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Japan, Miyakojima: Our experience of Super Typhoon Neoguri

By Paul and Judy Rodenhuis — last modified Jul 14, 2014 01:29 PM
Whilst cruising Taiwan and Japan, Paul and Judy Rodenhuis aboard their yacht Meridian of Sydney, found themselves on the southerley Japanese island of Miyakojima when the typhoon hit. This is their account of how they prepared their boat and fared.

Published: 2014-07-13 23:00:00
Topics: Weather
Countries: Japan

We left Ishigaki on Wednesday July 3rd for an overnighter to Miyakojima, about 80 NM to the ENE.  On our way in, we had a quick look at Ikema, a small island north of Miykojima, joined by a bridge.  It didn't look all that inviting, just a small fishing village, so we headed south to the Hirara City Marina.

We arrived in the Hirara City marina on Thursday. On Saturday, the city official came and said we had to move because they were going to dismantle the marina! Where can we go? He suggested over on the concrete wall, behind the mega-yacht Queen Grace. So over we went and tied up with a little help from a local fisherman working on his boat. Most boats had left the marina, being small and trailerable.

On Sunday, we were talking to the crew of Queen Grace about fenders and where was a good place to be. They were going off to Ikema. The captain advised us to come to the small boat harbour in Hirara, so we took off again (with assistance from the skipper pulling Meridian's nose out from the wall with his jet-ski).

It was less than a mile to the harbour. After we tied up, again with assistance from local fishermen, we had a visit from John, an American who has lived here for 10 years. He has had plenty of experience with typhoons and how to prepare for them. Apparently we have to wait for all the fishermen to go in the inner harbour and get tied up, then we wait for the catamaran who always leaves it to the last minute, before we tie ourselves between the concrete docks, not against them. Presumably this will happen tomorrow afternoon, with the typhoon expected Tuesday morning.

Monday 7th July

We have four 50m lines which we are told aren't enough, we will have to double them up with our double-braid, but to leave a bit of slack as they won't stretch.

So far we have taken the sails down and stowed them below. The sailbag is off and will be tied down. We have to take off the cockpit covers and clears, tie down the solar panels and take the wind generator down.

When all is done, we will check out the catamaran owner's lodge for somewhere to stay. Advice is that you can't sleep with all the noise, and if anything happens, you can't do anything about it anyway.

The GRIB files this morning showed up to 60 kts on Tuesday. The other day we were looking at 40's. Who knows what we will get...

This is where we are.
http://www2.winlink.org:8081/maps/positionReports.aspx?callsign=vk2ahb

The forecast from JMA for Tuesday
<Forecast for 08/06 UTC>
Intensity Violent
Center position of probability circle N26°00'(26.0°) E126°30'(126.5°)
Direction and speed of movement N 20km/h(12kt)
Central pressure 910hPa
Maximum wind speed near the center 55m/s(105kt)
Maximum wind gust speed 75m/s(150kt)
Radius of probability circle 260km(140NM)
Storm warning area ALL500km(270N)

We are at 25N, 125E so inside the circle of probability...

We've had another busy day in Miyakojima. John, who we met yesterday took me to a hardware store/chandlery to buy some more rope, 200m of 18mm black ?polypropylene, JPY35,000. Our 4 * 50m were pitifully inadequate. Likewise the 4 * 2m of chain which had to be extended with lines.

With John's help we now have 4 lines from each corner, with Meridian sitting out in the middle between the concrete walls and docks. Some of our lines are attached to really thick lines that John had.  They are shackled onto a bowline.  Along with John's boat, there are two other yachts in our area, a couple more nearby in another harbour. We had gusts and lulls today, the most I saw was about 40kts. Outside now (9pm JST) the wind is howling but not much rain. The forecast for tomorrow is 350mm rain and wind gusts to 75m/s or about 140 kts.

The fishing boats have all tied themselves together, stern to the dock with about 30 lines going in all directions.

The TV news is all about Taifu #8, (#Neoguri) with Miyakojima specially mentioned as the predicted path is heading almost straight for us. They showed some footage of the last "Big One" 10 years ago which flattened concrete and steel power poles. All boats were sunk.

We stayed in the hotel last night and will be here for the next two at least. It will take a couple of days to get lines put away, sails put on, and a myriad of other things before we can leave for Okinawa.

We can now only hope for the best, having done all that we can.  We managed to get ashore with the dinghy, hauling ouselves along the various ropes.  A man helped us pull the dinghy up some steps and then lodged it between a container and a tree.

Tuesday 8th July

Well, it looks like it wasn't as bad as predicted. TV news this morning showed peak (I guess gust) of 44m/s or about 85kts at 4:30am. Still blowing of course but maybe we can get out this afternoon to have a look at Meridian. As it happened, Meridian suffered very little damage.  The top half of the danbuoy disappearrd, and a couple of small blocks on the lazyjacks broke.

Paul Rodenhuis
SY Meridian of Sydney

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