Spirit of Cardiff now heads for Russia, having made her final stop in Japan

Spirit of Cardiff now heads for Russia, having made her final stop in Japan. Clive Tully reports on what has proved to be the most unpredictable leg in terms of weather and conditions?

“It’s funny. Just when you think things are going well, and you’re making good progress, along comes something else to slow you down. The weather as we’ve traversed the length of the islands of Japan has been the most changeable of the entire trip. Yesterday’s early progress was brought to a grinding halt by the evening, when we ran into a rough head sea which reduced us to a miserable five knots.

This morning, the conditions are somewhat improved, and we’re up to 20 knots again, albeit with a very bumpy and uncomfortable ride. We’re predicted more of this for the next three days – most of our journey up to Russia. So we’ve resolved to try and make our best progress during the day, when we can see where the waves are coming from, and run the boat slower at night. It’s safer that way, and everybody gets a better chance at some sleep. And if conditions improve, obviously we’ll take advantage of them.

The sun is strong through a watery blue sky, and the distant mountains of Hokkaido loom out of the mist as we close on Muroran. But appearances are deceptive. The air temperature is low – so now we have the door on the back of the cabin.

But strangely, in a final contrary stroke of fate, our final run into Muroran is in bright sunny, windless conditions. We’re met outside the harbour by a speedboat, and escorted in to Enrum Marina in Muroran.

Here the marina building sports a huge banner welcoming the Spirit of Cardiff, and a scrum of journalists and TV crews is waiting for us. We’re hosted here by Enrum Marina and Yamaha, who not only take us out to lunch but off to the shops afterwards for some essential supplies. Next stop Russia, and the Kamchatka Peninsula.”