Spirit of Cardiff in Japanese waters

Clive Tully reports from the record-breaking RIB, Spirit of Cardiff, as they speed northwards through the Pacific...

Clive Tully reports from the record-breaking RIB, Spirit of Cardiff, as they speed northwards through the Pacific…

“There’s a distinct change in climate as we move further northwards through the Pacific. It’s still warm, but a lot more cloudy, with occasional bursts of rain – certainly very welcome after several weeks of blistering heat.

We arrive in Naha on the Japanese island of Okinawa at around 9pm local time, where we’re greeted by John Perez and Tom Mekuhara. John is an American living here with his Japanese wife.

“It’s an interesting place,” he explains. “It’s the birthplace of karate, and the American influence has left its mark (it was US territory for a long while, and they still have a large base here). Tourists come here from the mainland because it’s the closest many Japanese can get to experiencing a different kind of culture without leaving their own country.” Things certainly seem to be more laid back here compared with the high-powered go-gettem nature of mainland Japan.

We’re unable to refuel until the morning, so we make an evening of it in the marina restaurant, with John, his wife and children, Tom, and a few of their friends. We’re presented with some fine Okinawa baseball caps, and we each have a beautiful bowl made of coconut.

We refuel in the morning, and complete the usual formalities – the boat is inspected by customs and quarantine officials, and we fill in a few forms. All too soon, it’s time to depart. If there’s one big regret of this trip, it’s having to say goodbye to the many wonderful friends we’ve made around the world, and we certainly feel that way when it comes to bidding farewell to John and Tom.

In the meantime, it’s back to the confines of the boat, where Alan and I both admit we’re not feeling too well. It’s the old gippy tummy again, and nothing to do with our Okinawa stopover – we’d both been feeling somewhat out of sorts before we arrived.

So now we’re under way for Choshi, not far from Yokohama on the main Japanese island of Honshu. At around 850 miles, it should take us something over two days, although we’re in not terribly good weather at the moment, so we may be a little slower.”


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