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Old 02-01-2006, 19:27   #1
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Sail Guam ? Sail Japan ?

My daughter just returned today, safe thankfully, from a tour of teaching English in South Korea.

On the way home she spent some time in Japan and in Guam, which got me wondering....

"Why do I never see any mention anywhere of cruisers visiting either of those places in their sailboats?"

I would think Japan would be a very interesting place to visit, and that staying aboard your own boat in port cities would be an economical way to visit what I understand is a very expensive country.

Sorry about putting this in the wrong category.
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Old 03-01-2006, 08:02   #2
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I spent 4 yrs on Guam and 2 in Japan.

Guam is a beautiful place that has the misfortune of being centered on the track of most typhoons. Plus there are limited safe harbors due to its rugged coastline. When I was last there (1990) there were but 3 marinas and plans to open another on the south end of the island.

Being 3,000 miles from Hawaii doesn't help either.. it's just too far out of the way to attract circumnavigators. My feeling is that people sail to Guam as a destination vice an enroute stop.

Japan's lattitude makes for a short cruising season in the northern part of the country. It also makes approaching from the south a long beat into the wind. Many nice harbors and islands to explore once you get there. VERY high cost of living as the Yen to US$ exchange rate is in the low 100s per dollar. Okinawa is very tropical and likely worth the trip.

I'm sure others on this board have more experience with cruising Japan than I.
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Old 03-01-2006, 08:15   #3
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I researched this recently as my son stands a chance of being stationed on Guam. A read thru Cornell's _World Cruising Routes_ gave me one answer; there simply is no certain season when the risk of typhoons is absent. Moreover, as Mark points out there are limited ways to obtain protection. I also corresponded with a small number of folks who've cruised in Guam waters and, while it may be a biased sample, every one of them suffered storm damage while based there.

Japan's season does not appear to be any shorter than that of N Europe, where sailing is a huge past-time. However, the weather is less attractive (lots of fog and no Gulf Stream to influence temps and steer lows to the N) and, again, the non-storm season is very short. How tough it is to reach Japan depends on where you are coming from and in which months; you can make it less of a windward trek if you're willing to accept more exposure to storms...altho' what a choice.

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Old 03-01-2006, 09:01   #4
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Experience generates bias, and (often) strong opinions.
Don’t discount experienced opinions, merely because they exhibit a point of view, which is often hard-earned.
I’m certain Jack values those “biased” opinions.
I've NEVER suffered any damage in Guam, or anywhere in the S. Pacific. Of course, I've never been there.

“... I also corresponded with a small number of folks who've cruised in Guam waters and, while it may be a biased sample, every one of them suffered storm damage while based there ...”
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Old 03-01-2006, 11:05   #5
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Jack - if your son may be stationed there another marina opportunity arises. The Navy base at Apra Harbor has a very sheltered marina open to those who are authorized patrons of US military facilities. Most typhoons hit the island from the east, and this marina is on the sheltered west side of the island.

Facilities are acceptable - I know one family from Hawaii who lived aboard at this marina for the duration of the father's tour. Has a large area for dry storage and DIY work, but no travel-lift so you'd have to hire a crane locally. Best of all is the marina bar atop the office building that overlooks the basin & entrance channel.

Another option is that way up into the harbor, past the commercial piers (again Apra Harbor) is a well-protected area among the mangroves. Used to be a rather derelict liveaboard area last time I was through there, but it provides good shelter.

Here's a link that shows Apra Harbor... the Naval Station marina is the smaller basin between the inner harbor area and the ship at anchor in the outer harbor. The patch of light blue water...
http://www.guam.navy.mil/navalbaseguam.htm
The commercial port lies off to the right (north) of this picture.

I miss the place... diving visibility in the outer harbor was 80ft on a BAD day, the WWII underwater national park is there... many shipwrecks to explore and an incredible wall dive 40 yards off the beach.

