Want to get out on the water? Meet Captain Milne…
‘Japan looks very different when seen from the water,’ explains Captain Stuart Milne of the Tokyo Sail & Power Squadron. ‘The views of Mt. Fuji from the middle of Sagami Bay can be spectacular.’ We’ve never been a part of a squadron before, but we’re already tempted to fork out the membership fees.
The squadron consists of approximately 100 shipmates, all sailing and powerboat enthusiasts that get together regularly to navigate the Kanto shoreline and beyond. Together, they regularly organise water-bound events and get-togethers, information for which can be found on their Facebook page. A recent voyage saw squadron members chart a 4-yacht course from the capital to Isejima and Wakayama, an exciting jaunt that took 10 days to complete. An upcoming event will find them sailing south to Velasis City Marina, Uraga, to watch the fireworks display from the water and light up a communal barbecue.
If those distances sound a little extravagant for you, fear not. One of the services the TSPS specialises in is helping landlubbers to find their Japanese sea legs. Operating a power boat or yacht with an engine is illegal in Japan unless you have a boating license. The squadron runs courses that prepare would-be sailors for the licensing exams, and once you’ve got that under your belt, only the expense of sailing in this country has a chance of stopping you.
‘Marinas in the Tokyo Bay and Sagami Bay areas are fairly expensive, so running costs are typically higher than anywhere else,’ explains Captain Stuart. ‘I keep my own yacht at Velasis, near Uraga, and from there I can sail out to the Izu Islands in seven or eight hours, Shimoda in 12 hours or Atami and Ito in eight hours.’ We wonder if Uraga is a similar option for other squadron members. ‘Most of our members don’t have their own boats,’ he tells us. ‘All that is required is an interest in boating.’ If we didn’t have an interest before, we certainly do now.
Becoming a TSPS member costs ¥10,000, or ¥12,000 for family membership. More information can be found on the Tokyo Sail & Power Squadron website