The following post is from comments left on this blog by friend and fellow sailor Wolfgang. This is very useful info for anyone visiting Oshima, so I’ve included his comments as their own post.
Wolfgang’s former sailboat Bengel moored to the seawall at Nomashi port:
great to read that you got lucky with some whales! I’ve been back and forth between Katsuyama and Oshima quite a number of times, but never saw any humpbacks. (Saw lots of them in Australia though, and I know that it’s hard to get a good photo even if they’re not that far away.) Once I did come across a nice placid ツチクジラ (beaked whale) off Tateyama.
About Okata harbor in Oshima: there is a harbor basin a bit further in besides the ferry wharf, where you can actually enter and tie up for a night or so. I’ve seen fairly large yachts in there, so I think you should be alright with your draft. But when the weather is calm, as it apparently was for you, there’s no need to go inside, unless you want to grab some food etc. There are three other harbors on Oshima, each with different advantages/disadvantages.
Evan – Hi Wolfgang, thank you for the tip on the harbour at Okata! I should have gone in closer for a better look. If I’d known there was an inner harbour I’d have gone ashore for a look around. Or perhaps not on that trip, I was ready for that nap 😉 Next time.
What are the various advantages and disadvantages of the other harbours on Oshima?
Wolfgang – The other three are Motomachi, Nomashi, and Habu (you can look up their locations on the chart).
Motomachi is where the ferry docks in case of strong northerly or easterly winds (when Okata is too rough).
South of the ferry warf, there is a fairly large and well protected harbor basin, subdivided by another wall. The innermost part is very calm in most any kind of weather. Pleasure boats visiting Oshima often tie up there, but as usual, you may have to share the space with the local fishing boats. The entrance to that basin and some other parts of the harbor are quite shallow though, so it might be necessary to watch the tides.
From Motomachi harbor, it’s an easy walk to restaurants, shops, and a gas station, and also a bus stop for moving around the island. For an o-furo dip, ask for a ryokan called Akamon (if I remember correctly) which has a nice onsen with outdoor space and doesn’t cost much. There’s also a public onsen place walking north and up the hill from the ferry warf. That one has a nice view over the sea, but it’s “modern style” mixed bathing, meaning you’ll need to don swimwear.
Less than a mile south of Motomachi is Nomashi, my favorite. It’s smaller and less frequented than Motomachi (except at o-bon etc.) and the people there are very welcoming. One can tie up to the inside of the seawall, with plenty of water depth, and just outside of the harbor there is good snorkeling. When approaching Nomashi from the north, just to be on the safe side, don’t hug the shore. Stay a bit off and head in when you’re about level with the tip of the seawall. You won’t be able to see inside until you’ve rounded that tip, so watch for boats coming out. (All just common sense, really, and it usually isn’t busy anyway.) The above described attractions of Motomachi are also within walking distance of Nomashi (it’s just a bit further).
On the southern tip of the island is Habu. I’ve only visited it once and didn’t stay overnight, so I can’t offer much by way of tips in that regard. It’s a fairly long inlet but somewhat exposed to southern swells, I gather. One can tie up and go ashore at the far end (water depth is not a problem all the way in). It might be good as a stopover when heading to the other islands of the Izu islands chain, such as Toshima, Niijima, or Shikine (my favorite).
Anyway, wherever you go, happy sailing!
Here’s another pic with Bengel from last weekend, rafted up next to the large fishing vessel: