Return visit to Okinawa

We have been back in Okinawa since Wednesday. It was with mixed feelings that we left Nagasaki. We were sad to be leaving the city that we had come to really appreciate, and the nice people in the harbour, but at the same time we were excited to be starting our return journey too. Even though we love entering new ports and it is fantastic to have been able to explore new places every step of the way up until this point, new ports are also rather stressful as we never know beforehand where and how we can berth, or whether we’ll be told to leave a particular spot to make way for fishing vessels, or whether we can refuel or get water, and so on. Therefore, it was a nice thought for a change that we would be entering a few ports that we already know.

As Dejima harbour in Nagasaki does not have any fuel dock, the journey from Nagasaki took us first to Nagasaki Sunset marina for refueling, and then onwards to Nomo Ko where we stayed overnight. From Nomo Ko, we chose to continue straight to Okinawa, a journey of some 400 nautical miles. As the weather can be unpredictable at this time of the year, we had already previously obtained permission from the Ministry of Transport to stop at several islands close to our route in case we felt that the weather would be getting a bit too much. Although the conditions varied from 20+ knots to dead calm, we thankfully never had to contemplate diverting anywhere and were able to make it to Okinawa in three nights, right before a front bringing with it stronger winds arrived.

Not only were the wind conditions mostly ok, also the temperature seemed to cooperate in the beginning. We had been praying for cooler weather since…well, the Philippines!…and were pleased to note that with the fresh breeze of the first day at sea, it was finally time to dig out our fleece jackets, warm underlayers and foul-weather gear. We even wore gloves (warmer versions than those made for sailing) and hats, and at one point during my night watch, I even put on my warm and comfortable balaclava (the rest of the family thought I was crazy though). It seemed that we had jumped straight from tropical weather to Nordic conditions, and for the first time in months, we could comfortably sleep down below while underway. The joy! The girls in particular were also thrilled to be able to spend time below deck during the day rather than just sitting in the cockpit and sweating.

Alas, the coolness and comfort was short-lived, and already on the second day out the weather started to warm up, and close to Okinawa it got really hot again. The hottest temperature that we have seen has been 29 degrees Celcius, and that is hot indeed, particularly when the sun beats down mercilessly from a cloudless sky. Locals here claim that the weather has been cooler for the past few weeks, and that it just happens that the day we arrived, a heat wave arrived too. We were not sure whether to believe them, at least until today when the temperature dropped somewhat. However, we are trying to take comfort in the fact that when we left Okinawa 3 months ago, it was still a lot hotter so it really could be worse…

Mr Finn has been carrying out repairs on the boat: a new stern light needed to be installed, engine fuel filters had to be changed and our shower sump (the device that collects the shower water and pumps it overboard) broke so he’s now installed the second of two spares we brought with us…let’s hope it will see us through to Hong Kong. Our lockers are already bursting with new supplies and our salty laundry has been washed. Basically, we are now just waiting for a weather window to continue onwards. Getting to Hong Kong looks really challenging though, as it appears that the monsoon is more consistent than normally at this time of the year, meaning storm force winds and high waves particularly around Taiwan. We are once again checking marine weather forecasts several times a day…

Cooler weather on the way!
Back in Ginowan marina on Okinawa. It isn’t cold here.

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