Exploring Okinawa, Japan, on a Fountaine Pajot Lucia 40
Ocean Nomad’s adventurous young owners tested themselves and their Fountaine Pajot Lucia 40 as they headed east of Taiwan to explore the stunning islands across Japan’s Okinawa Prefecture, sailing for almost four weeks before being forced home.
The spirit of adventure is still alive and well in Kaohsiung where the owners of a Fountaine Pajot Lucia 40, Ocean Nomad, extended their longest journey aboard their yacht from a couple of days to 26 earlier this year, having completed their first sailing trip outside of Taiwan.
All in their late 20s, Lin Yu-yang (‘Yang’), Lee Chien-yu (‘Yo’) and Lee Yu-hsiu (‘Kevin’) are friends and also partners in YeMan Sailing, the company that owns the charter boat and is also a popular social media platform, with over 16,000 Likes on Facebook as of mid-June, as well as Instagram and YouTube channels.
“We love the ocean and the sailing life, exploring the coastline and taking our clients with us. Our goal is to let people in Taiwan know more about our ocean and promote this kind of lifestyle,” says the tall, goateed Yang, the main videographer, a selfie-stick lover and the driving force behind the voyage to Japan.
“Another reason we bought a sailboat is to travel around the world. We hope we can encourage everyone to be more adventurous and dare to take risks.”
The group describe themselves as ‘Taiwan’s first ocean adventure YouTubers’, while the Chinese name of the company loosely translates as ‘barbaric tribe’.
However, until exploring Okinawa – Japan’s southernmost prefecture – during an almost four-week trip, the longest offshore trip they had made was a day’s sail from Kaohsiung to Dongji island in the Penghu archipelago in the Taiwan Strait.
EXPLORING SOUTHWEST TAIWAN
After ordering the Lucia 40 (hull number 221) in 2018, Ocean Nomad was delivered in July 2019 to Kaohsiung – the hub of yacht building in Taiwan – where it’s an active charter boat, sailing south of Kaohsiung to the likes of Xiao Liuqiu (Little Liuqiu or Lambai Island), north to Tainan City or as far northwest as Penghu.
“We often look for an anchorage to stay overnight at sea,” says Yang. “This summer we’ll search for more great anchorages around Taiwan.”
Before committing full-time to YeMan Sailing, Yang used to run a small business in Taipei, Yo was a technology project manager and Kevin was an HR manager. Of the three, Kevin has the most sailing
experience, having been an RYA-certified dinghy instructor for five years, so he played a key role on the Japan trip.
The original plan was to sail as far north as Kyushu and explore more of Japan, but with the onset of Covid-19 closing in, they decided “We often look for an anchorage to stay overnight at sea,” says Yang. “This summer we’ll search for more great anchorages around Taiwan.
”Yo was a little nervous ahead of the trip, as was the fourth member of the crew, Yang’s dad Chih-hsin (‘Hsin’) who’s in his late 50s and had little sailing experience.
“This was our first time sailing to another country and Yo and my dad were very anxious about this unknown adventure. The only thing we could all think of is that we’re gonna vomit a lot,” smiled Yang, who admitted Kevin took on one of the key responsibilities.
“Yu-hsiu is the only one who can cook in big waves and doesn’t get seasick, so he was responsible for all the meals. During the trip, we mostly ate simple food like instant noodles, fruit and juice, and sometimes beer.”
SETTING SAIL FOR MIYAKO-JIMA
The team spent time training for the big adventure and also preparing the boat, even equipping it with solar panels that were able to power most household items except the watermaker and airconditioners.
After taking a couple of days to sail from Kaohsiung to Hualin on Taiwan’s east coast, the team’s first port of call in Japan was Miyako Island (Miyako-jima), 200nm to the east. The guys were up and running, and loving what they were seeing, but the restrictions enforced due to the coronavirus plagued them early in their trip.
“In Miyako, there are a bunch of beautiful beaches like Yonaha Maehama, Shigara and Sawada, and we thought there would be definitely a lot of great anchorages,” says Yang.
“Unfortunately, because of the coronavirus, the local coast guard didn’t let us leave the port. We ended up renting a car and looked around the island. There are a lot of restaurants and supermarkets on the island, and we weren’t far from Hirara Port, so our bikes also helped a lot.”
Jumping into water is the tradition of the Ocean Nomad crew, who leap into the sea every time they stop, and on this journey, this included Hirara Port and even into the Kuroshio Current, 12nm from Miyako.
Like most water lovers, they spent a lot of their time at anchor swimming and snorkelling, and using stand-up paddleboards to explore bays, while taking advantage of their wheels on land.
“On the remote islands, we rode bicycles to explore the various paths and it sometimes took less than an hour to travel around these smaller islands. We always try to find a nice location where you can overlook the whole island.”
PARADISE IN THE KERAMA ISLANDS
They eventually sailed as far as Okinawa Island itself, another 160nm, berthing at Ginowan Marina. However, it was the Kerama Islands just 20nm west of southern Okinawa that really captured their attention, as they anchored off the likes of Aharen Beach in Tokashiki Island and in Agonoura Bay in Zamami Island.
“We all think the Kerama Islands are the most beautiful, amazing place we visited. The water is so clean that you can see through it, even though it’s about 20m deep, plus the beaches were clean and so
empty at this time,” Yang says.
“All the coastlines are natural and well preserved, so the landscapes are very different from southwestern Taiwan where we usually sail. For us, the Kerama Islands are the real paradise, especially as there are a few little villages, so we drove our dinghy and landed it on the beach to get to the grocery store.”
However, as Covid-19 became more widespread and worrying, and travel restrictions started to be imposed, the crew realised it was time to head back.
Returning by way of Miyako again, Ocean Nomad eventually sailed in to Wushi Marina in Yilan County in Taiwan’s northeast, 26 days after leaving Kaohsiung.
“Overall, the whole voyage was great and better than we expected, and we were very fortunate to have wonderful weather windows. The islands and beaches we visited were simply amazing. The islands were more beautiful than we could imagine and each one made us want to
live there forever,” Yang says.
“We went to a lot of beaches and each had their unique features. Some were clean and peaceful, while some were very rich ecologically, with lots of special fishes and coral. The only pity is that this journey ended too early because of Covid-19, which also limited our interaction with local people.”
For the Ocean Nomad crew, the trip to Okinawa wasn’t as extensive as they had hoped for and featured limited social interaction due to the exceptional circumstances, but it did show them there’s a big, wide world out there waiting to be explored.
“We’re more and more in love with this kind of lifestyle,” Yang says. “We’ll continue this unfinished voyage, for sure.”
The original article first appeared in Yacht Style Issue 54 (Charter Issue 2020) – see below:
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Yacht Style has released Issue 54 (July-August), its Charter Issue for 2020. Flying Fox, the world's largest charter yacht, stars on the front cover of the 208-page magazine, as the 136m megayacht prepares to return to Asia later this year.