Saturday, June 6, 2009

Finding A Home

During the last two months, our friends have been asking what has become of Bluesette and when she will have her maiden voyage. Good questions!

Our answer has been to please be patient. We needed to have the trailer inspected and licensed, but before that we needed a trailer hitch receiver for the car. Ah, but we were waiting for a new car before ordering the hitch receiver (so as not to pay for two - one for the old car and one for the new). In the mean time, we were looking into clubs in the area. You see, in Ibaraki, there are no public launching ramps on the lakes that can accommodate a boat of this size, so one must join a club (or in some cases pay a visitor fee) to have access.

A Yamaha "Sea Hopper" on Lake Hinuma

There are four prospects in our area, two on Kasumigaura lake, one on Kitaura and one on Hinuma. We visited each and checked into costs, access to them, the launching facilities, the kinds of boating going on at each place, club amenities, and so on.

No two clubs are the same. Distances vary from twenty minutes to an hour or more by car. Costs vary considerably as well as the facilities offered. Another important factor is the scenery. After all, we want to enjoy the view.

After weighing all the factors, we chose Hinuma Yacht Harbor on the south shore of lake Hinuma.

Lake Hinuma

Hinuma is a small lake to our north, just south of Mito City, and I have often admired it from the train on the way to and from Mito City. The lake has several tributaries and empties into the ocean near Oarai to the northeast. Very much smaller than Kasumigaura or even Kitaura at about 9 km long and 2 km wide, it is still plenty big for dingy sailing and actually offers somewhat better views along its shores and of some mountains about 20 km to the West.

The Hinuma Yacht Harbor is behind this beautiful farm house.

The first time we visited to check it out, K had an Ibaraki International Association lecture to attend in Mito City in the morning, so I stayed home to do some chores, then rode my bike a few kilometers to Koyadai station and took the Kashima Rinkai Oarai line to Hinuma station. It is just 1.8 km from there to the yacht club. I will leave a bicycle at Hinuma station so that I can get there easily on my own if K is busy elsewhere. There are trains each way about every 40 minutes. The area is quite nice with lots of rice fields, picturesque houses, resorts and camping parks fronting the lake. I had a chance to walk around the club and check things out a bit before K arrived.

We liked it. Built in 1972, Hinuma Yacht Harbor has a mix of fishing boats and sail boats, mostly the latter and most of those Yamaha Sea Hoppers, Lasers, and the like. Other types are in the size range of Bluesette and larger. They operate a sailing school during the summer and hold races on Sundays.

The club is open every day except Tuesday and if that falls on a national holiday, they are open and will close the day after. They have two launching ramps, one for the hand launching of smaller boats, and another for larger boats which uses a cable and winch system to lower the carrier or trailer down the ramp to launch the boat and retrieve it. This is also faster as it does away with a long queue of vehicles waiting to use the ramp. Bluesette would use the winch system as she weighs about 140 kg plus the trailer.

Winds on the lake come off the nearby ocean from the northeast and are typically 4 to 8 knots, sometimes higher. That's about perfect for us.

The launch system means a lot for us, as our trailer is actually a bit of a problem. You see, a trailer made in California does not meet specifications for use in Japan. The requirements are based on what the trailer is rated to carry as well as its legnth - not on how much you are actually carrying. Having a nice, somewhat "overbuilt" trailer like ours results in more requirements than a light weight Lido 14 trailer rated for a lighter load and being a bit shorter would be subject to. Sigh. I would need to rewire ours with additional amber turn signal lights, white back up lights and possibly even have to add brakes to it.

Also, the car would need an expensive custom hitch receiver, the trailer would need bi-annual inspections, annual license fees, insurance and so on. Hinuma club obviates those problems because we can leave the boat at the club and not worry about any of the trailer's legal issues and on-going costs. We will hire someone just to deliver the boat to the club and be done with it. Besides all that, the hitch receiver would add about 12 kg (26 lbs) to the weight of K's car - which is not an insignificant amount to be lugging around all the time for no reason while trying to hyper-mile her Insight. This also means K doesn't need to learn to maneuver a car and trailer. (For new readers' information, by choice I don't drive - my "car" is a bicycle and public transportation, and K drives a new Honda Insight hybrid.) All of these things were anticipated, of course, but finding a way around them by storing the boat at the lake is a big relief.

The Kashima Rinkai Oarai train

Hinuma is about about 45 to 55 minutes by car. If I go by bike and train, it's a total of about a 65 minutes.

This Saturday past (June 6) we again went to Hinuma - this time together in K's car - and joined the club. We spent about two hours there discussing the details and getting a tour of all the facilities. In addition to the boat storage, ramps, and club house, they have a nautical supply store, lockers and shower rooms.

We tried out different routes with the car (first my choice and then K's) and found that K's route takes a little longer but has wider, smoother roads with fewer stops, so is easier on both car and driver and offers the best fuel efficiency - she got over 27.5 kpl (65 mpg) on that route vs 26.5 on mine.

Next week, we'll arrange to have Bluesette moved to the lake by truck and, weather permitting, have her maiden voyage.

Bluesette has a home port!

Mama's Kitchen

On both trips we stopped at a restaurant near the club on the way home and enjoyed a wonderful lunch. It is called "Mama's Kitchen", and is run by two women (mother/daughter?) - one of whom waits the tables while the other cooks. Very tasty food. The first time K had a big plate of beef (she doesn't get to eat meat at home) and I had angel hair pasta with broccoli and other veggies. We each had pasta the second time; K's was Carbonada, and mine was with squid and asparagus. Only ¥1000 each (about 10 bucks US) including a nice salad bar, a desert of either ice cream or cheesecake with chiffon cake and fruit, and beverage. If you're ever in the area (perhaps sailing with us on Bluesette?) be sure to stop in at Mama's Kitchen.

Next post - maiden voyage!


HappySurfer said...

I am all excited and looking forward to reading your sailing adventures. I agree, the view is important.

Thanks for the recommendation on "Mama's Kitchen". The food sounds great.

Pandabonium said...

Congratulations and a big thank you for being the first to comment on this blog HappySurfer.

I hope we can fill this blog with fun adventures (and talk about some good food). ;^)

Anonymous said...

Sailing and food, sounds like the good life there.

Storing it must be better than having to drive it around. Plus it makes it easier for you to go and sail whenever you feel like it. Do they have any plans for typhoon or other extreme weather?

Lovely view with the mountain range in the distance. Can't wait ;)


Pandabonium said...

MF - They have tie downs for keeping boats from moving around in extreme weather and also recommended that any masts which are up be taken down if a storm approaches.

Sailing and good food - hard to beat that. Hope to welcome you aboard soon.

Don Snabulus said...

Exciting PB! I am looking forward to her maiden voyage. I am very happy for you.

bonnie said...

Hooray! I'm so excited for you guys!

ladybug said...

Sorry I haven't gotten here before, but I'm very exited to hear about your "Blusette"...and all the hard work it's been just to get it to you in Japan...and yes, not having to cart it around to do your sailing everytime will be nice.

Pandabonium said...

Don - thanks. It will be my escape.

Bonnie - I've been dreaming and talking about it long enough. Finally time to get on the water.

Ladybug - thanks for checking in. I hope to have some pictures of us actually sailing soon.

Robin said...

Good food, great price and wonderful company..

what else can one ask?

Pandabonium said...

Robin - yes indeed.

HappySurfer said...

Dear Pandabonium, thank you. I am honoured.

I wish you and K endless joy and happiness on Bluesette.

Pandabonium said...

Thanks very much Happy! Sorry about the comment moderation thing. I don't know why that was on. :p