Letter from Kirk Patterson August 2014

I think I last wrote you when I was moored at Dejima in late April....it was certainly a special feeling to think of Dejima's history as I guided my foreign-flagged vessel into Nagasaki harbor. From there, I sailed to Amakusa and then Goto Retto (enjoyed learning more about the Hidden Christians, including hearing about one isolated group in the mountains that still practices their faith in the way they did in the Edo Era, refusing all contact with the Catholic Church or other Christian organizations). Then I did a non-stop five-day passage (in 40-knot winds and 3-4 meter waves) to Yonaguni (Japan's westernmost point)....to Hateruma (southernmost point....so now I've gone on the outside of all four cardinal points of the Japanese archipelago, a key criterion for doing a true circumnavigation)...then up through the Ryukyu Islands (reminding me of the paper I wrote for you on the impact of politics and trade on Ryukyu culture), the highlight being a five-day visit to Kakeroma, a small island south of Amami Oshima (Kakeroma has breathtaking natural beauty but very few people)...to Kagoshima...up the east coast of Kyushu...then along the south coast of Shikoku (sat out a typhoon in Kochi)...into the Seto Inland Sea from its eastern entrance...along the north coast of Shikoku (lingering in Ehime to get new batteries installed and sit out another typhoon)...and to Beppu.

I will spend the next three months cruising the Seto Inland Sea at a leisurely pace, including joining 15-20 other boats for a one-month Setouchi International Yacht Rally. I will leave my boat somewhere and fly back to Victoria for the winter. Next spring, I plan to sail up the Pacific coast back to Hakodate to complete the circumnavigation.

The original plan was to sail back to Canada, but I'm now seriously thinking of staying in Japan for 2-3 more years to research and write a Japan cruising guide. No such guide exists, even in Japanese, and many people are strongly encouraging me to write one. If I do, I will probably come back to the Seto Inland Sea and rent a (cheap) house to serve as my base (and storage facility for lots of offshore equipment I don't need when cruising Japan). I find it difficult to write on the boat...I really need a study with a proper desk, printer, file cabinet, etc.. So I would cruise for 1-2 months, return to my base to write up the information, and then go out for another 1-2 months, etc.

The cruising guide project will, of course, incur 2-3 years of living and boat expenses, so I hope to find a sponsor. And I will need to figure out how to solve the visa problem.

My Japan and the Sea research is going well...I've collected a lot of information and developed various ideas/theories about why Japan is not a maritime culture (unlike England, for example). To a certain extent and in some ways, I now feel that Japan IS a maritime culture (or at least that one segment of the Japanese population has a maritime culture) but that did not lead the nation to see the ocean as a highway for trade, expansion, and exploration. That, in turn, has led me to ask a new question: Why are Japanese people not adventurous? Your thoughts? (I read a book last year...The Ulysses Factor: The Exploring Instinct in Man, by J.R.L. Anderson...an interesting consideration of what makes nations and individuals adventurous, but unfortunately it did not discuss Japan in any depth.)


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