Hayama Beach

After our epic trip down to Shimoda with its white sand beaches I got to wondering if there were any beaches like that closer to home. Yep, a little google searching led me to this article: http://edition.cnn.com/2013/05/28/travel/100-best-beaches/. Number 65 on CNN’s list of 100 best beaches worldwide is Hayama, just a few hours sail away? Time to go exploring!

I set off one weekend with a vague idea of where this fabled beach might be, determined to explore the coast until I found it. I figured it couldn’t be too hard, just sail along the coast looking for beach shacks and sunbathers.

After a leisurely sail across the bay in light winds I rounded the Miura Peninsula in a growing breeze and tacked north along the coast. There are many marinas along the peninsula and this meant many sailboats were out enjoying the clear skies and pleasant sailing. One sailboat tacked very close to me and I was worried about a collision until the skipper leaned out and hailed me across the water. In Japanese: “Is that an SS30?!”. “Yes! You’ve got a good eye!”. “I used to own one. Great boats! Wonderful to see one still sailing!”. Watari gets a lot of comments like this. It’s nice when other sailors see the same things I do in her, even though she’s still pretty rough and the restoration has a long way to go…

Anyway, we made good time and pretty soon I’d not only spotted the beach, but to my surprise and delight seen that there were a couple of other sailboats already anchored off the beach. This confirmed that it was both deep enough there for keel boats and that there was good holding. I sailed into a nice gap between two other boats, dropped the anchor and lowered sail.

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I dove on the anchor to check its holding, then swam in to the beach with a pocket full of coins. The beach was full of bikini clad sunbathers, beach huts serving cold beer and hot meals, and I could quickly see the attraction. A bit more family friendly and low-key than the bigger beaches at Enoshima, this beach had a relaxed, peaceful vibe. Apparently the emperor has had his summer villa here since 1894.

As I sat on the beach enjoying my beer I saw another small sailboat come in under sail and drop anchor. Later as I headed back to the boat I met the skipper who’d also swum ashore. He was a Scottish fellow who’d been in Japan even longer than me and had some good stories about the area. After swimming back to the boat to get some more money and turn on the anchor light (by this time the sun was setting) I swam back to the beach to have some of that delicious curry rice, a couple more cold beers, and to chat with my new friend. It was a beautiful sight watching our sailboats bobbing gently at anchor with the setting sun silhouetting Mt. Fuji directly behind them.

Later on as I swam out to Watari the sea was full of phosphorescence and lit up like fireworks. What a beautiful display! I was grateful for my presence of mind in turning on the anchor light earlier, it made Watari much easier to find in the dark.

I slept for a few hours until a forecasted shift in the wind I’d been waiting for woke me up around midnight. This was the start of a northerly breeze that would be perfect for riding home on. Not wanting to disturb the calm with my engine I raised the anchor by hand, then the sails, and slowly ghosted out onto Sagami Bay. The water was still and calm, and the phosphorescence lit up the water with the trails of multiple schools of fish. I’m always amazed by the bountiful marine life so close to Tokyo. Watari steered herself with a bungee cord on the tiller, and I lay in the cockpit looking over the side watching the light show below. Thousands of sardine sized baitfish lit up the water with trails of green light, chased by tuna sized streaks that zipped by at impressive speed. A school of fish swam with a strange jet-and-pause motion which had me confused, until I realized that they were actually foot-long squid. This spectacular show continued for hours as we slowly sailed out towards the open Pacific.

Around 03:00 I started to get very drowsy, and decided to pull into Misaki Harbour for a nap. Unfortunately I had some sort of battery trouble and couldn’t start the engine, so I had to dock under sail. The winds were so light in this well-protected shelter that I had to rock the rudder like a fishtail to propel us in the last 30 meters to the dock.

After a short, refreshing nap I headed back out across the bay. Just outside of Misaki the northerly wind built sharply to the forecasted 15 knots and I had to switch headsails from the #1 Genoa (still with a temporarily taped tear in it) to the working jib. As the wind gusted to 20 knots I had my first chance to test the new single-line reefing I’d installed, and was very happy with how easy this was to do from the cockpit. With a single reef and working jib she was perfectly balanced, with about 2 degrees of weather helm easily controlled with a bungee cord, and we zipped across the bay in our fastest crossing yet. Fun! I wished I could have stayed out on the bay longer, but I was already late for a promised date with Kiwako.

On the way back I saw my first Japanese submarine. It was steaming along on the surface and cut very close just behind me.

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Back at Katsuyama the battery was still dead so I had to sail through the harbour and into my slip through squirrelly crosswinds and eddies. We made it in without any problems though, a little feat of seamanship I was quite proud of! 🙂

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