Cruising Report: Northern Philippines, Taiwan to Japan

Published 18 years ago, updated 5 years ago


Subic Bay, Luzon, Philippines is a good place to haul. They have a 50T travel lift if you reverse in there is no need to remove your backstay up to 50ft. The yard will try and charge you 10% for any parts you have shipped to their yard. We would advise having them shipped to the yacht club or the Hungry Marlin restaurant next door for no charge. The Hungry Marlin can also supply whole frozen tenderloins of beef at reasonable prices. All repairs are available in Subic at very good prices. Bob Fairclough at the yard is a good source of information. The yacht club/marina is very good – 24hr security, we paid about $12 a night.

It is possible to daysail almost all the way from Subic Bay, Luzon, the Philippines to mainland Japan, weather permitting certain anchorages. Bolano & Derique are 2 popular stops north on NW Luzon. We didn’t stop there & sailed straight to Ishigaki, southern islands of Okinawa, Japan.

Lan-YU, 22N/ 121.5E, a Taiwanese island can be stopped at in good weather. The NNE 3kt current causes some nasty seas around that area that can deter people from approaching it. U.S sailing directions talks of a 50ft anchorage on the western side of the island. We have friends who anchored therein 35kts and said it was very unpleasant, with a rocky bottom. The harbor is on the NE side of the island, quite small but protected. You have to tie to several fishing boats in the harbor. We are told the officials are friendly & don’t have a problem with you stopping there.

With advanced organization, it is also possible to stop at the Ken-ting marina (natal park) on the southern side of “mainland” Taiwan island. We are told the police will give you 3-4 days there without advance notice (emergency stop etc..)….. contacting the American Trade Board in Tapei can organize the special clearance. Nelson Lui ([email protected]), in Ken-ting, can help with the procedure.

The Small Craft Guide’s (harbor charts) for Japan are excellent. They are published by the Nippon Foundation & hard to obtain. Books H-808. H-809 & H 812 are for southern Japan.

Ishigaki (24.5N/ 124E) is the most southern port of entry. Under the new terrorist security laws you must get permission 24hrs in advance before being allowed into the port (ie a fax sent BEFORE you leave). They WILL keep you anchored out there for 24hrs if you don’t have it.

Resident yachtie Mike Quinn ([email protected] phone: 098-082 8727) will help with your inward clearance. The harbor has a 500ft floating pier (12ft at low water), there may be space, if not the harbor wall is ok, but do put out a breast anchor so that you can get off the wall. Customs, CG & imm. will come to the boat, Mike will help. Diesel is 95 yen a liter, you may be able to get 35% of that back by notifying customs in advance of the intended purchase. Tomatoes are 100 yen each!! If you have any narcotic medicines (morphine etc,)on board you must let customs know. There are good mechanics, hardware stores & supermarkets. This place would be ok in a typhoon but would need several 1,000ft of rope. Mike has seen 100 typhoons here. You have to fill out an outward clearance with customs for your next port, not a big deal, you just have to be organized, calling them in advance.

Ginowan Marina, Okinawa

(26° 17’N / 127° 45’E) is 13ft at low water. The channel to the marina bears left through small red & green buoys, 3 buoys down the main channel. The floating docks are new and saw a 110kt typhoon in 2004 with no problems. We paid $24 a night here. The outside docks are for guests, which are not very well protected if a storm comes… we moved into a corner space when there was a threat… they only want you to use the dock elec for 30 mins a day, I never found out the reason why. In an emergency, it would be poss. to haul here. There is a huge Yanmar dealer nearby that can get any parts needed for any system. We had our fridge compressor repaired by DENSO, who can get new HP hoses made.

It may be difficult under reciprocal immigration agreements for USA citizens to extend the 3-month immigration visa. we asked at the immigration office if typhoon shelter was enough of a reason, they said “maybe”. You can fly to Taiwan or South Korea to restart the clock. UK citizens get an additional 3 months then no more.

Ie Jima

(26° 40’N/ 127° 48’E, has a good harbor on its southern side, beautiful isl. Get navigation permission to stop there.

Okinaerabu Jima

(27° 20’N / 128° 30’E) has a harbor on the south side 12ft at low water (this is now Kagoshima province, so you need navigation permission from a different ministry of transport, they can put you in jail entering “closed” ports without permission).

Amami 0 Shima

28°N/ 129° 20’E, is one of the most beautiful islands we’ve ever been to. The port of Koniya in the fjord-like waterway is very similar to great barrier island NZ. Customs, police & CG were quick to find us. There is a non-floating yacht dock in the eastern of the 3 harbors, the entrance is just 6ft at low water, but deep inside, we didn’t go in there… Mr. Kasai (090-477 81867), VHF CH.77 “dreamy boy”, has lived there for 18yrs & will help you… He has 3 typhoon moorings in a 360 deg protected bay 3NM west of Koniya in 80ft of water. the navy & police boat has typhoon moorings here too.

Naze, the main town is a 90-minute bus (& $30 roundtrip) ride from Koniya, although you can get everything you need in Koniya. Here we did get the tax back on our diesel (35%), notifying customs in advance of the purchase.

Phillip & Denise Gibbins, Yacht Vellamo

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