Hope you and/or your son get a chance to see the island in person!
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Old 03-01-2006, 12:36   #6
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Guam and Japan

I agree with Mark and PJ that Guam is probably too far out in the middle of the deep blue to be an attraction to cruisers. That in itself could be an attraction to anyone who wants to get off the beaten path. Other than the first-rate diving, the WWII history and the biggest K-Mart in the Pacific, there's not a lot I would recommend about Guam. When I was last there, I found the prices exhorbitant (gouging by the hospitality sector); this was during the Japanese recession, and the hotels/bars were empty. Guam is very popular with Japanese tourists, and they evidently feel they have as much to offer as Hawaii, so they price accordingly. If you are going to be in the neighbourhood though, you should definately stop at Saipan and Tinian, again for the diving and WWII stuff.

Japan is awesome - I've only been there on big boats, but I seem to recall there were plenty of facilities for yachts. Kure is close to Hiroshima, which is a "must see". If you plan to go into Tokyo Wan, you will definately want advice on the right time to do it. Went into Yokosuka twice - the first three harbour transits were uneventful with moderate traffic; the last trip leaving Yokosuka, the channel out of the harbour resembled a twelve-lane superhighway at rush hour - it was wall-to-wall steel with everything from coasties to Panamaxes not more than a couple hundred yards from each other. Of course most cruisers could use the inshore zone, but then you're playing dodge'em with the fishing boats...
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Old 25-01-2013, 07:54   #7
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Re: Sail Guam ? Sail Japan ?

I shipped on the MPS ships out of Guam in late 1980's and again in 94-95. Always had to run from the Typhoons. I lived on Saipan from 94-99, and experienced three good strong typhoons there. There are sail boats in the Marianas. The Marinas chain of islands would definately be interesting. We lost our ships anchor in MAUG which is second island from the top of the chain, around 20 N longitude. We intended to anchor inside the submerged volcano in the island of MAUG, but the chain slilpped, dragged the anchor down to an abyss. Missed opportunity to go diving and snorkeling. We were enroute back from Sasebo Japan. I think the Captain may have taken some heat over it. We weren't really supposed to be there. Then, with same Captain, we got hit on the side of our vessel pulling into Manila bay later that year or was it earlier? I was on the M/V 2nd Lt. Jack Lummus. I first went to Guam on board the M/V William R. Button in 1988. The Marianas chain of islands has some interesting volcanic features like the island of PAGAN. Definately nice sailing. Just watch for typhoons during the season like June through November, just like here in the Gulf coast of the U.S. I zipped with these ships to Okinawa, Korea, Japan, Marinas, Philippines, and across the Pacific Ocean, passing up the Panama Canal, Islas Reveligegedos, such as Socorro Island, Hawaii, between the big Island and Maui and on to Guam. Guam has a yacht club and so does Saipan. They have some sail boat race every year from Guam to ROTA which is the island to the north, and very pretty too.
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Old 25-01-2013, 08:46   #8
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Re: Sail Guam ? Sail Japan ?

I was just in Guam two years ago. I was there just two weeks, although I was planning to live there, the job fell through. I found the people very friendly. I only found two places to moor if you aren't in the military.


There is the hurricane anchorage near the power plant and a new marina cut out of the reef near Pugachao down south. This latter would not be a place to be in a storm as there is no shelter when the seas are up.

The Navy marina is VERY NICE. So those folks stationed there who sail for pleasure are blessed.

I was thinking it would be nice to sail up the Mariana chain to Japan, but then I didn't take the chance.
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Old 25-01-2013, 09:40   #9
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Re: Sail Guam ? Sail Japan ?

Connie and I have spent some time in the Marianas. We loved it there ! we found the peaple there to be kind and happy!! they love to party! heck they even have birthday partys for folks long dead !LOL (now thats a party place!) you must of course watch the weather! but the cruiseing is great, fishing great, folks great, food good ! Lots of places to anchor away from everybody ! As far as Japan is concerned, been there in the 80s, found it to be to busy for us but a very photo positive place but SO EXPENSIVE !! Would go back to the Marinanas again, but Im sure we will never return to Japan ! Just are 2 cents
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Old 25-01-2013, 10:28   #10
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Re: Sail Guam ? Sail Japan ?

