomozaki after dark, which would have been very scary due to the narrow entrance I mentioned above. Also, the sea state was rather wild, and it was an extremely unpleasant two hours. It was frustrating to return, but after we had cooked the mahi-mahi and walked to the local grocery store for an ice cream, we were all pleased that we had chosen to go back. That feeling was further strengthened when we happened to see pufferfish right by our boat after our return – we would have otherwise missed them. The following morning, Mr Finn and I woke up at 4 am to be ready for a 5 am start. Conditions according to the weather forecast were meant to be the same as on Saturday, so we wanted to make sure we would get to Nomozaki on time. However, it was like a different sea! Light winds and small wavelets only. So much for weather forecasts again…