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Originally Posted by 29palms View Post
I shipped on the MPS ships out of Guam in late 1980's and again in 94-95. Always had to run from the Typhoons. I lived on Saipan from 94-99, and experienced three good strong typhoons there. There are sail boats in the Marianas. The Marinas chain of islands would definately be interesting. We lost our ships anchor in MAUG which is second island from the top of the chain, around 20 N longitude. We intended to anchor inside the submerged volcano in the island of MAUG, but the chain slilpped, dragged the anchor down to an abyss. Missed opportunity to go diving and snorkeling. We were enroute back from Sasebo Japan. I think the Captain may have taken some heat over it. We weren't really supposed to be there. Then, with same Captain, we got hit on the side of our vessel pulling into Manila bay later that year or was it earlier? I was on the M/V 2nd Lt. Jack Lummus. I first went to Guam on board the M/V William R. Button in 1988. The Marianas chain of islands has some interesting volcanic features like the island of PAGAN. Definately nice sailing. Just watch for typhoons during the season like June through November, just like here in the Gulf coast of the U.S. I zipped with these ships to Okinawa, Korea, Japan, Marinas, Philippines, and across the Pacific Ocean, passing up the Panama Canal, Islas Reveligegedos, such as Socorro Island, Hawaii, between the big Island and Maui and on to Guam. Guam has a yacht club and so does Saipan. They have some sail boat race every year from Guam to ROTA which is the island to the north, and very pretty too.
Hafi dia and the rest Chamooro! I have lived on and sailed the Islands of Micronisa several times in the past 20 some odd yrs and continue to have business dealings with Guam ,Siapan and other islands that have US military installations,I for one like the place but never thought that Rota or Tinian were pretty! Nothing there but a few cattle ranches and the soon to be built Casino on Tinian(you can still see the bomb pit where they loaded the A-bombs on to Enola Gay for the war)!I was the first Hanglider and Paraglider pilot to launch from "Suicide Cliff" in Siapan! This area is soon to be thrust into the limelight as things heat up for "Americas return to the Pacific Rim"..There are lots and lots of financial opportunitys opeaning up for Americans in this part of the world and the sailing is fantastic,from Siapan to Chucck to Palau..There is not much in the way of services for sailors and help is far and away from most parts of the world...It would be a great place for someone with a disire to start a sailing business to go to due to the under utilized and growing demand for all things sailing in the fast paced and growing middle classes of East Aisan countrys...Winds are constent and strong and the islands to the south of Guam are places that have not been developed and still have a lot of their culture still intact...A lot of these places are "Free societys" (look up Margret Mead and read some of her writings on the Micronisian Islands and her meaning of "Free Society")If a person is inclined to sit back and move at a slower pace,where time means very little and love means alot then this is a place for you! Culture shock takes on a new meaning in this part of the world,where beautiful young women have long black hair a waist sorong with a bare chest ,and when they talk to a man it is in song! Women are not allowed to approach men when they are sitting down and they are not permitted to call out your name or talk until they are recognized to do so! Guam has lost most of its former culture,but still has a lot of interesting things to do and see and is a great springboard for jumping off to all of Asia and the great places on the other side of the world...Guam is called the "melting pot of America" and rightfully so as there are folks from PIs,China,Japan,Indonesia,Aulstralia,Korea,India etc..It is a place where lots of folks wanting to move to America go until they can get residence status on the mainland...Wonderful places and smiling faces...
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Old 25-01-2013, 11:15   #11
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Re: Sail Guam ? Sail Japan ?

Don't know if they have a blog or if it's posted somewhere on the net, but a youngish couple cruised Japan and loved it. Foreign yachts are rare and they were adopted by the local boating community most places they went. They pretty much stayed away from the huge cities and soaked up the local culture. It's been quite awhile since I read their comments but a search might turn it up. Also check the Seven Seas Cruising Ass'n. Their archives should have something though don't know if the information is available to non members.

A native of Guam told me they classify storms by what gets knocked down, Banana Typhoons being the mildest.
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Old 25-01-2013, 18:39   #12
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Re: Sail Guam ? Sail Japan ?

I thought Tinian along the suicide cliff area to the south east of the island was pretty interesting. I remember looking down the blue ocean from the cliff and I could see a giant turtle swimming in the waves. The coral around San Jose village was pretty interesting snorkeling. But you are right, Tinian in itself is not as beautiful as say Saipan. I've hiked Mount Tapagchao, on Saipan several times from the Last Japanese command post. They've made it pretty much a trail now with pull up bars along the way, and other things for excercises. Rota has a pretty rocky coral reef with interesting ship wrecks, very tropical look. Definately interesting to see if you've never set foot there. Guam is probably the neatest with its mountainous terrain and coves. (But I like Saipan the best.)
I've shipped to Sasebo Japan and Okinawa several times. One time we hung out for 45 days in Northern Hokaido in October, where we got some nice clean cool air. Don't know the extent of why we were there but it was some kind of military excercise we did along with the Navy.
I am familiar with the Navy marina and bar there. Forgot the old name of that area but that is where the original base started some time back. Aprah harbor was my home for at least every time we came into Guam, which at first was like one week out of the month for a year. Then more like 2 weeks per month later. Sometimes we would cruise off the coast of Guam for a week out of the month when I first went there. I liked the old Seaman's club there but when I returned in 1994, they tore it down and opened up the seaman's club where the old USO club used to be. There was a place on the West coast of the island called PIRATE COVE. or something like that, where they did some kayaking or some club like that. The bar looked like the hull of a boat. I spent a total of 7 years on the Marianas off and on. from 1988-89 and 1994-99.
I also had the pleasure to personally know GUY GABALDON. Being former USMC myself, this was something quite interesting. Not only did he have noteriety from WWII, but he was actually a very nice guy. I even flew in his personal cessna with him piloting the aircraft. From Tinian to Saipan.
My ship the MV Lummus went to Iwo Jima's 50th anniversary of that battle. We went there in March of 1995. Ironically, we were asked to go because our ship MV JACK LUMMUS was named after a medal of honor winner that was killed there. I got to go on shore on our ZODIAK with our crew members.
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Old 25-01-2013, 18:53   #13
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Re: Sail Guam ? Sail Japan ?

We shipped once from Guam through the Philippine Sea and three days later, arrived in the Philippine Islands. We sailed through the San Bernandino Straits, and onto the SIBUYAN SEA. Has anyone ever been there? It was neat cruising through those islands. It was hotter than hell I remember sweating like a dog. The next morning, we arrived in Manila bay to the tone of being hit on our side of the ship, on the port side. Put a big hole in it, but above the water line. Time frame was around Feb of 1995. I have a news paper article I saved written by a local news paper about our mishap in the harbor. They sent a team of Filipino laborors and some were only wearing sandles, welding this huge patch of steel on the side of our vessel. Impressive to see this kind of labor with little regard to personal safety. They did an excellent job too.
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Old 26-01-2013, 10:19   #14
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Re: Sail Guam ? Sail Japan ?

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I thought Tinian along the suicide cliff area to the south east of the island was pretty interesting. I remember looking down the blue ocean from the cliff and I could see a giant turtle swimming in the waves. The coral around San Jose village was pretty interesting snorkeling. But you are right, Tinian in itself is not as beautiful as say Saipan. I've hiked Mount Tapagchao, on Saipan several times from the Last Japanese command post. They've made it pretty much a trail now with pull up bars along the way, and other things for excercises. Rota has a pretty rocky coral reef with interesting ship wrecks, very tropical look. Definately interesting to see if you've never set foot there. Guam is probably the neatest with its mountainous terrain and coves. (But I like Saipan the best.)
I've shipped to Sasebo Japan and Okinawa several times. One time we hung out for 45 days in Northern Hokaido in October, where we got some nice clean cool air. Don't know the extent of why we were there but it was some kind of military excercise we did along with the Navy.
I am familiar with the Navy marina and bar there. Forgot the old name of that area but that is where the original base started some time back. Aprah harbor was my home for at least every time we came into Guam, which at first was like one week out of the month for a year. Then more like 2 weeks per month later. Sometimes we would cruise off the coast of Guam for a week out of the month when I first went there. I liked the old Seaman's club there but when I returned in 1994, they tore it down and opened up the seaman's club where the old USO club used to be. There was a place on the West coast of the island called PIRATE COVE. or something like that, where they did some kayaking or some club like that. The bar looked like the hull of a boat. I spent a total of 7 years on the Marianas off and on. from 1988-89 and 1994-99.
I also had the pleasure to personally know GUY GABALDON. Being former USMC myself, this was something quite interesting. Not only did he have noteriety from WWII, but he was actually a very nice guy. I even flew in his personal cessna with him piloting the aircraft. From Tinian to Saipan.
My ship the MV Lummus went to Iwo Jima's 50th anniversary of that battle. We went there in March of 1995. Ironically, we were asked to go because our ship MV JACK LUMMUS was named after a medal of honor winner that was killed there. I got to go on shore on our ZODIAK with our crew members.
I didnt realize that they had a "suicide cliff" on Tinian also..the one I launched from was on the NE side of Siapan(Garapan I belive)...Its been a couple of yrs.since I was there ... Lots of Japanese memorials,large urns with incense burning,red ribbons with messages,Two man tanks,small gauge railroad tracks to service the rice plantations,small arms,bombs,Two toed tennis shoes,crates for giant snails,big shore guns pointing out to sea,and of course lots and lots of caves...Hell of a place for military minded people!
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Old 26-01-2013, 13:53   #15
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Re: Sail Guam ? Sail Japan ?

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I thought Tinian along the suicide cliff area to the south east of the island was pretty interesting. I remember looking down the blue ocean from the cliff and I could see a giant turtle swimming in the waves. The coral around San Jose village was pretty interesting snorkeling. But you are right, Tinian in itself is not as beautiful as say Saipan. I've hiked Mount Tapagchao, on Saipan several times from the Last Japanese command post. They've made it pretty much a trail now with pull up bars along the way, and other things for excercises. Rota has a pretty rocky coral reef with interesting ship wrecks, very tropical look. Definately interesting to see if you've never set foot there. Guam is probably the neatest with its mountainous terrain and coves. (But I like Saipan the best.)
I've shipped to Sasebo Japan and Okinawa several times. One time we hung out for 45 days in Northern Hokaido in October, where we got some nice clean cool air. Don't know the extent of why we were there but it was some kind of military excercise we did along with the Navy.
I am familiar with the Navy marina and bar there. Forgot the old name of that area but that is where the original base started some time back. Aprah harbor was my home for at least every time we came into Guam, which at first was like one week out of the month for a year. Then more like 2 weeks per month later. Sometimes we would cruise off the coast of Guam for a week out of the month when I first went there. I liked the old Seaman's club there but when I returned in 1994, they tore it down and opened up the seaman's club where the old USO club used to be. There was a place on the West coast of the island called PIRATE COVE. or something like that, where they did some kayaking or some club like that. The bar looked like the hull of a boat. I spent a total of 7 years on the Marianas off and on. from 1988-89 and 1994-99.
I also had the pleasure to personally know GUY GABALDON. Being former USMC myself, this was something quite interesting. Not only did he have noteriety from WWII, but he was actually a very nice guy. I even flew in his personal cessna with him piloting the aircraft. From Tinian to Saipan.
My ship the MV Lummus went to Iwo Jima's 50th anniversary of that battle. We went there in March of 1995. Ironically, we were asked to go because our ship MV JACK LUMMUS was named after a medal of honor winner that was killed there. I got to go on shore on our ZODIAK with our crew members.
Jeffs Pirates Cove (Yipan )Great Kite Surfing,Hangliding,Paragliding and Talafofo Beach(one of best sandbar surf breaks in the world)...
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